Rush for the Gold: Mystery at the Olympics
By John Feinstein
New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2012.
Pages 314. Grades 5-8.
What great timing! Susan Carol and Stevie have another great mystery to solve and it takes place at the 2012 Olympics in London! So, as I am watching the swimming time trials I am reading about the swimming time trials. Most of the same characters too–like Michael Phelps and Ryan Lochte, U. S. male swimmers. Then there are the fictional characters like Olympic Swimmer, Susan Carol Anderson. That’s right, Susan Carol at 15 is one of the youngest swimmers trying out for the Olympic Team. In the previous books by Feinstein you might recall, Susan Carol and Stevie are teens, which are journalists for prominent newspapers—both very accomplished at a young age. When they are on location scouting out great stories they seem to always find trouble—in fact that might be what brought them together as boyfriend and girlfriend! Their trouble always seems to turn into a great story for their respective newspapers.
The mystery in this book centers around Susan Carol and the media—media agents to be exact. Companies want to be the sponsor of Gold Medal Athletes and the athletes agents want to get a deal made even before their swimmer gets in the water at the Olympics. Stevie is now covering Susan Carol, who has a real shot at two gold medals, and her competition. Stevie knows something is not right when the finals are set to begin—like perhaps the agents already knew who is going to win? Read this timely mystery and get ready for the real Olympics to start next week! Go U.S.A.!
A Girl Named Digit
By Annabel Monaghan
New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2012.
187 pages. Grades 6-8.
I do not know what is worse—my real name Farrah or my nickname Digit! My mom named me after her favorite Charlie’s Angel and my nickname Digit, was given to me at school because I love numbers—I mean really love any kind of math! But being really smart does not get me many friends. So this year, at the new school I am lying low—I told the principals I would work hard and score high for them on standardized tests but in return they needed to keep my secret of how smart I was—by not calling on me in class and by not putting scores on returned papers. So far so good—I have joined up with three unlikely girls as friends—we really have nothing in common but I do get to feel what is really like to have friends. I wonder if I will ever get to be or show my true self—I wonder if I will ever get a boyfriend too!
My whole life changes while I am sitting with my three girlfriends watching this ridiculous “shallow” show when I notice numbers flash at the bottom of the screen. Okay, so now I am intrigued—it happens two more times and then that is when I excuse myself so that I can see what those numbers mean. It has to be a code for something. I have figured out that the sequence is a reverse Fibonacci. As I start to figure out what the code means, a terrorist attack happens on U.S. soil and I figure out that code and attack are linked together! I have my brilliant dad take me to the FBI to report what I know but they line me up with all the other fruitcakes that are paranoid about terrorists. Then in walks FBI Agent John Bennett, he can’t be too much older than me—and what a hottie! I think I’m in love! John takes my story down (not believing me for a minute) and then I am dismissed to go home. By the time my story gets checked out—I find myself “sort of kidnapped” by the FBI to keep me safe, my parents playing the part of distraught parents on TV and FBI agent John Bennett and myself on the run trying to solve the bigger plot—how to capture the ring leader of the terrorist plot. So we go undercover and when that gets blown, we are on our own while terrorists are hunting us down. We will see how the smart young agent, John Bennett really is and of course don’t underestimate what I can contribute in trying to solve this mystery and keep ourselves alive!
New York: Alfred Knopf, 2012
200 pages. Grades 5-7
Who names their kid Wahoo? Well that is my name! Dad named me after a professional wrestler—it also is the name of a saltwater fish. Summer is here and I am in for a hard one–since the iguana froze fell out of the tree and gave my dad a concussion with reoccurring migranes I have to take care of all of the animals! My dad is an animal wrangler—he collects animals that are hurt nurses them back to health and we sometimes release them back to the wild but often they are ours for the duration. The animals are often used in movies and television shows like the survival show of Derek Badger. In this reality show Derek will do anything to survive—he is so awesome. At least that is what I thought until he came to film down in our everglades! He has a stunt double and doesn’t really eat cockroaches. But he is crazy! Crazy stupid that is—he needed footage with an Alligator, so we got Alice ready to go. Since she was not lively enough he decided to get on her back and wrestle with her in the water! Can you say MISTAKE? Even a tame, wild animal will not stand such foolishness—thus we get the name of my book Chomp! Read this hilarious, yet serious book about the everglades, child abuse and finding out who we really are on the inside. Carl Hiaasen does not disappoint! 6/8/12
Divergent by Veronica Roth
Harper Collins Publishers: New York, 2011.
Pages 487. Grades 7 & 8.
Divergent is super crazy book. It is paired as a read alike to Hunger Games—Divergent hedges on being a more psychological thriller dystopian novel than the Hunger Games! Divergent thinking is defined as: thinking in an unusual and unstereotyped way, e.g. to generate several possible solutions to a problem. The Word Divergent as: tending to be different or develop in different directions. Thank you dictionary.com. So what does that mean to siblings Caleb and Beatrice? It is during their 16th year when they have to choose what they want to devote their life to—not in like a job or a career but what virtues do they hold to be true. Sixteen is the age where you have to choose your faction. Your virtue can determine where you choose to live. Currently, Caleb and Beatrice live in Abnegation—the selfless faction. They put everyone above themselves—this faction runs the government, everything is gray, quiet and calm. Candor faction—always are truthful and honest—which can really be brutal at times. Erudites are the intelligent faction, Amity faction holds peace above all else and Dauntless the courageous and bravest faction of all. All determined by an aptitude test.
Beatrice, I walk into school today with a real sense of dread. It is today that all 16 year olds take the “aptitude test”—it is unlike any test I have ever had. I sit down in the cold steel chair where I get strapped in. Then my head is hooked up with wires and then I am asked to drink the serum. While I am “dreaming or sleeping” the nightmare begins. First, I am faced with two baskets one with a knife and one with cheese. I am told to choose. I take neither! I now turn and I have to face a vicious dog coming at me—what should I do. (I guess the cheese or knife would have been handy here!) Ahh, I remember from chemistry class that dogs can smell fear, I slow my breathing, I tell myself I am not afraid, but the dog still comes toward me—oh yeah I remember hearing you should never look the dog straight in the eye—that is a sign of aggression. So I need to think quick—I lie down, be submissive I tell myself, I can feel the dog’s breath on my neck and then…….I feel a wet sloppy lick. The dog is very docile, it wants to play until a little girl in a white dress runs over……the dog turns on her and is once again vicious. I jump on the dog and the whole scene disappears. I am out of breath and then another scenario pops up. When I awaken I am totally spent and totally nervous about the results. Over the last 16 years I have not really been good at the whole selfless thing—it does come naturally to Caleb—I am sure he will choose Abnegation. But just where do I fit in? The tester comes back in and says my results are inconclusive—I push her. I don’t want to be factionless and live on the streets—that’s a death sentence. She then whispers to me that I am Divergent and I should tell no one. She says she cannot explain and that I can choose any faction I want. I go home to mull it over; I must not speak to anyone until I declare my faction at the ceremony the next day. My brother does not speak to me—he looks drained and devoid of all color. Can I leave my family? I know that Abnegation is not who I am? Can I be brave enough to jump off and on moving trains, always taking a dare from someone, can I be Dauntless. I can always be honest? That is not my strong suit. Peaceful too much like Abnegation. Intelligent, I doubt it. Caleb blows me away when he chooses Erudites. My dad looks angry. I choose, then blurt out Dauntless, my dad is heartbroken but mom looks really weird as I walk away she has the hint of a smile on her face. My faction is chosen and now I must train to be brave and courageous at all times what does that mean? Who will be joining me? Come along and watch my brutal initiate training, see if they can break me after all I tested Divergent or if I have what it takes to be Dauntless?
This novel is violent like Hunger Games was—killing and blood. But the core of this book lies in the psyche—can you control your mind. That is where you will find the answers to your true self, your virtues.
Conspiracy 365: January
By Gabrielle Lord
Tulsa, OK: Kane Miller, 2010.
185 pages Grades 5-8
I am 15 years old, live with my mom and little sister–my dad died 6 months ago. Life is just starting to get back to normal, a “new normal”. Then my life goes totally crazy when I go from a normal kid to a fugitive. Let me go back to my dad–he was researching our family in Ireland and shared with me that he had important information to share as soon as he got home. But he came down with a ‘mysterious’ virus that killed him shortly after he got back. My dad left me some drawings, some names that I now need to piece together. Finally, a wild stranger approaches me and tells me that I must hide for the next year and so I, Callum Ormond, am on the run–running for my life!
If you love action packed mysteries you will love this book! I really hate huge cliff hangers and this book has one! Guess I am going to have to get book 2.