Reviews by Joanna N.
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.
Words in the Dust|
Zulaikha's name comes from an ancient Afghan poem in which a girl with her name is described as "the brightest star," but Zulaikha doesn't know any of that yet. All she knows is that she was born with a cleft lip and the children call her "donkey face," and her stepmother doesn't seem to like her very well. And she knows that she desperately wants to learn to read like her mother who was murdered. Reedy's story about Zulaikha is especially vivid, and his knowledge of details of a Muslim family's life comes from his tour as a soldier in Afghanistan in 2004. Fans of Deborah Ellis would like this. Highly recommended for girls 6th grade and up.
WPL Call Number: Y Reedy
Calvin Coconut: Hero of Hawaii|
When a tropical storm strikes his island, Calvin gets more adventure than he bargained for in this exciting, fast moving, easy to read novel with a sophisticated young hero. There are several more books about Calvin, too. Highly recommended especially for boys 3rd grade and up.
WPL Call Number: J Salisbury
Anahita's Woven Riddle|
In 19th century Iran it was customary for a girl's parents to choose a suitable husband for their daughter. Anahita, however, is a spirited, intelligent, independent young woman who has high hopes for a husband who is witty, thoughtful, and a soul mate. When it seems as though her father will force her to marry the khan, whom Anahita finds rupugnant, Anahita talks her father into allowing her to hold a contest: she will weave a riddle into her wedding carpet and she will marry the man who solves the riddle. With lots of historical detail, this story of a girl and her family should appeal to girls 6th grade and up.
WPL Call Number: Y Sayres
Lizzie Bright and the Buckminster Boy|
Gary D. Schmidt
Turner Buckminster, a minister's son, makes friends with Lizzie Bright who lives on a near-by island founded by former slaves. Based on a true event, the beautifully written story takes place in Maine, 1911, and the townspeople want the "shacks" and "squatters" of Malaga Island gone. Turner and Lizzie's friendship has a brightness that helps change Turner's life forever. For boys and girls grades 6 and up.
WPL Call Number: Y Schmidt
Okay for Now|
Doug doesn't have much going for him. His older brothers have made a habit of beating up on him. His abusive father got himself fired from his job and the family has to move away to a small town. The new town feels unfriendly and their new home is very shabby- a "dump." But one day Doug goes to the library. On display there under glass is a huge book, open to a picture of a bird, falling- "the most terrifying picture I had ever seen. The most beautiful." The sight of this picture, by Audubon, begins a transformation in Doug's life. This is a complex story about change and hope. Doug's voice is likeable, believable, and very funny. Recommended for boys and girls 5th grade and up.
WPL Call Number: Y Schmidt
Face Relations: 11 Stories About Seeing Beyond Color|
Provocative, rather unusual stories about how a person's skin color doesn't always mean what you might think. A character's real ethnicity sometimes turns out to be a surprise. Some unexpected settings, like Wisconsin. Characters are high school age, so the book is recommended for 8th grade and up.
WPL Call Number: Y Face
14 year old "Peak" never dreamed he would find himself attempting to climb Mt. Everest with his estranged father, a renowned, professional mountain climber. This book is a page turner full of characters driven by one ambition: to reach the summit of Mt. Everest, no matter what the cost. As a reader, I found myself driven also, as I kept on reading - through brutal weather conditions, climbers who didn't "make it," or who died of "HAPE" (related to lack of oxygen). I learned also that one does not just "climb" Mt. Everest; rather, the ascent is made in an agonizingly slow pattern of climbing up and retreating, in order to gradually acclimatize to the high altitude. A riveting story about something I would never want to do. Highly recommended, especially for boys 6th grade and up.
WPL Call Number: Y Smith
Milkweed: A Novel|
Narrative of young orphan boy in 1939 Warsaw. An older Jewish homeless boy takes care of him and teaches him survival skills. Being small and fast, Misha is able to survive by stealing and helping those he cares for as conditions worsen and the Jews are taken to the ghetto before deportation. Although he doesn't understand all that is happening in the world around him, Misha's tale gives us a different perspective to this ugly chapter of history.
WPL Call Number: Y Spinelli
Curious Fredle Mouse smelled something delicious in the pantry and so he ate it. Since the delicious something was a chocolate peppermint pattie, it made him very sick! It's a law of mousedom that a sick mouse has to be "wented"- pushed out of the nest. Poor Fredle finds himself adventuring in a dangerous world which includes rowdy robber raccoons. But he also gets to see the stars; he wonders, has any other inside mouse ever seen these beautiful sparkles? Fun reading for grades 3 and up.
WPL Call Number: J Fiction
The Perils of Peppermints|
Barbara Brooks Wallace
Emily is an orphan whose aunt and uncle place her in a dreadful boarding school run by the evil Mrs. Spilking. In Victorian novel style, Emily survives cruel punishments, frightening circumstances, drudgery, deprivation, a crooked lawyer and even a murder plot. Lots of twists and sudden turns in Emily's fortunes keep the pace moving right along. Sequel to "Peppermints in the Parlor," but can be read by itself. For boys and girls 4th grade and up. Also good for reluctant readers.
WPL Call Number: J Wallace