, by Leslie Connor
It's crunch time for fourteen-year-old Dewey Marriss in more ways than
one. It seems that fuel supplies have run dry right in the middle of
his parents' annual anniversary trip, which means they are stuck far
away from home. So, Dewey and his older sister Lil are in charge of
their three younger siblings, and all of the chores around the house.
Because of the fuel crunch, there's also a crunch at the family's
bicycle-repair shop, because bikes are the only way to get anywhere
these days. Dewey creatively manages to keep the shop running smoothly,
except that he can't seem to keep track of some of the bike parts.
Concerned that the missing parts reflect badly on him, Dewey is
reluctant to tell anyone… until the night when he catches the thief
is a wholesome read about a lovely family whose five
siblings are extremely responsible, self-reliant, and charming. In
their parents' absence, the children are surrounded by supportive
neighbors and members of the community. The story provides a subtle
environmental message about the dangers of our dependence on fossil
fuels. Some people behave badly during the shortage -- bikes are stolen
from the youngest Marriss children and their father is beaten up by a
person who steals his fuel ration cards. This book would make a great
read-aloud for families with younger children who may particularly enjoy
the escapades of the five-year-old Marriss twins.
, By Carl Hiassen
Noah's dad gets real mad when he finds out that the owner of the Coral
Queen casino boat is illegally flushing raw sewage into the marina basin
and polluting nearby beaches. He is so mad that he sinks the boat and
winds up in jail. When the Coral Queen is quickly repaired and back to
business, sixteen-year-old Noah decides to take matters into his own
hands. With the help of his sister, Abbey, and a few local characters,
Noah formulates an ingenious plan to catch the polluters in the act.
This award winning book is filled with valuable messages about caring
for the environment and standing up for what you believe in. Noah's
mother is angered by the actions of his father (the possibility of
divorce is mentioned), but the family comes together and supports one
another in the end. The siblings' plan to catch the polluters involves
some sneaking out and trespassing, but Noah is very thoughtful about the
environment, refusing to litter and even wading into contaminated water
to scare a sea turtle away from the area. There is some bullying by
the casino boat owner's son, who beats up Noah. Language is mild
My Life in Pink and Green
, by Lisa Greenwald
Twelve-year-old Lucy's mom and grandma own a
struggling small town drug store. When the homecoming queen shows up
with a hair disaster, Lucy is able to help with a quick fix. After word
gets out about her hair and makeup talents, Lucy has a line-up of
makeover clients that she hopes can help boost sales. Her small success
inspires her to her look everywhere for ideas to save the family
business, and to help the environment at the same time. But will her
squabbling family take her seriously enough to really listen?
This is a wholesome and optimistic story. Tweens
may be inspired by twelve-year-old Lucy’s tireless fight to save her
family's business from foreclosure, and her idealistic desire to do it
in a “green” way. The overriding message is about the difference that
one individual really can make in a daunting situation. Much of the
activity centers around the makeovers that Lucy does in the pharmacy,
but she makes a clear point that the makeup she applies doesn’t change
the way a girl looks, but rather how she feels about how she looks --
perhaps a good mother/daughter discussion topic for this age group.
Fara had no idea when she put on mismatched socks one day that it would
change her life in so many ways. Surprisingly, the sixth grader becomes
somewhat of a celebrity at her school and in her town. Soon, more
attention is paid to her socks than to what Fara stands for. The
message she wants to send, and her dreams of becoming student council
president and serving her community, are in jeopardy.
Standing for Socks is a worthwhile and entertaining read. Social
activism is important to the main character, who is a strong
personality with a positive message. Fara embodies standing up for what
you believe in, making a difference in the world, and being a unique
individual. Some mean girl behavior takes place, and one character’s
presidential campaign is sabotaged. The overall message is a very
positive one, and the main female characters are excellent role models.
Tammy and Ken's mother is in the hospital and has
an uncertain future. "Mean" Aunt Yuri, who they have never met, arrives
from Japan to take care of the children while their father attends to
their mother. She takes them to a beach house for the summer, but the
kids don't support the plan and try to make her life as difficult as
they can so she will take them home. But Yuri has some tricks up her
sleeve, and in addition to teaching them a thing or two, she has a
magical talent that Tammy in particular wants to figure out. In the
meantime, there is a nest of sea turtle eggs on the beach in front of
their house that provides the kids with an intriguing distraction while
they try not to dwell on their mother's fate. It might just turn out to
be a great summer after all.
Yuri's Brush with Magic is a lovely and multi-dimensional story
about family, hope, love, and a little bit of magic. In an
age-appropriate way, it tackles many issues that a young person might
encounter, including a serious illness/injury, an estranged family
member, and bullying behavior. It also celebrates family relationships,
conservation, Japanese folklore, and the arts (one character is a
writer, one is an artist, and one wants to be a photojournalist). Ken
and Tammy's mother has been left in a coma after a car accident that
happened prior to the story. Her storyline ends on a hopeful, but not
neatly-wrapped up note, which is reflective of real life. Along the same
line, the turtle's nest is raided by local crabs, and not all of the
eggs hatch. There are several nice little nuggets of wisdom delivered by
adults: "There are two sides to every story," "Pick your battles,"
"I've said things in anger that I don't feel good about now," etc.
There is a bully character who is the summer charge of an equally
small-minded adult. This adult makes one brief ethnic slur ("I've always
said you people can't be trusted"), but it is not the focus of the
conversation, and it will likely go over the heads of most young
readers. This book would be a good choice for an elementary school book
report, or a children's book club.
, by Kathy Reichs
Tory Brennan and her friends Hi, Ben, and Shelton are not your ordinary
teenagers. That's because they were infected by an experimental strain
of parvovirus that forever altered their DNA so that they can tap into
the physical power of wolves. They've spent the last few months learning
to control their abilities and becoming as close as a wolf pack. Now,
state-wide budget cuts are threatening to shut down the Loggerhead
Island Research Institute and put all of their parents out of work. To
prevent the pack from being separated, they have to come up with a plan,
and fast--but they'll need millions of dollars to save the Institute.
So when Tory learns of an old legend about a buried treasure that's
never been found, she rallies the pack to search for clues. Along the
way, they draw the attention of some more ruthless treasure hunters.
Will their special powers be enough to keep them ahead of the
Written by the author whose books inspired the hit television series Bones
blends superhero thriller with pirate lore, and a hint of Indiana Jones
thrown in for good measure, making this second installment in the Virals
trilogy even more entertaining than the first--though the series is
definitely best read in order. Animal lovers will relate to main
character Tory, who is bright and independent. Each of her friends is
highly intelligent and capable, and they work well as a team. Readers
will enjoy the banter between the characters and the authentic dialogue.
The story line involves bits of science and history that are
interesting and accessible. In the process of hunting for treasure, the
kids do a fair amount of breaking and entering and stealing. Their
motivations are purely altruistic as they intend to use whatever booty
they find to fund the veterinary research and animal behavior studies
institute where their parents work. In spite being grounded, Tory sneaks
out quite a bit to do research and search for the treasure. The kids
lives are threatened on occasion by various greedy treasure hunters
wielding guns, and two of these shady characters are killed. There is
some strong language (sh-t, b-tch, a-s, pr-ck, b-stard, do-che)
scattered throughout the book. Fans will look forward to the final book
in the trilogy.
Please visit StorySnoops.com
for our full list of great books featuring conservation as a theme.