Monday, November 10, 2014

October Round-Up

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Cartwheelingin Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell
Wilhelmina Silver has always lived in glorious, sun-drenched Zimbabwe. Her father is the foreman for a large farm, so Will lives in wonderful and wild freedom. But when her father dies Will is forced to leave her beloved Africa. In England, Will feels completely out of her element at boarding school. So when she sees an opportunity to run away, she jumps at it. But fending for herself in England is much different than in the African bush. Eventually, Will learns that although life in an English boarding school is completely different than in Zimbabwe, she must do her best to accept and embrace her new life.

The third person narrative from sharp-witted Will’s perspective is full of vivid, lyrical descriptions. Will’s unique way of observing the world is verbalized in a mixture of Shona and English. A glossary of terms is included at the end of the book. The time period is modern, yet vague. Will’s life in Africa seems timeless (or perhaps out of time?), but when she is forced to move to England the modern world comes rushing in around her. The character development is especially strong and the characters – flawed and fascinating – are compelling.

Also by Rundell: 


Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 10+/Grade 5+

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LeroyNinker Saddles Up by Kate DiCamillo
Leroy wants more than anything to be a cowboy, like the ones he sees in the movies. He has everything a real cowboy should have – a hat, a lasso, boots. Everything that is, except a horse! So Leroy takes life by the reins and that’s how he finds Maybelline. She might be old, ten time as big as little Leroy, and only movable via sweet words, but Leroy thinks she’s the most beautiful horse in the world. Through thick and thin, spaghetti dinners and thunderstorms, Leroy learns what it means to be a true friend. Yippie-i-oh!

Bumbling, kind-hearted Leroy is a wonderful protagonist in the first title in a new series called Tales from Deckawoo Drive. Fans of the Mercy Watson series may recognize some familiar characters that appear briefly. Dicamillo’s knack for humorous repetition makes this a great story for new chapter book readers. The single plot line is clear and compelling. Van Dusen’s black and white illustrations are playfully cartoonish. They provide context, break up the page for new readers, and are just so darn charming. This book is a wonderful choice for a quick family read-aloud. I listened to the audiobook and found myself cheering, “awwwing”, and laughing out loud.

Also by DiCamillo:

Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 6+/Grade 1+

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The Mysterious Howling (The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 1) by Mary Rose Wood
15-year-old Penelope Lumley, recently graduated from the Swanburne School for Poor, Bright Females, is thrilled to be the new governess for the “Incorrigibles” – Alexander, Beowolf, and Cassiopeia. Luckily, Penelope has a healthy dollop of pluck and optimism because she has her work cut out for her. The siblings were raised in the woods by wolves and it takes considerable determination to teach the children to speak English and break their wolfish habits (howling, barking, chasing squirrels). On top of all, that strange things are happening around Ashton place. Penelope begins to suspect something is amiss.

Although it is set in England during the 1800’s, the narrator uses many modern day reference to explain terms to readers. The plot has a slow start, but once the Incorrigibles arrive the story is captivating. The third person narrative from Penelope’s point of view is full of witty word puns, dryly funny explanations, and wise sayings from the legendary (at least to Penelope) Agatha Swanburne. The ending leaves the story on a cliffhanger that only continuing the story will appease. The audiobook is deftly narrated by Katherine Kellgren, who juggles voices with amazing agility.

Continue the series: 

Read alikes

Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 9+/Grade 4+