Monday, January 15, 2007

Beds, Bedrooms and Pajamas by Patricia Lauber - ESSENTIAL

Lauber, Patricia What You Never Knew About Beds, Bedrooms and Pajamas PICTURE BOOK Simon and Schuster - 


A new addition to the Around the House series. Bright and fun illustrations compliment a quirky fact-filled picture book about sleeping and its accessories through the ages and around the globe. Teachers of any age of student could use this book in their classroom.


Disney Dossiers by Jeff Kurti - ADVISABLE

Kurti, Jeff Disney Dossiers 159 p. Disney Editions -


An awesome full-color soft cover book with details and gossip and behind scene information on the entire cast of Disney animated characters up through 2004's Home on the Range. I revisited original friends that I hadn't thought about in years and met new characters from movies I haven't seen. The author's honesty is fresh and fun. I am a little worried about putting this book on the shelves, because I am sure it will be loved to death.

Paranoid Park by Blake Nelson - NO

Nelson, Blake Paranoid Park 180 p. Penguin -


I was hoping I had found another great skater book that I could proudly hand to my boy readers as a great read. Instead, I got a vicious, descriptive attack and death within the first 25 pages and then another 155 pages of coverup and justification without any type of regret, confession or redemption. And not a single great skateboard scene on any page.


Forging the Sword by Hilari Bell - ESSENTIAL

Bell, Hilari Forging the Sword 494 p. Simon and Schuster -


The Hrum have only four months left to completely conquer the country of Farsala and the resistance fighters are well organized and getting even smarter. Soraya, Jiaan and Kavi all lead important groups that work together and apart to sabotage the Hrum and the Hrum leaders resort to breaking their own laws in a desperate attempt to defeat the country and its mysterious leader "Sorahb".

The fitting finale of the Farsala trilogy that students will love and enjoy. Bell's original thinking is welcome after watching poorly written copy-cat novels become topsellers and blockbuster movies. Point your students towards this excellent series as an antidote!

One Good Knight by Mecedes Lackey - OPTIONAL

Lackey, Mercedes One Good Knight 393 p. Luna -


Princess Andromeda. "Andie", Is starting to earn a little respect from her mother, until Andie finds some disturbing information while she follows a line of research. All of those concerns are pushed to the back of her mind when a dragon appears to ravage the small country - and no one seems to be exempt from the virgin sacrifice lottery - even the heir to the throne. Dragons, a champion, a ragged resistance band and Godmother Elena round out the cast of characters.

 Though this is the second in the series, it is the first one that is appropriate for Utah schools. I am a huge Mercedes Lackey fan and try to bring in as much as possible.


Saturday, January 13, 2007

That Girl Lucy Moon by Amy Timberlake - ESSENTIAL

Timberlake, Amy That Girl Lucy Moon 294 p. Hyperion -


As Lucy starts her sixth grade year at the local middle school, her photographer mother takes off on an extended trip in search of clouds. Her friends start growing and changing and Lucy feels left behind and out of the loop - especially when she receives unwarranted discipline after organizing a protest against the fencing of the town's favorite sledding spot. Winter causes Lucy's light to dim and she ceases to care whether her mother ever returns.

 A beautiful book in the tradition of Stargirl, with a new heroine who doesn't seem to think she needs to lie down and take it. And after reading snippets of Lucy's antics in elementary school, I kind of wish the author would also write a prequel.


My Life Starring Mum by Chloe Rayban - OPTIONAL

Rayban, Chloe My Life Starring Mum 279 p. Bloomsbury -


Holly's mum is the famous British singer Khandi. When a threat against Holly shows up, she is whisked away from her school and her friends to a high-security hotel where her mother alternately ignores her or tries to turn Holly into a younger version of herself.

 The story moves very quickly, keeping the reader's interest, until the very end, where it abruptly sputters and dies mid-stream. This has happened in so many books that I have read that I wonder if authors have lost the art of the denouement. There is absolutely no resolution, only a short, unsatisfying reunion scene, with a flippant end. Despite that, I think younger readers will enjoy Holly's life and adventure and are probably not knowledgeable enough to be frustrated by the ending. There are five clunky, unnecessary uses of swear words, though.

Alabama Moon by Watt Key - OPTIONAL

Key, Watt Alabama Moon 294 p. FSG


Ten-year old Moon Blake has promised his Pa that he will stay away from civilization and head off to Alaska to find other people who live off the land and "off the grid" (my words, not the author's). But a young boy on his own will attract the attention of well-meaning adults and of the authorities, including a constable who takes an instant, intense dislike to the boy. Moon finds his own way to battle the system and a few allies in his struggle to find his place in the world.

 I don't have the swear word count on this book any more, but the police constable is mean and foul-mouthed, using many swear words whenever he addresses Moon, though not venturing over to "f". For that reason, many schools, and the young audience who would have enjoyed this book, will not be reading it.

The Princetta by Anne-Laure Bondoux - ADVISABLE

Bondoux, Anne-Laure The Princetta 430 p. Bloomsbury -


Malva, aleady discontented with her life as a princess, now finds that she is to wed a man many years older. With the help of her tutor and her maid, she escapes - only that her tutor has set her up to die. Thus begins a high seas adventure of self-discovery, taking the Princetta into danger many times over, but also helping her discover several loyal friends, and to discover where her heart and her duty lie.

 I especially liked that the ending was completely unexpected. The old-fashioned looking cover may not draw in many students on it's own, but a little marketing should help this book find its audience. Readers of Tamora Pierce will also enjoy this.

These Three Remain by Pamela Aidan - ADVISABLE

Aidan, Pamela These Three Remain: A novel of Fitzwilliam Darcy, Gentleman 437 p. Touchstone -


The finale in the Fitzwilliam Darcy trilogy. Darcy is doing his best to forget Elizabeth Bennet and hopes that some time at his great aunt's country manor will help. Instead, there he finds Miss Bennet. He feels more in love with her than ever - and proposes marriage, which Elizabeth very quickly and coldly turns down. Reeling, Darcy heads back to London to do some soul-searching and changing, hoping he may become the kind of man that Elizabeth could some day love.

 I have thoroughly enjoyed this trilogy of "Pride and Prejudice" books, written through the eyes of Mr. Darcy. They go far in adding a depth to the man's character and thoughts that was lacking in the original. These books will be well received by Jane Austen's fans. It's fun to read the books side by side to see the two different points of view. Make sure you acquire all three in the series- and share them with your teachers!


Bringing Ezra Back by Cynthia DeFelice - OPTIONAL

DeFelice, Cynthia Bringing Ezra Back 148 p. FSG -


The Fowler family has recovered from the vicious attacks by "Weasel", though their mother passed away from a fever later. Now, a traveling peddler brings along a flyer that proclaims "See the White Injun, A man with no name and no tongue! Deaf and Dumb," and Nathan is sure that this "injun" is their old friend Ezra, who helped rescue them from Weasel. Nathan is determined to seek out this traveling show and rescue his friend, even if he has to learn to trust the world again.

After the tense danger of "Weasel", this sequel comes off as a milder entry. Though it does answer questions about Ezra, it only raises more at the end. I would prefer to have "Weasel" in hardcover and this one in paperback.