Thursday, August 21, 2014

Shelf Life [kids]

HideoutHideout by Gordon Korman, 288 pages.
@ SPL:  J FIC Korma

Summer is quickly drawing to a close, but there’s still time for middle-graders to relax and enjoy some light reading before school begins. Here are two suggestions of novels that are both suspenseful and entertaining.

The first, Hideout, is the fifth title in a series by Gordon Korman about six-grader Griffin Bing, a group of his quirky (but delightful) friends, and an enormous, loveable Doberman named Luthor. 

Rescued from the cruel S. Wendell Palomino in a previous story, Luther now lives with Savannah Drysdale.  However, Palomino (also known as “Swindle”) has just managed to obtain a court order to get his dog back. Determined not to let this happen, Griffin and his friends decide to out-maneuver Swindle by hiding Luthor at three different summer camps.

Easier said than done, however!  Because of the dog’s gigantic size, keeping him hidden is an almost impossible feat.  Hilarious hijinks, pranks and mischief follow ... as readers would expect in a Gordon Korman novel.

The adventures of Luthor and his human friends are continued in an equally fun sequel, Jackpot.

Author Gordon Korman actually wrote his first book, This Can’t be Happening at Macdonald Hall, at the age of 12 years.  Since then, this popular writer has published over seventy novels, all of which would appeal to children in the middle grades.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.

Cry WoofCry Woof (A Dog and his Girl Mystery) by Jane Mason and Sarah Stephens, 203 pages.
@ SPL:  J FIC Mason

Meet Dodge, a retired police dog with a German Shepherd’s super-keen sense of smell.  Meet twelve-year-old Cassie, his owner, who also happens to be the daughter of the town’s police chief.  Together they are an intrepid six-legged detective team.

In this duo’s third adventure, Cry Woof, Cassie and Dodge investigate a string of unusual goings-on in their town. It begins when Madame Lafarge, the town eccentric, is found dead after falling in her kitchen.  There are no clues to explain how the accident happened ... or was it really an accident?  Her neighbours are acting suspiciously … perhaps they be hiding something!

At the same time, people living in a nearby retirement home and a number of neighbourhood pets are falling sick. No one knows why.

Could these mysterious circumstances be connected?  Who is responsible?  Cassie and Dodge hope to sniff out the answers before long.

Alternating between Cassie and Dodge’s points of view, this mystery will engage middle-grade readers. Characters - especially Dodge, Cassie and her parents - are likeable and well-defined, and the book resonates with subtle humour. 

Play Dead and Dead Man’s Best Friend are the first two titles in this promising new series.

** Recommended for ages 8 to 12 years.
These reviews were published in the Stratford Gazette. Written by Sally Hengeveld, Librarian.

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