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Beverly B has commented on (240) products.

The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis
The Madman of Piney Woods

Beverly B, May 21, 2015

Christopher Paul Curtis is an amazing writer. He keeps giving us important, realistic historical fiction novels that are also suspenseful, funny, poignant and insightful. The Madman of Piney Woods is most definitely in this category. Madman starts out as two different stories from two different points of view. Benji a Buxton child, and Red, an Irish immigrant, are very different boys, living two very different lives, until their stories come together in a chance encounter that will change both boys and both families. Curtis weaves facts about the Civil War, Irish famine and prejudice seamlessly through the story without once sounding preachy. Set in the same Canadian town as Elijah of Buxton, Madman is the story of second generation family descended from runaway slaves. It is also the story of a family of Irish immigrants who fled persecution and starvation in Ireland and settled in a town just outside of Buxton. Curtis creates characters whose racial hatred is despicable, but he also shows how their dark hearts and souls were formed by horrible circumstances and/or a horrible upbringing. Most importantly, he shows how love, respect and acceptance can change a hardened heart. And he does this in a story that is fast paced, entertaining and memorable. I would love to read more of the adventures of Benji and Red.
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Under a Painted Sky by Stacey Lee
Under a Painted Sky

Beverly B, May 21, 2015

Under a Painted Sky had me laughing out loud and biting my nails. An historical fiction adventure starring two teen runaways, a hotel slave and a Chinese American musician wanted for murder, Samantha and Annamae are not the kind of young adults you'd expect to see riding across the country on the Oregon Trail. In fact, you wouldn't see them at all because they disguise themselves as boys. The girls trying to learn to behave as "real cowboys" is hysterical. They are complete city slickers. Neither knows how to ride a horse, shoot, or follow a trail, but they know there are warrants out for their arrest, and they will be executed if they are captured. When they are adopted by a band of young cowboys, Sammy and Andy hope they can keep their identities hidden long enough to learn survival skills from the young men and get escorted to someplace close to their destination. The boys are as country and uncouth as the girls are proper and civilized. The miscommunication between the two groups who barely speak the same language (even though everyone speaks English fluently) is comical. Between the humorous events is a very realistic story of life on the Oregon Trail. The dangers, disease and violence are portrayed in chilling and dark detail. Samantha and Annamae realize they must be quick learners if they are going to survive. Unfortunately for the girls, wisdom is not learned as quickly as hunting and riding skills, and a few impulsive decisions put the entire group in grave danger.
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Murder Is Bad Manners (Wells & Wong Mystery) by Robin Stevens
Murder Is Bad Manners (Wells & Wong Mystery)

Beverly B, May 21, 2015

Hazel and Daisy of the Wells and Wong Detective Society reminded me a little of Laverne and Shirley, only much smarter and much more preoccupied with proper social behavior. Murder is Bad Manners is a classic who-done-it with multiple suspects, surprise twists and an exciting, scary chase scene leading up to the AH-HAH moment. Hazel and Daisy start investigating as a way to amuse themselves in their boring boarding school, until a popular young teacher ends up dead. Hazel discovers the body of Miss Bell, but while she is running for help, the body disappears, and all of the adults insist Miss Bell resigned and moved away. Daisy convinces Hazel it is time to investigate a real crime. Hazel is focused, funny, trusting and likable. Daisy is spoiled, bossy, cynical and impulsive. Hazel protects Daisy from disastrous decisions, and Daisy convinces Hazel to be more confident and more adventurous. Together they make for an entertaining read.
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West of the Moon by Margi Preus
West of the Moon

Beverly B, May 21, 2015

West of the Moon is another in the new fad of genre bending novels, and it does it in a captivating way. It is written in the style of a Scandinavian folktale and is part folktale and part historical fiction. West of the Moon is thrilling, inspiring and a little dark. Astri and her sister have been living with an aunt since their father left to seek a better life in the USA. When Astri's aunt sells her to a farmer to tend goats, Astri decides to run away, fetch her sister and find a way to board a ship sailing to the US. With the help of a book of magical spells and a young girl imprisoned on the goat farm, who appears to have magical powers, Astri sets out on a dangerous journey.The cover and short length are deceptive. West of the Moon looks like a children's book, but the cruelty and abuse of a couple of the characters is not appropriate for most younger readers. For middle grade readers, West of the Moon will spark an interest in Norwegian folklore and hopes for a sequel or two.
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Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan

Beverly B, May 21, 2015

Pam Munoz Ryan is such a beautiful and powerful writer, I knew Echo would be something special, and it was. Covering two continents and twenty years, Echo is actually three different stories connected by one very special harmonica. Readers will have fun trying to figure out how the harmonica ends up in new places and new hands and how all of the stories will come together at the end. Readers will also laugh and cry, while they are learning about the devastating impact of the Great Depression and WWII on ordinary people. The characters in each story, even the secondary characters, are fully developed, interesting and likable. Each story is unique and intriguing. Reluctant and inexperience readers may be scared off by Echo's length (almost 600 pages), but might be up to the challenge when they learn it is really three books in one. All those who read Echo will have many wonderful memories of a great book.
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