Monday, September 24, 2007

Parrotfish by Ellen Wittlinger

Angela is a junior in high school who's made an important decision, she's changed her name to Grady and begins living her life as a boy. Grady encounters many different levels of support from acceptance to hostility. There are a few instances of bullying and Wittlinger does a good job of the family's reaction to his decision. While I enjoyed the novel, if you've read Luna then you know that this one doesn't even come close to being as good. While I admit that Wittlinger does a pretty good job of presenting Grady and his life, I still thought the novel was slightly preachy and I couldn't really like Grady as a character. Just my opinion. I am going to say Nay although I think many will disagree because I know it got strong reviews. I couldn't help but keep comparing it to Luna. I applaud her for tackling such an underwritten topic. Nay for me.

The Traitor's Gate by Avi

This book is historical fiction and takes place in London in 1849. The main character is a 14 year old boy named John who is trying to deal with his father's sentencing to prison for debt, and uncover the traitor who wants to steal some military secrets that his father is privy to. He comes in contact with many characters in London and he has to rely on himself to uncover who he can and cannot trust. This book is very past paced and I think it might appeal to a reluctant reader who is in their early teens or an older elementary student. I found it to be confusing at times and didn't appreciate the fast pace, but appreciated the authentic voice that Avi used in writing for the characters. I would have to say NAY though.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Games: A Tale of Two Bullies by Carol Gorman

Each suspended twice in the first few weeks of school, eighth-grade archnemeses Boot Quinn and Mick Sullivan have been sentenced to play board games every day during lunch period until they can get along.

This book may be a little young for Thumbs Up, but I'm hesitant to axe it from the list because it's a good look at real issues that a lot of kids face every day. It is both chilling and very thought-provoking on many levels and I'd definitely recommend it to some of the younger but advanced readers that haunt my teen area.

A MAYBE for now.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Booth's Daughter by Raymond Wemmlinger

Edwina Booth is 18 and lives in the shadow of the assassination of President Lincoln by her uncle John Wilkes Booth, which happened when she was barely old enough to remember. Her father is a famous actor and she struggles to find herself in his world of art.

This has the potential to be a good story, but it often gets bogged down in historical details. Edwina and her father are strong characters, but the others seem to be shadows. Also, the ending happens rather too quickly for my taste and I'm not sure Edwina's character is very believable for the time period.

An interesting take on history, but for Thumbs Up purposes, I'm going to say NAY and wait to see what others think.

Thursday, September 6, 2007

My Mother the Cheerleader by Robert Sharenow

It is 1960 and Louise's mother dresses up everyday to go to the local elementary school and heckle Ruby Bridges as she bravely becomes the symbol for racial integration in the 9th ward of New Orleans. Mom owns a boarding house and a new boarder from New York comes to stay. His presence changes the way both Louise and her mother think. The hatred of the era is palpably evoked as Louise tries to sort out her own feelings and as she learns the reality of what's really happening. I think this is a fantastic and important book. A quick read, but it will stay with me for awhile. Yay.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Right Behind You by Gail Giles

Gail Giles' latest is good. Maybe not as compelling as Shattering Glass or Dead Girls Don't Write Letters, but still it is a thought provoking book. When Kip McFarland was 9, he set his 7-year neighbor on fire, using gasoline and a lighter. This is Kip's story as he grows up trying to deal with his heinous act. I don't want to give too much of the story away, but I will give this title a YAY and hope to hear how others feel about it.