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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 Saving Zasha
Randi Barrow

It's just after World War II in the Soviet countryside, where no one has seen a dog in years. Mikhail is very surprised when he meets a wounded stranger--with a beautiful German shepherd. The stranger dies, leaving Mikhail and his family with the dog, Zasha. Mikhail grows to love Zasha, but he has to keep her hidden, as anti-German sentiment is still strong. Little by little, Mikhail finds that his neighbors miss their dogs. But will he be able to reveal his secret pet? And will dogs ever return to Russia? Dog lovers and history buffs in about 4th-6th grade will enjoy this book.

WPL Call Number: Y Barrow
Review Date: 3/21/11


Book Cover Tangerine
Edward Bloor

Paul Fisher’s family moves to Tangerine County, Florida, where things just aren’t quite right. Lightning strikes the same house every day, muck fires smolder, and part of the middle school is swallowed by a sinkhole. Paul’s family isn’t quite right either. No one will tell Paul about the accident that left him visually impaired. And his sinister football-hero brother seems to be able to get away with anything. One thing that does go right for Paul is playing soccer for the rough-and-tumble Tangerine War Eagles. But can Paul’s winning streak continue, with all the weirdness going on around him? What else can possibly go wrong? Some of the characters in the book lack depth, and extraneous plot lines muddy the story. Still, Tangerine is an engrossing sports story that will appeal to kids in fifth grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Bloor
Review Date: 4/28/07


Book Cover Plain Kate
Erin Bow

A lot of bad things happen to Plain Kate. Her parents die, the drawer she lives in is smashed to bits, and the people in her town think she's a witch. So Plain Kate makes a bargain with Linay, a real witch. In exchange for her shadow, Linay lets Kate escape and gives her cat, Taggle, the ability to speak. Kate and Taggle find a home on the road with a group called the Roamers, but even that goes wrong when a mysterious fog and sickness take over the land. Plain Kate suspects Linay is behind the destruction and sets out to stop him. Will something finally go right for poor Plain Kate? This book is a downer, but fantasy fans will be intrigued by the magic it brews. For sixth grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Bow
Review Date: 4/30/12


Book Cover Flawed Dogs : The Novel : The Shocking Raid on Westminster
Berke Breathed

Remember those PETA activists who crashed this year's Westminster dog show? Well, they've got nothing on Sam the dachshund and his ragtag band of escapees from the National Last-Ditch Dog Depository. Sam started life as a show dog, and he was much loved by his girl Heidy until the evil poodle Cassius, jealous of Heidy's love, framed him for a terrible crime. Mangled and on his own, Sam fights his way through life, always seeking a home. Sam hooks up with a bunch of misfit shelter dogs, and he makes plans to get revenge on Cassius at the big dog show. In the process, Sam and the other dogs may even find their true homes. As the owner of a dachshund, I found my heartstrings pulled by this book. If you are in fourth grade or older, and you liked Bloom County or you have a taste for outrageous humor, you will like this book.

WPL Call Number: J Breathed
Review Date: 3/22/10


Book Cover NERDS : National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society
Michael Buckley

Jackson Jones was the most popular boy in school...until the day he got his braces. Jackson reluctantly falls in with the nerds, but these aren't your ordinary nerds. They have super powers and they're part of an elite espionage force that's trying to save the world from the evil Dr. Jigsaw and his assassin, The Hyena. Jackson slowly learns to fight off enemies with his now-enhanced braces. When the other nerds are kidnapped, Jackson knows he has to outsmart Dr. Jigsaw to save his friends. Can he pull it off? This humorous book will be appreciated by adventure lovers who have moved beyond Captain Underpants but aren't ready for Alex Rider.

WPL Call Number: J Buckley
Review Date: 10/30/10


Magic book Al Capone Shines My Shoes
Gennifer Choldenko

Moose and his family live on Alcatraz. They're not inmates in the famous prison--instead, Moose's father works there. Most of the time, Moose feels safe on Alcatraz with his friends and their families. But sometimes living near all those cons gets tricky. Now that Al Capone has gotten Moose's sister, Natalie, into a special school where her autism might improve, Moose has to return the favor. Can he do it? Kids who enjoyed Al Capone Does My Shirts will also appreciate this one. For readers in about fourth grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Choldenko
Review Date: 10/1/09


Book Cover Waiting for Normal
Leslie Connor

After her mom and stepfather's divorce, Addie and her mom are stuck living in a trailer in a forgotten corner of town. Addie would much rather be with her kind, dependable stepfather and half sisters, not her all-or-nothing, irresponsible mother. But Addie makes the best of things, befriending the employees of the local minimart and taking care of her hamster. Soon Addie's mom spends less and less time at the trailer, and Addie's life twists and turns. Will Addie ever find the normal life that she hopes for? The plot is a bit contrived at times, but for the most part this is an engrossing read that kids in grades 5-7 will enjoy.

WPL Call Number: Y Connor
Review Date: 4/8/09


Magic book War Games : A Novel Based on a True Story
Audrey Couloumbis

With the German army expected to arrive any day, the atmosphere in Petros's small Greek village is tense. Petros and his family are especially nervous. They lived for a time in the United States, and they must hide their American connections. That means throwing away American books, clothes, toys, and more. Everyone says Petros and his older brother Zola are too young to be involved with the war, but they find ways to resist, secretly spreading messages around the village. When a German commander comes to stay in their house, just when their cousin Lambros has returned from fighting the Germans, Petros wonders just how much he can hide. Petros finds that his youth and innocent appearance may be the keys to deceiving the Germans. The story is based on the experiences of coauthor Akila Couloumbis, who lived in a village in Greece during World War II. Historical fiction and adventure buffs in fourth grade and up will enjoy this book.

WPL Call Number: J Couloumbis
Review Date: 1/11/10


Book Cover Diary of a Chav
Grace Dent

English teen Shiraz Bailey Wood attends a school nicknamed Superchav Academy--a place known for its hoodie-wearing troublemakers. Shiraz can't wait to leave school and seek her fortune on a reality TV show. Over the course of a year Shiraz finds plenty of hilarious trouble with her hoodie friends, her morbidly obese dog, and her argumentative family. She also comes to see that there's more to aim for in life than being on reality TV. Older fans of the Georgia Nicolson books will like this book for its wacky British slang and its funny heroine.

WPL Call Number: Y Dent
Review Date: 5/4/09


Book Cover The Auslander
Paul Dowswell

Orphaned early in World War II, young teenager Peter is rescued from an orphanage in Poland because of his German heritage, blond hair, and blue eyes. He feels fortunate to land in the home of a Nazi scientist in Berlin. But soon Peter begins to question the ideas of the Nazis and the terrible way they treat Poles and other groups. Together with his girlfriend, Anna, he finds ways to work against the Nazis. Peter's dangerous work and the turning tide of the war lead to a thrilling conclusion. For historical fiction fans in about seventh grade and up.

WPL Call Number: Y Dowswell
Review Date: 4/30/12


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