Category Archives: Kid Life

Wild Things

Wild Things

Wild Things

Zoe is eleven and she’s tough as nails. She’s taken care of herself for as long as she can remember because the grown-ups in her life have either been gone (her dad) or unreliable (her mom, and her mom’s string of boyfriends).

Zoe knows how to grocery shop, vacuum, scrub toilets, do laundry, drive a stickshift & place bets at the track. What she doesn’t know, is how to be a kid.

Now, Zoe’s Mom is dead and the next person in line to take care of her is an old Uncle she never even knew she had, Uncle Henry. Zoe isn’t expecting much. She figures this new grown-up will probably be just as useless as all the others before him. “What grown-ups said and what they actually did never matched or even came close.”

But this grown-up, this Uncle Henry, he’s different. He’s the first trustworthy adult Zoe has ever met. Sometimes he’s so competent and reliable he makes her really mad – like when he makes her go to school. Zoe’s been in charge of herself for so long it’s hard for her to let Uncle Henry be in charge. And Uncle Henry, he’s been alone for so long it’s hard for him to be in charge of somebody else.

The two of them are independent, moody, stubborn, smart…and they both need a family. So they make one: the street smart, sarcastic, wise-cracking Zoe and the reclusive, grizzly old doctor turned metal sculptor. With their good friends Fred & Bessie, Maud, Father Phillip and Zoe’s teacher Ms. Avery, a stray cat and a mysterious boy – Sugar Hill, North Carolina turns out to be a really fine place to grow up. Author: Clay Carmichael

If you like Uncle Henry Zoe, here some more stories about kids that find a new home and new life after living with unreliable, even neglectful grown-ups:
Pictures of Hollis Woods Waiting for Normal Missing May The Great Gilly Hopkins
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Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4: Dog Days

Diary of a Wimpy Kid 4: Dog Days

Dog Days

Yes, this one is just as funny as the other ones! This time Greg is happily looking forward to summer vacation.

The way I like to spend my summer vacation is in front of the TV, playing video games with the curtains closed and the lights turned off.”

You know Greg’s Mom, she isn’t going to go for that plan. In fact, she has all kind of things lined up to keep Greg busy and none of her choices include staying inside playing video games. He tries to reason with her:

I tell her that I’m just trying to protect my skin so I don’t look all wrinkly when I’m old like her…”

Huh. Of course, that argument doesn’t go very far with Greg’s Mom! He doesn’t get to laze in front of the TV all summer playing video games, he is forced outdoors and as usual, he finds a heap of trouble.

Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series:
#1: Greg Heffley’s Journal on CDeBook
#2: Rodrick Rules on CDeBook
#3: The Last Straw on CDeBook
#4: Dog Days on CDeBook
#5: The Ugly Truth on CDeBook
#6: Cabin Fever on CDeBook
#7: The Third Wheel on CD
#8: Hard Luck

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Everything for a Dog

Everything for a Dog

Everything for a Dog

In A Dog’s Life: the Autobiograpy of a Stray, Ann Martin wrote about Squirrel, a stray dog. It’s a really emotional look into the life of a dog as it struggles to find the right home. If you liked that one, you will surely like Everything for a Dog. It is the story of Squirrel’s brother, Bone.

Bone’s story is also the story of two boys: Charlie and Henry. The chapters alternate between the three as Bone and the two boys tell their stories. Charlie is having a tough time because his older brother RJ died and his parents are all but falling apart. His only consolation is RJ’s dog Sunny, who has attached herself Charlie. Henry is a boy without a dog, and he wants one more than anything. Bone just needs a home. As the stories of the three unfold they don’t really seem related, except that they are about the attachments that occur between people and their pets.

Toward the end of the book the stories of Charlie, Henry & Bone come together in a really surprising way that fits just right. I love it when a story does that and it’s even better when I don’t see it coming. If you have ever wanted or loved a dog this story will speak to you. Author: Ann M. Martin

More books for dog lovers:
A Dog's Life: the Autobiography of a Stray Shioh The Underneath Cracker: the Best Dog in Vietnam
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Adam Canfield the Last Reporter

Adam Canfield the Last Reporter

Adam Canfield the Last Reporter

Adam Canfield, his best friend Jennifer, and their crackerjack newspaper staff are fighting to keep their school newspaper, The Slash, alive. Plenty of the adults in their town appreciate the journalism of The Slash but there are a couple powerful adults who have made sure the school will not pay to print The Slash anymore. (They didn’t much like The Slash publishing stories that exposed their bad behavior.)

Adam and Jennifer decide that their only option is to publish the paper themselves. Stories they have lined up are just too good to let go:  what might be inflated state school test scores, a class president candidate that is buying votes by giving out free music downloads and a bicycle thief. To get these stories to the public Adam and Jennifer turn to the Ameche brothers, two street smart kid entrepreneurs who know how to turn a dollar into two dollars.

The Ameche brothers begin their fundraising by selling ads in The Slash. Adam and Jennifer can’t believe how fast the money comes in, until they realize the Ameches have been selling ads in exchange for favorable mentions in the paper – a practice that violates the ethical rules of The Slash. Much to the brothers’ disbelief, Adam and Jennifer turn the money down. After a quick lesson in journalistic ethics the Ameche brothers start over, but can they raise enough money in time?

Adam and Jennifer are just as smart and funny as ever. An interesting side story that I really liked is the profile Adam writes for the paper about staff member Shadow. Adam visits Shadow’s special education class as well as Shadow’s after school job. Adam interviews Shadow and the people who know him best to reveal a three dimensional personality who has a talent for proof-reading and fact checking. Author: Michael Winerip

Adam Canfield Series:

#1: Adam Canfield of the Slash on CD, Downloadable eBook or eAudiobook
#2: Adam Canfield Watch Your Back on CD
#3: Adam Canfield The Last Reporter on CD

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Operation Yes

Operation Yes

Operation Yes

This is a story about kids that live on a military base and attend school there.  Bo’s Dad is the commander on the base where Bo’s family lives. The base is in the US, so for now, Bo doesn’t have to worry about his Dad. But Bo lives with the reality that this could change, his Dad could be deployed to Afghanistan at any moment. Bo’s cousin Gari is also a military kid. Gari’s mom is a military nurse and has been sent to Iraq, so for the time being, Gari is living with Bo’s family.

Bo and Gari are both in the sixth grade and have Miss Loupe for their teacher. Miss Loupe knows all about army brats (that’s what people call kids whose parents are in the military). Miss Loupe knows about army brats because she teaches them and because she was one. Her brother is in Afghanistan so she knows about the worry her students feel too.

On the first day of school the kids realize Miss Loupe isn’t your average teacher. (And it’s not just her tatoos!) They don’t know what to expect when she walks in the room and begins taping off a large rectangle on the floor at the front of the class. She doesn’t even say anything, just gets down on the floor and starts taping. The kids learn that the tape rectangle is an imaginary stage and that Miss Loupe doesn’t want to be the only one on it. Drama and improv (short for improvisation – which is a kind of acting where there is no script, the actors just make it up as they go) are techniques Miss Loupe uses in her class to teach skills – even math and science, subjects not usually associated with drama.

The students learn to express themselves when they are called to “the stage”. The improv stage helps them learn to think on their feet and try really hard to say what they mean. As the year progresses the class and Miss Loupe become successful in their studies and close as a group.

When Miss Loupe’s brother goes missing in Afghanistan, the kids lose their energentic engaged teacher. Miss Loupe becomes distant and sad and sometimes she doesn’t even come to school. The kids understand why. What Miss Loupe is gong through is the very situation each one of them worries about. The kids decide that it is their job to bring Miss Loupe back by focusing all their energies on their soldier relatives and what they can do to support them. Working on their own, the kids cook up an elaborate, imaginative plan to help Miss Loupe, themselves, and their military community face the worries of war together. The kids use their new drama skills to stage a very surprising production.

I really liked Bo and Gari, Miss Loupe and the other kids in the class. I liked them because none of them were perfect. Even Miss Loupe. It is really clear that she is a great teacher and the kids love her, but she has her troubles too, just like all the kids in the class. I like characters that are a balance of their strengths and weaknesses. I don’t want to just see the good parts because people aren’t really like that.

Miss Loupe’s improvisation activities help the kids learn  how to adapt to changes they can’t predict. That’s a skill each one of them needs, because in their lives, you just never know. The kids never could have predicted that Miss Loupe would have such a life altering event, but when this unexpected thing DOES happen, they are able to use their best skills to come up with a plan and implement it – that is moving forward even when things are tough and you don’t think you can. Author: Sara Holmes

If you liked getting to know these military kids you might also like to read about Piper Reed, she’s a Navy brat.

#1: Piper Reed Navy Brat
#2: Piper Reed the Great Gypsy
#3: Piper Reed Gets a Job

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