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Book Reviews

October 5, 2009
Times Observer
By Valle Blair
Pre K-1st LINES THAT WIGGLE by CANDACE WHITMAN (Blue Apple Books, 2009) *** This picture book shows how lines are in everything. A brief rhyming text to leads the reader from the lines of one bright illustration to the lines of the next. Lines can do things – wiggle – lines can be things – decoration on leaves. Lines are everywhere! The best thing about the book is the raised, sparkly blue lines that start on the cover and show what the lines do in each illustration. They make this a visually and tactilely fun book when you follow the lines with your finger. And the last phrase urges the reader to look around and “find some lines not in this book”.
2ND – 4TH I DON’T WANT TO GO TO SCHOOL by STEPHANIE BLAKE (Random House, 2009) *** Simon, the little rabbit, is starting school tomorrow. When his mother tells him this, he tells her, “No way!” His father tells him of all the things he will learn in school. His response? “No way!” His mother tells him he is the bravest little rabbit, her super rabbit. “No way!” But when his father says goodbye to him at the school, he says, “no way!” in a very tiny voice. Then when his mother comes to take him home after school, guess what he says? You got it – “No way!” What fun he had!
MIDDLE SCHOOL PORCUPINE by MEG TILLY (Tundra Books, 2007) *** Twelve-year-old Jacqueline’s Dad was killed in Afghanistan. He was her best friend. They had a special relationship. Her mom crumbles under depression and packs Jack and her younger brother and sister up to go visit the great grandmother they never knew they had. Mom takes off within a short time and leaves them with the grumpy old lady on the rundown farm. Everyone tells great grandma to get rid of the kids because they’re nothing but trouble but she says they’re family. To make matters worse, Simon has learning disability that Jack tries to hide. She just won’t let anyone get close. She’s as prickly as a porcupine. But can she learn to trust again? What will happen when Gran goes into a nursing home? Watch Jack as she morphs into something new.
HIGH SCHOOL LOST by JAQUELINE DAVIES (Marshall Cavendish, 2009) *** This is an intriguing story set in a sweat shop in early 1900 East Side Manhattan.  Two young girls' lives are intertwined with mystery and heartbreaking circumstances and culminate with the tragedy of the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire in 1911.  The story is woven from diary entries alternating with a narrative that paints a vivid picture of the stark reality of extreme poverty, working conditions in the factory, societal issues of the day and how they impacted on the girls' lives.  Whether you are interested in the historical context, a love story, a story about friendship, family bonds or resiliency of the human spirit, you will find this a riveting read.

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Valle Blair



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