Seven Dead Pirates by Linda Bailey
Lewis Dearborn is a painfully shy eleven-year-old boy in sixth grade. On his great grandfather’s birthday, Lewis is the only one to hear him whisper two mysterious words, “Libertalia. You!”
When his grandpa dies he moves with his overbearing parents into Shornoway, a ramshackle mansion by the sea. Lewis is quick to notice LIBERTALIA carved into his bedroom door in the Tower room and soon discovers the room has a surprising secret. It is haunted by Captain James Crawley and his crew who died tragically almost two centuries ago.
The dead pirates want Lewis to help them get to the local maritime museum on the other side of town where their restored ship is. Lewis starts reading Peter Pan to the ghostly pirates who really only want to hear the “Hook” parts. He eventually comes up with a clever plan to reunite the pirates with their beloved ship, Maria Louisa.
Towards the end of this delightful and humorous ghost story Lewis is given a letter that reveals a very surprising long kept family secret. Arrgggh! I loves me a good story, I does!
-Reviewed by Sylvia Nurse
As if being a teenager isn’t difficult enough, Micah is coping with a disability that slowly diminishes his capability to do things others take for granted. He tries to be as normal as he possibly can: refusing to have a guide dog believing it will limit his freedom, trying to do without his white cane as often as possible, and hiding his flare-ups in the vain hope that his disability will go away on its own. The only place where Micah really feels in control is on the court when he plays goalball: a game designed for the visually impaired.
Young readers will relate to young Micah’s struggles: not necessarily his disability, but his anger issues, making friends, learning to be part of a team, that special relationship, and trying to become more independent of his parents. The language and tone of the book definitely feels like a young teen is speaking to the reader. It’s wonderful to have a book that is based locally and illustrates the pressures young people face as they juggle parental expectations, personal goals, expectations, relationships and in this case a degenerative disability.
-Reviewed by Marianne Huang
Jennifer Mook-Sang will be attending the Red Cedar Awards on May 6, 2017 and would love to visit area schools and libraries while she’s in B.C. She will be in the Vancouver Area from May 1-6th and on Vancouver Island in the vicinity of Nanaimo from May 8-10th.
Jennifer’s humorous middle-grade novel Speechless (Scholastic) has been nominated for many awards; and commended by the Ontario Library Association, the Canadian Childrens’ Book Centre, the CBC, and the TD Summer Reading Club. Her picture book Captain Monty Takes the Plunge (Kids Can Press) will be released in the Fall of 2017 and features a stinky pirate who won’t go near the water.
Jennifer enjoys visiting schools and libraries. She describes her life as a writer, how a story gets built, and the joys of editing and revising. Her workshops have students thinking about where inspiration comes from and gets them writing stories right away.
To learn more about Jennifer’s presentations, funding opportunities for public author readings, and to contact her for a visit, check out her website jennifermooksang.com
The Summer We Saved the Bees, by Robin Stevenson
What do you do when your activist mom is so worried about the state of the environment and the future of the world that she forgets to consider the needs of her own kids first? That’s the dilemma 12-year-old Wolf faces when his mom uproots his family from their home on Vancouver Island to travel by van across Canada performing skits to warn people that the bees are dying: When the honeybees are gone, humans will die out, too. Of course, Wolf fears for his future, but he doesn’t want to stop his whole life to try to do something about it, especially when his mom insists the whole family wear those stupid-looking bee costumes!
Beautifully written and loaded with interesting facts about bees, The Summer We Saved the Bees is an important book that is not just about need for environmental activism to make the world a better place, it is also about family, friendship, love and tolerance of others who might be different, and shows the reader that there is usually more than one way to look at things.
The Summer We Saved the Bees is classed as middle-grade fiction, but can be enjoyed by readers of all ages.
–Reviewed by Lori Shwydky
Speechless by Jennifer Mook-Sang
Joe Alton Miles is a pretty average 12 year old middle school student. With the exception of his joint nickname with his best friend — Joe is known as “Jelly” (because his initials spell “J.A.M.”), and his best friend Parker Brown is known as “P.B.” (Get it? P.B. (peanut butter) & Jelly) — his ordinary life involves going to school, playing video games, & begging his parents to buy him a computer tablet.
All this changes when Jelly decides he really wants to win his school’s annual speech contest. Although Jelly fears public speaking, he does want the top prize of a new computer tablet. This puts Jelly in direct competition with a fellow student, Victoria. Victoria wants to win for the sake of winning, and she will use any means necessary to beat Jelly from the public speaking prize.
Jelly’s reputation, friendships, and self worth are tested over the course of the speech competition. Will Jelly’s friendships survive Victoria’s sabotage and negative campaigning? Will Jelly believe in himself enough to get through the contest? Will Jelly win the speech contest and get a new tablet? Read this fast-paced book to find out!
-Reviewed by Cathy Mount, Past President of the Red Cedar Book Awards