Louis Undercover

Louis UndercoverLouis Undercover by Fanny Britt

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exquisite illustrations and text.

A definition of young love from Louis: “a rock shattering your heart, as painful as it life-giving, and that even as it makes you want to bolt, it keeps you glued to the spot.” (p. 58)

Louis worries about being brave. He is brave.
Louis believes that love “ends badly.” He is far too young to think that, except this is what he knows.

This graphic novel is heart-wrenching and yet Louis somehow gives us hope.


Surprise Me

Surprise MeSurprise Me by Sophie Kinsella

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Surprisingly good read from Sophie Kinsella with humor and serious marriage/life depth.
Sylvie has a good idea once she and Dan realize they will likely be together as a married couple for 68 more years – yikes! They decide to surprise each other, often, and – SURPRISE! – it doesn’t work as well as they hope!
Several laugh-out-loud sections/passages that I tried to share with my husband. Sometimes I was laughing too much to read the words. 🙂
A family crisis arises, a serious one, and Sylvie thinks it’s the worst that could affect a marriage. Not her fault that she jumped to a conclusion. She did ask Dan questions!
Favorite quote: page 376 Love. Forever. Please.


DogkuDogku by Andrew Clements

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I am in love with this short book – a picture book/poetry/story written in haiku! The illustrations help tell the story.

A dog comes to the backdoor of a family’s home right around bedtime, wondering what will happen. Will the lady with the kind eyes shut the door?

Mooch causes some trouble on that first day while in the house alone – will this loving family keep him?


SitSit by Deborah Ellis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a book of powerful, profound, penetrating stories.
Kids don’t often have the opportunity to make decisions and choices for themselves. They aren’t adults, obviously, they don’t live alone, don’t have their own money and usually are lacking the maturity to make good decisions.
Not so in Deborah Ellis’s Sit.
1. Jafar is a youngster working in a sweat shop, wood working facility, where he takes the opportunity to carve a poem on the bottom of a chair. He feels like he is free.
2. Macie is a seven year old with a baby-ish time-out chair. Her mother has no clue about how to not make Macie feel humiliated in front of guests. Macie takes a small, but important and defiant-yikes!-step for her own well-being.
3. On a field trip to a concentration camp, Gretchen realizes that her family is German and begins to question how they might have handled their place in WWII. Good or bad? And how about now? She decides to ask questions.
4. Divorce announcement in a food court.
5. A school shooting in an Amish community, handled with dignity and grace.
6. A girl needs a day off from school – and probably a day off from home. She sees a pre-schooler about to do something that might get him in trouble. She decides to intervene, is too late and is surprised to tears when his mom is delighted.
7. Animal rescuer in post-earthquake/radiation Japan.
8. Positive forward-thinking in a hell-hole of a jail. (I don’t think I understand this one.)
9. Eight months trapped in a tiny apartment with other families after being smuggled out of Afghanistan – finally freedom when Noosala is brave enough to look out the window.
10. What divorce and parents fights do to children – a wise woman at the Family Center helps a brother and sister hold on to what they love to do.
11. The end goes back to the beginning. Jafar takes us through his city…to his school – a school for working children (should there be such a thing in this world!???) where his teacher is talking to his class about poetry. 🙂


The Switch

The SwitchThe Switch by Joseph Finder

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Michael Tanner is a regular person, owner of a coffee roasting business, on his way back to Boston from a sales meeting in Los Angeles when he picks up someone else’s laptop in the TSA area at LAX.
Senator Susan Robbins has her eye on a higher office and can’t be bothered with reading classified documents in a SCIF. She has her Chief of Staff, Will Abbott, download these files to her laptop – yes, the same laptop Tanner retrieves from the TSA conveyor belt. The senator has her password on a sticky note on the bottom of her laptop – is she not too bright?? Her Chief of Staff is a cutthroat and malevolent sort and has many resources.
Tanner is already facing some difficulties – his wife left recently; his business is relying on some new, yet unsigned, contracts to keep it afloat.
What the reader doesn’t know at first is that Tanner is smart and enterprising, as well as good and kind. For example, when he is about to steal a car he feels guilty, before he has actually stolen it. His character makes this fast-paced political thriller delightful.

Easter Ann Peters’ Operation Cool

Easter Ann Peters' Operation CoolEaster Ann Peters’ Operation Cool by Jody Lamb

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book belongs in all middle school libraries, counseling/student services offices and public libraries.

Seventh grade can be a vexing time and author Jody Lamb’s choice for Easter Ann’s setting provides a perfect balance of disorder at school and at home for the middlegrade audience and the serious topic of family alcoholism.

Despite the ongoing situation with her family, Easter Ann’s story is fun, funny and upbeat. And I love the subtle reminders that this novel takes place in my former home state – Michigan.

I would like to see Easter Ann return in a sequel – this is one book I didn’t want to end!

An updated Resource List is included in the back – help for those concerned about a family member’s alcohol consumption – in this new second edition.


Just Dance

Just DanceJust Dance by Patricia MacLachlan

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Sylvie Bloom is moving up from 4th grade to 5th grade and is sad to be leaving her most perfect teacher behind, one who knows what she is thinking without her having to say a word.
Sylvie’s teacher, Mrs. Ludolf, has a husband, the sheriff, who is almost illiterate and writes a “crime/news interest” column in the town newspaper. Mrs. Ludolf gives Sylvie her husband as her summer project – to write his column for him as she rides around town with the sheriff.
Sylvie also has a personal project this summer – to figure out why her mother, a famous opera singer, is content to stay in their small Wyoming town instead of returning to life on the stage.
This short book is a treasure.