Monday, April 23, 2012

Hannah West in the Center of the Universe

First, two book related pieces of business- what are your kids doing for Poem in your Pocket day? The national one is April 26-  but their school did it a couple weeks ago. Claire Helen took an Emily Dickinson poem- "A Soft Sea Washed around the House" for those in the know. Simon took several original compositions derived from Shel Silverstein poems. Mostly along the theme of being, uh, digested by a dragon. They loved it though, and as a tip, wore clothes with lots of pockets so they could write new ones throughout the day and swap with their friends. Great fun.

Also, dress as your favorite book character day is coming up in May- 17 at our school- what are you all thinking? Claire Helen is thinking Nancy Drew:

and Simon wants to be Simon from the Spiderwick Chronicle series:

I think if we can find something to sub in for the eyepiece we should  be good, though it's not the most recognizable character in the world. The pressure is on, though, because Claire Helen was a pretty spot on Harriet the Spy last year:

Perhaps it is not clear that we take our book related holidays quite seriously around here. Ahem.

Onto a review.

Hannah West in the Center of the Universe, by Linda Johns


Hannah West—twelve-year-old adopted Chinese daughter of Maggie West and aspiring detective—is back on the scene in a third original adventure. Someone is kidnapping canines, and it’s got the dog-crazy denizens of funky Fremont—where Hannah and her mom have landed their latest house-sitting gig—all riled up. At first, Hannah’s in heaven in dog-filled Fremont, but when her dog-walking business marks her as a suspect in the dognappings, she knows that this is one case that she’s got to get to the bottom of—for her own sake, as well as for the sake of her canine companions!

Reading levels- unlevelled, around 800 lexile.

Today I'm reviewing one of a series of marvelous, marvelous books before they go out of print. Well, at least they are marvelous to one 7 year old girl in residence. Hannah West is a 12 year old aspiring living in Seattle with her mother. They house sit and so find their way through various character filled neighborhoods in Seattle- this one, obviously, Fremont- and she solves mysteries (often dog related) through cleverness and bravery. 

This is not an especially difficult or narrative-horizon-broadening book. It's not hard to tell, fairly early on, who the bad guys are. I am reviewing it today because Hannah is such a great character for an introverted bookish sort of child who doesn't always feel that they fit in. She approaches adults respectfully but boldly, cares for animals, is funny, and uses her brain to solve the mysteries. Claire Helen loves this series, and returns to it often.

We found ourselves with some extra time over spring break, and even took a little tour of some of the Fremont spots Hannah frequents. Norm's, Markettime Grocery, the troll, and Theo's chocolate factory, which we feel sure she would have frequented, even if it wasn't in the book. Darnitall, I only took pictures at Norms, the dog-friendly dive-y diner, but I think you can tell we had a good time. This is Betty's confused-but-happy face:


Unknown said...

OK, these we must get. I think L will love them. Which one should we start with?

Beanlet said...

Probably Center of the Universe- Claire got a kick out of knowing the places mentioned. Belltown Towers was the first one, if she's into reading series in order, but I'm not sure the characters require extensive introduction. They are cute (not super hard, but super cute).