Friday, October 30, 2009

Out of the Blue by S.L. ROttman

Rottman, S.L. Out of the Blue, 297 p. Peachtree, 2009. $16.95. Language: PG-13 (25+ swears, no ‘f’), Violence: PG (lightly describe physical and emotional abuse), FYI - some drinking and pot smoking are included. Stuart, 15, is a little bit tired of the military life. His mom is now the commander of an entire base, but his older brother is off to college and his dad is using the ill-health of Stuart’s grandmother to take a break from his family. In reaction, Stuart has decided to make some stupid, reckless choices, even if those choices are in defense of a little boy who lives across the street. I learned a lot of things about military life that, as a civilian, I never really understood. Rottman writes really great problem fiction with boys as the main characters and everyone of his books is worth having in your library. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Alice in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll

Carroll, Lewis Alice in Wonderland, illustrated by Rodney Matthews. 92 p. (Does NOT include Through The Looking Glass). Templar (Candlewick, 2009. $24.99. Matthews has added beautiful full-color illustrations and many quirky black and white pictures to this edition of the first half of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. The full-color illustrations are a treat to gaze on and the book comes in a sturdy slipcase with embedded jewels. I just wish it was both halves of the story. I think right now I prefer Alison Joy’s illustrated version as a gift for adults and Helen Oxenbury’s for a child. OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Strange Case of the Missing Sheep by Mircea Catusanu

Catusanu, Mircea The Strange Case of the Missing Sheep.Viking (Penguin), 2009. $16.99. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK. Wolf lived in the Dark Forest and he needed some sheep. Luckily the sheep in nearby Happy Valley were easily susceptible to a little enticement and now it is up to Super Sheep Dog Doug to get to the bottom of this story. As far as I can tell, this is Ms. Catusanu’s first picture book – both as an author or as an illustrator – and I can’t wait to see more from her. Her sly humor and clever drawings are a perfect mix for a young child to enjoy hearing and a parent or other adult to enjoy reading to them. This would be especially good fter reading the traditional tale of the Big Bad Wolf or any of the parodies. EL – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Thanksgiving Rules by Laurie Friedman

Friedman, Laurie Thanksgiving Rules, illustrated by Teresa Murfin. Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2009. $16.95. PICTURE BOOK. Percy Isaac Gifford has a plan – a plan for the most important things about Thanksgiving – eating as much as inhumanly possible! But his rules don’t just apply to eating the food, but also doing what you can to smooth the way to eating as early as possible by being polite, kind and helpful before AND after the meal. Percy is pretty cute and does have some goof tips on being polite, trying everythin in front of you and having a great time with the relatives. It might be a good read aloud to talk about manners for the upcoming holiday. EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Extraordinary Mark Twain by Barbara Kerley

Kerley, Barbara The Extraordinary Mark Twain, illustrated by Edwin Fotheringham. Scholastic Press, January 2010. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK. Using actual excerpt from a biography that Mark Twain’s 13-year-old daughter wrote about the famous man, Kerley presents a picture book biography that goes well beyond what is typically known about Twain and gives us good insight into how to write a good bio, too. Did you know that Mark Twain had a family? I am not sure how I missed that (or forgot) information through the years. It’s a good mix of personal information about the man and lots about Susy and the 130 pages she ended up writing about her papa. Buy this for your favorite English teacher, along with a copy of Twain’s autobiography, which contains some of Twain’s favorite passages from Susy’s writings. MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Hot Rod Hamster by by Cynthia Lord

Lord, Cynthia Hot Rod Hamster, illustrated by Derek Anderson. Scholastic Press, 2010. PICTURE BOOK. $16.99. When Hamster sees the Hot Rod race notice, he wants to join, but must make several choices before he has a car worthy of the race. There is an odd mix between rhyming text and balloon talk in this picture book. While I like the idea of a small child being able to make choices about what Hamster should put on his hot rod, the rhyming text feels like an odd addition, and it doesn’t really flow. The illustrations really save the day and a car-crazy boy will enjoy even just looking. EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Please Write Back by Jennifer E. Morris

Morris, Jennifer E. Please Write Back. Cartwheel Books (Scholastic), 2010. EARLY READER. $3.99. Alfie, a little alligator, has written a letter to his grandmother and is anxiously awaiting her answer. Sure to spur a flurry of writing activity between grandparents and grandchildren, this is a very cute beginning reader book. EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Secret Shofar of Barcelona by Jacqueline Greene

Greene, Jacqueline Dembar The Secret Shofar of Barcelona, illustrated by Doug Chayka. Kar-Ben (Lerner), 2009. $7.95. PICTURE BOOK. At the height of the Spanish Inquisition, a young boy has the courage to blow the shofar, a Jewish instrument, during his father’s concert in secret celebration of Rosh Hashanah. Loosely based on a legend told by Spain’s conversos, Jews who pretended to be Catholics, this is none-the-less a good tale about the courage and ingenuity that the Jews used to keep their religion in defiance of Spain’s terrible laws. It would be good for a Jewish family to own, but also for a class learning about Jewish history or holidays. EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Copy Cat Covers

SO - I rarely make any non-review related posts on my blog, but I was so incensed by something I saw yesterday that I can't contain myself.

I was at Costco and saw what I thought originally were a big pile of Twilight books - pretty typical for Costco. BUT when I got closer, I saw that the books were actually reprinted classics and that they were from HarperCollins. Black covers, red and white accents - hmmm. Did Harper's design department have a brain cramp and decided that instead of being original they would just rip off Little and Brown? That is pretty lame, I think.

If you really want new copies of these particular books - look at the new covers that Penguin has put on them (one pictured here). At least these show creativity and thought - and they are utterly cool!

My advice - boycott the HarperCollins reprints - buy any other copy by and other publisher and let Harper know that you won't put up with their lack of creativity!

Archenemy by Frank Beddor - ESSENTIAL

Beddor, Frank Archenemy, 370 p. Dial (Penguin), 2009. $17.99.

Violence: PG (battle scenes).

Though Alyss and the Wonderlandes think that Redd and Arch have been sent packing after the defeat of their plan to destroy the Heart Crystal, neither enemy is actually down for the count. Both of Wonderland’s enemies have dastardly plans for the country – plans that will send Alyss back to her London home, maybe forever. Dodge, Hatter, Molly and a host of other characters will have to rally all of their courage if they have even the slightest chance of saving Wonderland and Alyss.

You can so tell that Beddor has movies in his background, but Archenemy reads like a wonderfully scripted film. The characters, settings and everything else are easy to imagine and the action works well from scene to scene. Make sure you have enough copies of this one on hand.


Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Clock Struck One by Trudy Harris

Harris, Trudy The Clock Struck One, illustrated by Carrie Hartman. Millbrook (Lerner), 2009. PICTURE BOOK. $16.95.

Harris takes a short little Mother Goose rhyme and turns it into a full-length poem full of fun, danger and adventure. A great rea aloud for a young class or at home or at the library for story time.

EL (K-3) – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Steel Pan Man of Harlem. by Colin Bootman

Bootman, Colin The Steel Pan Man of Harlem. Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2009. $16.95. PICTURE BOOK. The Pied Piper of Hamelin has been transplanted to mid-1900’s Harlem, New York in this version that has a Caribbean steel drum instead of a flute as its instrument. Bootman has written this book in honor of his Trinidadian heritage, his steel pan uncles and the vibrant culture of Harlem. Any teacher could read the original version of they Pied Piper story, but then make sure you follow it up with this modern twist. EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Druscilla’s Halloween by Sally M. Walker

Walker, Sally M. Druscilla’s Halloween, illustrated by Lee White. Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2009. Druscilla wants to sneak along with the other witches on tiptoe to scare th little kiddies, but her creaky knees make that almost impossible. Hopefully, she tries a few different ways to get around silently, until she happens upon the most perfect conveyance for a tricky witch. I had no idea that this clever little book was an origins story! Every Halloween collection will greatly benefit by this addition! EL – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Kisses on the Wind by Lisa Moser

Moser, Lisa Kisses on the Wind, illustrated by Kathryn Brown. Candlewick, 2009. $15.99. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK. As her parents pack for their wagon journey to Oregon, a little girl despairs of missing her grandmother’s love. Together the two enjoy one last day before they must say goodbye forever. Beautiful, heart-touching, a book that any child will understand if they have to say goodbye to someone they love. EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

One Dragon’s Dream by Peter Pavey

Pavey, Peter One Dragon’s Dream: A Counting Book. Candlewick, 2009. $17.99. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK. During his dreams a succession of animals interact with the dragon until he arrives safely back home to bad again. Every page is a wealth of “I Spy”, in this odd little book about a dragon. The illustrations are colorful, complicated and highly detailed – almost too much so for how simple the text. Younger children may enjoy reading this with a parent. PARENTS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Secret World of Walter Anderson by Hester Bass

Bass, Hester The Secret World of Walter Anderson, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Candlewick, 2009. $17.99. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK. Walter Anderson was a prolific artist who spent most of his adult life living and painting on isolated islands off of the coast of New Orleans. His work is relatively unknown and much of it was lost during Hurricane Katrina. But with what is left, his deep passion for his subjects comes shining through. There seems to be a trend towards artist related picture books. If you have an art teacher who is devoted to biographical looks at artists, these books can be an inspiration and a useful classroom tool. MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

The Book That Eats People by John Perry - OPTIONAL

Perry, John The Book That Eats People, illustrated by Mark Fearing. Tricycle, 2009. $15.99. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK.

This is a bad, bad book – incorrigible, unrepentant and mad for the taste of people. No matter what anyone tries, it always manages to escape and head out on another rampage – so BEWARE! Who wasn’t fascinated by the Monster book of monsters in the Harry Potter books?

Just the idea that a book might come to life and actually take a bite out of you, I find highly amusing. Smaller childern – those old enough not to be terrified of books for life after reading this – will most likely be amused by the very thought of a people-chomping book.

EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Fairest Of All by Serena Valentino

Valentino, Serena Fairest Of All: A Tale of the Wicked Queen, 250 p. Disney Press, 2009. $15.99. Content: PG. Once upon a time, a beautiful, insecure peasant girl became the object of affection for the King, who took her to his castle, married her and made her the stepmother for his lonely little girl. Add in two odd, evil aunts, a magic mirror that contains the captured spirit of the new queen’s biggest enemy and a large dose of co-dependency and self-doubt and you have the makings of an origin tale for Snow White. The cover will attract the eye of any fan of Snow White or Disney, but the interior may disappoint those with any kind of sophisticated reading palette. I am not going to get into it much more, except to say that while I was satisfied with the end, the journey was not what I would have wished. EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

If America Were a Village by David J. SMith

Smith, David J. If America Were a Village, illustrated by Shelagh Armstrong. Kids Can Press, 2009. $18.95. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK. Pretneding that the US is a village of 100 people, the author gives as a multi-faceted look at the details of the lives and interests of its people, doing even historical and world-wide comparisons along the way. Those whoa re fans of statistics will love this American take on the author’s other book – If the World Were a Village. Geography teachers of almost any level may appreciate its information. EL, MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Possessed by Kate Cann

Cann, Kate Possessed, 327 p. Point (Scholastic), February 2010. $16.99. Language: R (70+ swears, no ‘f’). Rayne is so desperate to flee her dingy London apartment that she boyfriend – far enough to hopefully break the bonds of control they have been exerting on her. But, right away, Rayne feels oppressed and is put off by the spooky surroundings. Only when she makes a few friends in the village does she feel more at home – especially when the ultra-handsome St. John seems to be paying her special attention. But the creepiness and the mystery doesn’t seem to be going away – and more amd more it seems that St. John and her new friends may be a major part of the mystery. While Possessed is interesting, it is not without its flaws – especially for older readers who are probably better acquainted with well-crafted horror fiction already. Best in a paperback, light read. HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Nelly the Monster Sitter by Kes Gray - ADVISABLE

Gray, Kes Nelly the Monster Sitter: Grerks, Squurms and Water Greeps, 257 p. Razorbill (Penguin), 2009. $7.99.

Content: G.

Nelly has only recently started advertising her services as a monster sitter and her family doesn’t really understand the attraction. But Nelly is never more happy when she gets out to meet the new monsters in her neighborhood and town. Along the way she will have challenges and even a little danger.

There seem to be three adventures in each book – unrelated vignettes of human-monster interaction. These silly stories might bea fun read aloud action for a elementary school.


Darkwood by M.E. Breen

Breen, M.E. Darkwood, 273 p. Bloomsbury, 2009. $16.99. Language: G. Violence: PG. In a land where night falls in an instant, a young girl is trapped in the unloving home of her aunt and uncle. Annie has grown up with the stories of people disappearing overnight, but when she overhears her uncle’s terrible plans for her, she takes a risk and runs for her life. From an ancient deep, dark forest to the halls of the kingdom’s palace and down into the terrible clime of an ugly strip mine, Annie will search high and low for a safe place to be – safe monsters in human and non-human form. Annie’s world and her story are overly complicated – with hints at things that could have easily been revealed just a bit earlier and mode for a more satisfying read. But younger kids who like to be scared will probably enjoy this. EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Harvey, Alyxandra Hearts at Stake, 320 p. Walker, JANUARY 2010. $9.99. Language: R (80+ swears, no ‘f’); Violence: PG-13. Lucy’s best friend, Solange, is a vampire – and not just any vampire, but the prophesied queen of the vampires. Lucy’s parents are fine with her choice of friends, but there is danger in the vampire world. There current, self-proclaimed vampire queen is more than willing to murder Solange’s family in order to keep her throne – and she is also willing to make dirty deals to fulfill her aims. There are so many more details I could tell you about this novel, like the romances and the dangers, but I won’t give it all away. Lucy comes off as the strongest of the two friends, while Solange mostly plays damsel-in-distress. But there is lots of good vampire battling and a sweet little bit of romance. I hope that the next in the series (please tell me that this is a series) continues on this one’s strengths. HS – ESSENTIAL (note the ratings, however). Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Sir Charles Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure by Kristina Stephenson

Stephenson, Kristina. Sir Charlie Stinky Socks and the Really Big Adventure. $16.99. Egmont, 2009. Sir Charlie Stinky Socks prepares for his adventure by packing some sandwiches, bottled water, and a little something special. Riding his horse, accompanied by his cat, and watched by a wily witch, he goes into the deep dark forest. He encounters all sorts of creatures on his way to a tall tower where he finds a princess and the wily witch. Alliteration and illustrations propel this charming tale along with the four flaps adding to the fun; a great book to read aloud. Recommend this story to fans of Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Wishworks Inc. by Stephanie Tolan

Tolan, Stephanie. Wishworks Inc., illustrations by Amy June Bates. 147 pgs. Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), 2009. $15.99. Content – G. Max is a daydreamer. He likes to imagine himself on adventures with his perfect dog King, because his real life isn’t so perfect. His parents are divorced and his dad doesn’t call. He had to move to a new apartment and a new school with bullies. In one of his daydreams he enters a place called Wishworks Inc. where he is guaranteed a real wish. His wish comes true, but not in the way he planned. Yet because of his wish, Max might find real adventures and a real friend. Vibrant pencil sketches bring to life both the real and the imaginary in Max’s life. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

The Zoo i Drew by Todd H. Doodler

Doodler, Todd H. The Zoo i Drew. Random House, 2009. $14.99. An alphabet book that highlights a different animal under each letter with an illustration and a rhyme about that animal. The illustrations are large and simple with solid colors; the style works perfectly with the book. Some of the rhymes are serious and include facts about the animal, while others are silly; e.g. vultures and toupees. The author couldn’t find real animals for letters U and X, so he improvised. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

An Off Year by Claire Zulkey

Zulkey, Claire An Off Year, 213 p. Dutton (Penguin), 2009. $17.99. Language: R (90 swears, 27 ‘f’). When Cecily shows up for her freshman year of college, she makes her father turn right around and take her home. Now she’s determined to not step foot on campus and instead spend the year bemoaning her inability to make a choice about her life. Even with the help of a psychiatrist and a college advisor, Cecily may not be able to get her life off the ground. Leah, the college advisor, is probably the best character in this book – she unwilling to accept any of Cecily’s crap answers and challenges her to actually think about the choices she has made. Angie, Cecily’s brother’s girlfriend is another breath of fresh air. Cecily, on the other hand, is just a bore. Her indecision feels fake and the fact that her father just lets her sit around the house for a year irritates me no end. I don’t know is using ‘f’ is some kind of new prerequisite for books aimed at the high school market, but it doesn’t work for me. But htat is the least of this book’s problems. NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Kip Campbell’s Gift by Coleen Paratore

Paratore, Coleen Murtagh Kip Campbell’s Gift, 145 p. Simon and Schuster, 2009. Content: G. Kip Campbell doesn’t always like being in the family business – the mortuary – but more so now that he can hear the dead. Then, the mother of one of his tormentors dies and wants him to pass on a message to her son. No way! Add to that anxiety over the possibility that their family might lose their business and Kip has way too much worry for a teen. I really like Kip Campbell and I think boys would too, but the covers are way too girly. I hope when these go to paperback that they rethink the whole cover thing. EL, MS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

The Busiest Street in Town by Mara Rockliff

Rockliff, Mara. The Busiest Street in Town, illustrated by Sarah McMenemy. Alfred A. Knopf, 2009. $16.99. Agatha May Walker lives on the busiest street in town, Rushmore Boulevard. One day she tries to cross the street to visit a friend, but can’t because of the traffic. So she goes home and makes gingersnaps. She puts on her best hat, brings her cookies, and places her chair in the middle of the street. When the drivers complain she offers them a cookie. Soon everyone in the neighborhood is enjoying the street; playing games, planting flowers, playing Parcheesi, and dancing to a mariachi band. The style of the watercolor illustrations and the characters hark back to the sixties, but luckily every page is filled with bright colors. The premise is fun, but I could not get over the safety issue of playing in the street. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone by Dene Low - ADVISABLE

Low, Dene. The Entomological Tales of Augustus T. Percival: Petronella Saves Nearly Everyone, illustrated by Jen Corace, 196 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. $16.99. Language-G; Sexual Content-G; Violence-G.

Petronella’s guardian Uncle Augustus accidently swallows a beetle the day of her coming out party and suddenly has a voracious appetite for bugs. While trying to catch a moth, Uncle Augustus brings down the party tent on all of guests. When the mess is cleared two important people are missing. A ransom note comes on a butterfly’s wing. Petronella decides to solve this entomological mystery despite several bugging problems; namely, interfering aunts, a bug-devouring uncle, and turn of the century restrictions on women. Luckily, she has the help of her best friend Jane Sinclair and her handsome older brother Lord James Sinclair. Recommend this book to fans of the Enola Holmes series.

MS /HS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Friend or Fiend? with the Pain & the Great One by Judy Blume

Blume, Judy. Friend or Fiend? with the Pain & the Great One, illustrations by James Stevenson. 111 pgs. Delacorte Press, 2009. $12.99. Content – G.

The Pain (Jake) and the Great One (his older sister Abigail) are back again. Jake’s in first grade and he misreads a word in class and everyone teases him. He says “fiend” instead of “friend.” Jake decides that his friends are now fiends, especially when Justin dresses up as a fiend for Halloween. Friend or fiend is the theme that loosely ties this book of vignettes together. The story is alternately narrated by the Pain, the Great One, and their cat Fluzzy. The ink drawings perfectly illustrate the siblings’ squabbles and adventures. Recommend this series to fans of Junie B. Jones series by Barbara Park.

EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Finn Throws a Fit by David Elliot

Elliott, David. Finn Throws a Fit, illustrated by Timothy Basil Ering. Candlewick Press, 2009. $16.99. Finn usually likes peaches, but not today. Finn is throwing a fit. Finn’s fit is like thunder, lightning, floods of tears, avalanche, and even an earthquake. And then it ends and he would like some peaches, please. Finn Throws a Fit is a perfect book to read aloud and the whimsical illustrations that will draw in readers of all ages. EL- ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

Age 14 by Geert Spillebeen

Spillebeen, Geert Age 14, 210 p. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. $16.00. Violence: PG (war situations), Language: PG (4 swears). Patrick Condon is soldier crazy. He wants so badly to join the Irish Army that he assumes his older brother’s name and applies. After not too long in the regular army, World War I breaks out and Patrick lies his way into the Special Reserve and right into the trenches of Belgium. I don’t know if it’s a translation problem, but the words only flow in parts, and not enough parts. Though the descriptions of the war life around Ypres is wrenching, it is not enough to redeem this short book. Recommend Soldier X to those boys who really want to dive into war. MS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Blue Moon by Alyson Noel

Noel, Alyson Blue Moon, 289 p. St. Martin’s Griffin, 2009. $9.99. Language: PG (16 swears). Ever and Damen have broken the centuries old cycle that kept their love apart and are ready to embark on their immortal lives. Ever is having a hard time keeping her immortality secret from her aunt, but even worse, a new boy at school, Roman, threatens everything that Ever and Damen have found. When Damen starts wasting away, Ever must find her own way to Summerland and hopefully to some answers. What is this new tend in YA fiction where the girl acts like an idiot who can’t be strong without her man? I blame Bella, but she and Ever are not the only female leads who have this problem! Ever needs to seriously do some growing up. Blue Moon is nowhere near as strong as Evermore – I am holding out hope for the next book in the series. MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Goodbye Season by Marian Hale

Hale, Marian Goodbye Season, 270 p. Hnry Holt, 2009. Content: G. Mercy Kaplan wants more for herself than just slaving away her life taking care of a farm and a family. She gets a taste of independence when she is sent to work on a neighbor’s farm, but her world changes forever when the influenza of 1918 arrives and brings death to everyone she loves. To rebuild her life, Mercy makes her way to town and finds a job as the nanny for the widow Wilder, with two young children and a step-son near Mercy’s age. But the Wilder’s have secrets, dangerous secrets. Though set against the background of the 1918 influenza, the story really centers around Mercy’s life story and not so much the history. This would be a good novel to read aloud. EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Front and Center by Catherine Murdock

Murdock, Catherine Gilbert Front and Center, 256 p. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. Content: G. DJ Schwenk has gone from small-town basketball player, cum footballer, into a Division I basketball prospect. But DJ has a lot on her shoulders – the hopes of her paralyzed brother Win; the heartache of her failed romance with Brian, a rival football player; and a new romance with Beaner, a long time friend. DJ’s not sure that she’s ready for primetime and going on college visits doesn’t assuage her fears. I haven’t read the first two books in this series, but I had no problem falling in love with DJ, her family and her friends. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

School of Fear by Gitty Daneshvari

Daneshvari, Gitty School of Fear, 339 p. Little Brown, 2009. $15.99. Content: G (suspense only). Meet Madeline Masterson – deathly afraid of bugs; Theodore Bartholomew – angst ridden over the thought of his loved ones dying; Lulu Punchalower – terrified of confined spaces; and Garrison Feldman – tormented by deep water. Under the tutelage of Mrs. Wellington, the acerbic Schmidty and the mysterious Mr. Munchauser, these four are submitted to some very unorthodox methods in order to conquer their fears. I don’t want to give too much away in this wacky book. This is what Lemony Snicket fans were waiting for and they didn’t even know it. MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

A Season of Gifts by Richard Peck

Peck, Richard A Season of Gifts, 164 p. Dial (Penguin), 2009. $16.99 Sexual Content: PG (hint of unwed pregnancy).

The Branholdt’s are the new ministering family in a small town and their next door neighbor, Mrs. Dowdel, insists that she is neither a church woman nor a neighborly sort. Bob, 12 and his little sister Ruth Ann, however, find out differently, as Mrs. Dowdel shows their family compassion, fun, courage and neighborliness at the end of the 1950’s.

As always, Peck’s books inject a lot of humor into life’s lessons – it’s too bad kids don’t really pick them up on their own any more. Recommend this one to a teacher to read aloud in order to make some converts.

EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Prophecy of Sisters by Michelle Zink - ESSENTIAL

Zink, Michelle Prophecy of Sisters, 343 p. Little Brown, 2009. $17.99.

Content: G.

Two twin sisters, Lia and Alice Milthorpe, are the central figures in the ages old struggle between good and evil. Lia has only recently become aware of the prophecy, but quickly learns that her sister is her biggest enemy, and has been since before their birth. From what seems to be a mistake, their girls’ assumed birth order was reversed and so have their ordained roles – Lia is to be the Gate (the one decides whether evil shall be unleashed or not) and Alice the Guardian (the one who is supposed to keep evil at bay). With the help of a few good friends and her long time beau, Lia must resist her sister’s evil impulses and find a way to bring peace.

This book is so much better than the Hallomere series or A Great and Terrible Beauty. The deep gothic notes are hit just right and the magic is interesting without feeling forced. All of the important characters show depth of emotion and conviction. I can’t wait for the next phase to be unveiled.

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Flawed Dogs by Berkeley Breathed

Breathed, Berkeley Flawed Dogs: The Shocking Raid on Westminster, 216 p. Philomel (Penguin), 2009. $16.99. Content: G.

Sam is a rare breed of dachshund, but has no desire to be a show dog for a large slob of a woman. Instead he escapes to the arms of Heidy, an orphan, who has come to live on her uncle’s former dog breeder’s ranch. Because of the jealousies of the housekeeper’s prize poodle, Cassius, Sam ends up at the National Last Ditch Dog Depository, with a rag-tag group of dogs (and a cat), and after some adventures, seeks revenge on Cassius, with the help of the other outcasts, at the Westminster Dog Show.

Even though I am not a fan of dgos, I certainly enjoyed every minute of Sam’s adventures. Breathed has added his own illustrations – some in color – and I sincerely hope that this whole thing becomes an animated movie some day soon!

EL, MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Sharp Shot by Jack Higgins

Higgins, Jack Sharp Shot, 214 p. Putnam (penguin), 2009. $16.99. Violence: PG. John Chance is off on a mission and the twins, Rich and Jade, immediately run into trouble. A former colleague of Jack’s comes begging for help, but instead of being a good guy, he is actually a bad guy and he kidnaps Jade. Now Jade is a prisoner in a remote Middle Eastern village and Rich must help their father get her to safety. But more is at stake than just Jade’s life; nuclear weapons are some how involved and the stability of the entire region is at risk. Join the Chance family on another rollicking, non-stop adventure into the dangerous world of international espionage! Perfect for your hard-to-please boys and any lover of detective fiction. MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Ring of Fire by P.D. Baccalario

Baccalario, P.D. Ring of Fire (Century quartet #1), 291 p. Random, 2009. Content PG (5 swears, some violence). By provident chance, four young people, all born on February 29, find themselves together in a hotel in Rome on December 29th. That night, a blackout sends the children, 12, into the strets, where they encounter a man who hands them a briefcase. The next morning, they discover that the man is dead – murdered. With just the contents of the briefcase as their clues, the four must piece together a puzzle that could affect the future of the entire world. Before they are finished, they will find a connection with ancient heroes who have all traveled their same path. Students who enjoyed Chasing Vermeer will also enjoy this puzzle novel; the kids are extremely likable (I get tired of precocious tweens who are not as smart as they think they are) – and they need each other to find the answers. EL, MS – ADVISABLE.

Friday, October 16, 2009

Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School by Laura Purdie Salas

Salas, Laura Purdie. Stampede! Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School, illustrated by Steven Salerno. Clarion Books, 2009. $16.00. The poems discuss everything about school from buzzing outside the schoolyard before it starts, to the last bell ringing and the stampede out the door. The poems and imaginative illustrations are perfectly paired. The children’s features and body movements resemble the animals that their behavior is similar to (e. g. monkeys, elephants, centipede, etc.). EL-ESSENTIAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Congratulations, Miss Malarkey! by Judy Finchler and Kevin O'Malley

Finchler, Judy, & O’Malley, Kevin. Congratulations, Miss Malarkey! illustrated by Kevin O’Malley. Walker & Company, 2009. $16.99. A young boy worries that his teacher Miss Malarkey is quitting her job when she starts acting oddly. She sings in the halls and giggles with the school staff. Miss Malarkey teaches her students about different marriage customs around the world. Finally, he can’t take it anymore, he asks Miss Malarkey if she is quitting. She assures him that she isn’t quitting and that she’ll share her secret with him tomorrow. The next day Miss Malarkey has a wedding invitation for each student. Another fun installment in the Miss Malarkey series that will help students adapt to changes in their teacher’s personal lives. The illustrations are expressive and comedic. EL-ESSENTIAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

The Great Dog Wash by Shellie Braeuner

Braeuner, Shellie. The Great Dog Wash, illustrated by Robert Neubecker. Simon & Schuster, 2009. $15.99. Dogs of all sizes and breeds are all in need of a wash. Each dog must get in the tub for a bubbly scrub. Everything is going well; the dog washers are getting rid of the smell, when someone brings a cat. After the cat each dog goes, so the dog washers follow and finish the job with a hose. The Dr. Suess-like meter and rime propel the story, making this book a great read-aloud. The illustrations are a perfect match filled with color and energy. EL-ESSENTIAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Oh No! Time to Go! A Book of Goodbyes by Rebecca Doughty

Doughty, Rebecca. Oh No! Time to Go! A Book of Goodbyes. Schwartz & Wade, 2009. $15.99. A boy explains the different ways to say “hello” and “goodbye” from Grandma’s “Later, gator” to a dog’s growl. When it’s time to leave his friends and come home for dinner, he yells that he won’t go. Then he explains that the worst goodbye is when a friend moves; however, the boy realizes that although it is hard to say goodbye, there is always a new person to meet. The illustrations have a Shel Silverstein-like feel, but with color. On the moving day illustration, you can see a very small “plumber’s crack” on the moving man. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

A Cup for Everyone by Yusuke Yonezu; adapted by Kate Westerlund

Yonezu, Yusuke. A Cup for Everyone, adapted by Kate Westerlund. Penguin, 2008. $15.99. Pucca was a penguin and his father made special cups for a living, but business wasn’t very good. So he packed up his cups and went to sell them in other villages. Pucca played with his father’s clay and made figurines that looked like his friends. Then he made a figurine cup that looked like Ms. Parrot. Soon everyone in town wanted a cup that looked like them. When his father returned there was plenty of business and no need to leave again. The illustrations are colorful and appealing. Children will enjoy choosing their own special cup. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

The Grumpy Dump Truck by Brie Spangler.

Spangler, Brie. The Grumpy Dump Truck. Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), 2009. $15.99. Bertrand was a grumpy dump truck. He honked, yelled, and grumbled. One day Bertrand runs into a porcupine named Tilly who accidently pokes him with one of her quills. She tries to explain, but grouchy Bertrand won’t listen. Tilly pulls out the quill and removes several other items that had been stuck in the dump truck, like a wrench and a screwdriver. Bertrand feels better and behaves nicer. The illustrations are bright and simple and the word bubbles give it a cartoon-like feel. EL-OPTIONAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Word Builder by Ann Whitford Paul

Paul, Ann Whitford. Word Builder, illustrated by Kurt Cyrus. Simon & Schuster, 2009. $16.99. The construction of words and sentences has never so literal. A child construction worker, complete with yellow hard hat, hammers and drills letters together to form words. Once words are formed, the construction worker uses mortar to punctuate and paragraphs to frame. This clever concept is perfectly rendered with the colorful construction illustrations. EL-ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.