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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 The Academie
Susanne Dunlap

Imagine the excitement of Paris in 1799, at the dawn of Napoleon's reign. The girls at Madame Campan's Academie Nationale a Saint-Germain want to be at the center of everything. And with their connections, they are. Eliza, the daughter of soon-to-be United States president James Monroe; Hortense de Beauharnais, the daughter of Napoleon's wife; and Caroline Bonaparte, Napoleon's younger sister, sneak out of school to get a closer look at Napoleon's ascent to power. Along the way, each one falls in love, with varying results. Fans of historical fiction in grade six and up will be intrigued by this book, which is loosely based on real relationships.

WPL Call Number: Y Dunlap
Review Date: 12/16/12


Book Cover The Game of Silence
Louise Erdrich

It's 1849, and white settlers are starting to force the Ojibwe away from their traditional homes. Omakayas and her extended family live on an island in Lake Superior. When a group of homeless strangers paddles up to their camp, Omakayas can see that times are changing. How long will she be able to stay in the only home she's known? Don't read this book if you crave action. Do read this book if you're interested in the rich historical details of Native American life. This book, the sequel to The Birchbark House, would appeal to kids in grades 4 and up, younger if it's read aloud.

WPL Call Number: Y Erdrich
Review Date: 6/6/07


Book Cover The Curious Adventures of the Abandoned Toys
Julian Fellowes

Kindly Doc the bear lives a fulfilling life in the children's ward of the hospital. But when the playroom is remodeled, he's unceremoniously sent to the dump. There, he finds a new life with other lost and rejected toys. Despite their scroungy surroundings, the toys, each one with a distinct and appealing personality, have thrilling adventures. This would make a great family read-aloud, with appeal for kids who are Toy Story fans. Adults who enjoy Downton Abbey or Monarch of the Glen may enjoy finding out just what a children's book by Julian Fellowes is like.

WPL Call Number: J Fellowes
Review Date: 4/29/13


Book Cover On the Day I Died
Candace Fleming

Out late driving one fall night, Mike winds up in a cemetery for teenagers. He comes face-to-face with a group of ghosts who all want to tell him how they died. Some of the teens, who lived in time periods from the 1850s to today, died sad deaths. For instance, Gina died in a school fire. Others got what they deserved--Scott's desire to get into a good college overcame his common sense when he trespassed in an abandoned insane asylum. And still others died in weird ways, like David, who was attacked by mail-order Insta-Pets. Most of the death stories are influenced by real historical events, and the Chicago setting makes the book just that much creepier. For readers with a dark sense of humor, grades 6-8.

WPL Call Number: Y Fleming
Review Date: 3/7/13


Book Cover Remarkable
Lizzie K. Foley

In a sea of books about kids with super powers and mega talents, Remarkable is a refreshing read because of its very ordinary heroine. Jane Doe is the only kid in the public school in the town of Remarkable. All the other kids attend the Gifted School. The adults are all remarkably talented as well. Jane may be unremarkable, but it doesn't stop her from having adventures when four pirates and a set of evil twins come to town. And in spite of her averageness, she just might solve a mystery. Kids in third through sixth grade will laugh at this book.

WPL Call Number: J Foley
Review Date: 5/13/12


Book Cover Coraline
Neil Gaiman

It seems like Neil Gaiman is everywhere these days. The Graveyard Book just won the Newbery Award, and a film adaptation of Coraline has hit the screen. I decided to read Coraline before seeing the movie. When her family moves into a creepy old apartment, everyone ignores Coraline. Then Coraline goes through a mysterious door and finds herself in a very similar apartment. Except her "other mother" and "other father" don't ignore her. And they both have black buttons for eyes. Coraline knows that something is dreadfully wrong. Can Coraline escape? Brave readers in fourth grade and up will like this book.

WPL Call Number: Y Gaiman
Review Date: 2/16/09


Book Cover The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman

A small boy’s family is brutally murdered one night. The boy escapes from the house and wanders into a graveyard, where he is adopted by ghosts. They name him Bod, short for Nobody Owens. Bod grows up among the ghosts, having been given the freedom of the graveyard. If he leaves the graveyard, he will be tracked by his family’s murderer. But someday, Bod must face the world outside the graveyard. Bod’s graveyard existence is rich with morbid detail. This pleasantly creepy tale will be enjoyed most by kids in about fifth grade and older.

WPL Call Number: Y Gaiman
Review Date: 1/14/09


Magic book Vampires
Nancy Garden

Before she had Annie on her mind, Nancy Garden wrote a number of nonfiction books. Vampires, from the Weird and Horrible Library, is one of them. Although it was published in 1973, it's still a great source of information about vampire stories and legends from around the world. Readers will learn what vampires do, how they come to be, and how to ward them off and do away with them. This is an entertaining and highly readable book that will appeal to Twilight fans and anyone else interested in the supernatural.

WPL Call Number: J398.45 GA
Review Date: 9/2/09


Book Cover The Diamond of Drury Lane
Julia Golding

Cat is an orphan who's grown up in the Theater Royal on Drury Lane in 1790s London. Her theater is a lively, literally riotous place filled with dramatic characters. There's Pedro, the musically talented former slave; Johnny Smith, the mysterious prompter; Billy and Syd, rival street gang leaders; and Lord Francis and Lady Elizabeth. But the theater holds secrets. Will Cat be able to protect them? Cat is a spunky, appealing character whose story will be appreciated by readers in fifth through eighth grade.

WPL Call Number: Y Golding
Review Date: 10/21/08


Book Cover Another Book About Design: Complicated Doesn't Make It Bad
Mark Gonyea

Gonyea explains design concepts using concise language and basic shapes. One or two sentences describe the configuration of colored shapes on the facing page. He talks about spacing, background and foreground, and positive and negative space. Gonyea builds on each concept to create something that’s complicated—-but readers understand that it’s really a combination of simple things. This book is sure to inspire artists and designers of all ages.

WPL Call Number: Y745.4 GO
Review Date: 10/23/07


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