Minli and her parents are dirt poor. They scratch out a living on their little plot of land but are able to harvest just barely enough rice to keep themselves alive. Minli’s dad tries to cheer them up by telling adventurous stories at night, stories full of talking fish and dragons.
Minli, having grown up on her father’s stories, believes that the Old Man of the Moon controls people’s fortunes. When a talking Goldfish reveals the way to Never-Ending Mountain, the home of the Old Man of the Moon, Minli sneaks off to find the Old Man and discover what will bring her family good fortune.
This begins a journey that will take Minli many miles. On her quest to change her family’s fortune Minli befriends a flightless dragon, an orphan and a King. She faces riddles and danger and the unknown with bravery and determination. She has to be smart and decisive but she also has to stay true to herself and what she believes to be right and fair and true. Author: Grace Lin
Minli reminds me a lot of Mulan – the Disney movie is based on the real story of a woman warrior in China. If you like the Chinese folklore that is part of Minli’s story try Fa Mulan or Timothy and the Dragon’s Gate – an adventure about a boy and Chinese dragon. The last two are other books by Grace Lin.
Griffin Bing, “the Man with the Plan” is back with his friends from Swindle to solve another mystery and put some more shady adults in their place.
The day Savannah’s pet monkey Cleo goes missing gets worse when the kids discover the monkey is being held captive in a crummy, run-down zoo. As if running a crummy zoo with tiny cages and questionable animal care isn’t bad enough, the zoo is actually stealing pets to fill up the zoo…and the kids aren’t going to stand for it. The grown-ups the kids go to for help are no help at all, so the kids decide that what they need…is a plan. Enter Griffin “the Man with the Plan”, who assembles the team:
Savannah: Animal Expert
Antonia AKA “Pitch”: Rock Climber
Melissa: Eletronics Expert
Ben: the Small Guy
The plan is “Operation Zoobreak”. The kids need to get to the zoo in the middle of the night, distract the night watchman, free Cleo from her cage and get out again without being seen. The plan requires precision. The plan requires stealth. The plan falls apart when the kids realize that freeing just Cleo means leaving all the other animals behind…and that’s not good enough. In a last minute alteration to “the plan” they free more than 40 other animals, divide them up and stash them in their houses…withough their parents or anyone else noticing. If you don’t think this plan will work, well, then you havn’t met Griffin Bing.
Sometimes grownups make mistakes or drop the ball or just don’t get it. When this happens, kids like Griffin and his friends step in to set things right. If you like reading about a kid like Griffin, try on of these:
Peter and the Sword of Mercy is book four in the Peter and the Starcatchers series, the high-flying, page turning, pirate adventure series that was written as a prequel to Peter Pan. A prequel is a story that tells you about what happened before another story. If you ever wondered how Peter came to the island, why he can fly, and why he can never grow up, the Peter and the Starcatchers series will answer those questions in funny, dramatic style.
In Peter and the Sword of Mercy, 20 years have passed since Peter and the orphan boys met Molly Aster and found out about starstuff and its magical properties. Peter stayed behind on the island but the other children returned to London. Molly is now married and the mother of three children, Wendy, Michael & John. James, one of the Lost Boys, has become a policeman and is working for Scotland Yard.
James appears at Molly’s house one night with a strange and frightning tale. James thinks that Prince Albert Edward, who is about to be crowned king of England, is being controlled by evil people who are after a secret stash of starstuff hidden somewhere underground in London.
Molly is alarmed at James’s fears and the two agree to meet to figure out what to do…except they both disappear. Luckily, Molly’s daughter Wendy eavesdropped on their conversation and is determined to save her mother. Wendy has heard the Peter Pan stories, could they possibly be real? If she could find Peter, could he help her save her mother? Wendy goes to the Lost Boys for help and begins an adventure that will take her straight into the struggle for control of the world’s supply of starstuff. Authors: Dave Barry & Ridley Scott Series: Peter and the Starcatchers
There are several books that tell more about Peter Pan and his adventures with Captain Hook, Wendy & the Lost Boys. Try them all! And if you like this kind of high spirited, action packed writing, try Science Fair, also by Dave Barry.
Genius Julian is psyched to start a new school. He has a plan called “Operation Act Odinary” to finally be someone other than the smart nerd. On the first day of school he resists raising his hand and exclaims, “Only geeks like chess. I hate chess!” On the second day he can hardly stand it and eventually blurts out a complicated physics answer and immediately earns the nicknames “Einstein” and “Brainiac.” He’s the smart kid again and he’s really bummed!
What Julian doesn’t know is that there are kindred spirits in his school…and they’ve been watching him. Watching and waiting. And then they make contact by encoded message, a message only a fellow genius would figure out. Classmates Ben and Greta show up at the rendevous and induct Julian into their covert club, The Secret Science Alliance. They even have a top secret hideout full of high tech toys and gadgets and all kind of parts to invent things with. Look inside their hideout – a smart kid dream come true!
The kids start to meet up everyday after school and on weekends to work on their projects: the stink-o-meter, nightsneak goggles and a hovercraft, just to name a few. When a rival scientist steals their book of ideas and is sure to use it for his evil plans, it takes all of their genius and gadgets to bring him to justice. Author: Eleanor Davis Award: Booklist Top 10 Graphic Novels for Youth 2010.
This book is full of colorful, busy, interesting illustrations – it’s a graphic novel so every page is illustrated. There are diagrams of inventions and cutaways so you can see inside things.
A lot of the pictures look like Rube Goldberg machines. Rube Goldberg was a cartoonist famous for drawing funny, complicated machines that do very simple things…like sharpen a pencil or put toothpaste on a toothbrush. At Rube’s Official Website you can look at a gallery of his drawings. These drawings were inspirations for some of what you see in The Secret Science Alliance. There are lots and lots of details in each picture and the diagrams contain many steps and lots of labels. Purdue has a famous contest each year named after Rube Goldberg. During the contest, students try to build the most complicated machine to perform a simple task. The task for the 2010 contest is…dispensing hand sanitizeer…or course!
My name is Fin Garrett and this is my book and this is my story.
There will be some silliness, lots of my sucky drawings, a pop quiz and fun homework assignments, three or four family photos, and a few of my favorite memories. Caution: Sometime the story will get a little sad. But it won’t always be sad.
I began disappearing this past June, right after what I call The Terrible Day That Changed Everything…
Fin writes his story a lot like Greg in Diary of a Wimpy Kid. He draws a lot of pictures and he tries really hard to explain what is happening in his life and how he feels about it. At first, you wonder if this is a superhero story. Maybe Fin really IS turning invisible, but then you get to the part about the terrible day that changed everything and the book becomes something much different. Fin is right, his story does get a little sad, but the best thing about Fin’s story is how you watch him live through the sad thing and then start to figure out how to live with the sad thing having happened.
I don’t know how to say anything else unless I tell you what the sad thing is, but I don’t want to give it away. Just understand that this book might LOOK like one of Greg’s Wimpy Kid diaries but it has a more emotional punch to it. It has really funny parts. I think you will like Fin and he’ll make you laugh. He’ll also probably make you cry a little bit too. Isn’t that just like a good friend in real life?
I loved this book because the terrible thing that changed everything in Fin’s life also happened to me, and the way he describes his feelings are so like how I felt. Fin seemed real to me and I believed the words in his journal. Listening to Fin is like listening to a close friend tell you his story. And in the end, Fin’s right, his story isn’t always sad. It’s good to know that people can and do live through sad things. They learn to be happy and laugh again. Author: Evan Kuhlman
Like I said, this book is a lot like the Wimp Kid Diaries, so if there is anybody left out there who hasn’t read about Greg – get to it! Umbrealla Summer and The Girl Who Threw Butterflies are about kids like Fin who have had to adjust to a major change. These two books might make you cry a little bit too, but both will leave you feeling good in the end.