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Here are the staff picks for the middle ages (9-14yrs.).
Splendid Academy is a very special school, where candy dishes are on every students’ desk, students are serve scrumptious and nutritionally dubious breakfast/ lunch/snacks. The playground equipment is out of every kid’s fanatsy….however there is something strange about the school, Lorelei notices it right from the beginning….it only took three days for the school to be built, the candy dishes never empty, and the students never stop eating!
Lorelei, and her new friend Andrew, discover the school and its students are in the grip of a magic spell; but every spell can be broken, all poisons have an anitdote; sometimes however the cure is more painful than the disease.
Dr. Who meets Grimm in a middle school!
I cannot tell you enough how much I enjoyed reading this book! It has the quirky Dr. Who mystery, where our heroine knows there is somethig wrong but can’t quite place exactly what the problem is. Plus Grimm’s (as in the Grimm fairy tales) use of dark creatures which are at the heart of the sinister magical spell, but it’s grounded in the social dynamics and antics of a middle school.
I really enjoyed the dark and twisty turns the author takes on in her mystery. Where everyone is layered and you never know if someone is exactly how they seem. Over-arching themes of how love is blind, what evil really is and friendship make this a book anyone could enjoy reading over and over again.
I would recommend this book for all kids (it is told exclusively from Lorelei’s point of view, however Andrew is very prominent in the story) 10+. It would make a fantastic Halloween present!
Cassie loves mysteries, her mom is the Chief of Police and solves mysteries everyday, and Cassie likes to help. The only thing Cassie loves more than a good mystery is her dog, Dodge. A retired police dog, who lost his last partner, he loves solving crimes as much as his girl Cassie does. Their current conundrum? Verdel Ward, Bellport’s richest citezen has disappeared without a trace.
Now there is a huge fight over who is entitled to his estate since apparently Verdel didn’t leave a Will. The Mayor believes the money should be given to the town. Verdel’s housekeeper of thirty years believes she should be given a slice of the pie. A mysterious fiancée has crawled out of the wood work from Texas, staking her claim to the estate. And a twin brother appears out of nowhere who also believes he is entitled to the whole enchilada. It will take all of Cassie’s and Dodge’s skills to whittle down the list of suspects and sort out the clues to figure out what happened to Ward and who should utimately be entitled to his money.
If you are looking for a mystery which features a girl and her lovable companion this is a good book for you. The chapters alternate between Cassie and Dodge as narrators, so you get a unique view of the solving the crime. It is a nice solid first book, which makes you curious to see how the rest of the series will unfold. Like what happened to Dodge’s first partner, will Cassie ever figure out how to get Summer (one of the popular girls) off her back and what will her next mystery be?
Now there is a warning to give with this book: I would not give it to a kid under age 9. Dodge, in the process of solving the mystery gets hurt, and you have two chapters of frantic reading to make sure he is okay. However if you have a sensitive reader, this may be a bit hard to take. While it is not graphic, it is worrisome.
This is a solid book, I look forward to see how the authors progress with the story in the second book. It does get a bit distracting with multiple plots going on at the same time, but overall I enjoyed the book.
I would recommend it for girls between the ages of 9-12 (sorry boys, I don’t think this book is targeted for your reading pleasure).
Stuart Horten's parents are moving to Beeton, a place where his father‘s family has deep roots. What’s worse? They are moving at the beginning of the summer, so Stuart won’t have a chance to make any friends before the end of the school year. Meaning, this summer is going to drag by…….
However, Stuart is used to taking one on the nose, since his initials, S. Horten create a rather easy target in the school yard. And the fact he is very short for his age doesn’t help at all!
Well, the summer vacation starts off rather dully, and it becomes necessary to dodge the very persistent (a nice word for annoying) triplets (April, May and June) who live next door, but then things become interesting. One day, Stuart answers a mysterious call in a non-function phone booth, it places him on the path of discovering if he is the right sort of boy to inherit his great-uncle’s magical workshop….well things are not boring now!
I Loved This Book!
I felt I could only read it a few pages at a time because I didn’t want to finish it! Which is unusual - normally when I love a book I will devour it whole! I enjoyed following the clues laid out in front of Stuart and the unexpected places he had to go to find them. I loved his quirky father, who seems to be constitutionally incapable of using a word under three syllables. I loved the confusion when Stuart tries to figure out the triplets.
What I really enjoyed is, while the book is based around magic, 98% of it has no hocus pocus in it at all but an entertaining mystery. This is a great book for a boy (or open minded girl) 8 - 12.
(You should buy this book even if you don’t have a kid to give it to, when you want something light to read!)
Stuart Horten (who is 10 but looks younger) has discovered that keeping the illusions he found in his Great-Uncle Tony’s workshop is as hard as finding them! Because they were found on public land, they belong to the village council. Even though Stuart knows the illusions were meant for him, he can’t prove it. Then a mysterious call from Canada and a lawyer's visit reveal the fact his great uncle has hidden a Will in one of the illusions; and who ever finds the document will keep the illusions!
This is a great follow up to the first book, Horten’s Miraculous Mechanisms. I absolutely loved it! It has even more great puzzles, capers and mysteries than the first book! April and her sisters play an ever more important role and drive Stuart just as crazy!
I could not put this book down. I would suggest reading them back to back, not even coming up for air or a snack. I cannot sing the praises of these two books enough. This is a great book for a boy (or open minded girl) 8 - 12.
Several months have past since Linc’s Parisian escapade, where he helped to located the Mona Lisa’s Dangerous Double for Pandora. Pandora is a clandestine government agency which tracks and locates Dangerous Doubles (historical artifacts with breathtaking and varied powers) for the US government.
Linc has settled back into his normal routine of school, skate boarding and video games, he saved his family from a debilitating lawsuit and believed his “employment” with Pandora was finished.
However being the spitting image of actual junior secret agent Benjamin Green…well, this secret is too handy for Pandora not to employ again.
Hiding somewhere in Washington DC, the city of spies and lies, is a mole; code named Dagger, who is threatening to kill the President and her family. Alluding in a series of messages left for the President, Pandora believes he has/or will soon obtain a Dangerous Double. A powerful Double, he is more than willing to use in order to complete his threat against the president. The artifact in this case? George Washington’s legendary coat. The coat is said to be invincible, thus making the wearer invincible as well. The perfect thing to wear to an assassination…
While tripping over each other, Dagger’s agents and a secret spy ring dating back to the Revolutionary War, Ben and Linc race to save the President, her family and locate the Dangerous Double before it‘s too late.
I enjoyed reading Bradley’s first book Double Vision, so when I saw her new book listed in a catalogue to be released in the fall, I was excited. So excited, I e-mailed her directly and pleaded for an advanced copy to read. Boy am I glad I did! Her follow-up is another book filled with gadgets, conspiracies, spies, adventure and is an enjoyable read.
The author does a great job of blending very interesting bits of history into a story. Never was I thrown out of the story by inept insertion of historical fact in the story. It gives just enough information to A. enhance the plot of the book, and B. allow the reader to find more information on their own, if they so choose. This is a big draw for me, I dislike YA books which give a dry recitation of facts.
I enjoyed reading about the continual rivalry between Ben and Linc, the deepening mystery around Pandora and their leader Black, and Linc’s price for working for Pandora again. I look forward to seeing where Bradley takes us next, and how many answers Linc and the team will discover about Pandora and their continued involvement with Dangerous Doubles.
I would recommend this book to boys (or open minded girls, since the president’s daughter Amy plays a large and key role in the story) between 8 -12, who are looking for an action adventure James Bond-ish and just plain fun book to read.
Norman lives in a small New England town whose claim to fame is the hanging of a witch a few hundred years ago. Thus being labeled as the town weirdo has a very disturbing ring to it (even his parents and sister think he‘s weird….). Why has Norman been labeled like this? Well, he can talk to ghosts and they talk back, usually at very inconvenient times. This power comes in handy however, when the witch’s curse comes to pass and the zombies of her accusers begin to shamble into town. And it is up to Norman with his unusual power to save the day!
If you have a seven year old who is dying to read a zombie book, this is the one for you! It is entertaining and fun, has a bit of educational material thrown in for flavor and never takes itself too seriously. While it has zombies, it is only a Scooby-Doo level of scary. And doesn’t have the scary (or really gross) descriptions of events, leaving it to the kids’ imaginations instead. It is being made into a movie which looks like a whole bunch of fun as well. The book itself is fun, the text is printed in rust red ink, has a number of illustrations and the cover is a replica of an important book in the story. I would recommend this to any 7 - 10 year old boy looking for a fun read!
The Fellowship For Alien Detection is a grant given out by the mysterious Gavin Keller Foundation. The winners are given a great scholarship and a two week, funded research trip and their research will be published in New Frontiers Mag-Zine.
The first winners of this fellowship are Haley and Dodger.
Haley wasn’t sure if she believed in aliens, however she is sure she wants to become an ace reporter. Her instincts tell her something is amiss when she by chance looks into the disappearance of a girl her own age named Suza Raines, leading her to see a pattern of missing people, missing time and eventually a missing town. If she can break this story, well the world is her oyster….
Dodger loves maps new, old, accurate or fanciful; he loves them all. However none of his maps can tell him where the town of Juliette is located. Or why he can hear the town’s radio station playing periodically in his head. He is, however, not the only one to have heard this station; other radio enthusiasts have picked up this station on their equipment and are converging to trade information and ideas, and Dodger is in the thick of it…
What neither kid is ready for is the fact their theories are correct, there are aliens throughout our world and they are hard at work….
This was a solid read! I enjoyed the characters, plot twists, and the mystery which needed to be solved. I was hooked because the methods and technology used by both Haley and Dodger to investigate their theories is plausible. They aren’t kids who are geniuses or have an overly developed particular set of skills. They are ordinary kids who happened to find a thread to pull at to unravel a mystery they see.
I also enjoyed the fact that the parents are active in their kids’ lives. They are not the enemies, or bumbling or clueless; they are active in trying to help their kids earn their fellowship grant and never belittle the subject. Both kids are heavily conflicted when forced to lie to their parents to keep going on their respective investigations. This is a refreshing change from many, many of the kids/ya books who treat adults as impediments and dismiss them from the stories.
I did love how the author treated the aliens, the reasons why they came to earth and why they are subjecting people to their tests. Again they are multilayered and while their actions are considered wrong to us, they have sound reasons and they aren’t trying to harm humans. Like life nothing is exactly black and white.
I would recommend this for boys or girls from ages 9-13 who like a good action adventure mystery with alien
Thirteen year old Vincent Wu is the President of the best Captain Stupendous fan club in the city. Also the smallest. Made up of Vincent himself and his best friends, Max and George --- they are the best and most knowledgeable group in the city. This knowledge is put to the test after Captain Stupendous rescues Vincent from the new super villain in town, Professor Mayhem and his giant indestructible robot.
How you ask? Well, the Captain’s has been acting odd for a few fights and the boys find out why. The Cap. is really a GIRL! Their classmate Polly Winnicott-Lee, the girl Vincent has a huge crush on! However this is the least of Vincent’s worries: Professor Mayhem has kidnapped his mother! And it is up to the best Captain Stupendous club in the city to teach Polly how to be the super hero and save Vincent’s mom before the Professor’s threats come to pass!
This was a fun and action packed story. The concept the author uses to explain the super heroes and the world his characters live in is great. It portrays the geeky zeal of wanting to know and understand absolutely everything about your favorite hero, even though you know this opens you up to mockery of your peers, accurately. As well as putting the twist of an awkward situation when you are forced to interact with someone you have a huge crush on, and they don’t know it. I really enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend it to any boy (or open minded girl) who likes superheroes, between the ages of 8-12. This book is not fantasy, it is just like our reality only it has the super villains and heroes walking the earth….and perhaps some experimental science we don’t have yet! There is great sarcastic humor and passion for geekery! I really hope this is the first in a new series.
The Whippet Hotel has seen many happy events, but one of the best is the wedding of Leo Fillmore’s dad to his best friend Remi’s mom. The most exciting part was Mr. Merganzer D. Whippet’s wedding present to the happy couple, an all expenses paid honeymoon to the Mexican Riviera. Even more exciting? Leo and Remi get to spend a whole week without parental supervision!
However things are not as happy as they seem. While Leo is the owner and runs the daily operations (and maintenance with his dad) of the grand Whippet Hotel, Mr. Merganzer still helps with many bigger tasks. Mrs. Sparks, still smarting over her sacking, is out for revenge against the hotel, its owner and founder. Knowing Mr. Merganzer’s absent minded ways, she knows he has forgotten to pay the property taxes for the hotel, with disastrous result. Now it is up to Leo and Remi to navigate, explore unknown floors (or in this case the basement) and meet unexpected residents of the hotel -- in order to find what is needed to save their beloved hotel!
This is a great follow up to Floors! New riddles to solve, items to find and a race against time. I love exploring the hotel with Leo and Remi and really looked forward to this book. And I was not disappointed! Meeting new friends and discovering some really interesting monkeys was a whole bunch of fun! It also deepens the mystery of what is Merganze up to? What is his ultimate goal? Why does he need all of these different pieces of odds & ends and where is he workshop now? I cannot wait until the next book! I would recommend this book to any boy (or open mined girl) between the ages of 8 - 12.
Floors - By Patrick Carman Leo Fillmore is worried Mr. Merganzer D. Whippet has been missing for 100 days from the Whippet Hotel. Leo is the son of the hotel’s janitor and knows almost everything about the hotel, the very strange hotel. Where there is a room filled with robots, another like a great pinball machine and yet another filled with cupcakes…..and these are just the rooms Leo has seen, up until today. Today a strange box has been left on the duck elevator ( did I mention Mr. Whippet absolutely loves duck and has several in residence on the roof?). This box gives Leo instructions to a brand new room, and a clue to what is happening to the hotel now. Since it seems like things are starting to fall apart at the seams….
This book reminds me of Willy Wonka, however the characters are unique enough and the hotel so well imagined that this obvious influence never detracts from Floors. I really enjoyed reading about Leo’s adventures, narrow escapes and solutions. The fact that mallard ducks play a prominent roll in the book was also great fun! I would recommend this to any boy looking for a new and hilarious adventure.
This is the story of two kids, Ben and Rose. Each wishes that their lives were different, Ben after loosing his mother wished to be a part of his mysterious father’s life. While Rose dreams of a mysterious actress and escape. Their lives are fifty years apart yet they share a startling similarities, which narrow when both embark on the same journey to find what their lives are missing.
This is a really fascinating book, told both through pictures and writing. It is a great way to get reluctant readers into reading. You have to pay attention and interpret the details in the pictures, or you miss what is happening in Rose’s life. Just as Ben’s life, told through words, need similar attention since it is told in short bursts. It is a great book for both girls and boys since both points of view are strongly represented
Bethesda Fielding is now in 8th grade finds herself in the middle of a new mystery. The only trophy ever won by Mary Todd Lincoln Middle School has been stolen! And even worse than that the principle has cancelled all after school activities until the trophy is found. Including the weeklong field trip to Taproot Valley, something which the entire 8th grade class has been looking forward to since they were in the 7th grade! And another mystery a bit closer to home, Tenny is now back at school, but he seems different to Bethesda than he was last year…hhmmm…..
Just like The Secret Life of Mrs. Finkleman this book is funny and clever. With several small mysteries intertwined with the larger mystery there is never a dull moment in the book. I enjoyed reading it. I would recommend this book for girls or boys, since it is told from both perspectives.
A veena is a traditional Indian string instrument, used to play classical Indian music. The strings are plucked and pressure applied to the frets in order to change the notes when playing. It is part of the lute family of instruments.
Neela dreams of becoming a famous musician when she grows up. Playing for her audience on her special veena, the one her grandmother passed down to her--- the one with the dragon carved on it. This dream comes crashing down when her veena vanishes from a church Neela ducks into to escape a sudden storm. Neela becomes obsessed with finding her missing veena, following the clues, receiving a threatening note and discovering a curse. All of which lead her back to India and the store where her grandmother bought the veena originally.
This is an engaging mystery I enjoyed reading. It uses tools of investigation available to kids in believable ways, which is great to read. I also enjoyed the multicultural taste of the book, the author does a good job of adding both American and Indian cultures in a way which avoids stereotypes. As well as avoiding becoming heavy handed with the multicultural theme of the book.
I would recommend this book for girls (or open minded boy---there is a boy in this book, however it is told exclusively from Neela’s point of view), from ages 9-12 (It is too new to have the AR points yet, I will update this when they do!).
Shelby Jayne has hardly spoken to her mother for over a year. She left to take care of her sick mother who lived in the bayou and never came back. Now Shelby Jayne’s dad has to go out of town for work and she has to go live in the bayou with her mother. What’s worse is she has to change schools and everyone knows where she lives and teases and torments her. Until she meets a new friend who also lives in the Bayou, another girl who has secrets of her own…..
This is both a sad and happy story of a mother and daughter putting to rest ghosts from their past and memories between them. It was an enjoyable read filled humor and understated action. I also enjoyed the setting, a Louisiana bayou is not a place I normally read about and it was filled with great images and thing well I normally don’t have to worry about in my daily life, like alligators…I would recommend this to any girl who wants to read something a little different.
On the way to class Benjamin stops to help the school janitor who has broken his ankle, before the paramedics arrive he lets Benjamin in on a secret….. Hidden somewhere in the school is the information needed to stop real estate developers from bulldozing the school and erecting an amusement park. Because the school belongs to the children for them to learn and laugh, not for nefarious politicians to sell…. Little does Benjamin know this discovery is only the beginning of the adventure!
This is a really fun story filled with action and intrigue which draws the reader in. I enjoyed reading it, as well as the pen and ink drawing which are uniquely placed throughout the text (they add and expand the story rather than being distracting as some illustrations can be). It does also impart information about sailing as well, without becoming too technical (or gasp, make it seem like you might learn something!). This story doesn’t ever drag or seem cliché, which is a great feature in a kid's book!
I would recommend this for a boy (or an open-minded girl, Ben has a great female character he confides in, and helps him. However the story is told exclusively from Ben’s point of view), from ages 7-11. It is worth 3 AR points. The new installment to this series is out! Fear Itself (Athenaeum hc, $14.99).
Gilda Joyce is trying to learn how to become a psychic from her handbook The Master Psychic’s Handbook: A Guide to Psychic Principles and Methods by Balthazar Frobenius. When Gilda believes she gets a psychic vibration that her cousin (to whom she has never spoken to or seen and her mother barely knows) needs her, she invites herself to stay with them, in San Francisco, for the summer to try and get to the bottom of the mystery she uncovers upon arriving!
This is a really funny and touching story. Dealing with loss and grief in very constructive and non-gloomy way which furthers the story and adds to it without ever becoming distracting. The humor made me laugh out loud several times, Gilda is an over-the-top teen who uses creative ways to find the truth of things. This is a really great book I would highly recommend this series. The second book in the series, Gilda Joyce : The Ladies of the Lake was nominated for an Edgar Award in 2007!
I would recommend this series for girls 9-14. This book is worth 10 AR points (the rest of the series varies from 10-12 AR points)
This is the first book in The Missing series. Jonah and Chip are best friends and ordinary middle schoolers whose only conundrum is whether or not to try out for the basketball team until the two receive a cryptic message through the mail: “You are one on the missing." This plunges Chip and Jonah and his sister Katherine into a mystery filled with intrigue, conspiracies and wild theories surrounding both their adoptions thirteen years ago.
This is a fast paced and action packed story which I enjoyed reading. It would be a good book for boys ages 9-12, since it is told exclusively from Jonah's point of view. This book does a good job in addressing the early teens' questions of identity and answering that its what you say and do that is key to who you are. It also does a great job in using technology accessible to kids in creative and believable ways to help further their investigation. I also enjoyed the fact they seem to embody the idea, nothing ventured nothing gained, taking well thought-out risks in order to further their investigation.
This story does incorporate time travel in a believable and interesting way and I can't wait to read the next three books in the series Sabotaged , Sent and Torn!
9 Accelerated Reader Points
A new breed of book is being created for children's literature, the multi-platform book. This new generation of story has both book and exclusive internet content which is crucial to the story laid out in the books. One of the best is the 39 Clues series!
39 Clues: Maze of Bones is about Amy and Dan Cahill, brother and sister whose parents were killed in a fire. Their beloved grandmother, Grace Cahill, has just passed on and in her will revealed two pieces of important pieces of information. The first revelation Amy and Dan receive, is that they are part of a family whose legacy has shaped most of human history.
Between the four branches of the Cahill family, almost every significant historical figure was a member: Benjamin Franklin, Mozart, Anne Oakley, Mary Shelly and Madame Curie as examples. Even more importantly, Grace left an extraordinary choice for Amy and Dan to make: do they settle with the sure thing of one million dollars...or set off on an adventure of a life time and try to beat out their relatives and seek out the 39 clues which will make them the most powerful Cahill family member in history?
After the reader is finished with the first book, Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan, on the last page you discover a memo telling you that you are a long lost member of the Cahill family and are invited to begin the hunt on-line! When you enter the website, you take a quiz and discover which of the four branches you are a member of and then the search is on. You discover that to obtain all the 39 clues there are three different paths you must follow. To obtain the first ten clues you must read each of the books. The get the second set of ten clues, you must complete ten missions which are available through the web site. Then, the final nineteen clues are available through the trading cards. Each book comes with six trading cards; extras can be purchased or traded for online. The cards themselves can be combined to create clue or have mini games which need to be solved in order to bring you closer to the next clue!
This set of ten books is addictive! Once you start reading you want to find all the clues. Because the Cahills have such an extensive family tree, the clues are often hidden by some very famous people. While on the trail of these historical figures, the authors do a great job in making these legendary figures more accessible to their readers. Such as following Benjamin Franklin's world travels, reading about his accomplishment and discovering he wrote an essay of farts.
These books and web site sneak in a lot of history content in a fun and entertaining way, while not necessarily an in-depth analysis, it does allow the opportunity for a spark of interest to begin. Another thing this multi-platform series does is make kids read even more: to navigate the web site, to complete the challenges, to decipher codes and message boards you have to read, read, read! This series does a great job in intertwining the books with the online content - you HAVE to read the books before going online.
I would recommend these books for girls and boys from ages 9-12.
Accelerated Reader points vary from 5-9 depending on the book!
Griff Carver is the only member of the Hallway Patrol ever to have been expelled from school and kicked off the force. While in the end his records were expunged, his Old Lady (aka Mom) transferred him to a new school, Rampart Middle School. Where the same kind of kids inhabit the hallways; cool kids, bandies, student govies, hair girls and those up to no good. That is where the thin line of the hallway patrol and Griff sit between chaos and the student body.
And when Griff gets wind of a counterfeit ring specializing in forged hallway passes, nothing will keep him away from busting it wide open. No matter the cost.
This book is a whole bunch of fun, it is a cross between The Maltese Falcon and Lethal Weapon. A rouge patrol with nothing to loose, who will stop at nothing to get his man. Even if it means going all the way to the top. Add a squeaky clean partner and a slick chick reporter we have a winning team. Pair this with a noir-esque writing style, and you have an entertaining read. This book is a great way to introduce kids to this style of mystery writing, while it might seem a trifle cliché to an adult, the humor and dialogue are fresh enough to over look this very minor flaw. A flaw, I am not sure would be apparent to those of its’ target audience.
I would recommend this book for a boy reader (or open minded girl, since there is a good female reporter in it) since it is told exclusively from Griff’s point of view, from grades 4-8.
7 Accelerated Reader points.
2010 Edgar Nominated Book
This is a fantastic story for girls (and perhaps open mnded boys) from 9-11. It is the story of Miss Penelope Lumley a fifteen year old governess who has just graduated from Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females. Her first post is in Ashton Place where her pupils are three very unusual children, Alexander, Beowuolf and Casseopia Incorrigable.
Three children Lord Ashton found on his estate and has decided to take possession of, "Finders Keepers", the three children appear to have been raised by wolves and other animals in the forest.
Penelope has her work cut out for her, she must quwell the children's desire to stalk squires, howl and and gnaw on their shoes for starters. All in hopes they will be able to attend the Christmas party, a very formal affair, without embarissing Lady Ashton.....
If you have a kid who is in need of a book for a book report, this is the story for you. The main charecter Penelope is one filled with common sense and great catch phrases. I also enjoyed the fact the mysteries contained within the book don't hit you over the head, you have to reason, observe and ask questions. Such as where did the Incorrigables come from? Who are Charlotte's parents? Why did Lord Ashton really keep the children? And who set the squirrel loose on the ballroom floor?
The Second book in the series sees Miss Penelope Lumley the governess her three incorrigible students (Alexander, Beowulf and Cassiopeia) and the Ashtons' relocating to London while repairs are made to the house after the disastrous holiday ball. While Penelope is excited at the opportunities presented by the great city, there are challenges as well pigeons, bear skin hats are prime examples of what drive the Incorrigibles crazy.
However during their explorations of London, peculiar things begin to spring up about he children's and Penelope's mysterious pasts.
I would recommend this for girls 9-12.
Once a quarter in Bethesda Fielding's social studies class a special project assignment is given out. For this quarter, Mr. Melville's assignment is to solve a mystery from your own life. There are a myriad of ideas floating around Bethesda's class; someone wants to figure out why their mom isn't on speaking terms with her brother. Another kid wants to discover if the dolphin named Happy is really happy. And yet another kids wants to figure out why hot dogs are sold in packs of twelve, while their buns are sold in packs of eight.
But Bethesda sees her very own mystery in her music fundamentals teacher Ms. Fielding, who no one including the faculty, seems to know anything about. And what she discovers shocks them all!
I really enjoyed this book! It would be a good read for girls (or an open minded boy, since the story is told mainly from Bethesda's point of view) for the fourth to eight grade readers. This is a fun fast paced story which never takes itself to seriously. There are bits about bullies, envy, cheating, leaping to conclusions and following your passions. However the excitement, enthusiasm and shifting perspectives never allow the book to sound trite or become boring. The ending was so heart warming and happy it made me tear-up a little bit! I would recommend this book for anyone who wanted to see their world as being filled with many small, solvable mysteries!
I would recommend this for a girl (or open minded boy) 9-13.
Second in this series, The Mystery of the Missing Everything is due out Sept. 20, 2011
7 Accelerated Reader points.
2010 Edgar Nominated book
Ben Harvester is a born helper. He never leaves someone alone if he knows he can help them, even if they don‘t think they need it. This very quality is what brought Ben to the attention of Mr. October and the Ministry of Pandemonium and landed Ben a very unusual after-school job.
Ben is an apprentice working with Mr. October, learning how to find and escort lost souls into the afterlife. So he visits hospitals, accident scenes, basically anywhere someone has died.
Unfortunately, the ministry is not the only group looking for lost souls; the Lords of Sundown are also trying to gather souls for their own nefarious purposes for unknown but sinister reasons. And they will stop at nothing to keep Ben from blocking them.
It is not the magic, threats or violence that puts Ben's future in jeopardy: his mother’s name pops up as a lost soul needing to be recovered!
This was a great read. If you are looking for a book for a kid who loves the macabre, I would suggest this book. It has a great angle on ghosts and magical creatures (which in no way resemble the nice Disney creatures). It would make wonderful Halloween reading!
I was a bit hesitant, thinking that since this book deals a step from the afterlife, it might be trying to push a religious agenda of some sort. It couldn’t be farther from the case! It is a great gritty urban fantasy mystery.
I would recommend this book for a boy (or open minded girl) from the ages 9 - 13.
Malcolm is a rat, a very small rat. This was advantageous when he was living in the pet store, since no one wanted to buy a small rat to feed other larger creatures. However his size becomes a problem when Mr. Binney mistakes him for a mouse, and the sales clerk doesn’t correct him.
Malcolm doesn’t mind the mistake at first, his new home in Room 11 as the fifth grade pet is great!
However it is in Room 11 that Malcolm discovers that rats have a very bad reputation. Malcolm knows he is a good rat, but well….it does seem like an uphill battle to be seen as something more than just a rat fink! So he stays quiet about who he really is.
Then one night, when exploring the school Malcolm makes a huge discovery, The Midnight Academy. A secret society of school pets which keep the school and its kids safe, “a lot happens in a school when teachers aren’t looking.” Again Malcolm is mistaken for a mouse, and doesn’t speak up for fear the Academy will not accept him….
But not all the animals which live in the school are part of the Academy. Snip a cat who lives on the fourth floor is bent on destroying the school any way he can. So when the leader of the Academy disappears all eyes are on Malcolm, since he was the last creature to see her, and everyone knows that rats can’t be trusted.
So now Malcolm must find the kidnapped Aggy and dodge Snip to clear his name!
This was a fun book and I enjoyed reading it. I am not sure about you, but I have always wondered what happened at school when all the kids and teachers went home for the day and this book does a great job on giving you an answer. Plus mistaken identities, kidnapping, an evil villain, secret friendships and sabotage are always fun plot devices to read about!
This book would be great for a younger reader, male (sorry girls, it is told exclusively from Malcolm’s point of view) from around 8 - 12. It is fast paced enough to keep you from getting bored. I think an older, more experienced reader would catch on to the author’s subtle themes, such as just because we fall into a one stereo type, doesn’t mean that is who we really are, or how we need to act, for example. However these themes are worked well into the story and are not distracting, which is nice. This would be a great book to read because it is fun, or for a book report or by a parent out loud so they could discuss it with their kids.
Sara is the new girl in town, moving from California to Stellamar, New Jersey, just a few months ago. She has moved into a haunted old house with Lady Azura, the local palmist, fortune teller and tea leaf reader. Lady Azura is the only other living soul who knows Sara’s secret, that she can see and interact with ghosts. Until the move, Sara just ignored them.
But now something has changed and Sara is no longer able to be Switzerland….
Jayden(the boy who Sara is very interested in) is haunted by a ghost who seems determined to keep the two of the apart. Plus there is a new ghost haunting her craft room, who seems bent on destruction and finds it hysterical to frighten anyone, including Sara, who he comes into contact with. When Lady Azura announces her intention of opening her Mischief Night party (read Halloween) to all of Sara and her father’s new friends, Sara is desperate to stop it. Because Halloween is the one night of the year when ghosts can wander beyond their normal haunts…..and the night they are the strongest.
This is a fun series.
I enjoyed reading it, the characters are engaging and the story is always moving right along. It is a great story dealing with ghosts and occasionally the pressures associated with being a teen girl in this day and age. I would recommend this book for either a younger reader wanting something slightly more challenging or an older reader who needs a bit of improvement or to gain some confidence before tackling something longer, 8 -12+.
I am looking forward to the next installment, Moment of Truth (Dec.), Giving Up The Ghost (Feb.) and The Secrets Within (April)!
It is Christmas time in Stellamar and everyone is buzzing with activity, getting ready for the big day. Sara has her plate full first shopping and trying to figure out how to keep her dad from dating Dina’s mom (Dina is the meanest girl in school).
However Sara isn’t the only one with holiday plans, Stellamar is filling up with ghosts at an exponential rate. Seems the twelve days of Christmas are when they come back and visit their loved ones…including one very special visitor for Lady Azure.
I seriously enjoy these chapter books. They have a great paranormal angle, of a young girl trying to come to grips with an unusual talent. There are several over arching story lines, such as where does Sara’s talent come from? How much does her dad know? Who is Lady Azure, really? Crumbs are left in every book, which makes you want to read on and find out what happens next!
I would recommend this series, which should be read in order, to girls 8+ who are looking either for an easier read or for slightly older kids who are struggling a bit who are intimidated by longer books and don’t want to read books which have a much younger (read “babyish”) vibe to them.
Enter a secret government agency with an offer Linc cannot refuse. Their top kid agent, Benjamin Green, has vanished. Pandora (the secret agency) needs Linc to take Benjamin’s place during an exchange, otherwise the operation is a total bust and hundreds of man hours wasted. In exchange for Linc’s help, Pandora will make the lawsuit disappear. Why is the agency so bent on having Linc help them? He could be Benjamin Green’s twin!
Chaos follows Linc to Paris where the exchange goes wrong, he is beaten up by a girl and arrested all on his first day!
This book has it all: spies, double, gadgets, puzzles, trouble, heroes, danger and chickens! Everything you look for in a great action adventure book!
This is a really fun and smart spy novel! I enjoyed reading it! I rooted for Linc all the way thru, hoping he would finally find a way to use his natural tendency for chaos to help complete his mission and save his family.
The absolute best thing the author does is slip in knowledge (AKA learning), without ever distracting her readers from the central storyline. Which is a great fast paced spy / espionage novel! The use of codes and code breaking such as Morse Code, Pigpen Cipher and Hobo Signs were all used to great effect in the book. Another example was the Parisian setting, The Louvre and The Mona Lisa again were describe well and again were central to the plot and any learning was well hidden.
I would recommend this to a male reader (sorry girls, it is told exclusively from the guy perspective, however it does have a strong female character in it) between the ages of 8-12 who are looking for an action-packed book they will never get bored reading!
Last year Colophon Letterford followed a series of clues left by her distant relative Miles Letterford, which led to the discovery of Shakespeare’s lost manuscripts (to be fair her brother Case and her cousin Julian helped as well). This treasure hunt was a last ditch effort by Colophon to help her father save both his job and the family owned company, Letterford & Sons. It was a resounding success. Rather than selling the manuscripts to the highest bidder, Colophon’s father is reprinting them so everyone can have access to them, further bolstering the company’s already sterling reputation in literary and non-literary circles.
But no matter how high you fly, you have to come back down to earth. The media turns against him & the company when a lone academic calls the manuscripts’ authenticity into question. As we know in the media today, it only takes one voice to turn the cameras against you, and then the jackals begin to circle. In this case, that voice is Treemont Letterford, a cousin to Colophon and one of the heirs to the throne who can snatch the company away from her father and who tried unsuccessfully last year to take over the company, forcing Colophon into the treasure hunt.
Unfortunately this time he succeeds and Colophon is forced into another audacious plan in order to save her family.
This was an enjoyable read, but I am a sucker for all things Shakespearian!
The author, Deron R. Hicks, does a great job in balancing learning and the story. Never did it feel like the characters were giving a lecture about history or literary figures.
One of this book’s plot lines centers around the authorship controversy of the Shakespearian cannon. The argument explored here is whether Christopher Marlowe was the true author of the plays, using Shakespeare as a beard to cover up the fact he didn’t actually die in a barroom brawl. Hicks does a great job in giving crumbs to follow, using existing facts and theories to further the plot, as well as giving enough information, should the reader want to, to follow up on this fascinating controversy on their own.
Hicks is also masterful at creating a palatable tension within Tower Of The Five Orders. By switching perspective frequently he creates a staccato rhythm which furthers the plot and has you reading at a flat-out pace so you can find out what happens next. This method of creating tension is riveting, and never hard to follow or distracting. Again it helps to further the mystery along.
I would recommend this book for girls or boys 9 and up who are looking for a fun and interesting read. I would recommend you read the first book in the series before starting this one, Secrets Of Shakespeare’s Grave, otherwise this book won’t make quite as much sense as it could!
There are two important things you need to know about Randi Rhodes. First, she a born and bred New York girl. Second, Randi is completely hooked on mysteries (since her father writes them and she loves his character Glenn Street, this love comes easily) - so hooked she has solved a number of mysteries/problems in and around her neighborhood. Randi’s love of mysteries and knack for solving them increased after her mom passed away last year.
Now Randi’s dad has decided to move to Deer Creek, Tennessee. Randi is not thrilled with this idea. Randi is convinced she is doomed to eternal boredom until the time-capsule, the key piece in the Founders Day Celebration, is stolen. She meets her best friend and fellow martial artist, CJ, and solves the mystery threatening to sink Deer Creek.
This was a solid mystery. One of the best things about it was that Randi doesn’t have all the answers. While she is the main character, she makes mistakes and fails to observe key details and must work with others in order to solve the mystery of the missing time capsule.
Another interesting facet of this book is how hard Randi is on her dad. She doesn’t see or understand that he is grieving differently over the death of her mother. She only sees how he has given up on his writing and how she has never seen him cry. However as a reader, you are given clues thru Randi’s observations that her conclusions may not be correct. And his over-protectiveness may stem from someplace else than the fact Randi is a girl (she often feels her life would be different if she was a boy, reminding me vaguely of Shakespeare’s Beatrice or Lady Macbeth wishing on that same subject).
I also enjoyed the plethora of characters in the small town, all of whom have their own troubles, prejudices and blemishes. Deer Creek has its own distinctive flavor, which I thoroughly enjoyed reading.
I would recommend this book to any reader between the ages of 8-12 who are looking for a nice straight mystery to read!
So here’s the thing: I am not overly fond of zombie books. Generally I find them mildly boring and/or vaguely gross.
This book however has me reconsidering my position on this undead scourge. Molly is still recovering from her encounter with Marek Blackwell, the Dead City’s mayor. While her broken wrist is healing up nicely, Molly is still mentally reeling. The discovery that her mother is a zombie is a lot to process.
The more pressing problem at the moment is the fact her Omega team (an Omega team is made up of students from the Metropolitan Institute of Science and Technology, who know zombies exist and are a sort of police force to keep them in line and at peace with the living world) is on suspension due to their unauthorized zombie hunting activities, ie Marek Blackwell. Their reinstatement looks very shaky, and it isn’t until they are invited to the Baker’s Dozen that things start to turn around.
What’s the Baker’s Dozen? Well, Molly and her team have to figure it out fast, because Manhattan’s zombies have a plan, Operation Blue Moon. A plan to consolidate their power in both living and dead communities, plus a large dollop of revenge thrown in for spice. It is up to Molly and her team to figure out who, what, when, where, and how to stop this Operation, before it is too late.
This is a seriously fun read. James Ponti does a great job in balancing all the plot lines within this book, each one enhancing and adding to the other --- While never becoming jumbled or garbling the story with irrelevant material. In doing so, the book never drags, and you have to pay serious attention to each page, so you don’t miss any pertinent information.
Plus the Molly and the Omega team are really clever in how they uncover the zombies’ plans. Using resources readily available to anyone, it makes their discoveries much more plausible. Plus while they are all a bit above average in their reasoning skills (and smarts) none of them are super geniuses. They have to work together as a team to figure out a solution to the puzzles and plots. Add the fact that each person in the book has their own flaws and talents, this makes for great reading!
While this is a zombie book, and does have the obligatory fight scenes and dismembered body parts, here again Ponti does a great job in being graphic (to a point) without being full out disgusting. Even these scenes hold important information needed to further the plot along. This is a zombie mystery filled with clues, iffy allies and shady motives.
I am highly recommending this book to any female (or open minded male reader, as there are a number of great guys in this book) reader age 9+ looking for a good urban fantasy/zombie book. I would suggest you start with the first book in the series, Dead City, as this second book relies heavily on knowledge from it. I would highly recommend this series!
Here are a few title I am looking forward to reading!