December 18, 2007

The White Mountains (Book1 of Tripod Trilogy) by John Christopher

If you start with the first book, The White Mountains, and if you enjoy science-fiction, you will end up devouring all the books in The Tripod Trilogy, including a prequel. A boy, Will Parker, avoids being "capped" by the alien Masters who now rule the modern world.  But even though he retains his freedom of thought, he is captured and made a slave. The world of the non-human Masters is vividly repressive and luxurious at the same time. Will is a victim, a renegade and, ultimately, a hero. Be mesmerized by the world that British writer, John Christopher created back in the late 1960's. It could one day be you.  The trilogy was a BBC TV series that I would love to find and watch. I've also heard rumors that a motion picture is in the pre-production stages.  Ah, someone else could not forget how wonderful is "The Tripod Trilogy."
Reed Reads Score: 5

December 12, 2007

Sirena by Donna Jo Napoli

This beautiful and talented mermaid can't figure out whether immortality and true love can co-exist. How she yearns for love! Perhaps she is fated. Does she - or does she not - have free will? Do any of us? Read this book to find out. The story is especially fun if you are familiar with ancient Greek epic poems such as Homer's Iliad and/or Odyssey, characters from which pop in and out of the story. The book contains delightful description of life under the sea as a mermaid. Almost makes you want to be a mermaid, until you remember the immortality vs. true love dilemma.
Reed Reads Score: 3.5

November 30, 2007

First Light by Rebecca Stead

A mystery unfolds as Peter Solemn accompanies his parents on a scientific expedition to Greenland. While Mr. Solemn and his young assistant, Jonas, study global warming with sophisticated equipment, Peter explores the vast snow land with his sled dog team.
Peter is about to collide with a hidden world where he will learn the answers to his mother's spells of sadness and his own frequent headaches.
Deep underneath the ice, a community that fled from danger generations ago lives in comfortable secrecy, until Thea, 14 years old, challenges her elders. Thea's determination to learn about her heritage and her connection to the world above leads her and her cousin Mattias to an old tunnel.
Clues and puzzles are examined and secrets are revealed against a dazzling background of ice where the future meets the past.
Reed Reads Score: 4

November 27, 2007

I Am Not Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

Joey now has his ADHD under control. Everything seems to be going well. Until. Until he finds out that his mother has been dating. Dating not just anyone, but dating his father. I Am Not Joey Pigza is the unexpected fourth installment of the Joey Pigza series. If you've read the series, you know that his father is unpredictable, untrustworthy, and unloved by Joey. In this installment his father, Carter, has won a large sum of money in the lottery and has taken a new lease on life. Carter changes his name to Charles, and has a grand plan for Joey and his mother. To join in the change Joey will become Freddy to begin a laugh out loud story that is about forgiveness, family, and personal identity. While not as strong as the first three in the series, this is still an enjoyable read, and was like rediscovering an old friend.
Reed Reads Score: 4

November 23, 2007

Taking Liberty by Ann Rinaldi

What was it like in late eighteen century America to be born smart and beautiful, into well-favored circumstances, but be born a slave non-the-less? Meet Oney Judge, who became not only a personal servant, confidant, and "almost a daughter" to Martha Washington, but also Martha Washington's most famous runaway slave.

Ann Rinaldi's Taking Liberty is a page turner of a novel, telling the story of Oney's life with rich historic detail and accuracy. Gradually we find out how and why Oney left a familiar life of comparative ease for the almost certain hardship and loneliness of being a "fugitive slave". Although this story is told with great sympathy for all involved, you will never be able to look at George and Martha Washington the same way again!

Reed Reeds Score: 5

November 19, 2007

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt

If you've every had the experience of feeling that a certain teacher just doesn't like you or is too hard on you, then this is a story with which you will relate. It's 1967 and Holling Hoodhood is in 7th grade. Over the course of the school year, Holling's experiences are both comic and moving, especially when he's forced to wear tights. The great thing about this book is the way the people change their own points of view during the course of the year. It's also an amazingly accurate look at middle-school life in the 1960's. Trust me, I know. After you read this, get Gary Schmidt's Newbery Honor book, "Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Girl." These are worth your reading time. Reed Reads Score: 5

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson

And astonishing is this book. It’s also NOT for kids. It takes place in the era of the American Revolutionary War when a beautiful slave woman and her young son are part of an intellectual experiment. They live on a scholarly estate with white scientists and academics and serve as a laboratory study. What has been an environment rich in learning, dining, and luxurious beginnings, becomes a dark disaster reflecting the times, the reality of slavery and the will of men who think they are doing the right thing. We learn about Octavian’s strange childhood and now I can’t wait for Volume II! Reed Reads Score: 5

Love That Dog by Sharon Creech

Read this book in one evening. I dare you not to cry, tough guy! A kid hates poetry and writes in his class journal to his teacher about it throughout the school year. Then read other books by Sharon Creech and enjoy.
Reed Reads Score: 5

The Killing Sea by Richard Lewis

The author lives in Bali, Indonesia and participated in the rescue efforts of the 2004 TSUNAMI. He follows the lives of an American tourist teenage girl and an Indonesian teenage guy as they survive the killer waves only to battle the aftermath for days and days: destruction, crime, dead bodies, lack of medical help and survival skills are the keys to making this an “can’t put it down until I finish” book. It’s an easy and engrossing read. Reed Reads Score: 4

November 10, 2007

The Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs

Princess Margaret is NOT your fairy tale princess. She loves frogs, her best friend is the gardner, and she is definitely not ready for marriage. Her parents have a different plan...her father needs an heir to the throne so he decides to have a competition for her hand. The first prince to kill the dragon, return with the dragon's booty, and kill the witch in the woods will win. Margaret will have nothing to do with this, so her father imprisons her in a tall tower (sound familiar?). With the help of her friends, she escapes the tower to warn the dragon and the witch...and so the adventure begins. This is a very funny blending of many fairy tales, that will have you laughingall the way through. Reed Reads Score: 4.5

Eggs by Jerry Spinelli

Eggs are fragile. Eggs are a new life. Eggs can break.
Meet David and Primose. A very unlikely pair. David is 9, Primrose 13. David lives by rules, Primrose loves to break them. David is afraid, Primrose is fearless. So what on earth brings these two together? David is suffering from the loss of his mother, killed by a freak accident at work. Primrose is suffering from a mother whom she lives with, but is mentally not there. This is a story of the sorrow of loss, the pain of memories, gaining friendships, and learning to move on. Not one of Spinelli's best, but certainly a satisfying read that I recommend to all readers. Reed Reads Score: 4.

November 9, 2007

The Invention of Hugo Cabret by Brian Selznick

Hugo lives secretly in the walls of the Paris train station. Orphaned, he now maintains the clocks in the station for his uncle who disappeared. More important, Hugo is trying to complete a project of his father's...rebuilding an old mysterious machine found in a museum attic. To get by, Hugo steals food from station caf├ęs, and parts for the machine from a toy store booth in the station. All goes well until he gets caught by the toy store owner.... Here the story begins where Hugo is forced to befriend the toy store owner's grand daughter, help at the toy store, and unravel the mystery of the machine.

This novel is a beautiful, timeless tale told in a unique format. The book, over 500 pages, is at first intimidating, until you open it up. The opening sequence is a series of pictures, that seem like the opening of a silent movie, or a movie storyboard that blends perfectly into the text that follows. The book is about half illustrations that move the story forward. Brian Selznick's words and outstanding illustrations combine to create a classic, yet innovative book. Reed Reads Score: 5