Monthly Archives: October 2006

“Miracle on 49th Street” by Mike Lupica


Mike Lupica is a sports columnist, television personality, and author of such teen sports novels as the excellent "Travel Team" and "Heat." In his latest book for young adults, "Miracle on 49th Street," Lupica tells the story of 12 year-old Molly Parker. Molly grew up in London as the beloved daughter of single parent Jen, who recently passed away after a battle with cancer. As the book begins, Molly has been sent to Boston to live with Jen's college friend, Barbara, her banker husband, and their daughter, Kimmy.

Molly has a secret that she hasn't shared with anyone but her best friend, smart, awkward, funny Sam Bloom, and the secret is a whopper: nationally famous Boston Celtics point guard Josh Cameron is Molly's father. Of course, Josh has no idea he has a daughter, and, after Molly ambushes him — twice! — in the team's parking lot, he's not so sure he even wants a daughter. Molly and Josh begin a kind of uneasy friendship, where she attends some of his games and practices and has dinners with Josh and his grandmotherly housekeeper Mattie. All along, Molly senses that Josh is just stringing her along until he can figure out a safe method of sending her on her way; Josh never hugs Molly, continues to question whether she's really his daughter, and keeps her hidden from the media. The bulk of the story involves Molly trying to get Josh to pass a fatherhood "test," that is, get him to overcome his pride and selfishness and reach a point where he can love and accept Molly for who she is.

There's some sports action in the book, as both Molly's 7th grade team and Josh's professional team take the court, but not as much as in Lupica's previous novels. Molly is a believable character, brave and hurt and hopeful all at the same time, so readers will definitely cheer her on. The problem with this book lies in the other characters, who never seem to come fully to life, and in the fact that Lupica chooses to flash forward from Molly's initial encounters with the very reluctant Josh to her already having forged friendships with both him and the other Celtics. Lupica does this on several occasions, jumps from a big emotional scene to a calmer time weeks down the road, never letting the reader see all the little steps — the growth, the character development — in between. As such, much of the impact of the story and its final, sentimental resolution is undercut.

This isn't a bad book, not by any means, but it could've been so much more compelling. Fans of Lupica's other books will find lots to like here, but they may walk away a bit disappointed.


Posted by on October 21, 2006 in Uncategorized


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“Peaches” by Jodi Lynn Anderson


Let's get a few things out of the way first: (1) This is strictly a female-oriented novel, for girls in about 7th grade and up; and (2) you'll find nothing in this plot or these characters that you haven't encountered somewhere before. With that said, this is a fast, easily readable, highly enjoyable coming-of-age novel with some genuinely sweet and touching moments.

Bad girl Murphy gets sentenced to perform community service at the Darlington's Georgia peach orchard, where she meets shy, stuck-in-a-rut Birdie, the owner's daughter, and beautiful, princess-y Leeda, Birdie's richer, more popular cousin. Murphy, Birdie, and Leeda form a tentative friendship over spring break, but it's really over the course of a long, busy summer at the orchard — one which includes plenty of late-night sneak outs to a nearby lake and even a roadside bar — that the girls become true friends.

Of course, none of the girls are truly as they first appear. Murphy, besides being a wrong-side-of-the-tracks troublemaker, is also brilliant, tough, and loads of fun. Birdie, underneath all her awkwardness, is a warm, caring person who almost single-handedly keeps the orchard running after her mom splits and her dad becomes overwhelmed by his depression. And Leeda, despite appearing absolutely perfect on the outside, is constantly comparing herself to her older sister … and constantly falling short.

What separates this book from others like it are its beautiful, almost lyrical descriptions of the sights, sounds, and smells of the peach orchard and the very real, very natural way the girls act. For example, when Birdie freezes up as a boy she likes tries to kiss her, you can understand just how nervous she is. Since the characters are so believable and, frankly, so likable, there's a huge, heartfelt payoff at the end of the story, as each girl accomplishes something important in her life.

Note: If you like "Peaches," you may also like the novels of Sarah Dessen, who writes in a similar style. Keep an eye out for the sequel, "Secrets of Peaches," due out in December.


Posted by on October 20, 2006 in Uncategorized


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“Veronica Mars, Season One”


Ok, so it's not a book, but since we own Season One on DVD at the Library … and since I just watched it! … I thought I'd review it here.

"Veronica Mars" is a combination of high school drama and noir mystery. Yes, it's one of those shows where you have to watch every episode to get the most out of it, but it's definitely worth the commitment of your time. You'll be rewarded in the end, I promise!

Here's the setup: Veronica was once one of the popular kids at Neptune High in southern California. Then her best friend Lilly Kane was murdered and Veronica's sheriff dad, Keith, accused Lilly's father of being somehow involved in her death. As the first season starts, Veronica is a complete pariah at school, Keith has become a private investigator after losing his job, and, to make matters worse, Veronica's mom has taken off. Veronica believes in her father's investigation, as she senses that the Kane family — including her ex-boyfriend Duncan — is covering up the truth about Lilly's murder. So Veronica takes matters into her own hands and begins looking into the case herself.

The entire first season involves Veronica investigating Lilly Kane's death, and clues and some red herrings (that is, false clues) are revealed slowly over time. Along the way, Veronica solves lots of smaller mysteries, including a missing neighbor, stolen poker money, kidnapped dogs, and backstabbing AP students. The single-episode mysteries are intriguing, as is the larger "Who Killed Lilly Kane?" question. Over the course of the year, it's great to see Veronica's character evolve; she even becomes more connected to her classmates as a result of her superior abilities as a detective. Interestingly, the show also includes a kind of social commentary on class differences, as apartment-dwelling Veronica lives in a very different world from her super-wealthy classmates.

Veronica is a smart, sarcastic, tough, no-nonsense character. She's super fun to watch, as is her unlikely group of friends, which includes basketball star Wallace, biker thug Weevil, computer geek Mac, and, eventually, her former arch-nemesis, rich brat Logan.

If you're looking for a good mystery with some high school entanglements — and if you love one-liners, sarcastic wit, and a strong female lead character — "Veronica Mars" may be the show for you.

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Posted by on October 19, 2006 in Uncategorized


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“Vanishing Act” by John Feinstein


For everyone who loved author John Feinstein's "Last Shot" — and for mystery fans, sports fans, boys, girls, and just about everyone else — here comes Feinstein's latest sports-oriented mystery, "Vanishing Act." Young sportswriters Susan Carol Anderson and Stevie Thomas are back, this time covering the U.S. Open tennis tournament in Flushing, Queens. When a teenage Russian phenom disappears on her way to a first round match, Susan Carol, Stevie, and their journalist mentor, Bobby Kellaher, start digging into the story. The group distrusts the official account, that Nadia Symanova was kidnapped by Russian operatives as a means of ensuring that she won't become a U.S. citizen. Susan Carol's uncle, rising sports agent Brendan Gibson, also seems involved in the Symanova case; Stevie catches Brendan in a lie about signing one of Symanova's rivals, and, later, both Stevie and Susan Carol see Gibson having dinner with Symanova's oily agent, her supposedly distraught parents, and a movie producer.

This book should grab most reader's attention and then, if you're like me, it won't let go! The plot rolls along quickly, there are real surprises and danger, lots of tennis figures (Andy Roddick, announcers Bud Collins and Mary Carillo) make cameo appearances, the tennis action itself is compelling, and the mystery of Symanova's disappearance is more complicated than it first appears. Just as importantly, Stevie and Susan Carol — friends who could maybe become more than friends — are smart, funny, capable, and daring, yet they still act like real thirteen year-olds.

Both boys and girls should find a lot to like in this exciting, enjoyable read.


Posted by on October 17, 2006 in Uncategorized


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“The Riddles of Epsilon” by Christine Morton-Shaw


I have to confess that I'm not a fantasy fan. At all. So when I say I really enjoyed "The Riddles of Epsilon," a fantasy-based tale, it means a lot!

Jess is an ordinary teenager — she gets in trouble at school, loves her dog Domino, and fights a lot with her artist mom and photographer dad. When the family moves to a large house on isolated Lume Island, Jess feels cut off from her old friends. While out exploring one day, she finds an old, abandoned cottage and, at its fence, a bucket buried beneath an arrow. From there, Jess embarks on a clue-filled adventure that brings her in contact with Epsilon, a mysterious being who can appear to her in a ghostly form and even chat with her on the Internet. Epsilon's riddles include old maps, poems, and songs, all of which are in a code that Jess must crack. The more Jess learns about Lume Island, the more she becomes entangled in the life of Sebastian Wren, a boy who lived in her house nearly a hundred years before. And, even stranger, when Jess finds Sebastian's century-old diary entries, she discovers that he has written about her!

The mystery involves an ancient curse, a being named Agapetos, the Lord of Inversion (Cimul), a woman named Yolande, sad songs, black swans, white eagles, a hidden tooth, a porpoise, the Eye of Miradel, a mean old hag, and, eventually, Jess' mom's bizarre, sleepwalking journeys across the island. The riddles are fun to decipher, and the author gives just enough clues for the reader along the way. What's particularly nice is Jess' evolution as a character from a sulky teen to one who has to put aside her very real fears to save her mother. This is a fast-paced, intelligent book, and Jess is such an authentic character that most readers will find themselves cheering her on. Recommended for both fantasy and non-fantasy fans.

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Posted by on October 17, 2006 in Uncategorized


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Get ready! From October 15th to 21st, 2006 …

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Fill out a form telling us about your all-time favorite book and become eligible to win 1 of 10 Teen Read Week Prize Packs. Teens may be picked to win stadium cups, keychains, gift cards, and USB drives.


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Posted by on October 10, 2006 in Uncategorized