January 29, 2014

The meaning of life

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life
by Wendy Mass

In one month, Jeremy Fink will turn thirteen, and he can't wait. He's tired of being a kid. But he's still very kid-like in lots of ways. He only eats peanut butter sandwiches, collects mutant candy, and never rides the subway alone.

Jeremy's life takes an unexpected twist when he receives a mysterious box with keyholes on four sides. Carved into the top are the words The Meaning of Life: for Jeremy Fink to open on his 13th birthday. The box is from his late father, who died when Jeremy was eight. Unfortunately, the keys are missing.

Jeremy teams up with his best friend Lizzy to find the keys. Lizzy, an incorrigible troublemaker, manages to get them both arrested. As punishment, they're given community service helping a pawnbroker named Mr. Oswald.

Mr. Oswald has them deliver packages to a number of people. Jeremy asks each person he meets about the meaning of life, but they all give a different answer. And he's still no closer to finding the keys.

A thought-provoking novel about fears, friendship, and the mysteries of life.

January 22, 2014

Antarctic cruise

A Trip to the Bottom of the World with Mouse
by Frank Viva 

An explorer and his best friend, Mouse, are on a journey to Antarctica. Mouse isn't exactly a happy traveller, constantly asking "Can we go home now?" But the explorer is too busy watching penguins and whales to worry about Mouse.

Young children will enjoy Viva's bold, retro-looking graphics and his depiction of an anxious, seasick Mouse.

January 15, 2014

Magical tale

by Lois Lowry

Where do dreams come from? Who are the guardians of our hidden hopes and forgotten fears? In Lois Lowry's quietly haunting novel, fairy-like dream-givers bestow fragments of colours, scents, sounds, and feelings to us as we sleep. Other, more ominous beings inflict nightmares to the vulnerable.

In this story, a lonely woman and an angry little boy become the targets of these beings, called the Sinisteeds. The dream-givers must use all of their courage to bestow strengthening dreams to the boy and the woman so they can withstand the horrors that is to come.

January 8, 2014

Little person packs quite a punch

The Manager
by Caroline Stellings

Tina is short, just three foot eleven and a half, yet she makes quite an impression. Tough and acerbic, she's the complete opposite of her sister Ellie, who's just so normal.  Ellie is not at all interested in boxing; she'd rather read Seventeen magazine. Meanwhile her father tries to run his gym without Tina's interference. Eventually their clash of wills get to be too much, and Tina takes off, dragging Ellie along for company. Tina's headed to Boston, where she plans to undergo a risky operation to make herself taller. Along the way, she and Ellie meet Jesse Mankiller, a Mi'kmaw light heavyweight from Millbrook, Nova Scotia. In Mankiller, Tina sees a fighter who can go the distance and she can make it happen by becoming his manager.

A fast-paced novel filled with interesting characters, including an Irish mobster. The boxing scenes are vivid without being too brutal and the dialogue is often caustic and sharp. Tina is a tough, no-nonsense protagonist that many teens will enjoy.