Penelope Lumley, a student at the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Females, is on her way to a new life. Penelope is old enough to leave the Academy and make a life for herself. She has answered an ad for Governess:
Wanted Immediately: energetic Governess for Three Lively Children Knowledge of French, Latin, History, Etiquette, Drawing, and Music will be Required – Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred.
Once she arrives at the country estate she undergoes a very strange interview and hears some very strange noises that no one wants to explain. In fact, everyone wants to act as if the noises are not happening at all. Weirder still, no one will introduce her to the children.
Penelope is a girl that gets things done. She also knows a noise when she hears one. Not one to stand around when there is something curious to investigate, Penelope follows the strange noises to the barn. In the dim light of the barn she hears something rustling and sees shining eyes in one of the stalls. A small pony maybe? A lamb? A dog? Nope. The shining eyes belong to three children huddled in the dark staring at her with the eyes of wild animals.
Experience with Animals Strongly Preferred. You think! Some kids might act like little wild animals, but these children, well, they really are! Penelope sets out to teach them how to act like little ladies and gentlemen in time for a holiday ball. That means wearing clothes. That means walking upright. That means eating with utensils. That means NOT howling! It also means paying attention to Penelope’s lessons and not being distracted by squirrels. (These kids are a lot like Dug the talking dog in the movie Up “SQUIRREL!”)
A funny look at the trouble one girl takes on when she tries to teach some little wild things how to hobnob in high society. If you like A Series of Unfortunate Events give this one a try. The humor is very similar and the characters just as outrageous. Ahwoooooooooooo! Author: Maryrose Wood
When Steven “Steel” Trapp repeats something from memory, you can bet it’s accurate.
“His father didn’t challenge the accuracy of his son’s memory. Neither did his teachers. In fact, it had been a teacher who’d given him the nickname “Steel” because young Steven ‘had a mind like a steel trap.’ He never forgot anything. He was something of a freak, but he’d come to live with it.” (page 4)
Steel is like Sticky Washington in The Mysterious Benedict Society. If he sees or hears or reads something, he remembers it. It sticks, just like Sticky. This photographic memory makes school pretty easy. This school year, Steel’s FBI agent dad has enrolled him in a fancy boarding school. Steel isn’t quite sure why his dad his picked this particular school, especially after he runs into his friend Kaileigh there also. Coincidence? I dont think so!
It doesn’t take Steel and Kaileigh long to discover there is something oddly secretive about some of the classes at the school…like classes in how to shoot darts with a blowgun. Find THAT in the course catalog! And when Steel tries to talk to his Dad about it all his Dad will say is, “it will all become apparent.” Yeesh. Parents. If they can’t get answers out of the grown-ups, then Steel and Kaileigh decide to do some investigating of their own. They sneak out to follow people, listen in on conversations, find secret panels that lead to secret passages, wear disguises and more. With the help of Steel’s Roommate Verne, they even do a little hacking. All in the day of your kid spy in training.
Steel is resourceful and persistant. He’s curious and just a little bit relentless. He also thinks Kaileigh is pretty OK. More than Ok actually. Spying with just a little bit of romance. Author: Ridley Pearson
You can read about how Steel and Kaileigh first met in Steel Trapp: The Challenge. You also might like Max Cassidy, the kids in STORM or Alex Rider. All of them are also seasoned agents who have “the kid edge.” Nobody expects kids to be experts at anything, especially spying. If you like Kaileight in particular, try STORM, one of the operatives there is Gaia, like Kaileigh she can speak several languages, but she’s also a chemist – she blows stuff up!
When Allie’s friend’s big sister enters the regional Twirltacular baton twirling competition, Allie can’t wait to go see the spectacle of so many talented girls in glittery costumes.
But then her mom goes and ruins her plans be promising that she will attend her arch enemy Brittany Hauser’s birthday party. How could she make these plans without asking Allie first!
Allie’s pretty mad until she finds out the party is at Glitterati, a store that hosts birthday parties where girls can dress up and act like a model. And a stretch limo is taking the girls there. And they get to eat at a fancy restaurant. And they get to spend the night at a fancy hotel! Allie decides she can put up with Brittany just long enough to enjoy the benefits of her ooh lah lah once-in-a-lifetime party.
The problem…how to tell her friends that she is choosing the fancy party over them. Blame Mom! Problem solved! Except Allie tells a little white lie to cover up her real desire to go to the party and boy does she make a mess for herself in true Allie Finkle style. Another fun week in the life of Allie Finkle! Author: Meg Cabot
And here’s a book Allie would love – full of all kinds of glamourous advice like how to have the flutteriest eyelashes and how to make your own body glitter.
Still hot on the trail of the 39 Clues Dan and Amy Cahill find themselves in China hoping that the trail will continue to lead them to treasure beyond their wildest dreams.
At The Forbidden City in Beijing, Dan and Amy get an up close tour of the famous Terra Cotta Army of Emperor Qin Shi Huang Di. He was the first Chinese Emperor. (A Cahill of course!) He is well known for unifying China and for building The Great Wall of China. He is also famous for the statue army that was placed in his tomb. The warrior statues are life size and all have a different face – thousands of them! (Really, these statues are real.) While there, Dan finds a pice of fabric in the secret attic of an old temple. The fabric has Cahill family crests on it as well as some Chinese writing. Definately a clue!
When Amy suggests asking Uncle Alistair translate the writing Dan won’t even give the idea a chance. No way is Dan trusting ANYONE every again.
Amy takes this moment to talk about something that has been bugging her for awhile:
There’s something pretty big we have to face up to….Mom and Dad were Madrigals….[W]ho knows what kind of weird stuff a couple of Madrigals could have been into? We look at the other teams as the bad guys. But what if, back then, that’s how the rest of the faily saw Mom and Dad? A couple of loose cannons who had to be stopped?
The idea that their parents could have been bad guys makes Dan so angry he runs off in a rage…and promptly gets kidnapped! Now separated, Dan and Amy have some big decisions to make about their loyalty…is it to The 39 Clues, or to each other? And please, somebody tell me, is Nellie a good guy or a bad guy?!! When she is talking on the phone – who is she talking to? Gordon Korman Series: The 39 Clues
Delphine is on an airplane with her little sisters Vonetta and Fern on her way to spend a few weeks in the summer with the Mother she barely remembers. From Brooklyn to Oakland is a long way to go to spend time with someone you don’t even know, even if she is your Mother. But Delphine’s Dad thinks it is a good idea, so the girls go.
Mother is a statement of fact. Cecile Johnson gave birth to us. We came out of Cecile Johnson. In the animal kingdom that makes her out mother. Every mammal on the planet has a mother, dead or alive. Ran off or stayed put. Cecile Johnson – mammal birth giver, alive, an abandoner – is our mother. A statement of fact.
Reading that quote you get a good idea about what Delphine thinks of her Mother and the fact that her Mother just up and left. Delphine’s Mom left the girls when Fern was just a tiny baby and for all that time hasn’t done a single thing to spend any time with the girls or even talk to them on the phone. Cecile, the girls’ Mom, isn’t even very happy when she meets them at the airport. It’s like she’s put out that they’ve come to visit. Once at her house she forbids them from entering her kitchen and sends them out for takeout. During the long summer days she sends them to the park or the neighborhood community center to get them out of the house.
At the beginning of the summer you see Delphine getting to know this woman who is her Mom, and a lot of the time she doesn’t like her very much. She questions her judgement all the time. But as the day goes by Delphine starts to see who Cecile is, besides being the girls’ “mammal birth giver.”
I think when you’re a kid, it’s hard to see grown-ups, especially parents, as real people. It’s really hard to imagine your parents being anyone other than your parents, even though they were kids and grown people with a life before you came along. I liked watching Delphine get to know “Cecile the person” and learn to accept who Cecile really is and not who Delphine wishes her to be. Author: Rita Williams-Garcia 2011 Coretta Scott King Award, 2011 Newbery Honor Book, 2011 Scott O’Dell Prize for Historical Fiction, 2010 National Book Award Finalist