Saturday, January 3, 2009

More new books...

Okay! Time for part two! Here's a locally set novel entitled Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen. Ambrose has moved around a lot with his mom and now he is living in Kitsilano in the basement apartment of a kind Greek couple. His peanut allergy and somewhat excentric dress has not made him popular at his new school. After a couple of bullies almost kill him with a peanut, his mom decides that home schooling may be the route to go with weekly trips to the school's computer lab. Into his world moves Cosmo, the Economolopolis' black sheep son, who has been in jail and now is living with his parents. An unlikely friendship slowly develops and Ambrose and Cosmo end up joining the Vancouver Scrabble Club when his mom is unknowingly teaching at night at UBC. The book is great with twists and turns, lots of humour, and a well driven plot. This book is for elementary readers.

Pieces of Georgia
by Jen Bryant is a book about a girl whose artist mom has died, lives in a trailer with her uncommunicative dad, and is deemed "at risk". Her life changes with a membership to the Brandywine River Museum. Georgia (named after Georgia O'Keefe) has no idea who has given her this gift and she has never been to the museum but it becomes a refuge for this fledgling artist as she finds solace in the work of Andrew and Jamie Wyeth. She also makes a new friend who appears to have everything but has her own set of problems. The book is written in the form of a diary in beautiful blank verse. I think students in grade seven and eight would enjoy this book. In looking at her website, I discovered she wrote a favorite picture book biography of mine, Georgia's Bones. I think this book would be of interest to upper intermediate to grade eight students.

Just One Wish by Janette Rallison is hilarious although the heroine is tackling a serious subject, making her little brother who has cancer have his wish come true, to meet the star of his favorite television show, Robin Hood. Annika and her best friend, Madison, set off to the Los Angeles to "capture" the actor who plays the part. Needless to say, this is not easy to accomplish but Annika is nothing if not persistent and she has a noble aim.

Now for a different setting, Climbing the Stairs by Padma Venkatraman. At the beginning of the novel, fifteen year old Vidya lives comfortably with her family in Bombay during the Second World War. Her father, a doctor, is brain damaged in a demonstration, and the family is forced to leave Bombay to live in Madras, in the strict Brahmin home of her paternal grandfather with extended family. Vidya feels totally imprisoned and her dreams to go to university become seemingly impossible as the extended family wants her to marry. Needless to say, Vidya finds a way out, but this is an interesting picture of life in India in this time period.