Monday, May 9, 2011

SPL Shelf Life [kids]

These reviews appeared in the Stratford Gazette on May 5, 2011 
Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

The Beef Princess of Practical County, by Michelle Houts, 226 pages.
@ SPL:  J FIC Houts
Libby Ryan has a clear goal in mind. She is determined that at this year’s Practical County Fair, a few months away, one of her family’s steers will win the Grand Championship.
Her grandfather has allowed her to choose two calves to raise and groom on the family cattle farm for this purpose. Libby wants the win badly – for her grandpa, her dad and for Ryansmeade Farm.
Closer to the fair, however, things become complicated. Libby now has doubts that either steer will win, and dreads the day following the fair, when her beloved steers - Piggy and Mule - must be sold. A couple of extremely nasty neighbours, the Darling sisters, add some unpleasant complications, proving that they will do absolutely anything at all to help their steer win the Grand Championship. Adding to that, her mother has somehow persuaded Libby to enter the Beef Princess Beauty Contest, and here, Libby feels like a fish (or worse) out of water! 
Readers will be pleased with the way this well-written story ends for Libby, a very likeable and believable heroine. From beginning to finish, The Beef Princess of Practical County is an enjoyable novel that girls will find difficult to put down. At the same time, it offers some valuable messages about family, friendship and loyalty.
First-time author Michelle Houts lives on a grain and livestock farm in Ohio.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 13 years.
Camille McPhee Fell Under the Bus... by Kristen Tracy.  293 pages.
@ SPL:  J FIC Tracy

At eleven years of age, Camille McPhee has some things going on in her life. Her best friend has moved to Japan. Camille feels her absence keenly but doesn’t feel ready to make another best friend – not yet. Her beloved cat, Checkers, is lost. Camille misses him too. Her parents are going through a rocky time in their marriage, and she is worried about them. In addition, Camille has problems with low blood sugar (hypoglycemia), which sometimes causes her to faint. This is why she fell under her school bus instead of getting into it one morning.
Fortunately, the bus driver noticed Camille’s fall and didn’t start up the bus.  Unfortunately, some of her classmates also noticed and teased her, not understanding the situation.
With everything going on in her life, it might be easy to become discouraged – but Camille usually remains optimistic. She knows that she has things to be positive about. In this wise but entertaining story, she learns that life isn’t always fair or easy. “That’s life. Sometimes you get pizza. Sometimes you get fish guts. Sometimes you get both at the same time.”  Camille also learns that negative events often have “silver linings”, and it’s important to look and find them. 
In the end, Camille does make a new friend and her cat, Checkers, is found.
This book, which also features a very likeable, believable heroine, is the first for author Kristen Tracy, who as a child, also fell under a school bus.
** Recommended for ages 9 to 12 years.

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