Sunday, September 30, 2007

Evolution, Me and Other Freaks of Nature



This is an arc that I picked up at BEA, but now it is out in the stores.

Evolution is a weird thing to me. I mean, I grew up going to church and everything, but nobody ever made me question science. In high school, bio was my most prized subject. The whole debate around the idea of "intelligent design" is something that I find fascinating and scary at the same time. Robin Brande's Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature is poised perfectly to be banned and championed.

Mena has been kicked out of her church. Yes, kicked out. And the thing of it is, her parents are still going! She is dreading her first day of high school since most of the kids in her old church go there. In her own words, "When you're single-handedly responsible for getting your church, your pastor, and every one of your former friends and their parents sued for millions of dollars, you expect to make some enemies". (p.1) (Ironically, Mena got kicked out for doing the right thing!)

There are more changes for Mena besides just being ostracized from the holy rollers at school. She is partnered up with whiz kid Casey in science, and the teacher Ms. Shepard is like nobody that Mena has ever met before. And since all of her extra-curricular activities used to be church related, what the heck else does she have to do with her time, but study and work on her science project with Casey.

But here's the thing. Even though she's been kicked out of church, Mena still has to follow the rules. Which means no being alone with boys. Casey's a boy. The lies start. Mena is not comfortable lying to her parents, even if they are being pretty horrible to her. She is really in an awkward spot. Her belief system has been ripped out from under her, she's learning all kinds of new things, but she is still trying to hold onto her faith.

I think this is an amazing coming of age story, that isn't just a Christian story. It's the push/pull of needing guidance and independence in equal measure. I love who Mena is, and even though Casey and his family are almost too good to be true, readers will find themselves anxiously turning the pages to see what happens.

The Case of the Missing Marquess...



...is over at Tweendom!

Thursday, September 27, 2007

The Off Season


DJ and her family are back in the sequel to one of my favourite books, Dairy Queen.

DJ is starting off her school year as the only girl on the boy's football team. She is getting some grudging respect from the guys, and school doesn't seem as hard this year as it was last year. Of course, Brian Nelson is helping DJ's view on things.

DJ and Brian are dating. Kind of. Brian is still coming out to the Schwenk farm to help out, and he and DJ are getting in some serious make-out time during day trips to the Mall of America, or during farm chores.

DJ's family is even communicating a little more. They sit down together every weekend to watch Win's and Bill's college football games on TV. During one of Win's games, the unthinkable happens. Win is grabbed by the face mask, hits the ground, and doesn't get up. Things are going to change for the Schwenks.

DJ is forced to be the family point person to fly out to Washington, and try to be there for Win. But Win doesn't want anyone there. Can DJ help Win fight his demons, and manage to slay a couple of her own as well?

Another great story from Catherine Gilbert Murdock. We watch DJ grow, and come into her own. She is learning that it's not always in her best interests just to be comfortable and stay silent.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Friday, September 14, 2007

Poetry Friday

One chrysanthemum
in a vase, watching over
Second Avenue

From Cricket Never Does, by Myra Cohn Livingston

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Question



As you all know, I am a school librarian. For the last 6 years or so, I have been mixing up my read aloud for the 4th grade. We have done The Last of the Great Whangdoodles, by Andrews. We have done Desperaux, by Di Camillo. We have done Ruby Holler and Heartbeat by Creech. There's been a bit of Spiderwick in there too.

I am working on Ulysses Moore right now, and I think that will work. Does anyone have a read aloud that has gone over well in the past?

I do something else that I call the "book tease" with the 4th graders as well. Not a booktalk, but simply a read aloud of a chapter or two of a title. This way, I can present genres and multiple titles that I may not otherwise have time for.

I am also thinking of taking the leap away from my 3rd grade classic of Jeremy Thatcher Dragon Hatcher, by Coville. I call it classic, since it has never failed me.

Thoughts?

Bindy Mackenzie



So. I have been reading, but not blogging. I don't like when I do this, because things get a little fuzzy. I will be working backwards for the next few titles.

This is a book that I have been meaning to read for a while. I loved The Year of Secret Assignments, Feeling Sorry for Celia - not so much. But Moriarty got me back with this title.

Bindy is an intense girl. Competitive. Smart. And frankly... a little above her fellow students. She simply cannot believe it when a new course called FAD falls into her year 11 plans.

Friends and Development. What is that supposed to mean? For Bindy, it means sitting in a storage room behind a concertina wall, with a bunch of kids who she can no longer stand. It means being forced to socialize with teenagers when Bindy perceives herself as so far beyond that.

Year 11 is not turning out as it should. For one thing, Bindy is no longer living with her folks, rather with her Auntie and Uncle and cousin Bella. For some reason she is unable to concentrate like she usually can. She isn't handing in her assignments, and she's feeling quite ill. And this FAD class is just getting in the way of everything. Even Bindy's habit of transcribing everything she hears no longer brings comfort.

The Life (Murder) of Bindy Mackenzie is a far fetched tale of the best kind. Bindy is thoroughly annoying, yet readers have sympathy for her. We want her to to catch a clue! Moriarty has the pacing down perfectly, and has written a fun, fast story that fans of more recent titles like Pretty Little Liarswill want to revisit.