“Beyond the Western Sea - The Escape from Home” by Avi

Book Cover Art for The Escape from Home, Beyond the Western Sea by Avi“The Escape from Home” by Avi is book one in the two part “Beyond the Western Sea” series. This amazing historical fiction adventure explores the experiences and feelings of three children as they leave their homelands and set off for America, the New World.

Two of these children, Maura O’Connell, age fifteen, and Patrick O’Connell, age twelve, are from Ireland. At the start of the story they are living in a small village called Kilonny with their mother. Gregory O’Connell, the father of Maura and Patrick, emigrated from Ireland to America to try to find work. For nearly a year they have received no news from him, and they are beginning to fear that he has not survived the dangerous passage over the Western Sea. But then they receive a letter from him containing fifteen pounds, which Maura, Patrick, and their mother are to use to buy passage to America.

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Review of "Beyond the Western Sea - The Escape From Home" by Avi
Inkweaver Review 2009-06-30T09:51:00-05:00

“Julie,” by Jean Craighead George

“Julie,” by Jean Craighead George is a fascinating story that is sequel to the Newbery Award winning novel “Julie of the Wolves.”
Book Cover Art for Julie by Jean Craighead George
In “Julie of the Wolves” author Jean Craighead George introduced readers to a young Eskimo girl with two names: Miyax, and Julie. Miyax is her Yupick name, and Julie is her English name. Miyax ended up lost in the barren wilderness of Alaska. To survive she befriended a wolf pack, and the wolves brought her food.

When Miyax discovered that her father, Kapugen, who she had previously thought to be dead, was alive and living in a nearby village, she decided that it was time to leave the wilderness and her wolf pack and return to live with humans.

But Miyax’s time in the wilderness has changed her in many ways. Now she no longer longs for the life of the gussaks, the white people who have come to live in the Arctic. Instead she wants to live in the traditional way that Eskimos have lived for thousands of years.

When she comes to Kapugen’s home, though, she discovers that her father has also changed. He is not the same father that she knew when she was a little girl, the father that taught her about how he lived with the wolves himself.

Kapugen has married a gussak, a red haired American woman from Minnesota. He has also adopted many ways of the white people. He has a radio, and has replaced his sled dogs with a snow mobile. Most importantly, he has a plane. To her horror Miyax recognizes the plane as the very one from which a pilot, her own father, shot Amaroq, the leader of the wolf pack she had befriended.

Kapugen has an industry now. He is raising musk oxen for their thick fur. The Eskimo villages harvest the fur and sell it to make an income to support themselves. But wolves will prey on the musk oxen, especially since the caribou still haven’t come. Kapugen shot Amaroq to protect his musk oxen. He didn’t realize that he was a friend of Miyax.

At first Miyax feels that Kapugen has changed too much, and she wants to return to the wilderness to live with her wolf pack again. But she realizes that Kapugen is her father, and that he must do what he feels is best to protect the village industry. The village needs the money that the musk oxen bring in, because the caribou still have not come, and without the musk oxen money the villagers would starve.

Unfortunately, the lack of caribou is also a problem for Julie’s wolf pack. The wolves are now being led by Kapu, Amaroq’s son. This wolf is named after Kapugen, Julie’s father. The wolves have followed her to the village, and Miyax is afraid that they will attack the musk oxen if they get hungry enough.

When one of the musk oxen is killed by Kapu’s wolf pack it is the final straw for her father. He is determined to kill the wolves, even though he knows that they helped Julie when she was lost in the wilderness. Julie finally gets her father to relent, but only on one condition. She must lead the wolves away from the village, and they must not return.

So Julie sets out into the wilderness again. She must find a place where the wolves will have plenty of food. If she can’t find such a place, or if the wolf pack won’t stay there, then they will be in great danger if they ever return to Kapugen’s village again.

“Julie” is the perfect continuation of the series. I loved the way that Jean Craighead George further developed the theme that began in “Julie of the Wolves.” The overwhelming effect of the series is to explore the differences between the traditional Eskimo way of life and the encroaching white culture. The differences between them are dramatic, but both Jean Craighead George, and her strong character Julie manage to balance the two forces admirably.

The story line in “Julie” has both tension and beauty. In this second book Julie finds a young man named Peter, who is a much better replacement for Daniel, her former child husband. This time Julie will wait until she is older before marrying Peter, adopting one of the ways of the white people. Throughout the story Julie uses some ways of the gussaks, and some ways of the Eskimo people. By mixing both she is able to find the perfect life for herself.

The landscapes in “Julie” are also beautiful. I think that Jean Craighead George developed the setting of the story much more thoroughly in this sequel than she did in her first book “Julie of the Wolves.” This may be in part because the landscape of this sequel is much richer than the barren wilderness of the first book. Also “Julie” covers the seasons of the Arctic North in much better detail, from the frozen blizzards of winter to the breakup and puddles of the Arctic summer.

If you have read “Julie of the Wolves,” then I can assure you that you will enjoy “Julie” as well. This beautiful sequel is first rate, and exactly the kind if high quality writing that one can expect from author Jean Craighead George.

Inkweaver Book Rating:





Inkweaver Review 2009-06-29T09:26:00-05:00

“Julie of the Wolves,” by Jean Craighead George

“Julie of the Wolves,” by Jean Craighead George is a Newbery Award Medal winning novel about a girl who gets lost on the North Slope of Alaska and befriends a pack of Arctic wolves to survive.
Book Cover Art for Julie of the Wolves by Jean Craighead George
Like most young Eskimos living in Alaska, Miyax is caught between two worlds. On the one hand she is Miyax, a girl who speaks Yupick and lives in an Eskimo village. But Miyax has another name: Julie, and she also speaks English, the language of the gussaks, and her pen pal Amy, who lives far below the Arctic circle in a place called San Francisco.

When Miyax runs away from her arranged marriage, and her angry husband Daniel, she has a plan. She will use her knowledge of the traditional Eskimo life to hike across the North Slopes of Alaska to Point Hope, where a ship called the North Star could take her to San Francisco and her pen pal Amy.

But a week later Miyax is completely lost in the vast wilderness. There are no roads to guide her, and she is miles from her destination, lost in a place where there are no distinguishing features to guide her. Miyax knows that she could wander in circles for weeks until she slowly starves to death.

There is little food in the Arctic wilderness. Even the animals of prey are starving, because the land is between animal seasons. The lemmings have come and gone, but the caribou have not yet arrived.

When Miyax finds a small wolf pack she knows that it is her only chance of survival. Years ago her father told her of a time when he had been in a similar predicament. He befriended a wolf pack until he was accepted as a member of it. The wolves then brought him food until he was able to care for himself.

And so Miyax begins working on a plan to win the wolves over. As she studies the complex interactions of the wolf pack, she learns to read their mannerisms. As she forms an important bond with the pack of Arctic wolves and their puppies Miyax begins to see the depth of wisdom and sustainability in the ancient Eskimo ways. The wolves help Miyax, and she in turn also helps them. Eventually they help her to find her way to the edge of the barren wilderness, where man’s realm begins.

As Miyax approaches the border of the wilderness that she has come to love, she must make a decision about her life. Does she really want to go to San Francisco to live a new life as Julie? Or does she want to be Miyax, living the traditional Eskimo way of life?

“Julie of the Wolves,” by Jean Craighead George is an amazingly powerful story. I loved the descriptions of the Arctic weather and landscape. As in all of Jean Craighead George’s ecological stories, the balancing of man and nature is expounded upon in great detail, showing innovative ways that humans can interact with nature.

Just as in Jean Craighead George’s “My Side of the Mountain,” Miyax learns to live in the wild using natural ways of harvesting food from the wilderness. I enjoyed the descriptions of traditional Eskimo ways.

“Julie of the Wolves” is one of those books that really impresses me with the scope of natural living, and the beauty of our planet and the animals that live on it. I feel that “Julie of the Wolves” was definitely worthy of its Newbery Award Medal.

Every reader should experience this powerful story of the Arctic, its animals, and one girl’s interaction with both.

Inkweaver Book Rating:




Inkweaver Review 2009-06-28T09:30:00-05:00

“Starclimber,” by Kenneth Oppel

Book Cover Art for Starclimber by Kenneth Oppel“Starclimber,” by Kenneth Oppel is a phenomenal science fiction novel that is third in a series that began with “Airborn” and “Skybreaker.”

The “Airborn” series is set in a unique alternate reality world with a distinct Victorian feel. In some ways it is very similar to our world in the 1800’s to early 1900’s. However, in the “Airborn” world lighter than air transportation has reached a much higher degree of development. A special gas called hydrium makes huge airliners and heavy duty airtugs possible. These airships share the skies with heavy than air Leonardo da Vinci style ornithopters, and strange and often dangerous air creatures.

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Review of "Starclimber" by Kenneth Oppel
Inkweaver Review 2009-06-26T09:35:00-05:00

“Marcelo in the Real World,” by Francisco X. Stork

Book Cover Art for Marcelo and the Real World by Francisco X. Stork“Marcelo in the Real World,” by Francisco X. Stork is a fascinating story about a boy who has an autism-like condition. The story focuses on his unique thinking processes and the effects that they have on his relationships in the real world.

Marcelo Sandoval has several major interests. First and foremost he loves music. Not only can Marcelo hear the individual notes of music in a manner much different from the way most people listen to music, but he can also hear music in his head even when none is playing. Second, Marcelo is deeply interested in God and religion, and he spends large amounts of time reading various religious texts and praying. Marcelo’s third interest is horses. He goes to Paterson, a special school for students with physical or mental challenges. Marcelo works in the stables, caring for the the horses and training them to work with deaf or disabled children.

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Review of "Marcelo and the Real World" by Francisco X. Stork
Inkweaver Review 2009-06-24T09:51:00-05:00

“The Sky Inside” by Clare B. Dunkle

“The Sky Inside” by Clare B. Dunkle is a utopian/dystopian novel about a boy who lives in a futuristic society in which people have retreated to domed suburbs.
Book Cover Art for The Sky Inside by Clare B. Dunkle
Martin is a Dish Fourteen, a genetically modified child who lives in the dome suburb called HM1. In Martin’s world children come as product lines. Each year a new, improved model is advertised on television. If a married couple wants one they just fill out the right forms and the “stork packet” comes bearing their new child.

Everything new that comes HM1, from children to consumer goods comes on rail packets. Martin’s father is the packet chief, the man in charge of making sure that packet arrivals and departures go smoothly. All the real work gets done by freight robots, but Martin still likes to accompany his father on his job, because the packet chief’s special job allows him to spend time near the only entrance and exit to the suburb HM1.

Martin doesn’t know for sure what lies outside the dome protecting his suburb. He’s heard stories about endless sand dunes and poison gases in the air. Martin doesn’t spend much time wondering about things outside, though. There are always more important things to worry about, like the daily national vote. Today the president wants everyone to vote on what color his drapes should be. Everyone knows that it is of national importance that they contribute their vote on the issue.

But Martin has other worries as well. As he explores the loading bays where his father works, and carefully observes the people of HM1, he begins to notice disturbing signs of stress and hidden secrets. He watches in horror and disgust as centipede-like government surveillance robots spread electronic spy bugs around the city. Terrified, he hides as a unhappy citizen of HM1 is sedated and removed from the city by a collection robot in a white lab coat. Slowly, Martin begins to loose his trust in the system that has protected him for so long.

At the same time Martin worries about the Wonder Babies. These children came as a special product line a few years ago, but now everyone is concerned about them. Not only are they much too smart: reading books at two, and doing algebra as toddlers, but they also ask dangerous questions about their world. They don’t seem to respect the important order of things. They raise doubts, as questions such as “Why do people vote about the color of the president’s drapes rather than voting about who should be president?” They even speculate that the president may not even pay attention to the voting results! They claim that instead he picks the vote results based on his own personal preferences.

Martin’s younger sister Cassie is a Wonder Baby. Though she sometimes irritates Martin with her constant questions, Martin is very attached to his younger sister. He hates the fact that older children and even some adults tease and resent the Wonder Babies for their genetically increased intelligence. Martin is determined to protect his younger sister, even if it is difficult at times.

But then Martin discovers a plot to get rid of the Wonder Babies. Their strange ideas and views have attracted the attention of the government, and government agents have decided to recall the Wonder Baby product line. The government will do what they do with any other recalled product line: destroy the defective product. All the Wonder Babies are in deep trouble, and the people of HM1 don’t seem to care. Only Martin wants to help them so he sets out to save his sister and the other Wonder Babies. His only tools are his own deep stubbornness, and a modified toy robotic dog.

“The Sky Inside” by Clare B. Dunkle is very well written. The exciting plot is aided and advanced by the amazing descriptions of advanced robot technology. Clare B. Dunkle has filled the story with incredible descriptions of technology that make “The Sky Inside” science-fiction at its best. The characters are also first-rate. From the genetically modified humans, to the advanced robots, each character that plays a role is unique in its personality.

I also liked the utopian/dystopian air of the story. “The Sky Inside” is full of important messages about the future of mankind and the dangers of where technology could ultimately take us.

I would definitely recommend “The Sky Inside,” both for its amazing science fiction world, and for its utopian/dystopian messages.

Inkweaver Book Rating:




Inkweaver Review 2009-06-22T12:23:00-05:00

“Penny from Heaven,” by Jennifer L. Holm

“Penny from Heaven,” by Jennifer L. Holm is a Newbery Honor Award book set in the 1950’s.

Book Cover Art for Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. HolmEleven-year-old Penny’s life is full of contrasts. In a way she has two families. She lives with her mother and grandparents, but she also spends a lot of time with her father’s family. Penny’s father died years ago, and all she knows was that he died from some sickness.

At home with her mother Penny has to deal with her grandmother’s horrible cooking, her grandfather’s bad manners and old war stories, and the disgusting family dog, who is losing bladder control and makes messes constantly. Penny’s mother won’t even let her go swimming because she is afraid that Penny will catch polio at the pool.

When Penny goes to visit her other grandparents, though, everything is different. Her father’s side of the family is Italian, and they always welcome her with open arms, and plenty of deliciously rich Italian food. Her uncles all have interesting personalities, and give her gifts.

The two sides of Penny’s family don’t speak to each other much, even though Penny goes to visit her father’s family almost every day. Penny wishes that she could bring them together again, but she doesn’t know how to do it. And in the meantime, Penny’s mother is dating the milkman!

I felt that “Penny from Heaven” was a touching book. Jennifer Holm shows Penny going back and forth between her mother’s family and her father’s family. In some chapters everything seems to go wonderfully, and Penny is very happy. But in the next chapter disaster strikes. The back and forth swinging becomes more and more acute until the story’s ultimate climax.

The characters in “Penny from Heaven” are sensitive, with very real emotions. It is interesting to see the world of the 1950’s through their eyes. Small details such as the fear over polio and listening to The Shadow on the radio add to the flavor of the story.

I enjoyed reading “Penny from Heaven” and I’m sure that other young readers will as well.

Inkweaver Book Rating:




Inkweaver Review 2009-06-20T10:31:00-05:00

“Immersed in Verse,” by Allan Wolf

“Immersed in Verse,” by Allan Wolf is “an informative, slightly irreverent, and totally tremendous guide to living the poet's life.”
Book Cover Art for Immersed in Verse by Allan Wolf
I enjoyed “Immersed in Verse.” This guide book takes the reader through all aspects of the poet's life. From the very start Allan Wolf establishes his humorous but still informative style with the “Stereotype Poet's Hall of Fame.” The seven main types of poets: classic poet, beat poet, angry poet, gothic poet, secret poet, hip-hop poet, and professor poet, made me laugh, but at the same time Wolf accurately conveys a broad scale picture of the poetry genre using this succinct device. After introducing the main types of poets, “Immersed in Verse” progresses to the different types of poetry. Twenty examples show the broad palette of subject matter and style that the poet can work with.

After introducing poets and poetry Allan Wolf starts on advice for new poets. He lists beneficial habits of highly successful poets and tools of the trade. After that he begins analyzing the anatomy of a poem. It is in this section that I found the single best feature of “Immersed in Verse”: the poem “Where I'm From” by George Ella Lyon. This amazing poem opened up a whole new area of inspiration in my mind.

Most of the things that Allan Wolf covers in “Immersed in Verse” are very simple ideas that I have already figured out over my own years of poetry experience. However, the book does contain a few amazing jewels that I had never thought of. For example page 72 highlights “Found Poems,” including one wonderful poem that Wolf himself created from a piece of a love letter that he found on the sidewalk outside of a middle school. The left and right sides of the letter were missing. Just the heart of it remained, but you can still tell the general drift of the letter. This idea struck me as very innovative with many applications. Wolf also discusses collaborative poems, including the “Exquisite Corpse Poem,” in which a group of people build a poem while knowing very little about what the other collaborators wrote. This technique creates a very “stream of consciousness” effect that captures the mood and minds of the group that created it.

I think that “Immersed in Verse,” by Allan Wolf is an excellent introduction to the poetry life. This book is suitable both for complete newbies with no experience writing poetry and seasoned poets in need of fresh inspiration. I recommend “Immersed in Verse” to all young people interested in poetry.

Inkweaver Book Rating:

★★★★Educational Aspect



Inkweaver Review 2009-06-18T12:00:00-05:00

“Only You Can Save Mankind,” by Terry Pratchett

“Only You Can Save Mankind,” by Terry Pratchett is a science fiction novel about a boy who discovers that his alien-blasting video game is actually more than a game.

Book Cover art for Only You Can Save Mankind by Terry PratchettJohnny Maxwell likes playing video games on his brand new computer. Even though his parent's marriage isn't going well, he can always count on his video games to help him forget the trying times around him. But even that changes one day when Johnny starts playing “Only You Can Save Mankind.” This phenomenal new game is supposed to have ultra-realistic graphics and stunning action. But just as Johnny prepares to blast another alien ship and make it to the next level he sees a new message on screen: “We wish to talk. We surrender.”

At first Johnny thinks that this is just part of the game, but soon he begins to experience strange dreams. What is just a game to Johnny is a life or death situation to a strange breed of aliens who have now surrendered to him. When Johnny dies in the game he comes back again, but the alien forces really die. Johnny suddenly finds that rather than protecting Mankind from the aliens he has to protect his alien prisoners from Mankind.

“Only You Can Save Mankind” has a very interesting theme and core message. Terry Pratchett wrote the novel during the first Gulf War. Terry Pratchett explains the background behind “Only You Can Save Mankind”:

Computers were just getting powerful enough to run realistic-looking games, although they were pretty clunky by today's standards. At the same time, people were watching the first “video war.” Every night the news showed the views from bombsight cameras, in what looked like live action, often represented by General “Stormin' Norman” Schwarzkopf, who was in charge. On your computer: games that looked like war. On your TV: a war that looked like a game. If you weren't careful, you could get confused...

Although “Only You Can Save Mankind” was written over a decade ago its message has become more and more meaningful as games become more realistic. Terry Pratchett shows young readers that what may seem like a harmless game may, in fact, be deeper than you think. In reading “Only You Can Save Mankind,” I also felt that Pratchett did a great job of highlighting the way that news makes war seem like a game, even while the video game industry does its best to make war games seem like harmless fun.

I definitely recommend “Only You Can Save Mankind” because it is a fun to read book with a valuable message.

Inkweaver Book Rating:




Inkweaver Review 2009-06-16T17:23:00-05:00

“Red Glass,” by Laura Resau

“Red Glass,” by Laura Resau is a fascinating novel about a teenage girl who lives along the border between the United States and Mexico.
Book Cover Art for Red Glass by Laura Resau
Sophie's family often help strangers who stop by their home. Because they live along the border they often feed illegal aliens who sneak across the desert to gain entrance to the United States. They come in the dead of night, tired and thirsty. Sophie and her family again open their home when a group of Mexicans are found dead in the desert. There is only one survivor, a young boy named Pablo. For the first year of his stay with Sophie's family Pablo doesn't talk at all.

But gradually, Pablo responds to the love of his foster family and eventually he begins speaking again. Pablo tells them that he has relatives back in Mexico, grandparents who must be worrying about him. When Sophie's parents are able to contact Pablo's extended family it is the beginning of a journey that will take Sophie from her home into the heart of Mexico, through love, danger, and joy.

“Red Glass” is a well-written novel with plenty of interesting details about life in Mexico. Laura Resau writes with a well-informed voice. Her characters are strong and empathetic, willing to work for what is really important. The plot is interesting and the journey concept, though slightly worn, is presented in a refreshing manner.

I recommend “Red Glass” to readers who are interested in Mexican culture and life.

Inkweaver Book Rating:





Inkweaver Review 2009-06-14T17:20:00-05:00

“Say Yes,” by Audrey Couloumbis

“Say Yes,” by Audrey Couloumbis is a rather idealistic abandonment story that, in my opinion, sets a bad example for young readers.

Book Cover Art for Say Yes by Audrey CouloumbisOne day when Casey comes home from school she finds that her stepmother, Sylvia is gone. Although Sylvia left some money on the refrigerator and a freezer full of frozen dinners, Casey is still worried. She decides, however, not to tell anyone. Instead Casey will keep on going to school and acting like everything is the same.

As the days pass, however, Casey finds it harder and harder to maintain the veil of deception surrounding her life. All too soon she runs out of money to buy more food, and she has to pay the apartment rent. She confides her secret to her landlord's teenage boy, Paulie, who is also a foster child like Casey.

Paulie tells Casey that the last thing she wants to do is end up back in the foster care system. Then he presents a daring, and illegal, plan to Casey. A rich old woman lives in an apartment building a few blocks away. Casey will ask to use her phone and then steal money from her. Paulie will forge Casey's stepmother's signature so that Casey can pay her bills. How far is Casey willing to go to maintain her independent life? More importantly, is Sylvia ever coming back?

I did not like “Say Yes.” The plot that Audrey Couloumbis has created is realistic, and I'm sure that many children are placed in similar situations every year. However, I didn't like the way that the storyline condoned Casey's theft. In the end she gets away with the robbery, although she returns a ring that she stole. Even when Casey's mother returns they manage to hush up the abandonment so that foster care doesn't take Casey away.

“Say Yes” does not show the real life consequences of abandonment and robbery. I feel that Audrey Couloumbis did a good job in choosing real life issues to create her plot, but she ended up watering down the ending so that “Say Yes” becomes a sort of idealistic fairy tale story. The happy ever after ending does not feel real at all.

I would not recommend “Say Yes” to readers because it encourages youth independence and wrong-doing without showing consequences.

Inkweaver Book Rating:




Inkweaver Review 2009-06-12T17:17:00-05:00

“Call Me Kate,” by Molly Roe

“Call Me Kate,” by Molly Roe is a historical fiction story about a young Irish girl living during the Civil War era.

Kate McCafferty lives in the Patch, a small coal mining community. Most of the families of the Patch are Irish. For their entire, and sometimes tragically short, lives the men and boys work hard in the coal mines to make a living. Dangerous work conditions and unfair mine owners add to the difficulty of life in the Patch. Many of the Irish men are angry over their life and the racism shown against Irish.

With the start of the Civil War a new threat looms on the horizon. Poor Irish men are being drafted into the war effort because they don’t have the money to pay for an exemption. No concern is shown for their wives and children, who will have to suffer the loss of a spouse or father.

The Irish men of the Patch form a secret society called the Molly Maguires. Its goal is to fight the draft and protect its members from the draft. Kate’s friend Con becomes deeply involved in the effort, but Kate fears for his safety because the Molly Maguires seem to be headed toward disaster. Many of them have very angry and violent attitudes.

Then Kate learns of their ultimate plan. The Molly Maguires plan to blow up the train tracks and derail the draft train. Then the men of the Patch won’t be taken away in the draft.

Kate is afraid that this desperate plan will end with many Irish men, including her friend Con imprisoned. So Kate comes up with her own plan. By disguising herself and posing as a draft resister who was blacklisted by the mine owners, Kate infiltrates the Molly Maguires and attempts to bring about a peaceful solution to the problem.

Overall I would say that “Call Me Kate” is a decent book. Kate is an imaginative and strong heroine, and her personality really comes into action in the last few chapters of the book. However, the story takes a while to get to its climax, and for most of the first three quarters of the book Kate plays a minimal role, as she is far away from the theatre of action.

Despite the fact that this part of the book seems to drag on a little, it is full of strange gaps and breaks that ruin the flow of the plot. Many of the chapters have weeks or months of time between them, and they start with a brief summary of what happened in the interim time between. The flow of the book feels a little sacrificed as if portions of the story were edited out at the last minute.

Even if there are breaks in the plot, there are definitely no shortcomings in the excellent details that Molly Roe uses to enliven the historical scenes. I feel that the portrayal of Civil War era life is very authentic, and at the same time it subtly teaches much about how people worked, played, and thought in that time period.

“Call Me Kate” is a decent historical novel. I feel that it is a good education book, even though it is not as exciting or as polished as some other historical fiction I’ve read.

Inkweaver Book Rating:




Inkweaver Review 2009-06-12T16:06:00-05:00

“The Runaway Dolls,” by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin

“The Runaway Dolls,” by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin is the third book in a delightful series about two families of dolls who have a secret life of their own.
Book Cover Art for The Runaway Dolls by Ann M. Martin and Laura Godwin
Annabelle Doll is a one hundred year old china doll who belongs to Kate Palmer. Tiffany Funcraft is a new plastic doll that belongs to Kate’s little sister Nora. Little do Kate and Nora Palmer realize, but every night their dolls come out to play. During the day they can’t move or talk without putting dollkind in jeopardy, but at night they are free to do just about anything they want.

When the entire Palmer family leaves on a two week vacation, it is the ultimate chance for Annabelle and Tiffany to explore the house. Soon after the Palmer’s departure Annabelle and Tiffany sneak downstairs and find that a small package has been delivered. The package looks very old, and when Annabelle and Tiffany examine it closer they hear a voice coming from inside!

There is another doll inside the strange package. Soon Annabelle Doll becomes convinced that the doll inside the package is the Doll family’s long lost baby. A hundred years ago when the Doll family was sold they were accidently delivered with a baby from a different doll set. The Doll family loves their adopted baby, but they have always wondered what happened to their real baby.

When Annabelle and Tiffany rush upstairs and tell Mama and Papa Doll that they want to open the package Annabelle’s parents refuse to let her do so. They are afraid that opening the package would put the dolls in danger when the Palmer family returned and found the empty, opened package. On the other hand Annabelle is afraid that the Palmers will return the package because it is not addressed to them.

First Annabelle and Tiffany covertly open the package just to see if the doll inside is really Annabelle’s little sister. The doll they find says that her name is Tilly, and that she is three doll years old. She looks just like the rest of the Doll family, and it is quite clear that she must be the Doll family’s long lost baby. Annabelle and Tiffany decide to run away to hide Tilly from both the Palmers, who might send her back, and their parents who would want to put her back in the package before the Palmers returned.

But when Annabelle, Tiffany, and Tilly finally find themselves outside the Palmer house, lost in the middle of a nearby park, they realize that they have only two weeks to get back home. If the Palmers return and discover their absence it could expose the dolls’ secret life. And what’s more Annabelle and Tiffany’s parents must be terribly worried about them. But how will they ever find their way back?

“The Runaway Dolls” is a great continuation of this heartwarming series. The characters are just as fresh and lively as before. The plot is well designed, leaving plenty of room for all manner of innovative occurrences. One of my favorite scenes is when the dolls end up in the toy area of a department store, and Tiffany Funcraft and her brother get mixed in with hundreds of other dolls that are exactly the same. And for those readers who have read “The Meanest Doll in the World,” Mean Mimi makes a brief return that really made me laugh.

Brian Selznick’s amazing illustrations add extra depth to the story. Just as in his book “The Invention of Hugo Cabret,” Brian Selznick uses a series of pictures to show the way the baby doll Tilly was packaged, and then lost for a hundred years before she was finally discovered and sent on her way. In addition, I really liked the way he drew illustrations for the page borders during the time that the dolls were outside in the park. The lush plants, leaves and other vegetation drawn around the edges of the pages adds a whole new aspect to the story.

“The Runaway Dolls” is a great story that young readers will surely enjoy reading.

Inkweaver Book Rating:






Inkweaver Review 2009-06-10T17:09:00-05:00