Children's Literacy Round-Up: August 18
Growing Bookworms Newsletter: August 19

Reviews That Made Me Want the Book: August 19

Welcome to the latest installment of my reviews that made me want to read the book feature, in which I highlight that well-written reviews that draw my attention towards intriguing books.

The Other SisterTadMack reviewed The Other Sister, by S. T. Underdahl, at Readers' Rants. The book is about a girl who, as a teenager, learns that she has an older sister who was put up for adoption when their parents were very young. TadMack says: "S.T. Underdahl records the realistic and turbulent changes of a family stretching to include one more. It's her own story, in more ways than one." Something about the premise, and the fact that TadMack liked it, caught my eye.

M is for MischiefI'm intrigued by the picture book M is for Mischief, written by Linda Ashman and illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Nancy Arruda reviewed it Bees Knees Reads, calling it: "a hilarious read-aloud written in rhyme with a ton of alliteration and word play." She concludes "I like to keep this book handy when I need a pick-me-up good belly laugh. This one is really worth giving to your friend with a Nagging Nora, a Zany Zelda, a Mischievous Martin or .. " Not that any of the children I know are mischievous, of course, but I think it would be a good one to have around.

Totally Made-up Civil War DiaryThe BooksForKidsBlog's recent review of The Totally Made-up Civil War Diary of Amanda MacLeish by Claudia Mills also caught my eye. It's a dual storyline about a modern-day girl named Amanda whose family is breaking up and a Civil War era farm girl named Polly. GTC says "Claudia Mills carries off a real tour-de-force. Skillfully balancing the dual story lines of Amanda and Polly within the framework of a fifth grade class working toward a performance at the end of its Civil War unit, Claudia Mills reveals Amanda's growing understanding of the meaning of her family's split as much through her journal writing in Polly's voice as through her own experiences."

Kidliterate reviewed an upcoming title (no cover illustration is available yet): Calvin Coconut: Trouble Magnet by Graham Salisbury. "Scott O’Dell award-winning author Graham Salisbury turns his hand to elementary level humor and absolutely succeeds. This is the first book in a series about a 4th grader named Calvin who lives in Hawaii with his mother and younger sister (his father, an island one hit wonder, now lives in Vegas where he makes his living as a lounge singer)." It sounds fun to me!

Dog GoneKaren from Literate Lives reviewed Dog Gone by Cynthia Chapman Willis. She got my attention when she said: "I realized the book it most reminds me of is Me and the Pumpkin Queen, another book I love. Both of these books deal with a mom who dies, and how the child (in both of these cases, a daughter) learns to grieve and deal with the loss". I loved Me and the Pumpkin Queen, too, and I'm prepared to give this one a look.

Sherlock FilesAlso at Literate Lives, Bill reviewed the first book in Tracy Barrett's new Sherlock Files series: The 100 Year-Old Secret. Here it's mostly the premise that gets me: "The story is based on two main characters, Xena and Xander Holmes, a sister and brother who are distant grandchildren of the famous detective." But Bill plans to add it to his library, and I think that it sounds like a solid mystery.

RumorsI've seen references to the Luxe series before, but Jennifer Schultz from the Kiddosphere is the first person to inspire me to want to read these books (The Luxe and Rumors by Anna Godbersen). She says "So....I'm a little crazy about The Luxe series. Picture The Gossip Girls set in late 1890s Manhattan, and you have a pretty good idea of what it's all about." Now, I enjoy the Gossip Girl TV show, and I also tend to like turn of the century society novels. Which makes me suspect that I might like these, at least in certain moods. I think this enough that I'll be interested to give the first book a look when it comes out in paperback next month.

The Postcard Colleen Mondor's latest YA column is now available at Chasing Ray (after originally appearing at Bookslut). She features several interesting titles, but the one that particularly caught my attention was The Postcard, by Tony Abbott. I've seen this book around, but Colleen's conclusion made the difference for me: "The Postcard is a book I have not heard nearly enough about. It is a classic mystery but has a decidedly modern style. I also give Abbott a lot of credit for getting Florida so right; I know my Sunshine State and clearly so does this author."

Small-minded GiantsThe Book Witch got me interested in Oisin McGann's Small-minded Giants by comparing it to Julie Bertagna's Exodus (reviewed here). The book is about a futuristic city called Ash Harbor. The Book Witch says: "This is a well written thriller, combined with a good look at what may be in store for the world if we don’t do something soon. Living in Ash Harbour is not something to aspire to, except that the alternative - of being left on the outside - isn’t very attractive either." But she really had me at "(Ash Harbor is) slightly reminiscent of Julie Bertagna’s Glasgow, except this is in the South Pacific, and it’s very, very cold." Sadly, this book isn't published in the US, but it looks like there are some used copies available.

And that's it for books for this edition. I am also intrigued by an ergonomic backup that Cheryl Rainfield recommended recently. I have no need of another backpack right now, especially after buying the KidLit Conference messenger bag last week, but I'm saving the link.