Sunday, July 15, 2012

Bird Lake Moon, Everlost, and Entwined

In Bird Lake Moon by Kevin Henkes, Mitch is living with his grandparents on Bird Lake because his world has been devastated by his parents' separation.  He wants to take over the abandoned house next door and begins to fantasize about how he and his mother will be able to live there.  Then when Spencer and his family show up, he is angry that his house has been taken over by "intruders" and plans to scare them away.  Little does he know that the family is coming back to Bird Lake for the first time since the oldest child in their family drowned 8 years ago.  Throughout the novel the reader gets a glimpse at two young boys living through big times in their lives.  I loved the lesson that Mitch learned about understanding others' perspectives before acting.  This book is one I would recommend to a reader who does not want to difficult of a book to read and enjoys realistic fiction.

I had Everlost by Neal Shusterman sitting on my shelf for quite a while.  I was intrigued by the premise but worried that I would be creeped out by the book or that it would make me sad.  In this book Nick and Allie are in a car crash and both are headed down the tunnel towards the light when they bump into one another and fall out of the tunnel.  They wake up nine months later in a beautiful forest.  A kid is there and explains to them that they are in a kind of in-between realm.  They are no longer alive, but they did not get where they were going so they are now doomed to exist in this realm.  Both Nick and Allie are desperate to get home and check on the rest of their family to see if they survived the crash.  They set out on an adventure to move across a world where the only solid ground is any spot there is a dead spot...the place a person died.  On their way, they hear about a terrible monster who preys on kids like them.  This book is an incredibly imaginative story.  The author manages to write about a topic that could be quite uncomfortable in such a way that the reader is taken in by the story and racing to find out what will happen next.  The ending is an unexpected twist and I was glad to be left with such a sense of hope and a desire to read the next book in the series.  I would recommend this book to young adults.  Because it deals with the subject of where people go after death, I think the concepts are a little too mature for middle grade readers.  I enjoyed this story and look forward to reading the next creative story from this author.  

I picked out the book Entwined by Heather Dixon at a Scholastic book fair.  I had asked my students to help me pick out books that seemed like they would be good for the class library and some of my girls picked up this one.  I loved this story!  I had no idea that it was a retelling of a fairy tale until I read some of the Goodreads reviews of this book.  When Azalea's mother dies, it is up to her to take care of her eleven little sisters and to negotiate the long mourning period that they are forced to endure.  Their father, the king, has distanced himself from them and all of the girls are certain that he never really loved them, but did the kind things he did because their mother had required it of him.  Azalea is left to be the nurturer of the girls and at the same time is anxious about the selection of a husband for her which will be coming up after mourning is done.  The girls find a magic passage and a small escape from their sadness, but Azalea quickly finds out that there is a price to pay for their time there.  I was enchanted by this book.  I am a sucker for a good fairy tale/princess story and this one did not disappoint me.  I devoured the long book---over 450 pages--in one day (staying up WAAAY too late to finish).  I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys fantasy (think Coraline meets The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe, meets Cinderella).

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