Avalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson

March 1, 2018

AvalancheAvalanche! by Terry Lynn Johnson [Series: Survivor Diaries: Book 2]

Published by: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt: c2018: 104p.

Avalanche!! The word alone conjures up a combination of unspeakable beauty, power and terror.

Avalanche! is the second book in the acclaimed action-adventure series, Survivor Diaries by Terry Lynn Johnson.

Readers will be riveted by this narrative at the start from the opening tantalizing sentence “Tell me how you survived the avalanche?“.  The descriptive action and suspense continues  until the last page is reached!

The protagonist of this survivor diary is twelve year-old twin Ashley Hilder and her interview sets the stage for an engaging first-person narrative. Being told from this perspective heightens the reader’s anxiety levels as they become a silent witness to a family ski holiday where a rash ‘competitive’ decision has unforeseen consequences  for [both]  brother and sister.

The strength of Ashley’s character is a reflection of her intense training as a skier to always ‘be prepared’.  As the nightmare of the avalanche unfolds, this instinctive  reflex allows her to think logically and not panic.

Throughout the story, the author has interwoven all sorts of survival skills needed to survive such an event. All of the techniques that Ashley displays, are the reactions needed to get through an catastrophic event, such as being caught in an avalanche. Readers will be riveted to the narrative from beginning to end, holding their breathe until the very last chapter!

This high-octane story of survival and adventure, will have reader’s adding Ms. Johnson’s Avalanche and all the books in her Survivor Diaries, with Lauren Tarshis’  “I survived” and Gary Paulsen’s “Hatchet” books.

Series Titles: Overboard

Highly Recommended  for any reader from grade 3-6 and every school library!!!


Bent not Broken by Lotna Schultz Nicholson

February 28, 2017


Bent not Broken by celebrated and multi-nominated author, Lorna Schulz Nicholson is the third book in the acclaimed “One-2-One“series published by Clockwise Press and released this March, 2017. This is a series that focuses on teens in the ‘Best Buddies Program’ at Sir Winston Churchill Secondary School. ‘Here they help each other find and accept things about themselves.’ [back cover of Born with…].

In Bent not Broken, Justin and Madeline are ‘Best Buddies’ and have to deal with their own inner demons. For Madeline, her entire world needs to have the ‘reset button’ re-activated after a traumatic accident. This alone almost seems insurmountable, but having the feeling of her ‘twinness’ also severed, often results in frustration with herself that spills over and unintentionally results in uncontrollable reactions.  At these times  Justin’s quiet influence seems to be the only voice that steadies Maddie. As for Justin,  his personal life is also filled with tragedy and grief. However, both of these best buddies find common ground in an unexpected place that allows each of them to become “like a willow tree who bends in the face of adversity, but is not broken.” Told in alternating perspective, this tale of the human struggle with disappointment, grief, guilt, depression and self-worth. 

At the core it proves to the reader, that no matter what each of us has to endure, sharing the burden often lends each of us to tap and cultivate a hidden strength found within us all.

Schulz Nicholson has written this with such sensitivity and poignancy, that you cannot help but be totally engaged from beginning to end!



Checkout more- Lorna Schulz Nicholson at : http://lornaschultznicholson.com/


Plain Kate by Erin Bow

March 30, 2011

"Haunting, mysterious and full of wonders" E. Bunce

Plain Kate by Erin Bow
The writing is lyrical, moving and beautiful. I love Erin Bow’s writing style, she has a sparse descriptive style, which I found it to be fresh and inventive. While reading, I frequently re-read passages just to savor her words and images that they conjured.  The book has a Eastern European flavour, which is dark, somber and foreboding. The main character, Plain Kate, is endearing and a tenacious survivor, she so badly wants to belong and is looking desperately for a family. When in dire circumstances she gives away her shadow to a mysterious stranger.  As events transpire we learn the terrible reason behind this magical transaction and the consequences for Kate and those around her. At times I wanted to cry, and I would have found the book too dark without the introduction of a delightful talking cat who almost steals the show. The talking cat is terrific and he serves to lighten mood, plus move the story along. Without the cat, Kate would have been totally alone in a hostile world.

The Dragonling

February 3, 2010

This book is a briskly moving, wonderful tale to introduce young readers to complex ideas.  Darek, a young boy, must fight for what he feels is right risking his life for something his father would not agree with.  It is a story of integrity, courage and acceptance. 

Reading Ability: Grade 3
Interest Level: Grades 3-5
Genre: Fantasy, Fiction, Adventure
Theme: integrity, friendship, acceptance, adventure
Who would love this book?  This book was always a hit with both boys and girls in grades three and four.  The strong male character is a good role model for boys, his adventure holds their interest to the end.

Word Nerd

February 3, 2010

Word Nerd
This is a book that is in both the Forest of Reading under the Red Maple section and in the intermediate  Battle of the Books.  It’s the story of a grade eight boy who learns several important lessons about the power of words. 

The book has a great beginning, the first line starts “The day I almost died..” which hooks the reader and makes you want to know more about how this “almost” happened.  Ambrose, the main character, has moved around a lot with his mom, his father died before he was born. He has a very over protective mother who is over-cautious with her son and often treats him as if he is unable to make decisions for himself.  Ambrose has a severe peanut allergy and his mother limits his contact with the world because of this.  Ambrose uses words to build a world of make-believe, initially lying to try to make friends and protect himself and later lying to his mother to help protect friends he has made. 

There are many interesting characters that are well portrayed, the Three Stooges are grade eight students who torment Ambrose at school, Ambrose’s mother is a desperate woman who will do anything to protect her son, and finally there is Cosmos who is everything that Ambrose’s mother is afraid of.  The interactions of these characters keeps the reader hooked.
The setting of the book in Vancouver, BC and it’s great to read and recognize the places that Ambrose is talking about.  His description of Granville Island is realistic and really helps you revisit the “Island” if you are familiar with it. 

The language is authentic to a fourteen year old, it is certainly a book for intermediate students.  The author Susan Neilson was a screen writer for Degrassi High as well as Robson Arms.  She’s done a great job looking into the life of a teen ager who is desperate to find his place and put down roots.

Reading Ability: Intermediate level themes and language

Genre: Realistic Fiction

Themes:  Growing Up, Determination, Bullying

Who would love this book?  This book was a hit with grade eight boys.  They appreciated the humour, language and underlying themes within the book.  It is definitely a book that adolescents enjoy.