October 26, 2011

Bone Dog by Eric Rohmann

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , , at 6:57 pm by suebe2

Bone Dog
by Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press
AR 2.3

“Ella and Gus have been friends for a long, long time.”  But Ella promises Gus that she will always be with him.  When Gus questions how this is possible, Ella has a very simple answer.  “Promises made under a full moon cannot be broken.”

The story quickly moves through Gus loosing Ella and trying slowly but surely to do the things that people expect him to do.  Come Halloween, Gus goes trick-or-treating and, when his bag is full, heads home.  But his skeleton costume is so good that a group of real skeletons surround him and try to get him involved in their frolicking games.  That is until they discover that he’s really a boy.

Things don’t look at all good for Gus when a shimmering figure makes her way to Gus.  Ella, as a bone dog, doesn’t pack much fear for the skeletons until she lets out a baying call and summons the neighborhood dogs to the rescue.

I know, I know.  It sounds really maudlin and I normally would have avoided it (I hate dead pet books), but I love Eric Rohmann’s art work.   Heavy black lines combine with varied colors for a stained glass effect that isn’t as much high art as it is simple and expressive.  Even the skeletons in the story have facial expressions and that’s not easy to pull off.

And it really is funny.  Think about it.  What are skeletons made of?  Big dogs, little dogs, they all like what?  And this is where the illustrations get really, really funny.

Two parts funny, one part sad, this book might not be the best choice for a super sensitive child.  I wouldn’t read it to my niece, but my son?  You bet.  Humor and love combine in a tale that sets out to prove that a boy and his dog are never really very far apart.



October 21, 2011

Possess by Gretchen McNeil

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , at 6:40 pm by suebe2

by Gretchen McNeil
Balzar & Bray

When the Monsignor Renault brings a note to Bridget Liu, her classmates wonder what’s up.  Could  she be in trouble?  Bridget only wishes it was that easy.  All the note has written on it is an address and a time.  Her next assignment.

In recent months, Bridgett has developed a gift.  She can hear voices. Sometimes she sees shadowy figures.  It doesn’t happen all the time but when it does, it means trouble.  Bridgett not only sees and hears demons, she can banish them as well.

There are five basic rules when it comes to banishing demons (exorcism is such an ugly word):

  1. Do  not show fear.
  2. Do not show pity.
  3. Do not engage.
  4. Do not let your guard down.
  5. They lie.
Then a horde of demons warn Bridget not to trust the priest.  She’d normally ignore the warning (see rule #5), but there’s a new priest at St. Michael’s.  He’s been questioning what Renault is teaching her but also seems to be holding something back.  Who is he really?
If only Bridget had someone she could talk to but her father was murdered a year ago.  Sure, she has friends, and even a boyfriend, but how do you break it to someone who thinks they know you that you can hear voices?
But Demonic activity in the area is on the rise and soon Bridget is hearing voices in places that should be forbidden to them.  Unless, of course, there’s something going on that Bridget doesn’t know about.
Her secret gets out when the demon’s start chattering at the big winter dance.  They’re talking about a human sacrifice and Bridget knows that someone is going to die if she doesn’t figure things out right this minute.  With no time to wait, Bridget lets her guard down.  Will it be the biggest mistake of her life?  Or will she finally have someone she can trust at her back?
The first thing that caught my attention with this book was the awesomely creepy cover.  I picked it up one evening and had it finished by the next.
In spite of her rough, gruff ways, Bridget is a character readers will love.  She’s equal parts insecure and confident, quirky and white-bread normal.  Otherwise, she ‘s just like a real person (except for the talking to demons bit).
With a strong romantic subplot, this book will probably appeal more to teen girls than boys, but Bridget is no shrinking violet.  She isn’t the one that gets knocked out cold in the final battle!
Still, some adults will no doubt object to this book.  The grown ups, for the most part, are pretty clueless.  But then so are most of the teens — they can’t see or hear the demons.  And the whole bit about the demons themselves as well as the roll played by one of the priests (don’t make me spoil the plot!), will definitely raise some eyebrows.
But instead of telling your teen not to read it, why not read it yourself, do some research into church lore, and have a rousing talk about the  battle between good and evil?  After all, you never know just when the knowledge might come in handy…

October 11, 2011

In Search of Sasquatch by Kelly Milner Halls

Posted in Uncategorized tagged , , at 4:50 pm by suebe2

In Search of Sasquatch
by Kelly Milner Halls
First of all, a disclosure.  Kelly and I are friends.  The community of  nonfiction writers is cohesive enough that not only have we met, but we exchange messages and cheer each other on.

That said, I did not almost forget to leave the house Sunday because Kelly is my friend.  Fortunately, I had set a timer to remind me that I needed to be on time.  When the timer went off, I distinctly remember thinking that I must have more time.  Surely.

But the book had pulled me in just that fast.

In Search of Sasquatch is a compilation of evidence for the existence of Sasquatch.  The researchers that Kelly interviewed are largely scientists and academics including anthropologists and a linguist.  The evidence itself consists of eye witness accounts, the Patterson-Gimlin film, footprints, audio tapes, and more.

Like many of the middle school readers who will dive into this book, I want to believe that Sasquatch it out there.  I hate the idea that everything is already known, and that there are no new discoveries to be made.

Kelly’s presentation is respectful both of the “believers” and the “skeptics.”  That said, she spends a lot more time on the believers — it is the topic of the book, after all.

This text would make an excellent point of discussion concerning scientific method, scientific exploration and more.  I loved the parts about anthropology and the physical differences between man and ape –excellent discussion points for the curious who want to explore the ideas contained in this book.

I would recommend this to anyone who is fascinated by Sasquatch specifically or cryptids in general.  But do yourself a huge favor.  Set a timer if you have anywhere else you need to be.  Otherwise, you too will fall victim of In Search of Sasquatch.


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