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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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Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Truce: the Day the Soldiers Stopped Fighting

Truce

This book is the story of what took place in December, 1914 during World War I. At that time there were two sides fighting. On one side was the German army, and on the other side was Britain and France. They had been foughting for a long time, and a lot of men on both sides died, but neither side could gain any ground.  Each side had dug a trench, an actual ditch, that stretched for miles and miles and miles. The two trenches ran parallel to each other.

The soldiers on both sides lived in the trenches. The land in between the trenches was called “No Man’s Land.” Kind of like kids playing, “you don’t you cross this line!” The two sides would clash in No Man’s Land, kill each other, and then retreat into their trenches. This went  on and on and on for months.

The men on both sides were cold and hungry and sick. The trenches were so close to each other, the two sides could sometimes hear each other talking. Isn’t that weird? It sounds like a game, only this wasn’t a game and the guns were real.

On Christmas Day in 1914 several groups of troops, from both sides, arranged a truce. They actually came out of their trenches into No Man’s Land and shook hands, exchanged presents and sang songs together. This was highly forbidden by the commanders, but the soldiers did it anyway. Even if the political leaders and the commanders weren’t done with the war, the soldiers fighting it were.

The Chrismas Day Truce didn’t last, and the war went on for four more years after that, but it did make a statement. It’s a great book to read in honor of Christmas Day – peace on earth, good will toward men.

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The Lost Conspiracy

The Lost Conspiracy

The Lost Conspiracy

Hathin lives in a village on Gullstruck, a primitive island. Her people, the Lace, smile all the time no matter what they are feeling, and decorate their teeth with jewels. They also worship the volcanoes on the island. The Lace are not trusted or liked by the other island villages.

Most of the people on the island are regular people, but a select few are known as “Lost.” The Lost can do something really incredible. They can send their senses away from their bodies. Meet one, named Raglan Skein:

It was a burnished, cloudless day with a tug-of-war wind, a fine day for flying. And so Raglan Skein left his body neatly laid out on his bed, its breath as slow as sea swell, and took to the sky.

He took only his sight and hearing with him….Like all Lost, he had been born with his senses loosely tethered to his body, like a hook on a fishing line. He could let them out, then reel them in and remember all the places his mind had visited meanwhile.

Hathin’s siter, Arilou, might be a Lost. Might. Arilou doesn’t speak anything other people can understand. She mumbles gibberish and Hathin translates. The trouble is, Hathin has been making stuff up – she doesn’t now what Arilou is saying either, if anything. Hathin has been pretending because having a Lost in their village is good for the Lace, it makes the other people on the island like them more. Things get tense when an inspector comes to verify Arilou’s talents. Just how is Hathin going to pass these tests?

Hathin is saved from even having to try when a mysterious illness strikes every single Lost, an illness that makes them instantly drop dead. All of them, at the exact same moment, wherever they are on the island. All of them, that is, except Arilou. So, does that make her a fake, or really, really special? Nobody has time to figure that out because the Lace village is blamed for the plague that hit the Lost and is burned to the ground. Hathin and Arilou flee for their lives and this is when the action and the mystery gets really, really interesting.

Why did all of the Lost die at the same time? If Arilou really IS a Lost, why did she survive? Who would benefit from having the Lost gone? Who would want to get rid of the entire Lace village and why? As the girls flee through the jungle they meet up with some surprising allies who each have stories to tell about the evil that is infecting the island. Evil that feeds on prejudice, intolerance and hate. Evil that will resort to anything, even murder, to set a plan in motion. The problem is, no one can put a face or a name to the evil. It’s like a master puppeteer is orchestrating the show but isn’t seen on stage…who is it? As Hathin and her allies work through theories and follow leads this invisibile evil becomes all the more terrifying. One of my favorite books of the year. Author: Francis Hardinge

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Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd and the Frost Giants

Odd, what a name. The poor kid. He’s unlucky too. His Dad is dead and his mother has re-married someone Odd doesn’t like (and the feeling is mutual). He’s lame because a tree fell on him and most people around him think he’s useless because of that. And to top if off, Spring won’t come. Odd’s town has had winter stretching on for days with no sign of better weather. One day Odd decides to head to a cabin of his father’s in the woods. He’s had it with the frustrations in his life and figures anywhere is better than where he’s at.

In the woods a fox leads Odd to a bear stuck in a tree. There is also an eagle circling over the bear. After freeing the bear Odd discovers that the three animals are traveling together. They are really the Norse gods Thor, Loki and Odin. A Frost Giant has trapped the gods in animal bodies and is also responsible for the winter weather in Odd’s village.

Odd decides that THIS is the something better he’s been searching for, an adventure.  He sets out to confront the trouble making Frost Giant and set things right. Author: Neil Gaiman

If you liked Odd and the funny, bickering Thor, Loki and Odin, read more about them:
D'Aulaires' book of Norse myths Thor's Wedding Day Islands of the Blessed ds and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse

Gods and Goddesses of the Ancient Norse

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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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