‘Now You See Her’ by Lisa Leighton and Laura Stropki Is a YA Thriller

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“Now You See Her” by Lisa Leighton and Laura Stropki is a young adult novel based on an improbable occurrence. Two high school girls, one driving through a rainstorm and the other running into the street to avoid a kidnapper, switch bodies.

Amelia wakes up in a body that is entirely unfamiliar to her. White skin and short, Sophie’s body is not at all like hers. When she goes home with Sophie’s parents, her life there seems unreal. Sophie’s life has appeared to be perfect — her tennis ability, her beautiful home, her expensive car, her perfect wardrobe, her handsome boyfriend. But when Amelia literally steps into Sophie’s shoes, she finds that the perfection is only skin deep in many areas.

Sophie’s parents argue a lot, her handsome popular boyfriend seems to be boyfriend in name only, and Sophie is involved with the school bad boy at night. Amelia is also determined to find out who was trying to kidnap her and why. It’s difficult when Sophie’s father just wants things to be as they were. And he warns Sophie to keep out of Amelia’s business.

But when her sister and mother are in danger, Amelia-in-Sophie’s-body is not going to stop. In the process, she breaks up with Sophie’s boyfriend and falls for Sophie’s neighbor. She finds out that Sophie’s friend is a real friend, and together, the three try to solve the mystery.

The authors do a fabulous job switching voices in the first person narrative from both Sophie and Amelia’s points of view. The mystery of who is trying to kidnap Amelia and her sister and the mystery of what the strange connection is between Amelia and Sophie will keep the reader turning page after page.

Definitely a good choice for mystery and paranormal readers.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover book provided by Katherine Tegen Books, the publisher, for review purposes.

‘Two Roads’ by Joseph Bruchac Is a Middle Grade Historical Fiction About Identity and Prejudice

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With “Two Roads,” Joseph Bruchac again demonstrates his brilliance with a novel that inspires as much as it teaches readers about a neglected part of US history, the treatment of veterans after the first World War. The compelling story also shares very much more — including ideas about morality among the hoboes of that time, prejudicial treatment of Native Americans and prejudicial treatment by Native Americans, government wrongdoing, and the importance of family and friends.

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‘Santa Bruce’ (and more) by Ryan T. Higgins Is a Picture Book That’s as Much Fun for Adults to Read as for Kids to Listen to

 

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“Santa¬†Claus Bruce” by the talented Ryan T. Higgins is a picture book that is certainly as much fun (or more) for adults to read as it is for the kids listening to the story. Higgins’ wry humor coupled with the extremely expressive illustrations make for a wonderfully satisfying picture book experience.

It’s winter and Bruce wants to stay in bed, but the mice and geese have other ideas. They want holiday spirit, and they want lots of it. They deck the halls, make eggnog, and put up the Christmas tree. Needless to say, Bruce is not in the holiday mood.

While outside, grumpily shoveling snow dressed in long underwear and a warm hat, Bruce suffers from (another) case of mistaken identity. (Higgins’ fans will remember that the first case of mistaken identity was when the goslings mistook Bruce for their mother in the first book in this wonderfully humorous and touching series.) And so Bruce has now become Santa.

The hilarity and confusion continue as Bruce and the others, the geese and mice, have opposing agendas. Longtime readers know which agenda wins, and so Bruce is Santa and — unwillingly — brings a bunch of holiday cheer to all those around him.

Adults will love the double entendres as the erudite mice discuss bears and weather. “Actually, bears don’t hibernate. They spend the winter in a state of lethargy.” Another mouse responds, “I thought we were spending winter in the state of Maine.” There is one illustration of the bunny home with Mama Bunny, Papa Bunny, the baby bunnies, and the “grown-up bunny who still lives with his parents.” Kids won’t get it, but the adults reading it will.

Kids love the grumpy adult-figure and the clever and determined mice and geese and other forest animals. It’s a heartwarming Christmas tale that will be enjoyed all winter long and well into Spring.

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For younger Bruce fans, get “1 Grumpy Bruce: a counting book” by Higgins. In this sturdy board book are all the adorable forest figures (and elephants) from “1 grumpy bear” to “10 woodchucks chucking wood.” And although it’s “just” a counting board book, there is still a clever twist at the end. Trust Higgins to make a counting board book more than just a book of numbers.

Please note: This review is based on the final, hardcover books provided by Disney-Hyperion, the publisher, for review purposes.

‘The Traveling Cat Chronicles’ by Hiro Arikawa Is a Spectacularly Charming Tale Narrated by the Cat and his Rescuer

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“The Traveling Cat Chronicles” by Hiro Arikawa is a story narrated by a cheeky cat whose pert narrative is touching, humorous, and — to those who know cats — pure feline. This is the story of Nana, the supremely wise cat, and Satoru, the supremely wise human who befriends and rescues Nana. Or does Nana rescue Satoru?

Contained in this charming book are stories about Satoru’s life as he travels to visit old friends in search of a new home for Nana. He tells each friend that although he loves Nana dearly, he must find a new home for his beautiful cat. He doesn’t explain why, although readers will begin to suspect the reason by the middle of the book.

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Don’t Miss ‘The Storm Runner’ by J. C. Cervantes; the First Book in a New ‘Rick Riordan Presents’ Series

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J. C. Cervantes is the talented author who has written the first book in a trilogy about Mayan gods and the kid who is the child of one of them. It’s Rick Riordan’s “Lightning Thief” taken south to Mexico (and New Mexico). In “The Storm Runner,” Zane Obispo, who limps because one leg is shorter than the other, discovers that he is godborn, the child of one of the Mayan gods. In fact, that explains his leg because as one character tells him, humans and the gods don’t mix perfectly.

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‘The Truth About Martians’ by Melissa Savage Is A Fascinating Glimpse into UFOs from a Middle Grade Perspective

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What really happened in 1947 when a newspaper reported that an alien disk had crashed in the desert near Corona and Roswell? While the US government first reported that they had captured a spacecraft and the news was on the front page of many newspapers, the story quickly changed. It was all a mistake, the government said. The “spacecraft” was really a weather balloon.

But many people don’t believe that, and many people had already seen the strange metal pieces with even stranger purple markings. In “The Truth About Martians,” Melissa Savage decides to write about what might have happened if some children nearby not only saw the spaceship but decided to investigate the crash. What if they raced out there and arrived before the military came and swept up everything and hushed it all up?

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‘The Darkdeep’ by Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs Is a True Horror Story for Middle Grade Readers

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Both Ally Condie and Brendan Reichs are seasoned writers, and that shows in their newest release, “The Darkdeep.” The story is Stephen King for kids, and the horror is all too imaginable, thanks to the well-written descriptions by both authors of the horrors that main character Nico and his friends face in a haunted cove in the Pacific northwest.

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‘Sawkill Girls’ by Claire Legrand: A YA Horror Story with Female Heroes

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With “Sawkill Girls,” author Claire Legrand creates a positively Stephen King-ish horror story that takes place on an exclusive island for the extremely wealthy where girls have mysteriously disappeared for decades. In addition to the three female main characters, the island, with its woods and cliffs and mysterious hidden areas, becomes almost another character.

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