Monday, February 20, 2012

MG Recommendation: POWERLESS, by Matthew Cody

As soon as I saw the cover of POWERLESS, it caught my eye.  It's perfect for the book. I actually found the book on-line first, but then saw it at our school's scholastic book fair, so I hope Mr. Cody sees a lot of sales from that!

The first thing I noticed when I started reading was, a-HA!  A PROLOGUE!  See, modern books DO still have them.   But as agents like to point out a lot, there had better be a VERY good reason for it and in this case, there is.   

 In POWERLESS, a kid named Daniel moves into a neighborhood where the kids have amazing powers…but they lose them and their memories of ever having those powers when they turn thirteen.  So the prologue shows us how that works, with the character of Michael, who begins the chapter by flying and ends up by never remembering he had ever flown.  The prologue is achingly poignant and sets the stage for us readers to really want someone to HELP those superkids!  And when we meet the Sherlock-Holmes-Loving Daniel, we know he is the guy to do it.

I really hate to pigeon-hole books as "for boys" or "for girls" because, hey, I'm a girl I enjoyed this as an adult.  And as a kid, I had a Marvel Comics subscription and would have loved this then, too.  But as a former teacher, I will say that this book would be one I'd recommend to a boy in a heartbeat, especially one who might not have caught onto the joys of reading yet.  Maybe a boy who mostly read only comics.  It's not that it's an easy reader, because it's not.  It's firmly middle grade, with some rather freaky moments near the end for that age group.  

But because this book deals with superpowers and has a very fast moving plot, it will draw in a reluctant reader and keep him engaged with a plot he finds accessible and interesting.  

But again, I think ALL readers would enjoy this book.  It's a fast read, with twists and turns along the way.  I didn't cry once, so that's nice because I've cried over too many stories lately.  And the door is definitely open to a sequel with POWERLESS.  Da-dah-DA-DUM!!

My favorite line is actually not one that affects the plot particularly.  It describes Daniel's grandmother.  But even as I was reading, I thought, "Oooh, that's a perfect description."  I salute this fabulous simile:

""These days she always moved like that, as if she were made of glass in a house full of hard edges."  Pg 93

So go get a copy and enjoy some superpower-related sleuthing!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Anna and the French Kiss, YA

I recently read the book Anna the French Kiss, by Stephanie Perkins. I was strolling by the YA section of the library and saw this one on the top of the shelf.

My first impression was that if Ms. Perkins has not been to Paris, she's got amazing research skills. I have visited Paris twice, which is not at all the same as living there, and even I found myself nodding at the accuracy of her descriptions.

Here's me on the Eiffel Tower in 1991. Eons ago. I'm at the mid-level area, because I'm afraid of heights and this was the best I could do.

I've also went to 6 different schools in my K-12 career.  I went to 3 different high schools.  I lived in Germany my last two years of high school (on an American base during the first Gulf War.)  All of these experiences made me very sympathetic with the plight Anna faces as being the new kid in her school and feeling discomfort as an American in a place not known for their love of Americans.  However, even if you did not ever have those experiences, Ms. Perkins builds her story so well that you will feel like you have.

Anna is a believable, sympathetic character with a strong voice and excellent sense of humor. The whole book was a fun romance that I enjoyed tremendously. It's not super suspenseful, yet I stayed up quite late to finish it, so hats off to you, Ms. Perkins!

If you like YA romances that are a little quirky with vivid sensory descriptions of a foreign location, you'll enjoy this one!  It's not just about her finding love, but about finding herself in a place far, far from home.

And if you ever go to Paris, make sure you take plenty of rests.  If you don't, you could be me: