Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Half Brother by Kenneth Oppel L680

This is a thought provoking book about a family that raises a chimpanzee as a human child as part of an experiment to determine if chimps can learn and communicate through American Sign Language. Their only child becomes quite attached to Zan and sees him as he little brother. When the experiment is deemed a failure it calls into question the rights of animals, and the role humans should and do play when messing with nature. There were some parts that were a bit mature as Ben, the main character, begins to come of age and falls for the girl next door. Overall a good book, especially if you like animals and coming of age novels. While the author doesn't indicate it, the book seems to be loosely based on the experiments that Gardner did with real chimps in the late 60's.

Friday, June 10, 2011

The Water Seeker. Holt, Kimberly Willis, L730.

The story of Amos, a young boy whose mother (a loner with wild red hair, an artistic flair, and a unique connection with birds) dies while giving birth to him. His father is a trapper and is not around when the child is born. When he returns to find his wife dead and the child being cared for by his reluctant grandmother, he decides he will take the boy to his half brother who is the preacher at a new mission in Indian territory. This is the story of Amos and how he discovers that he has the gift his father and his grandfather before him had. The ability to dowse for water. Great voice! Interesting symbolism.

The Hunger Games Series, Collins, Suzanne. L810

Great books for an enjoyable read. If you like adventure books or mysteries this series may be just right for you. They have a strong female protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, and a strong male protagonist Peeta.
From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up -In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like 'Survivor' and 'American Gladiator.' Book one of a planned trilogy.Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK

I am Number Four. Lore, Pittacus, L700

Another book waiting for the next in the series. While I am not usually a huge fan of sci-fi, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Told in the first person by the main character, it moves quickly and leaves you wanting to know what will happen next. If you liked The Hunger Games, The Maze Runner or Twilight, you may like this series as well as they have a very similar feel.

John Smith has just arrived in Paradise, Ohio, just another stop in a string of small towns where the 15-year-old has been hiding out from the Mogadorians. Those terrifying aliens are hellbent on destroying him and the other nine Loric children who have sought refuge on Earth. The Mogadorians are picking off the surviving kids in numerical order. The first three are dead and John's number is up. Will his Legacies, his defining super powers, develop in time for him to fight against the enemy? I Am Number Four is a breathless page-turner of a sci-fi novel that will have readers rooting for the teen alien who must unleash his fire power to save himself, his human friends, and the planet. This is the first of a slated multi-book series that, judging by this first book, will help reinvigorate a traditional YA genre that's grown a bit light on strong character development. So, gear-up sci-fi fans, the battle for Earth is on and there's a new kid in town! --Lauren Nemroff

The Boneshaker. Milford, Kate. L900

This was an interesting book based on the premise of what can happen when one sells their soul to the devil regardless of whether you have the best of intentions in doing so or not. This book has a strong female protagonist. If you like mystery books, this may be the read for you as it will keep you trying to figure it out until the end. The one thing I had a tough time getting into in this book was the main character Natalie's preoccupation with automaton or machinery.
From School Library Journal
Grade 6–8—Natalie Minks, 13, likes machines—the way they make sense, the way all the gears and cogs fit together to make something happen. When Dr. Jake Limberleg's Nostrum Fair and Technological Medicine Show stops in at her father's bicycle repair shop because a wagon wheel has fallen off and disappeared, Natalie knows that the man is not meant to fit into the machinery of her life. Her ailing mother has told her stories of bargains made with the Devil, and of besting wickedness by looking it right in the face. Limberleg has a collection of clockwork figures that work without being wound up and never seem to run down. When Natalie begins to have inexplicable visions of the malevolent forces facing Arcane, MO, she isn't convinced that she is equipped to fight the evil at hand. Soon almost everyone is taken in by Limberleg's promises of miraculous healing and snake-oil cures, and it becomes clear to Natalie that she is their only hope of survival. Enhanced by full-page drawings, this intricate story, set in the early 20th century, unfolds with the almost audible click of puzzle pieces coming together. In the gothic tradition of Ray Bradbury's Something Wicked This Way Comes (S & S, 1962), The Boneshaker will earn itself a place in the annals of stories about children and the struggle between good and evil.—Heather M. Campbell, formerly at Philip S. Miller Library, Castle Rock, CO
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

The Scorch Trials. Dashner, James. L720

Another good book... will leave you waiting for the 3rd book which is not to be released until October 2011.
Library Journal Review - Gr 7 Up–This dystopian novel begins where The Maze Runner (Delacorte, 2009) ends. Thomas and the rest of the group's escape from the Maze and the horrifying creatures called Grievers has proven to be short-lived because WICKED, the group behind it all, has another trial in store for them. Sun flares have destroyed most of the Earth, and a virus called the Flare has ravaged its population. Infected people turn into zombies called Cranks that attack and eat one other. The kids are told that they have the Flare but if they succeed in surviving the second trial, they will be cured. With few supplies, they must travel across 100 miles of hot and scorched land within two weeks to reach a safe house to receive the cure. When Teresa, Thomas's best friend and the only girl in the group, disappears, and he loses the ability to communicate telepathically with her, he and the other guys determine to find her. As they trek across the barren desert encountering crazed Cranks, the teens' loyalty to one another and the group is tested. The fast-paced narrative and survival-of-the-fittest scenario is reminiscent of Suzanne Collins's The Hunger Games (Scholastic, 2008). Although these characters aren't quite as compelling and their made-up slang takes a little getting used to, each character's personality is distinct. The unresolved ending will leave readers impatiently waiting for the conclusion to the trilogy.–Sharon Rawlins, New Jersey State Library, Trenton. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted. --This text refers to the Library Binding edition.

The Maze Runner - Dashner, James. Lexile 770

Great book! This is the first in a three part series. Review from School Library Journal
Grade 6–10—Thomas wakes up in an elevator, remembering nothing but his own name. He emerges into a world of about 60 teen boys who have learned to survive in a completely enclosed environment, subsisting on their own agriculture and supplies from below. A new boy arrives every 30 days. The original group has been in "the glade" for two years, trying to find a way to escape through a maze that surrounds their living space. They have begun to give up hope. Then a comatose girl arrives with a strange note, and their world begins to change. There are some great, fast-paced action scenes, particularly those involving the nightmarish Grievers who plague the boys. Thomas is a likable protagonist who uses the information available to him and his relationships (including his ties to the girl, Teresa) to lead the Gladers.