The Bookbag, Books for Ages 8 to 12, March/April 2006

During these past two months, we’ve had a slew of middle- and advanced-reader books. The good news is, our reviewers liked a lot of what they saw, especially for boys! Here are some of their favorites, presented in alphabetical order. Notice that not all of them were written/published within the last year!

100 American Women Who Shaped American History by Deborah G. Felder. Meet some incredible women. Learn how they dedicated their talent; expended their effort; sacrificed their comfort and ease; and made a life-long commitment to make a positive contribution to life in America. The selection of the heroines is all-inclusive, be they politicians, artists, doctors, scientists, astronauts, athletes, journalists or poets, all fields of human endeavor are represented. (Bluewood Books, 2005)

Against the Boards by Lorna Schultz Nicholson. Peter Kuiksak always dreamed of playing in the NHL. Now, as he was trying out for a Bantam league team in Edmonton, the reality of having to leave home (The Northwest Territories) was catching up to him. When he makes the team and moves in with a family, he learns that life is a series of choices and changes. “This is a must-read for parents with boys ‘dreaming’ of being a pro [pick your sport] someday.”

Chips, The War Dog by Nancy M. West. Chips is a precocious, fun-loving mongrel pup. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, Chips’ family registered him in the “Dogs For Defense” program. He was trained and shipped overseas to serve with US soldiers in the Allied liberation of Africa, Italy, and France. (Hero Dog Publications, 2004)

Cynthia’s Attic: The Missing Locket by Mary Cunningham. Cynthia and Agusta (or Gus, as she prefers), twelve-year-old friends, want to make sure THIS summer vacation is a good one. When they decide to go exploring in Cynthia’s attic, they embark on a journey that takes them back to 1914 and a chance to step into the lives of their grandmothers, who were also twelve years old that year. (Echelon Press, 2005)

God’s Green Liniment by Lois Johnson Rew. During summer harvest, Alice (6 years old) contracts a fever which the family doctor diagnoses as infantile paralysis (Polio). The prognosis is that she will never walk again. This is the story of how the family coped with the disease and how their belief in miracles was rewarded. “You won’t find a more wholesome story or enjoyable read anywhere. The premise is believable, the characters are engaging, and the plot is uncontrived. This is a flawless piece of work. It is a great human interest story.”

Jumping the Scratch by Sarah Weeks. Jamie Reardon’s job is to help his Aunt Sapphy (who suffered a head injury) remember her life. At the same time, he is doing everything in his power to do things that help him forget: his parent’s divorce, moving to a new town, living in a trailer, all of it. When he sees an ad for hypnosis, he thinks he’s found the answer! This is a young adult novel about dealing with getting help for a deep, dark secret. “The book is very well written and the story moves quickly. Teens should gain empathy in reading this book.” (HarperCollins Children’s Books, 2006)

Night of the Red Moon by Angi Ma Wong. Ming, a twelve-year-old Chinese boy, tells the story of the massacre in Chinatown (Los Angeles) on October 24, 1871. “This is a fabulous book whose story is difficult to capture and convey in just a few sentences. Like many great stories it has more than just character and plot to grab the reader.” (Pacific Heritage Books, 1995)