Thursday, April 16, 2015

March Round-Up

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Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Dial Books for Young Readers, 2015
12-year-old Astrid’s life changes the night her mom takes her to her first roller derby game. She loves the competition, the atmosphere, and the personalities. Her favorite skater is Rainbow Bite, a tough and fearless jammer. Astrid can’t wait to sign up for junior roller derby camp! And she’s certain her BFF Nicole will be signing up, too. But the summer isn’t as perfect as Astrid imagined. Nicole signs up for dance camp instead and Astrid learns that roller derby is hard work. Does Astrid have what it takes to be a tough, strong, fearless roller girl? More importantly, does she have what it takes to be a good friend?

The bold, brightly colored illustrations of this graphic novel are filled with humor and wonderful characters. The confusion of being an almost-teenager and the difficulty of keeping friendships as people grow and change is addressed in a sensitive, yet honest manner. The character development is strong throughout and it’s especially wonderful to see Astrid take ownership of her actions. The dialogue is believable and meshes well with the narration. The basics of roller derby are explained within the story, so even newbies will be able to appreciate Astrid’s desire to become a roller girl. This is a great recommendation for Raina Telgemeier fans.


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

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The Saturdays by Elizabeth Enright
Henry Holt, 1941

One boring Saturday afternoon, the Melendy siblings decide to pool their allowances to create the Independent Saturday Afternoon Adventure Club (I.S.A.A.C.). Using that money, each Melendy gets to decide on their very own, independent adventure. Rush sees an opera, Mona gets a make-over, Randy visits a gallery full of beautiful French paintings, and Oliver takes in the circus at Madison Square Garden. Along the way the siblings make new friends, hear wonderful stories, and narrowly escape disaster. Through it all their father and loveable-but-stern housekeeper Cuffy, are there to comfort and guide them. 

Set in NYC in the 1940’s, this is the first book in the Melendy Quartet. This historical fiction title has a classic, timeless feel, making it a good for a family read aloud. The chapters are short and episodic, as each sibling explores a new part of their world. The third person narrative is fast-paced and conversational and the dialogue is especially humorous. This is a wonderful recommendation for fans of The Penderwicks.

Read more about this delightfully loving family in the other Melendy Quartet books.


Recommended Age/Grade Level: Age 8+/Grade 3+

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The Water and the Wild by K. E. Ormsbee
Chronicle Books, 2015
(Reviewed based on an advance reader’s copy)
Lottie knows she will never fit in with the other children who live on Kemble Isle, near Boston.  She’s a foundling with lemon yellow hair and only one friend. His name is Eliot and they are the very best of friends. So Lottie is devastated when he begins dying of an incurable illness. Lottie writes to the mysterious, “Letter Writer” to ask for a cure. Soon, Lottie is sucked down through an apple tree and into another world. A world of sprites and wisps, magic and danger, and maybe, just maybe, a cure to save her best friend.
Themes of friendship, loyalty, and love are strong in this enthralling fantasy. Lottie is a strong protagonist and she’s surrounded by quirky characters including poetry-quoting Oliver, bossy Adelaide, and funny and lovable Fife. The dialogue is witty, yet believable, and Shakespeare fans will delight in the many allusions to "A Midsummer Night’s Dream". Although the ending is rushed and a bit melodramatic, the strong character development and world building more than make up for this minor flaw. The sequel is currently set to be published in fall 2016. Recommend this title to fantasy lovers who’ve read everything and are looking for something new.

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