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Reviews by Janet P.

Titles are listed alphabetically by the author's last name. You can click the title of each book to check its availability in the WPL catalog.

Book Cover Revolver
Marcus Sedgwick

Sig and his family live in an isolated cabin in the Arctic. One day Sig finds his father frozen, dead on the ice. Soon after his sister and stepmother go out to find help, an imposing stranger shows up at the cabin, demanding that Sig give him his father's gold. Sig doesn't know anything about the gold. He realizes he's alone in the cabin with the stranger--and his father's revolver. Soon Sig can think of nothing but the revolver, but he's not sure if he will have the guts or the opportunity to use it. Will Sig escape the stranger's wrath? Will he use the revolver? And what about that gold? If you liked Hatchet or The White Darkness, you'll be riveted by this suspenseful and shivery tale. If you read Revolver in winter, be sure you have an extra blanket! This Printz Award Honor book is best for kids in about seventh grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Sedgwick
Review Date: 1/19/11


Book Cover Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories
Laura Vaccaro Seeger

Dog and Bear are mismatched friends. Three vignettes show the ups and downs of their friendship. Cautious, quiet Bear and hyper Dog exchange simple dialog that's illustrated by amusing paintings. This cute story would go well with Mo Willems's new Elephant and Piggie books or Arnold Lobel's classic Frog and Toad books. I think it would work as a read- aloud for young children or as an easy reader for kids starting to read on their own.

WPL Call Number: JE Seeger
Review Date: 5/2/07


Magic book The Houdini Box
Brian Selznick

Victor idolizes magician and escape artist Harry Houdini. He locks himself inside his grandmother's trunk and tries to escape. He tries to hold his breath in the bathtub for 5000 seconds. He tries to walk through walls. But Victor can't get any of Houdini's tricks right. When he meets Houdini and later gets a present from him, he just might have a chance of uncovering his hero's secrets. Young readers who aren't quite ready for Hugo Cabret can get a taste of Selznick's great illustrations and an appreciation for magic and mystery.

WPL Call Number: J Selznick
Review Date: 5/19/08


Book Cover Positively
Courtney Sheinmel

After Emmy's mother dies of AIDS, Emmy goes to live with her father and his new wife, Meg. Emmy, who's infected with HIV, is miserable. She misses her mother terribly, and she's feeling pessimistic about living with her own disease. To make matters worse, her friends and what's left of her family truly don't understand this. Then Emmy's father and Meg send her to Camp Positive, a camp for girls with HIV. As Emmy slowly starts to find others who can grasp what she's going through, she starts to see a brighter future for herself. This sad but ultimately hopeful novel will appeal to readers in about fifth through seventh grade.

WPL Call Number: Y Sheinmel
Review Date: 10/4/10


Magic book Keeping Corner
Kashmira Sheth

Carefree Leela looks forward to the day when she'll move in with her husband, Ramanlal. Everything changes when Ramanlal suddenly dies. Widowed at 12, Leela must spend a year "keeping corner." Confined to her family's house, she must shave her head and wear very plain clothing. Leela is devastated, but soon she begins to take an interest in reading and studying. Meanwhile, outside Leela's home, times begin to change as Gandhi's nonviolent protest movement takes hold. During this turbulent year, Leela slowly gains the strength to circumvent her society's rigid rules for widows. Sheth's rich descriptions of India's food, fashions, and foliage intensify this riveting story.

WPL Call Number: Y Sheth
Review Date: 12/20/07


Book Cover The Schwa Was Here
Neal Shusterman

I hadn’t thought of the “schwa” sound since third-grade reading class, so I had to laugh when I saw the title of this book. Like the schwa sound itself, Calvin Schwa is nondescript and easily unnoticed. Some people, including narrator Antsy Bonano, would say the Schwa is invisible. Over the course of their attempts to prove the “Schwa Effect,” Antsy, the Schwa, and their friends have hilarious adventures in their Brooklyn neighborhood. Then Antsy and the Schwa run into some serious trouble involving crochety Old Man Crowley, his 14 Afghan hounds, and his blind granddaughter. The story takes a serious turn as the Schwa seeks real answers to his “functional invisibility” and the disappearance of his mother years before. The Schwa Was Here is an amusing romp for kids in fourth or fifth grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Shusterman
Review Date: 6/18/07


Book Cover The Wall: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain
Peter Sis

In his unique style, author/illustrator Sis tells the story of his youth in Communist Czechoslovakia. Small, detailed drawings organized in series of panels illustrate the political events of the day, while simple text describes Sis's own experiences. An artist from the beginning, Sis found his personal expression both expanded and constricted by the Communist regime. Rock music, beat poetry, and other Western influences gave Sis glimmers of hope. Sis's drawings are fascinating, and personal/historical details such as journal entries and photographs add extra life to the story. Older kids and even adults will enjoy this book.

WPL Call Number: J943.7 SI
Review Date: 1/5/08


Book Cover My Fake Boyfriend Is Better than Yours
Kristina Springer

When Tori's best friend, Sienna, comes back from summer vacation looking fabulous and bragging about her new boyfriend, Antonio, Tori knows something's not quite right. Antonio sounds just too good to be true. In response, Tori comes up with a fake boyfriend, Sebastian. As seventh grade goes on, Tori and Sienna's relationship strains. Then a school dance comes around. Will Tori have to admit that Sebastian is fake? Will Antonio come with Sienna? Find out by reading this funny realistic fiction book that will appeal to kids in about fifth through seventh grade.

WPL Call Number: Y Springer
Review Date: 11/8/10


Book Cover The Case of the Left-Handed Lady : An Enola Holmes Mystery
Nancy Springer

Enola Holmes is the younger sister of master detective Sherlock Holmes. She shares his knack for solving crimes, but she's on the run from her brother. To avoid the constraining existence of a young lady of her time, Enola lives on her own, relying on a variety of disguises (detective's assistant, silent nun, upper-class lady) to evade her brother. In her guise as a detective's assistant, Enola strives to find the missing Lady Cecily. Will Enola locate Lady Cecily? Will she continue to outfox her famous brother? Readers in 5th grade and up will enjoy following the clues to find out.

WPL Call Number: Y Springer
Review Date: 5/29/08


Magic book Dracula
Bram Stoker

With the recent popularity of books about vampires and other assorted undead (Twilight, Repossessed, Peeps, etc.), I decided to go back to a vampire classic to find out more about the ways of bloodsuckers. Told in a series of journal entries and diaries, Dracula is the creepy account of a group of friends' quest to destroy the vampire that has desecrated their womenfolk. It's also a great example of Victorian issues and values. Today some of the prose seems longwinded, high-handed and dry, but the riveting action and stark horror stand the test of time. It was quite satisfying to read first hand how, among other things, Dracula and his ilk can be warded off with a crucifix or garlic, and that they can't cross water of their own volition. Off to buy some garlic now...

WPL Call Number: Y Stocker
Review Date: 1/17/08


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