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Beverly B has commented on (232) products.

The Boy in the Black Suit by Jason Reynolds
The Boy in the Black Suit

Beverly B, March 18, 2015

I loved Jason Reynolds touching and very realistic story of a young teen trying to come to terms with his mother's death and the impact it has had on his family. I also loved neighborhood mortician, and family friend, Mr. Ray. Mr. Ray recognizes immediately that Matt is suffering and offers him a job in the funeral home, mostly to give Matt someplace to be other than home. Neither Matt, nor Mr. Ray, foresaw how profoundly Matt would be changed by assisting at the funerals. Jason Reynold's beautiful descriptions of the different ways people use funerals to say goodbye to loved ones will be as enlightening for the reader as it was for Matt.
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The Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson
The Prince of Venice Beach

Beverly B, March 18, 2015

I was ready to jump in my car and head to Venice Beach after reading and loving this story of a smart, ambitious, likable street kid trying to start a detective business and find a place for himself in the eccentric world of Venice CA. Cali is brilliant when it comes to street smarts, and since he is a keen observer and a good listener, he knows how to get along with just about every street person in SoCal. In Venice, everyone knows him and respects him. He has a reputation for being kind to all and watching out for the newcomers who are usually walking targets for scam artists and criminals. Although Cali is very quiet and subdued, his buddies are weird, enthusiastic and very funny. I appreciated that author, Blake Nelson, did not rely on stereotypes or clichés of Venice Beach, but did recognize and respect that many homeless are mentally ill, or refugees from terrible homes, and are more likely to be victims than perpetrators. I hope Blake Nelson is planning on giving us more novels featuring The Cali Detective Agency.
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Ungifted by Gordon Korman

Beverly B, March 17, 2015

Ungifted is a silly, entertaining story with a strong message delivered in a humorous comedy of errors misadventure. Donovan is the class troublemaker. He is not malicious, just impulsive and unable to see consequences until it is too late. When he accidentally destroys the school statue and half the gym, he is quickly nabbed by the superintendent himself. Luckily for Donovan, in his haste to attend to the disaster, the superintendent accidentally adds Donovan's name to the list of students being transferred to a special school for the highly gifted. Donovan sees the transfer as a way to hide from authorities until things calm down. Donovan's futile attempts to fit in with a class of super geniuses are laugh out loud funny. It is hard to fake being smart when you don't understand what your classmates are talking about. Ungifted is one of those humor stories where the secondary characters are far more interesting than the protagonist. Noah, Chloe and Katie are stereotypical super smart geeks, but they are likable and memorable. What they teach Donovan has nothing to do with academics, but much to do with being a better person. Ungifted is not supposed to be realistic fiction. It is slapstick. Exaggerated stereotypes and hyperbole are part of slapstick. Middle grade readers are sophisticated enough to recognize and appreciate Gordon Korman's cartoonish style as a fun way to deliver a serious message about loyalty, friendship and respect.
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Egg and Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Egg and Spoon

Beverly B, March 13, 2015

Gregory Maguire (Wicked) combines four genres into one fabulous story. All of the characters are interesting and likable, but Baba Yaga, the powerful witch from classic Russain folklore, and Mewster, the snarky talking cat, are hilariously unforgettable. Even though most of Egg and Spoon is lighthearted and humorous, Gregory Maguire brilliantly weaves facts and historic details into the story that illustrate how inhumane and oppressive the Russian monarchy was to the millions of Russian peasants. Egg and Spoon starts out as historical fiction set in Russia shortly before the revolution. Elena's family is starving, and her mother is close to death. Elena decides to seek out the Tsar and ask him to let her brother out of the army to come home and help care for their mother. Here the story seamlessly morphs into a Prince and the Pauper adventure story when Ekatarina, the daughter of royalty, falls off the moving train leaving Elena secretly hidden in her room. About halfway through, the story once again seamlessly morphs, this time into a very funny classic fairy tale. When Elena steals a phoenix egg to give to the Tsar, Russia spirals into an apocalyptic unnatural disaster. This brings on the final morph, an epic quest. All of the characters set out to save Russia from the disaster and themselves from the vengeful fury of the Tsar. None has experience surviving in the wilderness or in dealing with obstinate dragons. As Mewster is so quick to point out, they are like a caravan of buffoons playing at being heroes. I hope there will be sequels leading up to the Russian Revolution.
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Golden Boy by Tara Sullivan
Golden Boy

Beverly B, March 6, 2015

Tara Sullivan seamlessly weaves ancient Tanzanian superstition, customs and universal themes of acceptance and perseverance into a powerful story of a young teen's journey to self-reliance and self-love. Golden Boy is a truly memorable coming of age story with a unique twist. It is set in Tanzania, and the young protagonist, Habo, is an albino. In the rural northern region of Tanzania that is his home, albinos deal with harassment and discrimination daily. Habo is lonely and isolated. He sees himself as a burden to his family. Their indifference and aloofness makes him think they don't love him. When his family is forced to move to the city, they are horrified to discover that albinos are considered the ultimate good luck. Albinos are kidnapped and murdered so their body parts can be sold for talismans. Habo runs away to save his life and protect his family from harm. He goes to a large port city on the central coast and ends up working in the home of a respected artist who changes Habo's life and future. Sullivan shows how Tanzania is working to abolish the old ways of thinking and create a welcoming, tolerant culture. Golden Boy is a must read for teens and adults both.
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