Thursday, October 12, 2006


Newbery winning-author of THE MIDWIFE'S APPRENTICE and CATHERINE CALLED BIRDY is back in her forté of historical fiction, this time during the McCarthy Era of the 1950's when intellectuals and artists were widely targeted as Communist threats during a modern-day witch hunt. Francine, however, is caught up in her own tweenager world, living down the street from a Hollywood studio and dreaming of a glamorous life, of dreamboat actor Montgomery Clift, of a motion-picture-perfect family. Unfortunately, she is trapped in the body of a shy thirteen-year-old who goes out of her way to stay out of trouble inestead of seeking any adevnture or attention. When saucy, risk-taking Sophie Bowman transfers in to her sleepy class at All Saints School For Girls, the wide world comes rushing in, and Francine stops watching from the sidelines. Is Sophie a bad influence, as the nuns say, or just what Francine needs to understand that sometime not saying anything is the same as speaking up for the wrong side? This chapter in American history is a perfect backdrop for a girl coming in to her own, and darn afraid of it. The best part about the book is the complex friendship story, acknowledging that the people we encounter can really change us, and our path, even as children. The best part about the book, though, is the believable and plucky heroine, as only Cushman can do. She has the gift of making girls of today wish they could pull characters out of their timelines and call them "best friend." (11 and up)

Also of interest:
More books by award-winning authors!
BREAD AND ROSES, TOO by Katherine Paterson (Clarion)
Fans of Elizabeth Winthrop's COUNTING ON GRACE and Carmela Martino's ROSA, SOLA will enjoy the latest by the author of BRIDGE TO TEREBITHIA. An Italian immigrant family has to
weigh the dangerous pros and cons when they decide whether or not to participate in a strike against the mills, ultimately resulting in sending Rosa to live with a family she doesn't know in Vermont until the heat blows over. On the train, she meets a boy who begs her to pretend that he is her brother...where is his family? What secret is he hiding? Will Rosa ever see her family again? Aren't you excited to read this book? (10 and up)

PROBUDITI! by Chris Van Allsburg (Houghton Mifflin) Can a brother and his friend remember the magic word to release a little sister from the hypnotists's spell that has her acting like a puppy dog...or is sister the one who has the boys in her power? You'll be getting anything but sleeeepy when you pore over this silly, sepia-toned sibling story by the illustrator of THE POLAR EXPRESS. The artist continues to play masterfully with dreamlike perpectives and boggling technique, but interjects a fresh sense of humor (look at that little girl, she's practically wagging her tail!) and also makes a multicultural contribution by making his main characters African-American. (7 and up)

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