I was sold on this book by the second sentence. “We lived in a perfect stucco house, just off the sparkly Pacific, with a lime tree in the backyard and pink and yellow roses gone wild around a picket fence. But that wasn’t enough to keep my daddy from going to jail when I turned eleven.” A prickly beginning to a book that will stick with you long after you finish the last page.
One of the joys of reading for me is sometimes stumbling upon a book that just moves me in a way I never expected. The Year the Swallows Came Early is that kind of book. “Groovy” Robinson wants to go to culinary school when she grows up, but unfortunately learns some harsh life lessons when she turns eleven. She also learns that life is complex and the power of forgiveness is tremendously powerful.
I imagine more girls will pick up this book than boys, but it doesn’t have to be that way. The author fully develops Groovy’s friend Frankie into a believable but flawed character, and just as noteworthy as Groovy. Try it out, I hope you will like it as much as I did. (Review by Mrs. Hembree)
After reading a book for school, did you ever wish you could write a book report saying how much you really hated the book? Well, that’s exactly what Wallace Wallace (yes- he has the same first and last name) does after reading Old Shep, My Pal for his 8th grade English class. It’s no surprise when his teacher, Mr. Fogelman has a fit and assigns detention to Wally until he writes a proper book report. In his eyes, Old Shep, My Pal is a timeless classic and an award winning novel – nobody could possibly hate it!
Never one to lie about anything, Wally refuses, citing he hates the books most teacher assign because the dogs always die, and he knew Old Shep would die before he even opened the book. Remember Sounder or Old Yeller? Dead dogs. Where the Red Fern Grows – two dead dogs – a double whammy! What is the deal with dying dog books that make them such wonderful classics?
When detention involves having to spend his afternoons watching Mr. Fogelman direct the school play, Wally finds himself becoming involved in making the play adaption of Old Shep more contemporary.
Strong male and female characters combined with a solid and very humorous plot line keep the book moving quickly to the end. No More Dead Dogs is not a new book, but I highly recommend it to anyone who might enjoy the humor at poking fun at the classics that students are supposed to love reading – but often don’t. (Review by Mrs. Hembree)
If you love everything horses, then Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff is a good choice for you. After her mother dies, Lidie who lives in Brazil, finds that she has to move to New York to live with her father and older brother. She hasn’t seen them in years and they have some awkward moments in the weeks after their reunion. Add going to a new school where you don’t speak English, and nobody speaks Portuguese, and you have some tough times. Luckily for Lidie, her father is a trainer at a famous racetrack and she can live around the horses she adores.
Every other chapter tells the story about a new born foal and its start in life. Like Lidie, the foal faces many difficulties as it is removed from its mother and has to start life anew.
The story comes alive when Lidie and the foal come together at her father’s stable. A satisfying read for girls who love horse books. (Reviewed by Mrs. Hembree)