Saturday, April 30, 2011


Rene Fowler is living "a scary scene in a scary movie."  He is afraid to step on a crack, he smells his left hand when he gets nervous, he must wash his body parts in the right order, he can't move when the time adds up to thirteen, and there's more.  According to Rene, if any of these rules are not followed, life will be like "a scary scene in a scary movie" - horrible things will happen.

Life has always been challenge for Rene.  When he was younger his odd behavior may have been considered cute, but now that he is fourteen and still inclined to wear his superman cape, he is viewed as weird.  He has no friends and fitting in now in high school is his latest challenge.  He recognizes the cliques that surround him - the Cutters, the Smartypants kids, the Devilblackcoats, and the Bigbulletholes with their over-sizes piercings, and he knows there is not group that will accept him.

When Rene realizes Gio is making overtures of friendship, he is thrilled but also fearful that something will happen to ruin everything.  Between his favorite teacher, Mr. Head, and this budding friendship with Gio, Rene things maybe life has turned around for him.  Unfortunately, Phil, his ex-dad, shows up out of nowhere and things get complicated again.

Now that Phil is back, Rene fears that his mother is planning to reunite them as a family.  Phil has been gone for years, and his emotionally abusive treatment is something Rene has not missed.  Is it possible that having a new friend has given him the strength he needs to stand up to Phil?  Has his odd relationship with Mr. Head given him the courage to stand his ground?  Time will tell.

Debut author Matt Blackstone reveals a true talent for creating quirky characters and using humor to tell the story of Rene's battle against OCD and the turmoil of his dysfunctional family.  Teen readers will easily relate to Rene's struggles and to the rest of the this colorful cast of characters.  Blackstone is an author worth watching.   

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


When Catherine's mother died and her father made plans to send her away to live with relatives, she came up with a plan of her own.  After years of listen in on her father's conversations, she learned that instead of operating a legitimate shipping business, he is really a pirate.  Fascinated by her images of life on a pirate ship have Catherine begging her father to let her join him.

Despite his reservations, he agrees to allow Catherine to become a member of his crew.  There is one requirement.  It is well known among pirates that the presence of a woman on the ship will bring bad luck to everyone on board.  Catherine must dress and act like a boy and use the name Charlie.  The captain introduces her as his son and the voyage begins.

Life aboard the ship is not the glamorous existence Catherine imagined.  Conditions are deplorable.  Washing clothes means simply laying the garments on the deck and hoping for rain.  The food is bug infested and toilet conditions are extremely primitive.  Although, she shares her father's cabin, he quickly makes it clear that a captain's door is always open giving her absolutely no privacy.

Complicating matters is the fact that one crew member believes the captain is hiding a valuable gem from the rest of his crew.  This crew member is a constant threat to the captain's safety and should he discover the captain is hiding his daughter on board, both their lives would be in danger.

Author Eve Bunting takes readers into the world of sailing ships and pirates.  There is constant suspense as Catherine worries about being discovered and at the same time she attempts to discover the truth about the hidden gem.  Although the idea of a woman on a pirate ship is not unheard of, it is unusual and makes for an exciting read.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

DEATH BENEFITS by Sarah N. Harvey

Royce can't believe it when his mother announces that they are leaving Nova Scotia and heading clear across the country to Victoria, British Columbia.  He is going to be leaving behind all his friends and the only home he has ever known all for some grouchy ninety-five year old grandfather he hardly remembers.

If moving isn't bad enough, Royce is shocked when his mother says she will pay him to act as caregiver for his grandfather until school starts at the end of the summer.  At least the pay she is offering beats what he would get flipping burgers at McDonald's.

When Royce finally meets Arthur, he immediately has second thoughts about accepting this job instead of something in the fast food business.  The old man totters along with the aid of a walker, watches CNN, MTV, and reruns of Little House on the Prairie.  When he isn't captivated by the TV, he is yelling for coffee and chocolate ice cream or swearing at Royce.  Anyone observing their daily rituals would never guess that Arthur had once been a world famous cello player and renowned womanizer.

The relationship between Royce and Arthur gradually begins to change.  He is still a demanding, cantankerous old coot, but he surprises Royce one afternoon when he demands that Royce take him for a drive.  Considering that Royce only has a learner's permit, it is rather amazing that Arthur trusts his young grandson to drive his most cherished possession - an awesome 1956 T-bird.  The afternoon drives soon become a regular routine.

The summer Royce spends with his grandfather turns out to be valuable beyond his wildest dreams.  Despite his often abrasive manner, the old man has an excellent sense of humor that matches Royce's own ironic view of life, and the companionship that forms provides benefits for both.  When Arthur is stricken with a series of strokes, Royce is crushed to see the stately old man stripped of his dignity.

DEATH BENEFITS by author Sarah N. Harvey is the entertaining story of a friendship that bridges the generation gap and shows how two people from different times and different worlds can come to know and understand each other deeply.  Readers will quickly come to love both Royce and Arthur and to appreciate how the characters celebrate the benefits life has given them.

Saturday, April 23, 2011


Are you ready to win!  It's super easy. 

Fill out the following form by midnight May 15, and you'll have five chances to win IT'S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY by Ned Vizzini.

Friday, April 22, 2011

MASKED by Norah McClintock

The actions in a convenience store one afternoon change the lives of a small cast of characters.  MASKED may be just over 100 pages, but the plot still takes many exciting twists and turns.

Daniel's real reason for stopping by has nothing to do with the beverages, snack, and wrestling magazines that he places on the check-out counter.  He is out to retrieve information for another businessman interested in obtaining the property where the convenience store is located.  His request to use the restroom is just an excuse to get a peek at the company files.

As Daniel begins his undercover work, he hears the store owner call upstairs to someone named Rosie.  Assuming that someone is the owner's wife, Daniel is surprised to see it is actually a girl his age and he realizes that he knows her.

Rosie reluctantly enters through the backroom and seems irritated to have been called on to perform some petty task by her store-owner father.  She has her own agenda which involves the young man waiting impatiently upstairs.  She was hoping not to have to deal with any store business ever again after today.

When a masked man holding a gun enters the picture, everyone is taken completely by surprise.  He seems serious but not particularly competent in his role as criminal.  Gathering all the available cash doesn't seem to be his main motivation.

Readers are in for some surprises as all the plot threads are pulled together.  MASKED is loaded with the unexpected making it a good book for teens and especially reluctant readers. 

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

THE RUNNING DREAM by Wendelin Van Draanen

An accident involving a junk-hauling truck and a school bus leaves one high school track team member dead and one team member with her leg amputated below the knee.

When Jessica wakes up after surgery, she learns that her leg was hopelessly crushed leaving doctors no choice but to amputate it.  At the same time she is facing her own crippling injury, she learns that fellow teammate, Lucy, didn't survive.  Her world looks pretty bleak and hopeless.

Because she is young and healthy, Jessica's recovery goes smoothly and she soon heads home from the hospital.  Physical therapists have been preparing what remains of her leg for a prosthetic replacement.  Her wish is to walk again, but she doesn't hold out much hope that she will ever run again.  Supportive family and friends work hard to convince her she needs to be patient and keep a positive outlook.  Of course, this is easier said than done.

Upon returning to school, Jessica finds herself working hard to catch up on the work she has missed, especially Algebra II.  Because of her wheelchair, she sits in the back of the classroom with Rosa, also wheelchair bound due to cerebral palsy.  Jessica discovers that Rose is a math whiz and can explain the concepts even better than the teacher.  It's amazing how Jessica really never noticed Rosa before the accident, but now she understands that cerebral palsy is just an outside condition and that there is much more to Rosa on the inside.

Meanwhile, medical expenses are challenging the family budget, and when the track coach mentions the idea of a "running" leg for Jessica, the $20,000 expense seem impossible.  But once again her friends step forward and decide to make Jessica's ability to someday run again their cause.  There are bake sales, car washes, and anonymous donations to raise money for a special prosthetic running leg.  All this enthusiastic support encourages Jessica to begin dreaming of one day running again.

THE RUNNING DREAM by Wendelin Van Draanen explores the heartbreak resulting from a tragic accident.  Being a teen is difficult enough, but add to that the loss of a limb and life seems too depressing to go on.  Not only is Jessica battling the loss of her running dream, but also the self-esteem issues of how others now view her and how she fits into the world of the other healthy, happy teens around her.  Van Draanen proves that determination, courage, and empathy for others can sustain hope in what might be considered a hopeless situation.  Readers from middle school on up will find this one a rewarding read.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


In honor of Teen Book Drop, my students donated three boxes of gently used books to the Department of Human Services office in our community.

They will put them on a bookshelf in the waiting area in their office for kids and families that are interested in reading but can't afford bookstores.  We hope they enjoy the books.

JUMPSTART THE WORLD by Catherine Ryan Hyde

As the book opens, a mother is helping her young daughter move into her own apartment, even taking time to make a visit to the animal shelter to select a cat to provide company during the sometimes lonely transition of living on one's own.  This not so unusual scene turns very unusual when the reader learns that the new tenant is only fifteen.

Elle is actually happy to move into her own place even if the reason is that her mother's current boyfriend doesn't want to deal with a teenager.  Her mother always wanted Elle to fit into a certain mold - wear the "right" clothes and have the "right" friends.  That's just not Elle.

Elle's neighbors include a young couple, Frank and Molly.  Frank immediately offers to help with whatever Elle needs.  His eagerness to help and his calm, gentle manner make him instantly attractive to Elle.  She is soon chatting with him and heading to the couple's apartment for homemade chicken noodle soup.  Elle doesn't like to admit it out loud, but she has a crush on Frank.

Starting school in a new school on the first day of the year has its challenges, but when Elle impulsively decides to cut her hair the night before that first day, she takes a risk she later regrets.  The day has hardly begun when Elle discovers the word "Queer" painted down the entire length of her locker.  She is furious and humiliated but pleasantly surprised when a girl named Shane offers her the needed supplies to remove the offending word.

With Shane's help, Elle makes friends with a group of misfits.  At least she now has a table to eat at in the cafeteria, and she quickly finds that the group wants to include her in all their activities.  They make her feel less lonely, and at a party they convince her to have at her apartment, they meet Frank.  The judgment of the group is that Frank is a "trans-man" and probably preparing for transgender surgery.  Elle is stunned and reacts by sending her friends home and avoiding them at school.

As much as she likes Frank, Elle just isn't certain how finding out about his secret makes her feel.  She questions if perhaps she isn't who she thinks she is and worries about her own possible sexuality.  At the same time she fears she will lose the friendship of the only person she has felt close to in a long, long time.

JUMPSTART THE WORLD is Catherine Ryan Hyde's fifth novel for young adults.  Elle is not your typical fifteen year old.  Hyde portrays Elle's tenuous relationship with her mother as a possible reason for her more mature attitude which allows her to handle herself in her own apartment and relate to the world with a much more tolerant view than most adults.  Readers will become attached to the misfit friends surrounding Elle and admire their courage in the face of potentially cruel treatment and prejudice.  As always this Hyde novel is well worth reading.

Saturday, April 16, 2011


I'm pleased to announce the winner of the giveaway contest for IDENTICAL by Ellen Hopkins.  The winner is

****  DAISY  ****

Congratulations, Daisy!!!  I'll be emailing you immediately to find out where to send your winnings.

Thank you to all who entered and watch for a new contest soon!


No one knows the actual statistics on deaths due to the Spanish influenza in 1918, but estimates range from 50-100 million worldwide.  When the sickness hit Portland, Maine, Lydia Pierce lost her mother, her father, and her baby sister.  Uncle Henry came to collect Lydia and her brother Daniel.  They went to live in a house crowded with their many cousins.

Uncle Henry and his wife just couldn't handle two more children so Lydia and Daniel were packed up and taken to the Shaker community at Sabbathday Lake.  Life there was very different from their life in Portland.

The Shakers are a religious community that believes in hard work, clean living, and the separation of men and women.  There are no marriages and no romantic involvement in a Shaker community.  Everyone shares all material goods and everyone works to support the community.  It may sound harsh and impersonal, but that is not the case.  Love and respect are present in abundance.

Lydia desperately missed her parents and her baby sister, but life with the Shakers kept her busy.  She and Daniel attended school and each were given jobs around the complex.  Lydia helped in the kitchens, the laundry, and with basket making, although she never seemed to be given the chore she wanted most - helping with the candy making.  Daniel lived and worked with the men.  When he wasn't in the classroom, he helped with the animals and other chores on the farm.

LIKE THE WILLOW TREE is part of the Dear America series focusing on historical fiction.  Lydia's story greatly enhanced my understanding of the Shaker way of life.  Since the community never produced children, young people like Lydia and her brother were welcomed with open arms.  Lydia tells of the diminishing numbers in her Shaker family and how unless adults learned of this wholesome way of life, the communities would eventually cease to exist.

Author Lois Lowry captures Lydia's experience beautifully.  Although her diary simply recounts humble daily activities, I found it a fascinating read.

Wednesday, April 13, 2011


BATTLE DRESS takes readers to West Point with new cadet Andi Davis.  Andi is sure this is the place for her, but surviving New Cadet Basic Training will be a true test of her both physically and mentally.

Andi is leaving her home near Chicago without much support from her family.  Yes, they are all in the car as they travel the 1,000 miles to her new home for the next four years, but they are sure she will not last at West Point.  Andi's tumultuous home life is one of the main reasons she is willing to accept the challenge at the military academy.  With a crazy, unpredictable mother and an emotionally absent father, Andi knows she is not going to miss them.  Hopefully, her classmates will become her new family.

As one of only two girls in her platoon, Andi is determined to prove she deserves her spot among the men.  She excels in running and quickly impresses both cadets and officers.  She pushes herself and rises to every challenge directed her way.  A sometimes tense friendship develops with her roommate Gabrielle.  Very much the opposite of Gab, Andi still finds her fellow female cadet a source of inspiration and support.

Author Amy Efaw tells a powerful story that allows readers to experience the rigorous conditions of basic training at West Point.  It is very clear that cadets who survive the months of training preceding the start of their college experience are the best of the best and exemplify what we would want from future leaders of our country.  Efaw fans familiar with her other novel AFTER will find this one much different yet still a very worthwhile read.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

RAGE by Jackie Morse Kessler

When I heard a young librarian "book talk" Kessler's HUNGER, I took a chance and ordered both HUNGER and her second novel for teens called RAGE.  I'm happy that I did.

HUNGER grabbed my attention with its unique combination of anorexia and the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse.  It was a powerful book that didn't talk down to teens about a serious issue. 

RAGE has the same Horsemen of the Apocalypse connection, but its focus is on the subject of cutting.  This is another topic that mainly involves teens and young adults.  The real truth behind the frightening behavior will no doubt remain a secret to adults which makes it even more important to let teens know others share their pain.

Missy is dealing with multiple issues - a fairly new breakup with her boyfriend Adam, taunts from classmates about her choice of wardrobe, a younger sister who recently became an annoying freshman, and parents who say they understand but still pile on the pressure.  Relief from all the stress is hidden away in a lockbox in Missy's closet, and the evidence of that relief can be found in the form of scars on her arms, stomach, and inner thighs.  Missy cuts herself with a razor blade.

Just as HUNGER begins, an early scene in RAGE details the visit of a deliveryman arriving at Missy's front door with a mysterious package.  She doesn't understand the veiled message from the deliveryman and really doesn't have time to waste, so she grabs the package, slams the door in his face, and carries the box to her room where she shoves it on the top shelf of her closet.

She receives another visit from the deliveryman she comes to know as Death on the night of Kevin's party.  When Adam approaches her at the party and says he wants to make things right with her again, Missy falls for his ploy and ends up being humiliated in front of everyone at the party.  The only thing she can think about is running home to her lockbox and the release she can gain from the silver blade.

Unknown to her family and friends, Missy hides in her room and cuts and cuts until, fingers slippery with blood, she cuts too deeply and she realizes her life might be over.  That's when she remembers the package stashed on the shelf above her.  When she is finally able to knock it from its perch and open it, she finds out the true purpose Death has for her.

Becoming one of the Four Horsemen "War" gives Missy a glimpse of the power she has hidden within.  As she witnesses the tragedies of the world while on the back of her blood-red steed, she learns she has the power to defeat and deal with the stress and pressure that make her miserable.

Both RAGE and HUNGER by Jackie Morse Kessler are worth adding to your collection.  Her unusual approach to problems faced by teens today might be just the answer for readers dealing with similar issues.

SKATE FREAK by Lesley Choyce

When Quinn's mom decided to head west to attend a training school to become a heavy equipment operator, she left Quinn and his dad behind.  Without a job to support them, Quinn's dad announced that the two of them would be leaving their little seaside town as well. 

Now Quinn is living in the city and he hates it.  He has already been targeted by the punks at school who call him a Freak.  The one place he feels comfortable is on his skateboard, but even then he is harassed when he shows up at the skate park. 

Skating is Quinn's release.  When the skate park is filled with little kids and annoying teens, Quinn heads for the streets.  The city has a lot to offer in the way of illegal skating entertainment, but there are also more cops around to stop him from riding in off-limit public places.  One cop catches him riding the railing of a church and stops to give him some grief.  Instead of hauling him in for destruction of property, the cop takes Quinn's board and tells him he'll need to bring a parent with him to pick it up at the station.

Quinn's dad isn't terribly upset when he drives Quinn to the police station.  In fact, the trip nets Dad with a job replacing the station's janitor who recently quit.  Having a job is a good thing for Quinn's dad, but it also means less of a chance of them leaving the city and returning to Quinn's hometown.

There is one bright spot in Quinn's life - Jasmine.  When he sees her sticking her skateboard in her locker at school, he wants desperately to talk to her, but talking to girls has never been his strength.  Fortunately, he bumps into her one Sunday morning at the skate park.  They hit it off and begin meeting on Sunday mornings when the park is deserted.  She even starts to help him with his school work enough that his grades begin to improve.  Things seem to be working out for once, but of course, that doesn't last long.

Author Lesley Choyce has written over sixty-eight books.  SKATE FREAK is one written for Orca Currents and is written with the reluctant reader in mind.  Barely over 100 pages, it offers a high interest story at an easy reading level.  I had to sneak it out of my classroom to get a chance to read it.

Friday, April 8, 2011


Here's a fun, colorful book of odd facts that is sure to stimulate discussion.

LEARN SOMETHING EVERY DAY is a collection of interesting, although fairly useless facts.  It is the type of book that could be picked up casually and read in a random fashion, however, once a reader gets a peek at just a few of the unique facts it will be difficult to put this one down.

Here are a few samples to whet your appetite:
"Staying awake for two weeks can kill you."
"Ferrets can suffer from depression."
"Originally brides carried flowers to mask body odor."
"The longest carrot was nearly 20 feet long."

The facts are printed on lively colored pages and include simple but appropriate illustrations.  This book is perfect to motivate reluctant readers.  Simply hand them this book and you'll "catch" them reading before they realize what they're doing.  LEARN SOMETHING EVERY DAY is also a great gift for the trivia buff who already has one of everything.

HOME INVASION by Monique Polak

Police are working diligently to catch the person guilty of numerous home invasions in Josh's city.  There have been a rash of break-ins made all the more frightening because the victims are in their homes at the time of the break-ins. 

Josh's mother will be gone on a weeklong business trip which means Josh will be spending the time alone with his step-father.  His mother hopes the time will give the two a chance to bond, but Josh knows that's not going to happen.

Supposedly, Clay is a painter who works at home.  As far as Josh can determine, Clay spends more time watching TV and drinking beer than painting.  Josh's main goal is to get out of the house as much as possible.

The first time Josh entered someone's house uninvited it was an accident, but the attraction of surreptitiously watching a "regular" family drew Josh like a magnet.  There was something calming yet exhilarating that had Josh repeating the act of trespassing on several more occasions.  Then Josh witnesses a real home invasion, and he realizes that what he thought of as a harmless activity is a truly threatening crime.

HOME INVASION by Monique Polak is quick read perfect for the reluctant reader.  Polak draws in readers quickly and keeps the action coming.  The suspense of the break-ins combined with Josh's emotional struggle with his step-father will appeal to a variety of readers.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

REVOLVER by Marcus Sedgwick

It's 1910 in the frozen land of the Arctic Circle.  Sig has never known any other life.  His father came here to get rich finding gold, but that never happened.  Now it is just Sig, his sister Anna, and their step-mother Nadya because Sig's father is dead.

It happened as he returned from town.  He foolishly cut across the lake on the dogsled.  He always told Sig it was not the safest route, but for some reason he didn't heed his own advice. 

When Sig discovered his father's frozen body, he was able to piece together what probably happened.  The lower portion of his father's body fell through the ice, and using his remaining strength, he was able to pull himself from the frigid water.  Scattered papers from his pack and jumbled stick matches were evidence that he had tried to start a fire in hopes of warming himself, but the sub-zero temperature worked faster than his ungloved hands could manage to generate heat.

With the help of Nadya and Anna, Sig brings the body back to their tiny cabin, and the two women head back to town for help.  Sig waits uncomfortably with his father's remains until he hears a knock at the door.  Instead of the help he anticipates, it is a huge man who identifies himself as Gunther Wolff, and he demands his share of the gold he says Sig's father owes him.

What follows is a day and night of terror for Sig and soon his sister as well.  Sig learns secrets about his dead father's past and his connection to this frightening man.  The siblings also discover that lessons learned in childhood do provide answers even in the toughest of situations.

Author Marcus Sedgwick tells an amazing story of survival in one of the most inhospitable environments on earth.  He takes readers into a tiny, isolated cabin and keeps them on the edge of their seat until the last page.  Adventure fans are sure to love this one.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011


Baseball at its best, the World Series, the Little League World Series that is.  Josh LeBlanc and his friends have a chance to make it to the big time.  It is the goal Josh and his dad have been dreaming of since Josh was old enough to grip a baseball.

As exciting as the thought of playing with the best of the best from around the world seems, there is a dark cloud over Josh's field of dreams.  His parents are probably going to be divorcing soon.  His father recently won a coaching contract with Nike and along with it a new girl friend.  While looking for a new house, Josh's dad met an attractive realtor named Diane Cross.  Now Josh is trying to play his best on the baseball diamond, while at the same time he is watching his mother's life crumble.

To make matters worse, the new girl friend comes complete with an annoying kid named Zamboni, and he also plays on the Josh's team.  How is he supposed to concentrate on the game, be there to support his mother, and keep a smile on his face for his father?

Author Tim Green once again takes readers on a baseball adventure with non-stop game action on the field and intrigue off the field.  Even readers without an interest in baseball will find this a satisfying read.

Monday, April 4, 2011

HUNGER by Jackie Morse Kessler

A teenager is on the brink.  She has swallowed several antidepressants and has the remaining pills clutched in her hand.  Her decision to end it all is interrupted by the delivery of a mysterious package.  The package contains a set of scales and an invitation to join the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse as the rider known as Famine.

Lisabeth "Lisa" isn't sure what to make of the black steed hanging around the backyard munching on her mother's flowering shrubs.  How does disappearing into the night to faraway places where people are suffering fit into Lisa's own chaotic life?  

Fighting her own personal battle with anorexia, Lisa must deal with what she has come to know as the Thin voice constantly echoing in her mind whenever food is near.  As she begins to face the reality that friends and family suspect her condition, she uses her Famine persona to attempt to regain control of her physical and emotional balance.

Author Jackie Morse Kessler pairs the shame and pain of aneroxia with the unlikely plot partner of the Four Horsemen.  The story that results from this pairing packs a punch.  Readers will experience the emotional upheaval of a dangerous condition without the "preachy" tone of most similar novels about anorexia.  HUNGER is an excellent addition to any teen collection.  Kessler has a second novel, RAGE, that explores another sensitive topic - cutting.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

YES, SHE CAN by Glenn Stout

Author Glenn Stout's latest book titled YES, SHE CAN features five female athletes who have paved the way for girls interested in the world of sports.

The five record-breaking females are swimmer Trudy Ederle, track stars Louise Stokes and Tidye Pickett, jockey Julie Krone, and Indy car racer Danica Patrick.

Trudy Ederle learned to swim at an early age and only truly felt at home while swimming and floating in sea water.  Encouraged by family, friends, and coaches, she challenged herself to be the first female to swim the English Channel.  After one failed attempt, she succeeded and even broke the record set by an earlier male swimmer.

In the 1930's two female track runners broke the racial barriers in their sport.  Louise Stokes from Massachusetts and Tidye Pickett of Chicago became well-known in the sport of track and field and went on to qualify for two Olympic teams.  They faced hard times and unexplained prejudice, but their courage and determination to compete just like everyone else made them instrumental in opening track to not only women but more importantly, African-American women.

Julie Krone was two years old when she rode her first horse and just a teen when she announced that she was going to be a woman jockey.  With the support of her mother, Julie searched until she found a job at a race track.  Her hard work and toughness helped her prove to trainers and owners that she could compete with the best male jockeys and win.

Finally, Danica Patrick represents women in the sport of Indy car racing.  YES, SHE CAN tells of her first scary ride in a go-cart and how even a crash that threw her from the cart didn't stop her from getting behind the wheel to race again.  Many called her too pretty to race and claimed that her actress good looks are what actually made her popular, but Patrick's performance on the race track tells a different story.

YES, SHE CAN is the second book in a new series, Good Sports, by Glenn Stout.  He specializes in sports biographies for both kids and adults.  Sports fans of all ages are sure to enjoy reading about these pioneers in sports history.  Coming next in the series is SOLDIER ATHLETES.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

STORM RUNNERS by Roland Smith

John Masters was struck by lightning and it changed his life.  After having lost his wife and daughter in a tragic accident, John was living his life for his son Chase.  He made a good living as a building contractor, but after a near death experience, his life turned in a different direction.

John started studying the weather, and he and his son began to chase storms.  They would arrive before predicted storms would hit, help area residents prepare for the expected tornado, hurricane, or other natural disaster, and then they would haul in the cash making repairs after the weather event had passed.  Chase sort of enjoyed the travel adventures with his father, but constantly changing schools and making new friends was sometimes difficult.

Father and son are now headed to Florida and hurricane Emily.  They find a place to park their rigs, and as John and his partner head for the area where forecasters predict the hurricane will make landfall, Chase heads off to enroll himself in school.  Then the real adventure begins...

Roland Smith is the author of more than a dozen adventure books.  His stories are fast-paced and action-packed.  They are perfect books for middle grade readers.  A sequel to STORM RUNNERS is scheduled for release in the fall.