Friday, August 7, 2009

Fav Summer Chapter Books

Ah, finally, I guess I'll talk about some of the chapter books I've been reading. I'm kind of picky about chapter books. I read everything, but it has to be pretty spectacular for me to give it a ***** (5 star) rating. These chapter books were my 5 star books for the summer.

Bad Girls Don't Die
by Katie Alender
ISBN: 1423108760

I loved this book! I am not a fan of ghost stories. In fact, I try to avoid them at all cost. And yet, I read an online review about this one and thought I'd give it a go. I'm so glad I did. I couldn't put this one down.

This is Katie Alender's debut novel about Alexis, a high school loner who loves photography. It all starts this Alexis (known as Lexie) seeing a weird light outside while she's taking a picture of her house one evening. Then weird things start to happen which lead to Lexie finding out about the house's dark history, realizing that she's not as alone as she thinks (in more ways than one), and then surviving in the midst of supernatural chaos.

The writing in this novel was superb. Well-developed characters lead to a complex plot that worked on so many levels. I appreciated the author adressing the issue that I think all high school kids go through, trying to decide if they want to "fit in" or go it alone and be different. Lexie struggles with her identity and what she wants out of school life, but learns that she can still be herself and socialize with other groups. I loved Lexie as a character. She was so believable that I wanted to meet her and befriend her.

And the ghost story was eery! It has all the ghostly aspects a person could want: haunting, sightings, poltergeist action, possessing, and exorcism. And, the ghost story was handled so subtly and perfectly, I was even able to read it before bed and not have nightmares (the reason I usually don't read ghost stories).

A must read.

Home of the Brave
by Katherine Applegate
ISBN: 0312367651

After reading this one, I wanted to buy copies and just hand them out to people, maybe as gifts, or a "just because" giveaway. It's about a Sudanese boy that comes to Minnesota as a refugee to be with his extended family while they search for his missing mother. His country is wartorn and he has watched his father and brother perish brutally before running for his own life. So, he's already traumatized. And then he sees the snow... What is all of this white stuff?

Someone has picked him up from the airport because his family was not able to meet him there and on the way to his new home, he sees something that is so familiar to him, he makes the driver stop the car. A cow. In his country, they are nomads who herd cattle. Cattle are like money in his culture. And here is finally something familiar in this cold country. And so it goes that this young man, Kek, tries to make sense of our strange culture.

I thought this story was so heartfelt. There was a beautiful note from the author in the back of the version that I read talking about why she decided to write the book. She talks about how all people, at some time in their lives, find that they are lost. And then they have to re-evaluate and figure out what "home" is to them. I think that is so true and it's also the reason that everyone will understand what Kek is going through. The book is written in short prose, which normally would be a turnoff for me, but in this case, is very appropriate to the fact that Kek has limited English. The narration is more a stream of concsiousness of his thoughts in English.

You must read this book!

I had a third book, but I'll have to leave it for another post. More reviews another day!

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About Me

I'm a children's librarian and mother of two preschoolers. On the side, I play soccer, bike, scrapbook, crochet, and read an obscene amount of children's books.