Sunday, September 24, 2006

Red Kayak

“After all this time, I still ask myself: Was it my fault? Maybe. Maybe not.”

Thirteen-year-old Brady is the narrator of this novel, and we see the events through his eyes. He deals with some moral choices when his young neighbor Ben dies in a boating accident. Another theme of the novel is what over-fishing has done to people’s livelihoods and to the environment. Brady’s father is a waterman who makes a living catching crabs on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.

Brady is called out to help the other watermen search for the missing boy and his mother who had been out in a red kayak. Brady rescues Ben from the water, but even after getting him to the hospital – the boy dies. This is difficult for Brady and his family because they had lost a daughter several years earlier.

The moral dilemma becomes more difficult when Brady suspects that maybe this wasn’t just a terrible accident.

This novel is by Priscilla Cummings.

Hard Hit

This is a novel in verse by Ann Turner. Mark is a pitcher on his high school baseball team and he seems to have everything going for him. Suddenly life changes when his father is diagnosed with cancer. He begins to question anything he had believed in before this crisis. This novel follows Mark’s emotional and physical journey – he relies on faith, then bargaining to try to reach the outcomes he wants.

It is best to read this book when you have the time to read it without stopping and keep the Kleenex handy.

Sunday, September 17, 2006


Nicola Morgan, the author, makes her home near Edinburgh, Scotland, the setting for this historical fiction novel. She has based this novel on true stories and the characters are created from information about people who lived in Edinburgh. The time is 1822, a time before anesthetics were used when performing surgeries. One of Robbie’s memories is of his mother’s surgery to remove a cancerous tumor from her breast – he vividly recalls her screams of pain. The author presents a picture for the reader that shows the doctor giving little dignity or concern to the patient. Robbie also remembers that she dies in less than a week from a blood infection. The surgeon is a Dr. Robert Knox, and Robbie believes the doctor is responsible for his mother’s death.

Robbie and his little sister Essie are abandoned by their father and survive on their own in the slums of Edinburgh. Robbie is consumed by his hatred of Dr. Knox. This leads him to an association with Burke and Hare, bodysnatchers, who provide Dr. Knox with corpses for his study of anatomy. This is not something that Robbie understands.

The book gives the reader a glimpse of what surgery was like almost 200 years ago, and it also gives us the not so pretty picture of life for many in the slums of a city. We ride on Robbie’s emotional journey of reconciling his mother’s death from surgery. The novel also may cause the reader to think about how we make advances in surgery and medical treatment.

Evil Star

You know that there are some authors you find easy to read – Anthony Horowitz. This is book 2 in the series The Gatekeepers.

Max Freeman made sure Raven’s Gate was closed and he thought his life would return to normal – not. He is living with Richard, a journalist, and is going to a private school where he does not fit in. To add to his problems his old foster mother, Gwenda Davis, drives a tanker truck into the school in an attempt to kill Matt.

Now Nexus wants Matt to help them get a diary that will help them find the second gate. This adventure takes he and Richard to South America, Peru. It is here that Matt meets Pedro, the second of the five who have been born to protect the world from the Old Ones. They are faced with hard decisions and they visit some very interesting places. One of the places is the Lines of Nazca in Peru – these are considered by some to be one of the most sacred places on Earth. You can learn about these lines.

This book reads very fast.

Monday, September 11, 2006


Elsewhere is the place people go when they die. Fifteen year-old Liz Hall was hit by a taxi while she was riding her bike, and now she is at Elsewhere with Betty, her grandmother who died before she was born. Like the novel Turnabout by Margaret Peterson Haddix, those residing at Elsewhere grow younger each year rather than older. The author, Gabrielle Zevin, has added the unique twist of people who are able to understand “canine” and talk with dogs.

Liz has a difficult time adjusting to “life” at Elsewhere because she wants to go back to Earth, Following Liz as she tries to acclimate to her new life has some humorous and emotional moments. Liz is able to see her prom from an Observation Deck that allows one to view Earth and she also find the cab driver who hit her and didn’t even stop. A humorous section is Liz explaining to Josey, a dog, why she shouldn’t drink from the toilet.

Defining Dulcie

This is a first novel by Paul Acampora; he says “I wanted to tell a story about the power of friends, the meanings of words, and the push and pull of home.”

Dulcie Jones has lost her father to an accident at his work; he was a school janitor. Then her mother decides that she and Dulcie need to redefine themselves and move to California from the small Connecticut town they have always lived in. Dulcie is not happy in California, and when her mother decides she is going to sell Dad’s old pick-up truck to buy a Volvo she snaps. Dulcie steals the truck and heads back across the country to her home.

This is an adventure as she takes her road trip. She makes some detours like going to see the fainting goats. From every stop she finds a postcard and sends it to her mother. When she finally gets back to Connecticut she goes to work for her grandfather as a janitor at John Jacob Jerome High School. It is here that she meets Roxanne who is also working as a janitor at the school.

I think this book opens up the idea that it is important to do a job well and to learn to understand people. It also shows the readers that it is important for people to grieve in their own way. I really liked the characters in this book.

Deadly Drive

This is a sports story by David Patneaude. Casey Wilde wants to be a basketball player. She was injured in a hit and run accident that took her mother’s life. Every year about the time of her mother’s death, Casey gets an envelope of money that is from some anonymous donor. As the story begins, a new neighbor, Autumn Hopkins moves in. She is also passionate about basketball. This friendship leads to Casey playing on an AAU team with Autumn and Autumn’s father as one of the coaches. Casey also has another neighbor, Megan, who has given Casey support since her mother’s death. The novel lets the readers see Casey develop as a basketball player and a young woman, and it continues with the mystery of the envelopes of money.