Sunday, November 21, 2004

Wildfire! by Elizabeth HIll

Ben has always loved the Fourth of July. Living in rural Florida with his
great-grandmother, his life is a simple one but a happy one. But then
there's Elliot -- the know-it-all boy from up North. He's always putting Ben
down and making fun of the little town. When Elliot gets the puppy that
Ben wants, it is just too much. And now Elliot is trying to ruin the Fouth of
July too. He dares Ben to set off some fireworks even though it is too
dangerous. Will Ben give in and risk a forest fire?

Kissing Vanessa by Simon Cheshire

With the success of Louise Rennison's books that chronicle the adventures of Georgia Nicholson, it was just a matter of time before we were treated to the male perspective on teenage life in England. Fifteen-year-old Kevin is certainly not the most popular boy in school. But when beautiful Vanessa arrives, it's love at first sight. But how can someone like Kevin ever get noticed by the beautiful Vanessa? Enter Jack -- Kevin's best friend. Jack is a self professed "babe magnet". As a matter of fact, he is actually writing a book on how to attract girls. And he offers a sneak preview to Kevin -- who is not so sure he can pull this off. Unfortunately, Jack's advice doesn't always work!

Saturday, November 20, 2004

The Book of Dead Days by Marcus Sedgwick

The dead days. These are the days between Christmas and New Years. Days when spirits roam and magic prevails. And in a European city in the late 18th century, Valerian is desparate. He is running out of time. With his servant, a young boy with no name, and Boy's friend Willow, they attempt to find the book that will save Valerian. The search will not be easy. They will come upon strange and mysterious sights along the way. Through graveyards and tunnels under the city, the three must find the book before the end of the dead days. Since, the end of the dead days signal the end of Valerian.

Witch Child by Celia Rees

"I am Mary. I am a witch." So begins the diary of Mary Newbury. After watching her grandmother being tortured and hung as a witch, Mary is determined to escape the same fate. With the aid of others, she sets off for America along with others who are leaving England in search of a new home. The year is 1659 and Mary knows she must keep her secret to herself. But she is not alone. There are others like her in the new world. But she must be very careful not to be found out. Even her journal must be hidden so others won't know her secret. But as witch hysteria reaches fever pitch and the village turns on her, Mary must escape into the woods.

Thursday, November 18, 2004

Wittlinger, Ellen. Heart of My Sleeve

Can you really get to know someone through emails? I know a lot of people who meet others on the Internet and strike up friendships and feel they know the person through their emails. Well, Chloe has actually met Julian so she feels she knows him already. They met on a college orientation weekend. They are both into music and planning to attend the same college. From that weekend through the summer, they stay in touch through emails, notes, and postcards. Chloe can't wait for August when she'll see him again. Get to know Chloe and her family and friends through their correspondence during that summer. You may find that you don't know them as well as you thought.

Trueman, Terry. Cruise Control

Paul is an all around great guy. He's a great student. A great athlete. A great brother. But he sometimes finds it hard to be a great brother. You see, his brother is a veg. A lump in a wheelchair, drooling, incoherent veg. Paul won't let anyone else call Shawn that but he can. He really does love his brother but it is really hard to love someone like that. And that makes him very angry. Paul has a terrible temper. He gets into fights for no reason. Someday he will surely go too far and hurt someone seriously. He is mostly angry at his father for leaving the family when the going got tough. Now he makes a living writing about Shawn and how hard it is to live with someone who is severly disabled. How would he know? He is never around. A companion to Trueman's earlier novel, Stuck in Neutral, this book is Paul's story.

Ryan, Pam Munoz. Becoming Naomi Leon

As Naomi Leon Outlaw's great-grandmother would say, the good and bad of any situation are sometimes the same. It doesn't seem that way to Naomi. She and her brother have become accustomed to living with their great grandmother. Their mother left years ago and Owen barely remembers her. Naomi sometimes dreams of her mother coming back but she isn't prepared for what happens when she does! Unannounced, she just shows up after seven years. Naomi is thrilled at first but then she notices how her mother is treating Owen. Owen can't help it if he is a FLK -- funny looking kid. He has some problems that will take some operations to correct but that will have to wait til he's full grown. When Naomi finds out that her mother plans to take Naomi with her but leave Owen, she and Gram have to take drastic action.

Peck, Richard. The Teacher's Funeral

"If your teacher has to die, August isn't a bad time of the year for it." So begins the story of fifteen-year-old Russell Culver who is looking forward to having the school shut down after the teacher dies. All Russell can think about is quitting school and joining up with a wheat threshing crew to get out of this town. There isn't much here in Indiana for a young boy in 1904. Russell wants to go to the city and see all the wonders that modern technology brings. But there is no such luck. Russell's older sister Tansy is appointed the new teacher and so begins a year of privy fires, missing bells, and elocution lessons for this rag tag class at Hominy Ridge School. If you liked Richard Peck's other novels set during this time, A Year Down Yonder and A Long Way from Chicago, you are sure to enjoy the comical look at rural schools from the last century.

Pascal, Francine. The Ruling Class

Myrna Fry can't believe this is happening to her! She has been asked by none other than Jeanette Sue herself to have lunch with the RC! This is what she has dreamed of. Being accepted by the Ruling Class girls. And to be invited by the queen of the RCs herself, this is truly a mementous day! They said to meet them out by the tree and to bring sandwiches. And Myrna has lugged those sandwiches around with her all morning. But now lunch is just about over and the girls haven't shown. Oh, wait a minute. There they are. Over by the school. Myrna must have misunderstood where they were meeting. She waves and sees them laughing. Good, they don't seem angry. When she starts over to catch up, they disappear into the school. Maybe they didn't know it was her. And now the door seems to be stuck so she can't get in.
Does this sound like the girls want to be Myrna's friends? Or does it sound like they are teasing Myrna? Well, Myrna keeps making excuses for them since she is desparate to be liked by them. But the new girl is different. It's not that she has such a strange name -- Twyla Gay -- and it's not that she's from Lubbock of all places. It's just that she doesn't get that Myrna doesn't want to be her friend. But Twyla doesn't get it. And she gets Myrna's place in the pecking order also. And she's determined to do something about it.

Starting to use the blog

OK, I set up this blog months ago and haven't used it. I had good intentions but the summer came and I didn't do all the things I had intended. So, now I plan to update this more frequently. I will be posting my booktalks that haven't yet been added to my booktalks page. I only update Booktalks--Quick and Simple once a month but I am reading and writing booktalks all month long. So, here is a preview. These booktalks may change a bit when I add them to my website. These are my working files. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to email or blog! If you haven't been to my website, you can access it at