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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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Anything But Typical

Anything But Typical

Anything But Typical

12 year-old Jason is in the 6th grade. He is an avid writer and likes to spend his free time on a website called Storyboard, an online space where users share stories they’ve written with each other.

Jason likes Storyboard so much because he can do all of his communicating with written words. He doesn’t have to look at anybody and they don’t have to look at him. On Storyboard he doesn’t have to figure out anybody’s facial expressions or body language. Because he is autistic, these things are hard for Jason. Plus, when he’s online, nobody notices if he blinks his eyes a lot or flaps his hands.

Jason has a huge vocabulary and active imagination. He shares a story online that is discovered by fellow Storyboarder Rebecca. They begin to communicate about their writing on Storyboard and a friendship develops – perhaps the first real friendship Jason has ever had.

I really liked this book because Jason tells the story. You get to see how Jason sees the world as an autistic person. Being able to tell how another person is feeling by looking at the expression on their face or by observing how they move their body…that seems really simple to us “neurotypicals.” Jason has to struggle with interpreting these messages all the time. His brain is just not wired to pick up on those signals from other people.

It is really interesting to hear Jason describe how odd and mysterious our behaviors seem to him. If somebody scowls at Jason, he doesn’t get the message that the person is mad. He may look at the person and say, “are you having a good day?” which will just make the person madder…even though Jason intended to be nice. In order for Jason to know that the person is angry the person would have to say the words outloud, “I am angry.”

And Jason does have some odd behaviors…like blinking his eyes a lot. Some of his habits are so noticable they drown out the fact that there is lot more normal about Jason than there is not normal. Seeing what is normal about Jason is what this book is all about.

  • Look Inside Anything But Typical
  • Read Chapter One Anything But Typical
  • Anything But Typical on CD

Jason reminds me a lot of Ted in The London Eye Mystery. Ted is also autistic. Other people find his lack of emotion and overly logical manner odd, but when he uses this unique way of thinking to solve the mystery of his missing cousin, his different way of thinking, the thing that make his seem odd to others, earns some respect.

Some other books about differently wired kids and their friends:
The London Eye Mystery The Mealworm Diaries Adam Canfield The Last Reporter Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree
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The Beef Princess of Practical County

The Beef Princess of Practical County

The Beef Princess of Practical County

12 year-old Libby lives in Practical County, Indiana. (Not a real Indiana County – but it could be.) She lives on her family’s cattle farm and is excited to be old enough to choose two calves to raise for her County Fair. She chooses the calves in September. Her job is to raise the calves herself all year and then choose one to show at the Fair the next summer. Having the winning cow at the Fair would bring a lot of pride to her family, and also a good amount of money to her college fund at the post Fair cattle auction.

Even though the calves she names Piggy (eats alot)and Mule (really stubborn) are a lot of work, Libby falls in love with them, especially, Piggy, who is affectionate and frisky. Libby’s dad warns her that she shouldn’t name the calves. The reason? He doesn’t want Libby to get too attached because after the Fair, the calves will be sold at an auction and turned into, well, hamburgers. It’s not something Libby has ever really thought about before – the fact that all the cows on her farm eventually become meat on somebody’s table, even her own. I mean, she has always known this, but never really thought about it that much until she spends months and months looking into the big brown eyes of her two little calves.

When Piggy has a barnyard accident he fails to do what beef cattle need to do – gain weight. Libby’s Dad tells her that he must be sold now, before the Fair, before he can lose anymore weight.

Libby’s Dad: Listen Lib, cattle are raised to produce food. Steers are not pets. They need to be sold at market weight. Otherwise, their meat will be no good, and all the feeding and caring you’ve done for them will be for nothing.

Libby: He was just making me face what would happen at the end of every steer project. They all end with goodbye.

Libby turns her attention to Mule, her last chance to have a champion steer…and faces the inevitability of having to say goodbye to him eventually too. But she doesn’t like it, so she does the one thing she can think of to do in protest, she announces to her family that she is now a vegetarian.

No meat. It’s just disrespecttful to our fine furry and feathered friends.

In a cattle raising family, this is quite a bombshell announcement. Libby finds that it is harder than she thought to stick to her new eating rules. She also discovers that it is harder than she thought to figure out how she really feels about meat and whether people should eat it.

This book is a really good look at life on an Indiana farm. It’s also a really good look at a person trying to figure out how they feel about eating meat. Whether you are a person that doesn’t mind eating meat or a person who doesn’t even want to think about it, much less do it, Libby, her family and her farming community will give you a lot to consider. Plus, Libby’s best friend and her little sister are terrific characters and add a lot of comic relief to the story.

One of the subplots (a subplot is a part of the story that isn’t the main action, but still part of what’s going on) is about Libby entering the Beef Princess contest at the Fair. A tomboy vegetarian is a pretty funny contestant for a pageant promoting beef. Author: Michelle Houts

The Beef Princess reminds me a lot of Charlotte’s Web. Fern and Libby have a lot in common. They both love their animals and even though they KNOW farm animals are raised to be eaten, they don’t want the animals they love to be made into dinner.  
Charlotte's Web Our Farm Vegetarian Food Cattle Kids
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Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright

Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls: Stage Fright

Stage Fright

Allie Finkle’s back with more rules for girls. Her class is putting on a play and Mrs. Hunter announces that the students must audition for the parts. Allie is sure she wants to audition for the main part, Princess Penelope, so she can wear a pretty dress and a tiara and be the star. But before she can say which part she wants to audition for, her friend Sophie says SHE wants to be Penelope too. The auditions pit friend against friend for the most coveted parts. It’s a competition and some good rules just might keep the auditions from getting ugly.

1. No one likes a sore loser.
2. No one likes a sore winner.
3. It’s important to accept victory modestly. (Then you can celebrate all you want in private, where the losers can’t see you.)

The auditions also pit friend against enemy. Allie and Sophie both hope to be Penelope, but even more, they definitely don’t want bragging Cheyenne to get the part. “back in Canada, I was actually the lead in all my school plays…I brought my head shot and resume in to show Mrs. Hunter. I guess none of you brought head shots and resumes, did you?” Blech. Allie and her friends are NOT impressed.

The audition day turns out to be pretty emotional. Everybody’s nervous and not everybody gets the part they want. How each person reacts to their victory or their disappointment is the fun of reading about Allie and her classmates. Despite the victory dances and the tears and the drama queen temper tantrums the show must go on so Allie can add one more rule to her list, “There are no small parts, only small actors.”

Don’t miss Allie’s other adventures and if you like her, try Bobby’s story – it’s really funny too!
Moving Day The New Girl Best Friends and Drama Queens Bobby vs. the Girls Accidently
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