This is one in a series of monthly reviews of books for young people written by four area teachers of children’s literature. Today’s are by Barbara St. John, retired from Bowling Green State University. Back to school — time for book reports! Try some of these new ones. Meet clever characters who encounter unusual situations and find unique solutions to problems.
By Tad Hills. Schwartz and Wade. $17.99. Ages 4-8. ROCKET WRITES A STORY
Meet Rocket – a large white dog who loves school. Rocket especially likes the stories his teacher, the little yellow bird, reads. So Rocket sets out to write his own book. Thoughtfully he gathers words and ideas until he is ready to write a story for his dear friend, the owl. This book is a great introduction to writing.
DEAR BLUE SKY. By Mary Sullivan. Paulsen/Penguin. $16.99. Ages 12 and up.
Cassie feels that her family is falling apart when her brother leaves to fight in Iraq. School seems removed from reality. However, Cassie’s view changes when she meets an Iraqi girl, Blue Sky, on line. Sullivan explores the effects of war on both families. When Blue Sky declares “I want my life back,” Cassie realizes the full implications of war.
SECRETS OF SHAKESPEARE’S GRAVE. By Deron R. Hicks. Illustrations by Mark Geyer. Houghton Mifflin. $16.99. Ages 9-12.
A lost family treasure, clues in a 400-year old portrait, a ruthless uncle — these are all part of the mystery Colophon must solve to save the family business. Clever, fast paced action and a quirky heroine make this a delightful read.
SUMMER OF THE WOLVES. By Polly Carlson-Volies. Houghton-Mifflin. $15.99. Ages 10-14.
Nika and her brother are spending the summer with their long-lost uncle, a wildlife biologist. They find an orphaned wolf cub and Nika wants to care for it. Her uncle insists the cub must be returned to the wild. This is a story that’s filled with fascinating details of raising a wild creature with love and respect.
MALCOLM AT MIDNIGHT. By W.H. Beck. Illustrations by Brian Lies. Houghton Mifflin. $16.99. Ages 9-12.
Malcolm is a very small rat, so small that he is mistaken for a mouse. When Malcolm becomes a class pet, he is introduced to the other animals that live in the school. When the school’s iguana disappears, Malcolm becomes a suspect. How Malcolm clears his name creates a very humorous mystery. Malcolm proves he is brave and very clever. Lies’ illustrations capture the humor. The villain is a surprise!
ROBBIE FORESTER AND THE OUTLAWS OF SHERWOOD ST. By Peter Abrahams. Philomek. $16.99. Ages 12 and up.
Robbie Forester realizes that life is not fair — a situation she accepts until a magic charm comes into her possession. Robbie and her friends are transported into a world of violence and injustice. Can these teenagers outwit the crooks? Fast paced, likeable characters.
WANDERLOVE. By Kirsten Hubbard. Delacorte. $17.99. Ages 14 and up.
At 18, Bria wants to change her life. She signs up for a tour of Central America and quickly drops her guided tour to join Rowan and his sister, Starling, on a journey off the beaten path. The author provides interesting glimpses of life in Central America. Bria realizes that she alone is responsible for her future.