Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Book-a-Day Reads #2

It's been a fun week of reading in and among trips to Vermont, Maine, and Massachusetts. Here's a round-up of books from this week.

Some of these are not in our library collection yet, but those with stars (*) will be! 

In the comments, what's your favorite summer read so far?

Chapter Book
*  Inside Out & Back Again, by Thanhha Lai

A novel told in free verse, this historical fiction story feels like a personal narrative. It tells the story of Ha, a Vietnamese girl, whose family flees their home just before the fall of Saigon during the Vietnam War. We follow her journey crammed in with other refugees on the boat, arriving at a refugee camp, getting sponsored and moved to Alabama, and navigating the strange ways of the English language and social rejection by her peers. Throughout the narrative, effectively told in tight lines of free verse, the image of her father looms as a reminder of the casualties of war. He was taken prisoner when she was too young to remember, but his presence in the story mirrors his presence in her mother's memory: she keeps him alive through hopes that he may one day be found safe and join them.

This is a haunting but uplifting story of a girl deeply affected by the horrors of war. Recommended for Grades 4+

Early Reader
Bink and Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo (AISB library has it!)

It's all about character and voice in this free-wheeling early chapter book. Bink, the spunky little girl, and her friend (babysitter?), Gollie, are fun and funky. They go about their day bantering, teasing, and showing their imaginative powers to make the most of their times together. Chapters center on Bink's love of a crazy pair of socks, the confusing concept of compromise, and a pretend trek up a mountain. Tony Fucile's cartoony illustrations are full of movement and mischief and capture the characters' personalities perfectly.

Recommended for grades 1-3

Chapter Book (series)
* Till Death Do Us Bark, by Kate and Sarah Klise

This is the third in the 43 Cemetery Road series, a series about a boy who lives with a ghost and a grumpy writer. This mystery is a fun one to solve. Old Noah Breth dies, leaving his fortune to his two bitter children IF they can solve his riddles and find the cash. Clues surface all over town, as reported in newspaper articles and relayed through various personal correspondence. The scrapbook format creates a tone of reader-as-detective as we piece together the solutions, most likely before the characters do. Another fun addition to a creative series.

Recommended for grades 3+

Chapter Book (series)
The Hostile Hospital, by Lemony Snicket (AISB Library has it!)

The Beaudelaire siblings are trying to clear their names against murder accusations by the local newspaper. They begin their investigation at Heimlich Hospital but quickly run into various nefarious characters who want them dead. The biggest crisis is trying to stop a "craniocotemy" which will divest Violet of her head! Littlest sister, Sunny, has a larger role in this installment, and her monosyllabic contributions are hilarious. 

Another adventure in a series recommended for grades 4+.
I listened to the audio version of this read by Tim Curry. He adds distinctive voices for each character and is perfectly snarly when needed.

* Zita, the Spacegirl, by Ben Hatke

Zita and her friend find a strange red device in a huge hole near their homes. When Zita encourages the boy to press it, a crack in the sky opens and he's abducted right in front of her. What's a gal to do? Save him, of course! 

She enters a world of rusty robots, freaky talking machines, and double-crossing characters in her frantic attempt to save her friend. 

Gorgeous full-color art, glossy pages, and spare text will appeal to grades 3+

Spiral-Bound, by Aaron Renier

Elephant wants to try his hand at sculpture and be part of the city's scultpture garden exhibit. Rabbit wants to be an investigative reporter. Both get their wish, but not before a zany cast of characters rollicks through a loosely-structured mystery about a deadly sea creature.

Black and white illustrations. Numerous apostrophe errors. 
This is a fun read, but I won't be buying it for our library.
Ok for grades 3+

(This one is not found on Library Thing, so I'm using an amazon image)

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