Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates

The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates is by Wes Moore. An amazing true tale of two young men born in the same poor Baltimore neighborhood within a year of each other. One grows up to be a Rhodes Scholar and a member of the 82nd Airborne, the other is convicted of murdering a police officer and sentenced to life in prison without possibility of parole. Wes Moore seeks out his namesake and tries to discover what made the difference in the outcome of the lives. As he states in the book, "The chilling truth is that his story could have been mine. The tragedy is that my story could have been his." A haunting look at the lives of inner city youth and what can be done to change their lives. A must read for teachers, parents, and young people. This is an easy read that will keep you mesmerized throughout. A Reader's Corner Highly Recommended book.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Touching Spirit Bear

Touching Spirit Bear is by Ben Mikaelsen. A touching tale of a troubled teen who is "banished" to a remote Alaskan island as part of his attempt to avoid jail after he seriously beats another teen. As he attempts to escape the island he is mauled by a large white bear and almost dies. Returning to the island to continue his banishment, Cole must face himself and learn to control his anger, as well as to forgive. A moving and poignant tale of redemption, forgiveness, and self discovery.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10.

Pirate Latitudes

Pirate Latitudes is by Michael Crichton. Move over Jack Sparrow - Captain Charles Hunter is in the house! A sweeping pirate adventure complete with Spanish treasure, political intrigue, attacking an impregnable fortress, sea battles between ships, surviving a hurricane at sea and cannibals on a "deserted" island, and did I mention a kraken! This manuscript was found in Crichton's files after his death in 2008 and is one of his more enjoyable reads. If you love tales of Port Royal and pirates you will love this book.

Ratings: 12th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence) - AC (mature thematic content).


Eldest is by Christopher Paolini. The second book in the Inheritance Cycle finds Eragon and Saphira traveling to Ellesmera to study magic with the elves. There they make several discoveries that will change their lives forever. Roran, Eragon's cousin, attempts to lead the entire village of Carvahall through the Spine and to the safety of Surda when the village is threatened by the Ra'zac. The Varden discover that the Empire knows they are in Surda and is sending an army to attack them. This volume is definitely more exciting than the last. You'll find it hard to wait for the third installment.

Ratings: 7th grade - 8 out of 10.

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Antonia

My Antonia is by Willa Cather. A classic tale of survival on the plains of Nebraska at the turn of the century. A young boy is sent to Nebraska to live with his relatives after the death of his parents. He tells the tale of life on the Nebraska plains and the friends he came to know there. His life becomes entwined forever with the immigrant children he grew up with on the plains, especially Antonia, the daughter of Bohemian immigrants. His tale illustrates the struggles and hardships that were the daily fare of the early settlers. A fantastic read for boys and girls.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10.

Monday, May 14, 2012

The Kalahari Typing School for Men

The Kalahari Typing School for Men is by Alexander McCall Smith. The fourth book in the charming No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series. Mma Ramotswe is content. Her business is going well, as is her relationship with Mr. J.L.B. Matekoni. Then her assistant announces that she wants to start a new business, one of the orphans she has adopted begins to give her trouble, and a new detective agency opens up in town. Mma Ramotswe's good heart, perseverance, and gentle nature carry her through all of these challenges and a new case.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC (some mature thematic content).

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Nineteen Minutes

Nineteen Minutes is by Jodi Picoult. A school shooting in a small New Hampshire town shatters the lives of everyone involved. The book examines the lives of the shooter and his family, the Superior Court Judge who will be sitting on the case, her daughter who was injured in the shooting, the detective who was one of the first on the scene, and the defense attorney who must defend the teenage shooter. As the trial progresses and more information comes out you find yourself wondering about the guilt or innocence of everyone involved. No one is who they seem to be. Picoult accurately portrays life in high school from the point of view of the popular, as well as children who experience bullying in all its forms. As teachers, we found this book extremely moving and thought provoking. A definite must read!

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).

The Poisonwood Bible

The Poisonwood Bible is by Barbara Kingsolver. Set in the Congo in 1959, this is the epic story of a Baptist preacher who takes his wife and four daughters to Africa to evangelise the natives. The family's tale, told in the rotating point of the views of the mother and three of the daughters, is set against the Congo's fight for independence from Belgium. A heartbreaking tale of the disintegration of a family and a nation. A fantastic read! Be aware the Baptist minister does not come off looking very honorable.

Ratings: Adult - 10 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).