Once Was a Time
By Leila Sales
San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2016.
Grade 4 and Up 322 Pages
This is a great story of friendship, loyalty, and time travel. Lottie and Kitty are best friends during a tumultuous time in history; World War II. The German Nazi’s were desperate to win the war at all cost and they were looking for a secret weapon—they thought it was Lottie’s father. Mr. Bromley was a British scientist studying time travel and a great storyteller. He would keep Lottie and Kitty on their edge of their seats and filled their dreams with traveling back in time, always together, to make the world a place with no war. The Nazi’s kidnapped Bromley, Lottie and Kitty. They threatened to harm the girls in order to get him to spill the secret of finding a time travel portal. The men are ready to harm the girls when Lottie notices a portal and jumps in. Finding herself in the grass not in 1940 but 2013 and Kitty is nowhere to be found. A British girl, now in the United States, seventy-three years into the future and alone. Join Lottie and those along the way who helped her grow and understand that friendship is timeless.
Voyagers: Project Alpha
New York: Random House, 2015
Grade 5 and Up
So the trend started with 39 Clues, Spirit Animals and now the Voyagers Series. Short books in a series, each written by a different author—this one starts off with YA author MacHale. I met D.J. MacHale several years ago when he was promoting his first series of books called Pendragon—he was intense and driven both as author and TV producer. He was great with our middle school students.
If you love surprises and this book had plenty of them! It is kind of mix of Star Trek meets Jurassic Park. It starts off with the Earth running out of energy and going into 8 hours of blackout each day—no electricity, no cell service—a real energy crisis. So the government cuts the energy usage, while scientists believe that they have found an energy source but not on this planet.
So the scientists and government set up he Alpha Project Competition—where kids twelve and under compete to become part of the solution to the energy problem and become part of the four chosen for the Alpha Project.
The competition is fierce amongst the final 8 contestants. But there a few standouts, Dash a leader and a team player, Anna a fierce competitor who will win at all costs, then Gabriel, Carly, Piper, who was wheelchair bound, Niko, Ravi and Sienna. All worthy—but only four are chosen. The first half on the book deals with the competition and the second half with the mission and quest to save the world.
Buckle up for this first installment where there are ancient lands that dinosaurs roam and technology gadgets that will rock the earth!
Series Website: Voyagers
Check out the book trailer: Voyagers
House of Robots
By James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein
Just imagine living in a house filled with robots that could cook, clean, mow lawn, be a pet and maybe even be a brother or sister? Well most of those are a reality to Sammy Hayes-Rodriguez whose mom is top robot scientist! But, common on a robot can not be programmed to be a brother can it? Sammy gets pulled into Mom’s experiment when he has to take “E” to school with him. That’s when he finds out that “E,” Error, as Sammy calls him, is his brobot. It wouldn’t be bad except that “E” is an annoying, motor mouth, know-it-all that is constantly embarrassing Sammy and getting himself into trouble. It is especially tough for Sammy when he only has 2 friends. His best friend is his little sister, who can not leave the house and his second best friend Trip, who is unique unto himself! When Sammy and E get suspended from school for a few days his mom makes some “minor” adjustments and the school gives them both another chance. This time things are different—did Sammy’s mom give E the ability to experience emotions? Perhaps that is why E gets robotnapped. Sammy goes on a mission to find E, to give him another chance and perhaps prove that nerdy kids like Sammy can fit into this world (and maybe even have friends). This is a zany story that has great illustrations that kids will love!
The Eleventh Plague
By Jeff Hirsch
Pages 278. Grades 6 and Up
The United States has been devastated by yet another world war and the Chinese had released a plague—the Eleventh Plague, which took out most of the population. It is here where we find Stephen and his father, trying to survive by being salvagers. So they had to sell scraps just to get food, bullets and water purification tablets. After a run in with slave runners, Stephen finds himself alone and his dad in a coma. Then out of nowhere this group stops and offers help—Stephen being very wary of everyone, reluctantly he accepts help and they are now taken to Settler’s Landing—a quaint town, something like the world before the war and the plague. It is almost too good to be true, food, farms, a doctor and yet Stephen has enemies. Stephen has a decision to make–to settle or to continue to be a nomad. I was intrigued but the end was a letdown to me—it just seemed bland. I wonder where the sequel takes the reader to?
The Here and Now
By Ann Brashares
New York: Delacorte, 2014.
Pages 242. Grades 8 and Up
It used to be if you said sci-fic it meant a “guy book” but over the last couple of years there have been some really great girl sci-fi novels and this one ranks at the top! Ann Brashares, author of the popular chic series, The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, does not disappoint her female fans!
Prenna James has come to the USA with her mom and handful of other people but she is not coming from another country she is coming from another time—she comes from the USA but from the future. Traveling back in time allows seventeen year old Preena and her mother to escape the plague (spread by mosquitoes)—that is wiping out future generations. Ann Brashares hints at true events taking place in our world today—such as climate change; that is leading our country to sure future destruction unless some subtle changes can be made. This group of time travelers tries to blend in and the their “counselors” have stringent rules so that they do not change the course of history but when Prenna meets Ethan Jarves—she finds the rule about “no relationships” with anyone impossible. Can the two time periods really coexist without collisions if love is involved?
This is set in present day but you will love being introduced to future technology like iMemory, a camera and microphone that can be worn as an earring that records 24/7 and uploads it to cloud storage. The story blends the two time periods flawlessly—it is exciting, romantic a must read!
By Kathy Reichs
New York: Razorbill, 2010.
454 Pages Grades 6 and Up
Tori Brennan is 14 years old when her Mom dies at the hands of a drunk driver on the way home from picking up pizza. Tori goes to live with her dad Kit—a dad she hardly knows. Kit is a marine biologist who lives on Morris Island in S. Carolina and works on the remote Lager Island.
All the kids have to go the mainland to school and so Tori, Hiram, Ben and Shelton form a close bond on the island. Tori is the great-niece of Temperance Brenann—from the Bones television show. Science is in her blood
Lager Island is a primate and wildlife refuge that time has forgotten. Kit, Hi, Ben and Shelton discover a dog tag on the island and try to uncover the mystery. What they were not ready for is how that dog tag would lead them to an old murder, exposure to deadly parvo virus when they rescue a wolf-dog “Cooper”, uncover some evil experiments.
That parvo virus gets transferred to the four friends—who become very ill. While maintaining secrecy about breaking “Cooper” out of his isolation, they live to continue to investigate the dog tag mystery. But the soon find they have become virals with dog like skills of intense smell, speed, sight and hearing. Join the dynamic foursome as they discover power within themselves, the power of strong relationships and how science helps them to overcome many obstacles OR is science creating the obstacles? This is a real page turner!
By Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman
New York: Disney/Hyperion Books, 2014.
246 Pages Grades 5 and Up
Book Talk for Tesla’s Attic
Nick Slate is 14 years old and has just moved to Colorado Springs, CO for a fresh start with his dad and his younger brother Danny. They are “escaping a terrible fire that took everything,” even Nick’s mom. They packed up and moved into a house they inherited from a Wacky Great Aunt.
Nick choose the attic for his bedroom but first he needs to clear out all the junk that littered the entire attic—
So come to my garage sale and buy this junk—and so they came and took—well all this junk!! Nick couldn’t believe what people were willing to pay for this junk!!! Nick could not believe it—it is like the people were possessed!!! But this is when the story gets really weird. Nick meets several kids at his garage sale who later become his friends (Petula, Caitlyn—lives next door, Vince and Mitch) and all those devices have some kind of bizarre power over each of the people who buy something they really don’t want or need.
Well as everything starts to clear out of the garage some men come looking to buy every device—but most everything is gone—there is something dark about those men. They wanted to know what Nick sold and if the stuff worked.
As you soon find out—the stuff did work but each device has some kind of bizarre power…..
A tape recorder that tapes what people say but plays back what they REALLY Mean!!! So I might tape that I love your new shoes—when it plays back—it says I wouldn’t get caught dead wearing those to school.
So as people try out their devices they find these wacky and scary powers—most want to get rid of the things they bought. As Nick catches on that these devices are unique—so do the men of secret Society Accerlati.
Who is Nikola Tesla was a Serbian-born scientist and an engineer.
Known for his experiments with electricity—he was genius.
Perhaps he was a creator of a device that could power the entire world?
That is exactly what the old secret society called Accelerati believed—they will go after all the devices no matter what it takes!
Could that device really exist?
You will not be disappointed in the first installment of the Accelerati Trilogy called Tesla’s Attic.
Full of adventure, surprises, mystery, and wacky magical devices!
Book Trailer A great book trailer to get kids to read this great story!
Could work in non-fiction informational reading about Nikola Tesla.