The Book Bag, Books for Ages 9 to 12 November/December 2007

Still searching for the perfect gift for the picky pre-teen? Keep reading, you may just find something that sounds like the Tween in your life. Still, if you have decided to go the gift card route, why not buy one for a bookstore?

Annie the Mysterious Morgan Horse by Ellen Feld. When her barn caught fire, Polly, a Morgan horse, took the opportunity to escape her cruel masters. Ultimately, she ended up at the Gallant Morgan Horse Farm, with a new life and a new name. Heather, who boards horses at the farm, fell in love with “Polly,” and was afraid that if the truth came out, she’d lose the horse. “This is a wonderful story. Although there is lots of information about horses, it was not overpowering. As someone who has never been involved with the sport, it was a chance to learn something new. This is a book I would read again.” (Willow Bend Publishing, 2007)

Bubba Begonia, You’ll Be Sorry! by Gerry O’Brien. The author takes one of Mom’s perennial warnings — “Your finger will get stuck if you keep putting it up your nose” — and builds it into a story about a boy who wants to make a good first impression at school. “This is a fun, fast read … the character names alone will have you laughing. The short sentences make it a perfect selection for reluctant readers.” (Acorn Press, 2006)

The Case Against My Brother by Libby Sternberg. Carl and Adam Matuski are Polish Catholic born in Baltimore (MD) in the early 1900s. When their mother died, they left Baltimore for Portland (OR), to live with their Uncle Pete. In 1922, about the time the boys arrive, the citizens of Oregon passed a law that closed down all Catholic parochial schools. When Adam is accused of stealing jewelry from his girlfriend’s home, Carl takes it upon himself to prove his brother’s innocence. “This is a fine piece of historical fiction. The author effectively and accurately maintains the historical integrity of the period while, at the same time, she keeps the reader engaged with interesting and believable characters and realistic challenges.” (Bancroft Press, 2007)

Confirmation by Barbara Yeager. Mike Martin and Greg Cox are in sixth grade at St. Francis Catholic School. The boys had not been together all summer and had some serious catching up to do. Mike was reluctant to discuss his summer with Greg because their friends bragged about being involved in vandalism. Mike didn’t know whether they were really involved or just bragging. He chose to avoid those friends and hide out at home all summer. When he finally decided to share his concerns with Greg, Mike was arrested. This novel for pre-teens addresses leading a Christian life and making responsible choices. (Authorhouse, 2007) NOTE: In the interest of full disclosure, Dr. Yeager is a member of The Reading Tub Board of Directors. This book was reviewed independently, not by a Reading Tub staff member.

Isabella … and the Room of Lost Brooms by Peter de Witt. Isabella Iverson is a bright, precocious, and curious. But 12-year-olds don’t know everything, and Isabella didn’t know that her Mom is a witch or that she is planning to Isabella’s initiation into the Adirondack Society of Witches. One day, while cleaning the basement, Isabella noticed a door that wasn’t there before. She opened it to find a room full of barrels that contained witches’ brooms, and she was drawn to them. She learned that the brooms belonged to witches who had lost them. Isabella learned to fly the brooms and began returning them to their former owners. This is a chapter book adventure fantasy for pre-teens. “This adventure will keep readers on the edge of their seats. It may have slightly more appeal to girls because the main character is a girl. The author knows his audience and his genre, the topic will grab them and the adventures will keep the reader from closing the cover.” (DNA Press, LLC, 2007)

The Legend of Greenwillow Farm by Jan E. Culbertson. Summer vacation is here and Bianca and her sister Alyssa will be going to Missouri to spend time on their grandmother’s farm. The girls are busy trying to find treasuer allegedly buried on the farm … and someone is trying to find them! “Although the plot is a familiar one – searching for buried treasure – the author keeps the reader engaged and turning the pages.” (Authorhouse, 2005)

An Orphan’s Promise by Dan J. Davis. It is the winter of 1910, and Ruby has has convinced the headmistress at the orphanage that she can make it to the Kloss house. When she arrives, she immediately volunteers to work as a carpenter’s apprentice. The boys laugh and make fun of her! But Mrs. Kloss has her own ideas! “I couldn’t put the book down…I found the story enchanting and Ruby captivating…I loved the independence that Mrs. Kloss and Ruby have in deciding what is/isn’t ‘boys work’.” (Second Star Creations, 2007)

Poofin by Richard M. Wainwright. It is almost Christmas, and once again, there is no snow in the forecast for Peacedale. Poofin, a young cloud, is sent to earth to learn about helping people, and he meets Bobby, who agrees to help. Poofin desperately wants to do good deeds, but every time he tries, things go wrong. “This is a great book. It’s the kind of story you can see as a community play.” (R. M. Wainwright Books, 1989)

Scrambled by Andrew Oliver. First its robbery, then it’s vandalism. Something is wrong in Southfork. Sam and Stephanie, determined to stop the crime wave, find that things are not as they should be when solving a crime. “This is a delightful and worthwhile read. As the third book in the series, the places and characters are familiar, yet the story is new. Despite being part of a series, the book stands on its own merit.” (Adams-Pomeroy Press, 2007)