Sunday, December 23, 2007

Not a Box - kiddie fun

Portis, Antoinette Not A Box PICTURE BOOK HarperCollins, 2006. A young bunny is repeatedly asked why he is sitting on, standing in or otherwise engaged with a box and each time the bunny patiently replies that it is NOT a box., showing the reader what he sees from his perspective. This highly creative and super-imaginative book is a gem among picture books. Not only will you want one for your library, but probably also for each of your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. EL - ESSENTIAL

Hex Education by Gould and Zarren

Gould, Emily and Zarren Jaffrey Hex Education, 182 p. Razorbill (Penguin), 2007. Sophie's parents have dragged her from the twinkling lights of LA to the dark and dank town of her Dad's childhood - Mythic Massachusetts. They have been called back sop that her horror movie-making dad can help rescue the depressed town and turn around its tourist industry. What Sophie doesn't know, however, is that she is the final and most powerful member of this generation's coven; and her powers are needed right now to save the town for possible destruction. Cute, fun and a good little witch story. MS - ADVISABLE

Questors by Joan Lennon

Lennon, Joan Questors, 359 p. McELderry (Simon and Schuster), 2007. Three children are taken from the lives they know, thrown together in a strange place and then told that not only are they siblings, but that their destiny is to save all three of their worlds. Thus begins the journey of Madlen, Bryn and Cam, three teens sent across the dimensions to find "something", not even their mentors know what. Tight and action-packed, this novel is a perfect piece of fantasy fiction (except for four swear words). Instead of spreading the story out through a trilogy, all three worlds and all three problems are very neatly wrapped up within one fascinating book. The good is just good enough and the bad is just bad and just crazy enough to satisfy the readers. EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

The Alchemyst - a fantastic piece of fantasy

Scott, Michael The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel, 369 p. RandomHouse, 2007. Twins Sophie and Josh Newman are caught up in a deadly encounter between the forces for good and evil, right in the middle of the bookshop that Josh works in. Josh's employer, Nick, and the twins survive the encounter, but Nick's wife is kidnapped and it looks as though the bad guys have won the day. But the twins are part of a greater story - and they are the key to keeping the forces of evil at bay. This is not the Nicholas Flamel that J.K. Rowling brought to the world's attention, but instead, we have a powerful, active agent for the side of good in modern America. Characters and creatures from myth and reality abound, so students who really want to understand will be well-advised to "know their stuff". But the action and adventure is plenty enough to engage those who just enjoy a great piece of fantasy. MS - ESSENTIAL

Pretty Tough - girl power!!

Tigelaar, Liz Pretty Tough, 246 p. Since one fateful day in the school cafeteria, sisters Krista and Charlie have hated each other with visible vehemence. Now Charlie has been recruited to join Krista's beloved soccer - Krista's senior year, the year she is supposed to be a star. But, Charlie is every bit as good as Krista and has been specifically recruited to transform the team in to a true powerhouse. The two seem to have a truce on the field, but unless the original feud is finally settled, they may ruin everyone's chances of a successfully season, besides ruing any chance they might have of being loving sisters. Good soccer, and great drama about sisters and friends and high school in general. There is some talk of teen drinking and Krista's boyfriend is trying to pressure her into sex, but otherwise it is superb. Ms, HS - ADVISABLE

Cam's Quest - long awaited sequel

Regan, Dian Curtis Cam's Quest, 334 p. Darby Creek, 2007. Princess Quinn's father is determined to have her married off - and soon. So she suffers through endless balls meeting endless prince's who do absolutely nothing for her. But Quinn in pinning for Adam, the boy she left behind in the world above. Meanwhile, Cam, the wizard's apprentice is cast loose from his home; he wants so badly to offer for Quinn's hand, buts dares not, because he has no idea of his family and origins. The answers for both teens lie in the world above. It has been a long time since the original publication of Princess Nevermore, and I honestly thought thee would never be a sequel. Thank goodness Ms. Regan proved me wrong. Cam's Quest is a nice adventure tied up in a romance with just the right amount of magic and danger. MS - ADVISABLE

The Hour of the Cobra

Williams, Maiya The Hour of the Cobra, 290 p. Amulet (Harry Abrams), 2006. Xanthe, Xavier, Rowan and Nina are back for further adventures. They are going back in time with Aunt Agatha on a special mission to Ancient Egypt. The conflict between Xanthe and Xavier, however, escalate to a point where the twins cause a split in the time stream and they find themselves in an alternate reality. Only they can figure out how to repair the damage and save everyone from their original home. This novel is quite a fitting sequel to the original Golden Hour. It is a fine piece of adventure fantasy with some good lessons on sibling warfare thrown in. EL, MS - ADVISABLE

The Glitch in Sleep by John Hulme

Hulme, John and Michael Wexler The Glitch in Sleep, 254 p. Bloomsbury, 2007. At the tender age of nine, Becker Drane unknowingly applied for a job with The Seems, the behind the scene peoples who take care of everything that we of The World take for granted. After an apprenticeship, intensive training and some time as a Briefer, Drane has worked his way up to Fixer, the most important job of all of the Seems. But his first job may also be his last, as he is called upon to fix a Glitch - and not just any Glitch, but one in Sleep. If Becker can't find the Glitch, then the World will go into a Ripple Effect, causing upheavals and problems and conflicts that may never be resolved. A perfect bit of highly entertaining fantasy that you need right now! EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

Monday, December 3, 2007

Unwind - Neal Shusterman

Shusterman, Neal Unwind, 335 p. Simon and Schuster, 2007. Troublemaker Connor has been sent to be rewound by his parents who are sick and tired of his grating behavior. Orphan Risa is ebing sent to unwinding by the overcrowded State Home system. Beloved Lev is the tenth child in his family and is being sent to unwinding as a tithe from his religious family. Their lives collide in an explosive way on their journeys. This biting social commentary is full of heart, full of suspense, full of fascinating tension. Though the basis of the novel could be extremely controversial, the book is so "freakin' awesome" that it needs to be read far and wide. MS - ESSENTIAL

Do Unto Otters - Laurie Keller

Keller, Laurie Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners PICTURE BOOK Henry Holt, 2007. Mr. Rabbit is very worried about his new neighbors. Wise Mr. Owl talks Mr. Rabbit through his anxiety and give him good advice to make nice with the neighbors. This fun, amazing, joyful book is great for almost every age, especially older classes with Advisory. EL, MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney - Suzanne Harper

Harper, Suzanne The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney, 362 p. Greenwillow (Harper), 2007. All of the women in Sparrow's family have the gift of receiving messages from spirits. Sparrow has the quadruple whammy of every gift possible for a spiritualist - but no one in her family knows it, because she has been hiding her talents since she saw her first ghost at the age of five. Now she has been found by a ghost she cannot ignore. The only way she can get her message across is by revealing her talents to the world. Fabulous, fun and wonderful to read. MS - ESSENTIAL

Sight - Adrienne Maria Vrettos

Vrettos, Adrienne Maria Sight, 254 p. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2007. Since a school friend was murdered during their kindergarten year, Dylan has been receiving visions - always of kidnapped children, just as they are about to die. Now 15, Dylan has been secretly helping the police. A new girl in town seems set on getting close to Dylan and shaking up her friendships. And, unfortunately, it looks as though The Drifter, the name the town gave to the original murderer, may be back in town. Dylan needs to confide in someone and the time has come for her to embrace her powers. This powerful, intense book will fly off the shelf, but be aware that there are a dozen-ish swear words (including one "f"). Fans of Haddix will adore this. MS - ESSENTIAL

My Mother the Cheerleader - Robert Sharenow

Sharenow, Robert My Mother the Cheerleader, 304 pgs. HarperTeen. Language-PG, Sexual Content-PG, Violence-PG, Louise lives in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans with her mother, running a boarding house. When Ruby Bridges comes she is pulled out of school and her mother joins the crowd every day jeering at the girl. A man from New York comes and starts changing their lives as he tries to change his. It had the perfect mix of historical fiction and fiction. I learned something while still having a good read. It showed that courage comes in all shapes and sizes. There was a little bit of alcohol. MS-ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: KD

Looking For JJ - Anne Cassidy

Cassidy, Anne Looking for JJ, 319 p. Harcourt, 2007. Seven years ago, at the age of ten, Jennifer Jones killed one of her playmates. She has served her time and is trying to start a new life, but the press knows she is out and they are trying to find her. Details of JJ's former life, with her negligent mother and the fatal steps that lead her to her choice, are interspersed with "Alice's" tries at a life for herself. Be aware that there is an intimate scene that pushes the boundaries - some touching and feeling and removing of clothes. Fewer than five swear words and lots of tense moments. MS, HS - ADVISABLE (in the right school).

I Want a Hug - John A. Rowe

Rowe, John A. I Want a Hug PICTURE BOOK Penguin, 2007. Little Elvis Hedgehog so badly wants a hug, but everyone he meets says that he is way too prickly. Rejection after rejection hurts his feelings, until he finds someone who is willing to take a chance. Irresistably adorable. Elvis will melt your heart with just one glance at his darling little face. I feel a stuffed animal being born! As a bonus, the idea can be used as a ready-made Advisory lesson for an older class, too. EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

Grace Above All - Jane St. Anthony

St. Anthony, Jane Grace Above All, 166 p. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2007. Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G - Grace, her siblings, and her mother are vacationing at their cabin for the summer. Her mom, who is a chain smoker leaves almost all responsibilities in Grace's hands and she struggles to keep everything under control. Her only refuge is Frankie, the handsome kid in the cabin next door. She is a determined heroine who discovers how to rise above it all. I was frustrated at the beginning because it was slow moving and a little depressing, but I got into it and soon I was cheering for Grace and Frankie ! It is about love and hope and very enjoyable. EL, MS - ESSENTIAL; Student Reviewer: MW

Booth's Daughter - Raymond Wemmlinger

Wemmlinger, Raymond Booth's Daughter, pgs.-210 Publisher-Calkins Creek Publishers. Language- G, Sexual Content- PG, Violence- G; Edwina Booth's father is Edwin Booth and is known for his many plays that he has done all over the world. Edwina is John Wilkes Booth's niece although she does not remember him she does know what he did to President Lincoln when she was very young. She travels all around the world with her father going to many plays and watching her father act. She gets caught in between wanting to do what is right and stay with her father and sick stepmother or to go live with the love of her life. I thought that this book was very good. It brought you into the mind of what it would be like to be the Booth family and how hard that would be for the rest of your life. MS- ESSENTIAL; Student Reviewer: AN

Walter Sorrells - First Shot

Sorrels, Walter First Shot, 280 p. Dutton (Penguin), 2007. David's family has always been a prestigious part of his boarding school. His father is the headmaster and several generations of grandfathers have taken the "First Shot", the shot at graduation that always hits the bullseye. David's mother was murdered two years earlier and the case has not been solved. He thinks his father did it; but his father is hiding thoughts of his own. Neither of them know the really deep secrets that are hiding on campus. But everything is about to be exposed. Sorrells has written and tight and tense novel that is sure to be widely read. Not a word out of place, except for the murder, but plenty of action and drama. MS - ESSENTIAL

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Educating Villains

Walden, Mark H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education, 309 p. Simon and Schuster, 2007. One day Otto is saving his orphanage home from eminent closure - the next he finds himself in a helicopter, headed towards a secret school for nascent villains. Already placed at the top of the class, an Alpha Villain, Otto is determined to gather a team of liked minded Alphas, find his way out off of the island and back to his life. I was surprised to find a villain book that can buck the trend and create a villain (maybe) worth rooting for. EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

This Gym Candy is dandy

Deuker, Carl Gym Candy, 313 p. Houghton, 2007. Mick Johnson - 9th grader and destined to be a starting running back on the varsity team. His initial dedication , speed and skills convince the coach and his father. But then Mick doesn't feel big enough or strong enough, and turns to artificial means to enhance his performance. I love the fact that Mr. Deuker can write such an honest book about such a difficult subject without resorting to swearing. The material and writing are enough to hold your attention - no titillation needed. Thank you Mr. Deuker for your fine writing! MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Standard Hero Behavior

Anderson, John David Standard Hero Behavior, 273 p. Clarion, 2007. Mason has discovered that the only hero left in his town has actually been bribing the monsters to stay away. Now the monsters want more money than anyone has and it is up to Mason and his friend Cowel to find a hero to save the day. With the help of a book Mason's father wrote, the two set off and encounter a series of incredible characters. Awfully cute and a load of fun to read. El, MS - ADVISABLE

Yellowbelly and Plum

Hale, Nathan Yellowbelly and Plum go to School PICTURE BOOK. Putnam (Penguin), 2007. Yellowbelly can't go off to school without his best stuffed friend, Plum. The duo has a great time, until Plum wanders off to "visit" some other children. Yellowbelly is worried, until Plum is back in his arms. Then the two embark on new adventures with their new friends. I love the mixture of human characters interacting with "alien" figures in a bright, busy atmosphere. Yellowbelly is adorable and really needs to be made into a toy! A great book for younger students. EL -ESSENTIAL

Into the Wild by Sarah Durst

Durst, Sarah Beth Into the Wild, 261 p. Razorbill ( Penguin), 2007. Julie has always known that her mother and her mother's friends fought a great battle and escaped from The Wild, a relentless force which forced them to replay their roles in fairytales, not matter how disastrous, day after continual day. Now someone has made a wish in the Wishing Well and the Wild not only is trying to reclaim all of the escapees, but also Julie's hometown and the surrounding countryside. Julie may be the only one capable of defeating the Wild, but even that is no sure thing. Once a student has had their fill of Disney movies and classic fairytales, point them straight at this fine story. EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

Fearless by Tim Lott

Lott, Tim Fearless, 257 p. Candlewick, 2007. Little Fearless has lost her name and the system has tried to strip her of her dignity, but she refuses to concede to the demands of the Controller at the girls' prison that masquerades as a school. Her daring plan to seek support from the outside world alienates her from even her best friends and when she is sent to the Pit, she may be doomed to be forgotten forever. This extremely powerful story would be well-served as a classroom read. I'm not sure how much casual use it will get, but you need to get this into the hands of your teachers. It would make an excellent basis for a look at dystopias. MS - ADVISABLE

Mr. Gauguin's Heart

Croteau, Marie-Danielle Mr. Gauguin's Heart, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; translated by Susan Ouriou. PICTURE BOOK Tundra, 2007. Paul Gauguin's father died during the family's journey from Denmark to Peru. In explanation his mother tells young Paul that it was his heart that took him away. In Peru, an older man teaches Paul the skills he needs to express his feelings on canvas, where he makes his first great painting of what may look like a big read ball, but is really his father's heart. This evocative book is a wonderful lok at the power of art to express emotion and to heal. It is certainly well worth adding to any library collection. Make sure you share this with both your art teachers and your English teachers. There are so many good picture biographies with which to pair it. EL, MS, HS - ADVISABLE

Remembering Raquel

Vande Velde, Vivian Remembering Raquel, 137 p. Harcourt, 2007. Late one night Raquel, 14, is hit by a car in front of the movie theatre. The police say that it was not suicide. Now her father, her best friend and the strangers at school ar left wondering who Raquel was and how her being gone affects them. Short ruminations from the people involved in Raquel's life weave together an interesting look at life and death. Some surprises wait in store. Thank Ms. Vande Velde for writing this. MS - ESSENTIAL

Friday, August 31, 2007

Sneak a Few More

Ludwig, Trudy My Secret Bully PICTURE BOOK illustrations by Abigail Marble. Tricycle Press, 2005. Monica and Katie have been best friends since kindergarten, but Katie's behavior has changed lately and her whispery attacks are destroying Monica's self-esteem. Finally, a heart-to-heart with her mother gives Monica the tools and strength to stand up for herself. Excellent material for a serious discussion about bullying in a Teacher Advisory. MS - ESSENTIAL

Cornwell, Autumn Carpe Diem, 368 p. Feiwel. Vassar Spore is Ivy League material - focused, overacheiving with a 5.3 GPA. Her entire summer is planned around maximizing her potential. Then her wayward grandmother blackmails her parents into sending Vassar to travel SouthEast Asia with her for the entire summer. Vassar didn;t even know her parents were blackmailable! What is this dark secret? How will Vassar survive around all of those germs?? Cornwell's voice is extremely funny and Vassar is so lost in this unsanitized world. This novel is a joy to read. MS, HS - ADVISABLE

Crocker, Nancy Billie Standish Was Here, 281 p. Simon and Schuster. During a town crisis, Billie is befriended by the old lady across the street - one of the few people left in town. Miss Lydia becomes her best friend and her mother figure, as Billie's own mother is emotionally distant. Then Miss Lydia's own degenerate son wounds Billie in the worst way possible and the two draw together to keep the secret and weather the pain. The story follows Billie from 6th grade to high school graduation and it is nearly impossible to describe a few pithy sentences as it winds its way through the tapestry of grief. It is a quiet book with just a handful of swear words that seem so useless, especially because they diminish the possible audience. MS, HS - ADVISABLE

Wasserman, Robin Chasing Yesterday: Awakening, 224 p. Scholastic, 2007. A girl was discovered at the edge of a disaster, unconscious and injured. Her memory gone, she names herself JD and struggles to find her way in the Juvenile Home. Just as she finds a space and a friend, her mother appears and whisks her back to her ideal suburban life. But - is all as it seems? Raw and powerful, rushing from scene to scene without giving you a chance to catch your breathe - PERFECT. And it will leave you begging for more! MS - ESSENTIAL

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Picture Books for fun and profit

Matthews, Tina Out of the Egg PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin – Every thinks they know the story of the Little Red Hen – but do you know what happened next? The Red Hen learns an important lesson from her own chick in this artfully done continuation of the classic. The Japanese wood block prints work just right to illustrate this story. Any elementary school and other schools with Teacher Advisory programs need to add this to their collections. EL, MS – ADVISABLE

Noyes, Deborah When I Met the Wolf Girls, illustrated by August Hall PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin – One day, a missionary brings two feral little girls to his orphanage in the jungles of India. Seen through the eyes of one of the other charges, the adults attempt to “domesticate” the girls with love and kindness. The haunting story will be loved by elementary students; the illustrations, done in acrylic by a master of Disney, Pixar and ILM, delight the eye. EL – ADVISABLE

Lehman, Barbara Rainstorm Mifflin – Trapped in the house during a rainy day, a young boy finds a key that leads him to a different place and new friends. Told without words, the watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations lead you on a marvelous journey to friendship. Wordless books are a wonderful tool for prediction and narration for younger and older students. This particular title will be well loved. EL, MS – ADVISABLE

Pickering, Jimmy Skelly the Skeleton Girl, PICTURE BOOK Simon and Schuster – A little skeleton girl finds a mysterious bone and sets off to find its owner. My macabre predilections may be showing through, but this quick read with its funky, mixed media illustrations is the kind of book my own children and I would read through many times. This is definitely a book to buy and one that will be reread during Halloween time or any time at all. EL – ESSENTIAL

Summer reading keeps rolling along

Meyer, Kai Pirate Emperor, 298 p. McElderry (Simon and Schuster) – Jolly and Griffin have survived one danger and find themselves on an island with a madman, building a bridge into nothingness. A bridge leading the two straight into more danger. Another narrow escape, with the help of the Ghost Trader, who leads them to a fantastic city of coral, where they are reunited with their friends Munk and Princess Soledad. Everyone knows what must be done, but everyone seems to have other priorities, which lead only into more danger. Swashbuckling and rollicking are two perfect worlds to describe the second of the Wave Walker series. This is actually a better book than the first. EL, MS – ADVISABLE

Beddor, Frank Seeing Redd, 384 p. Dial (Penguin) – Since she defeated her evil Aunt Redd, Alyss Heart, queen of Wonderland, has tried to find time for herself amongst the hustle and bustle of rebuilding an entire land. However, Arch, king of a neighboring land, has other things in mind for Alyss, none of which include peace. Outright lies, subtle deceptions and vicious attacks take center stage in the latest Wonderland book. Quite dark and utterly fascinating with a completely gorgeous cover that will inspire many a Halloween costume, if I am not mistaken. MS, HS – ESSENTIAL

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Keep up with me folks!

And here are some more reviews!!! The summer book pile had been great so far.

Kemp, Kristen Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s, 304 p. Scholastic – Cat (not her real name) has come to New York and remade herself after the death of her beloved grandmother. Lying through her teeth, she talks her way into a class for brilliant teen clothing designers destines to enter New York’s most prestigious contest for her age group. But in order to get what she wants, she also has to come to terms with all that she left behind: an ex-boyfriend, an emotionally absent mother and too many memories of her Nina. Cat’s clothing brilliance is not going to be enough, necessarily, to win the day. About a dozen swear words are the only thing that mar this otherwise perfect novel, tailor-made for the Project Runway crowd. And I must say it is a refreshing change from the current slew of novels about teens who only want to wear or market the clothes that this group of teens will create. And a passing nod to one of my favorite blogs ( doesn’t hurt! MS – OPTIONAL, HS – ADVISABLE

Lubar, David True Talents, 320 p. TOR – As Trash starts to wake, he finds himself in the midst of a nightmare – kidnapped and held prisoner as someone experiments with his power to moves objects telekinetically. A narrow escape only leads him into more danger. Somehow he needs the help of the rest of his group of friends from Edgeview Alternative – Cheater, Lucky, Flinch, Torch and Martin. And they will need his help too, as the evil which captured Trash discovers their potential also. In plot, in dialogue. in writing and in sheer genius, this sequel to Hidden Talents far outstrips the original. Which is saying a lot, because the original is SOOO AWESOME! I am so glad that Lubar waited for the exact perfect inspiration before he wrote a sequel (unlike Sachar and the disappointing Small Steps), because I just can’t say enough good things about this book. Thank you for another masterpiece! EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker The Lacemaker and the Princess, 196 p. Simon and Schuster – On an errand for her grandmother, a lacemaker, Isabelle catches the eye of Marie Anoinette, the Queen of France, and finds herself becoming the playmate of the queen’s daughter. Together, with Ernestine, Therese’s other companion, she learns the life of a royal and sometimes has difficulty going back to the hard life she comes from – the demands that her mother and grandmother make on her are the ordinary demands of life for a peasant of the time, but its some much easier to pretend to be a princess. Her brother George, who works in the palace stable, warns her that changes are coming, but Isabelle doesn’t want to see. Set in the few months leading up to the French Revolution, it is a wonder to see the events through Isabelle’s and George’s eyes. Bradley is just as skilled as Carolyn Meyer in her weaving of historical fiction. This would be a great read aloud if a teacher spends any time at all looking at these events. EL, MS – ADVISABLE

Yancey, Rick Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon, 336 p. Bloomsbury – Alfred Kropp is kidnapped right out of the wretched foster home he is currently existing in. You would think a young man who controls a billion dollar corporation could do better for himself. But being dragged around the world to face demons released from hell is better than listen to his foster father plot to control his money any day. With the best intentions, Albert continues to do right by messing everything and everyone up. His dogged perseverance and unassuming personality help this book shine. However, it and its companion book still win the prize for ugliest cover, so you will have to direct students to it – they won’t pick it up on their own, unfortunately. Kropp is a lovely antidote or “Harry-it is”. MS – ESSENTIAL

Summer book-tastic

There's no such thing as book review overload. I have read some fantastic books so far this summer and want to share as much as I can! You should pick some of these up and read then for yourself!

Delaney, Joseph Night of the Soul Stealer, 512 p. Greenwillow (Harper) – Tom W
ard is headed to the Spook’s winter house to show the creepy crawlies that someone is there to defy them. The pair leaves Alice behind, but close, at a neighboring farm. The trio will have to work together to conquer the baddies in this installment of The Last Apprentice series, including a necromancer, feral lamia witches and a demon called forth by evil rituals. Another spine-tingling effort by Mr. Delaney. Dark and foreboding on every page. I definitely want more titles from this series, though I kind of hope that a little more time (novel time) passes before the next title begins. I hope you already own the other titles in the series! 

Frederick, Heather Vogel The Mother-Daughter Book Club, 245 p. Simon and Schuster – To their extreme embarrassment, their mothers have created an exclusive book club for themselves, Emma, Jess, Megan and Cassidy. Emma and Jess are best friends; Emma and Megan used to be best friends (until Megan joined the sixth grade’s groups of queen bees); Cassidy is the jocky new girl from California. Together the group is supposed to read Little Women, penned by one of their town’s famous resident authors. And somewhere along the way, the girls may reach a meeting of the minds, as they all try to work through life’s challenges. The chapters are well crafted as they follow the plot through a different girl’s point of view. The problems are pretty typical, which the novel that much more meaningful to its readers. And there will be lots of readers. Its hard to remember the characters are only sixth graders and I don’t think that will stop older readers. Adult readers will enjoy the Louisa May Alcott tidbits. Perfect for fans of Cathy Cassidy! 

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wicked new fantasy

Marr, Melissa Wicked Lovely, 328 p. Harper - Aislinn’s grandmother has drummed the rules about faeries into her head all of her life. Unfortunately, two particular faeries are forcing her to break every single rule. Keenan, the King of the Summer Faeries has decided that Aislinn is destined to be his bride, even though Aislinn is in love with her best friend, Seth. Donia, the Winter Girl, is supposed to keep Aislinn from believing Keenan, but in her cold heart, she wants him for herself. And Keenan’s mother, the Winter Queen doesn’t want anyone to be happy. Rules and lives will be rearranged before this one is over. How can I not love a book that mentions Clare Dunkle, one of my favorite authors, within its pages. Readers of Stephanie Meyer, lovers of elves and faeries will love this one, too. I don’t really understand the presence of six swear words (TWO of them “f”), because otherwise the book is so well crafted, it is almost impossible to put down. Kind of reminds me of Charles DeLint’s Blue Girl. HS – ESSENTIAL, MS – ADVISABLE

Friday, June 29, 2007

ALA Close Encounters

So, the family and I have returned safely from the land of many books and melting humidity (ALA in DC). I have to say that Tyler had the best encounter of them all, involving a chanca encounter with David Lubar. I wasn't expecting to see him there, but I pointed and grunted with the best of them when I spotted hin while lurking in the Clarion booth.

That encounter led into something much bigger and much more extended, as a whole scenario developed between Mr. Lubar and John Green, wuth Tyler as a intermediary.

I could go into a huge explanation, but I am instead going to let you read it straight from Lubar's blog. follow this link and then read Monday, June 25th!

Thursday, June 14, 2007

Bare-knuckles Action: Perfect for Boys

Wild, Kate Fight Game, 304 p. Scholastic - Freedom Smith's small Gypsy family has been trying to find a place where they can settle for a time, to let the little ones grow up in peace, but the townfolk around them have other plans. Defending his family, Johnny is now in major trouble with the law, but he is offered a deal. Use the fight skills he inherited from his famous many-greats-grandfather and infiltrate the seedy, dangerous world of an underground fight that has been going on non-top for decades. What Johnny doesn't know is that those weird dreams he has are really flashbacks - and something sinister, with his own genetic makeup, is waiting to challenge him. Definitely a book for the harder edged kids. I really like the fact that though the book is extremely gritty and dangerous, the author doesn't not use swear words as a crutch and the violence is just what is needed to make the point, without become excessive and voyeuristic. Note: This post corrects my website that listed the main character's name incorrectly. You can visit Kate Wild's site at MS-ESSENTIAL

Sunday, June 10, 2007

Guaranteed to Fly off the shelf

Clare, Cassandra City of Bones 485 p. Simon and Schuster - Clary witnessed a murder last night. Now, Clary's mother has disappeared and the Shodowhunters, a secret group dedicated to fighting against a demon take over of this world, are after Clary. And one of those Shadowhunters is the devastatingly handsome Jace, whom Clary is inevitably drawn to. A hot cover and a well-plotted fast-paced narrative make for an awesome book that will exchange hands quickly. Perfect for students who love Stephanie Meyer and other creepy fun books! MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

Flanagan, John Icebound Land 272 p. Penguin - Will and Evanlyn have been captured by the wolfshipmen and are being forcibly taken to Skandia as slaves. Halt and Tug are determined to follow and rescue the pair. Before the adventure can begin, however, both groups have seemingly insurmountable obstacles to surmount. Wile the action, tension and excitement are palpable in this third of the series, it is also one very long setup for the next book, as the action cuts off midway, making the book feel unfinished. I would rather have a 400-500 page book that tells the whole story, but I will be content with what I got and I know that the students who have started the series will be very happy with this installment. (This is the cover from the Australian publication; the American cover will be much different) EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

Carroll, Michael Quantum Prophecy: The Awakening, 264 p. Penguin - A decade ago, every superhero and supervillain on Earth disappeared in one brilliant flash of fire. Then, Danny, a teenaged boy wakes up one day able to do amazing things - he is the first of the new generation of superhumans. And someone has an evil plot - one that they have been working for ten years to put in motion. Nothing in Danny's life, or in his friend Colin's life is what it seemed to be. And between the two of them they have to potential to save the world or destroy it. While you might think you are going to read a novelization of The Incredibles, you will quickly forget that movie and fall in love with this book for its own merits. Fast-hitting action and twisted plots - I see TV show or blockbuster written all over this one. Read it now! (I couldn't find a cover picture of the American version, but you get the idea!) MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

Patterson, James Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports, 416 p. Little Brown - Max and flock are headed towards a showdown with their "makers" - this time using the power of the Internet through Fang's blogging and using Max's razor sharp tongue as a formidable weapon. The flock will split in two, but both groups have key parts to play in the final battle. Max is funnier and more acerbic than ever in this final installment. All of the flock show their strengths and fans will not be disappointed. MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

Friday, June 8, 2007

Readers and Authors

Kaywell, Joan F., editor Dear Author: Letters of Hope, 222 p. - Language: G; Sexual Content: PG (a girl wrote to the author of Speak who had a similar experience as the character in that book); Violence: G - This book is a collection of letters that everyday teenagers have sent in to various authors and the authors' responses to these letters. I really liked reading this book because I could relate to a lot of the letters in there. Reading the responses and the encouragement the authors gave was in a way helpful to me. I liked reading about the real world from the eyes of teenagers through their letters and it helps you see that you aren't alone, no matter what your situation. MS, HS, ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: JH