Thursday, April 26, 2007

Mock Printz: Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham

Title: Shark Girl
Author: Kelly Bingham
Publisher: Candlewick
ISBN: 9780763632076
Starred review in: PW

While swimming at the beach one day, aspiring professional artist Jane is attacked by a shark. Although she is able to escape with her life, thanks to her brother, she loses her right arm above the elbow. As she lies in the hospital, the sympathy cards and letters pour in, but she doesn't want any of them. She wants the man who sold his home video of her attack to the news to suffer. She wants her life back. While in the hospital, she meets another amputee, Justin (age 9), who has only one request for her: He wants her to draw a picture for him. To Jane, that's an impossible request. Her drawing arm is gone, and drawing a computer, to her, is NOT art.

When Jane returns to school in the fall, things are different between her and her friends. Her best friend Rachel is as loyal and caring as ever, but it seems like their other friend Angela can do nothing but criticize Jane about the way she looks. And does swimming hottie Max really like Jane for who she is, or does he just feel sorry for her?

Like many novels in verse, this is a quick read with moments of brilliance. Interspersed with the poems are some of the letters Jane receives while she recovers and receives therapy in the hospital. It's an excellent readalike for fans of Sonya Sones and Ellen Hopkins, with depth, despair, and an eventual turn towards a mental and physical recovery. Is it Printz-worthy? I don't think so. But it is a worthy buy for many libraries and a solid read.

Reviewed by Carlie W., BCCLS

Thursday, April 19, 2007

Mock Newbery: Reaching for the Sun

Starred Review: Kirkus 01/15/07
Author: Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn
Title: Reaching for sun
ISBN: 1599900378

The annotation in the catalogue reads simply: "Josie, who lives with her mother and grandmother and has cerebral palsy, befriends a boy who moves into one of the rich houses behind her old farmhouse."

This one simple sentence just doesn't do it justice. Reaching for the Sun is a short, but elegant, novel in verse about a year in the life of young girl with CP who lives with her single working mom and her grandmother. The short verses communicate clearly the voice of Josie as she befriends a new boy, learns to stand up for what SHE wants, deals with her Grandmother being sick, and reconnects with her mother. So much happens in the few words that the author writes and yet nothing feels glossed over or neglected.

With quotes like: "like a blip on the radar of my life" refering to how little Josie sees of her mother between her job and her classes in the evening, this story of a young girl turning into a woman and learning about ethics, friendship, and herself will stay with you long after you close the book itself.

Review by:
Latricia Batchelor Markle
Tenafy Public Library

MOCK NEWBERY: Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis

Starred Review: Kirkus 12/15/06
Author: Druitt, Tobias
Title: Corydon and the Fall of Atlantis
Fantasy 12-15
ISBN: 375833838
This sequal to Corydon and the Island of Monsters is of course similar to its predicessor in style and language. It is full of references to classical mythology some of which the 12-15 yr old readers will be familiar with and even more which they won't be. It sometimes reads as a more serious version of the Percy Jackson books.
The cover of the book and the flap noes do grab your interest and the premis of the book will grab the interest of many readers who like adventure or mythology. The problem comes once you actually get into the book. The adventurous plot starts to slow down and get bogged downin details. Then even more characters are added to a fairly large original group of monsters.
I can't tell you how the book ends or if the slow plot picks up speed again, though I will wager a guess that it does about 3/4 or so through the book, because I stopped reading and just couldn't dredge up the interest in it to even peak at the ending.
Review by:
Latricia Batchelor Markle
Tenafly Public Library