The Brilliant World of Tom Gates (Book #1) by Liz Pichon
Candlewick, 2014, 256 pages
From the UK, this book tries hard to be like the Wimpy Kid, but I found Tom to be a little too
mean and disrespectful to his family, schoolmates and even his teachers for the sake of a joke or
prank. It is written in diary form, and Tom's voice is light and breezy, and there's lots of doodles.
Kids will definitely find an probably like this book.
Voices from the Oregon Trail by Kay Winters, illustrated by Larry Day
Dial, 2014, 48 pages
Written in free verse, this picture book for older readers (age 7+) tells the story of a wagon train heading to Oregon from the perspective of different people heading west, young and old. The only thing that kept this from being a 5 star book is that everyone sounds the same, even the American Indian boy
watching the wagon train pass by. Too bad, because the illustrations are wonderful
Sabotage by Karen Autio
Sono Nis Press, 2014, 293 pages
This is the last book in a trilogy about Finnish immigrants living in Port Arthur, Canada. It is now 1915
and Canada is at war. The story is told by brother and sister John and Saara in alternating chapters. John begins to suspect that there are German saboteurs in their midst, even as Saara befriends a young
German girl. The story is slow and by the time I finally got to the action, I had basically lost interest.
I did not read the two previous books in the trilogy, but Sabotage does stand alone.
Upside Down In the Middle of Nowhere by Julie T. Lamana
Chronicle Books, 2014, 320 pages
It is almost Armani Curtis's 10th birthday and the celebration is going to be big. Only problem - a hurricane named Katrina is on its was to New Orleans and the Ninth Ward where Armani lives. Unable to evacuate because of Armani's birthday party, Katrina leaves not just destruction in her wake, but also heartbreak for Armani and her family. Realistic and gripping, despite a few narrative flaws.
The Great Greet Heist by Varian Johnson
Arthur A. Levine Books, 2014, 245 pages
Eight grader Jackson Greene has given up his life of crime and cons, that is until he discovers that
wealthy Keith Sinclair is out to steal the election for School President from Gaby de la Cruz so he can funnel money into his favorite activities. Enter Jackson to save the day with his biggest con yet. This is an OK novel, which gained some popularity for its very diverse cast of characters.
Out of the Blue by Alison Jay
Barefoot Books, 2014, 32 pages
I love a wordless book that invites young readers to use their imagination and this one really does the job. Whimsical oil painted illustrations depict a day spent at the beach in the company of a boy and his dog who live in a lighthouse with his family and provides ample material for exploring beach and sea life.
Knockout Games by G. Neri
Carolrhoda Books, 2014, 304 pages
If you know this book, you may wonder why I gave such a violent novel a 5 star rating. I found this to be a difficult book to read, but it certainly made me think. New to St. Louis, Erica, a 15 year old white girl, finds she is quite a talented videographer. She gets involved with some black kids who like to play the knockout game and watching themselves on video later. Erica feels detached from the consequences of this game until it turns deadly. This is a book that will may make you feel uncomfortable when it addresses issues of racism, sex, and crime, but it is written so honestly, it can't help but make the reader think about things in a different way.