Book and Audio Review: The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop

What could be better than a lot of chocolate, a little magic, and some secret agents?

Not much…

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The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop
By Kate Saunders, Read by Jayne Entwistle
6 CDs, 6 hours, 52 minutes

whizz pop chocolate shopOz and Lily Spoffard grew up in a tiny house in Washford Common in London.  Even though the family was cramped, they loved it.  But with a new baby on the way, the twins know that they will have even less space.  But that’s when an unexpected letter from a solicitor in London comes… Their father has apparently inherited a mysterious large house on Skittle Street from his great-uncle on the other side of London.  The solution to all their problems?  Maybe…

They go to visit the house and discover that not only is it a house, but it’s a house with a chocolate shop and chocolate-making laboratory on the first floor!  Although it’s been deserted for more than fifty years, everything is just a little dusty, and the water and electricity are in perfect order.   It even still smells like chocolate!

Oz is reluctant to leave his violin tutor, but Lily can’t wait to get away from her tutor; neither of them will really miss their school.  So arrangements are made for new lessons, and the Spoffards move in.

The first person they meet in their new house is a very grumpy cat named Demerara who tells them that their uncles didn’t only make chocolate, they made magic chocolate.  And now, there’s someone after the recipes.  Luckily, Demerara is an agent for SMU–The Secret Ministry for the Unexplained.  She has the contacts to get Oz, Lily and their new friend Caydon some training to deal with the spies who are now lurking around their house and trying to find some magical chocolate molds.

But even with training, will three kids, a talking cat, a ghostly elephant and a cheeky rat be able to topple the forces of evil trying to take over the world?

whizz pop chocolate shop audioThe audio for The Whizz Pop Chocolate Shop is great fun.  I love the British narrator, who manages to make everyone sound different.  (She also does a great American accent!)  The pacing is excellent.  The characters really come to life while you’re listening.

This is a great book to listen to as a family, maybe on a long car trip this summer?  The book is written for third through sixth grades, but the story can be enjoyed by all ages.  There are a couple scary spots in the story–but not too scary–so you can reassure younger listeners that everything will turn out okay.

Some read-alikes include The Dragon with the Chocolate Heart, Bliss, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and The Candy Shop War.

dragon with the chocolate heart bliss charlie and the chocolate factory candy shop war

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So if you like magical chocolate, talking cats, and a mystery that spans four generations, try this book.  You’ll like it!

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book, ask one of our librarians.  We love to help!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

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Five Books Featuring…Robin Hood!

What’s better on a grey rainy day than something green?  Put yourself in the mindset of merry old England, with these books featuring  the legendary outlaw Robin Hood!  Okay, so one of our books is a dystopia, one is set in space, and there are just as many female as male Robin Hoods in this list…it’s not exactly the same Sherwood Forest you might have heard about.  But if you try one of these adventurous tales, you’ll be sure to be thinking about the myths and the legends (and the re-imaginings) of Robin Hood, Maid Marian, Little John, Will Scarlet and the rest of the Merry Men!

Our Five Books Featuring are five books related by topic–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

Read on!

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Five Books based on the Legend of Robin Hood…

Will in Scarlet by Matthew Cody
will in scarletWill Shackley is the son of a lord, and though just thirteen, he’s led a charmed, protected life as heir to Shackley House.   While his father is away on the Third Crusade with King Richard the Lionheart, the winds of treason sweep across England.  Shackley House becomes caught up in a dangerous power struggle when King Richard’s brother John tries to take the throne and sends his representative to take Will into custody. After wounding Sir Guy’s manservant with a sword, Will becomes an outlaw and flees to Sherwood Forest, taking the name Will Scarlet. He joins a ragtag band of thieves and, bent on revenge, throws himself into adventures that force him to face hard truths and figure out where his path lies.

League of Archers by Eva Howard
league of archersSent to live in a nunnery after her mother’s death, Ellie spends her days as a novice nun and her evenings hunting in the woods with her friends. She and her friends call themselves The League of Archers, and try to be like their hero Robin Hood by sneaking out to hunt on the lands belonging to the village Baron and stealing from him to feed their poor neighbors. One night, Ellie encounters a mysterious man in the woods, wounded by a poisonous arrow. She brings him back to the nunnery only to discover that he is Robin Hood and the kind abbess of the nunnery is Maid Marion.
With the abbess’s secret revealed, the Baron immediately arrests Marian. But he needs a scapegoat for the murder of Robin Hood, and who better than a young novice nun? Ellie is proclaimed a hero–the person who killed the famous outlaw Robin Hood–but the villagers don’t agree.  Now Ellie is on the run, and Marian set to hang unless the League of Archers can find a way to contact the disbanded Merry Men and mount a rescue.
Will Ellie and her League of Archers be able to find the real killer, free Maid Marian, and keep Robin Hood’s legacy alive?

The Outlaws of Sherwood by Robin McKinley
outlaws of sherwoodRobin is an apprentice forester in the woods of Nottingham. The arrows he makes and sells earn barely enough extra coin to retain the title to his father’s small lands. The sheriff of Nottingham’s jealousy toward Robin’s father is just as fierce towards his son, and the sheriff’s men take every opportunity to harass the young woodsman. When Robin defends himself and accidentally kills one of the sheriff’s men, he flees to Sherwood Forest, knowing that he has not only lost his father’s land and good name forever, but that he will live the rest of his days as a hunted man.
Joined by his friends Much and Lady Marian, who both believe the disaster that has befallen Robin is also an opportunity for others cast out or outlawed in ways equally unjust, to gather together. As more and more people join them, Robin builds a community of Saxon outlaws deep in Sherwood who risk the gallows and the sword for the sake of justice and freedom.

Shadows of Sherwood by Scott Magoon
shadows of sherwoodOne night when after returning from a midnight adventure scavenging for the poor of Nott City, Robyn Loxley finds her parents missing and her home in disarray. Grabbing the secret items her father has trained her to take in case of emergency, Robyn flees. Following the advice of her parents to head for the woods, she ventures into rough-and-tumble neighboring Sherwood City.  Robyn has no choice but to join a band of strangers-misfit kids, each with their own special talent for mischief. Setting out to right the wrongs of Crown’s merciless government, they take their outlaw status in stride. But Robyn can’t rest until she finds her parents. As she pieces together clues from the night they disappeared, Robyn learns that her destiny is tied to the future of Nott City in ways she never expected.
If you liked Shadows of Sherwood, you should read Rebellion of Thieves and Reign of Outlaws, the next two books in the Robyn Hoodlum Adventures .

Robin Hood: The One Who Looked Good in Green by Wendy Mass
robin hood looked good in greenRobin has a bad habit of getting into trouble–and a better habit of getting out of it (barely). He lives on an isolated outpost in the middle of nowhere and has no idea why his parents disappeared years ago. Then a strange delivery arrives at his doorstep.
Marian was raised to be a powerless girl in a very powerful family. But that hasn’t stopped her from making her own adventures – and trespassing in some places her parents definitely don’t want her to see. She has no idea what life should be like outside of her home–until a mysterious invitation forces her to leave everything behind.
Robin and Marian have lived very different lives in very different places. Their paths should never, ever cross–but before they know it, they are thrown together on a quest that requires legendary bravery, quick-witted escapes, and the ability to get along. With each other!  The sky’s no longer the limit on what Robin and Marian can do, as long as they manage do it together!

 

 

 

Five Books Featuring…Boston!

Our last Five Books Featuring featured two sets of siblings from the Boston area–the March sisters and the Penderwick sisters.  So going from there, here are five more books featuring Boston…just in time for tourist season.  If you’re going to be poking around on the Freedom Trail, or dashing into Zoo New England or even visiting Faneuil Hall, you might want to read one of these books first to get your bearings!

Our Five Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

Read on!

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13 hangmen13 Hangmen by Art Corriveau
Being 13 is strange enough, but Tony DiMarco is extra baffled when his great-uncle Angelo, whom he hardly knows, mails him legendary Red Sox player Ted Williams’s original baseball cap on his 13th birthday, then promptly dies and bequeaths him an entire town house in Boston’s North End. And that’s just the beginning!
Some people won’t believe any of this story. You might be one of them.
Tony makes new friends as soon as he moves into the house; five 13-year-old boys, all of whom are living in the same house in the same attic bedroom– but at different times in history.  None are ghosts, all are flesh and blood, and somehow all have come together in the attic room, visible only to one another. And all are somehow linked to a murder, a mystery, and a treasure… 

nicky flynnHow I, Nicky Flynn, Finally Get a Life (And a Dog!) by Art Corriveau
Nicky Flynn’s life just got a whole lot harder. His parents are going through a messy divorce, and as a result he’s starting a new life.  Suddenly he and his mom are in a tiny apartment in the North End of Boston, and he’s starting a new school. Now his mom has brought home Reggie, an eighty-pound German shepherd fresh from the animal shelter, who used to be a seeing-eye dog. At first Nick isn’t sure about this canine intrusion–it’s just another in a series of difficult changes. Soon, however, Nick is on the path to solving a mystery–why would a seeing-eye dog be left at an animal shelter?  He follows Reggie along the Freedom Trail to his old master’s haunts, and along the way discovers that Reggie is a true friend he can rely on. But when he tries to reconnect with his dad, Nick puts everything on the line, including the life of his new best friend.

last gargoyleThe Last Gargoyle by Paul Dunham
Penhallow is the last of his kind. The stone gargoyle–he’d prefer you call him a grotesque–fearlessly protects his Boston building from the spirits who haunt the night. But even he is outmatched when Hetty, his newest ward, nearly falls victim to the Boneless King, the ruler of the underworld.
Then there’s Viola, the mysterious girl who keeps turning up at the most unlikely times. In a world where nightmares come to life, Viola could be just the ally Penhallow needs. But can he trust her when every shadow hides another secret? Can he afford not to?

The Time Garden by Edward Eagertime garden
Cousins Roger, Ann, Jack and Eliza are excited to spend their summer vacation together…until they learn they’re not going to England with their parents, but instead being sent to a country estate near Boston.  But once they’re at the estate, their disappointment wears off when they discover a magical thyme garden and a talking Natterjack, which grants them all their time-traveling wishes…almost.   From midnight rides with Paul Revere to meeting the March sisters to visiting the court of Queen Elizabeth I, there are no limits to their fun this summer!
Of course, if you enjoy visiting The Time Garden, you might have to read the other books Edward Eager wrote about these cousins who travel in time, as well as their parents, who started the trend!

Johnny Tremain by Esther Forbesjohnny tremain
Fourteen-year-old Johnny Tremain, an apprentice silversmith with a bright future ahead of him, injures his hand in a tragic accident, forcing him to look for other work. In his new job as a horse-boy, riding for the patriotic newspaper,The Boston Observer, and as a messenger for the Sons of Liberty, he encounters John Hancock, Samuel Adams, and Dr. Joseph Warren. Soon Johnny is involved in the pivotal events shaping the American Revolution from the Boston Tea Party to the first shots fired at Lexington.  To read this riveting novel is to live through the defining events leading up to the American Revolutionary War.

    Uh-oh…5 already?  It’s our state!   How about we double that number..?

alvin ho allergic to girlsAlvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things by Lenore Look
Alvin, who loves superheroes and comes from a long line of brave Chinese farmer-warriors, wants to make friends, but first he must overcome his fears.  But Alvin is afraid of everything–elevators, tunnels, girls, and, most of all?  School. He’s so afraid of school that, while he’ s there, he never, ever, says a word. But at home he’s a very loud superhero named Firecracker Man, a brother to Calvin and Anibelly, and a gentleman-in-training, so he can be just like his dad.  Whether they are fearful or brave, kids will smile at Alvin’s scrapes and empathize with his concerns.

anastasia krupnik photoAnastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry
To Anastasia Krupnik, being ten is very confusing. For one thing, she has this awful teacher who can’t understand why Anastasia doesn’t capitalize or punctuate her poems. Then, there’s Washburn Cummings, a very interesting sixth-grade boy who doesn’t even know she is alive. Even her parents have become difficult. They insist she visit her 92-year-old grandmother who can never remember Anastasia’s name. On top of that, they’re going to have a baby — at their age! It’s enough to make a kid want to do something terrible. Anastasia knows that if she didn’t have her secret green notebook to write in, she would never make it to her eleventh birthday.
Once you’ve read all of Anastasia’s adventures, you can try All About Sam, the first book of her brother Sam’s adventures.  (Psst…make sure you check out the dedication!)

taking care of terrific 80sTaking Care of Terrific by Lois Lowry
Fourteen year old Enid takes a job for the summer babysitting.  Her charge is  four-year-old Joshua Warwick Cameron IV.  Babysitting seems like an ordinary thing to do, but Enid definitely sets her sights on having a more-than-ordinary summer. She decides to spend the summer meeting new people and maybe becoming a new person herself.  The perfect place to do that?  The Boston Public Garden.
Enid and Joshua change their names (to Cynthia and Tom Terrific) and start making new friends with unexpected people.  But soon things don’t go as planned, and Cynthia–Enid–is in the middle of a mess.  Will her new friends come to her aid?

black moon risingBlack Moon Rising by D. J. MacHale
Marcus is an agent of the Library–a place filled with tales that don’t have an ending. Mysteries that won’t be solved until Marcus and his friends Theo and Lu step in to finish them. Before it’s too late…
Because mysterious accidents are disturbing a middle school in Massachusetts. Windows shatter for no reason. Bleachers collapse at a pep rally. Most of the students think they’re just having a string of bad luck, but Marcus suspects something a lot more dangerous. Something like witchcraft. When the black moon rises, this story must come to an end . . . one way or another.
This is the second book in MacHale’s The Library series, so you may have to read The Curse of the Boggin, book one, first.

colonial madnessColonial Madness by Jo Whittemore
Tori Porter is best friends with her mom, and most of the time it’s awesome. Not many girls have a mom who’d take them to a graveyard for hide-and-seek or fill the bathtub with ice cream for the world’s biggest sundae. But as much as Tori loves having fun, she sometimes wishes her mom would act a little more her age.
Thanks to her mom’s poor financial planning, they are in danger of losing their business and their home. But an unusual opportunity arises in the form of a bizarre type of contest put on by an eccentric relative: Whoever can survive two weeks in the Archibald Family’s colonial manor will inherit the property. The catch? Contestants have to live as in colonial times: no modern conveniences, no outside help, and daily tests of their abilities to survive challenges of the time period.
Tori thinks it’s the perfect answer to their debt problems, but she and her mom aren’t the only ones interested. The other family members seem to be much more prepared for the two weeks on the manor–and it doesn’t help that Mom doesn’t seem to be taking the contest seriously. Do they stand a chance?

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There you have it!  Five…er, ten…books set in and around Boston.  That’s not even going into some other favorite series, like Judy Moody, Magnus Chase, Clementine and Stink!  Give one or two a read, and see if you recognize where you are.  Then let us know what you think!

As always, if you need help finding these or any other books in the Library, please ask one of our Librarians for help.  We always love to match kids and books!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

Book & Audio Review: The Great Treehouse War

Have you ever wanted to have your own treehouse?  In this book, Winnie had never really thought about it.  But once she had the absolutely most perfect treehouse, in the biggest tree in the state, it was hers, and hers alone.  Or was it..?

Be careful what you wish for…

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great treehouse warThe Great Treehouse War
By Lisa Graff, Read by Ariana Delawari with a Full Cast
4 CDs; 4 hours, 11 minutes

Winnie life was pretty normal right up until the last day of fourth grade.  Sure, her parents were fighting a lot, and didn’t really listen to each other, but other kids had problems too, right?  Then, on the last day of school, her parents sat her down on the x marked in the exact center of the sofa and sat on either side of her to tell her they were getting a divorce.  But both her parents assured her that they still loved her, and that splitting Winnie’s time equally between them was important.

So they sold the house Winnie had grown up in (through fourth grade), and each bought the only two houses on Circle Road, where the two backyards met, not far from Uncle Huck…her mother’s brother and her father’s best friend.  Between the backyards was a giant linden tree, not on either parents’ property.  It was perfect for them–Winnie (and her cat Buttons) could spend Sundays, Tuesdays and Fridays with her mom;  Mondays, Thursdays and Saturdays with her dad, and every Wednesday, she and Buttons would live by themselves in the treehouse designed and built by Uncle Huck.  Her parents thought it was perfect.  Winnie wasn’t so sure.

But at first it didn’t seem too bad.  Winnie loved her round treehouse, with its own kitchen and living room, bathroom and loft.  And she really enjoyed having a day to herself, with just Buttons for company.  Her parents were even being pretty cool with the equal time thing.

But then Winnie’s mom realized that Winnie would be celebrating Thanksgiving with her father.  So she decided to create another celebration to make up for no Thanksgiving; Flag Day.  Winnie was more confused than happy about the over-the-top celebration, but told her mother it was fun.  And then her dad saw them out in their yard from his back window; so he got into the act with World UFO Day.  Suddenly, both her parents started trying to outdo each other with daily parties, events and field trips when they had Winnie, to make up for each celebration she got to spend with the other.   From International Tongue Twister Day to Ice Cream Sandwich Day to Flossing Day to Cow Appreciation Day to Peach Day, the celebrations started growing and growing and growing…and getting totally out of hand.

Winnie’s frustration also started growing.  As both parents spend the whole afternoon and evening celebrating weird holidays with her on “their” days, Winnie finds less and less time to do her homework, until she was spending Wednesday doing all her homework as well as catching up with her sleep.   It didn’t work as well as she thought, since by February she was falling asleep at her desk during school.  But the last straw was when Mr. B, her teacher, told her she was in danger of flunking fifth grade.

Or no, the real last straw was when her father decided that she was going to spend the summer with him collecting animal feces for examination in the desert, and her mother said that she would then take over all the Wednesdays until summer, to equal out Winnie’s time.  No. Way.  Winnie was not going to lose her only peaceful day.  It was time to declare war!

Winnie got all the supplies she needed and went up to the treehouse, with no intention of coming down until her parents talked to each other.  Her friends were supportive and helpful, keeping up her morale and providing her with supplies.  And as Winnie’s parents decided to wait her out,  one by one each of her friends decided that they also had issues with their parents.  Winnie needed the support, and they needed to raise issues as well.  Before she knew it, Winnie was joined by Squizzy and Lyle and Tabitha and Greta and Joey and Brogan and Aayush  and Logan.  Things get complicated pretty quickly and teachers and television reporters and kids around the world get involved.  It’s kids vs. parents in The Great Treehouse War!  Who will win?  Read and find out.

great treehouse war audioThe audio for The Great Treehouse War is produced as a full cast recording.  As the story begins, Winnie narrates the action,  each of the characters–kids and adults– have a different actor narrating their part of the story.  This works very well for this book because much of the print story is told through letters, books, Declarations, comic strips, clippings, calendars, homework, school reports and notes.  I actually love full cast audio recordings–narrations from a single, great reader are absolutely wonderful,  but occasionally having voice acting from a cast of several people is just amazing.  Since there were different voices, the story felt like it went faster, and listeners know exactly who speaking at any time.  The voices are wonderful, as is the acting.

With that said, if you haven’t read the book and are only listening to the audio version of The Great Treehouse War, make sure that you pick up a copy of the book to look through.  All the documents and notes and school assignments are funny, and the quirky hand-drawn artwork adds so much to the personalities to each of the characters.

The Great Treehouse War is written for ages 8 – 12, but it could be listened to by kids (and adults) of all ages. Lisa Graff is a very popular author; some of her other books are A Clatter of Jars, A Tangle of Knots and Absolutely, Almost.  The Great Treehouse War is one of her funnier ones.  So what are you waiting for?  Try it!  You’ll like it!

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So there you are!  If you enjoy humorous fiction and stories about friends, you’ll enjoy this book.  Kids who liked books by Kate Klise like Regarding the Fountain and Letters from Camp will also enjoy this book.  Fans of ongoing conflicts between friends or families, like Phyllis Reynolds Naylor’s The Boy/Girl Battle or Jacqueline Davies’ Lemonade War series will enjoy this book. Fans of Peggy Giffords’ Moxy Maxwell series will like this book.

Some other humorous full-cast recordings at the library:
The Moffats by Eleanor Estes
The Great Christmas Kidnapping Caper by Jean Van Leeuwen
House of Robots by Chris Grabbenstein and James Patterson

If you would like help finding these or any other books in the library, just ask us!  All our librarians are happy to match you with the perfect book or audio–any time, any day!  And until then…

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

great treehouse war detail

Book & Audio Review: Beyond the Bright Sea

Are you a summer visitor to the Cape?  Does the idea of living on an island fill you with delight?  How about adding a bit of treasure hunting, and an unsolved mystery?  If all of those things sound enticing, you’ll love this book!

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beyond the bright seaBeyond the Bright Sea
By Lauren Wolk, Read by Jorjeana Marie
6 CDs, 7 hours, 16 minutes

Crow lives on a nameless, tiny island; part of the Elizabeth Islands, off the cost of Massachusetts.  As long as she remembers, she’s been there with Osh.  But she wasn’t born there.  No, Osh found her as a tiny wailing baby, only hours old, in a small boat, washed up on the shore.  He took her in, cleaned her up, and fed her.  Now they live together in the tiny island home Osh created for them, surrounded by the sea and Osh’s art.

If she’d been a normal baby, someone would probably have taken her away from Osh, thinking he wasn’t fit to raise a small girl.  But Crow wasn’t what most of the islanders would call normal–too sickly, her eyes and skin too dark, her arrival on the small skiff too mysterious.  But most of all, people were afraid that she came from Penekese,   Penikese, the island next closest to their tiny island after Cuttyhunk.  Penikese, home of the leper colony.  Not knowing where Crow came from makes everyone on Cuttyhunk and the other small islands worried that Crow is dangerous.

But it doesn’t bother Crow, not really.  She has her island, she has Osh, and she has Miss Maggie, who she visits almost every day on her farm across the sandbar and who worries over her just as much as Osh does.  Crow also has her imagination and her curiosity.

But Crow’s life changes when she spots a fire over on Penikese, and she starts questioning everything she knows.  Once her curiosity is roused, she starts to look for answers to some of her questions:  Where did she come from?  Who are her “real” parents and why did they send her away?  What is her “real” name?  Why are there lights on Penikese and who is over there?

As Crow searches for answers, she finds herself on a dangerous path, involving menacing strangers and missing treasures.  Will she get her answers, or will she endanger the life she already has?

beyond the bright sea audioThe audio recording for Beyond the Bright Sea is absolutely marvelous.  Jorjeana Marie is suburb; her narration of Lauren Wolk’s gorgeous prose perfectly suits the story and the characters.  You’ll feel like you’re right there beside Crow as she explores the world around her.  I can’t say enough about how beautiful both the story and the narration of that story are.  It’s a perfect package.

Beyond the Bright Sea is perfect for anyone who likes stories of growing up, of discovering who you are, and of carefully plotted mysteries.  The writing is gorgeous.  It’s written for fourth through sixth grades, but the audio recording would be good for kids ages 8 through adults.  If you have ever visited Cape Cod, or are planning to visit, you should read this book: the portrait of the Elizabeth Islands and life on the Cape in the early part of the century is amazing.  You’ll be left wanting to know more about Crow and her world.

* * *

If you can’t tell, I loved this book!  You can practically smell the salt air and hear the seagulls as you listen to Crow’s story unfold.  The pacing of the mystery leaves you on the edge of your seat; and Crows relationship with Osh and Miss Maggie is so, so good.  Really, everyone who lives in Massachusetts needs to read or listen to this book!

Some books and audios that have similar themes or feelings:
Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer Holt
The War That Saved My Life by Jennifer Brubaker Bradley
Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk
Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

As always, if you need help finding this or any other book or audio in the library, or you’re looking for suggestions on what to read next, ask me or any of our other librarians.  We’re happy to help!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

 

Audio & Book Review: The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street

A great new family for readers of middle grade fiction!

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vanderbeekersThe Vanderbeekers of 141st Street
by Karina Yan Glaser, narrated by Robin Miles
5 CDs, 5.5 hours

The Vanderbeekers have always lived in the brownstone on 141st Street.  Twins Jessie and Isa are the oldest, and as different from each other as possible–Jessie is scientific and practical, Isa is musical and quiet.  Oliver is the only boy, something that can be a trial, coming in the middle of four sisters.  Hyacinth loves animals and making crafts.  And Laney, the youngest is imaginative and active.  She has to be, to keep up with the others!  They have a dog named Franz, a cat named George Washington, and a house rabbit named Paganini.  And they love their home…from the basement to the rooftop.  The only drawback is that the Beiderman, their landlord, lives on the top floor.  He’s grouchy and doesn’t like kids.  Or so they’ve heard…they’ve actually never seen him.  He just calls their parents to complain.  Luckily, the Vanderbeeker kids have learned how to get along with his demands…and it’s not like he’s right above them.  Their apartment and his are divided by the second floor apartment, where Miss Josie and Mr. Jeet live.

So it comes as a total shock when their parents tell them that Mr. Beiderman has decided not to renew their lease…and they have only eleven days to pack up and find a place to live.  What makes it worse is that it’s only four and a half days until Christmas; who can think of presents and holiday spirit when they may lose their home?

The Vanderbeeker children decide that there’s only one course of action–to make the Beiderman realize that they’re the perfect family for 141st Street.  If they can make him love them, then he won’t ask them to leave!  Thus begins the secret (because they don’t want their parents to get caught in the middle) plan to overwhelm the Beiderman with kindness and crafts and cooking and music and anything else they can think of that may make him change his mind. Will it work?  As each of their well-intentioned plans go wrong, the kids despair.  They only have eleven days and counting to make the Beiderman realize how wonderful they are…

vanderbeekers audioThe audio recording for The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street is perfect!  The narrator, Robin Miles, has a wonderful voice for both children and adults.  She does a great job creating the voices of people of many different ages from a variety of cultures with accents and cadence.  And each of the Vanderbeeker children sounds different as well, which isn’t always easy to do.

I would highly recommend The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street, as both a book and an audio recording.  Fans of The Penderwicks, the Melendys, and The Moffats will love these siblings just as much.  The kids run from age 4 though age 13, so the book is probably best for third through fifth grade.  The audio could be enjoyed by all ages…parents will probably appreciate the Vanderbeeker children and their desperate quest to save their home just as much as their kids do.

Some similar stories (besides the ones listed above) to read or listen to if you liked The Vanderbeekers:
Magic by the Lake by Edward Eager
Savvy by Ingrid Law
The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
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So if you’re looking for a family story with siblings you’d like to have, look no further than the Vanderbeekers!

If you would like help finding this book or getting any suggestions for other books to read, just ask one of our librarians.  We love to help people find books!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

 

 

Five Books Featuring…Four Sisters!

Little Women, Louisa May Alcott’s classic story featuring sister Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy March has been back in the news these days.  There’s a new PBS series retelling of the classic story, as well as a new web comic featuring a modernized version of the sisters.  But either way, this classic story taking place in nearby Concord Massachusetts, has remained in the public eye since it was first published in 1868 and 1869.  Did you know it was originally published as two volumes…not one book?

At any rate, there are other books featuring four sisters that have been published in the 150 years since the world met Jo and her sisters.  Coming from one of four sisters myself (and my grandmother was also one of four sisters too!) I’ve read all of them.  So here is a new Five Books Featuring Four Sisters!

In case you don’t remember, our 5 Books Featuring are five related Books–One Old, One New, One Popular with Kids, One Well-Reviewed, and One Favorite of library staff–but you’ll have to guess which is which! Each book has a short synopsis and link to the book in the catalog, so you can easily find and request it.

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The Penderwicks: A Summer Tale of Four Sisters, Two Rabbits and a Very Interesting Boy by Jeanne Birdsall
This summer the Penderwick sisters-Rosalind, Skye,  Jane and Batty–have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate in western Massachusetts called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in the whole state. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures.
The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will–won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget.
The Penderwick sisters’ adventures continue in The Penderwicks on Gardam Street, The Pederwicks at Point Mouette, and The Penderwicks in Spring, with the final volume–The Penderwicks at Last coming out in just a few days!

 

The Rules for Stealing Stars by Corey Ann Haydu
Silly is used to feeling left out. Her three older sisters–Eleanor, Astrid and Marla–think she’s too little for most things–especially when it comes to dealing with their mother’s unpredictable moods and outbursts. This summer, Silly feels more alone than ever when her sisters keep whispering and sneaking away to their rooms together, returning with signs that something mysterious is afoot: sporting sunburned cheeks smudged with glitter and gold hair that looks like tinsel.
When Silly is brought into her sisters’ world, the truth is more exciting than she ever imagined. The sisters have discovered a magical place that gives them what they truly need: an escape from the complications of their home life. But there are dark truths there, too. Silly hopes the magic will be the secret to saving their family, but she’s soon forced to wonder if it could tear them apart.
A sister story with a twist of magic, a swirl of darkness, and a whole lot of hope.

 

The Time of the Ghost by Diana Wynne Jones
There’s been an accident!  The girl doesn’t know who she is, and doesn’t know why she’s invisibly floating through the buildings and grounds of a half-remembered boy’s boarding school.
With a little invisible detective work, she decides that she must be the ghost of one of four strange sisters–Cart, Imogen, Sally or Fenella–whose parents run the boarding house at the school.  Is she a ghost though, or is she a time traveler?  It all seems to have something to do with Monigan, the goddess Cart made up a year before. 
The unnamed, bodiless narrator follows the sisters around, trying to discover which one she is, and finds more questions than answers.  What does the Worship of Monigan–a funny game Cart, the oldest sister, made up that has sinister undertones–have to do with her present condition? How is she ever going to get back to her body? And how can she warn the girls about the terrible accident that’s coming?
It took far too long before everyone realized that Monigan was a real goddess, terrible and threatening, and that the ghost was somehow in her power. And it took a sacrifice from everyone before the ghost could discover who she was. But saving her from Monigan would be even more difficult.

Slightly creepier than most of Diana Wynne Jones’ lighthearted, magical books, this one is in the teen collection, but well worth the read!

 

exiles 2The Exiles by Hilary McKay
The four Conroy sisters–Ruth, Naomi, Rachel and Phoebe–knew that they were faced with another boring summer when school ended in a week.  They were quite unprepared for the horrid truth–they were being sent to spend the entire summer with the intimidating Big Grandma at the seaside.
Big Grandma, who is larger than life; she’s tall and eats a lot. She barks orders like a drill sergeant and has dog food in the kitchen (even though she has no dog). She believes the girls are lazy and in need of fresh air and hard work. Big Grandma, who tries to break them of their reading habit by forbidding books.  After the girls have read everything available, including the two books apiece they were allowed to bring and all of Big Grandma’s cookbooks, they set out in search of…alternative entertainment.  If Big Grandma thought she could reform her wayward granddaughters, she was sadly mistaken!  Read the other adventures of the Conroy sisters as well–The Exiles at Home and The Exiles in Love.

 

flutterFlutter: The Story of Four Sisters and an Incredible Journey by Erin Moulton
Maple lives high in the mountains at the end of a dirt road near Canton Creek.  Big things are about to happen at Maple’s house. Mama’s going to have a baby, which means now there will be four Rittle sisters instead of just Dawn, Maple and Beetle.  But when baby Lily is born too early and can’t come home from the hospital, Maple knows it’s up to her to save her sister. So she and Dawn, armed with a map and some leftover dinner, head off down a river and up a mountain to find the Wise Woman who can grant miracles. Now it’s not only Lily’s survival that they have to worry about, but also their own. From the hazards of a raging river to a encounters with a black bear, and poachers, the dangers that Maple and Dawn encounter on their journey makes them realize a thing or two about miracles-and about each other.  A survival story featuring family love, adventure and a touch of magic.


And one extra book featuring just one sister too many:
all of a kind familyAll-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Meet the All-of-a-Kind Family — Ella, Henny, Sarah, Charlotte, and Gertie — who live with their parents in New York City.  It’s the turn of the century in New York’s Lower East Side and a sense of adventure and excitement abounds for five sisters. Follow along as they search for hidden buttons while dusting Mama’s front parlor, or explore the basement warehouse of Papa’s peddler’s shop on rainy days. The five girls enjoy doing everything together, especially when it involves holidays and surprises.  But no one could have prepared them for the biggest surprise of all!  Read more about these sisters in the other All-of-a-Kind titles: More All of a Kind Family, All of a Kind Family Uptown, All of a Kind Family Downtown, and Ella of All of a Kind Family.

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In case you’d like the links to the two versions of Little Women mentioned above, here they are:

The PBS version of Little Women, which will premier in May 2018.

The graphic novel, modernized version of Little Women, available online now.  This serialized version started in March of 2018.

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So if you’re as crazy about novels featuring four sisters as I am, check out these titles.  Even if you don’t have three sisters, you’ll love them!  And, as always, if you need help finding these or any other books at the Library, just ask one of our librarians.  We’re happy to help!

Happy Reading!
::Kelly::

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