13 year-old Lyza lives in New Jersey in 1968 with her Dad and her hippie sister. Lyza’s mother has abandoned the family and they are trying to keep it together with just the three of them. As Lyza says about the time since her mom left, “our family began to unravel/like a tightly wound ball of string.” This book is written as a series of poems that make Lyza’s experiences seem even more real. It’s kind of like reading her diary or listening in on her thoughts.
Lyza’s grandfather’s death is another emotional blow for a family already on the edge. While cleaning out his house, Lyza discovers something curious, an envelope labeled, “for Lyza only.” In the envelope are old maps and clues that may lead to the pirate treasure of Capt. Kidd – a treasure that might be buried somewhere in Lyza’s hometown.
Lyza recruits her best friends Malcolm and Carolann to help her understand the clues and old maps. The kids operate in secret, doing their research by day and sneaking out at night to do their digging.
For Lyza, there are some mysteries she can’t solve by herself, like the reason her mother left. Other mysteries, like the whereabouts of Captain Kidd’s treasure, she just might be able to unravel with the help of a few good friends.
This story is set during the Vietnam war. Lyza has a lot of loss around her. Her mom has left, her Grandpa dies and boys from her town are dying in the war. All of this could make a person sink into despair, but instead, Lyza chooses to be alive. She chooses to grab the adventure that is handed to her. I really liked that about her. Life is unpredictable and sometimes very hard. But it IS life and life has all kinds of wonderful things and good surprises in it too. You can’t really have one without the other. I liked reading about a girl who is learning how to handle both. Author: Jen Bryant
Susan, Roy, Henry & Emma live in Iowa. It’s summer, it’s hot and they’re bored. They do have bikes though, so they take off exploring. They really don’t expect to have much happen, but riding bikes is at least more interesting than sitting on the porch bored and hot. Imagine their surprise when they find a mysterious brick wall rising up out of the middle of a cornfield.
The kids try to think of all the different reasons the wall might be there. Thinking about this is at least interesting and something to do, but the sun is still hot. The kids are hot. The kids are thirsty. One of them wishes for a root beer float and suddenly the kids find themselves transported to a diner…serving root beer floats! Now this is a discovery!
Through trial and error the kids figure out the rules that make the wishing wall work. They find that they can wish their way through time or space. Each friend takes a turn making a wish and crazy adventures follow. Whenever magic is concerned, it’s always important to keep in mind, “be careful what you wish for!” I thought it was a nice change of pace to read a magical story where the fate of mankind doesn’t hang in the balance…a kind of magic that makes a root beer float appear when you really need one!
In the story, the kids like the Edward Eager Half Magic series of books. These are real books that you can read too. In the Hal f Magic books, bored kids find a magic coin. The problem with the coin is you only get half your wish, so lots of crazy adventures happen. Author: Laurel Snyder
If you like this one, you also might like The Penderwicks. There isn’t any magic in the Penderwick books but the kids have fun adventures anyway riding their bikes, exploring and doing the things kids do when there aren’t adults around…because if you aren’t out on your bike exploring with your friends, you’ll never find a magic coin or a magic brick wall!
The ninth book in a series of fifteen books/the first book in a mid-series trilogy, and a great book with a clever plot. Author: Kathryn Lasky Reveiwer: Keithen
I have read several books by Kathryn Lasky but had never heard of this series until Keithen turned in this review. (I guess librarians just don’t know everything!) If there are fifteen books in the series kids must like these books! The main characters are owls. Interesting! Here is a description of the series from the publisher:
“Out of the darkness, heroes will rise…Soren, Gylfie, Twilight, and Digger are an unlikely band of heroes. They have come together from different kingdoms to fight a fiecrce, mysterious enemy. Together, the four friends have traveled to the Grat Ga’Hoole Tree to train with a mythic community of owls who rise nightly to perform noble deeds. Soon they will have the wisdom and bravery required to destroy the evil that lurks in their midst.”
Friends, danger, heroes, destroying evil…sounds really, good, I’m going to put this one on hold.
I think Holes was excellent. It was well written, and had a good plot. I especially liked how the story all tied together. Two thumbs up.
I agree with Elease, Holes is excellent! Here is a summary from the online catalog: “As further evidence of his family’s bad fortune which they attribute to a curse on a distant relative, Stanley Yelnats is sent to a correctional camp in the Texas desert where he finds his first real friend, a treasure, and a new sense of himself.” Holes won the Newbery Medal in 1999 – along with a whole bunch of other awards. In 2003 Louis Sachar gave the Indianapolis McFadden Lecture. Kids lined up for hours to have him sign their books. He was a really good sport too and stayed until the line was finished. Author: Louis Sachar
I think that this book was a good perspective on what dreams and future you can have if you just believe in yourself. Think about what the two people in this story are trying too tell you about their life. Author: Cristina Kessler Reviewed by Amanda
I haven’t read this one, but here is a summary from the online catalog: “Ignoring her parents’ wishes, as well as the customary place of women in Timbuktu society, twelve-year-old Ayisha joins her twin brother in trying to stop a pair of tourists from stealing an ancient manuscript.”
Trouble in Timbuktu sounds good and I think I’ll take Amanda’s advice and put that one on hold. I would like to learn about Timbuktu – which is actually a real place. It is a city in the West African nation of Mali. It’s not just an imaginary far away place, like when we sarcastically describe someplace as, “in Timbuktu!” – meaning – really, really far away.