My Invisible Sister by Beatrice Colin and Sara Pinto

Image Genre:  Comedy

Series?  No

Audience Age:  8-11

Rating (1-5):  3

 The story in no more than five sentences:

Frank and his family have moved to a new town again because his older sister Elizabeth suffers from Formus Disappearus, meaning that she is invisible.  Because of her condition, she rarely adjusts well to new social environments and consequently makes everyone else in the family miserable until they decide to move.  But this time Frank likes his new school and his new friend Charlie and has decided that he must do whatever it takes to ensure that Elizabeth is happy and that the family stays in place.  He helps the neighbors with babysitting and Christmas displays and makes excuses for Elizabeth’s bad behavior.  In the end, he is put to the test when his mom caters a huge town hall party and everything seems to fall apart.

 The best part about the book in 1 sentence:

The best part of this book is when Elizabeth forces Frank to meet Brucey Bruce, the lead singer of the boy band Boys-R-Us!

The worst part of the book in 1 sentence:

The worst part of this book is that Elizabeth is sometimes a too difficult character to like because she comes across as a jerk with some, but in my view not enough, redemptive values.

1 interesting note about the author: 

Beatrice Colin writes mostly for adults and is refreshingly honest in how writing can be difficult:  “as I make my tenth cup of tea, and it’s only eleven am, check my email again and then download another track from itunes, I feel like a total fraud.” (from

In Search of Goliathus Hercules by Jennifer Angus


Genre:  Adventure

Series?  No

Audience Age:  10-12

Rating (1-5):  3

 The story in no more than five sentences:

When Henri’s father goes missing on an expedition to British Malaya, he is sent to live with his Great Aunt Georgie where he discovers that he possesses an extraordinary power:  he has the ability to talk with insects!   Deciding to go find his father in Malaya and discover the legendary giant beetle Goliathus Hercules, he leaves his Aunt Georgie and becomes a barker of a traveling flea circus, meeting several circus friends along the way.  Henri realizes that he is being followed by a sinister woman named Miss Black, who desires the Goliathus Hercules as much as he does.  He also notices that he cannot only talk to insects, but that he is actually transforming into one!  Traveling to Malaya, Henri and his friends discover the giant beetles, defeat Miss Black, and eventually learn that his father has transformed into a rare Goliathus Hercules.        

The best part about the book is ( in 1 sentence):

­­­­­­­­­­The best part of this book is the fantastic and elaborate insect circus shows that Henri performs using all kinds of bugs.

The worst part of the book is ( in 1 sentence):

The worst part of this book is the final 50 pages of discovery about his father which seemed to drag the plot out unnecessarily.

1 interesting note about the author:

Jennifer Angus is a professor of Design Studies at the University of Wisconsin.  A lover of insects, she uses all kinds of bugs to make elaborate pattern art.

Being Henry David by Cal Armistead


Genre:  Realistic Fiction

Series?  No

Audience Age:  Older Teens

Rating (1-5):  4

The story in no more than five sentences:

17 year old Hank wakes up in Penn Station with no memories and no idea who he is.   The only thing in his possession is a copy of Henry David Thoreau’s Walden.  After falling in with a couple of street kids on the run, Hank makes his way up to Concord, Massachusetts to view the sight where Henry David Thoreau lived in the woods.  Hank makes friends with  a local Thoreau researcher and begins falling for a girl named Hailey.  But as he begins to enjoy his life in Concord, he begins to remember, and must come to terms with, his troubled past.

The best part about the book is (in 1 sentence):  Armistead is adept at interweaving Thoreau’s philosophy into Hank’s troubled life and thereby making it meaningful to teen readers.  

The worst part of the book is (in 1 sentence):  The opening plot device, boy can’t remember anything, may seem too pat for some readers.   

1 interesting note about the author:  Cal Armistead lives in the Boston area, is a voice over actress, and semi professional singer.  Being Henry David is her first novel.  Find out more about her at