Thursday, 12 July 2018


Wildwood Chronicles

Wildwood, by Colin Meloy

Prue McKeel is a 12 year old girl from, Portland, a small town across the ravine from Wildwood, known to her townspeople as the Impassable Wilderness, due to its inhabitability, dangerous creatures and overall wildness. One Saturday morning Prue is playing with her baby brother, Mac, at the playground, when he is suddenly and inexplicably carried off by a murder of crows into Wildwood. Prue follows him as far as she can, but quickly realizes she has lost Mac to the crows. 
Formulating a plan, Prue gathers supplies and goes into Wildwood with Curtis, a classmate, to rescue Mac. Once they enter the woods, they meet the animals and people that live in the different neighbourhoods of the woods.  Prue and Curtis become separated and they discover that not everyone is as they appear. In these woods lies good and evil and a history that has divided the woods, causing wars and political upheaval that is unresolved. 

As outsiders, Curtis and Prue each become involved with different factions - the Mystics, the Coyotes, the Bandits, and the Dowager Governess to name a few, as they struggle to learn the whereabouts of Mac and enlist the help of people and animals they meet to rescue him. 

Wildwood is the first in the trilogy of  the Wildwood Chronicles and sets the stage for other adventures involving Prue and Curtis. This volume can be a bit daunting at 541 pages and it uses a lot of uncommon vocabulary, but this only adds to its descriptive writing and its fantastical setting.

This book, intended for middle graders, is worth the journey into Wildwood, it does not move quickly, but there is a lot going on that is all explained and nothing is taken for granted.

Friday, 6 July 2018

The Wild Robot Escapes

The Wild Robot Escapes
The Wild Robot Escapes
By Peter Brown

Our beloved robot, Roz, returns in Peter Brown’s The Wild Robot Escapes.  This time, Roz finds herself at Hilltop Farm where her job is to manage the animals, grow the crops, fix the farm machines and make sure everything runs smoothly.  

The farm is owned by Mr. Shareef.  He and his two children, Jad and Jaya, can give Roz any orders they like and Roz must obey.  Roz is programmed to do as she is told, yet she cannot stop thinking about her son, Brightbill, and her old life on the island.  Naturally, she begins to plot her escape.

Roz befriends the farm animals, of course, all of whom want to help her reunite with her son.  To her surprise, she also begins to care about the Shareefs, especially Jad and Jaya.  Although she knows she must leave them, she is torn by her “feelings” for them and her desire to help them.

But how can a robot with a built-in tracking device escape?  Can a robot really grow to care for people and animals?  After all, Roz is not supposed to have feelings.

Join Roz on another can’t-put-it-down adventure as she battles against wolves, the RECOs, and even her own programming to return to the island where she belongs.

This is the second book in the series, so make sure you read The Wild Robot first.

Highly recommended!

Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe
Hello, Universe
By Erin Entrada Kelly

Virgil Salinas is a shy boy who finds himself the target of bullying by Chet “the Bull” Bullens.  Virgil desperately wants to stand up for himself, but he just doesn’t have the confidence to do it.  Even his parents call him “Turtle” because he is so quiet.  The nickname makes him feel bad about himself, but he can’t even muster the courage to ask his parents to stop using it.

Virgil starts going to see a psychic to help him solve his problems.  Her name is Kaori Tanaka, and although she is a kid too, she believes she can tap into the powers of the universe to help guide other people.

Valencia Somerset is another of Kaori’s “clients”.  Valencia is deaf, but is able to rely on hearing aids and lip reading to help her communicate.  She is also the girl that Virgil most wants to talk to, but of course, he’s too shy to do it.

Alone in the woods one day, Virgil encounters Chet, and ends up in a dangerous, even life-threatening situation.  When he doesn’t meet Kaori at the appointed time, she begins to look for him.  By coincidence, Valencia joins the search.  But Kaori doesn’t believe in coincidences.  Did fate intervene to bring these kids together?

Hello, Universe is a novel about friendship, bullying, confidence and the power of the universe to bring the right people together at the right time. If you are looking for a feel-good, uplifting novel, try this one.

Monday, 25 June 2018

Roller Girl

Roller Girl
Roller Girl
By Victoria Jamieson

Twelve-year-old Astrid has been best friends with Nicole since grade 2.  Nicole loves ballet and is starting to like boys, and Astrid just isn’t interested.  But when Astrid’s mom takes them to see roller derby, Astrid knows exactly what she wants to do.  

Immediately, she signs up for roller derby camp.  Much to her chagrin, Nicole does not, and Astrid must face this challenge on her own.  

Believing she will blow the other girls away with her skills, Astrid is surprised to discover that skating is hard, and working out for hours at a time is exhausting.  Walking home afterwards isn’t much fun either.  But she aspires to become the star of the roller derby like her hero, Rainbow Bite, and she keeps working away.

As Astrid struggles along at camp, she also drifts further and further away from Nicole. She wonders how two people can suddenly not be friends anymore.  Luckily, she meets Zoey at roller derby camp, but even their relationship can be a little rocky at times.  Meanwhile, Astrid hides all her feelings from her mother, and even lies to her.  She is becoming more and more unhappy. 

But when Astrid learns that the girls at roller derby camp will compete in a “bout”, complete with spectators, Astrid has to muster all her strength.  Can she do it without her best friend and her mom supporting her?

Roller Girl is a graphic novel about a girl who’s trying to figure out who she is and where she “fits”.  It’s also tonnes of fun!  Watching the girls race around trying to bump each other out of the rink is super exciting!  And learning the roller girl names like Braidy Punch, Draculola and Scream Soda is fun too.  If you like to read stories about friendship and tough girls who love to compete, try Roller Girl.

Highly recommended!

Thursday, 21 June 2018

See You In The Cosmos

See You in the Cosmos
See You In The Cosmos
By Jack Cheng

Alex is only eleven years old but already he’s very independent.  He has to be.  He lives with his mom, but she can hardly get out of bed most of the time.  Alex makes all the meals, gets himself to school, and takes on much more responsibility than most kids his age.

Because he basically takes care of himself, he sees no problem in taking a trip on his own.  Alex loves learning about space and he plans to attend an event called SHARF, where regular people attempt to launch rockets into space.  Alex has built his own rocket and filled a “golden iPod” with recordings of himself talking about life on Earth.  He plans to launch both and hopes to connect with alien life forms.

So he sets out with his dog, Carl Sagan, on the adventure of a lifetime.  Along the way, he meets a series of people who take him under their wings and look out for him on the road.  In fact, his trip takes him much farther than expected and he even meets family members he never knew he had.

Throughout the book, Alex remains incredibly positive in the face of adversity.  He encounters many obstacles and must face some hard realities about his life.  But Alex cannot be beaten and learns never to let him dreams die.

Incredibly touching and inspiring, See You In The Cosmos is a must read!

Friday, 8 June 2018


By Pete Hautman

David is fourteen years old and pretty average.  His older sister, Bridgette, is a model student and succeeds at everything.  His younger brother, Mal, is autistic.  The only thing that sets David apart is his ability to eat.  He can eat a sixteen-inch pepperoni pizza in four minutes and thirty-six seconds.  But he’s going to have to do better…

When David accidentally charges $2000 to his mother’s credit card, without her knowledge of course, he has to figure out a quick way to make money and pay her back.  The big eating contest sponsored by Pigorino’s Pizza seems like his best option.  First prize is $5000.  All he has to do is practice.

He ends up spending much of his summer trying to expand his stomach.  He eats entire heads of cabbage. He practices dipping his pizza crust in water so that he’ll be able to chew and swallow it faster.  He can often be found timing himself eating, and comparing himself to the big names in the eating contest world.

But David has another task as well.  His mother has gone back to work and David must take care of Mal while she is away.  David knows how to handle Mal’s meltdowns, and how to make him happy – most of the time.  But he doesn’t really want to be stuck with his kid brother all summer.

Meanwhile, his best friends Cyn and HeyMan are spending more and more time together – without David.  Summer, in fact, is becoming a bit of a bummer. 

But despite David’s stress about his $2000 debt and his need to win the contest, he shows himself to be a very caring brother.  His attempts to teach Mal how to navigate the world without meltdowns show his compassion and integrity.  But will his parents still trust him when they discover his $2000 spending spree?

Slider is a funny, light book and most young teens will identify with David’s ability to make silly mistakes while still being a great guy.  But Slider goes a bit deeper as well, touching on family bonds and the unconditional love that parents feel for their children.

A really enjoyable read!