Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Whispers From the Dead

I was sad to look online and see that Joan Lowery Nixon died- 7 years ago! Where've I been? Well, I continue on my YA ghost story, creepy mystery streak. This one was audio and read by an awesome narrator who did great voices and Spanish that was believable! Sarah Darnell and her family have moved into a new house shortly after Sarah's near death experience drowning at a local lake. This experience has left her "closer to" the spirit world. Her first entry into her new house in Houston sends chills up her spine as she knows something horrible has happened in her home. She begins being "visited" by the deceased Rosa Luiz, who Sarah is quite sure used to be the illegal maid for the former residents of her house. Rosa is giving her messages in Spanish such as "Find it" and she "shows" Sarah how she was murdered. However, no one has any record of Rosa's death. While Sarah is trying to piece together this puzzle, she is introduced to Tony, who she falls for instantly. He is suave and charming...everything a teenage girl could want. When the Darnell's find out that the former residents moved out of the house because their son committed a murder in it, Sarah's mystery becomes even more bizarre. And, the woman who was murdered was a pizza delivery girl-not Rosa Luiz. With an ending twist that I saw coming quite early, this book packs a jaw dropping end and would keep the attention of even the most reluctant reader. I'm going to try it on some of the Read 180 kids. I'm off to read a novel in poetry....

Friday, May 21, 2010

Mother Reader's 48 Hour Book Challenge

I really want to participate this year! I signed up last year and never made the time to read. My daughter is considering it, too, since her school year will be ending that following week. We do have an ice cream social for school on that Friday, but I could definitely still make time for lots of books with a good reason!

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Picture Book-Ellen's Apple Tree

Ellen's Apple Tree by Catarina Kruusval
I just love this book! A friend gave me a copy and the 5 year-olds love it. Part of why I love it is that it's Scandinavian and you can tell in the way the houses are portrayed on the inside pages. Ellen and her friend Ollie play in the tree in every season; they hang out in branches and peek through the blossoms and the leaves. They eat the beautiful yellow and red apples and reject the young, green, bitter ones. Ellen's mother saves the apples to eat all fall and into the winter. They leave the ground apples for neighbors to take for their horses. But, a winter storm knocks the tree over and Ellen and her parents must work to plant a new one in spring. I also love the portrayal of the seasons. The pictures are so inviting that I find myself wanting to play in Ellen's backyard. It reminds me of the only tree I used to climb when I was a kid. It was a cherry tree in our backyard when I lived in Detroit. I have memories of sharing my branch with Wayne Dyer's daughter. Yes, THE Wayne Dyer. He worked at Wayne State while my dad was there and my mom watched his daughter. That's the only memory I have though- the cherry tree.

Looking Forward: I'm anticipating the ARC of the new Michelle Zink book!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crunch Time!

For anyone who reads this blog or just happens by occasionally, you know that I have serious lapses when it comes to crunch time at work and/or home. So, the end of the school year usually means that I am cramming to get that last minute genre study completed as well as chauffeur my three children around to various practices, games and camps. Oh yeah, and I decided to join TWO of my own tennis leagues this summer. 'Nough said. So, what have I been reading?????

Abby and I finished Hannah (Daughters of the Sea) by Kathryn Lasky. Hannah seems to be left behind at the Orphanage as a girl who will never amount to anything. By a fortunate happenstance, she is employed as a scullery maid for a very wealthy Boston family. While there, strange things begin happening to Hannah and a mysterious painter seems to understand all of them. When Hannah realizes her true connection to the sea, Lasky's language switches to an ethereal quality as Hannah is whisked off in the direction she is meant to go. While I had this one pegged at the start, my daughter was enthralled throughout the entire book. Hannah is a delightful character, and this novel will make you want to download some harp music.

And we're now heavily immersed in The Red Pyramid (of course). Rick Riordan seems to have done it again, but I truly have to brush up (or begin studying) my Egyptian mythology. However, the man does have a gift when it comes to writing action scenes. I can feel my own heart begin to pace and my voice gets incredibly fast while reading. Of course, these are our sacred read-aloud books even though my ten year-old daughter is blowing through books of her own.

Personally, I have been on a strange bout of ghost story books, mostly by Mary Downing Hahn. My favorite was Wait 'Til Helen Comes which was recommended on another book blog. Molly and her brother move to a country house with their mother, new step-father and strange, younger step-sister, Heather. Heather is obsessively drawn to the cemetery on the property and soon begins having conversations with "Helen" who doesn't like the way Heather's new step-siblings are treating her. Heather draws Helen out (in complete ghostly description)and is then manipulated by this young ghost. It is up to Molly to save Heather from the same demise that has taken the lives of other young girls who have succumbed to Helen's "wiles." Quite creepy for a YA book but it gives me more to recommend in a genre that students seem to ask for quite a bit. Now, if I could just find some more humor....