Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Diamond of Drury Lane by Julia Golding

The Theater Royal on Drury Lane is the only home that Cat Royal has ever known. Left there as an infant, the owner and staff took her in. Smart and adventurous, Cat often finds herself in tricky situations. Believing a diamond to be hidden in the theater, Cat soon finds herself the target of a ruthless street gang, the keeper of a life-threatening secret, and friend to a couple of high-society youth. This is an action-packed mystery full of twists and turns as well as a cast of fun characters. Cat, herself, is likable and well worth cheering for. This is an A+ mystery for older kids.

Peak by Roland Smith

When Peak Marcello is caught climbing a skyscraper in New York City it looks like he may be experiencing less friendly skies for awhile (or no sky at all!). However, when his estranged father offers him the opportunity to climb Everest together and rigs it so Peak doesn't have to serve any time if he leaves the country with his father, Peak jumps at the opportunity. Peak quickly learns that this climb comes with strings attached and that his father isn't in it just so he can spend some time with his son. In the course of facing this incredibly difficult physical challenge, Peak learns a lot about himself, his father, the family he left behind in the States, and the direction he wants to take his life. This title has plenty of gripping action to keep the interest of even wary readers and the intriguing characters make it even more appealing.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Birds by Kevin Henkes; illus. by Laura Dronzek

As a huge Kevin Henkes fan, I was surprised (and a little dismayed) to discover that his latest offering is illustrated by Donzek (who also illustrated his title, "Oh!"). However, my disappointment quickly disappeared. This is a lovely title that perfectly captures birds from a child's perspective. My favorite pages of the book show many birds sitting in a row on a wire: "Once I saw seven birds on the telephone wire. They didn't move and they didn't move and they didn't move. I looked away for just a second ..." The reader turns the page and sees... a single thick black line running across two empty pages and the words, "and they were gone." That's just how it is with birds. Hundreds can be spread out in front of you and, blink, they are gone! The pictures do an excellent job expanding on the text throughout the story and are paced just right to supply the reader with several "Aha" moments. Just right for even the youngest bird enthusiasts.