Sunday, December 23, 2007

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 - ESSENTIAL

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. 


Cam's Quest by Dian Regan - ADVISABLE

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. 


The Hour of the Cobra by Maiya Williams - ADVISABLE

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. 


The Glitch in Sleep by John Hulme - ESSENTIAL

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!


Friday, December 21, 2007

Pretty Tough by Liz Tigelaar - ADVISABLE

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. 


Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Alchemyst by Michael Scott - ESSENTIAL

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. 


Monday, December 3, 2007

Unwind by Neal Shusterman - ESSENTIAL

Unwind by Neal Shusterman, 335 p. Simon and Schuster, 2007.           


Troublemaker Connor has been sent to be unwound by his parents who are sick and tired of his grating behavior. Orphan Risa is being 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. 


Do Unto Otters by Laurie Keller - ESSENTIAL

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 - ESSENTIALDo Unto Otters
Do Unto Otters: A Book About Matters by Laurie Keller. PICTURE BOOK.


When otters move in next door, Mr. Rabbit is upset.  He goes to his friend Mr. Owl who gives him very wise advise indeed.

Really everyone should read this book, no matter the age.  Very fun, very sage advice about get along with people.  This would be a great way to start every year. 


The Secret Life of Sparrow Delaney by 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. 


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 by Robert Sharenow - ADVISABLE

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. 

Student Reviewer: KD

Looking For JJ by Anne Cassidy - ADVISABLE

Cassidy, Anne Looking for JJ, 319 p. Harcourt, 2007. 

MS, HS - ADVISABLE (in the right school).

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. 


I Want a Hug by John A. Rowe - ESSENTIAL

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. 


Grace Above All - Jane St. Anthony - ESSENTIAL

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. 

Student Reviewer: MW

Booth's Daughter by Raymond Wemmlinger - ESSENTIAL

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. 

Student Reviewer: AN

First Shot by Walter Sorrells - ESSENTIAL

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. 

Saturday, October 20, 2007

HIVE by Mark Walden - ESSENTIAL

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. 


Gym Candy by Carl Deuker - ESSENTIAL

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! 


Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Standard Hero Behavior by Joh David Anderson - ADVISABLE

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.

Into the Wild by Sarah Durst - ESSENTIAL

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.


Fearless by Tim Lott - ADVISABLE

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.


Mr. Gauguin's Heart by Marie-Danielle Croteau - ADVISABLE

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 look 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.


Remembering Raquel by Vivian Vande Velde - ESSENTIAL

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.


Friday, August 31, 2007

My Secret Bully by Trudy Ludwig and Abigail Marble - ESSENTIAL

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.


Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Chasing Yesterday: Awakening by Robin Wasserman - ESSENTIAL

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! 


Saturday, August 18, 2007

Billie Standish Was Here by Nancy Crocker - 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. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Carpe Diem by Autumn Cornwell - ADVISABLE

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. 


Monday, July 16, 2007

Seeing Redd by Frank Beddor - ESSENTIAL

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. 


Sunday, July 15, 2007

Out of the Egg by Tina Martin - ADVISABLE

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. 


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Pirate Emperor by Kai Meyer - ADVISABLE

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. 


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman - ADVISABLE

Lehman, Barbara Rainstorm PICTURE BOOK Houghton 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. 


Saturday, July 7, 2007

Night of the Soul Stealer - Joseph Delaney - ESSENTIAL

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 Ward 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!


Thursday, July 5, 2007

True Talents by David Lubar - ESSENTIAL

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! 


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Bradley - ADVISABLE

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. 


Tuesday, July 3, 2007

Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon by Rick Yancey - ESSENTIAL

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-itis”. 


Monday, July 2, 2007

Breakfast at Bloomingdale’s by Kristen Kemp - ADVISABLE

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! 


Sunday, July 1, 2007

Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr - ESSENTIAL

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. 


The Mother-Daughter Book Club by Heather Vogel Frederick - ADVISABLE

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!


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

Fight Game by Kate Wild - ESSENTIAL

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 


Wednesday, June 13, 2007

City of Bones by Cassandra Clare - ESSENTIAL

Clare, Cassandra City of Bones 485 p. Simon and Schuster


Clary witnessed a murder last night. Now, Clary's mother has disappeared and the Shadowhunters, 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! 


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Icebound Land by John Flanagan - 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. 

While 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.


Monday, June 11, 2007

Quantum Prophecy: The Awakening - Michael Carroll - 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!) 


Sunday, June 10, 2007

Maximum Ride: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports - 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. 

Monday, February 19, 2007

Girl Like Moi - Lisa Burham - ESSENTIAL

Barham, Lisa A Girl Like Moi: The fashion-forward adventures of Imogene, 265 p. Simon Schuster –


After maxing out her AmEx and failing to make payments, Imogene finds herself having to take on an internship in New York, in order to pay off her bills, instead of flying off to Paris with her best friend. A fabulous boy and a catty co-worker turn Imogene’s summer upside down as she tries to remain tres chic with absolutely no cash.

 A fun, fluffy Devil Wears Prada rip-off for the teen set that is perfect for reading while tanning this summer. Does not resort to the crassness of so many other teen novels and yet is full of fashion buzzwords. Already in paperback!


Trigger by Susan Vaught - ESSENTIAL

Vaught, Susan Trigger 290 p. -

Language: PG; Sexual Content: G, Violence: G


This book is about a kid who shot himself but did not succeed in his attempted suicide. He has major brain damage, and most of the kids at school see him as the new "freak." The book is about his struggle and journey to go back to school for his senior year and trying to figure out why he did it.

 I enjoyed reading this book. It was really well written considering it is in first person. It might be a little harder for seventh grade students and below, but I think it is well worth the time for older students. I would recommend this for school libraries.

 Student Reviewer: JH

 What I enjoyed most about this novel is that it shows the danger of spinning little problems out of control – making them so important that they overwhelm everything else. -Cindy

Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Dear Author: Letters of Hope - ADVISABLE

Kaywell, Joan F., editor Dear Author: Letters of Hope, 222 pages

 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 into 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.          

Student Reviewer: JH
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: JHKaywell,          Joan F., editor <i>Dear Author: Letters of Hope</i></b>, 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<

Opelia by Lisa Klein - ESSENTIAL

Klein, Lisa Ophelia 328 p. Bloomsbury - 

Everyone thinks that they know the story of Ophelia, from Shakespeare's Hamlet, but this beautifully written book takes everything you think you know and turns it on its head. 

Klein has written an engaging book that adds depth and dimension to the recent trend of rewriting Shakespeare. Even if you haven't read Hamlet, you will enjoy this book. A must read for anyone. 



Monday, February 5, 2007

Larger Than Life Laura by Dandi Mackall - ESSENTIAL

Mackall, Dandi Daley Larger-Than-Life Lara 151 p. Penguin – 


Laney’s fourth grade class is stunned the day that Lara, the fattest girl they have ever seen, walks into their classroom. This girl is so fat, that she needs a special desk. Lara’s parents have instilled her with a healthy sense of self-esteem, but she is hard pressed to keep her chin up against the unreasonable prejudice of her fellow students. 

This book will make you cry and it should be read to every child every single year. 


Emil and Karl by Yankev Glatshteyn - ESSENTIAL

Glatshteyn, Yankev Emil and Karl 194 p. Roaring Brook (Holtzbrinck) – 


Emil and Karl are best friends in the city of Vienna at the start of World War II. Through horrible circumstances, both young boys are left orphaned and without family to take them in. Their little eyes see many of the cruel atrocities carried out in the name of Christianity upon the bodies of Austria’s Jews. 

The amazing thing about this book is that it was written in 1940, in Yiddish, so that the Jewish children of America could know what was really going on in Europe. I am amazed that it hadn’t surfaced in English before now.