Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Going Bovine by Libba Bray is about a boy named Cameron who is kind of a loser.  He's one of those I'm-just-going-to-sit-around-and-not-do-anything types.  He has a set of normal parents, who don't really understand him, and a twin sister who's his polar opposite.  About 80 pages in, Cameron finds out he has Mad Cow disease.  Only, he doesn't really have mad cow disease.  His brain is being attacked by alien prions that came through this portal that this scientist named Dr. X left open.  The universe is about to combust from the dark matter, and Cameron is about to die.  To save himself, and everyone else, he has to go find Dr. X.  He's told all this by a punk rock angel named Dulcie.  So, Cameron sets out on his journey to save the universe with his new best friend Gonzo, a very short dude who's afraid of everything.  On his journey he encounters CESSNAB (a Utopian church dedicated to bowling and vanilla smoothies), a garden gnome named Balder who is actually a Norse God in disguise, a dead jazz musician, fire giants, the wizard of reckoning, an MTV-esque beach party, and a company that sells snow globes and wants to turn everyone into a snow globe.  The book was a psychedelic road trip, and an overall good, if not strange, read.
You also might want to check out this video of Libba Bray talking about her book.

The ISBN number is: 978-0385733977 and the price is: $17.99. published 2009

Review by E. Roohi -

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Impossible by Nancy Werlin , 978-0142414910 9.99 paperback

Impossible is a wonderful dark fairy tale based on the folksong Scarborough Fair. In this story Lucy is the latest in a long line of women who get pregnant at 18, and then go crazy when they deliver. Lucy discovers that this is a curse from the Elfin Knight, who was spurned by her foremother many many generations ago. However, since she is pregnant, she has only a short period of time to fulfill the three impossible tasks from the song. With the help from her foster family and her next door neighbor, Lucy takes the challenge on. The only distraction from this book is near the end when Lucy is racing against the rising tide, and the author gives her 12 hours to do it in. This careless timeline could have been overcome by some more careful editing.

Check out the Video

Review by Niki Roohi Goldenview Middle School Librarian Anchorage School District

Thursday, January 14, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead 978-0385737425, 2009, hbk $15.99

Miranda is in the 6th grade in New York City in 1978, and her life is changing in the last year of elementary school. Her best friend Sal stops talking to her, unexpectedly, after being punched by a strange kid. She goes out of her comfort zone to make new friends, including the boy who punched Sal. Her mother is preparing to go on The $20,000 Pyramid, and a weird homeless man has taken up residence outside her apartment building. Then she starts getting strange notes that predict the future, but she is warned not to share them. The story takes all three of these strands and weaves them into a neat time-travel story, but it is the details of this story that make it so comfortable to read. Miranda deals with friendship and school like most children do, and it is wonderful to see her growing and changing as she realizes her strengths and weaknesses. She finally learns how to relate to Sal, and to her three new friends, her mother and mother’s boyfriend, and even to the weird laughing man on the street corner. And did I mention that there is time travel involved?

This quiet story is highly recommended to upper elementary and middle schoolers who like stories about school, friendship, and yes, a bit of science fiction.

Review by Niki Roohi, Goldenview Middle School Librarian Anchorage Alaska

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Marcelo in the Real World by Francisco X. Stork 978-0-545-05474-4 pub 2009 $17.99

Marcelo has Asperger’s Syndrome and has gone to a special school all his life. About to enter his senior year and looking forward to a job in the school’s stables looking after the ponies, his father gets him a job at his law firm instead. His father has never quite been comfortable with the idea that his son is different and coerces Marcelo into taking the job after his rival at the law firm brings his son in for the summer, to prove that he is normal. Marcelo is extremely resentful but has no choice but to obey. He ends up in the mailroom working with Jasmine who knows all the politics of the place and refuses to follow the conventions. She does not want Marcelo there, but leaves him alone. Theri friendship slowly forms when Marcelo accidentally becomes involved in one of the law firm’s cases, and she agrees to help him. But Marcelo is on the wrong side of the case, and he soon has choices to make between right and wrong, his father and his new friend. In the meantime he finds his father may be right about becoming independent, and he experiences romance for the first time.

Marcelo is a wonderful character and you will enjoy getting to know him. This book is reminiscent of The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time, and is highly recommended for middle school and high school.

Review by Niki Roohi, Goldenview MS Librarian