Sunday, November 11, 2012

Give This Stand Alone Book a Try!

I know that parents, and kids, love book series.  They take away the uncertainty and stress of what to read next.  They also allow the author to build on a bigger story line.

However, there are some really lovely books that are simply one shot wonders.  The story only needs one book to be told, and that book is thorough and well developed.  I worry that these books will get lost because they are not a part of something larger.  Can one gem stand out in a sea of series?  I hope so, and this week I will champion their cause.

So here are my books for the week.  When you are done, you will be satisfied and look back on the book with fondness.  But then it is time to move on - to the next book on the list!

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Title:        When Life Gives You O.J.

Author:    Erica S. Perl

Target:     Grades 4-6

Series:      No

What this book is about:
Zelly really really really wants a dog.  Did I mention she wants a dog?   However, her parents are not too keen on the idea.  In steps Ace (otherwise known as Grandpa) who gets Zelly to buy into his hair brained scheme of a “practice dog,” which is really just an OJ carton with a dog face drawn on it.  Zelly must treat this OJ carton like a real dog, taking it for walks/drags (lack of legs), scooping up its poop, making sure it is taken care of, in hopes that this may convince her parents to replace it with the real thing.

Why I love this book:
First of all the premise is wonderful.  I love the message in this book that sometimes you must commit all the way if you really want something.  Kids (and frankly adults) get so easily embarrassed to go for what they want, that I like telling kids if something is important to you, sometimes you have to take a risk.

I also loved the grandpa, Ace.  He is a larger than life character in this book, even the type on his dialogue is IN ALL CAPS.  He is a character that doesn’t disappoint.  

This book has a unique focus on Jewish culture.  Zelly is one of the only Jewish girls in her community, and she is both proud and challenged by this fact.  It is one of the few books I have read in recent memory (Beyond Lucky being the other) that focuses on this cultural diversity.  Plus this shiksa learned a lot of great yiddish phrases.

Who this book is for:
Anyone who really wants a dog! 

Final thoughts:
Families can really drive each other nuts!

To purchase this book, click here for a link to Amazon:  When Life Gives You O.J.  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:        Remarkable

Author:    Lizzie Foley

Target:     Grades 3 to 6

Series:      No

What this book is about:
What do you do if you live in a town called Remarkable where every person is talented and gifted but you?  When someone starts sabotaging the new bell tower in town, surprisingly it is the most unremarkable people who make the biggest difference in preserving the best things about the town.  And did I mention the pirates, the evil twins and the sea monster!

Why I love this book:
I zipped through this book and really enjoyed it,  but after I was done I was concerned that it might not play as well with its intended audience.  It is certainly quirky and hilarious, but in a more intelligent way.  I had my very picky ten year old read it.  He got off to a slow start, but then the story just took off for him and I found him reading it first thing in the morning because he couldn’t wait to see what would happen.  Well then I was sold!  The quirkiness of the story and characters, as well as the deadpan humor of our main character Jane Doe (she is the unremarkable one, get it) really does play with kids as much as adults.

Who this book is for:
Well if a picky ten year old enjoyed it, I would say give it try!

Final thoughts:
Those considered the least remarkable can do the most amazing things!

To purchase this book, click here for a link to Amazon: Remarkable  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

Title:        The Secret Tree

Author:    Natalie Standiford

Target:    Grades 4 - 6

Series:     No

What this book is about:
Minty Mortimer is enjoying hanging out with her friends the summer before 6th grade.  One day she sees a flash in the woods next to her house and when she follows the boy who made the flash, she finds an unusual tree.  This tree holds the secrets of people who live in her town.  This boy and Minty end up spending the summer trying to find out who each secret belongs to, but will Minty ever find out the boy’s secret?

Why I love this book:
I just thought this was a lovely book.  What you find is that each secret can apply to so many people, and the message in the book feels like we all aren’t so different on the inside, even if it feels like it on the outside.  I also really liked the main character Minty.  She is struggling with friendships and popular girls, but she never forgets who she is at her core, which is a nice message for girls.

What will draw reader in is the guilty pleasure of learning other peoples inner most thoughts.   And the book reads like a mystery as Minty and Raymond hunt down which secret belongs to which person.  The writing is strong and while the mysteries seem obvious to an adult, I think kids will enjoy the hunt.

Who this book is for:
I would lean more towards a girl book simply because I think girls are more  interested in secret keeping.

Final thoughts:
We all have to be reminded sometimes that there is more going on in someones life than we are aware of.

To purchase this book, click here for a link to Amazon: The Secret Tree  A portion of each purchase goes to support this blog.

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