Thursday, August 2, 2012

Shelf Life [kids]

Storm Runners By Roland Smith, 143 pages
@ SPL: J FIC Smi

Most people try to avoid storms and other natural disasters. Not 13-year-old Chase Masters and his father, who are “storm chasers.”

Every two months or so, they pull up stakes and move to a location where a major storm is predicted. They help residents and business owners to prepare their buildings and property for the upcoming storm. Afterwards, they stay for two or three months, with Mr. Masters working to repair damaged buildings, boats and property, and Chase attending school.

It’s both a livelihood and a way of living. Chase is used to it, and he and his dad have become weather experts.

Hurricane Emily, advancing to the Florida coast, has been considered a serious storm from the beginning, and it has quickly gained intensity. The Masters realize that it may be the worst storm they’ve ever seen – but many residents aren’t aware of its gravity. Chase and his dad also feel that the weather forecasters have wrongly predicted the location where the storm will hit land.

After the first day at his new school, Chase is on the long bus ride home when the storm, approaching much faster than expected, slams into the Florida coast. The heavy rain and high winds quickly inundate the levees in the rural area. Roads, ditches, fields, farms and then homes are flooded. The water rises quickly and all electricity is out.

The school bus never reaches the farm where Chase is staying. It skids off the road, which has been washed out. Submerged in a ditch, Chase and his new friends are able to escape out the emergency door, but they are miles away from their homes. They must depend on their own resourcefulness and survival skills.

Not only are they battling “the storm of the century” and the rising waters, but a number of wild animals – alligators, tigers and cheetahs – have escaped from a local game farm.

This action/adventure tale ends with the friends reaching the farm much later that night. However, the house is almost gone; the storm continues, and they are not yet safe. The story is continued in a sequel, Surge, also available at the Stratford Public Library.

Avid and reluctant readers alike will be unable to put this fast-paced book down.

** Recommended for ages eight to 12.

Dark Life By Kat Falls, 297 pages
@ SPL: J FIC Falls

Ty has always lived with his family on their ocean floor farm deep beneath the waves. He has always felt safe and happy in the undersea world – until now.

A gang of dangerous convicts, escaped from the Seablite Maximum Security Prison, have been attacking homesteads and farms in the underwater settlement where Ty lives. No one feels safe.

The convicts are not only very dangerous, but “damaged,” according to “Doc,” who reveals that the inmates were subjected to mind-altering experiments while in prison. They seem ruthlessly intent on driving away the settlers. If they succeed, where will the families go?

As the attacks increase and the families band together to defend their homes, Ty begins to suspect that there is more going on than an attempt to drive away the settlers. The convicts also appear to want someone from the settlement. Who? Why?

When Ty is captured by the convicts, he overhears a conversation and realizes what they really want. He learns that someone from his own settlement – someone he has known and trusted for years – is far more of a threat to the settlers than the escaped prisoners.

He and his sister Zoe are in particular danger because they have special abilities, which the settlers have named “dark gifts.”

Now it’s more vital than ever that Ty escape quickly to alert his family about the true danger threatening the community.

Kat Falls’ “must-read” story is full of suspense, adventure and intrigue. Readers will be glad to know that a sequel, Rip Tide, has just been published.

** Recommended for ages nine to 13.

These reviews appeared in The Stratford Gazette on August 2nd, 2012. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian

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