Wednesday, June 25, 2008
Monday, June 16, 2008
Thursday, June 12, 2008
Monday, June 9, 2008
By N.D. Wilson
Most enjoyed by 5th graders through 8th graders
Henry, Kansas is a dry, dusty town that time seems to have forgotten. It is to be Henry's summer home when his travel-writing parents are kidnapped on a trip to Columbia. Aunt Dot, Uncle Frank, and their three girls welcome Henry to their farm, a place where Henry can roam free and learn to play baseball, something his over-protective parents won't let him do at home.
Life on the farm is quiet until Henry wakes one morning to find plaster on his forehead and two knobs sticking out of the wall above his bed. Watching the knobs turn, Henry can hear something thump behind the wall. Intrigued, Henry begins to chap away at the plaster, uncovering a small cupboard door. The knobs seem to be dials of some sort. Henry chips away more plaster, revealing a second cupboard door; behind it is not a view of the barn at the back of the house as Henry expects, but the inside of a small, yellow post office. Henry's cousin Henrietta is convinced there is another world behind the door. Together, she and Henry remove all of the plaster, uncovering 99 cupboard doors in all. What could possibly be behind them all? And why only 99? It's such an odd number that Henrietta is sure there must be another cupboard door somewhere in the house, but where? Could it be behind Grandpa's bedroom door, a door that hasn't been opened in two years since Grandpa's death? Would the old man Henry saw leaving the bathroom in the middle of the night know something? The old man who entered Grandpa's bedroom and hasn't been seen since? And what's behind the small, black cupboard door, the one that grabbed hold of Henrietta's arm and wouldn't let it go?
The action in 100 Cupboards unfolds very slowly and deliberately until about the middle of the book, when the pace picks up and you can't put it down. Henry is a nice kid, one you feel a little sorry for because he's been so sheltered and protected by his parents. But he comes out of his shell when he faces the challenge presented by the cupboards. If you're a lover of mystery or fantasy stories, add 100 Cupboards to your reading list. But be warned - the book has a great ending, one a bit creepy for bedtime reading, but it doesn't wrap up all of the loose ends neatly. 100 Cupboards is the first in a new series and after reading this one, I hope the next book is out in time for next summer's reading! You can find 100 Cupboards at the Crystal Lake and Algonquin public libraries.
Wednesday, June 4, 2008
by Lesley M.M. Blume
Most enjoyed by girls in 4th grade through 8th grade
Their game of hide-and-seek ended badly. Sadie broke the rules and didn't come home. As evening darkened and Tennyson and Hattie waited for her on the porch, they began to realize that Sadie was never coming home. Their mother, unhappy with the life of responsibility that kept her from writing the stories and poems she loved, leaves the girls and their father. Tennyson and Hattie are sent to Aigredoux, the family mansion along the Mississippi River in Louisiana to be cared for by their Aunt Henrietta whom the girls have never met. Aigredoux is a grand house falling into decay in the woods surrounding it. Aunt Henrietta can't and won't see it, convinced that constant letters to the government seeking a return of the family fortune taken during the Civil War will provide the funding necessary to restore Aigredoux to it's former glory. Only Tennyson is able to see the sadness and gloom that surround the house, dating back to the years before and during the war. As the history of the house and family is revealed to her in dreams, Tennyson writes the story down and sends it off to her mother's favorite literary magazine in hopes that the stories will bring her mother home. As the published stories bring Tennyson fame, they also bring reality home in a painful way, leaving Tennyson with the realization that while Aigredoux's hold is strong, the time that saw it's decay can one day see it flourish again.
Set during the Depression, 'Tennyson' is full of sadness and hope. One minute the reader will feel sorry for Tennyson when her situation appears as bleak as the crumbling house, as history repeats itself in an eerie fashion. The next page reveals a glimmer of hope, created by Tennyson herself, making the dream of a new Aigredoux possible. But Tennyson's story doesn't have the neat, tidy ending she and the reader hope it will have, leaving the reader to think about Tennyson and Aigredoux long after closing the book.
Start 'Tennyson' on a hot, muggy summer evening as you sit outside in the dwindling daylight. You'll feel trasported right to Aigredoux along with Tennyson and Hattie, listening for the hushed sounds of the Mississippi river as you wait, like Tennyson, to hear the voices from the past.