March 30, 2012


Wonder by R. J. Palacio

This is her first book? Seriously? This is an incredible book, and instantly became one of my all time favorites. It's the story of August Pullman, a fifth grade student just entering middle school after having been home schooled since his education began. Middle school is hard enough for most kids, but Auggie has a special reason to be nervous. He has a facial deformity that gets him stares, shocked looks, and even fear from others. As Auggie starts school, he encounters difficult students, friendly students, and many life lessons. This book had me crying, laughing, and feeling for the characters. The author writes from the point of view of several of them, not just Auggie, and this really helps to develop a fondness for each of them, even though they are all very different. I loved this book and highly recommend it for everyone to read.

This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

March 27, 2012


Chomp by Carl Hiassen

Carl Hiassen has a gift for writing some of the craziest, yet believable characters. Chomp doesn't disappoint. Wahoo Cray is missing a thumb from an alligator accident, his father is an animal wrangler with a headache that just won't go away, Derek Badger is a reality show star who's show is pretty much fake, and Tuna is Wahoo's girlfriend who's on the run from a bad home situation.  Add these characters, mix with a storm and a manhunt or two, and what sounds like chaos is a fascinating story. I loved the characters, and would love to see Hiaasen revisit them, but since his children's books are one offs, I don't expect he will. If you loved the rest of his books, you'll love this one. If you like colorful, larger than life characters, you'll love this book. I loved this book and think most of you will as well! Review based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

March 13, 2012

The Inquisitor's Apprentice

The Inquisitor's Apprentice by Chris Moriarity

A story set in an alternate history, full of Jewish culture and magic. I really didn't expect to like this book before I started to read it. There was nothing in the premise that I really connected with. And yet... Once I started, I couldn't stop. Sacha Kessler discovers he can see magic. Because of his gift, he is apprenticed to the New York Police's best Inquisitor, Maximillian Wolf. Wolf's job is to stop magical crime in a place and time where magic and ethnic groups and the industrial revolution have mixed to create a very vibrant and detailed New York at the start of the twentieth century. Sacha, Wolf, and fellow apprentice Lily Astral are tasked with protecting Thomas Edison, who invented a machine that will detect magic in people. Sacha is a great character, human and believable, and I think that's why I was drawn into this story. I do hope the author will make this into a series and give us more stories of Sacha and his friends. Besides writing, Chris Moriarity is a book reviewer for the Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. Review based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

March 9, 2012


Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi (books 1 through 4)

I'm glad I waited to read these until I had several. They are very quick reads. My students seems to have no trouble checking them out and reading them out of order, but it would drive me crazy. In this series of graphic novels a girl discovers an amulet in the attic of her grandfather's house, and discovers that this amulet has power, as well as a mind of it's own. She and her family are transported to an alternate universe where they meet robots, people who have changed into animals, bad elves, and other oddities. It's up to her to save this world, and maybe change our own world as well. The pictures are very engaging and the story moves at a steady pace. Each book is a quick read with little text, just enough to move the story along. Still, the story draws you in and keeps you asking for more. When is the next book coming out?????? Review based on library copies.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

March 7, 2012


Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

I know I'm a little late to the party on this one, but this book really hit a cord with me (maybe in a large part due to the fact that my son is deaf). It's the story of a boy, Ben, and a girl, Rose. They are separated by 50 years, but their stories intersect. Ben's mother dies, he is struck by lightening, and he runs away to find the father he never knew. Ben's story is told in text, and Rose's completely in picture. It's a lovely story and I had trouble putting it down. I often have students asking if this is the sequel to The Invention of Hugo Cabret, especially with the popularity of the Hugo movie, but this story stands on it's own. Highly recommended. Review based on a library copy.

Until next time, bon voyage, and happy reading!

March 5, 2012

Surprise Island

Surprise Island by Gertrude Chandler Warner and Mike Dubisch

Did YOU know there were graphic novel versions of the Boxcar Children series?  Neither did I! Surprise Island is the second in this venerable series and this version details a summer the Alden children spend on a private island, finding a couple of mysteries to solve. Unfortunately, it seems to me that a lot of detail is missing from this version of the story, but that's probably because I remember reading the books. Unlike most other graphic novels, this book features nice children solving mysteries. The pictures make a good fit for the story. I enjoyed the story, even though I missed some of the details of the book.  This series of graphic novels will hopefully bring new life to this wonderful series by making it accessible for a whole new set of readers. Review based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, bon voyage and happy reading!

March 1, 2012

RIP Mama Bear

Jan Berenstain passed away Friday, February 24th.  Here's an NPR interview with her son.

Sad news.

The Bridge to Never Land

The Bridge to Never Land by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Now, what would happen if the events in the wonderful Barry/Pearson Peter and the Starcatchers books where real?  And, what if these real events were accidentally found by a brother and sister from the US today?  That’s what the novel The Bridge to Never Land explores with the usual action and adventure this series has given us in the past.  Umbra is back, and chasing after our two protagonists who have discovered a large amount of starstuff.  It’s up to them to keep the starstuff from Umbra, and along the way they visit DisneyWorld and make their way to Never Land.  I really enjoyed this book and recommend it to all fans of the Peter and the Starcatchers series.  The book can even be read and enjoyed if you haven’t read the series.  A great book. This review is based on a publisher supplied electronic copy.

Until next time, happy reading, and bon voyage!