Friday, July 31, 2009

Click Here by Denise Vega

This story totally rocks! Erin is entering grade 7- new school, new kids and she is very nervous. Her and her best friend Jilly have been together since kindergarten and now they are being separated. Erin isn't sure how to deal with things without Jilly. What she does do is write a 'pretend' blog about her problems, issues and things that make her happy. This blog is private- for her eyes only.

Things in grade 7 get pretty crazy. Her nemesis Serena seems to know every little issue that bothers her and brings it up every time she sees her. Her best friend Jilly is really only interested in herself, which is starting to bother Erin. Finally, her new friend Mark only likes her as a friend when she wants more. All of these things get posted to her private blog- until one day it isn't so private anymore! Erin is an amazing character, her strength in dealing with the issues she faces is very inspiring!

Girls in grade 6-8 must read this book. Erin's voice is hilarious, it makes me very glad I'm not in 7th grade again!

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Elephant Run by Roland Smith

Just before the end of school, I ordered a whole pile of Roland Smith books. They came in a nice big pack and were pretty reasonable through Scholastic. I finally made it to that section of my bookshelf and pulled out the first one I saw, Elephant Run. It was a great first choice.

The story is set during World War 2 and is about Nick- a boy who has been living in London for several years but because of the War, his mother needs to send him away to Burma to live with his father. Nick was born in Burma, but has very few memories of the place. When Nick arrives in Burma he is quickly reminded of the beauty and danger of the jungle. What he remembers most though are the elephants and the importance they play at the teak plantation his father owns.

After only a few days of getting reacquainted with his father and Burma, the war suddenly catches up with Nick. The Japanese have taken over the country and the elephant's and their handlers. Nick watches as his father is taken prisoner and he finds himself a slave to the men who have taken over his home.

I found this story fascinating, it really introduced me to a country and a part of history that I knew nothing about. I was very intrigued by the role of elephants in other parts of the world. I have always just thought of them as animals I have seen in the zoo, but this book made me realize that they are used for so much more around the world. I think this book would be good for a read aloud or literature circle.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pies by Jordan Sonnenblick

I think I just finished reading my favourite book of the summer (or maybe July!) This book had me laughing out loud and crying in many places. The author writes in such an engaging way that I feel like I know these characters.

In Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, Steven is a totally normal boy in grade 8. He is awkward around girls- especially Renee who he has had a serious crush on since grade 3. He isn't very good at sports, but he does excel at the drums. Steven also has a 5 year old brother Jeffrey who drives him crazy most of the time.

But one day, Jeffrey gets sick-very, very sick and suddenly Steven's normal life is spiralling out of control. He needs to deal with his feelings about Jeffrey, being left to fend for himself while his mother is looking after Jeffrey and how his dad just sort of zones out of the whole family situation.

Yet throughout this book, Steven's brilliant sense of humour, although sarcastic many times is so believable that you know this is how many people get through a tough situation.

I can't decide if this book would be best suited for a read aloud or a literature circle. Either way, I know both boys and girls would love reading this book. I'm off to order other books by Sonnenclick right now!

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Just Listen by Sarah Dessen

I am on a bit of a Sarah Dessen kick, this is one I had read before, but it was just as good the second time through.

In Just Listen, we meet the Greene family. A normal family with 3 girls, 3 girls who fight, laugh and all of whom are involved in modelling. From the outside, their family looks like a perfect family. Yet, from the inside, things are much different. One of Annabel's older sisters is recovering from an eating disorder that really rocked the family and the oldest sister is off at University and seems to really be changing as well.

Then, there is Annabel- whose friendship with Sophie ended in the most terrible way and Sophie works very hard to make her life miserable at school. The only way Annabel knows how to deal with this is to retreat into her own silent world. But, then she meets Owen- a boy who never lies- even when it makes others uncomfortable. As Annabel and Owen grow closer, she is forced to deal with the issue that split her and Sophie up- something Annabel is trying desperately to forget.

I think of Sarah Dessen as the Jodi Picoult for young adults, she deals with such great topics. I think all girls should read her books!
Check out her website here:

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen

I have always like Sarah Dessen books. I think she writes about some really interesting topics that have a large appeal for girls.

This book, deals with two sisters who had to work together to survive their mother's drinking, drugs and other inappropriate behaviour. They basically had to not only raise themselves, but also look after their mother. There is ten year between Ruby and Cora, and when Cora goes off to college, Ruby is left alone with her mother and looses touch with Cora. Now, ten years later, Ruby's mother has taken off and while she tries to keep things going at home, but it is tough to hold it all together. Suddenly, Cora and her husband Jamie are there insisting that she come and live with them. Ruby finds herself living in a beautiful home, going to a private school and surrounded by 'perfect' people. But all of this is hard for Ruby, it is hard for her to trust or get close to anyone. Ruby learns about friendship, trust and family through all the people she meets.

I really loved this story!

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler

This book was a lovely look at the promise of first love and the many questions it can leave you with. Anna and Frankie have been best friends forever. Now, they are spending 3 weeks on holiday together and Frankie has decided that they need to meet one new boy each day (thus the title). Frankie is slightly boy crazy and is eager for their contest to begin. Anna however has a secret, a secret she promised she wouldn't reveal to Frankie. Anna was in love with Frankie's older brother Matt the year before- just weeks before he died. This secret is eating Anna up. She has always shared everything with Frankie, but her family is falling apart because of Matt's death and Anna isn't sure how to grieve for Matt. This summer holiday is suppose to be a fun way for the family to gain some normality in their lives, but for Anna and Frankie, the pressure of the twenty boy summer starts to really affect their friendship.

I thought this book was brilliant, it really captured the feeling of that first love. However, I would be very careful who I gave this book to because there are some scenes and content that are not appropriate for some readers.
Here is an interesting interview that Sarah Ockler gave to another blog:

Saturday, July 11, 2009

The Roar by Emma Clayton

This book was given to me by one of my students- Daniel. He thought I might like it, and boy was he right. This book is similar to The Uglies or The Hunger Games- where the world is much like ours in many way, but in some major ways the world is so much different and young kids are forced to make some serious decisions to go against the status quo.

The Roar is the story about what happens 40 years after an animal plague has destroyed much of the world. Now, everyone in the world lives behind a great wall, a wall that was designed to keep out all the animals. The people who live behind the wall are forced to live in terrible conditions (at least the poor people are). Most people live on the bottom layer of the city, they live in very small flats that are covered in mold. While the rich people live on the top layer of the city- where they block out all the sun to the people below.

Mika is a 13 year old poor boy who is very confused. A year ago, his twin sister vanished. His parents believe she is dead, but Mika knows in his heart she is still alive. When the government comes to school one day with a new program they all need to follow, Mika starts questioning the people in charge. Suddenly all the kids are playing this new video game and Mika finds himself finally comfortable with who he is. Mika knows that by playing this game he will somehow find his sister. But, things are not what they seem. The government has other plans for Mika and his friends.

Check out this book- it is well worth the read! The author also has a fan page on facebook:

Fever 1793 by Laurie Halse Anderson

I ordered a pile of Anderson's books the other day and now am on a bit of a marathon reading all of her stuff.

This book is great for American History. I love reading historical fiction and learning about real events told through a fictional story. Set in Philadelphia in the summer of 1793, this story tells about what happened when Yellow Fever hit the area. Maddie Cook is a typical 14 year old girl, she works only as hard as her mother makes her and loves to spend time with her grandfather. But, when people start getting sick, the town of Philadelphia starts to change. Families start moving out of the city and people who are staying are locking themselves up and just trying to survive. Maddie has to grow up quickly and hang on to what is important to her and her small family.

A good story, but not typical of Halse Anderson's cutting edge writing.

Friday, July 10, 2009

Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson

I really like Laurie Halse Anderson's books. Her book Speak was one of the first young adult books I read as an adult that really got me interested in reading more books for kids. Her writing is brilliant, you can really hear the characters voice in her work. There were several spots in Wintergirls that I thought to myself " That line was beautiful- I need to write that down" that is how stunning her writing is.

Wintergirls tells the story of two 18 year old girls- Cassie and Lia who have been best friends forever. They share everything- secrets, clothes, jewelry and the desire to be the skinniest girl in their school. At the start of the story Cassie dies, which spins Lia out of control. The only thing Lia can control is what she eats. This story shares the heartbreaking reality of living with anorexia, and the fall-out of this terrible disease.

Halse Anderson shares Lia's story and her journey in such an honest way. One of the coolest techniques I have ever seen in a book is when Lia is sharing her inner voice of what she wants to say she will cross off the words she hears in her head followed by what she actually says. It was an amazing way to give the reader an insite into what goes through someones mind when they are battling with an eating disorder. This is a must read for teen girls!
check out her website here: