Setting: A ma and pa coffee shop in San Fran, California
Friend #1: Hey friend, where are you off to?
Friend #2: The Arctic Circle. I’m adopting a polar bear for a pet.
Friend #1: A polar bear?!? Are you crazy?
Friend #2: What? Is there something wrong with polar bears?
Friend #1: Of course! Don’t you know they’re huge? An adult can reach up to 10 feet in height and weigh over 1,000 pounds.
Friend #2: You’re right. It’ll never fit in my Kia.
Friend #1: Not only that, but polar bears are quite dangerous. Their teeth and claws are sharper than samurai swords.
Friend #2: Hey friend, thanks for letting me know. My in-laws are staying for two weeks and I wouldn’t want…(he pauses for a moment, then shakes his head). Can you recommend something else?
Friend #1: How about a Diamondback Rattlesnake? They’re much smaller than polar bears and easier to take care of. You can hop on the Interstate and pick one up in a jiffy.
Friend #2: A rattlesnake? That’s…that’s the greatest idea ever! The wife just delivered our first and you know how newborns love those sounds they make.
Barista #4: Cinnamon chai latte!
Friend #1: Ah, my drink is ready. Happy travels, friend.
Amanda in New Mexico is a young adult novel about a world-traveling student named—you guessed it—Amanda. Whoa, deja vu! Her 10th grade teacher (and most suspect chaperon ever), Ms. Bowler, leads her class on a haunted field trip to Taos, New Mexico. Here, Amanda’s eccentric friend, Cleo, has many encounters with “ghosts.” Then, Amanda starts having many encounters with “ghosts.” Trying to enjoy her time in a foreign land, Amanda shrugs off these hauntings as coincidences and carries on, snapping photographs and writing travelogues for her site, Kidsblog. In the meantime, Cleo is going through serious psychological distress and is on the brink of a mental breakdown while their suspect chaperon keeps checking boxes off their itinerary (how about a box for mental clinic, Ms. Bowler? Your student has major issues!). From here, the narrative turns into a spooky whodunit filled with mystery, mayhem and dialogue straight out of a Saved by the Bell episode.
Amanda in New Mexico is the perfect read for teenagers interested in any of the following: ghost stories, adventure, southwestern history and geography. Author Darlene Foster portrays past and present life in New Mexico with great vibrancy and accuracy, even using Spanish terms to draw the reader into Amanda’s charming and elaborate surroundings. Overall, I like Amanda in New Mexico and give it an 85/100 on the Quiet Scale. To find out more about Darlene Foster and her latest works, click here.
Note: If you are an author and would like to exchange book reviews, contact me here.
Call Me Amy is a young adult novel about—you guessed it—a girl named Amy. Living in Port Wells, Maine in the 1970s, Amy grapples with the routine affairs of adolescence: boy crushes, identity formation, mothering an injured baby seal. Like I said—routine. Being an animal lover herself, author Marcia Strykowski effortlessly portrays Amy as a smart and empathetic 8th-grader trying to make (what she feels are) the right decisions. Amy’s quirky yet unpredictable personality keeps the reader interested in her daily adventures from beginning to end, an end which is sure to evoke both tears of sadness and tears of joy; in other words, an emotional rollercoaster (don’t worry—a kid-sized one). Call Me Amy is perfect for any elementary or junior high reader interested in connecting with nature, developing a solid core of ethics and building meaningful relationships in Middle America. The characters are well-fleshed out and their interactions are fun and realistic. I recommend this novel and give it an 88/100 on the Quiet Scale. To see what else Marcia Strykowski has been working on, click here.
Note: If you are an author and would like to exchange book reviews, contact me.