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Reviews by Lyn 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.

Magic book Before We Were Free
Julia Alvarez

Loosely based on the author's experiences growing up in the Dominican Republic in the early 1960s, when a dictator was in power and the secret police were everywhere. Horrifying in spots, this is beautifully and very simply written, a book that is both political and very personal. Winner of the 2004 Pura Belpre Award. For grades 7 and older.

WPL Call Number: Y Alvarez
Review Date: 10/29/04


Book Cover My Father's Summers: A Daughter's Memoir
Kathi Appelt

Affecting account of Appelt's childhood and adolescence in Houston in the 60s and early 70s. Her father was frequently away on jobs in the Middle East, and her parents eventually divorced. Written very simply, this often zeroes in on just the right details to describe her sense of loss. Short and accessible, this could be a very good discussion book for grades 6 and older.

WPL Call Number: Y921 Appelt
Review Date: 1/18/05


Book Cover Home of the Brave
Katherine Applegate

Kek is an African refugee who moves to join his aunt and cousin in Minnesota. Most of his family has been killed, but his mother's whereabouts are unknown. This story, told in free verse, is full of the ups and downs of adjusting to his new life, including his overworked aunt, his moody older cousin, a friendship with a classmate, and a job taking care of an elderly neighbor's cow. While this does not shrink from hardship, overall it's a very readable and touching story of hope. For ages 9 or 10 and older.

WPL Call Number: Y Applegate
Review Date: 12/17/07


Book Cover A Dog on His Own
Mary Jane Auch

The main character is K-10, a stray dog who plots an escape from an animal shelter with his two new friends, a female Lab and a spoiled, lost chihuahua. This heartfelt story mixes suspense, humor, and mild scariness. For animal lovers in grades 3-5.

WPL Call Number: J Auch
Review Date: 1/3/09


Book Cover Cold in Summer
Tracy Barrett

Middle school girl moves from Florida to a small town in Tennessee, where she starts seeing a mysterious girl in the nearby woods. One of the earthier (and more realistic) ghost stories - this moves right along and would appeal to 5th and 6th graders.

WPL Call Number: Y Barrett
Review Date: 2/28/04


Book Cover The Blue Ghost
Marion Dane Bauer

When Liz accompanies her grandmother to a family cottage in northern Minnesota, it's not long before she starts hearing, and then seeing, a mysterious ghost. Possibly a long dead relative? This has a real sweetness underneath the spookiness. Second through fourth graders looking for a gently scary book will enjoy this short novel by a prolific and talented Newbery Honor author.

WPL Call Number: J Bauer
Review Date: 10/30/05


Book Cover The Golden Ghost
Marion Dane Bauer

Delsie and her friend Todd visit an abandoned house near an old mill and find evidence that someone has been living there. In this gently supernatural novel, a dog-loving girl gets her wish in a most unusual way. Recommended for second and third graders.

WPL Call Number: J Bauer
Review Date: 7/19/11


Book Cover The Secret of the Painted House
Marion Bauer

This story about a nine year-old who moves with her family from Chicago to a rural area is a blend of the mystery and fantasy genres. When she goes exploring in the woods, she finds an old playhouse. Later, she learns from an elderly neighbor about the child who owned it and the tragic circumstances of her death. Bauer is a reliably skilled writer, and this quietly spooky read will appeal to second and third graders.

WPL Call Number: J Bauer
Review Date: 9/11/07


Book Cover The Long Gone Lonesome History of Country Music
Bret Bertholf

This entertaining overview is lots of fun. It starts off by asking, "Are you tired? Stinky? Lonesome? Ugly? Cranky? Depressed? Silly? Or strange? If so, you might be a country singer and not even know it!" Text like this is illustrated by some great cartoon-style pictures, showing, for example, a cranky Hank Williams and a silly Minnie Pearl. The narrative begins in the pre-radio days and continues into the present, even including the "big hair" era of Loretta Lynn and Tammy Wynette. For grades 2 and up.

WPL Call Number: J 781.642 BE
Review Date: 6/20/07


Book Cover Tell Me a Picture
Quentin Blake

This is the result of an exhibition at the National Gallery in London. Blake's sketches show children commenting on dozens of paintings, which are nicely reproduced in a beautiful and simply designed book. Art appreciation in a down-to-earth way and lively way, always from a child's point of view. Probably best for grades 1 - 4, but could be enjoyed by many ages.

WPL Call Number: J750 BL
Review Date: 2/20/04


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