the low down on new books

Children’s Lit

Lost Voices

Reviewed by Cathy Peterson

Just the Facts: by Sarah Porter 7-2011 Harcourt books

Verdict: ★★★☆☆

Who Cares? FICTION – JUVENILE: Family & Everyday Life: Family
FICTION – JUVENILE: Family & Everyday Life: Social Issues
FICTION – JUVENILE: Gender-Specific: Girls & Women
FICTION – JUVENILE: Science Fiction, Fantasy, & Magic

Short Bio:

Fourteen-year-old Luce has had a tough life, but she reaches the depths of despair when she is assaulted and left on the cliffs outside of her grim, gray Alaskan fishing village. She expects to die when she tumbles into the icy waves below, but instead undergoes an astonishing transformation and becomes a mermaid.
A tribe of mermaids finds Luce and welcomes her in—all of them, like her, lost girls who surrendered their humanity in the darkest moments of their lives. Luce is thrilled with her new life until she discovers the catch: the mermaids feel an uncontrollable desire to drown seafarers, using their enchanted voices to lure ships into the rocks. Luce’s own remarkable singing talent makes her important to the tribe—she may even have a shot at becoming their queen. However, her struggle to retain her humanity puts her at odds with her new friends. Will Luce be pressured into committing mass murder?

Eyewitness Account: This account of what happens to abused and molested children is heartrending.  Luce’s character is so easy to empathize with.  The use of male images, the sea, metamorphosis, and song add to the enchantment of this tale.  Even to the most detached reader, the societal structure and hierarchy the mermaids create for themselves are a very realistic look at how abused people will tend to treat each other.

Notable Quotes:

Other Books Read by This Author:

What are other people saying?

Rating:

★★★☆☆ Plot Development

★★☆☆☆ Characterization

★★★☆☆ Writing Style

★★★★ Original Idea

★★★☆☆ Page Turner

Overall ★★★☆☆

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Genius Files – Mission Unstoppable

Reviewed by  Cathy Peterson

Just the Facts:By Dan Gutman 1-2011 Harper Collins

Verdict: ★★★★

Who Cares? Junior mystery and adventure readers

Short Bio: For twelve-year-old Coke McDonald and his twin sister Pep, this summer’s family cross-country RV vacation is nothing toget excited about…until Coke and Pep are chased off a cliff, locked in a burning school, and start receiving mysterious messages in codes and ciphers. Mom and Dad are lovably kooky and hilariously clueless, but Coke and Pep are more than up to the task. From California to Wisconsin, it’s a race against time to find out who’s after them, who’s leaving the notes…and just what being a part of The Genius Files entails!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                              Eyewitness Account:This book was tons of fun to read.  Who knew our country had so many fun things to see. Coke and Pep are a little “cute” but considering the danger they are in every chapter, a light attitude may be exactly what is called for.  These two use their brains and solve the toughest of problems with MacGyver-like utensils.  The best part of this book is that the reader can get online and follow the road trip taken as he reads each chapter.


Notable Quotes:

Other Books Read by This Author:

What are other people saying?

Rating:

★★★★ Plot Development

★★★★ Characterization

★★★★ Writing Style

★★★★ Original Idea

★★★★ Page Turner

Overall ★★★★


The Cheshire Cheese Cat

Reviewed by Nick

Just the Facts: The Cheshire Cheese Cat by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright. Barry Moser, illustrator. pp. 1-37 excerpt. To be published on Oct. 1, 2011. Peachtree Publishers; Atlanta. Accessed through http://www.netgalley.com.

Verdict: ★★★☆☆

Who cares? : Children’s Literature/Elementary Chapterbook

Not so short bio:

Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese Pub has unarguably the best cheese in England. Perhaps that’s why it is such a popular hang out for writers and poets. It’s definitely the reason that so many mice have inhabited the attic. And no wonder the owner is looking for a new mouser!

Skilley is a tom cat living in the streets of London–but he’s no ordinary cat. Skilley has a secret that would make him the laughing stock of cats and mice alike. When Skilley hears that the Cheshire Cheese Pub in London is looking for a mouser, he quickly formulates a plan to get hired for the position.

Pip, a mouse that lives among the mouse colony within the Cheshire Cheese, hears the pub owner, Henry, talking about getting a cat. Pip understands human language because he learned it from his rescuer Nell, the pub owner’s daughter.  He quickly decides to convene the mouse council to find the wisest course of action, but on the way foolishly gets caught by the would-be mouser! Pip is scared for his life, but starting to get annoyed as the cat prolongs the inevitable, or what Pip thinks is the inevitable. Once in private, Pip finds out Skilley’s secret. Skilley does not like to eat mice! More surprisingly, Skilley loves CHEESE! and that’s why he has come to Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese. Pip thinks quick on his feet and makes a deal with Skilley that they will provide him with the hard-to-obtain Cheshire Cheese if he will protect the mice from any true mouser.

Will Pip succeed in persuading the mice, especially Maldwyn, a victim of a cat mauling, that the new mouser is harmless? Is Skilley indeed harmless? Will Skilley’s rival Pinch let Skilley take the post of Ye Olde Cheshire Cheese mouser so easily? What secrets is Maldwyn hiding? Will Skilley be able to make it “look” like he is a mouser while really eating the pubs cheese? Can Skilley trust the mice? Can the mice trust Skilley? And most importantly, will Charles find the perfect beginning to his book?

Eyewitness Account:

Deedy and Wright have composed a charming tale of a cat and mouse. But this tale is not the orthodox relationship that you’d expect from such eternal foes. The authors have an original plot scheme for their story and yet they have intertwined beloved traditional elements such as the writings of Charles Dickens and his character itself in the storyline. Even the setting of London and an old fashioned pub nicely offset the untraditional concept of a cheese-eating cat.

The first chapter is a little choppy, but after that the story takes off fluidly. I commend the authors for attempting to be artistic with the script at certain points in the book, but I think it is too distracting at times. Not exactly sure the intended age range, but in some places wording is unnecessarily dense.  The characters have great potential and so does the plot, but since it is only an excerpt, my rating for this book will be less than I would have liked.

 

Rating:

★★★☆☆ Plot Development

★★★☆☆ Characterization

★★★☆☆ Writing Style

★★★★★ Original Idea

★★★☆☆ Page Turner

Overall ★★★☆☆