Summery Summaries

Posted on 1 June 2010 Tuesday

First and foremost, I gotta say: WELCOME HOME EVAN JAMES!!! He just arrived home from 4 mos. in Iraq.

Now, to my post…


School is out and the days are getting long and hot, making for great reading days! For the moment I’m kicking back to Lady GaGa and giving a few short reviews for the summer. In mentally preparing for these reviews, I was wondering how I can effectively communicate how well I like a book to my readers and the best thing I can think of is to start rating them. I’m a bit reluctant to give ratings because I don’t like them mostly because they’re so nebulous but some people do like them. SO, my question of the day: Would you like me to use a rating scale?

Now, my reviews!

PeaceBuilders: Daisaku Ikeda & Josei Toda Buddhist Leaders by M. Lavora Perry published by Fortune Child Kinds books March, xx10


This very slim non-fiction book introduces MG readers to the life and works of Daisaku Ikeda who lived in Japan during the WWII era. Readers are introduced to Japanese and Buddhist culture in a manner that gently places them in a space that may be different from what they’re used to, but not threatening or overwhelming. It couldn’t have been easy to choose to write a book that transports young readers but when someone is well researched, as Ms. Perry obviously is, it becomes a bit easier. Reading about Daisaku’s childhood, his introduction to the cause of world peace and the struggles he had in his daily life will lead one to see the commonalities of people around the world. The book is indexed and well referenced.

(disclosure: a gift from the author.)

The World is Mine (the Come Up vol 1) by Lyah LeFlore   published by Simon Pulse, 2009

[the youtube video won’t embed, but checkout the trailer here:]

This book isn’t getting nearly the recognition it deserves as reviews are few and far between. Perhaps it’s because this is an insider’s book. It’s written for young people who are into the music scene by someone who writes as a young person inside today’s music scene.  The business aspect of the story that drives the story line is something that is very unfamiliar to me and I found myself getting a bit of an education as I read. I was not overwhelmed by this fact because characters moved the plot as much as the action. This resulting in a vibrant tale that felt like it was moving quickly, but it really wasn’t. Blue and Colin’s friendship is what this story is all about. This friendship is tested as these boys work at growing up. To these young men, growing up means establishing a career, defining love and proving yourself to your father.  Tis is the first book in a series and the next volume  is due within the next month. I was disappointed that the pages actually started coming out of the book, I’ve never experienced that before but I did enjoy the well developed story and the smoothness of the reading.

(disclosure: a gift from Doret@thehappynappybookseller)

Morbitito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoke Uehashi published in the US by Scholastic 2008

This book, translated from Japanese, is the first in the ten volume Moribito series and has been developed into both manga and anime. (click the link for a clip from the anime series.) That alone should tell you that this book belongs in every public and school library! I enjoyed the explanation of Japanese cosmogony, the strength of the female character and the believability of the romantic plot line. As Balsa works to save a young prince from the many forces that are trying to destroy him, we learn how and why she developed into such a fierce combatant. The writing is not always smooth, but this can be expected in translations. The story delivers clear, unpredictable action.

(disclosure: I bought this ARC on Amazon. Yes, Amazon is full of ARCs for sale.)

The Best Bad Thing by Yoshiko Uchida; Aladdin Books 1983

Rinko is a young Japanese American girl who enjoys life and is at that age where she’s trying to figure things out, mostly herself. She’s got a very strong, assertive mother who has such a good heart that she volunteers Rinko to live with a family friend who really needs an extra set of hands for the next month or so. Rinko doesn’t want to go, but she’s been raised to perform without complaint and she rises quite well to the occasion. Uchida deftly writes a coming of age story that is filled with several underlying themes that never weigh the story down. Uchida was the first Nissei (Japanese born American) to write about Japanese culture for young people. She wrote more than 30 books before passing away in 1992. May she rest in peace.

(disclosure: property of my school media center)

Soul Enchilada by David Macinnis Gill; Greenwillow Books, 2009


I’ve read so many positive reviews on this book that I was looking forward to reading it. It has an very creative story line with Bug trying to keep her car and her soul from going to  the devil. She’s a stereotypical hot tempered Latina who has little tolerance for people who try to shortcut things by making deals with the devil but she never manages to realize how much of her own soul she gives away with her attitude. She’s so beat down by life that it’s easy to sympathize with her although she is clearly her own worst enemy.  While she’s proud of her mixed heritage, she takes every opportunity to point out that she doesn’t  speak Spanish. The language and grammar feel authentic, too authentic as the confusing misuse of English bleeds into the narration. If you don’t read a lot into it and just go along for the ride, this can be a fun summer read.

(disclosure: property of my school media center)

Posted in: Book Reviews