Monday, June 21, 2010

Mock Printz: Jump by Carbone

P.K. is a normal teen who loves to rock climb and whose parents just don't understand her.  She's not doing well at her school where they focus on standardised tests and traditional classes, plus her parents don't like her non-conformist friends.  So they want to send her to a nice boarding school where they believe that she will focus on classes and become a 'good' student.  Her answer is to run away on a rock climbing trip, but none of her friends can go with her.  Enter Critter.  Critter is a patient in the psych ward and has been kept drugged up on various pills.  He believes he doesn't need them and manages to skip doses and escape the hospital.  The first night out he stops the gym where he and his father used to go rock climbing and there he overheads P.K. asking her friends to go with her.  He volunteers when none of them will and the next morning off they go.  A new take on a road trip story, the pair start out as strangers and get to know one another and for P.K. herself a bit better. 

I liked this book for a lot of reasons.  Short chapters and two very unique voices that both rang true were two of the first I discovered.  The mix of mundane and dramatic details was another.  I loved the fact that P.K. wasn't running from horrible, abusive or neglectful parents....just normal parents who loved her, but just didn't understand her or agree with her.  She still loved them as well and in the end, even if everything wasn't perfect they all found a way to make peace and live with each other.  Critter's story unfolds slowly as he reveals it to P.K., and is left open but hopeful at the end.

This one will be added to my list of favorites for the year, at least for now.  It's definitely one that is worth the read.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Mock Newbery/Printz : Guardian Angel House by Kathy Clark

Title: Guardian Angel House
Author: Kathy Clark
Publisher: Second Story House
ISBN: 978-1-897187-58-6
This historical fiction about a young teen living in Budapest, Hungary who winds up hidden with her younger sister in a Catholic convent makes a contribution to this genre. It is 1944 and of course in Hungary, which was one of the last countries to affect the Jews, it is no longer safe. Even though Hungary was slow, it was particularly effective in instituting an accelerated program of eradication of the Jews. Fortunately for Susan, a young teen, her mother's close family friend is accutely aware and pushes her mother to place the two girls. The placement winds up being a Catholic convent. The description of life with the nuns is excellent. From becoming one of the gardeners to caring for the younger children, Susan learns and appreciates their generosity. She especially develops a close relationship with one nun who later sacrifices herself to protect Susan and her sister. This book will not be a candidate for either Printz or Newbery but I did enjoy it. The author based the story on that of her mother and aunt who stayed at an actual convent called the Sisters of Charity. The way the nuns cared for the girls and expanded their dormitory to help other children is very touching and vivid. The fact that some of the nuns do lose their lives shows how dangerous the entire operation really was. The whole relationship between these youngest Jews and the nuns is very respectful and humane, something to think about and consider.
Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

Mock Printz: Finnikin of the Rock by Melina Marchetta

Marchetta, Melina
Finnikin of the Rock
Melina Marchetta brings her gift of writing to the field of fantasy. Finnikin makes a blood oath with a prince and the prince's cousin at the age of nine to protect his country of Lumatere. A short time later, a blood bath ensues when an impostor king takes over the country. Finnikin himself loses all his family and everything. Killing, rape, and death spreads throughout the land. The devastation is complete until ten years later. Finnikin, under the tutelage of the former King's First Man meets a young novice, Evanjalin. Unbeknownst to Finnikin, they begin a quest of a sort as they slowly gather around them the key people to restore Lumatere back to its original humanity. The rich character development and complex plot gives this story a mystery and suspense until the reader discovers who the players really are. Throughout their journey they deal with language and culture differences, personality complications and genocide. How does a society recover? This is an interesting fantasy with a lot of deeper meaning. My only criticism was the long, protracted ending. But aside from that, it is the best YA book I have read all year. I think it should be a Printz candidate. It is well worth the read.
Susan Rappaport, Rutherford Public Library