April 2016

Gina’s Pick

Book – Strider by Beverly Cleary

Review by Gina Mekus

Strider-beverly-cleary-5459257-375-500Did you know that Beverly Cleary is 100 on April 12?

Come celebrate her special birthday by reading one of her books!

Strider is the sequel to Dear Mr. Henshaw.  (Dear Mr. Henshaw was awarded the Newbery Medal in 1984).  This book tells more about the lives of Leigh Botts, his family, and his friends.  The book is told from Leigh’s point of view in a diary format.  Leigh starts his diary during the summer before high school and he writes about his first year of high school.  Leigh and his friend Barry find an abandoned dog on the beach.  When Leigh tries to get the dog to come to him, the dog does not come.  Leigh starts to run and the dog starts to run too.  Leigh names the dog Strider.  Leigh and Barry decide to give the dog a home.  Leigh’s parents are divorced and dogs are not allowed at the house that his mom rents.  The friends decide that they will share the dog and the cost that it takes to care for a pet.  Leigh and Barry run and train Strider.  During the school year, Leigh runs with Strider.  He makes new friends and deals with problems he has in class.  Leigh also joins the track team. Throughout the book, Leigh deals with some problems that come up because his parents are divorced.  One time Leigh and Barry fight about the dog, but they resolve it at the end.

Many kids will be able to relate to Leigh.  Dog lovers and pet owners will enjoy and relate to the rescue of the abandoned dog and how Leigh bonds with the dog.  Kids whose parents are divorced will understand how Leigh adjusts to the divorce and some of the problems that can come up as a result of the divorce.  Others will be able to relate to Leigh’s struggle of how to fit into school, how to make new friends, and how to maintain old friendships.

This is a book that is fun to read over and over.  I have read several of Beverly Cleary’s books including Dear Mr. Henshaw, the Ramona series, and Mouse and the Motorcycle.  I have enjoyed these books and I plan to read all of her booksShe is one of my favorite authors.  Her characters are always fun to read about and are very relatable.  I recommend all of her books to read.

If you enjoyed Strider, you can find some of Beverly Cleary’s other books at the East Moline Public Library.   We have: Dear Mr. Henshaw, Ramona series, Mouse and the Motorcycle, and Socks.

Kayla’s Pick

Book – Inkheart by Cornelia Funke

Review by Kayla Ferguson

We all know that rinkheart-cornelia-funke-21237773eading is a magic experience that takes us into other worlds, right? Well in this brilliant beginning to the Inkworld Trilogy by author Cornelia Funke, reading really is magic.

Mo Folchart has a rare gift: the ability to bring stories to life with his voice. When he reads aloud, creatures and characters can escape their pages and enter into our world, but for everything that comes out, something (or someone) gets sucked into the world of the book. One fateful night, when Mo reads from a fantasy story called Inkheart, he accidentally unleashes the book’s villain Capricorn and sends his own wife into the pages of the book. Nine years later, a mysterious, scarred stranger shows up at the home of Mo and his 12-year-old daughter Meggie, claiming Capricorn is looking for Mo.

Can Mo and Meggie escape a cruel villain who will do anything necessary to force Mo to use his talent to read monsters out of Inkheart? Will Meggie figure out the way to free her mother from the pages of the book? And what will happen when Meggie starts to realize that she has magic of her own?

This exciting, inventive story is one of my all-time favorites! It is a rich tribute to readers and writers everyone, full of allusions to other famous books like Peter Pan, The Wizard of Oz, The Steadfast Tin Soldier, The Hobbit, and Alice in Wonderland. Cornelia Funke skillfully captures the feeling of enchantment that comes from reading a great book, and you might well feel like you’ve been sucked into the pages of Inkheart yourself. The characters themselves seem to come alive: Mo with his magic voice, Meggie who just wants a normal life but who finds her courage and own magic talents along the way, Elinor the eccentric, book-collecting aunt, Dustfinger the fire-eater whose been read out of his world and will do anything to get back, and Capricorn the devious and cruel villain who has decided he likes our world better than his own. The action never stops, with daring escapes, betrayals, exciting rescues, mysteries, and magic. Themes about how to use your talents, the power of imagination, what our purpose is in the world, and what family is all about make this a relevant and powerful read.

Because of some dark content and very nasty villains, this book is best suited for children eleven and up, older teens, and even adults who love fantasy stories set in our world. If you enjoy Harry Potter, Five Children and It, So You Want to be a Wizard, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Castaways of the Flying Dutchman, Artemis Fowl, or any of Cornelia Funke’s other books like The Thief Lord and Reckless, give Inkheart a try. Just make sure you don’t get trapped in the book forever!