Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Sophomore Switch by Abby McDonald - NO

Mcdonald, Abby Sophomore Switch, 297 p. Candlewick, 2009. $17.99.

Mature Content: PG-13 (off page sex – lots of it; morning after pill); Language: PG-13 (20-ish swears), Violence – G.


After an embarrassing incident, Tasha flees to England for a semester abroad at Oxford – hoping that the world will forget all about her; Emily was supposed to go to Harvard for semester, but instead finds herself at UC Santa Barbara, taking over Tasha’s place while Tasha takes hers. Both girls supposedly learn a lot about themselves along the way.

When all is said and done, I was pretty bored by the whole thing. Tasha decides that she has to be a stuffy tweed-wearer to fit in and Emily decides to take crash courses in beach bunny-ism. It read more like a potential screenplay (think House Bunny) than a novel.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

What Was Lost by Catherine O'Flynn - OPTIONAL

O’Flynn, Catherine What Was Lost, 240 p. Henry Holt, 2007. $14.00. 

Language: R (65 swears, 30-ish “f”); Violence: PG-13 (kids fall off the side of a mall in a tragic shopping cart accident); Sexual Content: G. 


Kate, 11yo, loves being a detective and staking out people at the mall. Then one day she disappears without a trace. Twenty years later, Lisa, the sister of the man accused (though never proved) of killing Kate is working at the mall when she strikes up a friendship with Kurt, a security guard, who has seen something funny on the monitors – something that may be related to Kate’s disappearance. 

If it weren’t for the large amount of “f’s”, I would recommend this as a classroom read for high school. The theme of loss is expounded and expanded and eloquently expressed without being obvious. You should recommend this to an adult to read – I thought it was well worth my time. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Laura Amy Schlitz - ESSENTIAL

Schlitz, Laura Amy Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! 2 CD, Audio. Recorded Books, 2008. 

Language: G; Content: PG; Violence: PG. 


This full cast audio recording transports the listener into the middle of a medieval English village as seen through the eyes of 22 children from all classes in the village. The stories are told in verse or prose and can sometimes be harsh. The story of a Jewish boy and a Christian girl playing across the river is especially moving in its reading by two voices. 

The medieval music and Ms. Schlitz’s background segments adds flavor to the stories. The book was originally written as a play for students so it really soars in this audio version. Students studying or wanting more information on medieval life will enjoy this. 

Reviewer: Sarah Herron, Teacher Librarian, WHS.

Standing For Socks by Elissa Brent Weissman - ADVISABLE

Weissman, Elissa Brent Standing for Socks, 220 p. Atheneum (Simon), 2009. $16. 


Near the end of 5th grade, Fara accidentally wore two different socks to school. Now, at the beginning of 6th grade, wearing two socks has become her signature and her burden as she struggles to find her place in middle school. Fara decides to at least stay with the bit until after the 6th grade elections, as the notoriety can only help her campaign. But a bit of dirty tricks make pull the dream rug right out from under her. 

I found Fara very smart and a lot of fun to get to know. Especially when she realized that being known for one thing is not always that great. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Mythology Handbook by Lady Evans - ESSENTIAL

Evans, Lady Hesta The Mythology Handbook, 80 pages, published 2009. 

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


This book is about Greek mythology. It’s filled with tales of mighty gods, powerful monsters and titans. It also has ancient Greek myths of heroic heroes. It’s even filled with activities and stickers.

I like this book because it has a lot of information of practically all of the interesting Greek myths. I also like this book because it’s filled with adventures of mighty heroes and heroines.

Student Reviewer: SO.

Sunday, March 29, 2009

Return of the Emerald Skull by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell - ESSENTIAL

Stewart, Paul and Riddell, Chris Barnaby Grimes: Return of the Emerald Skull, 203 pages, published 2008

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


Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad who delivers things. The school master of Grassington hall asks if Barnaby can deliver a package to him. Barnaby delivers it, and after he delivers it he notices weird things start going on. 

What do you think happened? Will he be the hero? I enjoyed reading this book because it had both mystery and action in it. It was also very exciting to read. 

Student Reviewer: SO

Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers by Mary Roach - OPTIONAL

Roach, Mary Stiff: The Curious Lives of Human Cadavers, 303 p. NON-FICTION. W.W. Norton, 2003. 

Content: PG-13


This non-fiction book is a humorous, off-beat look at the “life” of a cadaver. The author provides historical background as well a current account on the role of human cadavers in medical science. The author treats the subject of death with respect and just enough lightheartedness to keep the reader actively engaged. This is not a book for people with weak stomachs, but for the more mature young adult reader with an interest in science the pages are a fascinating read. 

Reviewer: Library-Teacher, LGP.

Teashop Girls by Laura Schaefer - ADVISABLE

Schaefer, Laura Teashop Girls, 250 p. Simon and Schuster, 2009.

Content: G


Annie, 13, has practically grown up in her grandmother's tea shop, along with the other Tea Girls, her best friends Genna and Zoe. Now, after one day as an official barista in the shop, Annie finds out that the shop is in trouble. Annie will do everything that she and her friends can think of the save the shop, but even that may not be enough.

Students who love The Mother-Daughter Book Club will also adore these girls; I liked them even better.


Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan - ESSENTIAL

Ryan, Carrie Forest of Hands and Teeth, 310 p. Delacorte (Random), 2009.

Violence: PG-13


Mary's village is surrounded by a deep forest and sturdy fences - fences to keep out the hordes of Unconsecrated whose only desire is to feast upon the flesh of the humans. ecause no one has spoken for her hand, Mary is sent to live with the village's Sisters, who are the repository of memory and spiritual teachings. There she stumbles upon a secret that sets dire circumstances in motion, sending the entire village running for their lives.

At first I thought this was a take on M. Night Shamalan's The Village, but instead it became a look at the world after the long discussed (at least by horror lovers) zombie uprising! This will be very popular with the horror crowd, but the violence is not for younger students.


Brutal by Michael Harmon - ESSENTIAL

Harmon, Michael Brutal, 227 p. Knopf (Random), 2009.

Language: R (80, 15 "f"); Violence: PG-13.


Poe's mother has left for a year doctoring in the wilds of Africa, leaving Poe with her father, whom she hasn't seen for sixteen years. Poe comes with a lot of baggage and a lot of guts - the guts to stand up to the system, even if means standing up to her own father. Poe throws herself right into making waves - in the show choir, in PE, and in the defense of her weird neighbor "Velveeta", whom is the punching bag for the school jock king.

Harmon's book is so powerful, it needs to be mandatory reading for every teacher, administrator, counselor and I hope that there are schools out there brave enough to add this to their curriculum. I love Poe and I hope others will love her too. Unfortunately, becuse of the language and violence ratings, I can't recommend this for most school collections. But, like 13 Reasons Why, this one will be passed from hand to hand.


Thirteenth Child by Patricia C. Wrede - ESSENTIAL

Wrede, Patricia C. Thirteenth Child, 352 p. Scholastic, 2009. $16.99.

Content: G


Lan is the seventh son of a seventh son, but his older twin sister, Eff, is the thirteenth child in their family. The people in their small town treat Eff like a bad seed, until their family moves to a rural border town so that their father can teach magic at the local land-grant college. There Eff has a chance to learn how to use her magic in the place where people to look upon her with dread and suspicion.

The first book in a series, I just hope that Ms. Wrede had a lot more ideas for the series, because I enjoyed reading this one! I love how the she uses the prevalent use of magic to change the history of the world in exciting ways. It feels like a western, with a magic infusion.


Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson - ESSENTIAL

Anderson, Laurie Halse Wintergirls, 278 p. Viking (Penguin), 2009. $17.99.

Language: PG-13 (20, 1 "f").


Lia ignored the calls from her former best friend Cassie all night long. Now she knows that Cassie is dead - from a ruptured esophagus, a bad consequence of her bulimia. Lia is still slave to her own eating addiction and the appearances of Cassie's ghost, taunting her, doesn't make anything easier. Lia wants to do well, or at least look like she's doing well for her young stepsister, but the heartfelt desire to be the thinnest ever and the angry, self-deprecating voices in her head may win out in the end. As winter deepens, so does Lia descent into a winter girl.

Anderaon has again written a beautiful book that captures the essence of a problem. This makes everything since Speak look like a practice run.


Friday, March 27, 2009

The Brimstone Network by Tom Sniegoski - ESSENTIAL

Sniegoski, Tom The Brimstone Network, 293 pages, Published 2008,

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


The Brimstone Network is about a 13yo boy Abraham, Bram for short, is hidden away in the Himalayan mountains. His dad runs a network to protect the world from paranormal monsters. His dad and his network gets killed, so when he dies his dad sends him a bizarre man named Mr. Stitch to help him. Bram is the only one left. He has to start a network before its too late. Bram and his network also have secret powers.

I liked this book because the big adventure and the suspense pulls you into the book. Interest Level:

Student Reviewer: SO.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Distant Waves by Suzanne Weyn - NO

Weyn, Suzanne Distant Waves: A Novel of the Titanic, 336 p. Scholastic, April 2009.

Content: G.


All of the Taylor girls have psychic powers to one degree or another. All of them will end up on the Titanic with very different destinies. I had no interest in the fate of any of the Taylor sisters. I especially didn’t like the historic name-dropping; it seemed very obvious and jarring.

Cindy – Library Teacher.

Ruby's Imagine by Kim Antieau - ESSENTIAL

Antieau, Kim Ruby’s Imagine, 208 pages. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

Content- G


Ruby is a young girl that lives in New Orleans, Louisiana. She lives there with her grandma as Hurricane Katrina hits New Orleans. Many things are being revealed about Ruby as she tries to stay safe as the hurricane hits.

I liked this book. I liked the description that was in it. I could really picture what was going on with Ruby at the time. It was a very interesting book to read.

Student Reviewer: MB

Night of the Spadefoot Toads by Bill Harley - ADVISABLE

Harley, Bill Night of the Spadefoot Toads, 222 pgs. Peachtree Pub. Ltd.

Content: G


Ben has just moved from Arizona to Massachusetts and he misses his friends and the desert. He feels that Massachusetts has nothing on Arizona, and he is lonely with no friends. Then he discovers that his teacher loves wildlife too, and she has rare spadefoot toads on her property, that only come out once a year, and he begins to think Massachusetts isn’t so bad.

This was a good book, and it also was well-written. However, the plot was very predictable.

Student Reviewer: RG

Bro by Robert Newton Peck - ESSENTIAL

Peck, Robert Newton Bro, 150 pgs. Harper Collins.

Content – G


After a horrible incident on his grandfather’s ranch, Tugwell Dockery hasn’t spoken a word. His brother is in jail for smuggling liquor, and his parents die in a horrific accident. His great-aunt comes to get him, and he goes back to his grandfather’s ranch to live. When his brother Broda hears that he is back on the scene of the accident, he knows he must be with his brother.

This was an OK book, but it got a little bit hard to understand sometimes because they used the slang the people speaking would use. Otherwise, though, it was a great book. The characters were pretty well developed and it was a pretty good storyline. I would recommend it to anyone.

Student Reviewer: RG

Cracked up to Be by Courtney Summers - PUBLIC

Summers, Courtney Cracked up to Be, 214 p. St. Martin's Griffin, 2009.

Language: R (about 100 - 30+ "f" - and that was only before I gave up counting).

Parker Fadley is doing her best to alienate everyone around her. From being the perfect child, the perfect student, the perfect friend, Now she is self-destructive and barely holding it together enough to graduate from high school. Now Jake, the nicest guy in the world, has arrived at Parker's school and wants to know what's up with Parker. And he, of course, sets things in motion to make Parker confront the situation that started her downward spiral.

This intense novel is best left in the hands of the public libraries. It's an initmate look at the consequences of high school pettiness combined with alcohol.


Cindy - Library Teacher.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Delicious: The Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud - ESSENTIAL

Rubin, Susan Goldman. Delicious: The Life and Art of Wayne Thiebaud, 108 pgs. NON-FICTION. Chronicle Books, 2007.


This tribute to a great American artist is also a very readable biography of Thiebaud that takes him from his birth in Arizona to his Mormon childhood on a ranch in Utah, to California's Sacramento Valley. Along the way we learn how this realistic artist thinks about art, and how he goes about making it. His brightly colored images of cakes and pies and gumball machines are extrememly child friendly making the book an excellent choice for children ages 10 - 14.

The beautifully composed book is itself a work of art and is a must purchase especially with Thiebaud's Utah connection.

The Raucous Royals by Carlyn Beccia - ESSENTIAL

Beccia, Carlyn. The Raucous Royals, 64pgs. NON-FICTION. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2008.


This book tells about royal rumors commonly known by everyone. But, are these rumors really true? Some are and some are not. It gives you clues to help you try to figure it out yourself.

The book is really interactive and makes you curious to see the answers. I really liked how creative this book was. It was really interesting to see the facts behind the rumors.

Student Reviewer: CW

Where in the World by Bob Raczka - ESSENTIAL

Raczka, Bob. Where in the World: Around the Globe in 13 Works of Art. Millbrook Press, 2007.


In this book, they talk about art and how art connects to the world around us. The author pointed out that art can take you places. The illustrations really depict the country. They are all extremely detailed and beautiful. A great book for teachers who teach world geography and history.

Student Reviewer: CW

River Roads West: America's First Highways by Peter and Connie Roop - ADVISABLE

Roop, Peter and Connie. River Roads West: America's First Highways. Calkins Creek, 2007. NON-FICTION.


This book is on America's history. They use the rivers in America to show what happened in there. There are many details on everything from the Revolution to Lewis and Clark. It is a very useful source. A bit wordy here and there. I though it could have used an index at the end. There was a table of contents at the beginning, but for locating specific details, it would have been much easier with an index.

Student Reviewer: CW

The Deep Freeze of Bartholomew Tullock by Alex Williams - ESSENTIAL

Williams, Alex. The Deep Freeze of Bartholomew Tullock, 298pgs. Philomel Books, 2008.

Content: G


Pinrut has been taken over by a tyrannical ruler, Bartholomew Tullock. Bartholomew turned Pinrut into a giant glacier. Everything is covered in snow. The Breeze family have always been fan makers. Fans do not exactly come in handy in a snow covered village. Desperate, the father and their daughter, Madeline have to set out to a new area to try to sell fans. Rufus, the son, and the mother are stuck at the house. But, something goes wrong on both sides. Can anyone really escape Bartholomew's greedy, cruel hands?

This book is really adventurous and interesting to read. I was curious all the way through this book.

Student Reviewer: CW

Painting the WIld Frontier by Susanna Reich - ESSENTIAL

Reich, Susanna Painting the Wild Frontier: The Art and Adventures of George Catlin, 133 pgs. Clarion, 2008. NON-FICTION.


George Catlin trekked all over the world, painting Indians of every tribe. He dedicated himself to painting the Indian tribes before they “died out”, knowing that westward expansion would wipe many of their cultures from the earth. He painted hunts and ceremonies, chiefs and women. He befriended the king of France and was the talk of London with his art exhibit, and is one of the best-known artists of the 19th century.

This is a good book. It’s very informative, and it’s interesting as well. It’s easy to understand and fun to read. It is a good resource, well organized and with a good balance of pictures and information.

Student Reviewer: RG

The Dragons of Spratt Ohio by Linda Zinnen - OPTIONAL

Zinnen, Linda The Dragons of Spratt, Ohio, 232 pgs. Harper Collins, 2004.

Content: G


John Salt loves the newborn dragons on his parents’ wildlife reserve. Nobody else really seems to care that much, but then one day his makeup scientist aunt, whom he’s never met, arrives from Paris. She’s never shown any interest in wildlife before, but now seems really interested in the dragons, and Salt gets an odd feeling about his aunt.

This was an okay book, but it was also pretty unoriginal. It was well written with decent character development, but I just couldn’t really get into it.

Student Reviewer: RG

Erratum by Walter Sorrells - ESSENTIAL

Sorrells, Walter Erratum, 298 pgs. Dutton Children’s Books, 2008.

Content: G


One day, Jessica walked into a new bookstore, and the owner handed her a book he said she had ordered, titled Her Lif. Maybe it’s supposed to be Her Life? She opens it and reads her life, ending with her murder seconds later. She escapes, and the book changes. It now tells how she must save the universe.

I found this to be confusing at first, as many books dealing with universes and time are. However, it just got better and better, and I thoroughly enjoyed this book. The characters are well developed, and the plot is definitely original. I would recommend this book to anyone.

Student Reviewer: RG

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Theodosia Throckmorton and the Staff of Osiris by R.L. LaFevers - ADVISABLE

LaFevers, R.L. Theodosia Throckmorton and the Staff of Osiris, 387 pgs. Houghton Mifflin, 2008.

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


Theodosia is in trouble again. After she returned the Heart of Egypt to the tomb, she thought the Serpents of Chaos were defeated. But now, mummies have been disappearing from museums around the city and showing up at her museum. And that's not all. She has to get to the bottom of all this before something bad happens! This book was good, and I'm a fan of the series, but I found it a little bit too complicated and convoluted. They introduced a lot of new things, sometimes for no apparent purpose. Otherwise, it was a good book and I would suggest it to anyone.

Student Reviewer: RG

The Walls of the Universe by Paul Melko - OPTIONAL

Melko, Paul The Walls of the Universe, 383 pgs. TOR, 2009.

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


When farm boy Johnny meets himself, whom he calls Prime, and Prime claims that he is from another alternate universe, Johnny doesn't believe him. But when Prime shows him the travel device and invites him to try it, Johnny takes him up on his offer. However, after he leaves Prime in his universe, he discovers the device is broken, and he can't go back.

This was a fantastic book. Great plot, fabulous characters, the whole package. However, there was just too much sexual innuendo and far, far too much unnecessary swearing to make it a book I would suggest to anyone. It swears at least once every five pages, and I would not suggest reading it unless you are very mature and don't mind a lot of swearing.

Student Reviewer: RG

Wild Orchid by Cameron Dokey - OPTIONAL

Dokey, Cameron Wild Orchid: A Retelling of "The Ballad of Mulan", 199 p. Simon, 2009.


Mulan's mother died the day that she was born and since that day, her father has never returned home. Mulan has grown up rather wild and only been educated with the help of her best friend, Li Po. Then, unexpectedly, Mulan's father returns and just as the two are getting to know each other, Father falls in love a young widow, finding love again after all these years. Just as life looks grand, the Emperor calls up one man from every family in China. In order to save her father's life, Mulan takes his place.

There is very little new here, but it fleshes out the short ballad and adds depth and character to the best parts of the Disney movie.

Cindy - Library Teacher.

Love on Cue by Catherine Hapka - OPTIONAL

Hapka, Catherine Love on Cue, 274 p. Simon, 2009.

Content: G (3 swears).


Maggie is a natural actress, but when it comes to singing and dancing, not so much. But football player Derek, Maggie's secret passion, has been injured and is trying out for the spring play - a musical!? Maggie is going to have to learn, because she has the lead - and only with the help of Nico, a bad boy music genius who has his own punk band, will Maggie survive opening night. But - is it Derek or is it Nico that really holds Maggie's heart?

Maggie's severe stage fright puzzles me, since she is an actress, but the romance is light and cute.

Cindy - Library Teacher.

Pendragon: Before the War by D.J. MacHale - OPTIONAL

MacHale, D.J. Pendragon: Before the War: Book One of the Travelers, 228 p. Aladdin (Simon), 2009. $6.99.

Content: G.


Peek into the lives of Vo, Gunny and Kasha before they became Travelers and met up with Bobby Pendragon.

There are three books planned in the particular series and the only thing that changes about the titles is the number - pretty unimaginative. Students will probably love them, because it gives them background knowledge of beloved characters, but none of the stories are well-developed and satisfying.

Cindy - Library Teacher.

What Would Emma Do? by Eileen Cook - OPTIONAL

Cook, Eileen What Would Emma Do? 307 p. Simon, 2009. $7.99.

Language: PG-13 (35 swears, 3 "f")


Kimberly drank and then took some pills and ended up sick at The Barn, the local teen hang out. In order to cover up her deed, she makes up a lie about being poisoned and is supported by her best friend, the school's queen bee, Darci, daughter of the local evangelical minister, who stages her own "poisoning". Several others go along with the deception. Emma and Colin saw it happen, but they are reluctant to tell, because they aren't supposed to be together in the first place - Emma got in trouble for kissing Colin, who is her best friend's boyfriend. But as things get more complicated, as people are being accused of the deeds and a TV preacher comes to town to expose the evil, Nothing will be made right unless Emma gathers the courage to make a stage - even at the risk of running her own dream.

If it weren't for the language, I would embrace this title wholeheartedly. I liked the shades of the Salem Witch Trials and I liked Emma as a main character.

Cindy - Library Teacher

The Kind of Friends We Used to Be by Frances O'Roark Dowell - ESSENTIAL

Dowell, Frances O'Roark The Kind of Friends we Used to be, 234 p. Atheneum (Simon), 2009.


Kate and Marylin have rekindled their friendship, but they are not as close as before the troubles of last year in sixth grade. Kate is going to take up guitar and decides that scary black boots is requisite for a guitar-wielding girl. Marylin is a middle school cheerleader and desperately wants to give Kate a makeover so that she will fit in better. Both girls work on their friendship, but they also find unlikely allies and unknown strength.

I did not read The Secret Language of Girls, the prequel to this title, but by the end of this bookI wanted more - I wanted to read the next book right away - and I don't even know if there will be a next book!

Cindy - Library Teacher

Bogus to Bubbly by Scott Westerfeld - ESSENTIAL

Westerfeld, Scott Bogus to Bubbly: an insider's guide to the world of Uglies, 195 p. Simon Pulse, 2009.

Content: G


Westerfeld has woven together the background information of the Uglies World - in a totally bubbly way. And it's packaged in a softcover, so it's an easy purchase.

Cindy - Library Teacher.

Raven by Allison Van Diepen - ADVISABLE

Van Diepen, Allison Raven, 279 p. Simon, 2009.

Language: R (50 swears, 4 "f"); Sexual Content: G (one innuendo); Violence: PG


Nicole is fascinated with Zin - slightly older and a hip-hop genius. When she begins her job at Evermore, the same under-age night club that Zin works at, the owner, Carlo, keeps calling her Raven. But Nicole is obsessed with Zin and break-dancing. Then Nic finds out a depp secret that Zin has been keeping - but he's not the only one he's protecting. Nicole/Raven will change her world and Zin's world forever.

This is not a book about vampires - instead it addresses an entirely different creature of the night. If it weren't for the language, it would be a great book for all of your middle school vampire lovers. Leave this one for the high school instead.

Cindy - Library Teacher.

Shadowed Summer by Saundra Mitchell - ADVISABLE

Mitchell, Saundra Shadowed Summer, 183 p. Delacorte (Random), 2009.

Content: G


Iris wants something different to happen this summer - she's tired of hot, sticky, boring. While she and her best friend are messing around in the graveyard, Iris hears a voice. Over time she begins to think that she's hearing from Elijah - a teenager who disappeared many years earlier. But if so, Elijah is very angry and has a bone to pick with Iris and her family.

Though it has lots of tension and quite a bit of danger, its portrayed without gratuity. I hope Mitchell has as many books in her head as Mary Downing Hahn or Betty Ren Wright.

Cindy - Library Teacher.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains by Laurel Snyder - ADVISABLE

Snyder, Laurel Up and Down the Scratchy Mountains; 240 pages; Random House; 2008;



This is a very cute and happy tale of a milkmaid who sets off to find the truth about her mother and where she came from. Her friend, Prince Wynston, thinking she is in trouble sets off to find her. On their adventure they run into a very organized village, a man stuck in a soup pot, and much more.

This is a fun and humorous story that I enjoyed very much.

Student Reviewer: RS

Kissing Booth by Lexie Hill - ADVISABLE

Hill, Lexie Kissing Booth, 272 p. Point (Scholastic), 2009. 

Content: G. 


Lisi and her friends may not be at the top of the high school pecking order, but they are determined to win the grand prize for the most successful booth at the annual carnival by having a kissing booth (cheek only, please!). Lisi, never-been-kissed, is determined to have her first kiss be from her secret crush, but keeping secrets may tear the friends apart. 

Since the book is coming out in paperback, its well worth the $8.99 asking price. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.
Hill, Lexie Kissing Booth, 272 p. Point (Scholastic), 2009. Content: G. Lisi and her friends may not be at the top of the high school pecking order, but they are determined to win the grand prize for the most successful booth at the annual carnival by having a kissing booth (cheek only, please!). Lisi, never-been-kissed, is determined to have her first kiss be from her secret crush, but keeping secrets may tear the friends apart. Since the book is coming out in paperback, its well worth the $8.99 asking price. MS, HS - ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Ender in Exile by Orson Scott Card - ESSENTIAL

Card, Orson Scott Ender in Exile, 369 p. TOR, 2008. 

 Content: G


Ender will never be allowed to come back to earth, even if he's not ready to acknowledge it yet. Instead, he and his sister, Valentine, will move about the stars, searching for a place to be at peace. 

Taking a couple of chapters from the original Ender's Game, Card fleshes out a deeper story, weaving in familiar bits from both the Ender and Bean series. Now it looks like there will be three story line branches on the Ender tree. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Vibes by Amy Kathleen Ryan - NO

Ryan, Amy Kathleen Vibes, 249 p. 

Language: R (60+, 1 "f") Sexual Content: PG

Kristi doesn't know what to say when she hears a boy look at her and say "sick". Of course, no one knows that Kristi can hear thoughts, so they are oblivious to the fact that she knows every mean things they think about her, about each other and about themselves. Goth, fashionista (in her own mind) Kristi also needs to learn that every word you think is not necessarily what you actually mean. 

Now if Kristi didn't have a potty mouth I could recommend this to a wider audience. 

NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher.
Ryan, Amy Kathleen Vibes, 249 p. Language: R (60+, 1 "f") Sexual Content: PG; Kristi doesn't know what to say when she hears a boy look at her and say "sick". Of course, no one knows that Kristi can hear thoughts, so they are oblivious to the fact that she knows every mean things they think about her, about each other and about themselves. Goth, fashionista (in her own mind) Kristi also needs to learn that every word you think is not necessairly what you actually mean. Now if Kristi didn't have a potty mouth I could recommend this to a wider audience. NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Outside Beauty by Cynthia Kadohata - OPTIONAL

Kadohata, Cynthia Outside Beauty, 265 p.

Content: PG.


Helen Kimura has four daughters from four different men from all over the country. She has taught the girls that what is on the outside is the most important thing. Then Helen gets in an accident and the girls are sent to live with their various fathers while she recuperates. The girls are determined to pull their family back together, even if it means defying five grownups to get what they want.

I wasn't particularly enthralled by the girls' story.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

The Kingdom on the Waves by M.T. Anderson - OPTIONAL

Anderson, M.T. The Kingdom on the Waves: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 2 pgs. 561 Candlewick

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


The second volume by M.T. Anderson of his series The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation continues the tale of Octavian Nothing, a young black man raised as an experiment and now a fugitive slave in the company of Dr. Trefusis. The unlikely pair is destitute as they stumble into British occupied Boston. In a shocking proclamation The Right Honorable Earl of Dunmore with approval of the Crown offers freedom to any slave or indentured person who will join the British troops in a newly created Ethiopian regiment. Octavian, along with many others seizes this opportunity for freedom. However, the ‘freedom’ they receive is not what they hoped.

These novels are not for the casual reader. They are written in period language and are very long winded. However, they are exceptionally well written and tell the tale of the American Revolution from a unique perspective. The audiobook is highly recommended. Winner of the 2009 Michael L. Printz Honor Award.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Identical by Ellen Hopkins - OPTIONAL

Hopkins, Ellen Identical pgs. 565 Margaret K. McElderry

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


Two sisters
Who are
Identical in every physical feature
Need each other but a
Secret gets in the way

Kaeleigh and Reanne shared identical DNA. They can see their sister and themselves when they look in the mirror. Both parents are engulfed by their work. Mom is a political candidate always on the campaign trail even if she comes home. Dad is a district court judge with an unhealthy love for Kaeleigh while ignoring Reanne. Readers come to know these two girls through alternating poetry. There is a secret that looms over Reanne and Kaeleigh that when revealed will shock readers. This is an engaging read that will hold onto the reader and take them for a ride to the dramatic end.

Ellen Hopkins stories are known for their grit and edginess. This story is no exception. The ‘f’ word is frequently used along with several other swears. Incest and sex are also present and play a major role in the story line. While Hopkins has a large fan base of teens, I would let the Public Library get this one due to the graphic nature of Hopkins’ writing.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

First Kiss (Then Tell) edited by Cylin Busby - ADVISABLE

Busby, Cylin First Kiss (Then Tell) pgs. 224 Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

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


Do you remember your first kiss? Has it happened yet? Twenty popular teen authors share their first kiss experiences, from the most awful to the dreamiest. A wonderful collection of short stories about an important event in the life of a teenager told by authors who write what teens read. There is no sex described, but there are many descriptions of French kisses and a boy-boy kiss. This is a great quick read.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Friday, March 20, 2009

Facts of Life Stories by Gary Soto - OPTIONAL

Soto, Gary Facts of Life Stories, 176 pgs. Hartcourt, 2008.

Language - PG, Sexual Content - PG; Violence -PG


In this collection of stories, we are introduced to a number of Latino tweens and teens taking their first steps into adulthood. From dealing with the divorce of one’s parents to facing prejudice, these characters have their values tested.

While I appreciated the focus on young Latino characters, I felt the stories were awkward and incomplete.

Jennifer Rodriguez - YA Librarian

Secret Keeper by Mitali Perkins - ADVISABLE

Perkins, Mitali Secret Keeper, 225 pgs. Delacorte Press, 2009.

Language - PG; Mature Content – PG-13; Violence - PG


When Asha’s father leaves them in India to look for work in New York City, her life is forever changed. Asha tries to keep her promise to her father that she would take care of her sister and mother, but she feels her own spirit being crushed. This is a wonderfully written book that explores the difficulties of balancing one’s culture, family, and personal needs. I personally felt the ending fell short, but I believe most teens will appreciate the intent.

Jennifer Rodriguez - YA Librarian

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Demon Queen by Richard Lewis - ADVISABLE

Lewis, Richard Demon Queen, 226 p.


Jesse has been bounced around foster homes all his life; now he is living in a small Midwestern town and not doing a great job of fitting in. Life doesn't get better when Honor shows up in town. Honor seems to be bad luck and way into voodoo type stuff, which Jesse wants nothing to do with. He already has too many troubles of his own.

I actually avoided reading this one, not wanting to get too demony of a book right now and I was pleasantly surprised. I was totally blind side by the identity of the bad guy and the demony parts are mild, but well done.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Big FAT Manifesto by Susan Vaught - ESSENTIAL

Vaught, Susan Big FAT Manifesto pgs. 336 Bloomsbury USA Children's Books

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


Jaime D. Carcaterra is a new strong and vibrant voice in fiction written for Teens. Jaime is a talented senior at Garwood High School. She is Feature Editor for the school’s newspaper, The Wire. She has a boyfriend on the football team, is cast as the villain witch in the school musical, and loves to spend time with her girlfriends. Sounds like a pretty typical teenager right? There is just one more thing . . .she is fat. . . like 300+lbs. Jamie desperately wants to go to college but may not be able to afford the tuition, so she intends to “write the best Fat Girl feature series ever, expose the politics and social injustices of being a fat female in today’s world” The series will be entered in the National Feature Award contest. If she wins first place her funding for college will be in the bag. What Jaime didn’t count on was her ‘big’ boyfriend getting gastric bypass surgery. Jaime’s world begins to turn upside down as she tries to support him in this decision.

Susan Vaught has given a voice to an ever increasing group of teens and the trouble/ridicule they face. The tally of swears in this novel is low. There are a few deity curse words but there are no f’s. The violence rating is for the discussion of the Gastric Bypass surgical procedure.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

The Cabinet of Wonders by Marie Rutkoski - ADVISABLE

Rutskoski, Marie The Cabinet of Wonders pgs. 224 Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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


Petra, the heroine of this tale, is horrified when her father returns home missing his eyes! Her father has the ability to move metal with his mind. Petra discovers that the Prince has stolen her father’s eyes, placed an enchantment on them and wears them. Petra is determined to journey to the castle and reclaim her father’s eyes if she can. Accompanied by her ‘pet’ tin spider and a friend named Neel, who has his own special powers, Petra journeys to the castle and is not prepared for what she discovers and the wonders the Prince’s cabinet holds.

In her debut novel, Marie Rutkoski has brought to readers a story full of bravery, adventure, and love. This book is a wonderful fantasy with unique characters that readers latch on to immediately. However, it does suffer from an unfortunate cover, so it may be a hard sell. Consider reading a portion of this story out loud to get them hooked.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

The Declaration by Gemma Malley - ESSENTIAL

Malley, Gemma The Declaration, 300 p. Bloomsbury, 2007.


In a future world, people can live forever and children have been declared illegal, unless you opt out of immortality. Surplus Anna has been raised in a Surplus home for as long as she can remember. Her goal is to do what she is told and graduate to a job working for a Legal. Then Peter arrives - calling her Anna Covey and telling her that he knows her parents. But surpluses can't have parents who love them - otherwise they wouldn't be surplus. Now Anna is questioning everything she ever learned about her place in the world.

Read the sequel to this book first and didn't lose anything for the experience. Malley has added a great book to future fiction genre, with a great dig at our perpetual search for eternal youth.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.