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review: “scones and sensibility” March 28, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Scones and Sensibility by Lindsay Eland.
EgmontUSA // Hardcover // 320 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Polly Madessa has fallen in love — with the works of Jane Austen and especially of “Pride and Prejudice.” After being inspired by the likes of Elizabeth Bennett and Mr. Darcy, she sets out her summer speaking as her idols did, determined to find romance in everyday life. When Polly struggles to find what she’s looking for, she decides to create it by playing matchmaker for her older sister, her best friend’s father, and the local owner of a kite store. Farce and comedy ensue as Polly tries to make the perfect couples she read in books.

This was a very cute novel. At first, Polly’s use of archaic language grated on my nerves, but I was soon smiling at the charm of the novel. It reminded me very much of the style of books I read as a tween (Anne of Green Gables, Betsy-Tacy, Little Women), but with a modern twist.

The romance and couples were obvious to me, and I knew exactly where things were going to fall apart. But I was happy to accompany Polly on her journey as she learned that her matchmaking wasn’t as thought out as she had planned.

I was surprised that Polly’s family and friends didn’t give her a harder time about her language and her behavior. Especially during one incident that actually has the police getting involved because Polly wrongly assumes that someone is unattached when in fact they are in a relationship.

What I struggle with is who to sell this novel to. My tweens are very young, and I think the ones that would make age-wise to Polly would have difficulties with the language that she speaks in. This is definitely a book that has a very tight niche, and it might be hard to sell it to a tween.

On the other hand, it is quite enjoyable and I think it might work well as a mother-daughter book club read. I am definitely looking forward to what the author will write next.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Lindsay Eland

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review: “diary of a wimpy kid — dog days” February 17, 2010

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid — Dog Days by Jeff Kinney.
Amulet // Hardcover // 224 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

Greg Heffley is back for a fourth installment of the very popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series. But for the first time, school’s out for the summer and so are Greg and his friends. Of course, Greg wants to spend his summer hanging out at home playing video games. But his mother has ideas of her own about how Greg should spend his summer — with his family.

I think we might be losing steam with this series. When I finished the third volume “The Last Straw,” I immediately shared it with co-workers to read. When I finished “Dog Days,” I closed the book and wasn’t too thrilled with it. Months later, I can’t remember a single stand-out scene. (And I absolutely remember the Shel Silverstein moment in “The Last Straw.”)

Still, I don’t think this is a bad series by any means — this is one of my favorite recommends for reluctant readers and especially for reluctant boys. A great read for tweens and public libraries should definitely stock up on copies. (We have three of each book and they are never on the shelf!)

The movie adaptation will be coming out on March 19th and already my kids and tweens are talking my ear off about what they want to see on the big screen. Expect a run on the books when the movie hits theatres.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Jeff Kinney

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review: “when you reach me” October 7, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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whenyoureachme

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead.
Wendy Lamb Books // Hardcover // 197 pages.
Reviewed from purchased copy.

In 1978 New York, sixth-grader Miranda is no strange to science-fiction and mysteries. After all, her favorite book is Madeleine L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time. But it’s different when the mystery is in her real life. Miranda begins to receive notes, notes that promise to save her friend’s life if she follows directions. Baffled by the notes, Miranda tries to make sense of them while dealing with typical sixth grade friendship and family issues. But will she figure things out in time?

I’m going to come out and say it right now — this is my pick for the Newberry. This book is everything that I want literature for children and young adults to be. Really, truly a perfect book.

Miranda is a relatable character, one that tweens will be able to see themselves in despite the time difference. Her world is fleshed out and each character has moments where their personality shines through brilliantly. Her friends, her family, even the neighborhood becomes part of the story.

The softly-building mystery is fantastic. I felt like all the questions that I had kept me reading, but didn’t rush me. I didn’t mind taking this journey with Miranda, at her pace. (Sometimes I do mind and just want to know what happens!) The mystery is beautifully blended into the story — there are clues from the beginning for readers who want to solve the mystery themselves.

I do have one concern about this book which I think hampers it significantly and that’s the cover. I don’t normally comment on the cover because it isn’t the result of the author’s work, but this cover is pretty bad. It makes sense once you read the book, but it doesn’t help the sell. I’ve been telling tweens/teens to read it with A Wrinkle In Time (required reading at our school district) and a lot of them are finding it that way.

Add it to your collections now…or wait until it’s announced as the Newberry.

Amazon
SWAN catalog
Rebecca Stead

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review: “luv ya bunches” September 7, 2009

Posted by Katie in reviews.
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luvyabunches

Luv Ya Bunches by Lauren Myracle.
Amulet // ARC // 352 pages.
Reviewed from an ARC received at ALA Annual Conference 2009.

Katie-Rose, Yasaman, Milla, and Violet are four girls who barely know one another. Each of them has their own obstacles to overcome as a brand-new school year begins. Katie-Rose is determined to become friends with the A-List, Yasaman is working on her very own computer social network, Milla is struggling to fit back into her clique of friends, and Violet is the new girl this year. A chance meeting and a lost turtle sends their worlds crashing into one another. But with the most popular girl at school, Modessa, pulling strings to keep them apart, can the girls ever become friends?

This book is so charming, I was positively thrilled with it. It’s told in a unique way, through instant messages, video scripts, and narratives woven artfully together. Each girl has their own chapters and the story gradually unfolds, with each girl getting her own distinct voice. Lauren Myracle writes with such honesty that I sometimes had to wonder if she had hidden a fifth-grader under her desk while writing.

The fights and friendships are so realistic that they brought back memories of playground battles in fifth grade where a girl wasn’t allowed to play just because she had the wrong kind of sneakers.

I know that this book will be well received by the tween community. And librarians can safely give this to tweens without worrying about sexual content or curse words. (There is one minor incident with a racial slur, so beware of that. If you want more info, email me.)

Personally, I am so excited for this book and so is my fifth-grade cousin. I was lucky enough to snag two ARCs, so that she has her own. (We had an issue last year — my aunt caught her reading “ttyl” which is a tad bit mature for fourth grade.) I am so pleased that amazing YA authors are also turning their attention towards the tween readers.

Think of it as a younger “ttyl,” perfect for the tweens in your lives. Definitely find room for it on your library shelves.

Amazon
SWAN Catalog
Lauren Myracle
Luv Ya Bunches (Coming Soon)

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