Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Sarah and the Naked Truth by Elisa Carbone

Sarah and the Naked Truth
Sarah and her two best friends -- Olivia and Christina -- each find herself in a situation where she must decide how much of the truth to tell. Is it worth rocking the boat to tell all or is it better to leave things as is?

From that description, Sarah and the Naked Truth sounds like a story that preaches to you, and that's far from the truth. Sarah and friends act like normal kids -- they play together, have fun, but aren't perfect. I loved how situations that could have been disastrous are turned into a funny, sometimes silly, happening.

The intended audience is a bit younger than middle schoolers, but I can see it being popular with 4th-5th graders. I give it a solid 'B.'

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Do Animals Have Rights? by Yolanda Brooks (Global Questions)

Do Animals Have Rights? (Global Questions)
Do Animals Have Rights? is one book in the Global Questions series from Black Rabbit Books. In this volume, the issue of animal rights is broken down into seven basic areas -- the meaning of animal rights (including the history of the animal rights movement), animal rights issues in farming, animals used in research, the sport of hunting, pets or companion animals, conservation organizations (including zoos and game preserves), and the use of animals in entertainment (circuses, rodeos, bull fights).

 The author attempts to present both sides of each example in the issue, but more attention is given to the pro-animal rights reasonings. Also, most of the photos and illustrations throughout the book support give a nod to this side as well. It's not something that surprises me in a book on this topic, but I generally like to see a fair representation of both sides of a controversial issue.

I did like the visual presentation of this book, with just enough color photographs and graphics on the page to keep it interesting. Students writing a report on this topic, will find this attractive and be able to obtain useful information (at least from the pro side) on this issue. I give it a C.

The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney by Lauren Barnholdt

The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney
Recently, I was discussing YA fiction with an acquaintance and we ended up talking about the "big lie." You know, how the teen tells what he/she thinks is a tiny white lie to make life easier in the short run, but ends up causing a whole lot of trouble in the long run? Well, The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney is one of *those* stories.

Devon is staying with her grandmother for the summer, and while there, meets a fabulous new friend, Lexi. In order to get Lexi to like her better, Devon makes up stories about her life back home. (She's super popular, dating the cutest guy in school, and always dresses in the latest fashions.)Things go downhill fast when Devon discovers that Lexi has moved to her hometown. How will she ever get Lexi to believe all the lies she told over the summer?

The Secret Identity of Devon Delaney will appeal to teens wanting a flirty friendship story, with just a dash of romance. It's a predictable tale, where girl tells lies to make friend, friend shows up in hometown, girl devises all kinds of crazy antics to get friend to believe lies. We all know that telling lies on top of lies will only make it worse when it's all revealed, and it WILL be eventually. This story is no exception. I do like the mom's common sense way of handling the issue when her daughter confesses all her wrongdoing.

Overall, it's a cute, fluffy story that'll catch the eye of many a teen, but nothing special. I give it a C.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling (The Seven Kingdoms Trilogy, #1)
In my quest to read all the books on the Texas Lone Star list this summer, I decided to start with Kristin Cashore's Graceling. It's a fantasy, which is one of my favorite genres, AND I've heard lots and lots of good things about this book.

Katsa's a graceling, which means she's extraordinary skillful in one area. For some gracelings, it means being a fantastic cook or a talented athlete, but Katsa's happens to be killing. She's an enforcer for her uncle, the King of the Middlins, and carries out his orders of punishment for those that get on his bad side. Most people have been afraid of Katsa, since she accidentally killed one of her cousins who threatened her when she was eight years old. Her only friends are her cousin, Prince Raffin, Oll, the captain of the guard, and Giddon, a Lord of the court. With these friends, Katsa forms The Council, and they secretly work to right the injustices they see in the Middluns and elsewhere.

One night, while carrying out a mission for The Council, Katsa comes across another Graceling, and the first person that could match her in battle. Katsa is fated to encounter this other Graceling again, when he arrives at King Ratsa's court. He is Prince Po, son of the Lienid king. After Katsa defies her uncle and leaves the court, she and Po journey together, rescue a young princess, and become friends which soon leads to something more.

Graceling entices the reader with intriguing characters, non-stop action, and a compelling story. It only took a few pages for the story to engage my interest, and I didn't want the story to end. I was slightly disappointed with Katsa's unwavering decision to never marry, and how the other characters seemed to accept it with hardly a protest. I understood her decision logically, but my emotional side wasn't quite so willing to accept it. That's so minor though, for an otherwise exciting and satisfying read.

I give it a B+.