Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Nine Lives of Travis Keating

The Nine Lives of Travis Keating
Jill MacLean

Ann Connor Brimer Award for Children's Literature Nominee, 2009

On Resource Link's "Best of 2008" List

CLA Children's Book of the Year Award shortlist, 2009

After his mother's death, Travis Keating and his father move to Ratchet, Newfoundland, to start a new life. Some life. Travis soon discovers that only a few oddballs show any interest in him: Cole, a talker who soon makes himself scarce; Hector, a strange kid whose ears stick out; and Prinny, a girl as scraggly as her skinny ponytail. Nobody you can really call a friend. And then there's Hud, the toughest, nastiest bully in school, who hates "townies" and promises to make Travis's life an utter misery. But Travis doesn't care. He's got his "funeral face," a tight mask that gives away nothing and allows him to hide his feelings. Funeral face comes in handy, especially with parents and other adults who think they know what you're feeling every minute of the day.
But funeral face can also make him reckless, and Travis decides to visit the dangerous Gulley Cove, with its treacherous wharf and its tumbledown fish shacks, which some of the kids say are haunted. Instead of ghosts, Travis discovers a colony of feral cats, sickly and starving, and unused to kindness. Putting aside his own problems to care for them is about to bring Travis more satisfaction-and more danger-than he ever would have thought possible.
A stunning first children's novel, The Nine Lives of Travis Keating is a moving story about coping with grief. But more than that, it's about belonging, learning to be a friend, and finding bravery in the most unexpected of places.

Reviews: "The Nine Lives of Travis Keating, is a fast and engaging read. . . MacLean is to be congratulated on a marvelous achievement. Highly Recommended." -- CM Magazine
"Travis is an engaging, dimensional character whose intimate, descriptive narrative conveys the grieving process and loneliness; the struggle of coping with bullying; the importance of honesty, trust, and communication; and the healing power and mutual rewards of caring for others beings, animal and human. A few scenes involving cat death and birth may be potentially disturbing to younger readers. Travis' friendships with the diverse supporting characters underscore the theme of looking beyond appearances, and readers will recognize many of their own feelings and conflicts in Travis' story." -- Booklist

"Jill MacLean gently beckons readers into this small Newfoundland village as she delicately captures a true sense of the place and its people. She beautifully depicts the wide range of emotions that often threaten to overcome Travis." -- Atlantic Books Today
Jill MacLean is the author of a collection of poetry, The Brevity of Red, which was shortlisted for the Atlantic Poetry Prize and the Acorn-Plantos Award. She has also published a history of Prince Edward Island, Jean Pierre Roma: of the Company of the East of Isle St. Jean. Jill lives in New Bedford, Nova Scotia.

Jill has a blog for the book at

Saturday, April 21, 2007

Magnifico by Victoria Miles

Could life get more embarrassing?Mariangela longs to play the piano; but when her Italian immigrant family arranges for accordion lessons instead, she can’t contain her disappointment. Who wants to be strapped to such a heavy, ugly old thing? But before she knows it, a mortified Mariangela is dragging the old accordion in a red wagon through the streets of Vancouver to her lessons. Try as she might, Mariangela can’t get the accordion to sing for her. Even her accordion teacher, whose two missing fingers and handsome looks fascinate her, cannot find a way to inspire his pupil. But he can tell stories, and through his own sometimes harrowing experiences, Mariangela gradually comes to understand both her family’s determination to start life in a new country and her own capacity to persevere.Author Victoria Miles drew from her mother’s own misadventures with the accordion to create a rich tapestry of Italian immigrant life in Vancouver during the thirties. Funny, sad, and ultimately inspiring, Magnifico is a coming of age story that will stay with the reader for a very long time.

Messenger by Virginia Frances Schwartz

Born only a week after the tragic death of her father, Frances Chopp grows up believing that she was sent to earth as her father's messenger to pull her mother out of her grief. And in the years that follow, Frances tries to make sense of the hard times that have struck her immigrant family, even as she struggles to understand the puzzle of her family's past.Set in the mining and steel towns of Southern Ontario in the years between the wars. Messenger is a moving story of familial love and the determination to survive.Reviews: "Messenger is a wonderful story well told. Aimed at readers aged 12 and up, this is the very best kind of book for children: a real novel with a real story beautifully told." -- January MagazineVirginia Frances Schwartz is the author of three historical novels, including Messenger and Send One Angel Down, an American Library Association Best Book for Young Adults and winner of a Parent's Choice Gold Award. Born in Ontario, Canada, Virginia now lives in New York City, where she teaches writing to elementary school children.

Send One Angel Down by Virginia Frances Schwartz

An American Library Association Best Book for Young AdultsWinner of a Parent's Choice Gold AwardAbram know only slavery, but from the moment he holds his baby cousin in his arms, he is determined to protect her from the harsh realities of life on the plantation. As she grows, however, Eliza cannot escape notice. Her fair skin and blue eyes invite the hatred of the master's daughters, and the young slave's fate seems all but assured. Abram knows that freedom appears impossible, but somewhere - through the scorching heat and the overseer's whip - lies hope.Reviews: ". . . profoundly moving. . . " -- BooklistVirginia Frances Schwartz is the author of three historical novels, as well as The Sower of Tales, a 2006 Manitoba Young Readers' Choice Award and winner of a 2005 Jane Addams Children's Book Award. Born in Ontario, Canada, Virginia now lives in New York City, where she teaches writing to elementary school children.

Wings of Evil by Cora Taylor

On wings of evil, a dark power hovers...In this sequel to On Wings of a Dragon, a chill wind is blowing through the skies of the flying ones, and once again the dragon Api’Naga and his companion Kour’el are on a mission: to find the source of the evil that is disturbing their land. Their search will take them back to the island home of Maighdlin - once a simple village girl, now a queen - and to places where they experienced their greatest suffering.And they are not the only ones with unfinished business. Princess Paloma, one of the dead queen Mariah’s banished daughters, has been seen in the Dargon Courtyard, and when Maighdlin and her loyal guardsmen, Brede and Talon, follow her trail, it takes them through the tunnel to the Tower, that brooding edifice that has held so many secret prisoners. There, they are launched into fresh horrors. Queen Mariah - or something like her - has returned; and behind her hovers a force greater and more evil than any of them - dragon or human - has ever seen.

Blue Highway by Diane Tulson

Truth and Skye are just like all their high-school friends. They love to drive cars, they love to party, and they booze it up whenever they can. And when the two girls find summer jobs at the local pizza shop, they see no reason to change their habits. They befriend Vale, a co-worker who is grateful for their attention. But the two really only have eyes for Vale's car, which she will get as soon as she passes her driving exam. Cars mean freedom - freedom to go where they want and do what they please.Truth doesn't know why, but she can't seem to get what she really wants. And she wants Ryan, the seriously handsome guy who works at the pizza oven. Truth's reckless behavior does catch his attention, but not in a good way. And as the summer progresses, Truth watches herself gradually lose control in a series of self-destructive acts. One day she'll be able to stop but will that day come too late?