Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Eight Keys by Suzanne LaFleur

Eight KeysElise is starting sixth grade and nothing seems to be going right in middle school. Her best friend, Franklin, is embarrassing. Her locker partner, Amanda, makes fun of Elise and smashes her lunch every day. The school work is hard and she's fallen behind. When Elise finds a key hanging in the barn with her name on it, she begins unlocking a puzzle left behind by her deceased father -- literally unlocking, since the puzzle is the contents of the rooms behind eight locked doors upstairs in the barn. Each room helps Elise in her journey to better understand herself and what is important in her life.

I was a bit worried that there would be too many similarities with Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass, when I realized the story was about a puzzle left behind by a dead parent. But, after finishing the book, I think that's about all that was similar. Suzanne LaFleur ties in the awkward changes each preteen experiences when dealing with new friends, old friends, and even includes a confrontation with a bully. Elise uses the messages left to her by her father as a way to accept the new, while still embracing and appreciating the old.

I think readers who appreciate an introspective story will enjoy this one. B rating.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Daytona 500: The Thrill and Thunder of the Great American Race by Nancy Roe Pimm

The Daytona 500: The Thrill and Thunder of the Great American RaceThe Daytona 500 gives readers a history of the Daytona race and how it developed into one of NASCAR's premier races. It also highlights major drivers and notable events. I like how the information is basic enough for those that don't know much about NASCAR, but also provides some information on the changes in design, engines, etc. over the years that will also appeal to fans of the sport. Great use of colorful photographs and includes a glossary of NASCAR terms. B rating.