Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chapter books from the Book Fair

There were a lot of picture books I hadn't read at the book fair but there were even more chapter books that I hadn't read.  I read pretty fast, but I'm still having trouble finishing all the books I wanted to read before the end of the book fair.  I wonder if my principal would mind if I took the day off tomorrow so I could finish reading....

There were some completely stellar ones on the list.  Two by Lynda Mullaly Hunt... I hadn't read "One for the Murphys" which got a lot of buzz last year.  It's about a girl named Carley who is put in a foster home (with the Murphys) because of a terrible incident with her stepfather and mom.  Her mom was badly injured and couldn't take care of her so Carley is sent to foster care.  The Murphys are a solid family with three young boys and Carley finds it difficult that people can be so kind to each other.  She makes friends and learns to trust the Murphys.  I was a little surprised by the ending. This would be a great one with "The Pictures of Hollis Woods" by Patricia Reilly Giff or that oldie, but goodie "The Great Gilly Hopkins" by Katerine Paterson.   Hunt also has a new book out this year called "Fish in a Tree" and it was equally wonderful.  This one is about a girl named Ally who has moved around a lot.  Her dad is in the military and has been deployed (again).  Her beloved grandfather died recently and her mom works a lot (as a waitress).  Her older brother works in a garage.  Ally is a talented artist and is good at math but she also has a big secret, which is she doesn't know how to read and by 6th grade, she's learned to  hide that pretty well.  There is some great background knowledge about kids with learning disabilities, particularly dyslexia.  There are also some awesome characters.  This one would work well with "Thank you Mr. Falker" by Patricia Polacco as well as "Do Bananas Chew Gum?" by Jamie Gilson.

I also really loved this new one by Stan Lee (of Spider Man fame) called "The Zodiac Legacy: Convergence".  The main character, Steven Lee is a Chinese American with distant parents and a loving grandfather.  They encourage him to take a trip to Hong Kong to connect with his culture (which he finds overwhelming and unfamiliar) and finds he has magical powers that are connected the Chinese Zodiac.  He finds others with similar powers and finds that they are being hunted by an evil genius intent on harnessing all their powers so he can take over the world.  It's very fast paced with tons of action.  I liked it a lot.  Here's a book trailer about it.

Gordon Korman also had a new series that has a very interesting premise, which is almost impossible to describe without spoiling the plot but I'll try.  The book is called "Masterminds", which makes more sense about 75% into the book, but it's about some kids who live in a "Pleasantville" kind of town called Serenity.  They have average sounding families who mostly work in a plant on the outskirts of town that makes traffic cones.  The town is guarded by some very strict police officers who wear purple uniforms, so the kids called them Purple People Eaters.  The kids have been taught that their town is perfect and so no one needs to come or go from the town.  One day, two of the kids decide that they should ride their bikes just beyond the town limits (there is a car in a garage that sounds very cool).  As they ride, one of the boys, Eli, is struck seriously ill.  Eli spends a few days in bed and is better (but doesn't want to cross the line again) but when he's well, he finds out his friend is being sent away.  His friend leaves a cryptic message and Eli starts asking questions.  Some of his other friends have other similar questions.  It's pretty exciting and the characters are interesting enough that I'd like to read the next one in the series, when it comes out.

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