Tuesday, 15 December 2015

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories

Auggie & Me
Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories
  By R.J. Palaccio

Those of you who read Wonder will never forget Auggie – “the ordinary boy with the extraordinary face."  Auggie’s face was the subject of both ridicule and redemption; his unusual appearance led to bullying and victimization, but also to deep friendships.

Auggie & Me is the continuation of Wonder.  Each story is told from the perspective of someone in Auggie’s life: Julian, the bully; Christopher, his oldest friend; and Charlotte, a classmate.  Each one of these characters has been touched by Auggie, and each struggles with how to deal with him.  

Can Julian come to terms with his nasty behaviour towards Auggie and become a better person?  Can Christopher continue to be friends with Auggie despite the social gulf that exists between Auggie and his other friends?  These questions and more are addressed in Auggie & Me.  Given our culture's obsession with appearance and focus on anti-bullying, Auggie & Me is an interesting and timely follow-up to the original story.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

The Misadventures of Salem Hyde: Spelling Trouble

By Frank Cammuso

Little Salem Hyde is a witch. She hasn’t mastered her magic yet so sometimes her spells go terribly wrong. That’s where Whammy the cat comes in. He’s a familiar or better known as a magical animal companion who will help Salem refine her magic skills so she doesn’t continue to get in trouble at school. One of Whammy’s first tasks will be to help Salem prepare for her school's upcoming spelling bee. Not only will Salem have to spell the words correctly but use them in their original meaning to avoid causing any unintentional mayhem.

Tuesday, 17 November 2015

Chasing Secrets

Chasing Secrets
Chasing Secrets
by Gennifer Choldenko

Thirteen-year-old Lizzie Kennedy is living in San Francisco.  The year is 1900.  Many people in the city are leading very glamourous lives, but there is a dark side.

Lizzie aspires to be a doctor, like her father.  When Lizzie’s father is away she is supervised by her rich aunt and uncle.  But it is really their servant, Jing, who treats Lizzie like a daughter.  When Jing disappears, Lizzie knows she must find him.  When she hears noises coming from his room, Lizzie creeps upstairs and discovers that Jing has a son – Noah – who is hiding in her house! 

Noah and Lizzie become friends and she begins sneaking food and other supplies to him.  It’s Noah who alerts her to the quarantine in Chinatown.  The authorities are saying that the Plague has come to Chinatown and no Chinese are allowed out.  Rumour has it that Chinatown will be burned to the ground to stop the spread of the disease.  The city’s pervasive racism is putting every Chinese man, woman and child in danger.

How will Lizzie get Jing back and save Chinatown from destruction?  It’s a tall order for a child, but Lizzie loves an adventure.  With the help of her older brother, Billy, Lizzie fearlessly stands up for those she believes in.

Thursday, 29 October 2015

The Nest

The Nest
The Nest
By Kenneth Oppel

Steve is a boy with deep anxiety, obsessive tendencies and nightmares.  His very caring parents have tried to help him cope.  But when they arrive home with Steve’s new baby brother, Theo, their attention becomes focused on the baby.  Theo has many medical problems and may not survive. 

In the face of this new family reality, Steve begins to delve into a fantasy world that sustains him… at first.  He dreams of an angel, who promises that she can heal Theo and make everything better.  The angel soon reveals herself as a wasp with a hive of helpers, much like the large wasp nest on the side of Steve’s house.  

Now the story becomes more sinister and the line between fantasy and reality becomes blurred.  The wasp has convinced Steve that she can help Theo, but only if Steve will help her.  After he agrees, he discovers the wasp’s real plan.  Can he stand up to this creature and do the right thing?

The Nest asks readers to consider the idea of human perfection.  Is it achievable?  Is it desirable?  Or can we be lovable and “good enough” just the way we are?

The book can be quite frightening at times and is not for every child.  Those who enjoy some suspense will be pleasantly surprised.