The Bookbag, Books for Ages 8 to 12, July/August 2006

We love a great chapter book, and this summer we had the chance to read a few gems. We even learned some things, historically speaking! Generally, we try to showcase the high-quality work of self-published authors and smaller houses. We must say, though, that there are some truly thought-provoking books from two of the major publishing houses in the titles we read!

Abner Doubleday: Boy Baseball Pioneer, Montrew Dunham. Abner Doubleday grew up in Auburn, New York, in the 1820s and 30s. Abner, his brother Tom, and their friends spent most of their free time playing and making up all sorts of bat and ball games. Though Auburn was a small town, the boys found it to be an exciting place to grow up. Abner’s family, teachers, and friends helped form his character and enabled him to become a famous general, businessman, and … a baseball pioneer. This is a biography for middle readers. (Patria Press, 2006)

Blood on the Wind: The Memoirs of Flying Horse Molie, a Yampa Ute, Lucile Bogue. This novel recounts the story of the Meeker Massacre of 1879 on lands in Northwest Colorado, ceded by the US Government to the Yampa Utes. It is narrated by Flying Horse Mollie, a young teenager and Yampa Ute, who witnessed the incompetence and arrogance of the Indian Agents sent by Washington to supposedly provide food and shelter to Indians. This is a novel of historical fiction for young adults. (Western Reflections Publishing Company, 2001)

The Computer’s Nerd, W. Royce Adams. Arthur is bright, quiet, and studious by nature. Three classmates have been making his life miserable, and Arthur is scared and frustrated. His parents surprise him with a computer and he discovers a game that allows him to get revenge on the bullies. At first, Arthur, felt justified in inflicting pain on the bullies. As the game continued, it ratcheted up the level of painful consequences for the bullies, Arthur becomes uncomfortable about what he’s doing. This is a fantasy adventure book for teens. (Rairarubia Books, 2002)

Crime Through Time! Swindled! The 1906 Journal of Fitz Morgan, Bill Doyle. Fitz Morgan loves detective work and hopes that there is a mystery to solve on the cross-country train trip to Aunt Elizabeth’s house in Sacramento, California. Just as Fitz is about to board the train, a dollar bill floats to the platform. Little did she know that her mystery had just begun. This is a largely fictional historical mystery with some great facts about 1906 tossed in. (Little, Brown and Company, 2006)

Firegirl, Tony Abbot. Tom Bender is a typical seventh grader. His days are filled dreaming about cars and girls and heroic adventures. Normal. The way he likes things. When Jessica Feeney arrives one month after school starts, things change. Almost immediatly Tom finds himself thinking about things that never occurred to him, and looking at people in different ways. This is a young adult chapter book about tolerance, acceptance, and compassion. (Little, Brown and Company, 2006)

Haunted Hill, Andrew Oliver. In the process of finding a topic for a history report, Mr. Snider, an elderly friend, told Sam and Stephanie about “Haunted Hill,” a place with a very sinister and murkey past. At Mr. Snider’s request, Sam and Stephanie go on an expedition to photograph the eagles nesting on Haunted Hill. While there, the two friends get trapped in a cave and find evidence that will solve some old and new crimes. This is the second title in the Sam & Stephanie Mystery Series. (Adams-Pomeroy, 2006)

Web of Lies, Beverly Naidoo. Having fled Nigeria and resettled in London, Femi and Sade thought they would finally be safe. While Sade is dealing with her mother’s death and the possible intrusion of a “new woman” in their lives, Femi is getting more and more involved with a street gang. It isn’t long before their resilience as individuals and as a family are once again put to the test. This is a novel that allows you to journey with the characters (and their father) as they deal with the presence of a gang in their lives. (Amistad, a Divison of HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2006)