Thursday, April 30, 2009

Graceling by Kristin Cashore


Cashore, Kristin. Graceling, 471 pgs. Harcourt, 2008.
With the Grace of killing, people fear and despise Katsa. She hates it too, and dreads having to do the king’s bidding who uses her to bully people. But she’s found a way to live with herself. With the aid of Giddon, the king’s underlord and spy, and Oll, the king’s captain, she forms the Council, a secret organization devoted to righting injustices with as little harm to others as possible. It’s intriguing to enter this world of seven kingdoms where Graces are used as weapons, and to watch Katsa learn more about herself, her Grace, and how Graces affect relationships and kingdoms. Though I don’t agree with Katsa’s conclusions about marriage, I found Cashore’s world and Katsa’s adventure completely engrossing.
Language – G. Sexual Content – PG13 (brief depiction of first sexual encounter). Violence – PG13 (brief descriptions of torture and hand-to-hand combat).
MS, HS - ESSENTIAL.

City of Glass by Cassandra Clare

Clare, Cassandra City of Glass: Book Three of the Mortal Instruments Trilogy 541pgs. Margaret K. McElderry Language~PG-13; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG-13

Clary is determined that she will find a cure for her mother. Even if that means tracking down an unknown individual in the fabled City of Glass, the ancestral home of the Shadowhunters. Both Jace and Simon are insistent that Clary stay behind and wait for Jace and the Lightwoods to meet with the Clave. But true to her character Clary uses her newly discovered power to create runes to open a portal. Valentine has 2 of the 3 Mortal Instruments and has come to the City of Glass to wage war on the Shadowhunters.

A thrilling end to a trilogy that will last the tests of time. . . . BRAVA Cassandra Clare!!

As in the other 2 novels, there is plenty of teen angst in the form of sexual innuendos but there is little more than kissing that is actually described. The language is on the dark side but I don’t recall any ‘f’s. The violence is frequent and dark similar but par for the course in an adventure/paranormal story.

MS/HS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare

Clare, Cassandra City of Ashes: Book Two of the Mortal Instruments Trilogy 453 pgs. Margaret K. McElderry Language~PG-13; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG-13

As Clary continues to adjust to her new life among the Shadowhunters, someone is murdering Downworlder’s and draining them of their blood! The second of the Mortal Instruments, the Soul-Sword, is also now missing. Jace is under investigation as the culprit for both the theft and the murders. The Inquisitor believes he is in league with his father, Valentine. There are tough times ahead and Clary is right in the middle of it all.

The second installment of the extremely popular Mortal Instruments series does not disappoint! As in the first novel, there is plenty of teen angst in the form of sexual innuendos but there is little more than kissing that is actually described. The language is on the dark side but I don’t recall any ‘f’s. The violence is frequent and dark similar but par for the course in an adventure/paranormal story. There is the birth of a vampire that may cause some to cringe but others will relish in the fascination and suspense.

MS/HS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare

Clare, Cassandra; City of Bones: Book One of the Mortal Instruments Trilogy 496 pgs. Margaret K. McElderry Language~PG-13; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG-13

Clarissa and her mom have your typical relationship between teen and parent. They have their arguments and misunderstandings. However, Clary’s mom has kept a secret from her daughter that will turn the world she has known upside down. It all begins when Clary sees something she shouldn’t at a nightclub. She is then plunged into a world of shadow hunters, vampires, werewolves, and other creatures that shouldn’t exist but do. This first novel grabs readers and doesn’t let go as they are taken on a ride that is full of suspense, romance, humor, and mystery. Put down that other vampire book and pick this one up, you won’t be disappointed! There is plenty of teen angst in the form of sexual innuendos but despite the claim on the front of the book of ‘Sexy’ there is not more than kissing that is actually described. The language is on the dark side but I don’t recall any ‘f’s. The violence is frequent and dark similar but par for the course in an adventure/paranormal story.

MS/HS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star

Mull, Brandon Fablehaven: Rise of the Evening Star pgs. 456 Shadow Mountain Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Kendra and Seth are thrown back in the world of Fablehaven as they are tricked into helping the evil Society of the Evening Star. Kendra discovers that her encounter with the fairies has given her greater gifts than she could imagine and the Society wants her because of them. Readers also meet new characters some of whom are who they declare to be and others are not as benign as they seem. This second installment of the Fablehaven series continues to enthrall young readers who eagerly devour every volume.

ELM/MS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Fablehaven by Brandon Mull

Mull, Brandon Fablehaven pgs.368 Shadow Mountain Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Ugh . . . imagine being left with an unknown relative while your parents go on a luxurious cruise! Kendra and Seth are not looking forward to it either. They are dropped off at their grandparent’s house that is surrounded by forests and land. There seems to be a secret that the grown-ups are not sharing with them. When Kendra and Seth discover that their grandparents are actually caretakers of a secret fairy & creature preserve called Fablehaven their time there gets far more exciting! This is an excellent fantasy series for young readers! You will not be able to keep it on the shelf.

ELM/MS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

The Lace Reader by Brunonia Barry

Barry, Brunonia The Lace Reader pgs.368 Flap Jacket Press Language~PG-13; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG-13

“Towner Whitney, the self-confessed unreliable narrator of The Lace Reader, hails from a family of Salem women who can read the future in the patterns of lace, and who have guarded a history of secrets going back generations, but the disappearance of two women brings Towner home to Salem and the truth about the death of her twin sister to light.”(taken from the Hardcover edition flap)

I would recommend this title to high school libraries that have readers ready for grown-up fiction. Towner is a troubled adult who has spent some time in a psychiatric hospital. Readers will connect with Towner. This is a great read. There is frequent swearing in this book mostly 'h's and 'd's, however the ‘f’ word is used once or twice.

HS –ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson

Nelson, Kadir We Are The Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball pgs. 96 Hyperion Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

We Are the Ship is a beautifully illustrated and written history of Negro League Baseball. The title of the book comes from a quote "We are the ship; all else the sea." by Rube Foster, founder of the Negro National League. Many casual baseball fans are ignorant that a segregated baseball league existed, let alone the phenomenal players that never made it onto mixed-race teams! A wonderful look at a time in history that many have forgotten or never knew happened. This title was awarded the 2009 Robert F. Sibert Medal & the 2009 Coretta Scott King Author Medal.


ELM/MS/HS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Imperfections: A Novel by Lynda Durrant

Durrant, Lynda
Imperfections. Clarion Books,
172 pgs. 2008
Language G
Sexual Content PG
Violence PG
This carefully researched story takes the reader inside a Shaker community during the civil war and tells the story of spirited young Rosemary Elizabeth and her younger brother and sister. Little is generally known about Shakers which adds to the interest of this historical fiction. Rosemary Elizabeth’s mother left her children in the Shaker community of Pleasant Hill Kentucky to save them from their drunken and violent father as well as the Civil War. They are safe and well fed but must live a very circumscribed life. Rosemary must sleep on her back, hands folded across her chest; she must always walk with her right foot first and take everything with her right hand. Perfection is the goal. She is thankful for the clean and peaceful home but fights against strict rules that are supposed to govern everything she says and does and even what she dreams. She worries that if she eliminates all the imperfections the Shakers find in her, there will be nothing of her left. Rosemary Elizabeth eventually comes to appreciate her own imperfections realizing that they are what make her unique. There are frank discussions about the fact that Shaker men and women live separatelyand believe in celibacy. There is mild violence where one of the older Shaker women dies. Elementary, Middle School- ADVISABLE. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library

Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Werlin, Nancy Impossible pgs.384 Dial Language~G; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG-13

“Lucy has nine months to break an ancient curse in order to save both herself and her unborn daughter. Lucy is seventeen when she discovers that the women of her family have been cursed through the generations, forced to attempt three seemingly impossible tasks or to fall into madness upon their child's birth. But Lucy is the first girl who won't be alone as she tackles the list.”(description from Goodreads.com)

This excellent novel, loosely based on the folk song "Scarborough Fair," is a dark fantasy that takes the reader on a suspenseful ride to a satisfying conclusion. Be aware, there is a rape scene that while disturbing is not graphic. The rape results in a teen pregnanacy.

MS/HS –ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

The Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, Neil The Wolves in the Walls pgs.56 HarperTrophy Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Author Neil Gaiman has written a superb picture book for older readers, terrifying but terrific! Lucy is a young girl who begins to hear what she absolutely without a doubt knows are wolves in the walls of her house. Her mother doesn’t believe her. She tries to warn her father, but he brushes her off. Her younger brother thinks she has finally gone over the edge. Only her pig puppet believes her, until the wolves breach the walls and chase Lucy and her family out of their house! Tragically pig puppet is left inside and Lucy realizes that she must find the courage to go and rescue her friend from the terrifying wolves. This title will be too scary for most young children; however this would be an excellent read-a-loud for older elementary students and even students in secondary schools. I love this title and would highly recommend it!

ELM/MS/HS –ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Coraline (graphic novel) by Neil Gaiman adapted by P. Craig Russell

Gaiman, Neil; Russell, P. Craig Coraline (graphic novel) pgs.192 HarperCollins Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Neil Gaiman’s acclaimed book Coraline has been adapted to graphic novel. Ironically, since Gaiman is renown for his graphic novel work, this book has been adapted not by Gaiman but by P. Craig Russell with Gaiman’s permission. Another drawback to this adaptation is the recent release of Coraline, the movie. The graphics for this adaptation are appropriately creepy and dark. Unfortunately, the text does not convey the story as well as Gaiman’s original work. I would recommend you leave this one for the public libraries, unless you have a healthy graphic novel budget.

MS/HS –OPTIONAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Monday, April 27, 2009

Beastly by Alex Flinn

Flinn, Alex Beastly pgs.320 HarperTeen Language~G; Sexual Content~PG; Violence~G

Fairy-Tale retellings are being published by the hundreds these days, however author Alex Flinn has presented teens with a truly unique retelling of a most loved fairytale. . .Beauty and the Beast. Built upon the skeleton of the original (non-Disney) story, Flinn moves the story to modern day New York City and has the Beast to narrate the story. This is a must have for all libraries!

MS/HS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

The Juvie Three by Gordon Korman

Korman, Gordon The Juvie Three pgs. 256 Hyperion Language~PG, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG

Gecko, Terence, and Arjay all have one thing in common, they are in a juvie detention center. Unexpectedly, the three boys are chosen to be given a second chance. They will get to live together under the supervision of Douglas Healy. Healy, once a delinquent himself has started up a half-way house for young men where he hopes to make a difference in their lives. All goes well until one day an innocent accident leaves Healy unconscious and the boys panic. They drop Healy off at an ER and run. Healy wakes up with amnesia and no memory of who he is or the boys he is supposed to be taking care of. The three boys are determined not to be sent back to juvie, so they hatch a plan to work together to make it appear that Healy is still around taking care of them. But, what happens if they get caught? Will Healy ever regain his memory? Gordon Korman has written an exciting story of three boys and their attempt to change the direction of their lives.

MS –ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Friday, April 24, 2009

Soup for Breakfast by Calef Brown


Brown, Calef. Soup For Breakfast: A Collection of Poems and Pictures. 29 pgs. 2008. Houghton Mifflin Books. From burglars to paint on toast, this book is filled with funny poems about life and enjoying everything about it. With unique illustrations and fun-to-read text, this book would make an excellent addition to any library or teacher’s collection. EL(4 to 6). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira-Youth Services Librarian-HUN Public Library.

Sneezy Louise by Irene Breznak


Breznak, Irene. Sneezy Louise. 2009. Random House Children’s Books. PICTURE BOOK. When Louise wakes up with itchy eyes, a wheezy throat, and a very, very sneezy nose. With unexpected sneezes, her day goes from bad to worse and everyone keeps yelling at her to cover her mouth. Will anyone begin to understand her problem or will she continue to have a really bad day? Cute illustrations, short, easy-to-read text. A good read aloud for preschool and kindergartners about germs and/or family. EL(PreK-K). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira-Youth Services Librarian-HUN Public Library.

The Road to Oz by Kathleen Krull


Krull, Kathleen. The Road to Oz: Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumphs in the Life of L. Frank Baum. 36 pgs. L. Frank Baum was always a dreamer and loved to create stories that everyone would enjoy. He didn’t start out writing the books readers fell in love with, though. From risky enterprises such as breeding chickens and creating play troupes to writing unsuccessful non-fiction books and newspaper articles , he still kept writing and striving to write something that would make a difference in his life as well as others. An inspirational picture book about following your dreams and being true to yourself, this story will enchant and delight teacher and students alike as they read it on their own or aloud together. EL(2-6). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira-Youth Services Librarian-HUN Public Library.

Charlie Small: The Puppet Master by Charlie Small


Small, Charlie Puppet Master, 181 pgs. 2009. Random House Children’s Books, Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G. Charlie Small is a 400-year-old guy in an 8-year-old’s body. One day he left home and still has been able to make it back. On this latest adventure, he finds himself saved by a Mr. Jakeman in a submarine shaped like a whale, gets kidnapped by a puppet master, and gets himself into a real mess that will take every ounce of bravery, cleverness, and creativity that he has in order to get out of it. Will he be able to defeat the Puppet Master or will he remain a puppet forever? Will his old pirate nemesis finally succeed in capturing Charlie and getting his revenge? A great adventure filled with mystery, friendship, and even a little bit of humor. Great book for those who love adventure and fantasy and/or have enjoyed such books as Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney. EL(4-6). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira-Youth Services Librarian-HUN Public Library.

Cat Magic by Holly Webb


Webb, Holly. Cat Magic. 130 pgs. 2008. Scholastic, Inc. Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G. When Lottie goes to live with her uncle while her mom is working in Paris, she starts thinking that there is something more to her uncle’s pet shop than meets the eye. When the animals start talking back to her and weird things start happening around her, she soon realizes that magic has always been around in her life and she just never noticed. What really happened to her father? Why does her mother not like going to her uncle’s shop. More imporatantly, can magic mend the gap that is forming between her and her mom? A fun-filled fantasy full of fantasy, mystery, bravery, and friendship. A great story for those who liked the Warriors series by Erin Hunter. EL(4-6). ESSENTIAL: Kira-Youth Services Librarian-HUN Public Library.


Abigail Iris: The One and Only


Glatt, Lisa and Greenberg, Suzanne. Abigail Iris: The One and Only. 148 pgs. 2009. Walker Publishing Company, Inc. Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G. Abigail is tired of having not being an only child. She can’t have fancy shoes like Heelys, she has to share a bedroom, and her family never gets to go on fancy vacations. When her friend, Genevieve, who’s an only child, invites her to go on vacation to San Francisco with her family, Abigail soon discovers that being an only child may not be all it’s cracked up to be. The personality of an eight-year-old girl is truly captured by Suzanne and Lisa. This lively, humorous tale is unique and will delight young readers who like books like Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody. EL(2-3). ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Kira-Youth Services Librarian-HUN Public Library.

Monday, April 20, 2009

Blueberry Girl by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, Neil Blueberry Girl pgs.32 HarperCollins Canada Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

Blueberry Girl is an eclectic but beautiful prayer for a child newly born. Gaiman expresses ideas of gifts and talents that would be wonderful for a young girl to be blessed with as she grows from a baby to a young girl to a woman.

ELM –OPTIONAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Marcelo In The Real World by Francisco X. Stork

Stork, Francisco X. Marcello in the Real World pgs.320 Arthur A. Levine Books Language~R; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG

This story is part coming of age novel, part legal mystery, and part exposure to a main character with a disability. Marcello has a disability. It is on the Autistic Spectrum closest to what is today referred to Asperger’s Syndrome. For most of his life, Marcello has attended Patterson a private ranch/school for kids with Special Needs. This summer he has plans to work at Patterson as a stable hand. However, his father has made different plans. Marcello is to work at his father’s law firm to get experience in the ‘real world’ with ‘real people.’ He is assigned to work in the copy room with Jasmine, but is soon asked to work with Wendell, the son of the other partner in the law firm where he discovers a secret that could ruin his father and the law firm. The novel is told in first person which allows the reader to become familiar with Marcello and the way he thinks. There are frequent sexual references and innuendo. There is also frequent use of the ‘f’ word. This novel will not be for all readers. I would strongly suggest that you read this before adding it to your collection.

HS –OPTIONAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Heir to Sevenwaters by Juliet Marillier

Marillier, Juliet Heir to Sevenwaters pgs.395 Roc Hardcover Language~PG; Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~PG

Fans of Juliet Marillier’s Sevenwater’s Triliogy will thrill at this new novel bringing new life to characters so well loved. Clodaugh (Kloh-da), number 3 of 6 sisters has her hands full. Her twin sister is to be married in the next few days and her mother has recently and unexpectedly conceived. Her mother is no longer young and a pregnancy at such an age means danger for both herself and the unborn baby. But having only been able to give her husband daughters, this time she is sure she will deliver a son. With her mother confined to her bed, Clodaugh takes up the role as Mistress at Sevenwaters. Her mother does indeed deliver a son but not days after he is taken and a mysterious changeling child is put in his place. Clodaugh must find a way to retrieve her brother before the loss kills her mother and ruins her family. This is a wonderful tale that will sweep you away from the very first. There are sexual references and innuendo, but no sex on or off the page. This will work well as a stand alone novel, but mean more to those who are familiar with the world of Sevenwaters.

MS/HS –ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Helen's Eyes:A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan Helen Keller's Teacher by Marfe Ferguson Delano

Delano, Marfe Ferguson Helen’s Eyes: A Photobiography of Annie Sullivan Helen Keller’s Teacher pgs.64 National Geographic Children's Books Language~G; Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

There are millions of different biographies on Helen Keller and her discovery of language with the help of her teacher Annie Sullivan. But who was Annie Sullivan and how did she develop the skills necessary to help Helen? In a new biography on Annie Sullivan we learn about Annie from her terrible beginnings in an orphanage to life with Helen after the famous break though at the water pump. This biography is full of photographs and images of Annie and her writings. This is a must have for any non-fiction collection.


ELM/MS –ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Masterpiece by Elsie Broach

Broach, Elsie Masterpiece pgs.304 Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

Masterpiece is truly just that, a chapter book masterpiece. With the style and charm that reminds me of A Cricket in Times Square, Masterpiece tells the story of an unusual friendship between a beetle named Marvin and boy named James. James’ parents are separated and that has been hard on James. Both of his parents are involved in the art world of New York. One night Marvin stumbles upon an ink & pen art set that James received for his birthday. Marvin begins to experiment and finds he has a talent for sketching. When James’ parents see the sketch they believe that it is James’ and can’t wait to present their prodigy to the art world. However, James is in a pickle. He didn’t draw it, but he quickly discovers Marvin and his talent and together they keep up the pretense until a real masterpiece is stolen and James and Marvin are key to its recovery. This story is a delight to read and has recently been announced as a finalist for the 2009 E.B. White Read-Aloud award

ELM –ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Tumtum & Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall by Emily Bearn


Bearn, Emily Tumtum and Nutmeg: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall pgs. 512 Little, Brown Young Readers Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~G

Bearn, in an attempt to bring to readers new stories in the style of Wind in the Willows and the Tales of Beatrix Potter, fails to capture the charm and staying power of those classics.

Tumtum and Nutmeg are a gentle mice couple who live in the broom closet of Rose Cottage. The humans who live in Rose Cottage consist of a single father who is an eccentric inventor and his two children. The father is absentminded when it comes to his children so the mice decide to help out. They begin to make nightly visits to the children’s attic room to make repairs and to spruce up the place.

This disappointing, overly long novel takes this cast of characters on three different adventures. I think that the publisher would have had better luck publishing these as three individual stories. The reading level of these stories is more advanced than the age of the audience that would enjoy them. The stories may improve on being read aloud.

ELM –OPTIONAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

Planet Pregnancy by Linda Oatman High


High, Linda Oatman Planet Pregnancy pgs. 64 Front Street Language~PG-13, Sexual Content~PG; Violence~PG

Sixteen and pregnant with no one to turn to, is now reality in the life of Sahara. After that stick turned pink she knew her life would never be the same. This is a crisis that unfortunately too many young girls are faced with. In this short novel of free verse poems, Linda Oatman High let readers peak inside the thoughts and feelings of a teenager forced to make adult decisions and grow up too soon.

While the ratings are low for this title, there is discussion of potent topics such as unprotected sex, false rape accusations, and abortion. This novel is appropriate for more mature 8th and 9th graders, but should probably be housed in a high school or public library.

MS/HS –OPTIONAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Dead is So Last Year by Marlene Perez


Perez, Marlene Dead is So Last Year, 192 p. Graphia (Houghton), 2009. Content: PG (small amount of violence, creatures of the night). Daisy is all set to enjoy the summer before her senior year – she has even got herself a job at the local diner, run by an invisible man. But even in summer, things are weird in Nightshade. The freshman football team is acting a bit scary – almost pack-like in their behavior. And Daisy would swear that she saw her father around town, even though he disappeared almost six years ago. Lives will be danger this summer – which may be nothing new for Nightshade, but painful for Daisy to face. It looks like there will be at least one more book in the Nightshade series – and I can’t wait! Its hard to believe that a book about creatures of the night can be scary and fun all at the same time, but its true! MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Rachel Calof’s Story by Rachel Calof


Calof, Rachel Rachel Calof’s Story: Jewish homesteader on the Northern Plains, 153 p. Indiana University Press 1995. Language: G, Content: PG13. Finally, a memoir students will be willing to read! This book is the heart wrenching story of a young Russian girl named Rachel and her triumph over life’s challenges. Rachel was left a “half orphan” when her mother died, but when her father remarries, Rachel and her siblings are severely mistreated by their wicked step-mother. To save the family name, Rachel leaves the hardships of her native land to come to American to become the “picture bride” to Abraham. Rachel and Abraham “proof” a homestead in the Jewish settlement of Devils Lake, North Dakota. With little money and scant provisions, the young bride sets up housekeeping in a simple, one room, sod structure which they share for part of the year with Abraham’s parents. Together Rachel and Abraham face one trial after another, and yet these resilient immigrants survive both the internal and external struggles of life. The book was originally written in Yiddish as a personal account of her life and not meant for public viewing. Each page is full of end-notes and it is a bit distracting to have to keep referring to these notes, but to skip them would lose a part of the story. I would advise reading the Epilogue to gain a better understanding of the Jewish-American social history (although the final essay could be skipped). At the conclusion of this book the reader will have a greater appreciation for those powerful women settlers of this nation. MS-OPTIONAL, HS-ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Lorna Parkinson, Library-Teacher, HHS.

Gamer Girl by Mari Mancusi


Mancusi, Mari Gamer Girl, 248 pgs. Dutton. Language-PG, Sexual Content-G, Violence-G; When Maddy’s life turns upside down when her parents get a devorce and she is forced to move to Boston to live with her grandma, she takes comfort in a computer game and Sir. Leo. I would really like to see this book in our school library. It was so hard to put down. MS, – ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: SA

Sammy Keys and the Cold Hard Cash by Wendelin Van Draanen


Van Draanen, Wendelin Sammy Keys and the Cold Hard Cash, 272 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2008. Language-G, Sexual Content-G; Violence-G;

Sammy Keyes always manages to get into the middle of everything. When she supposedly scared someone to death and the man tells her to through away a lot of money, she can't help but become interested in what is going on. All of a sudden she is in a middle of another mystery. I liked this book. The characters in it are very fun and they make me laugh. they do some pretty silly things in this book. The only thing that I did not like about this book was that it had just a few bad words. I really liked it though.

EL, MS -ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer: MB

Summer Girls by Hailey Abbott


Abbott, Hailey Summer Girls 272 pgs. Scholastic. Language-PG-13, Sexual Content-PG, Violence-G; When Jessica, Greer, and Lara are joined together on a family trip at pebble beach, they will have the sibling rivelry yet the fun that comes with it. Will they get the summer of their dreams? I think that this book is really good, its more of a chick flick than anything but a good one. MS-OPTIONAL; HS – ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: SA

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks


Jinks, Catherine The Reformed Vampire Support Group, 362 p. Harcourt, 2009. Language: G (6 swears), Violence: G (comical, not violent, though a vampire does get staked). Vampires are the most boring inhabitants on the earth and Nina should know, she has been one for more that 30 years, permanently stuck at the age of 15. Luckily she can live with her mother, and she has her weekly meetings with the Reformed Vampire Support Group to help her – a group formed to aid each other from fanging any more humans. Then one night the group finds the ashes of the vampire who originally fanged them and as frail as they are, the gang knows that they must seek out the perpetrator, or their very existences may be in danger. So, off Nina heads, with the priest who is their group sponsor and Dave, another teen vampire – heading off into more danger than they could have ever imagine existed. At first I thought that Nina was going to be so boring that I might have to fang myself to survive the reading – BUT, her adventures became very interesting indeed! It looks like reimagining the vampire mythos is now the norm – and while very different from Twilight and the ilk, Nina and her friends are well worth reading about. MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya by Nagaru Tanigawa


Tanigawa, Nagaru The Melancholy of Haruhi Suzumiya, 202 p. Little, Brown, 2009. Language: PG-13. Violence: PG; Sexual Content: PG-13. Haruhi doesn’t know it, but the fate of Earth rests in her hands. Kyon is intrigued by not only Haruhi’s looks, but also her odd, anti-social behavior and manages to create an odd relationship with her. Just so you know, this is a book that I totally do not get. I read more than 100 pages into and didn’t understand much of the point the author was trying to make. But I have been assured that lovers of manga will love this when they find it. HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Kissed by an Angel by Elizabeth Chandler


Chandler, Elizabeth Kissed by an Angel – all-in-one trilogy. Simon, 1995, 2008. $9.99. Content: G. Ivy’s boyfriend has return, in the form of a guardian angel, in order to protect her from the person who murdered him. You can’t get these three books separately any more, but the idea of supernatural romance is so popular again, that this omnibus is well worth having. The new cover brings out the otherworldliness of the storyline perfectly. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Shock Point by April Henry


Henry, April Shock Point 185 pgs. Penguin Group. Language-PG, Sexual Content-G, Violence-PG; When Cassie is suddenly curious about her step father and his new medicine, Socom, she suddenly is kidnapped and taken to Mexico to a place for misbehaved children. I think that this book needs to be in all Middle to High School libraries. It keeps you on your toes till the end. MS-HS – ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: SA

Seven Wonders of the Ancient Middle East


Woods, Michael and Mary B. Woods Seven Wonders of the Ancient Middle East, 72 p. Twenty-First Century (Lerner), 2009. Instead of the seven wonders of the whole world, the Woods team have seven books about seven wonders on each of the seven continents. This particular title is about the man-made wonders in the Middle East. Each page has beautiful illustrations of some sort, mostly full-color photographs, and detailed explanations of the history and importance of the places. I think these books are fabulous and could easily supply a unit of study – whether singularly or as a set. EL, MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

The Silver Door by Holly Lisle


Lisle, Holly The Silver Door, 386 p. Orchard (Scholastic), 2009. Genna has found her destiny – to be the Sunrider and free her people and the good nightlings from slavery – and she is trying hard to learn how to accomplish this. Following the instructions of her teacher one day, she and her best friend Catri are, instead, swallowed by a dragon and taken to the Spire, an ancient, now empty, place from where humans used to rule the world. Genna desperately wants to learn her path, but the Spire has ideas of its own – and the two goals may not coincide. If anything, Genna will learn that being the Sunrider means she will have to make very difficult choices. It is so exciting to see the second book in this series! It is a great series for young fantasy lovers. EL, MS – ESSENTIAL.

Stroll and Walk, Babble and Talk by Brian P. Cleary


Cleary, Brian P. Stroll and Walk, Babble and Talk, illustrated by Brian Gable. Millbrook (lerner), 2008. PICTURE BOOK. What English teacher hasn’t had to talk to the students about spicing up their word choice. This quick little picture book gets the topic rolling and also provides a teacher with a great list of words to start with in stretching vocabulary skills. Every book in this series should be used at every level of education. A clever English teacher can use every title for fun, yet necessary lessons. EL, MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

How I Learned Geography by Uri Shulevitz


Shulevitz, Uri How I Learned Geography. Farrar Staruas Giroux, 2008. PICTURE BOOK. When the author was four, his family fled the Warsaw blitz and landed in what is now Kazakstan. One night, even though the family was starving, Uri’s father brought home a huge world map, instead of the much needed bread. At first Uri was resentful, but the map made his hungry nights more bearable. Any teacher of geography would appreciate this book as a gift and will share it with their students as an illustration of the power of learning about our world and how even poverty can starve the mind. EL, MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

President Obama: The Path to the White House


Ignatius, Adi, editor President Obama: The Path to the White House, 96 p. Time Inc., 2008. 10 essays and a wealth of photographs explore the path that Barack Obama forged to the presidency of the United States. The essay’s are articles pulled from Time Magazine’s coverage during the long campaign and the photos are from Callie Shell, who joined Obama’s entourage early on. Buy this book for the beautiful full-page photos, if for nothing else. MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Who Discovered America? by Valeria Wyatt


Wyatt, Valerie Who Discovered America? 40 p. Kids Can Press, 2008. Wyatt explores the many people and groups who all had a hand in the ‘discovery’ of the Americas: Columbus, Corte-Real, the Chinese, the Vikings, the Norse. It also looks into the peoples who were already in the Americas when they were ‘discovered’. The book is succinct, yet informative, including maps, paintings, photos and illustrations. And a handy timeline in the back directs you to the pages that tell about the different ‘discoverers’. It’s a good beginning level look at this interesting discussion. EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Saturday, April 4, 2009

Sunny Side Up by Marion Roberts

Roberts, Marion Sunny Side Up. Wendy Lamb Books, 219 pgs. 2008 - Language G, Sexual Content PG, Violence G – Sunny Hathaway, 11, narrates the story of the summer "when everything started to change, and... change is not my strong point." Sunny is quirky and funny and a very real and loveable character. Her world changes when her mother's boyfriend moves in with them along with his two slightly annoying children and their cat, her father's new wife is pregnant, her best friend starts to like boys, and her grandmother is dying. The Australian setting and language give the story an interesting flavor and Sunny's personal journey is full of life lessons. Some very frank discussions of Sunny's bum-sniffing dog and her step-mother's pregnancy and nursing may offend some sensitive readers. - elementary, middle school - ADVISABLE. Janell Pearce-Mattheus, Youth Services Librarian, Whitmore Library.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009

Evermore by Alyson Noel


Noel, Alyson Evermore, 306 p. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009. $9.95. Language: PG-13 (7 swears, 3 “f”). Ever Bloom’s family died in a terrible car accident that should have also killed Ever, but she was saved by a mysterious stranger who never stuck around. Since that day, Ever can see people’s auras, hear their thoughts and know all about them just by touching them. Until, however, Damen comes to town; he has no aura. Around him, Ever can’t hear anyone and she is drawn to him. Danger also seems to be near, as Ever has no idea that she is part of an ages old love triangle – and the other member would prefer that Ever to be dead – forever. I hate the random uselessness of the few swears in this otherwise fabulous book. While it echoes Twilight faintly, it also is a fabulous book in it’s own right. MS –OPTIONAL, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Talia Talk by Christine Hurley Deriso


Deriso. Christine Hurley Talia Talk, 184 p. Delacorte (Random), 2009. Content: G. Talia is constantly embarrassed by the personal stories that her mother tells the entire town on mom’s daily morning talk show. Now, Talia has a chance to turn the tables as she wins the spot as an anchor on her middle school’s daily announcement show. As a sixth grader, she has to learn to avoid the pitfalls of middle school, as two of her close friends have now Talia’s best friend, Bridget as too loud, too childish and too lame for them. Talia doesn’t know what to do. The girl on the front cover looks older than the main character actually is, but the contents scores right on with the pitfalls of middle school. EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

My Name is Number 4 by Ting-Xing Ye


Ye, Ting-Xing My Name is Number 4: A True Story from the Cultural Revolution, 229 p. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009. Violence: PG; Language: PG. NON-FICTION. Ting-Xing was born in 1952 and spent six years (ages 16-22) living on a rural prison farm being re-educated in the work of a peasant farmer during China’s Cultural Revolution under Chairman Mao. Though Ye’s parents had both dies when she was young, she and her siblings spent all of their childhoods making up for the sin of their father being a factory owner. High school social studies teachers should look at this memoir as a powerful addition to their curriculum. There are now just a few books being written by survivor’s of the Cultural revolution and they are welcome additions, whether as novels or biographies. HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher