Friday, March 18, 2016

Applet, Kathi, and Alison McGhee. Maybe A Fox.

Applet, Kathi, and Alison McGhee.  Maybe A Fox.  Simon & Schuster/Atheneum  2016  272p  $16.99  ISBN 978-1-4424-8242-5  elem/ms  Fantasy  VG-BN

Eleven-year-old Jules is fascinated with rocks and collects them for fun and making wishes on as she skips them into the river. Her sister, twelve-year-old Sylvie, is a fast runner and works hard at becoming even faster. The girls and their father are struggling with the death of their mother a few years ago, but the family is learning to adjust to their new normal. The girls try hard to obey their father’s list of Do Nots, but one morning Sylvie feels the need to throw a wishing rock in the river before school, a dangerous act that is forbidden by their father. She disappears and her body is never found. Jules and her father are plunged into grief once more. As Sylvie disappears, a fox kit is born that is Kennen, which means she is spiritually connected to another creature. The kit doesn’t know why, but she is drawn to Jules as the girl tries to figure out why her sister needed to run so fast. One day, Jules figures it out with the help of the fox, and as she tries to throw a wishing rock in the river in honor of her sister, the fox saves her. Jules is not the only one mourning, as a secondary plotline follows Zeke, the older brother of her friend Sam, whose best friend doesn’t return with him from their tour in Afghanistan. Jules and Zeke bond as they try to deal with their losses.

The story is heavy, but is lightened by the alternating perspective of Jules and the fox kit. The struggles of the child as she mourns her sister and best friend and the fading memories of the mother she lost years before are heart
-wrenching. The conclusion is touching, as Jules discovers why her sister felt compelled to run so fast and the enormous grief she, too, carried with her. Recommended.

Summary: Jules is an eleven-year-old who loves to skip rocks in the river. One day her sister Sylvie disappears while skipping a rock in the river, and her body is never found. The same day, a fox kit is born who appears to be half-human.      

Foxes-Fiction, Missing persons-Fiction, Sisters-Fiction  --Stephanie Pennucci

Bancks, Tristan. On the Run.

Bancks, Tristan.  On the Run.  Macmillan/Farrar Strauss     2015  227p  $16.99  ISBN 978-0-374-30153-8  elem/ms   Conflict  VG-BN      

Ben has always wanted to become a cop. One afternoon the police come to the front door asking about his parents. Shortly thereafter his parents’ car pulls up and they take Ben and his sister away to a remote cabin. The parents stock the cabin and then take off after locking the kids inside. Ben finds his parents stolen money and hides it in the woods. His father discovers the money is gone. The police arrive. Ben and his sister find themselves escaping into the woods.

It is a fast
-paced story in which readers will see that actions have consequences and even young people understand right and wrong. This is an excellent book for any elementary/middle school library.   

Summary: Readers will turn the pages quickly, as Ben has to deal with police chasing his parents and his being deserted and left alone in the woods.     

Adventure-Fiction, Family-Fiction                                 --Linda McNeil

Bennet, Jenn. The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart.

Bennet, Jenn.  The Anatomical Shape Of A Heart.  Macmillan/Feiwel & Friends  2015   294p  $17.99  ISBN 978-1-250-06645-9      hs    Conflict  E-BN   

Beatrix Adams is determined to win an art contest so she will have enough money to go to college. She also wants to train herself in a similar manner to DaVinci’s training: Beatrix wants to sketch bodies in the morgue, but her mother is against it.

After a failed interview with an administrator of the Willed Donor Program, she meets Jack, a notorious and madly attractive graffiti artist. Jack has connections and manages to get her into the morgue. Beatrix and Jack both have secrets to keep from their respective parents. As the summer progresses they fall in love and work together on their family issues.
Readers will get a glimpse of life in San Francisco with two families from different walks of life and different disconnects.      This book would make an excellent addition to any high school library. It has been recommended for our Books of Note List.          

Summary: This is the story of a young artist’s journey to get some experience drawing the human body in the same manner as DaVinci.        

Art-Fiction                                                       --Linda McNeil

Brimner, Larry Dane. The Rain Wizard.

Brimner, Larry Dane.  The Rain Wizard.  Boyd's Mills/Calkins Creek      2015  119p  $16.95  ISBN 978-1-59078-990-2      elem/ms     Biography  VG-BN       

Charles Mallory Hatfield was America’s most famous “rainmaker.” Hatfield traveled around the country bringing rain to drought-parched lands.  This fascinating biography delves into his personal life and his usually successful attempts to make it rain. The narrative begins in 1915, when he was asked by the city of San Diego to bring rain to fill their almost dry reservoirs.  This he did in spades.  The torrential downpours flooded the city and caused major destruction in the area. This well-researched and insightful book offers a look at a fascinating man who took his magical recipe of chemicals to the grave with him. With a wealth of primary-source materials and period photographs, Brimner brings Hatfield to life with all of his quirky behaviors.  The excellent page layout and choices of typefaces and colors, as well as the double-page spreads, make it a most attractive resource, and it is sure to be a hit in elementary and middle-school libraries.

Summary: Charles Mallory Hatfield was America’s most famous “rainmaker.”  This well-researched and insightful book offers a look at a fascinating man who took his magical recipe of chemicals to the grave with him.      

Hatfield, Charles Mallory                                         --Susan Ogintz

Culbertson, Kim. The Possibility of Now.

Culbertson, Kim.  The Possibility of Now.  Scholastic Press  2016  300p  $17.99  ISBN 978-0-545-73146-1  ms/hs  Realistic fiction  E-BN    

Mara has a list-obsessed mother who makes it her job to keep her three children challenged and active, and to instill in Mara a drive to be valedictorian and all around super-achiever. When Mara has a panic attack during an AP calculus test and shreds her test as well as the tests of other students while ranting about how inconsequential a test really is, she becomes a YouTube sensation. Now, she can’t face her classmates and takes a medical break from her elite school. Her mother reluctantly lets Mara go to live in Squaw Valley with her “skier biological dad” whom she hasn’t seen in over ten years. During her three months in an environment radically different from her San Diego home, she confronts her obsessive nature and learns to take life a little slower as she gains objectivity about her life. Family history, the radically different lifestyle of her father’s home, and local teenage drama surround her journey to self-acceptance. This is a book about self-reflection that leads to a deep understanding of how Mara envisions the rest of her life. The novel features authentic characters and dialogue, all set in the breathtaking high mountain air. This will be a book many YA readers can relate to. They will find humor, competing philosophies of life, and most importantly a feeling of warmth about being able to define a lifestyle that fits Mara’s personal needs.                 

Excellent book about how to determine a path beyond high school that takes the reader on a journey of self-reflection through Mara’s eyes. Yet many a reader will stop to ask themselves the same questions that Mara asks herself.

Summary: When Mara becomes a YouTube sensation because of her meltdown in calculus class, she goes on a life-changing journey, meeting her estranged father, determining how she will live her future and learning who she really is. Excellent self-appraisal. Gr. 8-12.    

Stress, Setting Goals, Growing Up   McNicol(3),Lois