Tuesday, September 20, 2011
I'm not sure what to say about this book. From the cover, I was expecting something appropriate for younger kids—maybe 4th and 5th grade boys. But when I started reading and heard the funny but trash-mouthed narrator I was a little taken aback. Oliver Watson is a 12-year-old kid who secretly is the third-richest person in the world. He's overweight and underdeveloped and puts on a dumb act at school and at home while he secretly overthrows dictators and blackmails presidents in his underground lair. He rigs his middle school drinking fountains with root beer and chocolate milk and has a transmitter in his jaw that can call for a squadron of jets to bomb the school at a moments notice. But it turns out that what he really wants is some approval from his father, which he thinks he can gain if he can be elected class president of the 8th grade. Of course, getting kids to vote for him is a lot harder than making billions of dollars. The author is a producer of the Daily Show with Jon Stewart and it is truly a funny book, just be warned that this wise-cracking evil genius can be pretty crude—so give it to 7th and 8th grade boys who will appreciate it.
This biography of Jane Austen is a good fit for middle and high school students with an interest in Jane Austen and her novels. While there is a frustrating lack of information about Austen's life, Reef does a good job of conveying what is known and explaining why some things are unknown. The book is heavily padded with plot descriptions of the novels with a little commentary interspersed—which may help young readers better understand the novels. Photos from various movie adaptations of Austen's books make the book more interesting visually. Recommended for readers who (like me) enjoy Austen's books and the corresponding movies and want to know the story-behind-the-story.
Wednesday, September 14, 2011
Incarceron is a vast and mysterious prison, a place from which only one man has ever escaped. Within it's borders desperate groups of prisoners fight for scarce resources. Fourteen-year-old Finn is a prisoner there who has no memory of his past. In the outside world there is a wealthy girl named Claudia whose father is the warden of Incarceron. She has been groomed her whole life to marry the heir to the throne and take over the kingdom when she is queen. However, the current prince is not her first fiánce—the real prince was killed years ago in a suspicious accident. When Finn and Claudia both acquire crystal keys that allow them to communicate with each other they band together to try to help Finn escape from Incarceron. I saw this book described as science fantasy and that's a good description. It has lots of action and the author has created a pretty amazing world for her characters to live in. Science fiction and fantasy fans will like it. (And the sequel, Sapphique, is already published.)