From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Kathryn Erskine
Just this past year, I have been reading some of the titles my nephew has been reading and, boy, was I pleasantly surprised by the advanced themes they tackled. My nephew is eleven and his recommendations have included Dave at night by Gail Carson Levine, Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine, Out of my mind by Sharon M. Draper, and Wonder by RJ Palacio. All of these books deal with children in unique situations. Out of my mind is an expose of a young girl trapped by cerebral palsy in a silent world while Wonder deals with a young boy with two facial deformities. Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine was my latest read of his recommendations and it was terrific. A young girl, suffering with Asperger’s Syndrome, is forced to come to terms with her brother’s death. Asperger’s Syndrome can be characterized by problems with social skills and communication difficulties. The main character, Caitlin, struggles to show empathy and make friends. She has difficulty understanding why her brother’s death is so hard for her father. Devon was Caitlin’s main instructor in how to cope with life and she now needs to learn new coping techniques. Caitlin and her father, according to Caitlin’s research in her best resource, a dictionary, need to find “closure.” Caitlin is not sure how to attain closure but she and her father triumph in the end and attain their goal of closure.
From Ellen Druda
Author: Kore-Eda Hirokazu
Title: I wish [videorecording DVD]
Think back to those great family movies starring plucky kids, like Escape to Witch Mountain, or Flipper, or even The Parent Trap, and you’ll get the same feeling watching I Wish. Set in Japan, this is the story of two brothers separated by divorce, who plan to reunite with the help of their pals. The new bullet train service is coming, and brothers Koichi and Ryunosuk believe your wish will come true if you shout it when the first trains pass each other at top speed. The kids spend time planning exactly where this will occur and how they will get there. They also share their wishes. The performances by Kouki Maeda and Oushiro Maeda, brothers in real life, bring tons of charm to this movie, which was originally conceived as a promotional film for Japan Railways. VERDICT: A heart-warming Japanese language film that can be enjoyed by the whole family.
From Margaret Mezzacapo
Title: Honeymoon with My Brother
Author: Franz Wisner
This is an entertaining book based on a true story. The author was left at the altar by the woman he loved. He decided to go on his honeymoon trip and wound up traveling the world with his brother, gaining understanding both of his brother and his own self. They concentrate on seeing the “Real World” of the countries they visit, instead of the sanitized version presented to most tourists.
From Andrea Kalinowski
Author: Blaize Clement
Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter
Dixie Hemingway, no relation to the famous personage, is a pet sitter in the Keys of Florida. She was a former deputy until a personal tragedy derailed her calm and her career. Her brother and his partner are her support system. Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter and Duplicity Dogged the Dachshund are the first and second books in the series respectively. They are humorous reads and one can almost feel the caress of the ocean breezes and inhale the salty tang. Dixie, due to the murdered bodies she is uncovering in the course of her pet sitting duties, is slowly reawakened to the joys and awkwardness of life. She meets, over the corpses, two intriguing men. One is a detective and the other an attorney. Dixie communes with the animals and these undemanding creatures have allowed her space to heal. I cannot wait to read the continuing saga of Dixie and her pet sitting pitfalls.
From Divya, Teen Book Reviewer
author: Maberry, Jonathan
Rot & Ruin
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry, is a great sci-fi novel about how humans would exist post-apocalypse. Benny’s earliest memory is of the First Night, when his brother Tom ran away with him, leaving behind his parents to be taken by zombies.
Now, fourteen years later, the two Imura brothers live in the village of Mountainside, where only a fence separates them from the Rot and Ruin, home of the zombies. Fifteen-year-old Benny now has to get a job in order to keep his food rations, and he finds one in the “family business” of bounty hunting. However, his entire view of the world is altered when he ventures into the Rot and Ruin for the first time with Tom. All of his heros aren’t who they seem and he realizes he is always in constant danger, both from zombies and people. All the while, this teen has to deal with his crush on his best friend and the loss of his parents. I would definitely recommend this book (9 out of 10 stars) because it has action, suspense, mystery, and romance all in one. So go out and read this book!
From Rosemarie Jerome
author: Thurman, Rob
Blackout : a Cal Leandros novel
What would you do if you woke up on a beach littered with slaughtered giant spiders? Usually, this is a typical day for Cal Leandros but he doesn’t know who he is or where he is, he just knows that he is a killer. He begins to discover little things about himself and starts to create a new life until one day someone arrives in town who claims to be his brother and wants to take him home. This brother, Niko, is a stranger and home is a place where monsters live. Blackout is the sixth book in the series.
From Chloe Rafferty
author: Byars, Betsy
This book is about three children who are sent to a foster home. Their names are Charlie, Harvey, and Thomas J. It’s really hard for all of them at first. Carlie said they were all pinballs being bounced around. But later, as time went on, they realized that they aren’t pinpalls and they can SO control their own lives. all of them fight at first, but then treat each other like brothers and sisters. This book also gives us a taste of reality for some people.
From Jackie Cantwell
author: Schmidt, Randy L.
Little girl blue: the life of Karen Carpenter
This is an extremely well-written and well-researched biography of Karen
Carpenter, the singer of The Carpenters. Full disclosure: I grew up on
her music and to this day, when I hear her voice, I’m completely
transported to another place and time. Mr. Schmidt delved into the early
days of the group, with her brother, Richard. A biography of Karen is
also a biography of Richard, so inextricably were their professional and
personal lives entwined. Richard was immensely talented in music as a
child, so his mother Agnes nurtured that, and even relocated the family to
California to expand his opportunities. As it turns out, Karen was
talented as well, in drums and as a singer. Karen and Richard both
attended California State University at Long Beach, which contributed to
their early success. Laymen will learn a lot about the music business.
Readers will learn how Richard was adept as an arranger, composer and
pianist and how he was always on the lookout for songwriting talent.
Sadly, both brother and sister had turmoil in their personal lives. I
knew that Karen died from anorexia and laxative abuse, but she also abused two other substances as well. Highly recommended for a complete picture of a supremely gifted musician.
From Rosalia Milan:
This book was extremely interesting. Steve Almond basically visits several factories that are owned and run by regional candy makers. The descriptions of the candy’s themselves and the people he meets are extremely honest and captivating. Many of the stories regarding his childhood and candy disputes between him and his brothers are very amusing. Unfortunately towards the end of the book when Almond starts to theorize on his reasons for taking this trip, he goes into a depressed state discussing his own depression in a way that makes the reader (or me at least) get annoyed with his whininess. I didn’t read this book to listen to someone whine about miserable they are. Fortunately it really doesn’t last long and it’s only towards the very end.
In Bone By Bone by Carol O’Connell, two teenage brothers go into the woods, only one returns home. Twenty years later the other returns bone by bone. This chilling mystery keeps you guessing; there is an entire town of suspects, secrets and guilt.