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Search tags: kids-young-adult
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review 2015-07-16 19:00
Chasing Vermeer
Chasing Vermeer - Blue Balliett

This was an okay read - nothing knock-your-socks-off outstanding which I guess I was kind of expecting based on all the acclaim this was getting.  I was expecting something super clever, but the mystery is pretty slight and the solution was rushed and a bit of a let down. I didn't particularly like the reliance on coincidence and the mystical. A far better art mystery for kids is From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.  And an even better puzzle type mystery is The Westing Game.  I won't read another in the series myself, but my daughter has already started the sequel, The Wright 3, so there is clearly kid-appeal here.  

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review 2015-06-28 15:54
A Girl of the Limberlost
A Girl of the Limberlost - Gene Stratton-Porter

Yikes, this has not aged well.  I *might* have liked this as a kid, but the adult me finds it pretty awful.  To preachy, too sappy, yuck.  A beautiful title, a promising premise - did not deliver.  Too many good books to continue wasting time with this one.

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review 2015-06-28 15:49
The City of Ember
The City of Ember - Jeanne DuPrau

Not a bad book, but I guess I don't get the hype.  I can see the appeal for kid readers, but I was a little bored at times and I just don't feel like continuing with the series.

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review 2015-06-24 15:41
The Lemonade War
The Lemonade War (The Lemonade War Series) - Jacqueline Davies

This is one of those books I never would have picked up on my own and I probably never would have chosen it as a read-aloud with my daughter.  I generally like to choose more 'elevated' books for our read alouds. But, somehow we ended up with a free copy, and the cover, the premise, etc. all immediately appealed to Izzy and she requested it as our next read-aloud.  It's short so I thought, 'What the heck? Why not?'  


The verdict?  I liked it a lot more than I thought I would and Izzy absolutely loved it.  Like a lot of books about kids, I didn't find every single plot point to be entirely believable, but that's really okay.  What's important is that the inner-world of kids is accurately and convincingly portrayed.  Kids aren't all sweetness and light. They feel pain and sadness, anxiety and fear, and even rage and jealousy just as fiercely as any adult.  I really like it when books don't shy away from that.  Also, kids aren't totally oblivious to adult worries.  So much of what happens in this book is a result of misunderstandings based on lack of communication which is directly related to the recent divorce of the kids' parents.  In short, the kids don't want to upset or worry mom so they keep their troubles to themselves.


On top of all that, it's also a rather clever little primer on business and economics. I gather the sequel takes on the legal system.  Good stuff here!

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review 2015-06-24 01:16
Al Capone Does My Shirts
Al Capone Does My Shirts - Gennifer Choldenko

The catchy title and the setting (Alcatraz/1935) are really just a hook to tell the story of a boy coping with a big move, an autistic older sister and a slightly dysfunctional family.  It's a good story and one that will perhaps shed light on a topic that many kids haven't thought much about.  There are some fun period and location details, but overall I was disappointed that the story wasn't more transportive.  Still, I think it's a good book and I particularly like how the author created a male character who loves sports, but is also deeply sensitive and conscientious.  

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