Posts tagged siblings
In the middle of America (Wisconsin, to be precise), twelve-year-old Cyrus Smith and his older siblings Antigone and Daniel are living their everyday hum-drum lives. Of course, their version of “hum drum” involves living parent-less, managing a run-down motel, and eating pancakes for just about every meal while pretending to the outside world that all is well. But when a strange tattooed man claiming to know their deceased father shows up, a strange turn of events (and one wild taxi ride) takes them to Ashtown and the steps of the Order of Brendan, the secret society of famous explorers throughout history. Thrown headfirst into a world of conspiracy, secrets, and adventure, they fight to prove themselves and stay alive in what is a sometimes crazy, sometimes scary, and always entertaining journey.
N. D. Wilson, author of the 100 Cupboards series, has created an adventurous and magical world that could almost exist in your own backyard. Think Harry Potter but in America and with real historical people as characters. (more…)
The Great Wide Sea by M. H. Herlong
When their mom is killed in a car accident, fifteen-year-old Ben Byron and his younger brothers Dylan and Gerry are devastated, struggling to put the pieces of their family back together even as their own father becomes distant. Unable to cope with the pain of memory, their father packs them off to Florida where he buys a 30-foot sailboat and insists that the family–broken as it is–sail around the Bahamas for one year. Ben is beyond angry at the loss of first his mother and now his familiar everyday life. Not only must he take care of Dylan and Gerry as his dad remains emotionally absent, but now he must follow the “captain’s” orders, maintaining the boat day in and day out in the middle of nowhere. Things are shaky at best between Ben and his father, and in these close quarters, tension and frustration flare. When the three brothers discover their father missing one morning in the middle of the ocean, they work together to try to find him until a storm carries them off course, shipwrecking them on a small, deserted island with little for food our resources. It becomes up to Ben and his brothers to survive the elements while piecing together their lives and relationships with one another, all the while hoping for a rescue.
The Great Wide Sea is a book of survival and force of will, but it is also a book of emotional frailty and relationships, focusing on a fractured family of boys and men, a husband who has lost his wife and children who have lost their mother and, for a time, any connection to their father. Herlong creates a compelling narrative on multiple levels in this coming-of-age story about resilience, love, and hope.
boom! by Mark Haddon
This 208-page novel is the story of two boys, Jim and his best friend Charlie, as they discover that two of their teachers speak an alien-sounding language, have glowing eyeballs, and wear telekinetic wristbands. One thing leads to another, and Charlie is kidnapped for his growing knowledge of their origins, while Jim escapes his would-be captors and, alongside his punk-rock older sister, makes his way out to the alien home-base in Scotland to rescue his friend. Eventually Jim is inadvertently beamed to an alien planet seventy thousand light-years away where he finds Charlie amidst a cultivated population of abducted science-fiction fans.
Though character development is thin, the plot in this quirky story is fast-paced, wacky, and bizarre enough to attract even the hard-to-hold attention span. It’s a good, fun addition for a library if oddball style is what your kids are craving. Being British, Haddon includes a lot of slang that most of us Yankees won’t get, but a stronger reader should be fine guessing or skipping over the more obscure words. It’s an enjoyable, wild ride through the ridiculous world of imaginative boys. Recommended if oddball fantasy is your game!
Fun fact: boom! was originally released with a very limited print run back in 1992 under the title Gridzbi Spudvetch!. After realizing most people couldn’t pronounce, let alone spell, his title (and after receiving letters from a school class telling him it was their absolute favorite and couldn’t he re-publish?), author Haddon decided to re-title and edit his book, this time to wider circulation. (more…)
(Review based on ARC of the book.)
You’ve got to respect a historical fiction novel for teens that has three pages of bibliography.
In this emotional whirlwind of a book, an American high school student–lost in despair over the death of her younger brother and the mental instability of her mother–finds herself through music and the history of the French revolution.
Andi is the equivalent of a musical prodigy, and when her brother dies, music is the only thing besides caring for her mother that keeps her going. (The anti-depressants help, but only just.) She’s flunking out of her private school, and she gets an ultimatum: complete a well-orchestrated senior thesis or don’t graduate.
Andi’s dad sweeps her off to Paris, hoping she can focus on graduation while he tests a 200-year-old heart for proof that it belonged to the dauphin, son of Marie-Antoinette. In the process, Andi discovers a hidden diary belonging to another 17-year-old girl, Alexandrine Paradis, the daughter of a puppeteer, who finds herself companion to the dauphin right before the start of the French revolution. Andi’s depression continues to rise and fall, and she gets pulled into Alexandrine’s story of pain, faith, and hope as Alex tries to survive the bloody massacres of her time and save the child prince. As Alex writes, “They are a truthful account of these bitter, bloody days.” Andi finds herself absorbed in the past, so much so that one night she finds herself thrown into the horror of Alexandrine’s world, unsure of what is dream and what is reality. (more…)
Side note: I just finished Beyonders: A World Without Heroes by Brandon Mull, author of the great juvie series Fablehaven. I think Mull has outdone himself, and I cannot wait to read the next installment in this new series! Since Ruby reviewed it a few weeks back, I’ve added my thoughts to hers–check out this amazing, incredible new fantasy (just released last week)!
The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens
(Review based on ARC of book.)
There seems to be an abundance of strong middle-reader fantasy books lately! John Stephen’s debut novel, The Emerald Atlas, has a great magical tingle to it. If you combined the Chronicles of Narnia, A Series of Unfortunate Events, Harry Potter, Fablehaven, and the Lord of the Rings, to name a few, you would have a really good feel for the spunky fun, adventure, and depth of The Emerald Atlas.
Atlas features three “orphaned” siblings–Kate, Michael, and Emma–who were long ago sent away for safe keeping by parents they hardly remember, and they are still waiting, years later, for their parents’ return. Kate and her siblings find themselves shuttled from orphanage to orphanage until they end up in a forgotten-looking mansion in a desolate-looking town with a strange old man as their caregiver. Upon searching the house, they find a magic book that resembles an album, and when Michael puts a picture in it, all three kids are magically transferred to the time and location of the photo! (more…)
In the timeless city of Baltese, ten-year-old Peter Augustus Duchene is on his way to the market to purchase a meager meal for himself and his guardian, Vilna Lutz, when he is sidetracked by a sign advertised by a fortune teller.
The most profound and difficult questions that could possibly be posed by the human mind or heart will be answered within for the price of one florit.
He makes a decision to ask her how to find his sister. The fortune teller tells him to follow the elephant. With that inexplicable answer the magical journey truly begins.
With Peter’s question events are set in motion that will involve others in his quest, a quest that will lead others to their own desired wishes. A beautifully written story that captures the imagination of the heart. Peter’s intense belief that his sister is still alive and his journey to find the answers, against all the possibilities of finding an elephant is the heart of this story. Very atmospheric storytelling, this is DiCamillo at her best.
Publisher: Candlewick (September 2009)
Available as an eBook
Image from www.goodreads.com
FTC Full Disclosure: I received my review copy from the local library.