Saturday, December 31, 2016

Every Hidden Thing by Kenneth Oppel

There was a time not so long ago when dinosaurs were new. Not to the planet, but to the knowledge of humans. The fossilized bones of dinosaurs had to be discovered and dug up to reveal the extinct creatures. The bones had to be assembled and the creature classified and named. Some of the men doing such work were formally educated like Professor Cartland. Some were self-taught like Michael Bolt. Cartland and Bolt are rivals and hate each other so much that they often stoop to petty sabotage.

This story is about the children of those two men - Rachel Cartland and Samuel Bolt. Both were raised without their mothers by fathers who surrounded them with science and the new discipline of paleontology. Rachel and Sam want to search for bones like their fathers. Sam might not have the money to go to school, but could be like his father. Rachel...well, women do not go to university and become dinosaur hunters. It's not proper.

Sam and Rachel meet for the first time on the night Sam's father is presenting his latest find and Rachel's father is there to embarrass him. Sam feels a connection to Rachel (even as they are both pulling their fathers apart during the fight that breaks out). Rachel has never had boys show interest in her (and is considered plain by most standards), so she hesitates in the face of Sam's interest.

Maybe they would never see each other again...until their super competitive fathers end up pursuing the same dinosaur that could be the most extraordinary find of all. The search takes them all out west (Rachel had to beg to go since a young lady does not travel in the wilds of the west with a bunch of young male students). The heated battle between the two parties is not even the worst of it. They face the hot dry conditions and the ever looming presence of Sioux who view the Badlands as sacred ground.

Through it all, Sam and Rachel find each other. If they survive this expedition, can they be together when their fathers hate each other so much?

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Falling Over Sideways by Jordan Sonnenblick

Claire enters 8th grade not having much fun. Ryder, the kid who's been tormenting her since 6th grade, is in all of her classes. The mean girls seem even worse this year. Dance has always been an escape for her, but now her friends have been moved up to a higher group leaving her with the kids.

Worst of all, Claire's dad has a stroke. One minute they are talking in the kitchen; the next he is slumping to the floor mumbling nonsense. Her world is turned upside down. She needs her funny dad who writes books for teens. He cannot speak, can barely walk and struggles to get food to his mouth. The annual Dad's Dance performance was one thing Claire always looked forward to. Now, she will not be able to dance with her father on stage like the other girls.

Claire's mom is always super positive (which is sometimes annoying in a crisis). Her older brother is practically perfect. Her father's prolonged illness tests them all.

We follow Claire through her whole 8th grade year. Her friendships are tested along with her patience and self-esteem. Middle school is tough enough without having an almost non-functioning parent. Once again, Jordan Sonnenblick has given his readers wonderful characters to cheer on.

For more info, check out the Indianapolis Public Library catalog and the author's site.