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.


Friday, November 7, 2008

Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson - ESSENTIAL

Anderson, Laurie Halse Chains, 300 p. Simon and Schuster, 2008. $17

Content: G


Isabel and her sister Ruth were promised freedom upon the death of their mistress. Instead, they are sold again to a family in New York - Loyalists on the side of King George at the beginning of the American Revolution. Madame Lockton is harsh with her slaves and Ruth is eager for freedom, but when she supplies information to the revolutionaries they fail to rescue her and when the British arrive to occupy New York, they will not help her either. As the war heats up, Ruth's situation becomes more dire, with danger coming from within the house, from the antagonistic Madame, and from outside the house, as the war encroaches on the city.

Anderson has added a fresh perspective to the body of Revolution historical fiction, with her look at the life of a loyalist family. It would be an excellent addition to a small group read of historical fiction.


Revealers by Amanda Marrone - NO

Marrone, Amanda Revealers, 268 p. Simon Pulse, 2008. $9.

Language: R (140+, 3 "f"); Sexual Content: PG (implied petting).


Jules and her coven are busy fighting vampires and werewolves, sometimes to the detriment of their grades and social lives. The girls are all rapidly approaching their 18th birthdays, when they will be initiated into the final levels of knowledge of the main coven's inner workings. All of their questions will be answered and their doubts allayed. Jules, however, is the youngest, and not only is she rebellious, she has a boy that she wants to be with, but she is kind of freaked out by her friends' reactions to their personal initiations. The secrets are even scarier than Jules ever imagined and only a revolution will free the girls from immortal danger.

If it weren't for the long catalog of swear words, this book would be much more interesting. This is only for the most cutting-edge of schools.


A is for Art by Stephen T. Johnson - ESSENTIAL

Johnson, Stephen T. A is for Art. Simon and Schuster, 2008. $17. PICTURE BOOK.


Johnson has created a masterpiece of art and language with his clever, artistic and intellectual look at composition, whether in sight or sound. Art teachers and Language Arts teachers need to both see this book. At any level the lessons are rich and rewarding.


My So-Called Family by Courtney Sheinmel - OPTIONAL

Sheinmel, Courtney My So-Called Family, 194 p. Simon and Schuster, 2008. $16

Content: G


Leah Hoffman-Ross Doesn't know her father because he was a donor at Lyon's Reproductive Services. Now mom is remarried and Leah has a little half-brother, but the unanswered questions about her father still eat at her. Then she discovers the Lyon Sibling Registery and suddenly Leah has four more half siblings. But mom doesn't want the old life choices interfering with the new family, so she doesn't want to hear anything about new siblings. Leah and her mother are ready to butt heads in a big way.

This is the first book that I remember reading addressing the children of reproductive donors. While not fabulous, it certainly is interesting and it addresses an issue that effects an ever-increasing portion of our population.


The Debutante by Kathryn Williams - ADVISABLE

Williams, Kathryn The Debutante, 248 p. Hyperion, 2008. $16

Content: G


Connecticut and Alabama are worlds apart and Annie McRae is feeling torn in two. Moving into the sphere of control of her grandmother makes Annie uncomfortable, especially when she feels that Gram is trying to control her life. Annie has no desire to be a deb, but that is what Gram wants, and Gram controls the money that Annie needs to escape to college at the end of the year. Annie is not sure if she if white gloves are a good trade for her educational freedom.

As opposed to the really harsh debutante books I have read before, this one is cute without being cloying.


The Many Rides of Paul Revere by James Cross Giblin - ESSENTIAL

Giblin, James Cross The Many Rides of Paul Revere, 81 p. NON-FICTION. Scholastic, 2007.


While formatted like a picture book, this is so much more. The life of Paul Revere and the several rides he took in support of the Revolutionary cause. It also, of course has a in-depth look at the famous ride itself and the other men who were involved that night. There is enough information here to fascinate any American history teacher and plenty of material for a student to use if they need to do research. 


Thursday, November 6, 2008

Twelve Dates of Christmas by Catherine Hapka - OPTIONAL

Hapka, Catherine Twelve Dates of Christmas, 248 p. Simon Pulse, 2008. $7

Content: PG


Lexi is concerned that she and her long-term boyfriend are going to grow apart as soon as they leave for different colleges. In order to make things easier on Cameron, she decides to help him say goodbye now, by setting him up with someone else. When her plan works, however, she suddenly has a change of heart and she doesn't know what scheme she might come up with to get him back.

While I wasn't thrilled with a story of two high school students finding true love their freshman year, watch Lexi learn the power of honesty in a relationship was worth the read.


Hummingbird by Kimberly Greene Angle - ADVISABLE

Angle, Kimberly Greene Hummingbird, 256 p. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, 2008. $16.95.

Content: G.


March Anne's life is dictated by the rhythms of her family's watermelon farm. Since her mother's death, Grenna (grandma) has been the stalwart holding the family together. Now Grenna is in decline and March Anne, twelve, is not up to stepping into the void, whether it is cooking dinner or keeping the family garden plot. Until March Anne confronts her grief over her mother's death, she will never come to terms with Grenna's passing when it is time.

I am not usually a big fan of slow-moving books, but this one stood out for me. It is a reminiscent of Missing May by Rylant and of Chasing Redbird by Creech, but in small ways. This is a novel that should be shared with teachers in 5,6,7 as a possible classroom purchase. It themes of friendship, maturation and grief are very teachable.


A Giant Problem by Tony DITerlizzi and Holly Black - ESSENTIAL

DiTerlizzi, Tony and Holly Black A Giant Problem, 154 p. Simon and Schuster, 2008.

Content: G


Nick and Laurie have handled the nixie problem; while they have not solved it, it is at least temporarily dealt with. However, the giants are stirring and could possibly wreck the entire subdivision, killing innocents, ruining the family monetarily, unless the kids recruit some allies and solve the giant giant problem. And while the kids may think they are being clever, the bigger picture is bringing bigger problems right into the neighborhood.

Fans of the Spiderwick chronicles will not be disappointed by this next installment. In fact, their biggest frustration will be that they will want the next book as soon as they finish the last word of this one.


Palace of Mirrors by Margaret Haddix - ADVISABLE

Haddix, Margaret Peterson Palace of Mirrors, 297 p. Simon and Schuster, 2008. $17

Content: G


Cecilia is a princess raised in exile in order to protect her from evil doers. Her best friend, Harper, challenges Cecilia to embrace her heritage and the pair head off to the palace to relieve the decoy princess of her duties. Instead, the pair find themselves imprisoned by that princess in a high tower and embroiled in a much more complicated scenario then they even thought. Everyone will have to take a stand and find untapped reservoirs of courage in order to solve this puzzle and rescue the kingdom.

Fans of Gal Carson Levine and of Hale's Princess Academy will flock to this title. It's not without its flaws, but it is very girl power.


The Landing by John Ibbitson - OPTIONAL

Ibbitson, John The Landing, 155 p. Kids Can Press, 2008.

Language: PG (10 swears).


Since his father died, Ben has lived with his mother on his uncle's small farm in rural Canada. He is resigned to farm life never ending, but then an independent woman purchases an island home across the way, and as Ben helps her ready the house for guests, he sees a chance for a different life.

I liked everything about this novel except for the ending. I don't see why Ben's dreams coming true had to rest upon a terrible accident. It just seemed a bit too deus ex machina for me. This a book that adults will like more than teens.  (The actual time setting for this book is not given within the context of the novel, but at the end there is an historical note about a similar boating accident that happened in 1934). 

Rogelia's House of Magic by Jamie Martinez Wood - NO

Wood, Jamie Martinez Rogelia's House of Magic, 320 p. Random House, 2008.


Xochitl used to be happy in her life with her sister, but now her sister is dead and Xochitl is in a new country with her family. Marina is American through and through, but something about Latino spiritualism draws her, especially because she has no other way to understand the messages she seems to be receiving from spirits. Rogelia, Xochitl's grandmother, is willing to teach the girls about their powers and the world beyond. Marina and the girls held no interest for me.

The story just doesn't seem to work right; but I know nothing about wicca, which this seems to be.


Puppy Love by Nancy Krulik - ADVISABLE

Krulik, Nancy Puppy Love, 260 p. Simon Pulse, 2008. $7


Alana's boyfriend is off to college and even though he is around occasionally, he seems to be getting more distant. Alana, meanwhile, still has plenty to occupy her time with her dog-walking business, catering to the needs of pampered pooches. Handyman Connor has caught her eye and Leo seems to be angling in on her, so Alana has almost as many boys to deal with as she does dogs!

Another fine Romantic Comedies addition - already in paperback, so the price is right too!


Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Frightful's Daughter Meets The Baron Weasel by Jean Craighead George - OPTIONAL

George, Jean Craighead; Frightful's Daughter Meets The Baron Weasel;Dutton Children's Books(a division of Penguin Young Readers)



The life of wild animals is very different from our domesticated pets. In this story, which pulls characters from George's My Side of the Mountain novels, both Baron Weasel and Oksi Falcon have young to take care of and provide food for. The trouble is that young falcon is a delicacy for weasels and Baron Weasel's family is hungry. This story will delight fans of George's previous work, however a casual reader will be put off by the slow story line and dense text.

Allison Madsen~Children's & Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

How the Ladies Stopped the Wind by Bruce McMillian - ADVISABLE

McMillian, Bruce; How the Ladies Stopped the Wind. PICTURE BOOK. Houghton Mifflin Co.


In this silly story about wind, ladies, and chickens, we find out how to stop wind and sheep. The ladies want to plant trees to stop the wind, but all the sheep want to do is eat the trees. The chickens so a wonderful job of provide fertilizer. The illustrations are whimsical. While children may not pick this title off the shelf themselves, if read aloud to them, they will want to share the story with others.

Allison Madsen~Children's/Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library