Tuesday, April 29, 2008

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen


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fourstars.jpg 4 stars

 Holly’s entire life was filled with conflict and tragedy.  After her dad died, Holly and her mom moved from one ratty apartment to another.  When Holly’s mom got fired for stealing from her workplace, they soon became homeless.  Holly never really cared about that.  Even the old van was home as long as her mother was there with her arms wrapped tightly around her.  That was before her mom met Eddie.

Holly’s mom started staying out late  - often leaving Holly alone all night in the van.  She also started acting funny, and her eyes were always shiny.  Holly soon learned that she would have to take care of herself to survive.  Not long after meeting Eddie, Holly’s mom died from a drug overdose in her arms.  Now Holly truly was all alone.

Don’t be fooled into thinking Holly’s life would become better after her mom was gone.  At least her mom loved her - though she loved heroin more than she ever loved Holly. 

Holly is bounced from one foster home to another.  She doesn’t want to trust another adult.  She feels like she can’t let her guard down again.

Holly reaches her breaking point when she is sent to live with The Benders.  Her foster father wants to be “closer” to Holly.  Holly can tell by the way he stares at her that his thoughts aren’t fatherly.  Her foster mother steals money from her husband, and then blames it on Holly.  Holly spends her nights cold, alone, and hungry - locked in a dark, damp, dirty laundry room with only a journal to keep her company.  At first Holly is angry that her teacher was forcing her to write in a stupid journal.  Soon, however, Holly finds comfort in the journal pages as she begins telling her story. 

The story will haunt you.  The pain Holly feels is achingly evident, and you will find yourself wondering how she continues to survive.

Holly decides to run away - this time for good.  Life on the streets cannot be any worse than the abusive home she lives in now…

All the pain she’s been through… nothing can shock her.  Life alone has to be better than this.

Unfortunately for Holly, she’s wrong.  Things can get much worse.

 Reading this book may make the problems you have in your life seem very small in comparison to Holly’s.  Despite the sadness the reader feels while reading about Holly’s experiences, the ending will bring you comfort.  Holly will at last find peace and happiness. 

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen

runaway.jpg 

  smallaquastar.gifsmallaquastar.gifsmallaquastar.gifsmallaquastar.gif   4 stars

 Holly's entire life was filled with conflict and tragedy.  After her dad died, Holly and her mom moved from one ratty apartment to another.  When Holly's mom got fired for stealing from her workplace, they soon became homeless.  Holly never really cared about that.  Even the old van was home as long as her mother was there with her arms wrapped tightly around her.  That was before her mom met Eddie. Holly's mom started staying out late  - often leaving Holly alone all night in the van.  She also started acting funny, and her eyes were always shiny.  Holly soon learned that she would have to take care of herself to survive.  Not long after meeting Eddie, Holly's mom died from a drug overdose in her arms.  Now Holly truly was all alone. Don't be fooled into thinking Holly's life would become better after her mom was gone.  At least her mom loved her - though she loved heroin more than she ever loved Holly.  Holly is bounced from one foster home to another.  She doesn't want to trust another adult.  She feels like she can't let her guard down again. Holly reaches her breaking point when she is sent to live with The Benders.  Her foster father wants to be "closer" to Holly.  Holly can tell by the way he stares at her that his thoughts aren't fatherly.  Her foster mother steals money from her husband, and then blames it on Holly.  Holly spends her nights cold, alone, and hungry - locked in a dark, damp, dirty laundry room with only a journal to keep her company.  At first Holly is angry that her teacher was forcing her to write in a stupid journal.  Soon, however, Holly finds comfort in the journal pages as she begins telling her story.  The story will haunt you.  The pain Holly feels is achingly evident, and you will find yourself wondering how she continues to survive. Holly decides to run away - this time for good.  Life on the streets cannot be any worse than the abusive home she lives in now... All the pain she's been through... nothing can shock her.  Life alone has to be better than this. Unfortunately for Holly, she's wrong.  Things can get much worse.  Reading this book may make the problems you have in your life seem very small in comparison to Holly's.  Despite the sadness the reader feels while reading about Holly's experiences, the ending will bring you comfort.  Holly will at last find peace and happiness.   

Monday, April 28, 2008

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period by Gennifer Choldenko

4.5 stars -  fourstars1.jpg

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This fast-paced, funny book will hold the reader's interest from start to end. 

Kirsten hates her life.  Her best friend Rory is suddenly popular and hangs out with the beautiful, but mean, Brianna.  Kirsten knows she will never be popular - she's overweight and feels like an outcast.  Her mom and dad are always fighting now.  It seems like nothing will ever get better for her.

Suddenly there's a new student named Walk who transfers to Kirsten's school. 

Kirsten's life is about to become much more interesting.  

She discovers who her true friends are - and finds out the shocking secret her parents have been keeping - one that brings Kirsten closer to Walk than she ever could have imagined.

If a Tree Falls at Lunch Period

4.5 stars -  fourstars1.jpg

tree.jpg


by Gennifer Choldenko

This fast-paced, funny book will hold the reader's interest from start to end. 

Kirsten hates her life.  Her best friend Rory is suddenly popular and hangs out with the beautiful, but mean, Brianna.  Kirsten knows she will never be popular - she's overweight and feels like an outcast.  Her mom and dad are always fighting now.  It seems like nothing will ever get better for her.

Suddenly there's a new student named Walk who transfers to Kirsten's school. 

Kirsten's life is about to become much more interesting.  

She discovers who her true friends are - and finds out the shocking secret her parents have been keeping - one that brings Kirsten closer to Walk than she ever could have imagined.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff


hollis.gif





Review by Sarah Cloonan 

This is a great book and I would recommend it to any student. It’s about an orphan named Hollis Woods who has this idea that she is a mountain of trouble. Until one day when she is brought to a home with an old lady, Josie, who has much in common with Hollis. But as much as Hollis likes staying with Josie, she can’t help but remember the times she had in her last home, the Reagans. Just when Hollis Woods is warming up to Josie, though, she is threatened to be taken away and put with another family. Now Hollis is running away with Josie to her old home. Will they get caught? Will they find her old family? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff

Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff


hollis.gif



 


Review by Sarah Cloonan 

This is a great book and I would recommend it to any student. It’s about an orphan named Hollis Woods who has this idea that she is a mountain of trouble. Until one day when she is brought to a home with an old lady, Josie, who has much in common with Hollis. But as much as Hollis likes staying with Josie, she can’t help but remember the times she had in her last home, the Reagan’s.Just when Hollis Woods is warming up to Josie, though, she is threatened to be taken away and put with another family. Now Hollis is running away with Josie to her old home. Will they get caught? Will they find her old family? You’ll have to read the book to find out!

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Olive’s Ocean by Kevin Henkes

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Olive’s Ocean is about a girl named Martha Boyle. She is a middle school girl who is going to her grandmother’s for a week. Martha wanted to please everyone one, which later on she figured she couldn’t do. At the end Martha realized that she would rather be at home.   I think students would like this book would because it is about a girl our age, and she is going through typical teen changes, too. I think that some students would also like this because they would know that people have problems out there to help them through any hard times if they don’t have someone to talk to.  Review by Kas Streater  

Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes


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 Olive’s Ocean is about a girl named Martha Boyle. She is a middle school girl who is going to her grandmother’s for a week. Martha wanted to please everyone one, which later on she figured she couldn’t do. At the end Martha realized that she would rather be at home.   I think students would like this book would because it is about a girl our age, and she is going through typical teen changes, too. I think that some students would also like this because they would know that people have problems out there to help them through any hard times if they don’t have someone to talk to. 

Review by Kas Streater   

Final Projects

Tap groups self-selected a project to complete after reading The Revealers. Here are some of their ideas:

Bully Out Plan 

Stand Up!  Stop Bullying!  

 Our ideas: stop_the_bully1.jpg 

  •  Student newspaper monthly or quarterly to express views and opinions of students.

  • Student jury of peers to handle small incidents.

  • Peer Mentoring when a new student comes to school.

  • Consistent punishment with no tolerance policy as with weapon and illegal substances.

  • Anonymous hotlines could get reports of bullying when kids do not want to be a snitch.

Bully ‘Zine

bullyzinepic.jpg

Stop Bullying Magazine  

Helpful Hints

-         Tell someone.

-         Stand up for yourself.

-         Stay in a crowd if you are scared.

-         Don’t start a fight.

-         Tell your friends.

-         Tell the bully you are tired of it!

Dos and Do Nots for Parents:

Don’t ignore your children if they say they are getting bullied.

Be involved in school.

Know who your children’s friends are.

Ask them about school everyday.

Be alert if they are acting different.

  

Advice Column 

  • Don’t bully someone it may cause them to bully back.

  • If you are bullied tell an adult immediately.

  • Stay with a group of friends.

  • If someone else is being bullied help them.

  • Try to tell the bully to stop and why without using violence.


Top Ten Things Bullies Do 

Start a fight

Take money      

Make fun of people       

Pick on kids       

Tease people       

Disrespectful to teachers       

Low grades       

Lower people’s self esteem        

Mental abuse       

Physical abuse      



Letter to the Editor:  

Dear Editor,

      Our class really enjoyed this book. It showed us how people are affected by bullying and how they can solve the problem without fighting. We see how people can stand up for themselves and end bullying. It was great. Thanks.

Mrs. Mathis Tap Group

Bully 'Zine

bullyzinepic.jpg

Stop Bullying Magazine  



Helpful Hints

-         Tell someone.

-         Stand up for yourself.

-         Stay in a crowd if you are scared.

-         Don’t start a fight.

-         Tell your friends.

-         Tell the bully you are tired of it!



Dos and Do Nots for Parents:

Don’t ignore your children if they say they are getting bullied.

Be involved in school.

Know who your children’s friends are.

Ask them about school everyday.

Be alert if they are acting different.

  

Advice Column 

  • Don’t bully someone it may cause them to bully back.

  • If you are bullied tell an adult immediately.

  • Stay with a group of friends.

  • If someone else is being bullied help them.

  • Try to tell the bully to stop and why without using violence.


Top Ten Things Bullies Do 

Start a fight

Take money      

Make fun of people       

Pick on kids       

Tease people       

Disrespectful to teachers       

Low grades       

Lower people’s self esteem        

Mental abuse       

Physical abuse      



Letter to the Editor:  

Dear Editor,

      Our class really enjoyed this book. It showed us how people are affected by bullying and how they can solve the problem without fighting. We see how people can stand up for themselves and end bullying. It was great. Thanks.

Mrs. Mathis Tap Group

          

Final Projects

Tap groups self-selected a project to complete after reading The Revealers. Here are some of their ideas:


Bully Out Plan 


Stand Up!  Stop Bullying!  



 Our ideas: stop_the_bully1.jpg 



  •  Student newspaper monthly or quarterly to express views and opinions of students.

  • Student jury of peers to handle small incidents.

  • Peer Mentoring when a new student comes to school.

  • Consistent punishment with no tolerance policy as with weapon and illegal substances.

  • Anonymous hotlines could get reports of bullying when kids do not want to be a snitch.

Stand Up! Stop Bullying!

We are so pleased with the success of our new Tiger Advisory Group Program “Stand Up!  Stop Bullying!”  Here are a few comments made by students after completing their reading of The Revealers:

Post reading – Students’ Reactions/Thoughts:                                                      


I think this book has taught me a lot about the affects of bullying. Many people don’t realize how it can affect people’s lives, such as the bullied kids can get physically sick before they go to school because they are so scared to go to school. Also many kids could commit suicide. In fact it has happened so much in the U.S. that it’s called bullyside. These are only some of the affects bullying can have on people.


This book has taught me so much about bullying. It made me realize how much it has happened here at school and everywhere. Not only is it taunting its physical bullying and online. Most people end up getting killed by going home and committing suicide or seriously injured.  Most people bully because they have a low self esteem and want to make themselves feel better. Bullying can be over many things. This is a serious problem that does need to be dealt with.

I learned many things from the book. I learned that bullying can lead to really dangerous things. Bullying can lead to death, broken bones, and suicide. But what people really don’t know is that bullying can affect the people who are doing the bullying. They could be suspended from school, put in jail, and many other things. This is a few things that I have learned from Revealers.

I did not know that bullies get picked on too. Also I did not know that bullies can cause suicide. People do not know how other people feel and how much it can hurt.

This book was an excellent book. It makes you realize what can happen at your school. It shows people how kids feel when you bully them. It also shows you how to resolve problems about bullying. I am so glad I read this book. It helped me to make sure I never bully anyone. This book shows me different ways kids bully. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

This book shows students how people effected from bullying stand up for themselves. It also shows how bullying can effect kids. It is not right and we should stand up for ourselves and others. The book gave us a great example of everyday problems.

Bulletin boards:

bullypic.JPG

bullypic2.JPG

Stand Up! Stop Bullying!

We are so pleased with the success of our new Tiger Advisory Group Program “Stand Up!  Stop Bullying!”  Here are a few comments made by students after completing their reading of The Revealers:

Post reading – Students’ Reactions/Thoughts:                                                      


I think this book has taught me a lot about the affects of bullying. Many people don’t realize how it can affect people’s lives, such as the bullied kids can get physically sick before they go to school because they are so scared to go to school. Also many kids could commit suicide. In fact it has happened so much in the U.S. that it’s called bullyside. These are only some of the affects bullying can have on people.


This book has taught me so much about bullying. It made me realize how much it has happened here at school and everywhere. Not only is it taunting its physical bullying and online. Most people end up getting killed by going home and committing suicide or seriously injured.  Most people bully because they have a low self esteem and want to make themselves feel better. Bullying can be over many things. This is a serious problem that does need to be dealt with.

I learned many things from the book. I learned that bullying can lead to really dangerous things. Bullying can lead to death, broken bones, and suicide. But what people really don’t know is that bullying can affect the people who are doing the bullying. They could be suspended from school, put in jail, and many other things. This is a few things that I have learned from Revealers.

I did not know that bullies get picked on too. Also I did not know that bullies can cause suicide. People do not know how other people feel and how much it can hurt.

This book was an excellent book. It makes you realize what can happen at your school. It shows people how kids feel when you bully them. It also shows you how to resolve problems about bullying. I am so glad I read this book. It helped me to make sure I never bully anyone. This book shows me different ways kids bully. I hope you enjoy this book as much as I did!

This book shows students how people effected from bullying stand up for themselves. It also shows how bullying can effect kids. It is not right and we should stand up for ourselves and others. The book gave us a great example of everyday problems.

Post-reading bulletin boards:

bullypic.JPG

bullypic2.JPG

Friday, April 18, 2008

English I Honors

Requirements for rising 8th graders enrolled in Honors English I @ D.R. Hill:

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Summer Reading is required for all Honors English classes.  Read the assigned book during the summer.  Written and/or oral assignments/projects will be assigned and completed during the first week of your English course.  
 

Honors English I Selection:

 coldsassytree.jpg


Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns Description from Titlewave.com:  In 1906, the citizens of the small Georgia town of Cold Sassy are scandalized when Grandpa, the owner of the general store, marries a Yankee many years his junior only three weeks after becoming a widower.

Honors English I

Requirements for rising 8th graders enrolled in Honors English I @ D.R. Hill     

 

 Summer Reading is required for all Honors English classes.  Read the assigned book during the summer.  Written and/or oral assignments/projects will be assigned and completed during the first week of your English course.            

Honors English I Selection:

 

 cold.jpg

Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns Description from Titlewave.com:  In 1906, the citizens of the small Georgia town of Cold Sassy are scandalized when Grandpa, the owner of the general store, marries a Yankee many years his junior only three weeks after becoming a widower. 

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Desperate Journey by Jim Murphy

 desperate-journey.jpg


summary from Library Media Connection (March 2007):

Twelve-year-old Maggie has begun to think about the possibility of a life away from the Erie Canal. What would it be like to live in a house on dry land where she wouldn’t be called “dirty canal girl” and have rocks thrown at her. After her father and uncle are arrested, Maggie, her ailing mother, and her brother fight a desperate battle to get their cargo to Buffalo in time to collect a bonus and prevent the loss of the cargo-hauling boat that is also their home.

Desperate Journey by Jim Murphy

 journey.jpg

from Library Media Connection (March 2007)
 Twelve-year-old Maggie has begun to think about the possibility of a life away from the Erie Canal. What would it be like to live in a house on dry land where she wouldn't be called "dirty canal girl" and have rocks thrown at her. After her father and uncle are arrested, Maggie, her ailing mother, and her brother fight a desperate battle to get their cargo to Buffalo in time to collect a bonus and prevent the loss of the cargo-hauling boat that is also their home.
 

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

 alcapone.jpg




Gangsters do laundry?

On Alcatraz island they do…



 Book Excerpt: 

capone-1.mp3

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

 alcapone.jpg

Gangsters do laundry?

On Alcatraz island they do…

 Book Excerpt:   

City of Ember by Jeanne Duprau

by Cody Eldridge

 

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the-city-of-ember.ppt

Escape from Memory by Margaret Haddix

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Student Review of Escape from Memory:

 

Homeless Bird by Gloria Whelan

summary from Follett’s Titlewave:

When thirteen-year-old Koly enters into an ill-fated arranged marriage, she must either suffer a destiny dictated by India’s tradition or find the courage to oppose it.

indiangirl.jpg

Kiss Me Tomorrow by Susan Shreve

Description from Titlewave.com:

 

     love.jpg

Confused by all of the males in her life, thirteen-year-old Alyssa “Blister” Reed wants to help when her best friend Jonah’s quest for popularity lands him in deep trouble, but his desire to make her his girlfriend gets in the way.

 

Swear to Howdy by Wendelin Van Draanen

swear.gif

 Swear To Howdy is a very amusing book with hilarious characters. Joey and Rusty love to go on a new adventure but every time they get caught up in a sticky situation. So after getting out of the situation, the boys make a pact promising each other they won’t tell. Most of the time the adventures have to do with pulling a prank on someone. Amanda Jane and Sissy, their older sisters, are constantly annoyed by their obnoxious brothers getting on their nerves. But one day does Joey go too far with his silly pranks… And will  Rusty ever speak up to help save his best friend’s life?… Read this book to find out! 

By Charrion Morgan

Day of Tears by Julius Lester

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Easy to read, but not easy to forget

Julius Lester, in Day of Tears, weaves together the haunting story of an actual historical event occuring in Savannah, Georgia - the largest slave auction in American history.  Pierce Butler auctions off the majority of his slaves because of his mounting gambling debts.  The slaves have lived on the Butler plantation with their families for generations.  Through dialogue, Lester effectively relays the horrors of slavery and the tragic aftermath that occurs to all of the people who participated that day.  Lester’s writing in this novel may seem simple at first, but it quickly becomes emotionally charged.  The reader will feel as if he is experiencing the emotional losses, the degradation, the sorrow,  and the cruelty as he reads about the experiences of several people attending the slave auction from multiple viewpoints :  the slaveowner, slaveowner’s ex-wife, slaveowner’s children, slave seller,  several slaves sold at the auctions (young and old), the mother and father of a slave sold, a slave couple desperately in love who are separated, etc.  Lester uses both historical fact and fictitious details to demonstrate how all people were deeply impacted by that fateful rainy day on March 2nd and 3rd, 1859.

This book is highly recommended.

Pool Boy by Michael Simmons

pool.gif

 From book cover -

Then: Sweet Pad in the family mansion,

King of the Pool, $5000 Stereo, Mercedes, SRK (Spoiled Rich Kid)

 poolboy.jpg

 Now:

Crashing in dead guy’s bed at crazy Aunt Mary’s

King of Cleaning pools

Minimum Wage

Ford

P.B. (Poor Boy)

poolbuyloser.jpg

Brett had everything a high school freshman could ever ask for…money, popularity, hot girls….

When Brett’s dad is jailed for insider trading, Brett eyes are suddenly opened.  The view?  Not so pretty..

Despite the serious subjects, this book will still make you laugh out loud. 

Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde

heir.jpg

 


The book Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde is a fiction book. It is based around a video game that is malfunctioning and has trapped one gamer inside. To beat it she must live until the end of the third day and complete certain task. It’s a good book if you’re into fantasy books with knights and dragons. I liked it and I think others will, too.

By John Gillespie

 

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Heartbeat by Sharon Creech

heartbeat.jpg

Heartbeat is about Annie who loves to run. She runs to get rid of all her stress and to take things off her mind. Annie then finds out that her mom is pregnant and everything starts to change. Her grandfather stops remembering what happens and her best friend Max is trying to hide his feelings from her. I would recommend this book because it is a book you cannot put down. Once you start you will want to find out what happens next.

By: Sydney McMakin

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

 sea_of_trolls_farmer.jpg

Jack lives in a Saxon village with a father who is always disappointed in him and a beautiful, slightly obnoxious younger sister who is the family’s favorite.  It seems that Jack will be destined to live his days as a poor farmer, just as his bitter father was once forced to abandon his own dreams and accept a more simple life as a peasant.  Jack’s fate dramatically changes, though, when he is asked to be become an apprentice to the revered Bard…Jack?  Why not the other town boys who seem much brighter and stronger?   Jack does not realize that the Bard foresees great promise in his character, and the Bard believes Jack is the only hope for their town’s survival. 

Jack internship is violently interrupted when the wild r raid his home, capturing both Jack and Lucy and forcing them to leave their home far behind.  Soon Jack finds himself embarking on a mysterious, dangerous journey.  He must fulfill a seemingly impossible quest - and quickly!  If not, his beautiful, beloved sister will be brutally offered as a sacrifice.

This book provides great humor and spine-tingling adventures (dragons, spiders, and vicious trolls - Oh My!).  The greatest aspect to this book are the numerous life themes Nancy Farmer addresses - loyalty, faith, love of family, ambiguity of good and evil, and many more.  Jack emerges from this adventure as a true Bard in his own right.

Nancy Farmer is an amazing writer.  Hopefully the long length will not discourage any readers - once started, you will eventually wish the story had never ended!

This is What I Did by Ann Dee Ellis

thisiswhhatidid.jpg 

3.5 stars  - greenstar.gifgreenstar.gifgreenstar.gif 1/2

- Not my favorite, but will appeal to many readers

 This is What I Did has been highly recommended in several professional journals.  To me, this book was a bit of a disappointment for several reasons.  One may be because it has bullying as one of the main topics.  I understand why it’s important that writers include stories of bullying - it certainly has become a central issue in today’s world - even in cyberland.  We all know about true stories of terrible tragedy occurring as a result of bullying in schools, on MySpace, Facebook, etc.  That being said, it seems that young adult authors, however, frequently jump on a hot topic bandwagon - this novel being no exception.  To be fair, the book is about more than a young boy being harassed…

Logan was always a bit of an outcast at school and even within his own family.  Things began to look up when he met Zyler.  Though Zyler and Logan come from two very different backgrounds, they hit it off from the start.  Logan quickly learned not to ask Zyler too many questions about his background, particularly regarding his drunken, mostly absent father.  Logan overlooked the bruises on Zyler’s face and never questioned his stories of how he had broken his arm or his collarbone.  As much as Logan tried to not get involved, he soon found himself in the center of controversy…

Upset over a fight at his own home, Logan sneaks out of his house to go over to his Zyler’s.  What he sees in Zyler’s window, at first, angers him.  Cami, his crush, is sitting on Zyler’s bed.  They are talking about him, laughing over Logan’s hang up calls to Cami’s home.  Then they are kissing.  KISSING.  His best friend and the girl he loves!!  Logan, disgusted, turns to leave when he hears a door slam.  Zyler’s father storms into his bedroom in a violent, drunken rage with an evil glint in his eyes.  What Logan sees next he will never get over - he will never forget.

In the end, Logan feels he is the one who betrays his best friend - and he betrays himself.

This novel will hook most of its readers.  You will want to know - what did Logan see?  What happened?  Why did Logan’s family have to move to a different town.  Be prepared for the shocking answers AND the unanswered questions at the end.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer

 sea_of_trolls_farmer.jpg


Jack lives in a Saxon village with a father who is always disappointed in him and a beautiful, slightly obnoxious younger sister who is the family’s favorite.  It seems that Jack will be destined to live his days as a poor farmer, just as his bitter father was once forced to abandon his own dreams and accept a more simple life as a peasant.  Jack’s fate dramatically changes, though, when he is asked to be become an apprentice to the revered Bard…Jack?  Why not the other town boys who seem much brighter and stronger?   Jack does not realize that the Bard foresees great promise in his character, and the Bard believes Jack is the only hope for their town’s survival. 

Jack internship is violently interrupted when the wild r raid his home, capturing both Jack and Lucy and forcing them to leave their home far behind.  Soon Jack finds himself embarking on a mysterious, dangerous journey.  He must fulfill a seemingly impossible quest - and quickly!  If not, his beautiful, beloved sister will be brutally offered as a sacrifice.

This book provides great humor and spine-tingling adventures (dragons, spiders, and vicious trolls - Oh My!).  The greatest aspect to this book are the numerous life themes Nancy Farmer addresses - loyalty, faith, love of family, ambiguity of good and evil, and many more.  Jack emerges from this adventure as a true Bard in his own right.

Nancy Farmer is an amazing writer.  Hopefully the long length will not discourage any readers - once started, you will eventually wish the story had never ended!

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