Favourite books reviewed for CM magazine:
For children in Kindergarten to grade 2
Jasper John Dooley: Star of the Week.
Jasper is excited about wearing Ms. Tosh’s silver star all week, and looking forward to the special projects he’ll be presenting to the class over the five days; but his week doesn’t go quite as he expects.
Jasper John Dooley: Left Behind
After waving Nan’s ship off, his stomach feels a little pththth, “like when [his] beach ball leaked.” Jasper wonders if he’ll end up flat like the beach ball.
Jasper John Dooley: NOT in Love
Jasper John has no interest in an after-school play date at Isabel’s house. He thinks that, “All girls do is stay inside and brush their hair.” Nevertheless, Mom arranges the play date.
Jasper John Dooley: You’re in Trouble
Jasper’s troubles start with the forbidden high-energy drink he accidentally bought from a vending machine after soccer practice.
Jasper John Dooley: Lost and Found
Jasper and his good friend Ori have begun hunting for buried treasure at school when Jasper’s Nan comes across a real gem in one of her storage boxes – Dad’s old toy mouse from when he was a kid.
For readers ages 8 – 10 years
26 Tips for Surviving grade 6
Author Catherine Austen’s 26 Tips For Surviving Grade 6 is a simply told yet fast-paced and colourful blend of humour and drama.
28 Tricks for a Fearless Grade 6
It’s the beginning of grade six and Dave Davidson’s school has planned a Back-to-School dance. Dave can’t imagine why anyone would want to dance about being back in school, but changes his mind when he notices that Claire is looking forward to it.
Next to her mom, Harley’s favourite relative is Grandma. Unfortunately, Harley’s mom and her mother do not get along well.
The Adventures of Caraway Kim
11 year old Kim has a problem: his 13 year old brother, Matt, has declared Kim the instigator of major vandalism done to a neighbour’s farm.
The Mealworm Diaries
On the second day of school, Jeremy’s teacher, Mr. Collins, gives everyone in the class a mealworm to nurture and observe. When Aaron “Cantwait” sends his mealworm flying across the room, Jeremy happens to catch it.
Better Thank Weird
Eleven-year-old Aaron Waite has a lot of energy and boundless imagination. Most of his classmates call him Aaron Cantwait. Some just call him weird.
For readers ages 9 – 11 years
It’s a month since Saara survived the sinking of the Empress of Ireland, in which over a thousand others drowned. She is still plagued by nightmares and cannot stop wondering why her life has been spared.
After a train ride to Quebec, Saara, her mother and brother boarded the Empress of Ireland. The first night they were underway, a coal ship struck the Empress of Ireland amidships.
Michael plays for the Oshawa Kicks, the current provincial indoor soccer champions, so he doesn’t usually bother with school soccer. But, when Miriah, a girl he wants to impress, asks him to help Tarcisio’s losing soccer team, Michael says yes.
For readers ages 11 – 13 years
Queen of the Toilet Bowl
Renata emigrated from Brazil to North America with her mother and little brother. In her first year at an “excellent” high-school in a wealthy urban neighbourhood, Renata is faced with racism, stereotyping, and bullying.
In order to pass a Bioethics course, Welkin must conduct a study of primitive life by going back in time and invading the body of a juvenile human.
Thirteen-year-old Lucy is used to being driven to her Catholic school by her parents and picked up after school by her grandmother. She’s also used to her mom’s occasional fits of temper; but she never expected her to move out.
For readers ages 12 – 14 years
Beth Goobie’s Something Girl is the powerful story of 15 year-old Sophie, the “stupid, no good, nothing girl.”
Three Little Words
Sid is a devoted artist. He has a close friend in neighbouring Chloe but it’s summer holiday now and he fears he may be on his way to becoming an obsessive-compulsive hermit.
When fifteen-year-old Abby is asked to change an inaccessible light bulb at her part-time job, she breaks her back and is paralysed from the waist down.
Harold ‘the ghost’ is an albino living in small-town, southern USA a couple of years after the conclusion of WWII. His father has been killed in the war and his beloved brother – and only sibling – is labeled “missing in action.”
For readers ages 14 – 17 years
Pain and Wastings
Ethan Kirby is an angry and volatile sixteen-year-old. When the police catch Ethan and a friend having some after-hours fun in an amusement park near the boys’ group home, Ethan is bitten by a police dog.
Something to Hang On To
Brenna’s captivating collection of eleven short stories and one twelve-page play are all set in North America, and all but one – Gift Of The Old Wives – are contemporary. Readers will find each story appealing thanks largely to their unique, endearing, and credible central characters.
Edge of Flight
Before Vanisha goes back to Vermont for university, she wants to conquer Edge of Flight – “seventy feet of hard sandstone up a perfect arête” in the Ozark Mountains.
Sixteen-year-old Amy wakes up in a windowless room she doesn’t recognize, and with no clue as to how she got there. The last thing she can recall is being at a party.
Mazo de la Roche wrote Jalna back in 1928, but today’s soap-opera loving audience would still find this 356-page yarn a quick and easy read.