Tuesday, February 16, 2010

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

     Jordan Sonnenblick tackles tough issues with grace and humor. In After Ever After, readers pick up on Jeffrey's story as he is now in 8th grade. While Jeffrey is now in remission, he must deal with the aftermath of years of chemotherapy and surgeries. He struggles with physical and mental  disabilities as a result of his cancer. Yet, he is like every other 8th grade boy who struggles with his family issues, bad math grades (and a standardized test he has to pass), and a crush on a hot girl. While Jeffrey's storyline is a tough topic, Sonnenblick balances it out with Tad, whose rough exterior provides sarcastic comic relief to a serious topic. Both Jeffrey and Tad must decide to overcome the obstacles cancer brought their way and begin to really live.
A twist at the end provides the readers a glimpse of the harsh reality of cancer along with the hope that exists for a better life.

      As always, Jordan Sonnenblick wrote an amazing book that will allow readers to laugh while discussing tough issues such as cancer, social acceptance, learning disabilities, and even the standardized testing. Each year, I use Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and Notes from a Midnight Driver as literature circle books. My students always enjoy them. I can't wait to add this book to the rotation!

      Parents can trust that this is a book their child should read and will enjoy. There are few comments that reflect normal 8th grade boys' infatuation with cute girls, but the book is appropriate for a younger audience.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Summary: Kat thought she had escaped the family business when she enrolled in Colgan School, an elite boarding school. However, she is reeled back into the business of stealing artwork when her father is framed for stealing paintings of a cruel criminal. Kat must steal the artwork back to clear her father. However, will Kat be able to steal the paintings while also doing the right thing by returning the paintings to their rightful owner?

Analysis: This book may be Ally Carter's best book thus far. Even though the idea of a fifteen year old flying around the world, stealing artwork from prestigious museums is outlandish, Carter makes the story seem believable. The story unfolds smoothly even though the characters are jumping from country to country. Kat is a likable character, and the supporting cast of Hale, Nick, and Gabrielle offset Kat's character well.
In her discreet way, Carter sets the stage for a future romance, but the reader is left wondering if it will be Hale, fellow thief, or Nick, whose mom is investigating Kat's father. In a world of rushed romances in literature, it is refreshing to see a romance built slowly over friendship. One of the best parts of this book is how Carter weaved some history into the art heist when Kat meets Mr. Romani, who is working diligently to recover artwork stolen by the Nazis.
Hopefully in future books, readers will be able to learn more about Kat's parents and perhaps how the family started stealing in the first place.
This book is an excellent book for young adult girls...even as early as sixth grade. It depicts strong female characters who chose to do the right thing with a little help from friends.