In the mood for humor or murder or both? Try these new novels found in the Children's Room or the Teen Area of the library.
A Greyhound of a Girl by Roddy Doyle is a tender and humorous story of familial love across four generations. What marks the story as especially quirky is that the oldest member of the quartet is a ghost. Tansey died of the flu when her daughter, Emer, was only three. She lingered nearby to ensure young Emer's safety. Now elderly, Emer is in the hospital and dying. Emer, her daughter Scarlett, and her granddaughter Mary are all afraid of letting go. Tansey arrives to help smooth the transition for everyone. The foursome's midnight road trip to the old family farm and a seaside resort provides enough laughter and support for all the necessary good-byes.
Rebecca Stead won the Newbery Medal for When You Reach Me. Her new book, Liar & Spy, is just as winning and very funny. Seventh-grader Georges (the "s" is silent) and his parents sell their house and move into a Brooklyn apartment when his dad loses his job. His mother, an ICU nurse, starts working double shifts to help out financially. Georges attends a Spy Club meeting in the basement and makes friends with Safer and his sister Candy (who named themselves) and live upstairs. Georges' first assignment is to track Mr. X who wears only black, doesn't speak and carries large suitcases in and out of his apartment. Questions about who lies, who spies, who plays games and who will fail the seventh grade taste test of destiny are answered in a surprising and satisfying conclusion.
In Three Times Lucky, we meet Mo (short for Moses) LoBeau, a brave, fast thinking and natural-born detective. Washed ashore in Tupelo Landing, N.C., during a hurricane, she was rescued by the Colonel, car crash survivor and profound hater of lawyers. Both were taken in by Miss Lana, the town cafe's hostess, who serves up large helpings of love in Hollywood style (including the wigs). When trouble drives into Tupelo, the cafe's crankiest customer is murdered and Mo's best friend becomes the prime suspect. Sheila Turnage has written a hilarious first novel of murder, detection, longing and belonging.
Team Human by Justine Larblestier and Sarah Rees Brennan takes a funny, satirical yet respectful look at teen vampire romances. In New Whitby, Maine, vampires and humans generally keep to their own side of town. However, on occasion, a human may decide to become a vampire and can do so under medical conditions. The transition process can be successful, lead to death or turn the human into a zombie. Mel's best friend, Cathy falls, in love with Francis, a handsome, poetic, 19th century vampire who enrolls in their high school. When Cathy announces her desire to become a vampire and marry Francis, Mel tries to stop her. Along the way, Mel attempts to solve the disappearance of her other best friend's father who counsels humans and vampires, and to understand her suddenly disconcerted principal. She falls for Kit, a human raised by Frances' very cool vampire cop mother. Mel deals with her own prejudices, learns to respect the choices of others and begins to understand the sacrifices family members make for one another.
A jail cell in Nazi-occupied France is the main setting of Elizabeth Wein's historical thriller Code Name Verity. Scottish spy, Julie, is flown into France by her best friend, Maddie, a British pilot. Their plane crashes and Julie is captured by the Gestapo, imprisoned and tortured. To buy time and reprieve from torture, Julie writes her story, telling the SS officer in charge of their prison what she knows about the British war effort. Julie's prison writings alternate with Maddie's narration about flying for the RAF and the civilian corps, her growing friendship with Julie and her brother, and attempts to rescue Julie and protect her mission. This is a powerful novel of friendship, truth and extraordinary bravery during World War II.
Clem Ackroyd explodes into life as a result of a German air raid over a working class British village. In his latest novel, Life: An Exploded Diagram, Mal Peet tells a story of individual lives and generational family dynamics set against a framework of history and politics from World War II through 9/11. Clem, a scholarship student, falls in love with Frankie, the wealthy daughter of the estate owner who is also his father's boss. As their secret relationship heats up, so do the political dynamics among Nikita Khrushchev, John F. Kennedy and his U.S. military advisors. A fascinating and suspenseful depiction of how war crosses time periods and geographic boundaries to affect individuals, communities and nations.
- Cathy Sullivan
Youth Services Librarian