Thursday, June 26, 2014

Worthy Brown's daughter by Phillip Margolin

Summer reading, isn’t just for kids, and the staff have lots of suggestions to keep everyone entertained through the summer.  Worthy Brown’s daughter by Phillip Margolin is recommended by our head librarian, Mary.

In 1860 Matthew Penny and his wife Rachel decide to go west to create a better life for themselves.  On the way Rachel is killed in an accident and Matthew is inconsolable.  Instead of settling down somewhere he becomes an itinerant lawyer, moving from place to place, taking cases that appeal to him.  He has a very strong commitment to the law and believes that it should not be twisted to suit individuals.  One day, he meets Worthy Brown. Worthy helps Matthew with a case but in return for the information Worthy wants Matthew to help free his indentured daughter from Caleb (a crooked lawyer).  

Margolin offers a story in which characters are not all good or all bad, and circumstances change people as time marches on.  Even our hero Matthew bends a little so that justice, as well as the law, is served.

We learn a great deal of the history of Oregon and slavery laws in pre-civil war United States.  The laws governing the black people who managed to get to a “free” state seem unimaginable in the 21st century.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Jackpot by Gordon Korman

The Summer Reading Club begins next week, so kids will be looking for fun, entertaining reads over the next few months.  Gordon Korman’s Swindle series is a popular choice for summer reading.  Jackpot is the title of the newest addition to the series.

A thirty thousand dollar lottery ticket has not been claimed and it is about to expire.  We know it was purchased at the convenience store but the list of people that purchased tickets that day is long.  What begins as a way of tricking the school bully to go dumpster diving all over town looking for the ticket soon backfires on Ben.  With a huge jackpot to be claimed, the whole town joins in and soon garbage is everywhere.  The local authorities, seeing all the garbage, start to investigate and discover that Ben and his friends started the rumor. For punishment Ben and his friends must clean up the mess, and sit through an assembly at school directed at bullying and in the end Ben looks like the bully.

With school allegiances shifting, Ben has to find a way to redeem himself.  He thinks he could do this by helping the person who bought the lottery ticket find it and cash it in. If only it were that simple!

Mighty Dads by Joan Holub

This Sunday is Father’s Day.  In honour of this special day, I have chosen a new book, Mighty Dads by Joan Holub with illustrations by James Dean.  

This picture book is set in a construction site.  All the machines have brought their offspring and teach them how the job is done.  On the opening page the text reads, “Mighty Dads, strong and tall, help their children, young and small”.  In each illustration the young one is tagging along, lending a hand.  The big dad machines show their children how to build, tear down when necessary, be strong, reach out, get dirty, smooth, help out, and stay safe. In the end, all machines go to sleep and the “Mighty dads say, “I’m proud of you! Tomorrow let’s build something new!”  The little machines love their dads.

This is a loving book about the role of dads.  The understated sentimentality of this book is perfect for those who prefer to express their feeling through actions rather than words.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Memoirs of an imaginery friend by Matthew Dicks

It’s such a treat to take home a book and unexpectedly find a true gem.  Such a book is Matthew Dicks’ Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend.

This is a beautifully crafted tale of friendship, loyalty and self-sacrifice. Budo is 8-year old Max Delaney’s imaginary friend. Unlike most imaginary friends, Budo has been alive for over 5 years. As long as Max believes in him, Budo will go on living, and when Max stops, Budo will die. Budo needs Max to survive, but Max needs Budo too. Max was born with Asperger’s, and prefers his imaginary friend to any other. Though others struggle to understand Max, Budo simply loves him for who he is, and takes on the role of Max’s protector. He sees things Max’s parents don’t, so when he notices strange behaviour in one of Max’s teachers at the learning center, she immediately goes into his bad books. When Budo realizes his suspicions were not misplaced, and Max finds himself in serious trouble, it’s up to him to save Max. But how can Budo affect a world he can’t touch?

The questions posed about the treatment of children with special needs lends this otherwise lighthearted tale some real depth.  The reader becomes drawn into a world where the lines between what was real and imaginary are delightfully blurred.