Random Acts by Valerie Sherrard

February 18, 2015

 

Random-Acts-cover-194x300Publisher: Puffin Canada; 264 p. c.2015

Random Acts is the newest novel by Canadian author Valerie Sherrard.  The title brings to mind that one has to step out of a normal routine or comfort zone and attempt a random act of kindness, and I was delighted that this topic would be the focus of a middle-grade narrative!

However the reader will quickly learn that ‘random acts’ takes on an entirely different meaning within the parameters of this story. Teenagers, Zoey, Jenna and ‘Bean’  have been BFF’s for a number of years. It is during an afternoon of overindulgence in a ‘pizza-feast’ that the simple idea of preforming random acts of kindness takes hold, but then evolves into a story filled with slap-stick humour  and misdeeds, reminiscent of skits from the “I love Lucy” show!

Ms Sherrard has eloquently and completely captured the angst and self appreciating humour often demonstrated by teens with the voice of Zoey. As the story progresses, the relationships of these three friends is in a constant state of flux, ever changing and growing in self awareness.  Told primarily from Zoey’s perspective, her interaction with her parents plays a pivotal part in the telling of this narrative.

This delightfully well written tale will definitely have the reader smiling, laughing out loud and groaning in empathy with all the ‘random acts’ performed by our three amusing artless teens!

Highly recommended for grade 6,7,8 !!!

Genre: Realistic fiction; Humour

Themes: Pay it forward; Friendship; Family; Relationships; Teenagers

 

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Tin Soldier by Sigmund Brouwer

September 12, 2014

Tin SoldierTin Soldier  by Sigmund Brouwer

248p., c2014 [Seven Sequel Series ]

ARC generously supplied by D. Sutherland, Orca

Publisher:  Orca Book Publisher, Vancouver, BC

 

Tin Soldier is Sigmund Brouwer’s exciting sequel to his nominated Seven Series book, Devil’s Pass.

We first encounter Jim Webb in Devil’s Pass and now the mystery only deepens surrounding his grandfather’s perplexing past.

A chance discovery at the ‘family’ cabin in Northern Ontario, sets the scene for each of the cousins. An accidental tug dislodging an old notebook filled with baffling objects and a paper printed with the faded words “You are a traitor. You deserve to die!” spurs all cousins into action.

With guitar, passport and American money in hand, Webb begins his journey searching into his Grandfather’s mysterious exploits.

Brouwer’s narrative is an action-packed mystery, teeming with historical detail that references the Vietnam War and dog tags, the Civil Rights Movement, classic movies and songs, but does not hamper the storyline.

In some respects,  this venture through a volatile part of American history mirrors Webb’s own inner turmoil.

Though Tin Soldier is part of the Seven Sequel series, this exciting read can easily stand alone and will engage readers of both genders!

Recommended for Intermediate and Senior Grades

 

 


The Rule of 3 by Eric Walters [ a brilliant new Dystopian novel!]

February 24, 2014

RULE-OF-THREE

  The Rule of Three3  by Eric Walters

  published by razorbill/Penguin Canada ; 404p. ; c2014

It was the dramatic boldly coloured cover of Walter’s latest book, The Rule of Three3, that captured and intrigued me from the start.

In no time, I became completely absorbed by this realistic and disturbing premise and by my own simultaneously personal question of, ‘what if ” this situation really occurred?’  Could this be a possible outcome to humanity – a dramatic reaction to a shocking ‘global viral catastrophe’?

This thought alone, made me want to halt my reading. But it was these same disturbing thoughts that compelled me to continue. Though the story feels almost science fiction-like, one only has to think back to recent global weather events that resulted in similar scenarios.

One quickly realizes that the veneer of civility is shed, if one is without all the computerized driven technologies that have become such an integral part of today’s society.

Through the eyes of sixteen year old Adam, we witness the fear of a seemingly local (innocent) power loss, escalate as the days increase without resolution, to an atmosphere of disorder, feuding, vandalism and desperation. As more time elapses, Adam and his family … with the help of a astute neighbour…try to combat the ever violent disorder and chaos surrounding their suburban neighbourhood into something more orderly…a necessity for survival.

Unfortunately what once was the norm, now has to be re-thought , a mentality, that not all can conform to.

Sacrifice and survival become the key, if any shred of what civil end humanity is to be retained.

This is a strong read, that will challenge the reader to think beyond the box!

Truly a  story of  “what ifs”!

Highly recommended!!

For Intermediate and Senior students


End of Days by Max Turner

March 27, 2011

  • Reading level: Young Adult
  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin’s Griffin (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312592523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312592523
  • _____________________________________________________________

  • Turner’s runaway hit Nightrunner is followed by this action-packed sequel and enough of the first novel is intertwined and disclosed within these pages that this title can be read as a stand alone book.This book continues where the first left off, with Zach Thompson and his two friends, Charlie and Luna all trying to come to terms with being  vampires and all the changes and implications that this transformation has brought into their lives. After attending a rave-like dance, Zach and Charlie become part of an altercation and have to run for their lives. It is while they are on the run that they witness a strange wolf-like creature making short work of the vampire that was chasing them.  It is this mysterious creature that begins a systematic dismantling of the network of support that enables Charlie and others like him to survive, which throws the “underground” into chaos. As the turmoil around them increases , Zach and Charlie are forced to hide, and stumble upon an ancient prophecy that hints at the “End of Days”. Zach takes it upon himself to find out answers and with the help and courage of his friends begins on this path of good at a time when it seems only the ruthless can survive.I truly like the plotline of this story and found that the characters were well developed and that the relationship between Zach and Luna was also blooming.  The reaction of Charlie to his transformation into a vampire was also different…much more human in his anger, resentment and rebellion at being a vampire…just realizing what he has lost in becoming a vampire. This is an action-packed urban thriller that I think will appeal to young adult readers!
  • Reading  ability:  Grade 7,8, 9

    Genre: Supernatural urban-fantasy thriller

    Who would like this book?

    Readers of books like: The Darkest Powers series by Kelly Armstrong;  Deception by Lee Nichols;  Angel ( Maxium Ride 7 ) by James Patterson

    http://us.macmillan.com/BookCustomPage.aspx?isbn=9780312592523&m_type=6#widget


    The Kayak by Debbie Spring

    March 27, 2011

    The Kayak

    by Debbie Spring

    Thistledown Press | March 11, 2010 | Trade Paperback; 190 pages; $12.95     ISBN: 978-1897235-71-3

    The simplistic realism of this cover … of a young woman paddling a kayak toward the sunset is what first drew my attention to this book! 

     Serenity and peace … an image that also conjurs  a feeling of enjoyment and relaxation.  At the onset, author Spring cleverly has the reader believing  in  this “sense of freedom”  and even  Teresa’s own words while kayaking …. “This is a mystical place. Out here I feel safe and secure.”   is a contradiction of what  this story is really about….. that of a young woman facing  major psychological and physical challenges in order to enjoy the freedoms she once took for granted.

    Teresa , once a typical teenager, hanging with friends, and  running track until a tragic accident changes not only her life but that of her family’s.  Entering adolescence is difficult enough for teens, but add insecurities, anger, and doubts and Teresa struggles to push herself  to attempt things that she’s never done before.  As Teresa battles her physical and psychological demons we  also see the impact these adversities have upon her parents and sister.

    This is a powerful touching story with a protagonist that displays courage, determination and grit, but also has an inner depth that  truly has the reader cheering for  her!

    Highly recommended!!!!

    Genre: Realistic Fiction; Romance

    Interest Level: Intermediate/ Senior students; interest in the Physically challenged

    Weblinks: http://www.bced.gov.bc.ca/exams/marking_materials/en10/training_papers.pdf

    http://www.docshare.com/doc/91928/Debbie-Spring-The-Kayak-A-literary-deconstruc

    http://voicethread.com/share/1893491/


    Tell me why : how young people can change the world edited by Eric Walters

    November 25, 2010

    Eric Walters, editor.
    Toronto, ON: Doubleday Canada, 2009.
    214 pp., pbk., $14.95.
    ISBN 978-0-385-66720-3

    Forest of Reading: Red Maple Non-Fiction Nominee 2011

     Reading Level: Intermediate and Senior

    Genre: Non-fiction; Global Social issues

    ____________________________________________________

    Review by Karen:

    Eric Walters has done it yet again! 

    I found this book to be a very powerful, moving and inspiring book for young people and adults.  The question asked is “what can one person possibly do to make a differnece in the world?”

    Walters profiles inspiring prominent Canadians (such as Craig Kielburger,Roméo Dallaire , Robert Munsch) , international activists (such as Jane Goodall)  and five amazing young people who share their wisdom, experiences, views and voices on how a single act can make a difference.”

    Teachers can use this book as a read aloud where it can be used as a wonderful tool in showing students that a single action can make a difference. 

    This is reinforced in Quill ‘n Quire:

    These stories of resourcefulness and resolve serve as a reminder that anyone can bring about change, no matter how young or unconnected they may feel themselves to be. Tell Me Why effectively answers the titular question and inspires action.”

     

    Highly recommended non-fiction read aloud! 

    Book Trailer :

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QRzrdSN-WOg


    Submarine Outlaw by Philip Roy

    June 8, 2010

    Fountas and Pinnell Reading Level:   Z      Grade Level:   5-7  

    Genre:  Fantasy/Adventure

      Literature Circle set ( 6 copies) available  at  Classroom Support Centre

    Red Maple Nominee 2010 , 251 pp.

    ____________________________________________________________

    “Fourteen year old Al changes his destiny by following his dream to become an explorer. Al’s journey begins off the rugged coast of Newfoundland in his handmade submarine. As he travels through east coast waters he rescues a family of four, finds a lost treasure, eludes the coast guard and the navy, befriends a seagull and an abandoned dog, meets a “queen” of the sea, and saves a lost boy. Al’s nautical adventures make him a celebrity but his ability to evade the police makes him an outlaw.”

    http://accessola.com/forest2010/redmaple/rm8/about.php

    Review by Karen:

    Meet Alfred — a fourteen year old boy who steadfastly refuses to follow in the family tradition of going to sea as a fisherman. However a chance glance through a hole in the local junkyard fence sparks Albert’s imagination and lights the flame of adventure and exploration.  Unexpected friendships, responsibilities and self discovery  all become a part of Alfred’s own journey “out to sea”. 

    Highly recommended !!

    Theme:  Self-discovery; Adventure; Friendship

    Teacher / Curriculum Connections: Canadian Geography /History (Eastern Maritime History) 

    Author link:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xmmb3UO6TwA&feature=related