Grade 6-9Sixteen-year-old Elena, who is a quiet and shy dreamer, feels as if she doesn’t fit in with her overachieving siblings. To get a different perspective on life as well as a chance to stretch her wings, she signs up to study in Spain for a semester. Once there, she makes new friends, including Miguel, a good-looking local teenager. She longs to start a relationship with him, but even though he pays special attention to her, she is too insecure to believe that he would actually be interested in her. Meanwhile, her experiences in drama class show her that she has a real talent for playwriting as well as acting. Ultimately, Elena’s stay abroad teaches her to come out of her shell and take on new situations. She builds lasting friendships, gains independence and self-confidence, and even falls in love. Incorporating descriptions of San Sebastian and life in this scenic seaside town, the narrative creates a strong sense of place. Elena’s emotional growth is clearly and believably depicted and the plot keeps the story moving quickly. An enjoyable read.Kim Carlson, Monticello High School, IA
Copyright Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Gr. 6-9. Books in the Students across the Seven Seas series start with the heroine’s written application for the study abroad program. The information is supplemented by parenthetical bits of truth. Elena Holloway’s application introduces her as a high-school junior and states her desire to explore her Spanish heritage and her hope that her experience will enrich her playwriting. “Truth: I plan to spend every spare moment lounging on the beach and taking in the Spanish night life.” That’s what she starts out doing, but her passion for playwriting gets her back to work, and then, in a effective twist, onstage. Ilene Cooper
Copyright American Library Association. All rights reserved
Elena is lost in the shuffle between her three overachieving siblings. But now that shes on her own for a whole semester, she intends to keep the spotlight on herselfand Spain is just the place to do it. Once she starts living it up in tapas bars, lying out on the beach (even though its November), and having a nice, long siesta smack-dab in the middle of every day, Elena finds that Spain is everything she hoped it would be. Shes even met a to-fawn-over Spaniard, Miguel. But Elena has always been more comfortable writing plays than starring in them, and shes beginning to realize that keeping out of the spotlight has its perks too. . . .
The Sound of Munich
Grade 6-10–Siena’s deceased father was an East German refugee. When the free-spirited 17-year-old American has a chance to study in Munich, she embraces the opportunity to try to do what he wanted to do himself: locate and thank the man responsible for his freedom. The task proves harder than she thought when his very common name, a demanding course load, a relationship with a Eurohottie resident adviser, and a considerable language barrier threaten to impede her progress. Yet, with two new friends to keep her in check, Siena’s faith in good karma finally pays off, and she meets her objective. Emotion-filled trips to Dachau and the Berlin Wall help her understand that some things are worth taking a chance for (e.g., liberty, morality, and justice). Siena makes lasting friendships, enjoys a little romance, and finds a missing part of herself. With likable characters and a plot that is as straightforward as it is swift, this installment will please fans of the series.–Erin Senig-Schirota, Bronxville Public Library, NY
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Siena Bernstein is leaving her yoga mat behind for a semester of study abroad in Munich. Shes thrilled with the prospect of a German adventure , but she hopes to make more than just her dreams come true while shes there. Sienas dad, who passed away when she was a baby, kept a “Carpe Diem” listsort of his top-ten adventurous things to do. He completed all but one of the tasksgoing to Germany to thank the man who helped smuggle his family past the Berlin Wall. Amidst her adventures in biergartens, Alpine skiing, and a rigorous course load, Siena is on a quest to complete her fathers list. But shes also set on having the best possible time while she tries. With the help of two new best buds and a handsome RA in her dorm, shell surely succeed.