Friday, September 24, 2010

Sequoyah Children's Books

Most of my children and young adult reading recently has been from the Oklahoma Sequoyah Book Award Masterlists. This month I will briefly review a few from the children's masterlist. I will try to do this each month until they have all been covered. To view the complete list, visit the Sequoyah website. Shockingly, I have actually enjoyed every book I have read on the children's list so far. Usually I only like one or two of them, so this year I havebeen pleasantly surprised. Unfortunately, that will make it harder to pick a favorite.

The 100 Year Old Secret by Tracy Barrett

This is the first book in a series "The Sherlock Files". It was a fast paced realistic fiction book. A brother and sister have recently moved to London, where they discover they are the direct decentants of the famous Sherlock Holmes. They are inducted into a secret club of mystery solvers, and given a notebook of all Holmes' unsolved mysteries. They decide to try to solve one, the case of a missing painting. Children will identify well with this book, since all the "stunts" and adventures are quite believable. This book would be fun for boys or girls about eight to twelve years old. The mystery is well intwined to the plot, and the reader is given enough clues they might be able to figure out the "who-done-it" about the same time as the children in the book.

My opinion: Liked this book a lot, will probably get online and order the sequel from the library. Not too cutesy, but not too dramatic either.

The Trouble with Rules by Leslie Bulion

Fourth grade is tough on a boy / girl friendship between Nadine and Nick. The unofficial rule is girls and boys can't be friends, but this pair are best friends. They try to ignore each other at school and only play in the evenings, but it is becoming a strain to not get hurt. Then a new girl moves into their class, and breaks all the rules. In the process, Nadine, who always follows the rules, gets in trouble for a series of events not actually her fault, and she and Nick fall out of sorts. Can it really work out for the rules to be broken? Can Nick and Nadine maintain their friendship, and even inclue another friend? This book handles an awkward stage in life quite well. It addresses some typical problems of growing up without seeming like a preachy, this is how to handle growing up, sort of book. The focus actually stays with the plot and captures the emotions as well. This book seems to be written more for girls, but most boys would probably enjoy it also.

My opinion: One of the few "adolecent pains" books I actually enjoyed reading. The plot was so interesting, I didn't even get annoyed at it being about growing pains. That said, I don't think it was my favorite.

Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills and Frills by Julie Cummins

Women Daredevils is a nonfiction book about women in the early part of the twentieth century who performed daring stunts. It includes some one time stunters, but mostly women who did daring things for a living. Included are parachuters, horseback riders, stunt drivers, a woman who went over Niagra falls in a barrell, and a few others. It has nice illustrations for each woman, with about a page to two pages of information. The writing style is easy and the vocabulary appropriate for the target audience of about eight to twelve years old.

My opinion: This book seemed just a little too long for a children's non-fiction book, but I am spoiled, so it may actually have been just right. The choice of women daredevils was occasionally repetitive, for instance, their were several who did similar airplane stunts. I think I would have preferred more variety. Over all though, the book was very well written, easy to read, and was very interesting.