Bethany's Readers' Advisory

The place to go for readers' advisory on books for children, teens, and adults

Lunch Walks Among Us by Jim Benton July 27, 2011

Filed under: ages 7-10,humor,strange fiction — Bethany @ 10:11 pm
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Frannie K. Stein’s family just moved to a new house at the end of Daffodil Street.  This means Frannie is starting at a new school.  The other kids don’t understand the new girl, a mad scientist that keeps a bat (the animal) in her backpack and eats crab ravioli with pumpkin sauce for lunch.  Frannie wants to fit in the with other kids, so she trades her chomping, oozing dolls for pretty dolls, her shish kebab lunches for peanut butter and jelly sandwiches on squishy white bread, and her bat with black wings for a baseball bat.  But when a monster terrorizes the school, will the new Frannie be able to save the day?

This was a cute book.  I like Frannie K. Stein so much better than Junie B. Jones and will recommend this series to my 7 to 10-year-old readers as an alternative.

 

Savvy by Ingrid Law May 13, 2011

Mibs (short for Mississippi) is about to turn 13.  For the Beaumonts, turning 13 is a big deal, but not because they are teenagers.  This is the day the savvy is revealed.  Her brother caused a massive hurricane on his 13th and the family was never the same.

The day before Mibs’ birthday, they find out their father has been in a major car accident and is in a coma in Salina, Kansas.  When the younger kids are left behind with the preacher’s wife, Mibs realizes her savvy could be just the thing to save her father’s life.

The Beaumont and the preacher’s kids stow away on a pink Bible bus and set out on an unexpected journey that will change all of their lives.  Will they make it in time for Mibs to save Poppa?

I didn’t love this book.  It was a decent coming-of-age story about a girl who realizes she is no longer a child with some magic thrown in.  Being a Nebraska native, I wasn’t a fan of portrayal of Nebraskans either.  (I’ve never told anyone to “get frittered.”)

2009 Newbery Honor Book

2010-2011 Golden Sower Honor Book

 

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell March 2, 2011

Emmy is always trying to be good.  Not that it does her any good.  Even though she has straight A’s on her report card and does everything her nanny, Miss Barmy, says, no matter how bizarre, her parents are always away on trips and her classmates act like she doesn’t even exist.   When the Rat, the talking class pet that only she can hear, tells her she should try being bad to get some attention, she thinks about it.  Emmy skips ballet and stumbles upon an antique store called The Antique Rat.  Inside, hidden in the back room, she makes a surprising discovery.  When this draws the attention of the sinister Professor Vole and the mean class Rat shows up at her bedroom window, Emmy begins to realize the strange things going on in her life might be connected.

Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat is an awesome, unique story filled with mystery and fantasy. Emmy is clever and brave, the Rat is arrogant and witty, and Miss Barmy is just plain evil.  Highly recommended for girls and boys in 3rd grade and up.

 

Ella Minnow Pea by Mark Dunn November 12, 2010

Filed under: epistolary novels,strange fiction — Bethany @ 3:53 am
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Ella Minnow Pea lives on Nollop, an island off the coast of South Carolina.  The island is named for Nevin Nollop, author of the pangram, or sentence composed of all of the letters of the alphabet, “The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy dog.”  When the letters of the Nollop’s legendary pangram begin falling from his commemorative statue, the island’s High Council takes it as a sign from Mr. Nollop from beyond the grave and outlaws written and verbal use of the letters.  As more and more of the townspeople are banished for using the illicit letters, an outsider comes to the rescue with a proposal; if they are able to come up with an even shorter pangram, the High Council will restore use of the full alphabet.  Before long, though, the task to save the town falls to Ella alone.  Will she be able to top Nollop and save the town from complete exodus?

This was a very clever commentary on censorship and abuse of power.  It was interesting how many of the townspeople, despite their love of language and words, unquestioningly followed the High Council’s ridiculous orders and quickly sold out their friends and neighbors who violated those orders.

The epistolary format was essential to this novel.  The letters at the beginning were filled with rich language but deteriorated with the loss of the alphabet.  Near the end, the letters were almost nonsensical, composed of creatively spelled words to get the point across without violating the rules.

 

 

The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett November 9, 2010

Filed under: strange fiction — Bethany @ 8:40 pm
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An inventor, a reader with a brain full of facts, and a biter:  what do all of these have in common?  They are the Baudelaire children.  They had the perfect life: a mansion for a home, supportive, loving parents, and plenty of ways to express their talents.  Then tragedy struck – their house burned to the ground with their parents inside.    The Baudelaire orphans must then go to live with their evil relative, Count Olaf, who offers them nothing but a dirty room with one bed and a list of chores a mile long.  Will the children survive with nothing in their future but a series of unfortunate events?

 

 
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