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Pre2006 Reviews – U and V

Uehashi, Nahoko Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit, 256 p. Arthur A Levine (Scholastic), June 2008. After saving the life of Chagum, the second son of the Emperor of New Yogo, Balsa is asked to remain as his protector, as the Second Queen is afraid that Chagum is targeted for death – by his own father. This isn’t a political or even a personal problem, but a cycle that occurs every 100 years. Balsa must protect the prince from his father’s assassins and from an evil creature from another dimension or the whole country will suffer a severe drought. Students who like manga or kids who like the Hoobler’s books will like this look at feudal Japan-esque fiction. Though the plot is complicated, it reads well. It would make a fantastic change to a manga. MS – ADVISABLE


Updale, Eleanor Montmorency and the Assassins, 404 p. – Release: February 2006. Third in the series. Montmorency heads off to Florence Italy to help Lord George Fox-Selwyn solve the mystery of some missing naturalist specimens. When they meet up with George’s brother and his two young adult sons, they all get involved in a much deeper plot that puts the youngest, Frank, in mortal danger, as he gets reckless involved with a group preaching anarchy. The hunt to stop the plots takes the group across the Atlantic to America and back. Do not read the ending first – it is a shocker that needs to come in its time. Ms. Updale has much improved on the second title in the series. There will definitely be a number four. I just hope I don’t have to wait too long! MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher


Updale, Eleanor Montmorency on the Rocks, 362 p. – Montmorency has been helping Lord George Fox-Selwyn with intrigues in the Far East, but has become slave to drugs. In order to break Montmorency’s addiction, George reintroduces him to Doctor Faucett, the man who but Montmorency’s body back together years earlier. The three men must solve a rash of bombings in London, plus help a tiny island community discover what mystery has killed all of the babies born in the last seven years. This book is much darker than the first book and is still an intriguing read. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher


Updale, Eleanor Montmorency: Thief, Liar, Gentleman? – A petty thief reinvents himself after prison into a gentleman of leisure, with a second life as a thief using the new London sewer system. Not the best message, but a fun read. MS-ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher


Updale, Eleanor Montmorency’s Revenge 304 p. Scholastic – Montmorency is on the hunt for the men who conspired to kill his best friend, George Fox-Selwyn. Doctor Farcett is sliding into insanity and needs help, and young Francis Fox-Selwyn takes on the most dangerous job of all. With the introduction of a larger cast of character in book number three, the series has become unwieldy and not as interesting. I quickly tired of Montemorency’s and Francis’s one-track minds. But, if you do manage to stay with it to the end, you’ll discover on the very last page there is at least one more book to come. I hope it is the last. Don’t buy this title unless the others in the series circulate well. MS-OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Ursu, Anne The Shadow Thieves, 420 p. – When Charlotte’s cousin Zee comes from England to live with her family, more than Charlotte’s unpopularity is about to change. When Charlotte’s few friends and a large number of other schoolmates starts falling gravely ill, Zee and Charlotte discover that they are the ones who must save the world. Another excellent novel loosely based on Greek Mythology. Its billed as the 1st in a series. EL, MS-ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher






Vail, Rachel Jibberwillies at Night, illustrated by Yumi Heo. Scholastic, October 2008. PICTURE BOOK. Katie Honors is a happy girl and most of the time she drifts easily off to sleep. Every once in a while, however, the jibberwillies arrive and Katie is afraid to go to bed. With her mother’s help she can conquer the jibberwillies and find sweet dreams. Bright, fun pictures compliment the message in this book that every child can relate to. Younger elementary students will definitely appreciate the message. EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.


Vail, Rachel You, Maybe 199pgs – Language: PG 13; Sexual Content: PG 13; Violence: PG – Josie is just an average girl, who is suddenly pulled into a relationship with the hottest senior at school, Carson Gold. Things spin out of control as her love for him grows, and soon she finds herself lost in the relationship that never should have begun. I never really connected with Josie and didn’t really care that much about what happened to her. It was a good story, and I liked that it didn’t end all goody-good the ways a lot of books do, but I wish that the main character could have been a little more like-able. MS – OPTIONAL Student Reviewer: JN


Van De Ruit, John Spud, 331 pgs. Penguin Group. Language-PG-13 (a few “f’s”); Sexual Content-PG; Violence-G; Spud has just moved into a boarding school and has no idea what is about to happen to him. He encounters many different people and has many crazy experiences. This book had pretty much every element that you’re looking for in a book. It was very funny and had many memorable characters, and there was even a little love story in there too. HS-ESSENTIAL Student Reviewer: KD


Vande Velde, Vivian Now You See I…, 275 p. – When Wendy puts on a cool new pair of shades, see suddenly starts seeing things that no one else can see. She finds herself caught up in a struggle to save an elven prince, who used to be the nerdy guy in the back row. And her unlikely ally is the head cheerleader, who in reality is an ancient looking crone. Light fantasy that the younger crowd will love. EL, MS-ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher


Vande Velde, Vivian The Book of Mordred, 342 p. – Three interactions in Mordred’s life. Centering around a girl named Keira who has sketchy magical powers, bring him to his fateful battle with King Arthur for the survival of the kingdom. Inorder to enjoy this book fully, students will need to already know about Arthur, Mordred, Nimue, Morgana, and Vivian and Arthurian lore. It is a complex novel that demands close reading in order to enjoy it. A casual reader will put it down quickly. Ms, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Vande Velde, Vivian Witch Dreams, 120 p. – Nyssa’s parents were murdered six years ago; she is convinced that the murderer is the son of the local lord. When the young man returns to the town after a long absence, Nyssa tries to use her powers to see his dreams and get proof of his guilt. As Nyssa finds ways to see what happened that day, she learns a very hard truth. A short book that will keep your attention. It about much more than witchcraft. MS-ADVISABLE


Valdes-Rodriguez, Alisa Haters 352 pgs Little, Brown – Language: R- over 50 pgs, Sexuality: R- 318-320, Violence: pg13 – Paski moves from New Mexico with her dad to his new job in California. She soon learns that life in the OC is very different; she meets hot Chris, trains for her mountain biking, and most importantly, she is introduced to the “Haters”. I absolutely loved this book. Although it is not appropriate for a school library, because of the language and sexuality, I would recommend reading it because it was so easy to relate to. NO, unfortunately Student Reviewer: JN



Van Draanen, Wendelin Runaway 250 p. Random House – Several years in the foster system has landed a withdrawn Holly into an abusive foster home where she is locked into the laundry every day – all day long, except for when she is at school. This time when she runs away, she is determined to stay out of the hands of the authorities. Only 12, she records her thoughts in a journal that she was given by her latest English teacher. The ending is almost too good to be true, but that doesn’t stop this from being a fascinating book to read. The flow is excellent and there isn’t a single swear word to be found. Since Holly is so young, I am also recommending this for upper elementary. EL, MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Van Draanen, Wendelin Runaway, 272 p. Random House – Violence PG – Holly is an outstanding character. She is a foster child who has moved from home to home. Those homes slowly getting worse in quality, until she has finally had it. “She’s run away before and has always been caught quickly. But she’s older and wiser now- she’s twelve”. Just a small example on the Author’s humor. Holly holds a dream of reaching the ocean and becoming free, one of the sea-gypsies. We all wish to be free once in a while. Whether from work, stress, other people, etc. There is pain in any experience too. It was amazing the things a this girl went through. The horrid pain of being abused over and over again. Life never seemed to be fair for her. I love this book and will keep it on my personal shelf forever. It is a book that touched my heart and it should yours as well. MS – ESSENTIAL; Student Reviewer:RW


Van Draanen, Wendelin Swear to Howdy – I was ready to dismiss this as a cute best friends novel UNTIL THE OTHER SHOE DROPPED!. You must read this one! MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Van Leeuwen, Jean Cabin on Trouble Creek 219 p. – Daniel and Will have been left at their homestead while their father goes to fetch the rest of the family. When he doesn’t return after the promised eight weeks, Daniel and Will are only able to survive the winter with a lot of grit and the help of an old Indian man. Great frontier fiction. The cover, unfortunately, doesnot do the story justice. EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher


Van Maarsen, Jacqueline A Friend Called Anne, 158 p. – Jacque became friends with Anne Frank in the fall of 1941, when they both started attending the Jewish Lyceum. The girls saw each other and played together almost every day until the fateful morning that the Frank’s disappeared. Throughout the rest of the war Jacqueline held out hope that the Frank’s were safely in Switzerland, and only learned the truth after the war, when Otto Frank himself gave Jacque the news. This is a very plainly told tale of the girls’ lives and friendship. You can tell that Jacqueline tried to avoid the limelight as long as possible. A good addition to a collection that needs a large body of work about Anne and her family. EL, MS-OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Van Steenwyk, Elizabeth A Traitor Among Us, 131 p. – Pieter’s older brother is involved with the Dutch Resistance during World War II. AS the Germans prepare to make a major move through the Dutch countryside, Pieter also gets involved, but there is a traitor in the village feeding information to the Nazis, putting all of their work in jeopardy. A decent book about life during World War II, especially if you are looking for something new to support a curriculum unit. EL, MS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Vaupel, Robin My Contract with Henry – Beth’s class is reading “Life in the woods” by Hebry David Thoreau. For their assignment the students have two months to live, in some way, as Thoreua did. Beth’s group builds a small cabin in a local old growth forest. As the next spring rolls around, they discover that the land will be bulldozed for luxury houses. They are determined to find a way to save their forest. This wonderful book is more about the growth and changes of the main characters than it is about saving the forest. MS, HS – ADVISABLE


Viguie, Debbie Midnight Pearls – A retelling of “The Little Mermaid.” I must completely disagree with the reviewer from School Library Journal, because I enjoyed this one much more than Napoli’s version. ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


Viguie, Debbie Scarlet Moon, 157 p. – As a little girl, Ruth is mauled by a wolf in the forest. Soon after, her brother leaves to fight in the crusades, so Ruth picks up her father’s tools to work as a blacksmith. Confronting a rude customer one day, Ruth is aided by the Lord of the manor, who is very interested in Ruth’s honest ways. But William has a deep secret that may destroy Ruth’s growing love for him. Another worthy entry in the retold fairy tale genre. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher


Voake, Steve The Dream Walkers Child 300 p. – Language-PG, Sexual Content-G, Violence-PG – One day when Sam was riding his bike when he got hit by a car. He passed out and when he woke up he was in a different world. A world of half human half dog guards. A world where people fly inside wasps, flies, mosquitoes, and dragonflies. In this world there is a group of people who want to kill everyone on earth. And Sam is supposedly the only one who can stop them. This was an okay book. It had an interesting plot. It was well written but not all that entertaining. I would not recommend it. It would only be good if you had nothing else. EL – OPTIONAL Student Reviewer: JB


Volponi, Paul Black and White, 85 p. – Marcus and Eddie, stars of their school basketball team, decide to steal money in order to make up the money that they spent on new basketball shoes. Using a gun they have two successful robberies and then the third goes bad. Marcus, the black member of the pair is identified by their victim. Eddie, the white half, has a great lawyer who knows how to work the system to get Eddie off, even though Eddie was the shooter. This book makes me ill. It is so full of tension and injustice and what really makes me mad is the the promo for the book talks about “two good boys who make a bad mistake”. Gag – that’s why they were able to go ahead with THREE different stick-ups. With a gun. Just because they had spent their money on fancy shoes. And then Marcus takes all of the fall because he refuses to pint he finger at Eddie. Right. Oh – a few swear words, a couple of “f***”, a world I completely don’t understand. But I read it all and it really belongs in some communities. Without the “F’s” I would have put it in mine too. NO. Cindy, Library Teacher


Volponi, Paul Hurricane Song, 136 p. Viking (Penguin), 2008. Language: R (65 swears, 5 “f”); Sexual Content: PG-13 (implied rape); Violence: PG-13. When New Orleans floods during the attack of Hurricane Katrina, Miles and his father are evacuated to the Superdome. Rather than being a haven from the storm, however, the Superdome becomes a place of nightmares. Miles, Pop, his musician friends and a ragtag bunch of strangers will do what they have to in order to survive, but they can’t save everyone from the danger within the human soul. While you may have heard stories of what life was like inside the Superdome during those tension-filled days, Volponi’s narrative slams it right into your face so that you can’t ignore it. The story is even more riveting because it is a story that everyone has heard, but because of the honest language and circumstances, it will not be accessible for everyone. HS – ESSENTIAL. Reviewer – Cindy, Library-Teacher


Vrettos, Adrienne Skin, 227 p. – Between his parents arguments, his sister’s eating disorder and the snubbing by his former best friends, Donnie just wants to disappear, fade, become invisible. But he also keeps trying to fix things, even when there is absolutely no way things will ever get better. Yes, the author uses the “f” word more than a dozen times, but all of them seem to fit exactly where they are. It is painful to watch the progression of the family’s breakup, Karen’s disease and Donnie’s extremely painful adolescence. As powerful as Speak, Cut or even Emily’s Secret. I don’t think many middle school’s will carry it because of the large number of “f”‘s, but high schools should give it careful consideration. HS-ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher


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