Flashback September 2006

A look back at what I reviewed in September 2006!

I’m Going To… Reviews of I’m Going To New York To Visit The Lions illustrated by Tanya Roitman, text copyright by Harriet Ziefert Inc. From my review: “Isn’t it obvious? Road Trip to NYC” and I’m Going To Boston To Visit The Ducks, same, “Road trip to Boston.”

Rash by Pete Hautman. From my review: “It’s the future, and it’s safety first all the way. And no hurt feelings. Well, basically anything that anyone has ever thought could be bad, or is bad, is also illegal. Take Bo’s dad, who is in prison for road rage: yelling and banging his fist on a car. It’s a problem having a parent in jail; but, it’s not uncommon since 24 percent of the population is in jail. Break a rule, go to jail. Bo is falsely accused of spreading a rash at school, loses his temper, and goes to jail. Once there, his assigned work is to make frozen pizzas. But something else is going on; the warden likes football and has started an elite football squad. Bo’s about to find out the real meaning of competition.

Princess Academy by Shannon Hale. From my review: “Miri lives on Mount Eskel; her family, like the entire village, works in the quarry. All Miri wants to do is take her place as an adult and work in the quarry, but her father has forbidden it. Miri’s world is turned upside down when representatives from the king of Danland announce that the priests have decided that the Prince’s wife will come from Mount Eskel. How to prepare all these village girls for life as a Princess? A Princess Academy! But this is more than a “make over”, more than learning how to use the correct knife and fork. It’s hard work, and the girls are isolated from their families and well aware of the stakes; becoming Princess means they can leave their poverty stricken lives. . . . The prize appears to be marrying the prince and becoming princess; but it’s not. The prize is about education; expanding one’s world views; making and taking opportunities; and recognizing that different people have different yet equally valid views. What makes one person happy may make another miserable.”

So Yesterday by Scott Westerfeld. From my review: “Hunter, 17, is a professional “cool hunter.” He’s an observer, who looks for what the true Innovators are doing and reports back to the corporations that pay him; and then those corporations can adjust what they make, and how they advertise it. What does he observe and look for? The “next” fashion trend, the people who are making fashion rather than following, whether it’s what cell phone is cool or how you tie your shoes. When Hunter’s friend disappears, he finds out that things aren’t always what they seem. And he discovers the coolest sneakers, ever. . . .  What is “cool”? In SY’s world, people are judged by what they wear and how they wear it; and sometimes it is a natural expression of a person, for another it’s unconscious, and for another it’s a quite purposeful following of the current trend. Cool is about self-expression, manipulation, and being manipulated. It’s about fear, identity, belonging. Being an individual and being part of something. And all that is also reflected in the mystery.”

Mystery At The Club Sandwich by Doug Cushman. From my review: “This is a mystery that is a 

picture book. I love sophisticated picture books; personally, I enjoy them, but I also love options for those kids who are reluctant readers, or who are in ESL, or have a learning issue, or whatever – I love when they have picture books available that aren’t aimed at babies. Also, on a professional level, it’s easier to do a read aloud with a picture book to a whole class.”

London Calling by Edward Bloor. From my review: “Martin Conway is having problems at school, problems his self-sacrificing mother chooses not to see. Martin is burdened by the sacrifices his mother is making to send him to a school he doesn’t want to be at; by the failure of his parent’s marriage; by his poor relationship with his alcoholic father; and by the pressure of living up to his mother’s father, a World War II hero. When Martin’s maternal grandmother dies, he is left her radio; and when he listens to it, he finds himself transported back in time, to London during the Blitz. Back in the modern world, he begins to look into the history of London, the Blitz, and the people he meets when back in time. He begins to discover secrets he didn’t know existed, and finds answers to questions people wanted to keep hidden.

Chicken And Cat by Sara Varon. From my review: “In this wordless picture book, country cat visits city chicken and has city adventures: Cat sees rats and cockroaches and goes on a trip to Coney Island. Cat misses the flowers of the country, so plants some in a nearby lot, bringing a bit of the country to the city.

Kiki Strike: Inside the Shadow City by Kirsten Miller. From my review: “Ananka relates how she first met the legendary Kiki Strike six years before, when they were both twelve. She followed the mysterious vigilante Kiki and helped recruit the four other Irregulars, uniquely talented Girl Scouts: DeeDee, scientific genius; Oona, expert forger; Betty, master of disguises; and Luz, inventor. Kiki is the leader; and Ananka is research girl. Their mission: to explore and map the mysterious New York City “Shadow City”, an underground labyrinth of rooms and tunnels and escape hatches. But the girls realize that Kiki isn’t being honest with them, and when the exploration goes tragically wrong, Kiki disappears, the FBI shows up, and the Irregulars drift apart. Two years later, strange robberies take place that only could be done with unique knowledge of the Shadow City. It has to be Kiki Strike; the girls band together one more time, to solve the crimes and find Kiki. But maybe Kiki will find them first . . .

The Great Mortality: An Intimate History of the Black Death, the Most Devastating Plague of All Time by John Kelly. From my review: “The title explains it all, doesn’t it? . . . The amount of filth, refuse, garbage and body wastes that people lived with in the past is staggering. Unimaginable. Best invention ever? indoor plumbing. And the rats! ew. Ew. Ew.”

Mimus by Lilli Thal (translated from German). From my review: “Prince Florin’s father, King Philip, is negotiating a truce between his country, Moltovia, and Vinland. Prince Florin is overjoyed when his father sends for him to join in the celebrations of peace. When Prince Florin arrives at King Theodo’s court, he discovers it’s a trap; his father has been taken prisoner, his knights and nobles either killed or imprisoned, and now Florin is a prisoner, also. King Theodo finds it amusing to humiliate young Florin by turning him into the lowest of the low — a jester. Every day, Florin must learn how to keep the king amused, as Florin’s father rots in the dungeon and Florin’s homeland is attacked. . . . Florin is totally humiliated by his reversal in life: “sooner or later he would go mad with shame.” And isn’t that what most kids are afraid of? Shame. Dreams of being in school naked, fears of people laughing. This is combined with a reality of many children’s lives: a lack of power: Florin is a captive child, and should he misbehave or try to escape, the prisoners in the dungeon will pay the price in the torture chamber. He has no options. He is powerless.”

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