Monday, July 14, 2014

JACKPOT - A Swindle Mystery

I'm going to admit right at the beginning that I didn't think I was going to like this book. I picked it up at the library for my son, who loves Gordon Korman and was excited when he saw it on the kitchen table. 

But, I've been reading at an accelerated rate lately, and found myself with no appealing options late one evening. I always read after everyone's gone to bed, and often read an entire MG novel in one night. It seems to have become a habit. 

So, while waiting for my Nook to recharge, I picked this one up and figured it would put me to sleep, at the least.

I'll admit that it was a slow start for me. The book starts out with a dream sequence, which I've been told repeatedly is not a good way to start a novel. My first thought was, 'oh, no, this isn't good.'

But it was. And it got better. And by the time I got to the final chapters, I was exhausted. Not from staying up to finish the entire book, but because of the increasing action! There was no way I could put the book down without finishing it.

The story is about a group of school kids who find themselves in a frantic search for a winning Mega-Millions lottery ticket that has gone unclaimed for almost a year. The time is quickly approaching when the ticket will become worthless, and they devise a plan to find the winning ticket holder so the money can be claimed.

Before their adventure is fully developed, however, the town bully steps in and decides he should find and claim the ticket as his own. After all, he's always wanted loads of money, and in his eyes he deserves it more than anyone else. 

Then there's the new kid. Once he's added to the mix, things begin to get hairy. And, speaking of hairy, there's also an assortment of pets that get involved in the plot and add a lovely twist that makes this wacky adventure even more fun.

I loved the voice of this, and the humor that resonates with kids this age. The descriptions of the minor characters through the eyes of the kids is hilarious and more than likely exactly how they would actually see the adults in their world.

Highly recommend for both boys and girls looking for a fun read, with a touch of seriousness in dealing with bullies. 


Cordelia Dinsmore

Tuesday, July 8, 2014


Zane and the Hurricane, A Story of Katrina, by Rodman Philbrick, was quite an adventure. Very well written and quite enlightening, in my humble opinion.

This is a story of a young boy named Zane, whose father was killed in a tragic accident before Zane was born. Zane's mother has searched for years for any relatives from her husband's side of the family, but she had sketchy details to begin with, and they weren't all accurate.

Now she has found Zane's great-grandmother, who lives in New Orleans. She packs Zane up and sends him off for an exciting summer adventure to meet this new-found relative and to possibly learn a bit more about his father's side of the family. Zane's wonder dog, Bandit, naturally comes along for the ride.

And it's a wild ride, for sure. Zane and his great-grandmother, Miss Trissy, are still in the stages of getting to know one another when disaster strikes in the form of Hurricane Katrina. As they're packing up their meager belongings in preparation for evacuation, Miss Trissy shares stories with Zane of past hurricanes. Stories that later help save his life.

Of course, if the evacuation went smoothly, the story would have been very short. I will warn that this book is a bit graphic in some of its details, but it's well worth the read. There's no sugar coating in this tale of disaster, and friendship, and the true meaning of family. I recommend this for the upper middle grade readers who can handle some fairly serious subject matter.


Cordelia Dinsmore