Mini-Reviews - A Little Wanting Song by Cath Crowley - Mamba Point by Kurtis Scarletta - The Red Umbrella by by Christina Diaz Gonzalez

Monday August 16, 2010

Some mini-reviews to reduce my pile of books I read this summer (that I LOVED) but haven't reviewed yet...enjoy! 

With mini-reviews I don't recap much of the story....just a few highlights and why I liked the book!

A Little Wanting Song 
by Cath Crowley
Alfred A. Knopf
June 2010
Goodreads Summary: CHARLIE DUSKIN loves music, and she knows she's good at it. But she only sings when she's alone, on the moonlit porch or in the back room at Old Gus's Secondhand Record and CD Store. Charlie's mom and grandmother have both died, and this summer she's visiting her grandpa in the country, surrounded by ghosts and grieving family, and serving burgers to the local kids at the milk bar. She's got her iPod, her guitar, and all her recording equipment, but she wants more: A friend. A dad who notices her. The chance to show Dave Robbie that she's not entirely unspectacular.

ROSE BUTLER lives next door to Charlie's grandfather and spends her days watching cars pass on the freeway and hanging out with her troublemaker boyfriend. She loves Luke but can't wait to leave their small country town. And she's figured out a way: she's won a scholarship to a science school in the city, and now she has to convince her parents to let her go. This is where Charlie comes in. Charlie, who lives in the city, and whom Rose has ignored for years. Charlie, who just might be Rose's ticket out.

Told in alternating voices and filled with music, friendship, and romance, Charlie and Rose's "little wanting song" is about the kind of longing that begins as a heavy ache but ultimately makes us feel hopeful and wonderfully alive.

Review:  Remember the days of daydreaming about how great it will be when all your dreams come true and you're living the life you want? Or maybe you are still dreaming about that day! Anyway, this book navigates through those complicated teen years where you're ready to move on but aren't quite there yet. Full of friendship and romance, with poetry and songs woven throughout this is a must read for those with a romantic heart! I loved this book :) Get it for your library today, best for ages 14 and up.

Mamba Point 
by Kurtis Scarletta 
Knopf
July 2010
Goodreads Summary: When his dad gets a job at the U.S. embassy in Liberia, twelve-year-old Linus Tuttle knows it's his chance for a fresh start. Instead of being his typical anxious self, from now on he'll be cooler and bolder: the new Linus. But as soon as his family gets off the plane, they see a black mamba--one of the deadliest snakes in Africa. Linus's parents insist mambas are rare, but the neighborhood is called Mamba Point, and Linus can barely go outside without tripping over one--he's sure the venomous serpents are drawn to him. 

Then he hears about kasengs, and the belief that some people have a deep, mysterious connection to certain animals. Unless Linus wants to hide in his apartment forever (drawing or playing games with the strange kid downstairs while his older brother meets girls and hangs out at the pool), he has to get over his fear of his kaseng animal. Soon he's not only keeping a black mamba in his laundry hamper; he's also feeling braver than ever before.

Is it his resolution to become the new Linus, or does his sudden confidence have something to do with his scaly new friend? From Kurtis Scaletta, author of Mudville, comes a humorous and compelling story of a boy learning about himself through unexpected friends, a fascinating place, and an extraordinary animal.

Review: This book will resonate with anyone (which is most of us) who has ever felt the need to change, to become someone we think is better than who we are now. Even if we don't act on it...Linus is like a lot pre-teens, insecure and anxious about what the future holds but still wanting friends and the latest video games. This is a great book with such feeling and great characters that I was immediately drawn into Linus' new world.  The descriptive writing is extremely vivid and brings alive the setting of Africa during the early 1980's. The info on Black Mamba's will intrigue readers and the book is also a good tool to discuss Liberia and its culture and history. A must for upper elementary and middle school readers!

The Red Umbrella 
by Christina Diaz Gonzalez
Knopf
May 2010
Goodreads Summary: The Red Umbrella is the moving tale of a 14-year-old girl's journey from Cuba to America as part of Operation Pedro Pan—an organized exodus of more than 14,000 unaccompanied children, whose parents sent them away to escape Fidel Castro's revolution.

In 1961, two years after the Communist revolution, Lucía Álvarez still leads a carefree life, dreaming of parties and her first crush. But when the soldiers come to her sleepy Cuban town, everything begins to change. Freedoms are stripped away. Neighbors disappear. Her friends feel like strangers. And her family is being watched.

As the revolution's impact becomes more oppressive, Lucía's parents make the heart-wrenching decision to send her and her little brother to the United States—on their own. 

Review: This book is a must read for the classroom whenever discussing the topic of Fidal Castro and Communist Cuba or a similar topic...it would definitely bring it home to American teens too caught up in myspace and the latest iphone to ever consider what atrocities other kids their age have had to live through. The resilience Lucia shows when being uprooted from her homeland Cuba to Nebraska is something readers won't soon forget. What would it be like to come to a whole new country with the possibility of never seeing your parents again? An excellent historical novel that is well written and brings to light a historical event that many of don't know much about. Middle school librarians must have this book in their libraries.

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