January 15, 2011

Two great reads for tweens...

I have read two children's books that are worth your time - one is an inspirational tale of never giving up hope and the other is a great ghost story.

The first is Everything on a Waffle. This children's book offers its reader an adorable character, Primrose Squarp, a young girl who never gives up on her parents being alive. While the entire town accepts the fact that Primrose is now an orphan, she simply smiles and awaits her parents' arrival. In the process, she is taken in by several different homes: an old neighbor, an uncle, foster parents. But through it all, hope is always there...and of course her favorite restaurant, The Girl in the Red Swing, where everything is served on a waffle.

This novel is engaging and allows the reader into a world of acceptance. Primrose does not once in the book become bitter, angry, or sad about her predicament. She just goes with the flow and awaits...because she knows that eventually, one day, her parents will return. They did not die at sea, they are just simply lost, looking for a way to return to her. The reader will root for Primrose (and for the return of her parents) as we experience the highs and lows of her experiences.

This Newbery Honor book needs to be added to your "I should read this" list.

If you've read by previous blog, then you are aware that I have adored Candy Apple books. There are currently just a handful of Poison Apple books, but I've bought them because I do enjoy the supernatural. Scholastic's newest venture is successful in my eyes by bringing age-appropriate creepiness to its readers through these books.

My second Poison Apple book, The Dead End, did not disappoint. I love a good ghost story, who doesn't, and Mimi McCoy really delivers in this novel. It offers its readers just enough spooktascular ghost story without being over-whelming or nightmarish.  

In this novel, Casey Slater is planning to have the best summer of her life! That is until her parents decide to have another plans in the guise of a creepy old fixer-upper they have purchased in Stillness, New Hampshire. But don't let the town's name fool you, this house is anything but still.

While Casey is pouting about her parents decision to ruin her summer, she is unaware that she is about to embark on a ghost mystery. After all, from day one in the new summer house, creepy things happen. There is tapping, shouting, calls for help, unexplained accidents...and only Casey seems to be aware. Can Casey unravel the mystery before she too becomes a victim of this house on Drury Road?

The tight plot and likable characters make this a page-turner. It reminds me a bit of Nancy Drew, but more modernized with a higher creep factor. But do not let that creep factor fool you - it is definitely age-appropriate for the tween audience.

McCoy first charmed me with her Candy Apple novels The Accidental Cheerleader, The Babysitting Wars, and Star-Crossed. It is apparent with her latest novel that she has a talent for writing for the tweens...a talent that appeals to those of us who just enjoy great story telling.

If you too like a great ghost story, but don't necessarily enjoy being scared to death, you need to add The Dead End to your reading list.

January 7, 2011

Yowza - Crescendo is a sequel and a half!

I love a good, strong YA series. I love even more when that series causes my heart to pump non-stop, much like the elliptical. When I chose Hush, Hush as the first SHS YA Teacher Reader pick, little did I know just how much I would fall in love with Nora and Patch. Sure their relationship has its problems, what relationship doesn't? She's in love with him, he wants to kill her...the story's always the same. Then Fitzpatrick delivered Crescendo, the sequel. It's been sitting on my shelf whispering my name for quite a bit of time, but now that I am able to recapture some of my reading time again, it was high on my list of reads. And boy did it NOT disappoint. I am a busy lady - I teach 171 teenagers and have a five-year-old, but once I started, I HAD to finish this book.

Fitzpatrick truly, truly delivers solid storytelling. I am glad she decided not to pursue a health profession and became a storyteller instead; it is clear that this is her true calling. 

This sequel explores the complications of first love, pride, and all that that the two things entail. But, the real heart of the story is insecurity and how that insecurity can eat one alive; in this case, Nora. Instead of holding true to love, she allows her imagination get the better of her, making her "see" things that are not really there, such as Patch and Marcie as a couple (ummm, yuck!). This self-doubt puts Nora in countless reckless situations, situations that could cost her her life. After all, there is still someone out there that would love to use her as a sacrifice as a trade for a human body.

As the heroine of the story, Nora must find her way herself; as the hero of the story, Patch must find a way to save Nora from herself before it is too late.

This story will have your heart pounding and pages turning, leaving the reader wanting more. With the clever cliff hanger, I am excited to see where Fitzpatrick chooses to take the story next...Two enthusiastic thumbs up!

January 2, 2011

Give Me a Posion Apple and make my day!

Scholastic is a top children's publishing house. A couple of summers ago I discovered their Candy Apple books and was hooked! I own all of them! They are sweet novels about surviving middle school in various ways...and things end happily ever after. Basically, they are fun reads that leave you with a warm, fuzzy feeling at the end. With the popularity of dark YA novels, it seems Scholastic has decided to jump on that bandwagon as well - providing youngsters with "age appropriate" darkness. Enter: Poison Apple books.

The moment I saw them on Amazon I knew they would be up by ally, so I ordered the first three. I am just now getting around to taking a bite (yeah, yeah I know) out of one, and I loved it! While this is the third of the Poison Apple books, these are not books that have to be read in order. 

I picked Miss Fortune to read first because I love a good old fashioned "fortune teller gone bad" story. And this novel lives up to that potential...and then some. Since this is aimed at the youngsters (ages 8-12), I will say that the author does take this responsibility with great care. She produces a solid storyline with just enough creepiness to not give your eight-year-old nightmares and just enough to keep your twelve-year-old engaged (unless her mind has already been tainted with horror/slasher films).

Mia and Zoe are best friends who do it all together. They decide to attend a carnival with a group of friends, and before the night is over, one of their lives will be dramatically changed for the worst...that would be Zoe. You see, Zoe makes a mistake. While her friend Mia is having her fortune read, Zoe sort of/kind of makes fun of the fortune teller. Well, any good skeptic will know this is just not the best of plans, and soon Zoe finds that out, beginning the morning after the reading.

Strange, inexplicable things begin to happen to Zoe - making her feel out of control of everything. From minor accidents to one that almost ends her life, she realizes that she must somehow take control. With the help of her BFF Mia, the two embark on a journey to break the curse that seems to be haunting Zoe. The question is this: can they succeed before it's too late?

Brandi Dougherty creates two solid characters with Mia and Zoe; their friendship is believable, even if the rest of the plot is not. But overall this is a fun, fast read. If you enjoy spooky stories. If you enjoy a side of creep-fest with your plot. If you enjoy everything working out...well, I'll save that for you to find out - then you will enjoy this novel.

Poison Apple books by Scholastic - take a bite out of one! I'm off to devour another one of the delectable reads.

Poison Novels:
The Dead End by Mimi McCoy
This Totally Bites by Ruth Ames
Miss Fortune by Brandi Dougherty
Now You See Me... by Jane B. Mason & Sarah Hines Stephens

I believe the novels were published in this order, but don't quote me on that. If you know me, I own all of them, so you can simply borrow one from me. I don't usually see them in B&N, so I order them from Amazon.