Ice Storm by Penny Draper (Red Cedar Club 2012)

In 1998 an ice storm hit the province of Quebec and other parts of Eastern Canada. Montreal, a city of 3 ½ million people was extremely hard hit. This is the story of Sophie and Alice, cousins and close friends who lived in different parts of the province. Told from the points of view of the two girls, we see how this disaster slowly escalated from a minor inconvenience to a near catastrophe. Alice lived in Montreal with her father who worked for Hydro Quebec. Sophie lived in rural Quebec on a dairy farm with her brother, mother and father. Against the backdrop of the storm, Alice and Sophie have to deal with details of their own lives.

Alice loved to skate and train for hours each day before and after school. In spite of this, competitions were a nightmare for her. When she was in front of a crowd she seemed unable to do anything right. When the storm hit, her father was occupied trying to get the power grid running and left Alice alone at home. At first she was comfortable, but as the storm progressed, all bridges to Montreal were shut down. Her uncle was unable to pick her up and bring her to the farm as planned, but her father was unaware of this. As the freezing rain continued and became more treacherous, trees in her neighborhood split, power lines collapsed and Alice was truly abandoned. She rescued a cranky older neighbor when a tree collapsed onto her house and they ended up in a shelter together. This doesn’t mean that things got better.

Before the storm Sophie’s most difficult challenge was dealing with her brilliant and very weird younger brother. She bottled her feelings up deep inside and was unable to say what she wanted.  Because her parents had the foresight to purchase a generator, it seemed at first that Sophie’s family and farm animals would be fine. Then the generator failed and they were forced to watch helplessly as their farm animals began to die.

Ultimately this is a story about how disaster brings out the best and worst in humankind. It shows us how ordinary individuals not only cope; they grow and become stronger under these kinds of challenging situations.

This is the kind of book that makes learning history a pleasure.

LARKLIGHT or The revenge of the white spiders! or To Saturn's Rings and Back! A Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the farthest Reaches of Space as chronicl'd by Art Mumby, with the aid of Philip Reeve

I just adore this book.

My niece told me about the series ages ago, but when I tried to get a copy of it for the library, it was out of print. When I found a copy published by Scholastic, I grabbed it!

I am so glad I did.

Philip Reeve’s creative genius has resulted in a story that is a fabulous example of steampunk. The illustrations by David Wyatt just top it off perfectly.

Any great adventure tale should have intrigue and suspense, battles and chases, and to top it off, romance and humor.

Larklight has it all and more.

Throw in a generous amount of strange mechanical devices and unique creatures from across the universe and nearly any reader who opens the first page will be hooked.

I was. I started reading and couldn’t put the book down.

Arthur and his sister, Myrtle, are an ordinary set of squabbling siblings from Victorian times. What is not so ordinary is that they live on Larklight, a cobbled together house that orbits around the moon.

Their ordinary morning goes awry when Mr. Webster, the visitor they have been expecting, turns out to be a monstrous talking spider wearing a bowler hat. Although they escape, their day goes from bad to worse. They are captured by a gigantic potter moth to feed to its larva, and barely saved by the famous pirate, Captain Jack Havock. They survive an attack by the royal navy, only to be attacked by the spiders again.

The children find themselves in a battle for much more than their own survival: it is a battle to save the entire universe!

Larklight is the first in a trilogy but thankfully; the ending is satisfying just as it is. (I hate books that leave me hanging – that sort of thing is ok with chapters, but not when I get to the finish)

I will buy an extra copy for the library and can’t wait to get my hands on Starcross and Mothstorm.

I suspect the text will be daunting for all but strong readers in an elementary school. It is loaded with Victorian vocabulary and the level on the back of my scholastic edition says the reading level is 8.8. However, because the story itself is suitable for younger readers, it will make a fabulous read aloud!

Powerless by Matthew Cody

I have been working my way through the pile of books recommended to me by students. I was told this was a fantastic book by a charming grade 7 boy.
He was right.

When Daniel Corrigan and his family moved to the town of Nobel’s Green to be with his ailing grandmother, he was full of nervous apprehension. It is a good thing he loved to read detective novels and dreamed of being Sherlock Holmes. Not only did it help pass time, it prepared him for his new life in Nobel’s Green.

Ok, so nothing in life could really prepare him for his new friends. They seem a bit odd, but it isn’t until one of them saves his life that he discovers that his new friends have super powers. Molly can fly. Rohan has hyper senses. Eric can fly and has incredibly strength. Simon can control electricity. Rose can become invisible.

Unfortunately there is a dark side to their lives. They must abide by four important rules.

  1. Use Your Powers To Help. Never Hurt.
  2. The North Face And The Old Quarry Are Off-Limits. Danger Waits For Us There.
  3. It Ends At Thirteen
  4. Never Ever Let Grown Ups Know
When the children turn thirteen, not only do they lose their power, their memories of their super powers and of their friendships also disappear. This is where Daniel comes in. While he may not have super powers, he is extremely good at detecting and he uses this to help his friends figure out why they lose their powers, and what they can do to stop it.

It involves breaking the rules. There are also some terrifying and suspenseful moments fighting ‘the shroud’.  I was sucked into the story from the very beginning.
It is both a book about superheroes and a mystery at the same time.
Seriously, what more could you ask for

You could ask for a sequel. You would get it. Super has just been published. Can't wait to get my hands on it.