Monday, January 26, 2015

Winter Reading 2015 Rory's Promise

If you like feisty heroines, whatever their age or the historical setting, you will love Rory Fitzpatrick. Rory and her younger sister, Violet, are orphans living in the Foundling Hospital in New York in 1904. They have been there for 3 years, and now Sister Anna has found parents to adopt Violet. But Rory doesn't want to be separated from her sister, especially not when her sister is being sent to the Arizona Territory! Rory goes to incredible lengths so that she can make sure her sister is safe and happy. The fact that the book is based on actual events, even though Rory and Violet are fictional, adds even more appeal to the story.

For readers who enjoy historical fiction or want to learn more about the early 20th century and the westward movement of settlers, this is a fast-paced story with plenty of period details. Everything from the clothing, the novelty of an indoor "water closet" at the orphanage, and even paddy wagons adds to the feeling that we are in the start of the twentieth century with Rory and Violet. This would make a great read-aloud for a class, because there are plenty of suspenseful moments to stop and leave everyone hanging until the next day. It would also make a good novel study to go along with a social studies unit on westward expansion in the U.S.

I've heard of the Orphan Trains, but have never really read much about them. To our modern sensibilities it seems that the children sent out west by the Children's Aid Society were shipped off and practically auctioned off like cattle. I wonder how it actually seemed to the people involved at the time? The Foundling Hospital in New York was something else I had heard of, but I had never learned any details about its history. The number of children they placed through adoption and the number of women they paid to wet-nurse the orphaned or abandoned infants is astonishing. I appreciate the research the authors did so that they could create an accurate portrayal of the time period.

I would highly recommend this to anyone looking for an adventure story, historical fiction, or books with strong female characters. This is the first of the series Hidden Histories from Calkins Creek Books. I am curious to see what historical event or time the next book tackles.

Update: We now have a copy of this book in the library.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Winter Reading 2015 New from our friend Jessica Young


When Jessica visited our school last year, she talked about the chapter book series she was working on. She even asked for suggestions on a good title. Well ... the series is coming out next month and Jessica has sent us the trailer for Finley Flowers to enjoy until the first book comes out on February 5th. She says to tell everyone at Fairview,  "Hi!"

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Free Sample of New YA Book

I am currently reading Breaking Sky. The publisher has made the first twelve chapters available for free. Just click the link and you can access the sample to see what the book is like. So far it reminds me a bit of the movies "Top Gun" and "Iron Eagle."
Breaking Sky
Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492601418
March 2015

In this high-flying, adrenaline-fueled thriller, America’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy.
“The author's storytelling is incredibly cinematic, equally adept at capturing extended flight sequences and Chase's interpersonal struggles. Emotions run high toward the novel's end, and the author isn't afraid to play a bit rough, making this feel less like a novel capitalizing on current trends and more like a great story being told in a very cool way. Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” – Kirkus Reviews
Fly to the last drop of fuel. Fight to the last drop of blood.
Showoff. Reckless. Maverick. Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx”, isn’t one to play it safe. In the year 2048, America is locked in a cold war – and the country’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy. Chase is one of only two daredevil pilots chosen to fly an experimental “Streaker” jet. But few know the pain and loneliness of her past. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.
But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. And Chase doesn’t play well with others. But to save her country, she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.
Cori McCarthy’s taut, romantic, action adventure will shoot your pulse straight into overdrive with her brilliantly imagined and frighteningly possible future.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Winter Reading 2015 The War That Saved My Life


I started to write that World War II is the setting for this story, but that wouldn't be quite right. The war does figure prominently in the story in various ways and it is always present in the background behind all other action. But I think the best way to explain the story is to say that WWII is the catalyst for everything that happens.

Ada and her brother Jamie live with their mother in London during 1939. Their father has been gone since Jamie was a baby. Now Ada is 10 and Jamie is 6 and old enough to go to school soon. Their mother (Mam) has never let Ada go to school, or anywhere else. Ada spends every day in their tiny 3rd floor apartment, watching the world outside the window. Mam keeps her inside because Ada has a clubfoot and she doesn't want anyone to know that her daughter is a "cripple." 

When the children are evacuated from London to the countryside because of the threat from German bombers, Ada goes with Jamie and they discover another world from what they've known. There is plenty of food to eat, baths every day, clean sheets on the bed, grass and fresh air outside... They are assigned to a single woman named Susan Smith who lives alone. Although Susan protests that she doesn't know how to care for children, she does a better job than Mam right from the start. 


(Photos of Kent, where evacuated children were taken.)

It is fascinating to watch the children, especially Ada, explore the English countryside and slowly emerge from the timid shells they have lived in with their mother. The behaviors that are described as they try to cope with all the changes and feel overwhelmed at times are what one would expect from children recovering from years of neglect and abuse. Readers will be cheering for each accomplishment and small flash of bravery. 

(English ponies like Butter, the pony in the book)

This would be an excellent book to read as part of a unit on WWII, because it does cover things like the evacuation, the bombing raids, rationing, victory gardens, etc. But it is also a great story for anyone who enjoys characters that are able to overcome obstacles and handicaps to reach for a better life.

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley. You can find out more about the author and her books on her website. For more about World War II and its effects in England, visit the website for the Imperial War Museum, where the author did a lot of her research.

One of the displays from the museum, a boat used during the Dunkirk evacuations.

Friday, January 2, 2015

Winter Reading 2015 Dinosaur Boy


Suppose your grandfather worked in a major science lab and one day someone added dinosaur DNA into the ice cream in the cafeteria? What if he became a human/dinosaur hybrid and the genes were passed down to you? How you would you like to go through 5th grade with stegosaurus plates down your back and a long spiked tail? (I'm pretty sure that 5th grade is hard enough all on its own.) Sawyer Bronson is actually living out this situation. Over the summer his dinosaur genes decide to kick in and he comes back to school looking a bit different than he did at the end of 4th grade. Most of his classmates take this as the perfect opportunity to tease or bully him. Unfortunately for them, the new principal is very serious about the zero tolerance policy. Classmates are expelled when Principal Mathis catches them picking on Sawyer. It seems like having the principal on your side would be a good thing, right? But what if rumors begin to circulate that the expelled students have not been in contact with any of their friends and it is suspected that Sawyer has eaten them? (Even though we all know that a stegosaurus is an herbivore.) Sawyer and his friends Elliott and Sylvie decide to investigate and get some answers. 

A perfect middle grade novel. Dinosaur Boy has humor, dinosaurs, bullies, good friends, lots of laughs, and maybe some of the bullies even learn a thing or two about their behavior. And this is not just a book for boys - Sawyer's friends Sylvie is a great female character and readers of either gender will enjoy the action, intrigue, and humor in the story. Give it try!

I read an e-book provided by the publisher through NetGalley.