Monday, December 22, 2008

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day by Meg Cabot

Cabot, Meg Allie Finkel’s Rules for Girls: Moving Day, 240 pages, Scholastic Press;



In her first book for younger readers, Meg Cabot introduces readers to Allie Finkle. Allie is very content with her life. She has a BBF, well sort of. She likes her school, well sort of. Then out of the blue one day her parents decide to buy a run down, drafty, Victorian home near the city. Allie begins to panic about moving away from her school and friends. She comes up with several schemes to keep the house from selling and her family from moving.

Moving Day captures the real concerns that young kids have when they are faced with moving and leaving all they are familiar with behind.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Footprints in the Snow by Mei Matsuoka - ESSENTIAL

Matsuoka, Mei Footprints in the Snow. Henry Holt and Co. PICTURE BOOK.


Why do wolves get such a bad reputation?! The wolf in this story is out to prove the world wrong by writing his own story about a good little wolf who tries to find a new friend by following footprints in the snow. When he asks for help identifying the footprints no one will help him . . .because he is a bad wolf and they think he will just eat the poor creature. Will the little wolf ever prove that he can be good? This is a delightful tale with an unexpected twist that will leave kids speculating.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

The Big Field by Mike Lupica - ESSENTIAL

Lupica, Mike The Big Field, 288pgs, Philomel;



Fans of Mike Lupica sports novels will be doing the wave in celebration of his new book The Big Field. Centered on a teen baseball team, Lupica tells the story of Hutch Hutchenson a fourteen year old who LOVES baseball. His father was once a triple A player but had his heart broken by the game. In the past he was Hutch’s biggest fan, but now does little to encourage Hutch in his dreams of making it big in baseball. Hutch’s nemesis Daryl Williams or ‘D-Will’ is on his team and the coach has given Hutch’s usual position of Shortstop to Daryl. However, their team is headed to the playoffs and Hutch has to learn to deal with his dislike for Daryl, his disappointment in his dad, and lead his team as they battle for the title.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf by Jennifer L. Holm

Holm, Jennifer L. Middle School is Worse than Meatloaf: a year told through stuff, 128pgs, Ginee Seo Books;



In this spunky novel, readers follow Ginny Davis through her seventh grade year. Starting with her back to school list, we learn about her life in post-its on the fridge, school notifications, to do lists, cards, bank statements, etc. The format of the book is very visual and unique in its design. There is a more serious thread throughout the story concerning Ginny’s older brother Henry, but for the most part this is a light hearted look at an average seventh grader. The cover will turn-off some teens but if encouraged by librarians they will enjoy the book once they begin.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Reaching for Sun by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer - ADVISABLE

Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn Reaching for Sun, 144pgs, Ginee Seo Books



Josie dreads being seen entering room 204. Room 204 is where Special Ed meets. Josie has Cerebral Palsy and hates it that everyone thinks she is retarded! She’s not! She just has a disability that requires her to go to therapy, which she also hates. She describes her disability this way:

“...My thumb will always be pasted to my palm,
and my left wrist and shoulder
by an invisible rubber band
called cerebral palsy.”

Josie discovers a new kid and they quickly become friends. He lives in the new subdivision behind Josie’s house. Josie and Jordan both have family issues that cause them to turn to each other for support.

This is a beautiful and moving story about friendship and family. Written in beautiful free verse, Reaching for Sun will connect with readers of all ages.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Pillage by Obert Skye - OPTIONAL

Skye, Obert Pillage, 352 pgs, Shadow Mountain;



Life for Beck Phillips has just gone from not so good to miserable. For the past several years he has been the primary caregiver for his mentally ill mother who has just passed away. Not minutes after her funeral he is put on a train and told that his uncle, who he didn’t know existed, has agreed to take him in. The train takes him to a remote town called Kingsplot. Beck’s uncle lives in a mansion high on a hill away from the town. He is greeted by the few servants that are still employed by his uncle. There is almost no furniture in the large drafty mansion and Beck wonders what he has been thrown into. Immediately he is sent to school and weird things begin to happen both at home and at school.

In a break from his popular Leven Thumps series, Skye brings readers a story reminiscent of a fairytale. The plot is slow and the reader must persist through many pages of set-up until any action begins. Inserted at the beginning of each chapter is a teaser from a long lost journal that helps to move the story along and keep the reader trying to guess the importance of the inserted selections. Overall, this book is a good choice for avid readers, but would not hold the attention of most readers. The audiobook for this title is not recommended. The reader’s voice is monotone and does little to engage the reader.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Friday, December 19, 2008

Charlie Cook's Favorite Book by Julia Donaldson - ESSENTIAL

Donaldson, Julia, Charlie Cook’s Favorite Book; Puffin Books, 2005. PICTURE BOOK. 


Charlie Cook loves books, but his favorite book(Shiver Me Timbers) leads him on a whole new adventure in which the readers get to meet knights, pirates, dragons, birds, frogs and other fun people and creatures.

A classic twist on a selection of stories, this book will enchant readers of all ages. The illustrations draw the reader in in such a way that they have to take in everything on each page to enjoy the full story. The text is fairly simple, but adds a lot of character to the book. A must-have for any parent, teacher, or librarian.

Kira Moody Children’s Librarian-WHI Public Library.

Thump, Quack, Moo: a Whacky Adventure by Doreen Cronin - ESSENTIAL

Cronin, Doreen, Thump, Quack, Moo: A Whacky Adventure; Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008. PICTURE BOOK.
 Pre-K, EL (K-3) – ESSENTIAL

That crazy duck from Giggle, Giggle, Quack and Click, Clack Moo is back and he’s up to mischief again! Farmer Brown is trying to spruce up the farm and make a Statue of Liberty Corn Maze for the Corn Maze Festival. He tries to enlist every animal’s help and manages to get everyone excited for the festival, but duck. That is until Duck decides to take matters into his own hands and make his own masterpiece that will surprise Farmer Brown and readers.

Hilarious! This book has beautiful illustrations and keeps the reader entertained with words and pictures. The surprise twist at the end will surprise even adults!

Reviewer: Kira, Children's Librarian-WHI Public Library

Thursday, December 18, 2008

Merry Christmas, Ollie! by Olivier Dunrea - ESSENTIAL

Dunrea, Olivier Merry Christmas Ollie!, 32 pgs. Houghton Mifflin. PICTURE BOOK.


Fans of Dunrea’s other picture books will delight in this Christmas story that brings all the goslings together in one book. Ollie can’t wait for Father Christmas Goose to arrive. Everyone else is patiently waiting.
“Gossie and Gertie hang their bright colored boots in the barn.
Peedie and BooBoo hang their striped stockings in the barn.
Ollie stomps through the snow.
It's not easy to wait for Father Christmas Goose!”
Excerpt from the book description on

This is a seasonal title that may not circulate except around the holidays, but it will be loved year after year when the holidays roll around.

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Campfire Mallory by Laurie Friedman - ESSENTIAL

Friedman Laurie Campfire Mallory. 175 pgs. Carolrhoda Books.



Mallory McDonald has a best friend, Marry Ann, that she is going to go to sleep-away camp with. They are very excited to go to Camp Green Lake together. The only problem is that they don't get to be in the same cabin and Mallory doesn't like who she gets pared with.

I really enjoyed reading this book. It was very fun to read and I enjoyed how it really showed how Mallory was feeling when things didn't go as planned when she goes to sleep-away camp. It was a very cute and fun book.

Student Reviewer: MB

Identical by Ellen Hopkins

Hopkins, Ellen Identical, 565 p. McElderry (Simon), 2008.

Language: R (20+ "f"), Sexual Content: R.

Twin sisters, Kaeleigh and Raeanne, share a home and parents, but have almost nothing else in common. Besides different groups of friends, their personalities seem to be complete opposites. They do, however, share a deep, dark, disturbing secret. And if that secret were made known, one of their lives may be in danger.

Finally Hopkins has written a "poetic" book with a modicum of actual poetic devices in it. I am so tired of books that pretend to be poetry and don't use any literary devices whatsoever. As with all Hopkins book to date, this one is full of sexual situations, alcohol and drug use and a plethora of swearing. The deep, dark secret is quickly obvious to any adult reading the book. It will be very popular in the public library. NO.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Keeper of the Grail by Michael P. Spradlin - ESSENTIAL

Spradlin, Michael P. The Youngest Templar: Keeper of the Grail, 248 pgs. Putnam.

Content: G


Tristan is an orphan being raised by monks. He is content living there, until a group of Templars, or Warrior Monks, show up. They are bound for the Holy Land, and one of them invites Tristan to be his new squire. Tristan accepts, and he leaves the monks for a life of battle and danger. Soon after, he is entrusted with a mysterious item that means a lot to many people, and that some would do anything to get.

This book is great. It was well written. It had a relatively new, good plot. It is not too predictable, and it was easy to read. This was a fantastic book.

Student Reviewer: RG

Hot Mess by Julie Kraut and Shallon Lester - NO

Kraut, Julie and Shallon Lester Hot Mess, 352, Delacorte Press

Language- PG-13; Sexual Content - PG; Violence-G;


Emma Freeman and her friend Rachel decided to move to New York City for the summer to be interns. Rachel works at a savvy internet job while Emma's internship is a bust. She is stuck with a boss that verbally abuses everyone while thinking its funny and the man of her dreams. Oh and did I mention that he doesn't know that she is still in high school?

This book was okay but I felt like they mentioned way too many famous people in it. And I think that they just swore way too much, it was unnecessary. For two people writing one book I would have thought they could have done a better job.

Student Reviewer: AA.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Elephant Wish by Lou Berger - ESSENTIAL

Berger, Lou The Elephant Wish, illustrated by Ana Juan, Schwartz & Wade Books (Random House), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


Eliza Prattlebottom makes a wish on her eighth birthday. Her parents think that she is wishing to change them, but really she wished that an elephant would come and take her away. Without delay, an elephant does come and take her away. During her wild elephant adventuring, Eliza learns some important things. But does she decide to stay?

Every illustration has special, little details that you’ll want to spend time inspecting. My favorite page, though? “The jungle became very still.” The animals faces are beyond description. Wonderful!!!

Reviewer: Kami, Children’s Librarian.

Pete and Pickles by Berkeley Breathed - ESSENTIAL

Breathed, Berkeley Pete & Pickles, Philomel (Penguin), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


All Pete wants is to live his calm life in piggy practicality. And then he meets Pickles, a runaway circus elephant. Pete is compelled to harbor Pickles who turns out to be a most creative and spontaneous guest. His sedate life is turned upside down in exchange, but perhaps something special can come of this curious relationship.

As always, Berkeley Breathed produces creatures that are both weird and lovable throughout the entire story. I wish my life had half the excitement and adventure of any page of this book. Actually, my life looks very much like page one. Read it and see!

Reviewer: Kami, Children’s Librarian.

I Love Korky by Cristiano Sorrentino - ADVISABLE

Sorrentino, Cristiano I Love Korky, Boxer Books (Frances Lincoln), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


Korky causes more than enough mischief for one puppy. He begs, he chews, he barks, and he messes. Luckily, he is also full of all the other things that make a dog attractive. Korky is a perfect friend.

The back of the book claims that “you’ll fall in love with Korky, too!” True. I took one look at his sweet face and wanted a Korky of my very own—mess or no mess. It’s a very simple, very sweet puppy story.

Reviewer: Kami, Children’s Librarian.

Friday, December 12, 2008

Little Hoot by Amy Krouse Rosenthal - ADVISABLE

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse, Little Hoot! PICTURE BOOK. Chronicle Books.


Fans of Little Pea will delight in the newest title from author Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Little Hoot is an owl that is happy and loves to play with his friends. However, unlike his friends he can’t go to bed when he is tired. All wise owls learn to stay-up late. This story is a backwards tale of a little one not wanting to stay up late.

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

I'm NOT Santa! by Jonathan Allen - ESSENTIAL

Allen, Jonathan, I’m NOT Santa!, 25 pgs. Hyperion Book CH ~Language G, Sexual Content~G Violence~G. PICTURE BOOK.


Another WONDERFUL book from Allen starring the little owl who is NOT cute! This time Baby owl, donning a Santa hat, is approached by a baby hare who insists that he is Santa! The comparisons are hilarious and the text begs to be read aloud! A must add to library holiday collections.

Allison Madsen~Youth Services Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

Monster Madness by Dean Lorey - ESSENTIAL

Lorey, Dean Monster Madness (Nightmare Academy #2), 293 p. Harper, 2008.

Violence: PG.


Charlie and his friends are ready to move from Noobs (newbies) to Addys (advanced), but seal of approval is stalled by a major crisis - two of the four Named Lords of the Nether are now on Earth and if the other two can also escape, then they can together summon The Fifth, the most evil being in the universe. Mortal and immortal danger, betrayal and counter betrayal await the friends as they struggle just to survive, let alone counterattack the sources of evil.

If you can handle books about demons and evil creatures, your school will love this book. There is a lot of danger and lot of fighting, but it is well worth it. I am tense already from the end of this book that I am not sure I can survive until number three is released!

Reviewer - Cindy, Library-Teacher

Monday, November 24, 2008

What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson - NO

Wilson, Martin What They Always Tell Us, 304 pgs. Delacorte Press.

Language- PG-13; Sexual Content- PG-13; Violence- G


Alex and his brother, James, used to be best friends, but after Alex has an accident his junior year in high school, James can barely stand his now lazy younger brother. When Alex starts running again and becomes friends with James' friend Nate, and they two start running together and training for the school Track team, Alex starts feeling things towards Nate that he doesn't understand.

This book totally grossed me out, yes it has a lesson about being different, but it isn't a book I feel comfortable letting into school libraries.

Student Reviewer: AR

If you would like another opinion on this novel, check out the other student review.

The Other Side of the Island by Allegra Goodman - ESSENTIAL

Goodman, Allegra The Other Side of the Island, 280 pgs. Panguin Group.

Content- G


Honor, born in the 8th year of enclosure, is 10yo and lives with her parents in a highly controlled colony. But when they have an illegal second child and her parents are taken away, for being unpredictable, Honor and her friend Helix, another unpredictable, must find their parents, uncover a terrible secret, and bring down the corporation that runs everything.

I thought this book was awesome. It was interesting and has so many good lessons of how being the same isn't always a good thing.

Student Reviewer: AR

The Day I Killed James by Catherine Ryan Hyde - ADVISABLE

Hyde, Catherine Ryan The Day I Killed James, 224 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf.

Language- PG-13; Sexual Content- PG; Violence-G;


Theresa's older neighbor, James, is in love with her, and when she takes him to a party, it's a one night thing and he knows that, but when he commits suicide it becomes a night she will never forget, even when she tries running away from it all. While trying to get back on her feet she first goes through withdrawals and makes new friends.

This story of love, loss and guilt shows how to hold on to a heart and how to fix your own. But it is a little hard to follow at the beginning, if you stick with it and really pay attention you'll understand it.

Student Reviewer: AR

Likely Story by David Van Etten - OPTIONAL

Van Etten, David Likely Story, 240 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf.

Language- PG-13; Sexual Content- PG; Violence-G


Mallory was born into show business, with her mom being a soap star. She grew up watching crazy things happen to her mom on the show, and drama all the time at home. When Mallory writes her own script that is realistic and frames her own life, she begins falling in love with her male lead, is bombarded by her mother, and has to choose between friendship and her big break.

It was a good story, but not really my type of book. It shows that your parents can't control you and you can do anything you put your mind to. It is written well and the author is very good at showing personality. It really is a cute story that I recommend to those who are trying to pursue big dreams.

Student Reviewer: AR

Friday, November 21, 2008

Would You by Marthe Jocelyn - ESSENTIAL

Jocelyn, Marthe Would You, 176 pgs. Wendy Lamb Books.

Language- PG; Sexual Content- PG; Violence- G;


When Nat's sister and best friend, Claire, steps in front of a car and is put in a coma, her summer dreams of working and hanging with friends are turned into days of pain, hurt, doctors, hospitals, and pitying neighbors.

I loved this book. It was kind of short but got through all the points it needed. It is very heartfelt and a book that many people can relate to. It has lessons of finding yourself, saying goodbye, and growing up.

Student Reviewer: AR

How to be Bad by Lockhart, Mlynowski and Myracle - ESSENTIAL

Lockhart, E.; Mlynowski, Sarah; Myracle, Lauren How to be Bad, 322 pgs. Harper Collins.

Language- PG-13; Sexual Content- PG; Violence- G


Jesse and Vicks are best friends but are beginning to fall apart. When Jesse tries to salvage the friendship by offering a road trip, the new girl , Mel, offers to pay if she can tag along. The roadtrip starts as a friendship bonder and turns into a trip to see Vick's college boyfriend, making new friends, and meeting new loves. It was an adventurous experience. This book is super cute! I love the story of how 3 girls became best friends, it's also amazing how it is written by three different girls but it still flows.

Student Reviewer: AR

Thursday, November 20, 2008

Prying Eyes by Betsy Kuhn - ESSENTIAL

Kuhn, Betsy Prying Eyes: Privacy in the Twenty-First Century, 160 p. Twenty-First Century (Lerner), 2008.


Welcome to the world of Big Brother. Kuhn touches on all kinds of privacy issues in all different circumstances: work, school, home, shopping. The information on the kinds of technology available for spying and lengths government and other authorities will go to know everything about you.


Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder by Bryna J. Fireside

Fireside, Bryna J. Private Joel and the Sewell Mountain Seder, illustrations by Shawn Costello., 47 p. Kar-Ben (Lerner), 2008.


During the Civil War, Jewish battalion members get permission to honor Passover. With the help of some Negro troops and the kindness of many others, the group assembles everything that they need (with a heavy dose of ingenuity) and celebrates the special day.

Based on a true story, this book is not just of regional or religious interest, but it also does a good job of explaining the how and the why of Passover. It could be integrated into a Civil War, Holidays, Religion or Geography unit.


Many Ways to be a Soldier by Wendy Pfeffer - ADVISABLE

Pfeffer, Wendy Many Ways to be a Soldier, illustrations by Elaine Verstraete, 47 p. EARLY READER. Millbrook (Lerner), 2008.


Rem is too young to join his soldier father during the American Revolution. Instead he must stay at home. When he runs to check the town cannon one day, he spots boatloads of British soldiers. With the help of some of the town women, they light the cannon, but Rem must come up with a special trick in order to save the town.

Rem's story is a good early reader in history.


Vidalia in Paris by Sasha Watson - OPTIONAL

Watson, Sasha Vidalia in Paris, 228. Penguin Group.

Language- PG13, Sexual Content- PG13, Violence- PG


Vidalia finally gets to go to France, and leave everything behind for awhile to learn more about her passion of art. But little does she know of the adventures that await to capture her. In France Vidalia will learn of right from wrong, loyalty and betrayal, and who is trust worthy. That's not all though, she also learns what love is all about.

I thought this was an okay book; its more for those that enjoy the mellow action, and a little love mixed in. Though I would have preferred without the love scene, it was a pretty enjoyable book.

Student Reviewer: MT

Prisoner of Liberty by Marty Rhodes Figley - ESSENTIAL

Figley, Marty Rhodes Prisoner for Liberty, illustrations by Craig Orback, 47 p. Millbrook (Lerner), 2008.


James was a young black man serving on an American warship during the American Revolution when the ship and its crew is captured by the British. By chance he makes friends with the commanders son and is spared a life of servitude. After James refuses to return with the other boy to Britain, he is placed on the prison ship Jersey. When he is given a chance to escape to freedom, he gives up his place to a boy who is on the verge of dying.

Another book in the On My Own: History series. What I love about these books is that even though they are easy readers, they tell the stories of ordinary people caught up in extraordinary circumstances, adding dimension to our learning of history. While this will be a good fit in an elementary collection, even a middle or high school teacher could use this as a starter.


The Hand You're Dealt by Paul Volponi - OPTIONAL

Volponi, Paul The Hand You're Dealt, 168 p. Atheneum (Simon and Schuster), 2008.

Language: R (50 swears, 3 "f").


When Huck's father was hospitalized right before the big charity poker game, the winner, Huck's arrogant math teacher, came to the hospital and stole the winner's watch right off Dad's wrist. Now that Dad has died. Huck is determined to win back the watch, even if it means lying to his mom. Will the cards fall Huck's way or will the card shark teacher take him down?

Its too bad that there is so much swearing in this book, because the poker is really good. We're big fans of TV poker at my house, so I have watched my share of games and drama. If the language is not a factor for your school, go for it, because there will be boys who will thoroughly enjoy this one.


Total Knockout by Taylor Morris - NO

Morris, Taylor Total Knockout: Tale of an Ex-Class President, 264 p. Simon and Schuster, 2008.


From the minute Lucia Latham is elected to her third term as class president at her middle school, she has big plans to implement - and she do what she must to get her way. Unfortunately, she oversteps herself and causes huge problems among the students - and finds herself replaced by her vice president.

This is the first book in the Mix series that I really couldn't get into. I guess being a long time teacher, I hate books that distort school protocol to the extreme. Or maybe there are schools like this out there and I am just in a dream school. It didn't work for me.


Imagine a Place by Sarah L. Thomson - ESSENTIAL

Thomson, Sarah L. Imagine a Place, paintings by Rob Gonsalves. Atheneum (Simon and Schuster), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


Gonsalves and Thomson combine their talents for a third book in this highly imaginative series. I can't see one teacher of elementary or a Fine Arts teacher in middle or high school who couldn't use this book with their classes. Enjoy this treat to ear and eye.


Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again - ADVISABLE

Horowitz, Dave Humpty Dumpty Climbs Again. G.P. Putnam's (Penguin), 2008. PICTUE BOOK


Humpty Dumpty has recovered from a major trauma and wants to proceed cautiously, leading a rather boring life. But when the King's favorite horse is in danger, Humpty must decide of he is ready to conquer his fear for all time.

While other nursery rhymes are mixed into the narrative, the true value of this funny book comes in its double message at the end. Elementary schools and middle school Advisory programs will enjoy this.


Read My Lips by Teri Brown - ESSENTIAL

Brown, Teri Read My Lips, 238 Pages. Simon Pulse.

Language - PG-13; Sexual Content - PG; Violence - PG;


Serena is deaf but has never signed. Instead she relies on her lip reading skills. When the preps at her new school discover her talent for stumbling across juicy bits of gossip, they throw this skater girl into a world of pink t's and backstabbing. Throw in the hot loner and you have an amazing book.

Read My Lips was such a good book. It took a universal idea like fitting into a new high school and tweaked it to create a very well written story that entranced me until the very last page.

Reviewer: KH

Game by Walter Dean Myers - OPTIONAL

Myers, Walter Dean Game, 217 p. Harper, 2008.

Language : G (1)


Drew Larson is determined to stand out on his high school basketball team so that he has a chance at a college scholarship. His grades aren't great, so basketball may be his only ticket out of his poor neighborhood. His coach, however, has other ideas. He wants Drew and his teammates to learn how to be a team - not just a bunch of good basketball players who happened to be on the court at the same time.

While basketball action is pretty good, Drew's story is unfortunately underwhelming. The book is published in paperback and the cover will catch the eye of basketball fans.


The Good Girl by Kerry Cohen Hoffman - ADVISABLE

Hoffman, Kerry Cohen The Good Girl, 163 p.

Language: PG-13 (15 swears, 2 "f").


When her older brother Mark was killed in a senseless accident, Lindsey's family fell apart. Mom left and remarried, moving across the country. Dad immersed himself in his job, leaving Lindsay and her rebellious younger sister to raise themselves. Lindsay has had her fill of being the good girl. When a transfer student catches her eye and challenges Lindsay's world, her suppressed anger and frustration expresses itself through shoplifting and petty thievery. Lindsay's cries are ignored, until events spiral out of control.

Despite the two uses of "f" (totally understandable, given her little sister's rebellious acting-out), The Good Girl is the first book I have run into that could replace "Define Normal" as a look at a teen trying to keep their life together.

Cindy, Library Teacher

Tuesday, November 18, 2008

The Tomorrow Code by Brian Falkner - OPTIONAL

Falkner, Brian The Tomorrow Code, 348 p. Random House, 2008.


Best friends Tane and Rebecca are looking at the stars and musing after a huge rainstorm, when they hit upon a revolutionary idea for a way to communicate into the past. When they try their idea, however, they actually receive a message from their future selves - lottery numbers which win them four million dollars. But their adventure are just starting. Something evil and dangerous is coming at the world and they can only hope that they send themselves enough information from the future so that they can save their world.

From the picture on the cover I thought this book was going to be about pirates - WRONG! What you have instead is a pretty good apocalyptic novel. There's plenty of danger and close escapes and the bonus of some interesting science and technology.

It Was September when we Ran Away for the First Time by D. James Smith - OPTIONAL

Smith, D. James It Was September when we Ran Away for the First Time, 230 p. Atheneum (Simon and Schuster), 2008.


California, 1951. Billy is anxious for school to begin at his junior high, but he has to take care of his little brother and his deaf cousin, too. Most of the boys' thoughts run to the church carnival coming up at the end of October, but life gets really complicated when cousin Billy, only in the 6th grade, starts dating a Chinese girl in his class. Both families become victims of prejudice.

I was really thrown off by the young "lovers" only being in 6th grade. While the book leans towards being a modern Tom Sawyer, it doesn't lean very far. If your library needs a book about this time period and your collection is large and well-checked out, then by all means add it.


Science Fair by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson - ADVISABLE

Barry, Dave and Ridley Pearson Science Fair, 394 p. Hyperion, 2008.


Every year, the rich kids at Hubble Middle School win the prize in the school science fair. This year Toby is determined to give them a run for their money, but when he spies on them at the local science shop, he gets much more than he bargained for. It's almost too late when Toby uncovers an even deeper plot - one intended to plunge the USA into chaos. He and his friends may barely have enough time to save their country from total chaos!

If you can suspend your belief long enough to accept the bumbling villains in this caper, you will have an enjoyable read. I was a little hard pressed, but I managed to get the rollicking end.


Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before by David Yoo - ADVISABLE

Yoo, David Stop Me if You've Heard This One Before, 377 p. Hyperion, 2008

Language: PG-13; Sexual Content: PG-13; Violence: G


Albert Kim has been a nobody at high school for two years, but things change when he applies for a summer job at a local inn, and gets partnered with the most popular girl at Bern High School. Lucky for him, she has just broken up. However, her ex has just been diagnosed with cancer and Albert suspects he is using it to win her back.

I loved this book. I could have done with less swearing but on the whole the emotions coming from the book made it so I couldn't put it down. I could relate to the main characters thoughts and feelings easily and it was very enjoyable to read.

Student Reviewer: KH

All That Glitters by David Van Etten - ADVISABLE

Van Etten, David Likely Story: All That Glitters, 295 p. Knopf (Random House), 2008.

Language: PG


Mallory's life has turned upside down since she sold her idea for a daytime soap opera based around teenagers. Now the show is in production and the headaches are just getting bigger. The studio has its own agenda, and so does every actor or the set - the biggest ego belonging to Mallory's own mother. Mallory's not sure that the show - or whether she - will even last until its premiere.

Get a look at Hollywood madness in a reasonably safe environment. Mallory is funny and fun and girls will enjoy her. It doesn't hurt that there is a sexy young male back on the front cover. This is actually number two in the series - I had no idea - it stands well on its own.


Wednesday, November 12, 2008

In Your Room by Jordanna Fraiberg - OPTIONAL

Fraiberg, Jordanna In Your Room, 203 p. Razorbill (Penguin), 2008.


Molly Hill is trading houses for the summer. She and her mother, with her new husband, are going to Boulder, Colorado for a month. Whose going to live in her L.A. house? Granola boy Charlie and his family. Neither want to be in the other's room for that long, but when they start exchanging email, feelings start to develop. Having never met face-to-face, there are sure to be some misunderstandings, creating a rocky road for the long-distance romance.

I was a little annoyed that Molly is the most insecure of the pair - she bore the brunt of the miscommunications, conclusion jumping and feelings of inadequacy. But the book is out in paperback and it is pretty romantic, so I am sure it will find its audience.


The Letter Writer by Ann Rinaldi - ADVISABLE

Rinaldi, Ann The Letter Writer, 216 p. Harcourt, 2008.

Violence: PG.


Young Harriet Whitehead is the bastard daughter of a rich plantation owner who died soon after he sprung her existence on his Southern family. Harriet is ordered by her stepbrother to write letters dictated by his blind mother and Harriet gets to know the ins and outs of plantation life. Then Nat Turner, a talented carpenter, who is also a slave, is brought to the plantation to do some work. Harriet gets involved with the charismatic slave preacher and does something that is one piece, a very important piece, in supporting Turner's slave uprising, which has terrible consequences not for surrounding countryside and for Harriet's family.

Ann Rinaldi has written another fine historical fiction novel. She brings southern slavery and Turner's rebellion to life.


Death Run by Jack Higgins and Justin Richards - ESSENTIAL

Higgins, Jack with Justin Richards Death Run, 253 p.


The Chance family is taking a much deserved vacation - an opportunity to rest from their father's life of danger and a chance to get to know each other a little better too. The twins have only known their father since the death of their mother a few months earlier. Their vacation in Venice is anything but relaxing, however, as John Chance's spy activities attract the attention of a friendly enemy. But that is only the start. When the twins begin school, they might think that they are safe, but an even deadlier enemy is waiting to spring a trap.

Death Run is exciting stuff that barely lets you breathe before it plunges you back into excitement. I hope all of you have rich collections of the current detective/spy genre!


What They Always Tell Us by Martin Wilson - ESSENTIAL

Wilson, Martin What They Always Tell Us, 288 p. Delacorte Press, 2008.

Language: PG-13 (20); Sexual Content: PG; Violence: G.


Alex has gotten into enough trouble to lose his friends, his reputation, and the trust of his family. As he and everyone else slowly recovers, he finds a new sport to be good in, earns back the trust of his brother, and even finds a few unlikely friends.

I loved this book. The interesting tweaks in some parts made it so I was addicted. It turned out well, and even though I wouldn't recommend it to an elementary library, it is be one to read. The author did an amazing job at bringing the characters to life.

Student Reviewer: KH


The main character is hiding the fact that he is gay. There is no overt sexuality in the narrative, though.

Gone by Michael Grant - ADVISABLE

Grant, Michael Gone, 558p. HarperCollins

Language- PG, Sexual Content- PG, Violence- PG13


Not one adult is left, they just disappeared on what the kids thought would be a normal school day. Now kids are fighting for their lives! Bullies are ruling, animals are changing in odd ways, kids are starting to posses strange powers, and a being is lurking around. But this is not what has older kids worried, no; what has them worried is that when your fifteenth birthday arrives you too will disappear. I really enjoyed this book I thought that it was greatly described, and the suspense was good. I would recommend this to people who like fantasy and reality mixed together, love problems popping up, and an easy read book.

Student Reviewer: MT

Knuckleheads by Joan Holub - ESSENTIAL

Holub, Joan Knuckleheads, illustrations by Michael Slack. Chronicle Books, 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


Handsel & Gretel, Nose White, Handerella and Thumbellina dance across the pages of this wonderfully funny, sarcastic look at classic fairy tales. Young children will enjoy them even before they get the visual and aural jokes that abound. If your school keeps a section of fractured fairy tales, even the upper grades can use this wacky piece.


That Book Woman by Heather Henson - ESSENTIAL

Henson, Heather That Book Woman, pictures by David Small. Atheneum (Simon), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


A young boy in the isolated mountains of Appalachia doesn't see the value of books and reading. But when the Book Woman persists in her visits, even through snow storms, bringing books for free every two weeks, just like clockwork, even stubborn Cal begins to understand that there must be something important in those words.

The Pack Horse Librarians began in the 1930s and were eventually replaced by bookmobiles, but their valiant efforts are not forgotten. Give this book as a gift to your favorite librarian or English teacher.


We the People: The Story of the Constitution by Lynne Cheney - OPTIONAL

Cheney, Lynne We the People: The Story of the Constitution, paintings by Greg Harlin. Simon and Schuster, 2008.


After the Revolution, the Articles of Confederation formed a weak government that, ten years later, was failing fast. Over the course of several months, representatives from each state hammered out the institutions and ideas behind the new Constitution. For a teacher who wants a short book to read to their students about the mechanics of creating the Constitution, this fits the bill. The language is not particularly exciting, being fairly plain, and the pictures, while illustrating each page are not fascinating. I was sadly under-whelmed; the only thing I see in its favor is that it supplies a picture to hold their attention while the teacher reads the information.


Name That Style by Bob Raczka - ESSENTIAL

Raczka, Bob Name That Style: All About "Isms" in Art. Millbrook (Lerner), 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


14 different "-isms," which make up the majority of art styles, are explored in this compact, but fact-filled book. In 31 pages, Raczka has created a book that should be required reading for even a college level art appreciation course. I can't think of any level of education that wouldn't appreciate this book.