May 28, 2014

Trapped in a comic book

Viminy Crowe's Comic Book
by Marthe Jocelyn & Richard Scrimger
comics by Claudia Dรกvila

When Wylder Wallace and Addy Crowe find themselves trapped in the pages of a Flynn Goster comic book, mayhem ensues. Thus begins a dizzying, non-stop adventure that'll leave you happy, but exhausted. In other words, Whew!  Scrimger himself puts it best: "Viminy Crowe's Comic Book will resonate with anyone looking for fun and excitement -- the Whew! of reading." So hurry up and buy this book! You won't regret it!

For kids eager to make their own comic books, check out the how-to books featured on my other blog Interesting Nonfiction for Inquisitive Kids.

May 21, 2014


What We Hide
by Marthe Jocelyn

Jenny and her brother Tom are off to England: Tom to university to dodge the Vietnam draft, Jenny to boarding school, Illington Hall. This is Jenny's chance to finally stand out, so she purposely tells a lie. But in the small world of Ill Hall, everyone has secrets. Jenny pretends she has a boyfriend. Robbie and Luke pretend they don't. Brenda keeps what happened with the school doctor to herself. Percy doesn't talk about his famous dad. Nico wants to hide his mother's memoir. Oona lies to everyone. Penelope lies to herself. 

Marthe Jocelyn seamlessly tells the story from multiple points of view and, in Percy's and Oona's narratives respectively, screenplays and letters. Jocelyn's strength as a writer, and what makes her so popular, is her ability to create believable characters and realistic situations that teens can readily identify with. What We Hide is an honest look at secrets - why we tell them, why we keep them, and what happens next, which is not entirely bad. 

Highly recommended.

May 14, 2014

Zombie at school

by Richard Scrimger

From the wacky mind of Richard Scrimger comes a story about a young zombie who goes to school in Ontario.

Imre Lazar is the sole survivor of a radiation disaster that wiped out his town. He has no pulse, no blood pressure, and a body temperature just above freezing. Officially, he suffers from pedes mortuus or walking dead syndrome. The principal assures us that he's not contagious. He is, however, practically indestructible, though certain body parts keep dropping off (he's held together by duct tape). Understandably, some parents get a little freaked out and try to get him expelled. Others support undead rights. The students are similarly divided, but that doesn't deter Evil-O (Olive‚ spelled backwards) who nominates Imre for class president. 

Imre eventually becomes popular, especially when he lifts the school bus and becomes a football star. He even gets his own reality show on CBC Television. But everything's not as happy as it seems. Why does Imre live in a highly secure facility in a remote location? And why is there dog food in the refrigerator?

Narrated hilariously by Evil-O's best friend Bob, a lovable loser, the story quickly shifts from slapstick comedy to classic horror, with a bit of conspiracy theory thrown in. 

A laugh-out-loud, rollicking adventure that's sure to please zombie fans everywhere.

May 7, 2014

World Outside a thoughtful read

The World Outside
by Eva Wiseman

Seventeen-year-old Chanie Altman lives a sheltered life. As a Lubavitcher Hasidic girl, she's expected to follow the strict tenets of her religion. That means performing outreach to teach fellow Jews how to become more devout, attending the seminary instead of going to college, dressing modestly, and never talking to strange boys. Understandably, Chanie is beginning to question her faith and rebelling in small ways. So when she meets David, a Jew who isn't religious, she is thrown into turmoil. 

Chanie has a beautiful singing voice. With David's encouragement, she applies for a scholarship to Juilliard. But when race riots erupt between Jews and Blacks in her Crown Heights neighborhood and in the face of family tragedy, Chanie is forced to choose between a prescribed life or the world outside.

Teen readers will sympathize greatly with Chanie's plight. Not being able to read secular books or listen to nonreligious music, never to sing in front of strange men, or even to drink coffee if it isn't kosher - such restrictions may shock and dismay many modern girls. Add in Chanie's mother's anger at her daughter and the spectre of an arranged marriage, and you could end up with teens eschewing religion for atheism. They'll be hoping that Chanie achieves her dreams and follows her heart. The ending, which I will not reveal, will result in heated debates for a long time coming.

Wiseman writes with care and restraint, allowing the action to proceed without being overwrought. She clearly reveals the strength of faith and of community and what happens when that strength is tested. The World Outside is well worth reading.