As Simple As It Seems

From Donna Barnes
author: Weeks, Sarah
As Simple As It Seems
This book tells the story of a twelve year old girl named Verbena who is struggling with many changes the summer after fifth grade.   Her first change occurs when her best friend since kindergarten has abandoned Verbena for a more popular girl.  This is more or less standard tween fare, but to deepen the drama , Verbena also discovers that she is adopted.  Once she finds out who her biological parents are, (her paternal uncle , who is in jail and his alcoholic wife)she worries that she will turn into a “mean” person just like her biological father.  She is clearly confused and has no friend to confide in, until Pooch moves in next door.  This is Verbena’s chance to re-invent herself and that she does.  What initially starts out as a friendship based on deception, evolves into a meaningful friendship that helps to pull Verbena out of her sadness.   This is an emotional story that is both heartwarming and humorous .  There is a bit of mystery, deception and danger to add to the excitement and turning of the pages as well.

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Spring Pearl : the last flower

From Donna Barnes
author: Yep, Laurence
Spring Pearl : the last flower 
Looking for a book with an adventurous heroine? Spring Pearl by Laurence Yep is a book from the Girls of Many Land series that offers readers a suspenseful and eye opening adventure to the world of Canton, China during the 1857 Opium War. 

Spring Pearl is 12 years old when her parents die, leaving her in the care of a wealthy family.  Because of her independent nature and her intelligence, Spring Pearl initially intimidates her host family.  However, it is her intelligence and quick wit that saves her host family when the Opium War erupts.  Because Spring Pearl grew up in the Rats’ Nest-a very poor section of Canton- she is able to navigate between both the poor and the wealthy sections of Canton with ease. The book delivers a taste of what life was like for young girls growing up in China in the 19th century.  The author provides historical notes and many photos, as well as a “Then and Now” afterword that draws on Yep’s story to contrast conditions facing girls in 19th century China with those today.

The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole: Book 1)

From Donna Barnes
author: Lasky, Kathryn
 The Capture (Guardians of Ga’Hoole: Book 1)
With the upcoming movie release of The Guardians of Ga’Hoole, based on the book with the same name by Kathryn Lasky, I read the book and was pleasantly surprised at all of the wonderful messages of friendship, leadership and believing in yourself that this book contains.

Owl chicks and eggs are taken away from their parents and put through mind erasing exercises.  Two owl chicks ( Soren and Gylfie ) talk at length about how losing their parents has affected them.  During each mind erasing exercise forced upon these baby owls, Soren and Gylfie tell each other the legends of the hero owls of Ga’Hoole to keep them sane.  All the while, they are hatching (no pun intended) a plan to learn how to fly and escape  to save themselves.  The story of their escape is as exciting as their friendship is touching.

Great messages, heroic characters, plenty of information on owls and their attributes.

The Unfinished Angel

From Donna Barnes
author: Creech, Sharon
The Unfinished Angel
There is an angel living in a tiny Alpine village where life is quiet and good-until an American girl named Zola arrives with her father to open up an international school for children.  Our “angel”  feels untrained and without a mission until Zola arrives.  Unlike everyone else, Zola can see the angel, because she has dealt with angels before.   When Zola discovers some homeless children who need help, Zola and the angel help each other, and help the villagers become a closer community in the process.
“The Unfinished Angel” will make you giggle and wonder if maybe you have been exposed to angels in your life and if they did indeed help you and maybe you even helped them.