Book Reviews for 2010

December 30, 2010

Willow by Julia Hoban

Grades 8 and up

Seven months ago, Willow Randall’s parents had a little bit too much wine with dinner and asked Willow to drive them home. It was raining terribly, and Willow only had a learner’s permit. When she lost control of the car, her parents were killed. Now Willow lives with her older brother and his wife, and she blames herself for the accident completely. The pain of losing her parents coupled with the knowledge that she killed them is too much for her to bear on her own, too much pain – the only way she’s able to deal with it all is to cut herself.

Willow’s self-destructive secret is easy for her to keep, but when her control slips just once, a boy named Guy is there to see, and he won’t let it go. Now Willow has, in Guy’s friendship, another unlikely (for her) outlet for her grief, but she doesn’t want to use him – the emotions that come along with friendship, with connection, are ones she would rather never feel again.

Willow is a compelling, bitingly honest and tender story about acceptance, connection, and grief that will grab you by the heartstrings and tug.

Some other books about self-mutilation:

Cut by Patricia McCormick
Crosses by Shelley Stoehr
The Luckiest Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron
How I Made it to Eighteen: a Mostly True Story by Tracy White

Posted by Emily

December 27, 2010

Two Binky Adventures by Ashley Spires 

Grades 1 and up

How many of you have cats at home? Do they ever act weird? Probably not as weird as Binky.

You see, Binky is a little…. Well, let’s just say he’s a little confused. (It’s nicer to say it that way.)

But let’s start from the beginning.

Today, Binky FINALLY got a letter from the Felines of the Universe Ready for Space Travel ROCKET SHIP. (F.U.R.S.T. for short) The only problem with that is Binky has never ever been outside of the space station he calls home. Outer space just isn’t safe for ordinary cats – but Binky is not just an ordinary cat anymore. He is an officially certified Space Cat, sworn to protect his humans from alien invaders and travel the galaxy. Read about Binky’s preparations for space travel in Binky the Space Cat and the second thrilling Binky adventure, Binky to the Rescue.

Posted by Emily

December 15, 2010

In A Heartbeat by Loretta Ellsworth

Reading Level: Grades 6-8
16-year-old Eagan's triple lutz landing was only off by half an inch. For Eagan that meant the difference between life and death.

14-year-old Amelia can't skate. She can't even climb the stairs to her bedroom. Since her heart began to fail six years ago, Amelia's life has been closing down.

When Eagan missed that jump two lives, two families were changed forever. Eagan is trapped in a misty gray limbo, not sure how to move on. Amelia is rushed into heart transplant surgery and emerges with Eagan's heart. Now she feels like a different person and she's unsure how to live or even if she wants this new life.

Other stories about teens and death include:
Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin
Everafter by Amy Huntley,
Forever Changes Brendan Halpin and
Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Posted by Stephanie

December 14, 2010

The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

Reading Level: Grade 8+
Alona Dare was at the top of her high school's social pyramid. She was popular, had many friends and was dating a very cute, very popular boy. But since her unfortunate encounter with a bus, she wakes up every morning laying in the street with an unsightly tire tread across her skirt. Alona Dare is now a ghost. Nobody sees or notices ghosts.

Will Killian knew it was a mistake the moment he laughed. It was just so funny to see Alona Dare, the queen of mean, crying in the middle of the school's entryway. But now Alona and all the other ghosts that haunt the school building KNOW he can see and hear them.

Both Will and Alona need something from the other. Will needs Alona to keep the other ghosts away from him and Alona, although she never would of even TALKED to Will while she was alive, needs Wills help to get to "the other side."

Other high school ghost stories include:
Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe and
The Ghosts of Ashbury High by Jaclyn Moriarty and
The Blue Girl by Charles De Lint

Posted by Stephanie

December 09, 2010

Half Brother

Ages 12 and up

Ben is 13-years-old when his scientist parents bring home a baby chimpanzee named Zan. Ben is told that Zan is his new "baby brother" who will be raised as part of the family to see if he can acquire language. As Zan learns American Sign Language he begins to communicate and becomes a loved member of the family. But Ben's father distances himself from the "experiment subject" much as he has distanced himself from his son. A subplot revolves around Ben's status at a new school and his crush on a beautiful, popular girl. The book asks questions concerning the definition of humanity and what is humane. Ben finds there are no easy answers.

Posted by Harriet

December 08, 2010

Milo: Sticky Notes and Brain Freeze by Alan Silberberg

Reading Level: Grades 4-8

Don’t be fooled by the cartoon drawings and 7th grader Milo’s good-natured complaining. He’s got some grim stuff in his life: his family has moved yet again, his mother died, and he has a crush on a girl who doesn’t know he exists. Milo’s wry commentary on his life gradually starts to include searing memories of his mother and her death. This book is a good mix of funny and serious, just like life.

Posted by Cynthia

December 01, 2010

On the Blue Comet by Rosemary Wells

Grades 4 and up

When the stock market crashes, signaling the beginning of the Great Depression, Oscar Ogilvie, Jr. and his father lose their house – and along with it, their basement full of model trains. Oscar’s father decides to move west to look for work, and Oscar is sent to live with his unforgiving aunt.

Oscar soon finds solace in the cheerful, math-oriented Mr. Applegate, who becomes Oscar’s secret math tutor. Everything changes for Oscar again, when one night while visiting Mr. Applegate at his job as a bank night watchman. Two armed men break into the bank and Oscar narrowly escapes and is knocked out. When he comes to, he is on a train bound west for California… and it’s 1941.

In a timeless adventure that crosses both time and space, On the Blue Comet is a heart-warming story you will want to savor till the very last page. Don't miss it.

Posted by Emily

November 29, 2010

Ivy's Ever After by Dawn Lairamore

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 6

Just before her 14th birthday Ivy learns that she is to be locked in a tower where she will be guarded by a dragon until a prince comes to slay the dragon and marry her. As if this fate isn't bad enough, an devious, arrogant, dragon-slaying prince from a country of ice arrives early and Ivy knows that she will be forced to marry him, unless she does something drastic instead.

If you liked the Dealing with Dragons series (The Enchanted Forest Chronicles) you will enjoy this new book about a strong princess and her dragon friend.

Posted by Susan

November 23, 2010

Touch Blue by Cynthia Lord

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Facing the closure of their school due to lack of enrollment the residents of Bethsaida Island hatch a plan to increase the number of students by taking in foster children. 11-year-old Tess Brooks eagerly awaits the arrival of her new 13-year-old foster brother. But Aaron does not look or act like the big brother she was hoping for.

If you are interested in other novels about foster children look for:
Dream of Night by Heather Henson,
The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson,
The Pinballs by Betsy Byars,
Where I'd Like to Be by Frances O'Roark Dowell and
Returnable Girl by Pamela Lowell

Posted by Stephanie

November 22, 2010

Eyes Like Stars by Lisa Mantchev

Reading Level: Grade 8+
Beatrice Shakespeare Smith (Bertie)has been with the Théátre Illuminata ever since she was left on the doorstep as an infant. The Théátre is like no other. The Company is made up of the actual characters that fade in and out of existence as needed. Bertie is not one of the actors but they are her family and the theater her home. She loves hang out in the different departments, play tricks and defy the rules. Her entire way of life is threatened when, pushed beyond his patience by another of Bertie's outrageous pranks, the Theater Manager regretfully announces that Bertie must leave at once. Panicked, Bertie wheedles a promise from the Theater Manager. She can stay if she can find a way to contribute something valuable to the four days.

For another engrossing tale of a kid raised by magical beings try:
The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Posted by Stephanie

Aggie the Brave

Reading Level: Grades K - 2

Ben is worried and lonely when his dog, Aggie, has to spend the night at the vet. The story very effectively conveys a child's love and concern for his dog. Illustrations add a humorous touch to this tender story told in three short chapters.

Posted by Cynthia

November 17, 2010

Betti on the High Wire

Grades 4 - 6

Babo, a ten-year-old girl, lives in an abandoned circus camp with other "left over" children who have been orphaned in a war torn unnamed country. She tells the children stories of the glory days of the circus and waits for the day her parents will return to claim her. When an American couple decide that they want to adopt her, Babo is sent to the United States to live with the Buckworths. Renamed Betti, Babo resists adapting to her new life and family. She worries about the people trapped in the T.V. and how baths make you blue and raw. She learns that sodas on planes are free, but the food in the supermarket isn't. And she thought she knew English pretty well. Told in Betti's voice, her story is funny, moving, and heartbreaking.

Posted by Harriet

A Gift From Childhood: Memories of an African Boyhood by Baba Wagué Diakité

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Baba's mother sent he and his older brothers to live with their grandparents in their traditional African village to learn the ways of their people and what an education it was. Diakité's memoir of the years in his father's village is so descriptively written you will hear the drumming and feel the hot sun beating down on your shoulders.

Other exotic memoirs include:
Learning to Swim in Swaziland: A Child's Eye-View of a Southern African Country by Nila K. Leigh and
The Land I Lost by Quang Nhuong Huynh

Posted by Stephanie

Too Many Turkeys by Linda White

Illustrated by Megan Lloyd

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 9

When Fred finds a young male turkey he names it Buford and keeps it as a pet despite his wife Belle's disapproval. She changes her mind when she discovers how well her garden grows with the help of some turkey fertilizer, but then, when Belle is away, a large number of wild female turkeys discover Buford and cannot be discouraged from visiting.

Posted by Susan

Little Pink Pup by Johanna Kerby

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 9

This adorable photo essay tells the story of Pink, the runt of a litter of pigs, who was raised by a dachshund named Tink.

Posted by Susan

November 16, 2010

Three Black Swans by Caroline Cooney

Reading Level: Grade 7-10
When Missy Vianello talks her cousin Claire into posing as Missy's
long-lost identical twin, the girls set off a series of events that leads the the disclosure of deep family secrets.

Other stories of family secrets include:
Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold,
Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta,
Fake ID: A Novel by William Sorrells and
Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Posted by Stephanie

Epitaph Road by David Patneaude

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
The world of 2097 does not resemble our current world very much. There are no wars and attacks on women are almost unheard of. Thirty years ago a virulent worldwide plague wiped out 97% of the male population, man, boy and baby, in less than a week. Without men, the violence in society almost disappeared. Women decided to insure that men with all their violent ways never rule the world again. Male births are carefully regulated so that they are no more than 7% of the world's population.

The world is a better place. That's what 14-year-old Kellen has been taught. And he believes it. Who could deny the horrors of history? But an overheard conversation leads Kellen on a desperate quest, one that will change his world view forever.

Other dark dystopian tales include:
The Maze Runner by James Dashner,
The Giver by Lois Lowry,
The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer,
Among the Hidden by Margaret Haddix,
The Declaration by Gemma Malley and
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

Posted by Stephanie

November 13, 2010

Blood Ninja by Nick Lake

Reading Level: Grade 8+
Slight, with refined features Taro does not resemble the hardy village boys nor share their interests. Taro's life takes a terrifying turn when his family is attacked by ninjas. With his father dead and his mother forced into hiding, Taro must place all his trust in a rogue ninja who claims to have been hired to rescue him. Why would a simple village boy come under attack by ninjas? And why would anyone care enough to hire another ninja to ensure his safety?

Set in a medieval Japan where all ninjas are also vampires, this story explodes with action and gore.

This book is most definitely NOT for the faint of heart.

If you enjoyed this ninja tale try:
Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja by Simon Higgins

Other gory adventures include:
Raptor by Paul Zindel and
Lord Loss by Darren Shan

Posted by Stephanie

Saving Sky by Diane Stanley

Reading Level: Grade 5-8
13-year-old Sky's life changes drastically when a series of terrorist attacks leads the authorities to target all Arab-Americas.

If you enjoyed this story of ordinary people risking their safety to defy governmental injustice, try:
Number the Stars by Lois Lowry,
Jacob's Rescue by Malka Drucker and
A Special Fare: Chiune Sugihara, Hero of the Holocaust by Alison Leslie Gold

Posted by Stephanie

November 10, 2010

The Wolves of Mercy Falls Books 1 and 2 by Maggie Stiefvater

Grades 7 and up

Team Jacob, listen up – this series is for you.

When Grace was a young girl, she was attacked by a pack of wolves – and then mysteriously rescued by one of them. She never forgot him, always knew there was something different about this wolf. And boy, was she ever right. Sam is a werewolf.

Werewolves in Stiefvater’s world change along with the seasons and the temperatures – wolves by winter, humans in late spring and summer. Grace and Sam do not relish the idea of only a few months out of the year to be together, and begin to search for a cure. Told in alternating perspectives from all the characters in the book, The Wolves of Mercy Falls is a series that will linger long after you put them down.

Book three of the series, Forever is due out this summer, and I can’t wait for more of Grace and Sam’s story.

Posted by Emily

My Boyfriends' Dogs by Dandi Daley Mackall

Grades 8 and up

Bailey Daley is not your average dog owner, nor is she your average prom-goer. After her high school prom, Bailey finds herself sitting in a diner after-hours, sopping wet and recently crying, with three dogs (technically, her boyfriend's dogs) - also sopping wet (and kind of smelly). The diner owner, chef, and lone customer are just as curious about Bailey as you no doubt are, and ask her what the heck happened to her to land her in Louie of St. Louie's diner at almost midnight on the night of her senior prom - with three dogs.

So Bailey begins her story at the beginning - with Adam, the elderly, sopping wet and not really so white any more terrier - and the boyfriend that brought the terrier and the girl together.

Each major boyfriend Bailey has had in the past two years has left her with a dog, and a lesson. She imparts these lessons and her story to Louie (of Louie of St. Louie's, naturally), Rune (the angry-looking, tattooed and muscular chef) and Colt (a college-aged kid sitting in the diner when Bailey began pounding on the door for refuge) in a heart-warming, laugh-out-loud novel you won't be able to put down.

Why I picked it up: I was sorting a cart for shelving and saw it - remembered that I'd been intrigued by the review in School Library Journal about the book, and decided to take it home for the weekend. I'm glad I did, bypassing the shelf of books to read and my usual meticulously, unchangeably ordered to-read shelf. I really am incredibly, pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed this book.

Why I finished it: To be honest, I couldn't put it down. Bailey's narrative voice is believable (ok, not always perfectly believable, but enough for me) and her realizations about boys slow - just like mine were when I was her age. (Wow, am I really getting old enough to say "when I was her age"? Yikes.)

Posted by Emily

November 09, 2010

The Wager

Ages 12 and up

Napoli sets a tradional Sicilian fairytale in 1169, when Mount Etna erupted and caused a giant tidal wave. It was this wave that destroyed the fortunes of Don Giovanni, a young, handsome nobleman. His life had been one of women, entertainments, and lavish spending with no thought to other matters. After nine months of poverty, Don Giovanni is offered a wager by the devil. He is given a magic purse with unlimited resources, but in order to keep it, he must agree to not wash, change clothes, comb his hair, or shave for three years, three months, and three days. If he fails, his soul is forfeit. His view of life changes even as he degenerates to unspeakable depths.

Posted by Harriet

Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Reading Level: Grade 7-10
16-year-old Cheyenne Wilder thought she had already faced the worse life had to offer. Three years before she had been in an accident that killed her mother and left Cheyenne blind.

17-year-old Griffin couldn’t believe his luck. When he popped the lock to an Escalade to steal the packages in the back seat, the keys were in the ignition. This car was going to be worth a lot of money once it was “chopped” by his dad.

Griffin didn't notice Cheyenne who was sleeping in the back seat of that Escalade waiting for her step-mother to pick up a prescription for Cheyenne’s pneumonia.

Griffin almost crashed the car when the screams started. He hadn’t meant to kidnap a girl, but he sure can’t bring her back. So he brings her home his dad, the violent career criminal.

If you enjoyed this thrilling tale of an accidental kidnapping try:
The Kidnapping of Suzie Q by Martin Waddell

Other stories about kids dealing with visual impairment are:
Follow My Leader by James Garfield,
Beanball by Gene Fehler,
The Danger Box by Blue Balliett and
Blindsided by Priscilla Cummings

Posted by Stephanie

Blindsided by Patricia Cummings

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
14-year-old Natalie was a normal, happy kid until she was eight. That was when she started losing the outside edge of her vision. Despite many surgeries, Natalie's vision has been fading ever since. She has coped with the problem, counting steps between classrooms at school, memorizing where things are in rooms. By the end of her freshman year it is not enough. Her mother and the doctor insist she go to boarding school at the Baltimore Center for the Blind where she will learn how to live without eyesight. Natalie is angry. She isn't blind. She doesn't need "blind school" and plans to get out of there as soon as possible.

Other stories about kids dealing with visual impairment are:
Follow My Leader by James Garfield,
Beanball by Gene Fehler,
The Danger Box by Blue Balliett and
Girl, Stolen by April Henry

Posted by Stephanie

November 08, 2010

Halt's Peril by John Flanagan

Reading Level: Grade 4-7
In Book 9 of the Ranger's Apprentice series, Halt is placed in dire danger as he, Will and Horace continue their quest to track down Tennyson and his evil cult.

Posted by Stephanie

Lulu and the Brontosaurus by Judith Viorst

Reading Level: Grade 2-4
When Lulu, a little girl whose parents have always given her anything she asked for, demands a pet brontosaurus for her birthday, her indulgent parents say no! Lulu throws a twelve day screaming tantrum. When her parents still say no, Lulu runs away to the forest to catch her own brontosaurus. Things do not go as Lulu planned.

For a funny story about another young runaway try:
Three Tales of My Father's Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

Posted by Stephanie

November 05, 2010

The Fat Boy Chronicles: Inspired by a True Story by Diane Lang

Reading Level: Grade 6-9
Somewhere between fifth and ninth grades Jimmy went from chubby to fat. At 14, Jimmy stand 5'5" tall and weighs 187 pounds. He has gone from a kid with lots of friends, to someone almost no one will talk to...except to insult him. When Mrs. Pope forces all her students to keep a journal, Jimmy's public pages are filled with the innocent minutia of everyday life. But on the pages marked Please Don't Read This Page Jimmy tells the real story of his high school experience, a tale of ridicule, threats and despair.

If you want to read other tales of high school intolerance:
Staying Fat For Sarah Bynres by Chris Crutcher
Big Fat Manifesto by Susan Vaught
Fat Kid Rules the World by K.L. Going

Posted by Stephanie

The Reinvention of Moxie Roosevelt by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
When Moxie Roosevelt begins her freshman year at a boarding high school where no one knows her, she tries a number of personas. Keeping track of her different personalities is so difficult, Moxie keeps a notebook to help her remember the lies she has told to each of her classmates.

Another entertaining story of a girl who lies to her boarding school classmates is:
My Invisible Boyfriend by Susie Day

If you'd like to read a true boarding school adventure try:
Blow Out the Moon by Libby Koponen

Posted by Stephanie

Flash by Michael Cadnum

Reading Level: Grade 8+
The lives of a wounded vet, his sister, her disabled boyfriend and two inept teenage bank robbers all collide in this edgy, disturbing tale.

If you enjoyed this tense thriller try:
Inside Out by Terry Trueman and
Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Posted by Stephanie

Moonshadow: Rise of the Ninja by Simon Higgins

Reading Level: Grade 5-7
When Nanashi passes a deadly test set by the men who have raised him, he becomes Moonshadow the youngest ninja spy warrior in the secret Grey Light Order and is sent on his first dangerous mission, which may be his last.

For a list of other adventures set in medieval Japan see our review of
White Crane by Sandy Fussell

Posted by Stephanie

My Life as a Book by Janet Tashjian

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Attention Wimpy Kid lovers!
Here is another book about a hapless kid just trying to survive good intentioned adults. This book is full of goofy illustrations by the author's kid.

It is finally summer!! Derek has suffered the torture of school for nine whole months. Now it is the time for three months of no teachers and especially NO BOOKS! He plans to spend the summer goofing off with his best friend. The adults in his life have other plans. Between his teacher, who assigns him three book reports across the summer and his parents, who announce they are sending him to Learning Camp, Derek is afraid his summer is ruined before it even has a chance to begin.

If you like your books with lots of offbeat illustrations try:
How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell
Dog Years by Sally Warner
Big Nate in a Class By Himself by Lincoln Peirce and, of course,
Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal by Jeff Kinney

If you'd like another story of a hate affair with a book read:
Moxy Maxwell DOES NOT Love Stuart Little by Peggy Elizabeth Gifford

Posted by Stephanie

Heart of a Samurai by Margi Preus

Reading Level: Grade 5+
For most of the 19th century Japan was closed to all outsiders. Their own citizens were forbidden to leave Japan or have contact with foreigners...on pain of death. When a freak storm sweeps a fishing boat out to sea, the five fishermen end up stranded on a desert island far away from Japan. After many weeks, only 14-year-old Manjiro has the strength to continue the search for food and water. One day, he spots an astoundingly huge ship. He and his companions are rescued by foreign devils! Once Manjiro gets over his fear he is fascinated by life aboard a whaling vessel. When the ship reaches the Sandwich Islands (modern day Hawaii) the captain offers the boy a choice, disembark with the other four fishermen or stay on the whaling ship and sail with the captain to America.

For more information on Manjiro's amazing life read:
Shipwrecked!: The True Adventures of a Japanese Boy by Rhoda Blumberg

Other sea-faring tales include:
Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson
The Wreckers by Iain Lawrence
The Great Wide Sea by Madaline Herlong

Posted by Stephanie

October 30, 2010

No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve

Reading Level: Grade 3-6
10-year-old Ansel hasn't talked since his mother died five years before. When Ansel stopped talking, his father was furious. He beat Ansel, trying to get him to make any noise at all. Ansel never made another sound. Now his father ignores Ansel and concentrates on his other children...the ones who can bring him a profit. One day a mysterious man rides into their village. He is looking for a boy to serve him on a long journey. All of Ansel's brothers are brought out for inspection. The man, Brock, doesn't want any of them. He wants the quiet one, Ansel, the boy who cannot read, write...or talk.

Ansel soon learns why his master wanted a silent servant. A servant who cannot even inadvertently betray Brock's secret. It has to do with trickery. But Brock's trickery soon backfires landing Ansel and Brock into a terrifying fight for their lives.

For another story of a kid and a schemer try:
The Gentleman Outlaw and Me--Eli: A Story of the Old West by Mary Downing Hahn

If you enjoyed this dangerous dragon adventure try:
The Coming of Dragons by A.J. Lake

Posted by Stephanie

October 29, 2010

All Hallow's Read

Author Neil Gaiman is trying to start a new tradition. He has dubbed it "All Hallow's Read" and is asking people to give someone a scary book for Halloween.

Here are a few of the scary books we love:

The Tinderbox by Hans Christian Andersen
House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs
The Perfect Pumpkin Pie by Denys Cazet
Tenderness by Robert Cormier
I Know What You Did Last Summer by Lois Duncan
Coraline by Neil Gaiman
Wolves in the Walls by Neil Gaiman
Tailypo: A Ghost Story by Joanna Galdone
King of the Cats: A Ghost Story by Paul Galdone
In a Creepy, Creepy Place and Other Scary Stories by Judith Gorog
Kate Culhane, a Ghost Story by Michael Hague
Wait Til Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn
Esteban and the Ghost by Sibyl Hancock
The Flat Man by Rose Impey
The Witch's Face: A Mexican Tale by Eric A. Kimmel
The Ghost of Skinny Jack by Astrid Lindgren
The Witch Doll by Helen Axford Morgan
Jade Green: A Ghost Story by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
The Witch's Sister by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Are You in the House Alone? by Richard Peck
Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz
In a Dark Dark Room, and Other Scary Stories by Alvin Schwartz
Living Nightmare by Darren Shan
The Grounding of Group 6 by Julian Thompson
The Witch's Hand by Peter Utton
Heckedy Peg by Audrey Wood
Lon Po Po by Ed Young
Raptor by Paul Zindel

Posted by Susan

October 28, 2010

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

Reading Level: Grade 4-8
Jason has a problem. He can remember nothing from the moment he woke up on the Wilderness Camp bus holding hands with a girl who claims to be his girlfriend. At first Piper and Leo think their friend is putting them on. But it soon becomes apparent that Jason is totally clueless about just about everything. When a storm attacks the three of them at the Grand Canyon, Jason jumps into the canyon...and flies!

After the three of them are whisked off to Camp Half-Blood, Jason learns that he, Piper and Leo are demigods. But while Leo and Piper feel right at home, Jason is uneasy. Although he cannot deny that he is a demigod, he knows his presence at Camp Half-Blood is just wrong and dangerous.

Other mythological adventures include:
The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu,
The Reluctant God by Pamela Service,
Oh.My.Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs and
Snakehead by Ann Halam

Posted by Stephanie

October 27, 2010

Smile by RainaTelgemeier

Grades 4 and up

Getting braces stinks, there’s no doubt about it. What is even worse is tripping and falling down, thinking you’re okay with nothing broken… until you see your TWO FRONT TEETH lying there on the asphalt.

So begins Raina’s epic dental adventure.

Smile isn’t just a graphic novel about dental problems, it’s a comedy of dental errors, a coming of age story, and a great read for entering middle schoolers and middle schoolers alike.

Posted by Emily

October 25, 2010

The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
Aldwyn is running for his life. If Grimslade, the bounty hunter, catches up with him, Aldwyn can kiss all of his nine lives good-bye. Aldwyn pelts down a street he's never seen before and leaps through an open window...into a very strange pet shop. The animals are in cages, sort of. But they can open them at will. At the moment they are arguing about spells. When footsteps approach the room. The animals scamper for their cages, one pausing long enough to hiss, "Hey you, You better get back in your cage." So Aldwyn jumps into an empty cage and ends up getting chosen as a familiar for an 11-year-old apprentice wizard. Since anything is better that being killed by the bounty hunter, Aldwyn lets himself be carried off to the wizard's home in the county. There he meets other familiars, Gilbert the tree frog and Skylar the blue jay. THEY can do magic.

Aldwyn is not sure what the penalty is for impersonation a magical creature...and he sure doesn't want to find out.

If you enjoyed this magical animal adventure try:
Cat Magic by Holly Webb and
The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Inserles

Posted by Stephanie

The Danger Box by Blue Balliett

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
12-year-old Zoomy Chamberland, who is legally blind, needs his world just so and that is just the life his loving grandparents have provided. But when his alcoholic father, whom Zoomy has never met, arrives one night with a mysterious antique box, Zoomy's world changes in ways he never imagined.

If you enjoyed this story try:
Scat by Carl Hiaasen and
Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff

Posted by Stephanie

October 21, 2010

Talent Show by Dan Gutman

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
When an F4 tornado strikes Cape Bluff, Kansas the residents are ready to give up. Too many tornadoes have hit this economically depressed area. Many of the people of the town are ready to move. At the town meeting a 5th grade boy suggests the town hold a kid's talent show to raise both money and the town's spirits. As talent show fever sweeps the town all kinds of crazy and unusual acts appear each determined to win bragging rights AND a brand new Hummer!

If you enjoyed this contest chronicle try these:
Thank You, Lucky Stars by Beverly Donofrio,
A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban,
This Means War by Ellen Wittlinger,
The Million Dollar Throw by Mike Lupica and
The Potato Chip Puzzles by Eric Berlin

Posted by Stephanie

October 20, 2010

Magic Below Stairs by Caroline Stevermer

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
10-year-old Frederick is an orphan, all alone in the world with no one to care for him...or so he thinks. Although the director of the orphanage hates him, someone er, I mean something very much cares for Frederick. Billy Bly is a brownie, a tiny invisible being who can help or do great harm. When Frederick is chosen to work as a servant in a powerful wizard's household, Billy quietly follows. Once Frederik (and his companion) arrives, nothing is ever the same, not for Billy, not for the wizard and certainly not for Frederick!

Other tales of unsuspecting kids and magic include:
Conrad's Fate by Diana Wynne Jones,
The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas and
100 Cupboards by Nathan D. Wilson

Posted by Stephanie

October 18, 2010

The Poison Diaries by Maryrose Wood

Reading Level: Grade 7+
16-year-old Jessamine Luxton has spent her life shut away in a ruined abbey with her apothecary father Thomas. Although Jessamine works in many of her father's gardens, she is forbidden to ever enter the locked garden which contains poisonous plants from all over the world.

When a mysterious teen-aged boy named Weed is dumped on their doorstep, he proves to the the catalyst that will either be Jessamine's salvation or her doom.

Other dark love stories include:
Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and
Impossible by Nancy Werlin

Posted by Stephanie

October 15, 2010

The Witchy Worries of Abbie Adams by Rhonda Hayter

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
Abbie Adams has more problems than most 5th graders. Not only does she have a strict teacher who doesn't like her, chores at home and a pesky little brother; she also has magic. Magic would be great, if it didn't mean more homework, not telling your best friend what you really are and having to cover up whenever your first grade brother uses magic at school.

Abbie's life gets even more complicated when her father gives her a cute black kitten. Don't get me wrong, Abbie loves the kitten. It's just that this kitten is really a boy...a cute human boy. Really! Abbie saw him in the kitten's eyes. Soon all the witches her parents know are trying to turn her kitten back into a boy. Nothing works. Will the kitten ever be a boy again? Will Abbie ever finish her homework? Read and find out.

Other stories of modern young witches and wizards include:
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane,
Whispering to Witches by Anna Dale and
Falling In by Francess O'Roark Dowell

Posted by Stephanie

October 14, 2010

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity by Mac Barnett

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Jumping jackals!
Steve Brixton always wanted to be a detective just like his heroes Shawn and Kevin, the brothers featured in the Bailey Brothers novels. But Steve didn't mean he wanted to be plunged into danger right now!!

When Steve is captured by librarians and accused of being a detective working for the evil Mr. E, he escapes and runs for his life. Following the handy advice found in the Bailey Brothers novels, Steve and his chum Dana, race to solve the case while eluding the police, the FBI, thugs, and, worst of all, librarians

This tongue-in-cheek novel will be relished most by those who have read Hardy Boy Mysteries

If you enjoyed this whimsical romp you'll also like:
Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson
Alcatraz Versus the Evil Librarians by Brandon Sanderson and
Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

Posted by Stephanie

Dream of Night by Heather HensonReading Level: Grade 4-6
This is the tale of two lost souls, a horse and a girl.

Dream of Night was thoroughbred who had won many races. His wins ended after his injury. Dream is sold over and over again to poorer and poorer stables. He ends up with an abusive owner who locks the horse in a stall to starve. Now Dream of Night hates all humans and will attack anyone who comes near.

12-year-old Shiloh is the daughter of a weak woman who got involved with a man who abused both mother and daughter. Shiloh has been in foster care since she was five. As she was shuttled from foster home to foster home Shiloh learned to hurt the adults around her...before they hurt her.

Dream and Shiloh have one last chance. They have both been sent to Jess's farm. If it doesn't work out, Shiloh will be sent to a residential facility and Dream will be killed.

If you enjoyed this girl and horse story try:
Wild Girl by Patricia Reilly Giff,
The Best Horse Ever by Alice DeLaCroix and
The Georges and the Jewels by jane Smiley

If you are interested in other novels about foster children look for:
Pictures of Hollis Woods by Patricia Reilly Giff,
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson and
Baby by Joseph Monniger

Posted by Stephanie

October 13, 2010

Jump by Elisa Carbone

Reading Level: Grade 8+
When 16-year-old P.K. runs away after her parents decided to enroll her in a restrictive boarding school, she hooks up with a strange boy named Critter. Together they head out to Colorado to rock climb in Eldorado Canyon. P.K intends to have a summer of rock-climbing bliss before she returns home. The only problem with her plan is her companion. Unbeknown to P.K., Critter is a teen-aged escapee from a locked mental facility where he was committed for being a danger to himself and others.

If you enjoyed this tale of teens on the run try:
Skate by Michael B. Harmon,
Max the Mighty by Rodman Philbrick and
Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

For another gripping climbing adventure read:
Out of Reach by V.M. Jones

If you'd like to read another story about a teen labeled as mentally ill try:
Get Well Soon by Julie Halpern

Posted by Stephanie

My Rotten Life by David Lubar

Grades 3-5

Fifth grader Nathan Abercrombie has a few problems. Shawna Lanchester just ripped his heart out, slammed it on the floor, and stomped on it, all in front of EVERYONE at lunch. He’s picked last in gym, and all in all, school completely stinks.

Then a girl named Abigail, someone Nathan’s never even heard speak in class before, offers him a cure. Her uncle, a neurobiologist, has discovered a way to get rid of bad feelings. Figuring at this point he doesn’t have anything to lose, Nathan decides he’ll give it a try. But his overexcited friend Mookie spills the cure all over Nathan, numbing his tongue, but really not seeming to do anything else. Suddenly, Uncle Zardo’s lab is swarming with cops, and Abigail’s uncle is arrested and taken away.

Weird, right? You have no idea.

Uncle Zardo’s potion does work. Too well, in Nathan’s case. Soon he finds that not only does he not have any bad feelings.... he doesn’t have ANY feelings. And not just emotions, too What will happen to Nathan?

Posted by Emily

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Grades 3-5

It’s undeniable Dwight is a weird kid. But he becomes even weirder when he brings an origami finger puppet of Yoda to school and demands that everyone ask it advice.

But Origami Yoda is never wrong.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a casefile of the odd Yoda-related incidents put together by Tommy – who definitely believes in Yoda’s powers. What do you think? Is Origami Yoda real? Or is Dwight just definitely a weird kid?

Posted by Emily

Bruiser by Neal Shusterman

Grades 6 and up

Tennyson is angry with his twin sister, Brontë – because she’s dating a guy their school has dubbed “Most Likely to Get the Death Penalty.” Tennyson, lacrosse jock extraordinaire, takes it upon himself to threaten his sister’s new boyfriend, since she isn’t listening to his demands to call off the relationship.

When Tennyson confronts the Bruiser in the locker room, he sees something that chills his stomach. Brewster’s back is covered in bruises, scars, and cuts – as if someone has recently beaten him within an inch of his life. Brewster denies, however, that anyone has beaten him, and asks for Tennyson’s silence. The secret between the two boys turns into a friendship. But something is still amiss with Brewster, and once Tennyson and Brontë figure it out, they aren’t sure what to do next.

Told from alternating perspectives – Tennyson, Brontë, Brewster, and Cody (Brewster’s kid brother), Bruiser is a fast-paced, emotional page turner you won’t easily be able to put down.

Posted by Emily

Bulu: African Wonder Dog by Dick Houston

Grades 3-6

When Anna and Steve Tolan decided to get a puppy, a close friend told them it was a bad idea. Living in the African bush has many dangers – especially for a small puppy – but when Anna and Steve met Bulu, they knew he was different. And was he ever! Just as Anna and Steve took in and adopted Bulu, the courageous Jack Russell terrier fosters many orphaned animals –warthogs, monkeys, and elephants!

This book is not just Bulu’s story – but the story of two animal lovers and conservationists as they set up a wildlife education center in Zambia – with the help of Bulu, of course.

Bulu’s story will warm your heart as well as fill your dreams with the African bush.

Similar books you may enjoy are:

Marley: a Dog Like No Other by John Grogan
Rascal by Sterling North
It Takes a Dog to Raise a Village by Ruth Perin Stryker
Born Free: a Lioness of Two Worlds by Joy Adamson (for grades 5 and up)

Posted by Emily

October 12, 2010

Smells Like Dog by Suzanne Selfors

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
12-year-old Homer Pudding's life spins out of control when he inherits an unusual basset hound from his explorer uncle who was eaten by a carnivorous tortoise.

Other wacky mystery adventures include:
Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur : USA by Elizabeth Singer Hunter,
The Extraordinary and Unusual Adventures of Horatio Lyle by Catherine Webb and
The Name of This Book is Secret by Pseudonymous Bosch

Posted by Stephanie

Nuts by Kacy Cook

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
It all started when Nell heard a small squeak. She rushed outside and found a tiny baby squirrel lying under a tree. The mother squirrel never came to get her baby. With their parents' grudging permission Nell and her little brothers take the squirrel inside and try to raise it. They name the squirrel Samantha.

Nell surfs the web for information and discovers a site that says orphaned squirrels should be immediately turned over to a licensed wildlife rehabilitator. Nell doesn't want to lose 'Mantha. She will do anything...lie, maybe even break the law in order to keep the pet she loves.

Other enjoyable stories about kids and wildlife include:
Owls in the Family by Farley Mowat,
The White Elephant by Sid Fleischman and
Little Rascal by Sterling North

Posted by Stephanie

October 11, 2010

Rocky Road by Rose Kent

Reading Level: Grade 5-7
What mother would force her two children to move in January from San Antonio to Schenectady, New York in a car without a heater? 12-year-old Tess Dobson's mother, that's who.

Tess's mother is always full of big plans, all of which fall through and leave the little family poorer than before. Now her mother plans to buy an ice cream store in the middle of a freezing winter in upstate New York! Worse yet, the "efficiency" apartment her mother rents turns out to be in a retirement building full of old people. How can Tess possible survive her flighty mother's latest folly?

If you enjoyed this retail tale try:
Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald and
Crunch by Leslie Connor

Posted by Stephanie

October 08, 2010

Thomas and the Dragon Queen by Shutta Crum

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
Although he is very small for his age, 12-year-old Thomas longs to be a knight. Since is is tiny AND a peasant Thomas knows his dream could never come true...or so he thought.

Thomas was washing his younger brothers and sisters in a stream when, to his horror, a knight on a war horse rides into the water straight at little Isabel. Desperate to save the toddler, Thomas throws a rock which hits the horse causing it to rear and dump the knight into the water. After he pulls his sister and the stunned knight from the water, Thomas is able to gentle the panicked warhorse. Impressed by the boy's courage Sir Gerald decides to arrange for Thomas to be trained as a knight.

Thomas has his dearest desire but times are dangerous and he soon finds himself on an adventure that he may not survive.

Other knightly yarns include:
Future Knight by Tony Davis,
First Test by Tamora Pierce and
The Squire's Tale by Gerald Morris

If dragon tales are what you desire, try these draconian delights:
Dealing With Dragons by Patricia Wrede
Kenny and the Dragon by Tony Di'Terlizzi and
Gruffen by Chris D'Lacy

Posted by Stephanie

October 07, 2010

Can I Play Too? by Mo Willems

ALL ages

Just like in Watch Me Throw the Ball, Gerald and Piggie are playing with a ball. Snake comes along and wonders if he can play too. But he does not have any arms!! How are the three ever going to be able to play catch together?

Posted by Emily

Princess for Hire by Lindsey Leavitt

Reading Level: Grade 5-7
Have you ever wished for a double? Someone to do all the stuff you hate to do?

When 14-year-old Desi Bascomb answers an ad that reads "Princess for Hire", she didn't actually think anything would come of it. She is stunned when a translucent bubble appears in her bedroom complete with Meredith, an agent from the Facade Agency. Mededith explains that with just a brush of "Royal Rouge" Desi can be turned into the double of any princess in the world. Once changed Desi can live the life of a princess while the princess takes a break. All Desi has to do is sign a contract and she can begin immediately. Of course, Desi signed the contract. Why wouldn't she? What could possibly go wrong?

If you enjoyed this story try:
The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker,
The Wee Free Men by Terry Pratchett and
Witch Week by Diana Wynne Jones

Posted by Stephanie

October 06, 2010

Year of the Tiger by Alison Lloyd

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
A long, long time ago when the Great Wall was China's primary defense against barbarians, the lives of two very different boys collide with far-reaching results.

If you liked this adventure story set in the ancient world, you may also like:
I Rode a Horse of Milk White Jade
The Fire of Ares by Michael Ford and
The Wadjet Eye by Jill Rubalcaba

Posted by Stephanie

The Zombie Chasers by John Kloepfer

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
When his town is suddenly infested with zombies, Zack (and his older sister's totally obnoxious friend) must elude his zombified neighbors while trying to find a cure.

WARNING!! This book is NOT for the squeamish!.

Want to be grossed out some more? Try:
Crust and Spray: Gross Stuff in Your Eyes, Ears, Nose, and Throat by C.S. Larsen

Posted by Stephanie

October 04, 2010

Shooting Kabul by N.H. Senzai

Reading Level: Grade 4-6

During his family's clandestine escape from Afghanistan, Fadi only has one get himself and his little sister on the truck. It should have been easy, but when Mariam drops her Barbie doll just as the gun-toting Taliban arrives and the crowd trying to reach the truck panics, screaming Mariam twists out of his grip. Fadi's father hauls him onto the moving truck and Mariam is left behind.

Fadi and the rest of his family are now safe in California but each are tormented by the memory of the 6-year-old left behind. Fadi is determined to return to his homeland and rescue his little sister. He just has to find a way.

To learn more about life among the Taliban try:
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis

Posted by Stephanie

The Call by Michael Grant

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Mack MacAvoy, a timid 12-year-old boy who struggles with a whole collection of phobias, is thrust into a life and death struggle by an ancient wizard who claims Mack is the one of the Magnificent Twelve. Mack would have totally ignored the wizard except for the fact that the forces of evil ALSO think Mack has power and are out to destroy him.

If you would like to read other wild cliff-hanger adventures try:
Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan and
Chasing the Falconers by Gordon Korman

Posted by Stephanie

October 01, 2010

Little Vampire Women by Lynn Messina

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Revisit the March family in this hilarious mash-up between bloody vampires and Louisa May Alcott's classic tale Little Women. Guided by their gentle nonhuman blood drinking mother, Meg, Jo, Beth and Amy struggle to conquer their blood-thirsty urges so they too can one day become virtuous vampire women.

This book will be relished most by those who have read Little Women.

If you enjoyed this darkly humorous literary send-up try:
Pride and Prejudice and Zombies : The Classic Regency Romance -- Now with Ultraviolent Zombie Mayhem by Seth Grahame-Smith

Posted by Stephanie

The Prince of Mists by Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Across the centuries an evil presence has been granting children their heart's desire...for a price.

Max and his family have moved to a distant coastal town to escape the dangers of the war. But they soon discover the remote town is no safer than their former home when they befriend Roland, a teenager with an mysterious past.

If you enjoyed this chilling tale of evil try:
Hell Phone by William Sleator,
The Black Tatoo by Sam Enthoven and
Jinx by Meg Cabot

Posted by Stephanie

September 29, 2010

White Crane by Sandy Fussell

Reading Level: Grade 4-7
The Cockroach Ryu has a lot to prove. They are the students no other sensei would train. But Ki-Yaga, the elderly sensei of the Cockroach Ryu, chose each of his students for their special gifts. With his wisdom can Ki-Yagi actually turn one-legged Niya, one-armed Mikko, big Yoshi who refuses to fight, blind Taji and Kyoko a six-fingered girl into samurai warriors?

Other samurai adventures include:
Young samurai : The Way of the Warrior by Chris Bradford,
Blue Fingers by Cheryl Aylward Whitesel,
Sisters of the Sword by Maya Snow and
The Ghost in the Tokaido Inn by Dorothy Hoobler

Posted by Stephanie

September 23, 2010

Falling In by Francess O'Roark Dowell

Grades 3-6

Isabelle Bean has always thought that she might be a changeling, but it isn't until she falls through a closet in the school nurse's office that she realizes that her crazy thoughts might have been true.

Isabelle falls into a world straight out of a classic fairy-tale, complete with scary witch. Except the people in this world think that ISABELLE is the witch.

Similar books you may enjoy are:

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood
The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry
Drizzle by Kathleen Van Cleve
Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner (for grades 4 and up)

Posted by Emily

Too Many Fairies: A Celtic Tale retold by Margaret Read MacDonald

Illustrated by Susan Mitchell

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 10

An old woman who hates doing housework is delighted when fairies come to help her out, but she soon discovers that fairy help can be not so helpful at times.

Posted by Susan

September 22, 2010

Rush by Jonathan Friesen

Reading Level: Grade 8+
18-year-old Jake King, son of the most influential man in town, has always lived in his perfect brother's shadow. Jake cannot compete with his brother but he has found his own way of coping with life...Jake is a trill junkie. The crazier and more dangerous the stunt, the better Jake feels. Then one night Jake climbs the city water tower and inadvertently causes a horrible accident that leaves his brother's best friend seriously injured. Expelled from school and vilified by the entire town, Jake has no future, until he becomes part of a group of hotshot firefighters who rappel into the middle of dangerous wildfires. Jake's life finally has meaning. But the leader of his team is a dangerous man, a man who would rather see Jake dead.

For other tales of teenaged risk takers try:
Peak by Roland Smith,
How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman and
Inside Out by Terry Trueman

Posted by Stephanie

September 21, 2010

Forgive My Fins by Tera Lynn Childs

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Lily Sanderson has a secret. The 17-year-old high school student is not really human...she is a mermaid. When she is tricked into kissing her obnoxious neighbor Quince, Lily must race Quince back to her realm before she is stuck with him forever.

Other mermaid tales include:
Aquamarine by Alice Hoffman,
Ingo by Helen Dunmore and
Hannah by Kathryn Lasky

Posted by Stephanie

Belly Up by Stuart Gibbs

Reading Level: Grade 5-7
12-year-old Teddy Fitzroy is plunged into danger when he begins investigating the death of Henry the Hippo, the highly promoted mascot of FunJungle Zoo.

If you enjoyed this adventure set in an exotic location try:
Zoobreak by Gordon Korman,
The White Giraffe by Lauren St.John,
Jaguar by Roland Smith and
Akimbo and the Elephants by Alexander McCall Smith

Posted by Stephanie

September 16, 2010

Crogan's Vengeance by Chris Schweizer

Reading Level: Grade 7+
While taking a forbidden shortcut through an elderly neighbor's yard, Eric's companion kicks over a birdhouse and leaves Eric to take the blame prompting Eric's father to tell Eric the bloody story of one of their ancestors, Catfoot Crogan, who was forced to make many difficult decisions while serving under a vicious captain.

This is the first in the graphic novel series about the swashbuckling Crogan family.

Posted by Stephanie

Read to Tiger written by S. J. Fore and illustrated by R. W. Alley

For preschoolers and kindergartners

Reading is a really great activity… unless there is a TIGER BEHIND YOUR COUCH MAKING A WHOLE BUNCH OF NOISE! SHHHHH, TIGER! I am trying to read.

Posted by Emily

Moon Dreams written by Ruth Martin and illustrated by Olivier Latyk

Ages 4-7

Luna loves the moon, but she wonders where it goes every night while she is asleep. She tries to stay awake all night to find out, but keeps falling asleep.

Posted by Emily

The Chihuahua Chase by A.E. Cannon

Reading Level: Grade 2-4
When Teddy Krebs, the meanest boy in 4th grade, asks Addie to help him find his lost chichuahua, Addie finds there may be more to Teddy than she imagined.

Other pet mysteries include
The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler
The Mystery of Too Many Elvises by Elizabeth Levy and
Howliday Inn by James Howe

Posted by Stephanie

Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Reading Level: Grade 6-8

Scott Westerfeld surpasses himself in this tale of intersecting adventures. After his parents are assassinated, 15-year-old Prince Aleksandar is kidnapped by a loyal group of retainers intent on bringing him to safety. Aleksander must bring all his skills to bear as it becomes apparent that everything depends on his ability to pilot a powerful Cyklop Stormwalker.

15-year-old Deryn faces danger, battle and discovery as she lives a double life as a midshipman aboard the whale airship Leviathan a fabricated air cruiser made of living beings.

For other steampunk adventures see the review for Fever Crumb

Posted by Stephanie

Super Human by Michael Carroll

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
When a genetically altered virus incapacitates all adults, it is up to a disorganized group of teenage superhumans to stop a nefarious plot to conquer the world by bringing an evil superhuman from the distant past.

Other exciting super hero adventures include
The Hero Revealed by William Boniface and
The Society of Unrelenting Vigilance by Glenn Dakin

Posted by Stephanie

Chasing Orion

Grades 6-8

It is 1952 and the polio epidemic is terrifying. When 11-year-old Georgie movies to a new house she learns that the teenage girl next door is in an iron lung. Georgie befriends her and ecourages a romance between the beautiful, vivacious girl and her shy, handsome brother. They all share a love of astronomy and mythology, but Georgie's feelings begin to change when she begins to wonder just how much power the helpless girl really has.

Posted by Harriet

September 15, 2010

The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon

Grades 6 and up

Thirteen year-old Sam Childs has a lot to live up to in his house. His father, Roland Childs, is one of the most prominent faces of the Civil Rights movement in Chicago; and his brother, Steven (Stick), has just joined the Black Panthers, much to his father’s disappointment. Sam doesn’t know who to follow. At first, Sam goes to Panther breakfasts at his school because he is hungry, but after he witnesses the brutal police beating of his brother’s best friend Bucky, and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. is assassinated, Sam begins to wonder whether nonviolence is the path after all. The Rock and the River shows a side of the Civil Rights Movement that isn’t often portrayed in young adult literature – and the difficulty in Dr. King’s nonviolent belief in the necessity of turning the other cheek.

In 2008, The Rock and the River won the Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent award.

Some other fictional accounts of the Civil Rights Movement are:
One Crazy Summer
My Life with the Lincolns

Nobody Gonna Turn Me ‘Round: Stories and Songs of the Civil Rights Movement
Leon’s Story
Spies of Mississippi: the True Story of the Spy Network that Tried to Destroy the Civil Rights Movement
Freedom Walkers: the Story of the Montgomery Bus Boycott
Simeon’s Story: an Eyewitness Account of the Kidnapping of Emmett Till

Posted by Emily

September 14, 2010

The Boss Baby by Marla Frazee

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 6

When the new baby arrives, in his business suit onesie, he becomes the boss of the house, and a very demanding boss at that. This silly book is great for anyone who has ever been pushed around by a newborn.

Posted by Susan

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Elizabeth is plunged into magical adventure when she gets a job as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository.

If you enjoyed this fairy tale adventure try:
The Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley

Posted by Stephanie

The Magician of Hoad by Margaret Mahy

Reading Level: Grade 7+
Heriot Tarbas, a boy considered rather simple by his village because of his strange seizures and odd ways, is taken by the powerful Lord Glass to be trained as the King's Magician.

If you enjoyed this tale of emerging power you may also like:
Messenger by Lois Lowry,
Magic or Madness by Justine Larbalestier and
A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula Le Guin

Posted by Stephanie

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Reading Level: Grade 7+
Sophie is thrust into a life and death struggle when she is sentenced to Hecate Hall, a school for out of control magical kids.

Other tales of mysterious transformations include:
Thirsty by M.T. Anderson and
Werewolf Rising by Robin L. La Fevers

Posted by Stephanie

Big Nate in a Class By Himself by Lincoln Peirce

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Chaos reigns at Nate's middle school when he tries to make the prediction in his fortune cookie come true.

If you enjoyed comic school adventure try:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and
Dork Diaries by Rachel Renee Russwll

Posted by Stephanie

September 11, 2010

Zombiekins by Kevin Bolger

Grades 3 and up

Stanley has just made a very odd purchase. It's a a stuffed animal - part rabbit, lizard, fish, bear - with one dangling eye and two vicious-looking fangs. It's name is Zombiekins, and it comes with instructions.

But like any other fourth grade boy, Stanley has no time for instructions, and tosses them in the garbage. Everything is a-ok... until the moonlight shines on Zombiekins later that night.

Then Zombiekins wakes up. And he's hungry.

Posted by Emily

September 09, 2010

What Curiosity Kills by Helen Ellis

Reading Level: Grade 7+
Mary and Olivia Richards are sisters, adopted sisters. They are also the most grateful teenagers in the world. They both had terrible lives before the Richards adopted them. Both girls bask in the love and security they have found in their new lives. Both girls are afraid to lose this home. So when Mary begins feeling strange and develops patches of orange fur on her body both she and her sister realize they must solve the mystery and Mary's problem themselves.

Other tales of mysterious transformations include:
Thirsty by M.T. Anderson and
Werewolf Rising by Robin L. La Fevers

Posted by Stephanie

Leaving Gee's Bend by Irene Latham

Grades 4 and up

"Lu, I got to tell you, sometimes things don't make sense, no matter how hard you try to figure it. Sometimes none of the rules fit." I looked her in the eye. Now we was getting someplace! "Them are the times you got to find the courage to do what you think is best. You got to make up your own mind and see it through."
I grinned. "Just like stitching a quilt!"

Blind-in-one-eye, quilt loving Ludelphia Bennet's mother is always right about everything, but when she falls ill after the birth of baby Rose, Ludelphia worries that her Mama won't ever get well. She runs away with only a few scraps of fabric, a needle and thread, to the nearby town of Camden in hopes that Doc Nelson will come back to Gee's Bend with her and help cure her Mama. But Camden isn't at all what Ludelphia expected, and sometimes even the best planned quilts can come loose. Sometimes the fabric makes its own story.

Posted by Emily

Kakapo Rescue: Saving the World's Strangest Parrot by Sy Montgomery (text) and Nic Bishop (photographs)

Ages 8-12

When you think of a parrot, you might think of a bird with bright colors, a strong beak, a long tail, the ability to talk, and flying. You clearly haven’t met the kakapo of New Zealand, “the world’s most flightless parrot,” as famous science fiction writer Douglas Adams once wrote. Kakapos are also one of the world’s most endangered parrots – and many bird- and kakapo- lovers from all over the world are fighting to save the species. At the time of publication of this book, there were just ninety-one kakapo in the entire world. Ninety-one! A few hundred years ago, kakapo were so prevalent in New Zealand that you could walk down a trail in the forest and practically trip over them. But a combination of game hunting and foreign invaders to the mammal-less islands of New Zealand killed nearly all the kakapo off. In fact, the bird was once declared extinct, until researchers found an island with kakapo still left on it.

Kakapo are fascinating birds with a wonderful life story. In Sy Montgomery’s book Kakapo Rescue, you will learn everything there is to know about the kakapo and the workers who are fighting to save the species.

Some other good books about animal species in trouble are:
The Hive Detectives
Gray Wolf, Red Wolf
The Race to Save the Lord God Bird
Planet Zoo: One Hundred Animals We Can’t Afford to Lose

Posted by Emily

September 08, 2010

Countdown by Deborah Wiles

Grades 4-8

The year is 1962, and the words on every American’s lips are nuclear warfare.

For Franny Chapman, fear of destruction by the Russians is just one of her many fears. Why is her best friend Margie no longer acting like a best friend? Why is Uncle Otts so crazy… and is she a bad person for being embarrassed by him? Will Chris Cavas across the street ever pay attention to her as a girl? Who is Ebenezer and why does her sister Jo Ellen disappear into her room any time she gets a letter from him? Why don’t Chairman Khrushchev and President Kennedy understand that both Americans and Russians are good people who don’t deserve to be blown up?

Deborah Wiles’ documentary novel is jam-packed with stories – both true and imagined – of the Cuban Missile Crisis of 1962. Through sections of recreated speeches, photographs, music, advertisements, PSAs and more, the story of fifth grader Franny Chapman is one you won’t soon forget.

Posted by Emily

Noonie's Masterpiece by Lisa Railsback

Grades 3-5

Noonie Norton is a brilliant artist, just beginning her Purple Period after years in a Blue Period. The only problem is, she's constantly in trouble at school for her art - and she always ends up in Principal Baloney's (oops, I meant Maloney) office during art class and missing it. So she misses the announcement that her school is having an art contest!!! Now she only has TWO days to create a brilliant piece of art showing... her family?!?! But Noonie HAS no family! How is even a brilliant artist like Noonie supposed to paint her family when her mother is dead and her father is halfway across the world?

Posted by Emily

Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings

Grades 3-5

Everyone has asked for a dog at least once in their life. But no one's parents have EVER said no as forcefully or meaningfully as Rufus'. His dad hates dogs, and has an endless list of reasons why Rufus just can't have one.

But Rufus' mother has other plans. She buys her son a pet… just NOT the one he wanted. Instead, Rufus gets mohawked, ginger colored Fido... the guinea pig.

Guinea Dog is a hilarious book for anyone who has ever wanted a dog (or a guinea pig).

Posted by Emily

The Faceless Ones by Derek Landy

Grades 5 and up

Last time we saw Skulduggery and Valkyrie Cain, they'd just finished saving the world (again, just barely, by the skin of their teeth.) You'd think they'd be done saving it from evil mages and sorcerers and Grotesqueries by now, wouldn't you?


Oh, well good.

Because they're needed again. And this time... the skin of their teeth might not be enough. Because when the enemy you're fighting is a group of invincible ancient gods, and you're just a fourteen year old girl and a skeleton detective, the odds aren't really in your favor.

Posted by Emily

September 07, 2010

Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Ida Mae learned to love flying from her father. Because he was black, her daddy left Louisiana and went all the way up to Chicago to earn his pilot's license. He returned with pilot's certification and a small airplane.

Ida Mae was seventeen when her father died. It took some convincing to get her mother's permission to take the pilot's test. Ida went to the Tuskegee, Alabama airfield with high hopes. Ida aced the test. Glowing with excitement, she waited for the examiner's verdict.

"You can fly, no doubt about it. But no woman's gonna get a license out of me. Go home, Miss Jones, You've failed."

Ida did not give up. She is cleaning houses and saving as much as she can to go up to Chicago to get her own pilot's license. Then Pearl Harbor is bombed and the country in plunged into war, she has to put her dreams on hold.

When she sees a flier for the W(omen) A(irforce) S(ervice) P(ilots) program, Ida grabs the chance to serve her county AND fly. Using a glue pot and an old typewriter, Ida alters her father's license and joins the WASPS. She's shipped off to Texas for training. As a WASP she faces many dangers, none greater than being a light skinned African American for white in the violent world of "Jim Crow" Texas.

Posted by Stephanie

September 04, 2010

Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter

Ages 6-9

Luis loves to read, but his wife says that he has too many books in the house. “What are we going to do, eat books with our rice?” she says. But Luis has a wonderful idea. Using his two burros, Alfa and Beto, he creates a biblioburro – a burro library – and brings books to villages all across Columbia.

This true story and its vibrant, colorful pictures will remind you how important books can be.

Posted by Emily

But I Wanted a Baby Brother! by Kate Feiffer and Diane Goode

Ages 4-8

Oliver Keaton’s mom is having a baby brother. Oliver is so excited to finally get a little brother to play with… but when his parents come home from the hospital, there’s been a HUGE misunderstanding. They brought home a baby GIRL!!!!!!!!!!

Oliver begins an exhaustive search, looking for anyone who would want to trade a baby boy for his little sister Julie. But he can’t find anyone with a baby boy for sale or trade. What is Oliver Keaton going to do?

Posted by Emily

Brontorina written by James Howe and illustrated by Randy Cecil

Ages 4-8

Brontorina Apatosaurus has a dream. She wants to be a ballerina. The only problem is… she doesn’t have the right shoes, and Madame Lucille’s studio is much too small for Brontorina. Will Brontorina’s size force her to abandon her dream?

Posted by Emily

September 02, 2010

Felix Takes the Stage by Kathryn Lasky

Ages 7-9

Felix and his family are just like a normal, every day family. That is, except for the small fact that they are deadly poisonous brown recluse spiders living in a theatre. When Felix, music loving spider that he is, sneaks onto the Maestro’s baton and is seen, the entire family has to move. This poor misunderstood bunch of spiders are some of the nicest you will ever meet – but no one, not even other spiders, will accept them. Will the Deadlies ever find a place to live where they can be happy?

Posted by Emily

September 01, 2010

Bad to the Bone by Lucy Nolan

Illustrated by Mike Reed

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4

Down Girl and Sit are back for a new adventure! Feeling ignored by their humans the two dogs decided that they need to do something BAD in order to get the attention they deserve, but being bad can be very hard when you are as well behaved as Down Girl and Sit.

Posted by Susan

August 31, 2010

The Trucker by Barbara Samuels

Reading Level: Ages 3-6

Leo, who LOVES trucks, was hoping for a certain fire truck from his mother but instead receives Lola, a cat! Lola will not be ignored and soon a relationship is forged. Humorous, colorful illustrations add to the fun.

Posted by Cynthia

Princess Posey and the First Grade Parade by Stephanie Greene

Reading Level: Ages 5-8

When Posey wears her pink tutu she becomes Princess Posey, a girl who can do anything. Unfortunately, Posey is afraid to start first grade, but when her teacher invites kids to wear their "comfortable" clothes on the first day, all things become possible.

Posted by Cynthia

August 30, 2010

White Cat by Holly Black

Grades 7 and up

The Sharpe family is full of curse workers, con artists, mobsters, thieves, and generally tricksy people. Cassel is no different, except that out of all the members of his family, he is not a worker, and wants nothing to do with the mafia. He's perfectly content attending Wallingford, a private school where he runs a betting circle and keeps to himself, his secrets buried under a handsome facade of normalcy. Cassel Sharpe has it made. But like all seemingly perfect, charming, handsome guys, Cassel has a secret. Three years ago, he stabbed his best friend Lila (his older brother's girlfriend) to death.

Everything changes when Cassel wakes up one night on the roof of a school building, seemingly about to jump. He is expelled from school as a suicide risk, and has to go live in his jailed mother's house with his estranged grandfather, a death worker. Plagued with dreams about a white cat and reliving the murder of Lila far more often than he ever wanted to, Cassel begins to suspect that he is being worked. As he attempts to unravel his memories and his past, Cassel begins to find out dark truths about his family's involvement in the mafia.

White Cat is a gripping novel that you won't be easily able to put down - and if you're on a train reading, you WILL miss your stop. Trust me. I did it twice. A dark, twisting tale of magic, mobsters, con artists, and normalcy, Cassel Sharpe and his White Cat will pull you in with just a touch of the page.

Posted by Emily

The Fizzy Whiz Kid by Maiya Williams

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Television writer and producer Maiya Williams offers readers an insiders look at the world of entertainment with this lighthearted tale.

Mitch Mathis has never lived in one place for more than a year. Mitch has changed schools so often he has compiled a set of rules for new school survival the most important being, "Don't Stand Out!" Mitch soon discovers he must toss that rule out the window when they move to Hollywood, where every kid at his new school is connected to show business. In a desperate bid to fit in, Mitch tries out for a commercial and becomes the advertising face of Fizzywhiz Soda. But is instant fame really the way to gain friends?

Posted by Stephanie

August 27, 2010

The Junkyard Wonders

Grades 2 -4

This short novel is based on a period in the author's life. Patricia Polacco was a girl who was slow learning to read. When she moved to a new school she found herself once again placed in a special ed classroom with other misfits. But a very special teacher showed them that quirky, or odd, or even sick doesn't mean that you're not also brilliant and wonderful. The afterward tells what happened to each of the junkyard kids. Amazing!

Posted by Harriet

August 25, 2010

Lynn Visible by Julia DeVillers

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
Lynn Vincent has a strong sense of fashion. It just isn't the kind of fashion most kids appreciate. Her outfit on the first day of high school: navy and white plaid shirt, hot pink tutu, wide black leather belt, large hot pink bow and black fedora, garners plenty of attention...most of it negative. But when a freak accident lands one of Lynn's creations in a fashionista's salad, Lynn finds her life changing in ways she never thought possible.

If you enjoyed this look at the world of fashion you may also enjoy:
Airhead by Meg Cabot
Gorgeous by Rachel Vail and
Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne

Posted by Stephanie

My Invisible Sister by Beatrice Colin

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
10-year-old Frank has never lived in any home for more than a year because of his invisible big sister Elizabeth. Elizabeth doesn't like ANY of the places they have lived. When Elizabeth is unhappy bad things begin to happen and Frank is usually the one who gets blamed. Frank is tired of moving. This time he's not going to let Elizabeth ruin things. All he has to do is find a way to keep track of her.

Other tales of invisible kids include:
Invisible Stanley by Jeff Brown
The Unvisibles by Ian Whybrow and
The Invisible Day by Martha Jocelyn

Posted by Stephanie

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

Reading Level: Grade 7-10

Katniss Everdeen is a hero to some, a villain to others. She is not quite sure which is true. Her last defiant gesture against the Capital and the tyrannical President Snow brought about the destruction of her home district and the genocide of most of its inhabitants. Mysterious District 13 has taken in the few survivors. Now their leaders are pressuring Katniss to be the Mockingjay, the symbol of the rebellion but Katniss does not trust them or their motives. Can she be a hero to her world? Or will she plunge them all into even greater horror?

For other dark stories of the future see the reviews for:
The Roar by Emma Clayton
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness and
The Maze by James Dashner

Posted by Stephanie

August 24, 2010

The Cardturner : a Novel About a King, a Queen, and a Joker by Louis Sachar

Reading Level: Grade 7-10

Newbery Award winner Sachar scores again with this engrossing, offbeat tale of love, bridge and family secrets.

"I love you Uncle Lester. You are my favorite uncle."

Ever since he was very young, 17-year-old Alton's mother has been handing him the phone and coaching him to say those words to his blind, reclusive great-uncle. Alton doesn't really love his great-uncle. He has only met him once, but all the same he dutifully recites his mother's words...all for money. Uncle Lester may be odd, but he is RICH and Alton's mother wants that money when Uncle Lester dies.

When Uncle Alton picks Alton to be his new card turner, Alton's mother gives him this advice, "Don't screw it up." Struggling to find his footing in the world of tournament bridge, Alton inadvertently discovers love and a dark family secret.

Posted by Stephanie

August 23, 2010

Branded by Eric Walters

Reading Level: Grade 5-8
Ian finds himself caught in the middle when his school announces that all students will be required to wear a uniform.

Posted by Stephanie

August 21, 2010

Bandit's Surprise by Karan Rostoker-Gruber

Ages 4-8

Bandit has a problem – and that problem’s name is Mitzy. Ever since new kitten Mitzy came to live with Bandit and Michelle, Bandit’s always getting into trouble. Mitzy is driving him CRAZY!

Bandit’s getting OUT of here. But uh oh… are those storm clouds coming? Wait! Wait! Let him back in the house!

Posted by Emily

House of Dolls by Francesca Lia Block

Ages 8-12

Wildflower, Rockstar, and Miss Selene are all dolls living in a house belonging to Madison Blackberry. They love living there with each other and with Madison’s other dolls, their friends. But Madison is jealous of the time her grandmother devotes to the dolls – and not to her.

Posted by Emily

Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Albee

Grades 5 and up

You probably know a fair amount of world history by now, unless you slept through all your history classes. But don’t worry! If you read this book you won’t miss out on anything again – AND you’ll be able to wow your teachers with a whole slough of new facts – because really, what teacher knows about medieval toilets? Or whether or not a toga is a good thing to be wearing if you REALLY have to go to the bathroom.

Posted by Emily

Refresh Refresh by Danica Novgorodoff

Grades 8 and up

Cody, Josh, and Jordan’s fathers have all been shipped to Iraq. With no father figures in their homes, the boys start a wrestling group in one of their backyards, sneak into bars to drink, smoke, and pick up older women – but none of these ‘manly’ activities make the boys feel any closer to their father. Each boy spends a good portion of each day at their e-mail inboxes, clicking refresh over and over again, waiting to hear from their fathers.

This dramatic and painful coming of age graphic novel is not for the faint of heart.

Posted by Emily

The Firefly Letters by Margarita Engle

Grades 6 and up

Told from the perspectives of three differently oppressed women – one slave, one suffragette, and one rich girl – The Firefly Letters paints a picture of 1850s Cuban life.

A few other historical novels in verse:
Ringside 1925: Views from the Scopes Trial
Kaleidoscope Eyes
Three Rivers Rising: a Novel of the Johnstown Flood

Posted by Emily

Gimme a Call by Sarah Mlynowski

Grades 6 and up

After accidentally dropping her cell phone in the fountain at the ball, Devi can only get the phone to call one number – her own. And who answers? Fourteen year-old Devi, of course.

Unhappy with her current situation, seventeen year-old Devi barks orders at her three-years-younger self – the most important thing being NEVER to go out with Bryan. As young Devi works harder in school and tells Bryan she has another boyfriend, senior Devi watches the college acceptance letter on her bulletin board change to better and better schools.

Senior Devi has the life, ordering young Devi around and seeing the changes instantly. But young Devi’s starting to get fed up with herself. Her older self, that is. Want to find out what happens?

Just gimme a call.

Another great book about high school changes:
Fat Cat.

Posted by Emily

Mockingbird by Kathryn Erskine

Ages 10-12

Though she loves to draw, Caitlin only understands black and white. All the colors in the world just mix themselves up and become confusing. People do the same thing, never saying what they really mean, and sometimes saying more with their faces than with their words. Caitlin’s older brother Devon always helped to explain things to Caitlin when she didn’t understand them, but he was killed in a school shooting. Though overcoming the death of a brother would be difficult for anyone, it is especially different for Caitlin. She has Asperger’s syndrome and doesn’t understand a lot of her and her father’s emotions about Devon’s death. But through Devon’s unfinished Eagle Scout project, Caitlin and her father hope to gain some closure.

Other novels about Asperger’s syndrome:
The London Eye Mystery
Colder than Ice

Novels about Autism:
Al Capone Does My Shirts
Anything But Typical

Posted by Emily

Kenny and the Dragon by Tony DiTerlizzi

Grades 3-5
Perfect for a read-aloud to anyone aged 4 and up

Kenny, nose always in a book, doesn’t really have any friends except for George at the bookshop. Kenny likes it that way, but still wishes that he had maybe just one friend. One day at dinner, Kenny’s parents tell him that they’ve heard a dragon has come to town! Brave Kenny suits up in makeshift knight’s armor and scampers off, with The King’s Bestiary in tow, to meet the fearsome beast.

But what he encounters is not fearsome at all, nor is he even really scaly! Grahame (like the cracker) is the friendliest, smartest dragon Kenny has never known (not to mention the only dragon), and the two become fast friends. Even Kenny’s parents love Grahame, and invite him over for dinner often.

Everything is perfect. Until the townspeople decide to hire George to slay what they think is a dangerous dragon - Grahame! With his two best friends doomed to fight each other to the death, what is Kenny going to do?

Posted by Emily

I Dream of an Elephant by Ami Rubinger

Ages birth to preschool

I bet you thought elephants were always gray, didn’t you? Well they aren’t! Elephants are all sorts of colors, and I bet you can figure out what colors they can be when you read this book.

Posted by Emily

Shark vs. Train by Chris Barton

Ages 4-8

Oh, it’s on.

Posted by Emily

Errol and His Extraordinary Nose by David Conway

Ages 4-8

Everyone is excited for the school’s talent show, except for Errol. He HAS no talent, and everyone in his class knows it. But when dad gives him a book about elephants, Errol finds that he might have a talent to perform after all!

Posted by Emily

Swim Swim by James Proimos

Ages 4-8

Lerch the fish would really like a new friend to swim around with. But no one will talk to him. Is it something he said?

Posted by Emily

Best Friends Forever: A World War II Scrapbook by Beverly Patt

Grades 5-9

When Louise’s best friend Dottie and her family are relocated to a relocation camp, Louise vows to detail everything that happens to her in a scrapbook for Dottie so that she won’t miss out on anything. At first, Dottie’s letters to Louise are cheerful, but the longer they stay in the relocation camp, the more somber her letters become. Packed with historical information, photographs, letters and more, Louise’s scrapbook is a wonderful peek into this aspect of World War II.

Other historical fiction about relocation of Japanese-Americans in World War II:
The Lucky Baseball: My Story in a Japese-American Internment Camp
The Journal of Ben Uchida, Citizen $13559, Mirror Lake Internment Camp

Posted by Emily

Back to Bed, Ed! by Sebastien Braun

Ages 4-8

Whenever Ed gets sent to bed
He pops back out and goes to Mom and Dad’s instead.
How can they ever get Ed back to bed?

Posted by Emily

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan

Ages 4-8
Rubina’s been invited to her very first birthday party and is really excited until her mom says that she has to bring her little sister along. How will she ever get invited to a birthday party again if everyone knows that she has to bring her sister?

Posted by Emily

August 19, 2010

Three Rivers Rising A Novel of the Johnstown Flood

Ages 12 and up

This novel in verse is a Romeo - Juliet story set against the background of the 1898 Johnstown flood. While a number of the people tell their stories, the novel centers around Celestia, a young society girl who falls in love with Peter, hired help at the expensive vacation resort where she summers. High in the mountains, on club property is a lovely lake and the dam that holds the waters until the unthinkable happens.

Posted by Harriet

August 17, 2010

Revolver by Marcus Sedgwick

Reading Level: Grade 7+
While keeping vigil over his father's frozen body 14-year-old Sig comes face to face with evil when a dangerous man invades Sig's remote cabin demanding the return of a treasure.

If you enjoy this terrifying thriller you may also like:
Freaky Green Eyes by Joyce Carol Oates and
The Killer's Cousin by Nancy Werlin

Also check out our review for Nothing by Janne Teller


Posted by Stephanie

Little Blog on the Prairie

Reading Level: Grade 5-8

13-year-old Gen is furious when her mother insists she join the family at frontier history family camp where all technology from the 21st (and 20th) centuries is strictly forbidden. She is expected to hoe cornfields, wash clothes by hand, cope with killer chickens, milk the cow and use the outhouse while wearing a wool dress, pantaloons and petticoats. Worse yet, she has to share a bed with her little brother in their family's unairconditioned one room cabin! The only thing keeping Gen sane are the secret texts she is sending and receiving on her hidden cell phone.

If you enjoyed this book about a modern kid coping with historical discomfort, try:
Time for Andrew by Mary Downing Hahn and
Switching Well by Peni Griffin

Other stories of outings gone awry include:
Don't Pat the Wombatby Elizabeth Honey
Wild Timothy by Gary Blackwell and
Blind Mountain by Jane Resh Thomas

Posted by Stephanie

August 16, 2010

Sky High: The True Story of Maggie Gee by Marissa Moss

Illustrated by Carl Angel

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4

Maggie Gee always loved airplanes and she told her family members that she would be a pilot some day. Her mother told her to stop telling stories, she would never become a pilot. When World War II starts however she gets her chance to fly by joining the Women Airforce Service Pilots.

Posted by Susan

POD by Stephen Wallenfels

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

With a horrible screeching noise that only humans can hear, PODs (Pearls of Death), large round alien spacecraft, appear and cover the earth. All communication is cut off. Vehicles and their occupants are zapped and disappear, and any human who leaves the shelter of building is zapped too. Then the electricity and water stop working. Josh and his obsessive-compulsive father are trapped in their house in Prosser, Washington, although their fat old Labrador retriever can come and go as he likes. Megs, who has learned how to defend herself thanks to her mother's abusive boyfriend, finds herself trapped in the parking garage of a Los Angeles hotel which has been taken over by a gang of thugs. How can they survive with food and water running out, and more importantly, do they want to?

Posted by Susan

August 13, 2010

Candy Bomber The Story of the Berlin Airlift's "Chocolate Pilot"

Grades 4 - 6
It was 1948, World War II was over but the people of West Berlin were starving. The allies had divided up Germany. The capital city of Berlin, set far within the territory controlled by the Soviet Union, was divided into East and West Berlin. The communists cut off all ground access to the non communist East Berlin in an effort to starve those people into submission. In response the Western powers flew a heroic airlift to bring supplies to people who would not give up their freedom. But one pilot thought about the children of West Berlin and started his own kind of airlift with candy that parachuted down from the sky. The book is filled with the actual photos of Lt. Gail Halvorsen along with letters and pictures sent by grateful German children.

Posted by Harriet

August 11, 2010

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau

Reading Level: Grade 6-9
15-year-old Zeeta lives a nomadic life with her flighty mother Layla. Still reeling from their quick move from Thailand to Ecuador, Z explores the local market where she meets an Otavaleño boy who only speaks English. 15-year-old Wendall, who was adopted as a baby by an American couple, is in Ecuador to find his birth parents. Z agrees to be his translator and join him on his quest but neither realizes it will lead them both into mystery, adventure and danger.

If you enjoyed this atmospheric foreign adventure try:
Journey to the River Sea by Eva Ibbotson and
Hannah's Winter by Kierin Meehan

Posted by Stephanie

August 09, 2010

A Whole Nother Story as told by (the one and only) Dr. Cuthbert Soup

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
Dr. Soup narrates the zany adventures of Mr. Chessman and his three children as they dodge foreign spies, an evil corporation and the agents of a secret, secret branch of the government who all want Chessman's almost functioning time machine.

Fans of this wacky adventure can't resist:
The Bad Beginning by Lemony Snickett
Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson and
NERDS: National, Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley

Posted by Stephanie

Possessing Jessie by Nancy Springer

Reading Level: Grade 7+
17-year-old Jessie, who feels responsible for the death of her younger brother, cuts her hair, dresses in his clothes and affects his persona in order to gain her mother's love and attention.

Warning: This is a truly creepy tale!

Posted by Stephanie

The Eternal Kiss: 13 Vampire Tales of Blood and Desire edited by Trisha Telep

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

Thirteen short stories by different authors about vampires; some angelic, some demonic, some protective, some destructive, none of whom would be caught undead sparkling.

Posted by Susan

August 06, 2010

Boom! Or 70,000 Light Years by Mark Haddon

Reading Level: Grade 5-8

Jimbo and Charlie discover a lot more than they bargained for after they use a set of walkie-talkies to bug the teachers' lounge and overhear two of their teachers talking in an alien (out of this world) language.

For other science fiction adventures see the review for Cosmic by Frank Boyce Cottrell

Posted by Stephanie

August 05, 2010

Troll's Eye View: A Book of Villainous Tales Edited by Ellen Datlow and Terri Windling

Reading Level: Grade 3-5
There's two sides to every story. Traditional fairy tales only give the "good guys" side. In this collection the troll from The Three Billy Goats Gruff, the witch from Rapunzel, the ogre from Molly Whuppie and other misunderstood creatures all get a chance to tell their side.

If you enjoy these fractured fairy tales you may also enjoy:
The Rumpelstiltskin Problem by Vivian Vande Velde

Posted by Stephanie

August 04, 2010

Please Take Me for a Walk by Susan Gal

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

A small dog gives her human a lot of good reasons why they should go for a walk.

Posted by Susan

August 02, 2010

The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima

Reading Level: Grade 7+
15-year-old Han's life becomes even more perilous when he and his best friend Dancer take a powerful amulet from three young wizards. Meanwhile, Raisa ana 'Marianna, crown princess of the Fells makes dangerous discoveries about her country, her mother and the wizards of the realm.

If you enjoy this engrossing tales of magic and intrigue try:
Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell
The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner and
Fly By Night by Frances Hardinge

Posted by Stephanie

July 31, 2010

Wish Stealers by Tracy Trivas

Reading Level: Grade 4-6
Grffin Penshine is plunged into a desperate race against time when she inadvertently agrees to take over a curse from an evil old woman.

Other tales of troublesome curses include
Curses, Inc. by Vivian Vande Velde
The Curse of Addy McMahon by Katie Davis and
The Curse of the Blue Figurine by John Bellairs

Posted by Stephanie

July 29, 2010

Secret Saturdays by Torrey Maldonado

Reading Level: Grade 5-7
Justin is confused and upset when his easy-going friend Sean begins to cut school and bully other kids. When Justin observes Sean and Sean's mother sneaking out of their apartment building in the middle of the night, he is sure it has something to do with Sean's change in attitude.

Other tales of inner city friendships include:
Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson
Money Hungry by Sharon Flake and
Scorpions by Walter Dean Myers

Posted by Stephanie

Crunch by Leslie Connor

Reading Level: Grade 5-8

It is national catastrophe. Red flags are up on gas pumps all over America. There is no gas anywhere. Mr. Marriss, a long-distance trucker and his wife are stranded with no gas far, far from home leaving their children: 18-year-old Lil, 14-year-old Dewey, 13-year-old Vince and the 5-year-old twins Angus and Eva to fend for themselves. As the crisis deepens, Lil, Dewey and Vince struggle to keep the twins safe, the household and farm running and cope with the sudden increased demand for service at their bicycle repair shop.

Other stories of coping with the sudden loss of modern resources include:
Life as We Knew It by Susan Pfeffer
The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd and
Little Blog on the Prairie by Cathleen Davitt Bell

Other stories of kids managing on their own include;
Alan and the Animal by Isabelle Holland
Nation by Terry Pratchett
Alabama Moon by Watt Key

Posted by Stephanie

Brightly Woven by Alexandra Bracken

Reading Level: Grade 7+
16-year-old Sydelle's quiet life in a remote mountain village changes forever when a strange young wizard ends the drought and demands Sydelle as payment.

Other fantasies featuring independent girls include
Graceling by Kristin Cashore
Trickster's Choice by Tamora Pierce and
The Blue Sword by Robin McKinley

Posted by Stephanie

The Daughters by Joanna Philbin

Reading Level: Grade 6-8
14-year-old Lizzie finds it increasingly hard to deal with being the daughter of a breathtakingly beautiful supermodel. The only thing that keeps her going are her BFFs Carina, the only child of a prominent billionaire and Hudon, the daughter of a world famous pop singer.

If you enjoyed this glimpse of life among the rich and famous try:
Likely Story by David Van Etten
Introducing Vivien Leigh Reid : Daughter of the Diva by Yvonne Collins
So Super Starry by Rose Wilkins

Posted by Stephanie

July 26, 2010

The Story of Snow by Mark Cassino

Ages 4-7

Did you know that in order for a flake of snow to form, you first need a piece of dust, higher than the clouds? Is it really true that no two snowflakes are alike?

Find out in The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter’s Wonder.

Posted by Emily

My Garden by Kevin Henkes

Ages 3-7

If I had a garden I would grow books and comfy chairs and have my own outside library. I would probably have a chocolate milk fountain and a leaf-pile style mound of potato chips. In this book, you learn about one little girl’s dream garden and her mother’s real garden. What would YOUR garden be like?

Posted by Emily

Dogs by Emily Gravett

Ages 3-6

There are many many different kids of dogs to write about and love – which one is your favorite?

Posted by Emily

The Dreamer by Pamela Munoz Ryan

Ages 9-12

Young Neftali loves to collect treasures, and finds value in the smallest things. Rocks, twigs, feathers, birds’ nests, a muddy boot, pinecones, old keys – these are all items important to Neftali and his thoughts. For Neftali is a thinker, a dreamer, a writer – all activities his father disapproves of, for thinking and dreaming make one weak.

Neftali and his family go to the seaside for the summer, but it is no vacation. Every morning Neftali and his sister must swim in the powerful surf, fighting against the currents and their father’s harsh demands. When Father is satisfied that they have swum far enough out into the ocean, Neftali and Laurita are allowed back on the beach.

The Dreamer wistfully and artfully imagines the childhood of famous Chilean poet Pablo Neruda. Illustrations by Peter Sis combine with Neruda’s haunting, beautiful poetry to poignantly bring to life the dreams of young Neftali.

Posted by Emily

Living Hell by Catherine Jinks

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8

Cheney is a seventeen-year-old Shifter. He was born on a space ship traveling in search of a new planet where the thousands of human colonists on board can set up a new home. Life on the ship is easy. Crew members are awake for four years, then in hibernation for four. They have sports facilities, concert halls, school, parties, and the ship caters to the crew's every need. Everything changes when the ship runs into a strange energy field which causes it to transform into a living being; a living being who's body reacts to the humans on board as if they are a virus. A virus which must be destroyed.

Posted by Susan

How I Nicky Flynn Finally Get a Life (And a Dog) by Art Corriveau

Reading Level: Grade 4-6

It's been just three months since Nicky Flynn lost his father, beautiful suburban home, friends and school to divorce. Now he and his mother live in a one room apartment in a sketchy city neighborhood miles away from his home. Nicky doesn't even have a bed, he sleeps on the living room sofa. Life hits a new low when his mother adopts a retired guide dog and dumps it on Nicky. Now he has to put up with dog slobber and poop! What next?

If you enjoyed this tale of reluctant dog ownership try:
The Dog Days of Charlotte Hayes by Marlane Kennedy

Posted by Stephanie

July 21, 2010

Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa by Erica Silverman

Reading Level: Grades K-2

Cowgirl Kate and her chocolate and caramel colored horse Cocoa have many jobs to do around the ranch but Cocoa only has one interest...eating.

Other funny stories about people and their animal friends are

Mr. Putter and Tabby by Cynthia Rylant
Biscuit by Alyssa Capucilli and
Henry and Mudge by Cynthia Rylant

Posted by Stephanie

July 20, 2010

Born Yesterday: the Diary of a Young Journalist by James Solheim

For Pre-K – Grade 1

Usually when babies are born they immediately start drooling and crying all over the place. But the baby in this book immediately starts writing. About everything.

Posted by Emily

The Everafter by Amy Huntley

Grades 6 and up

Waking up, seventeen year old Madison Stanton finds herself in Is, somewhere she can’t really describe, but somewhere she definitely knows is the afterlife. Floating around her are objects she’s lost throughout her life – a balloon from Disney World, a hair clip, a baby rattle – that help her accept her death and move on.

Another after-death read is Elsewhere by Gabrielle Zevin.

Older readers will enjoy The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold.

Posted by Emily

Whaling Season: A Year in the Life of an Arctic Whale Scientist by Peter Lourie

Grades 4 and up

Spend a year with John Craighead George* and learn about bowhead whales and whale biology.

*son of Jean Craighead George

Posted by Emily

Bad Apple by Laura Ruby

Ages 12 and up

When Tola Riley is accused of having an illicit affair with her art teacher, she finds that no one wants to hear the real truth, least of all herself.

Posted by Emily

Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl

Grades 7 and up

Psychically linked star-crossed lovers Lena and Ethan fight against modern day small-town prejudices and their own Confederate family histories to be together in this action-packed, emotionally raw supernatural novel.

Posted by Emily

As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins

Reading Level: Grade 6-9

"Wait a minute. Was the-had the train just moved?"

With those first words the reader is plunged into a comic adventure tracing the paths of Ry, the boy who rashly left the train to make a cell phone call, Ry's grandfather who falls down a hole and comes out a different man, Ry's two dogs who set off on a search for their old home and Ry's parents who are having difficulties of their own while sailing the Caribbean.

Posted by Stephanie

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka

Reading Level: Grades 2-4

Michael K.'s first day of school is off to a crazy start when two clueless aliens (and their hamster commander) insist that Michael spearhead the SPHDZ movement to save the Earth.

EARTHLINGS!!! It is imperative! Join the movement!

Other fantastically funny adventures include:
Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson
I Was a Third Grade Science Project by Mary Jane Auch and
The Hero Revealed by William Boniface

Posted by Stephanie

Seaglass Summer by Anjali Banerjee

Reading Level: Grade 3-5

When 11-year-old Poppy convinces her parents to let her visit her Uncle Sanjay instead of joining them on a trip to visit family in India she looks forward to helping out in his veterinary clinic. But she soon discovers that dreaming of being a veterinarian and dealing with the day to day challenges of live animals are two very different things

If you enjoyed Sanjee's visit to her uncle try
Jackie's Wild Seattle by Will Hobbs

Other enjoyable stories about kids of east Indian descent include:
Blue Jasmine by Kashmira Sheth
Meow Means Mischief by Ann Whitehead Nagda

Posted by Stephanie

Alchemy and Meggy Swan by Karen Cushman

Reading Level: Grades 5-8

This tale set in Elizabethan London chronicles the adventures of a 13-year-old disabled girl. With her twisted legs and walking sticks, Meggy has been the target of superstitious hatred and fear all her life. When the father she has never met sends for her Meggy thinks her life will doesn't. Rejected by her father and vilified by most everyone she meets Meggy must draw on all her resourcefulness and courage to carve out a life for herself.

Other Elizabethan adventures include:
Isabel Taking Wings by Annie Dalton
The Shakespeare Stealer by Gary Blackwood
The Devil and His Boy by Anthony Horowitz
Shakespeare's Daughter by Peter W. Hassinger

Posted by Stephanie

July 19, 2010

Dead Is the New Black by Marlene Perez

Reading Level: Grade 7+

In this tongue-in-cheek fantasy/mystery, Daisy, the only "norm" in a family of strong psychics, decides to investigate a series of attacks by a psionic vampire.

Other supernatural tales with a humorous twist include:
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
Prom Dates From Hell by Rosemary Clement-Moore and
Zombie queen of Newbury High by Amanda Ashby

Posted by Stephanie

Cold Hands, Warm Heart

Grades 6 and up

Dani has been sick all fifteen years of her life due to a congenital heart defect. All she's wanted was a chance at a normal life, but that would mean that someone would have to die in order to donate the heart she so deperately needs. 14-year-old Amanda is an outstanding gymnast, pretty, and popular. Then there's the accident. So many lives intersect in this emotional, thought-provoking,and medically graphic story. Beside Dani, there's Tyler, Amanda's brother who first starts to learn about his sister, after her death, Milo, Dani's hospital love interest who destroyed his first liver transplant with teen drinking, Amanda's parent, Dani's mother, Wendy, the annoying 8-year-old who receives Amanda's kidney, and letters from the other recipients.

Posted by Harriet

July 16, 2010

The Naming of Tishkin Silk by Glenda Millard

Reading Level: Grade 2-4

Griffin Silk, the youngest kid in an unusual family, has to attend school for the first time instead of being home-schooled after the family loses both his mother and his baby sister.

Other stories about unique families include:
Saffy's Angel by Hilary McKay,
The Elevator Family by Douglas Evans and
Ordinary Jack by Helen Cresswell

Posted by Stephanie

The Heart is Not a Size by Beth Kephart

Reading Level: Grade 6-8

When 15-year-old Georgia talks her best friend Riley into signing up with the GoodWorks program's two week service project in the desperately poor village of Anapra, Mexico, they think the biggest change in their lives will be used toilet paper disposal. But soon after arriving, the secrets that have been festering between them roar into the open changing their friendship and the girls forever.

If you enjoyed this summer story of self-discover, check out the review for Far From Gringo Land by Edward Myers

Posted by Stephanie

July 13, 2010

Paper Daughter by Jeanette Ingold

Reading Level: Grade 7+

16-year-old Maggie Chen's world gets turned upside down when she inadvertently discovers that her reporter father, who was recently killed in an accident, has lied for years about his background.

Other engrossing tales of buried secrets include:
The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney and
Found by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Posted by Stephanie

Black Elk's Vision: A Lakota Story by S.D. Nelson

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

This biography, stunningly illustrated with paintings, line drawings and era photographs, presents the life of Black Elk, who as a boy experienced a vision that still has meaning today.

For another compelling Native American biography try:
The Life and Death of Crazy Horse by Russell Freedman

Posted by Stephanie

July 12, 2010

Purple Heart

Grades 7 and up
Matt Duffy, a young American soldier in Iraq, wakes up in the hospital with traumatic brain injury. He's awarded the Purple Heart, but Matt feels there's something wrong. He struggles to remember what happened that day the grenade exploded. Purple Heart is a compelling portrait of life in a war zone.

Posted by Harriet

July 08, 2010

Cosmic by Frank Cottrell Boyce

Reading Level: Grades 5-7

With his six foot height and facial hair, 12-year-old Liam Digby is often mistaken for an adult. Life gets very interesting when Liam and his classmate Florida begin posing as father and daughter, embarking on adventures of increasing danger.

Other science fiction adventures include:
Stuck on Earth by David Klass
Living Hell by Catherine Jinks
Space Race by Sylvia Waugh and
The True Meaning of Smekday by Adam Rex

Posted by Stephanie

July 07, 2010

Turtle in Paradise by Jennifer L. Holm

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

When her mother gets a new housekeeping job for a woman who does not like children, 11-year-old Turtle and her cat are sent from New Jersey to live with her Aunt Minnie in Key West, Florida. Aunt Minnie, who already has three boys of her own, is NOT happy to find her sister's child on her doorstep. Turtle can understand that because Turtle is not happy to be there. Key West is hot, the people are poor and her cousins are a pain. Turtle hopes her stay will be very, very short.

Other entertaining family stories from long-ago include:
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly and
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Tate

Posted by Stephanie

July 06, 2010

Sports Camp by Rich Wallace

Reading Level: Grades 4-6
As the youngest kid at a highly competitive sports camp, 11-year-old Riley discovers that succeeding at camp is a lot harder than he anticipated.

If you enjoyed this sports camp story try:
Summer Ball by Mike Lupica

Posted by Stephanie

Purple Heart by Patricia McCormick

Reading Level: Grades 7+
When Private Matt Duffy wakes up in an army hospital in Iraq, he is told he is lucky…lucky to be alive, lucky to be able to move, lucky to be honored with a medal. Matt doesn’t feel lucky. The impact from the explosion gave him a TBI, something like a concussion but much worse. Matt has problems with coordination; he has mood swings and gets frustrated easily…sometimes he even cries for no reason. Matt NEVER used to cry in front of people. He has trouble remembering certain words too, or things the doctors just told him. He especially can’t remember what happened that day he got wounded. How did he get hurt? Why were he and Justin alone in that alley? Why do disturbing images of Ali, the little boy who hung around the base, keep flashing through his mind? And most of all, why does nobody want to talk about it?

For other intense war stories see the review for Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Posted by Stephanie

July 03, 2010

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors by Francisco X Stork

Grades 7 and up

After the death of his older sister, Rosa, Pancho Sanchez has nothing in the entire world. No family, no friends, and nowhere to go. All he has is the burning knowledge that someone killed his sister, and that her murder will be avenged.

As for D.Q., death is all he has. Recently diagnosed with terminal cancer and living out his days in Las Cruces at a foster home, D.Q. spends his time writing the Death Warrior Manifesto – a guide for living life to the fullest.

When Pancho arrives at the foster home, D.Q. immediately declares Pancho his personal assistant. In need of money so that he can go kill his sister’s murderer, Pancho agrees to the job, for $30 a day. Soon the two find themselves in a cancer facility in Albuquerque, where D.Q.’s estranged mother hopes clinical testing will save her son. D.Q. is just hoping to woo the beautiful Marisol, and Pancho hopes to find the mysterious “Bobby” from his sister’s diary.

Being a Death Warrior isn’t easy. You must suck the marrow out of life and live each day to the fullest. But when your body is giving up on you, like D.Q., or your anger consumes you, like Pancho, the true meaning of being a Death Warrior can change.

You might like this book if you enjoyed Going Bovine by Libba Bray; Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick; or Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen.

Posted by Emily

June 30, 2010

Once a Witch by Carolyn MacCullough

Reading Level: Grades 7+

Ever since her 9th birthday, when every other member of her family came into their power, 17-year-old Tamsin Greene has felt like an outcast always on the fringes, never really a part of the clan. When a stranger comes into the family bookstore and mistakes Tam for her powerful older sister Rowena, Tamsin does not correct his mistake. Instead she agrees to search out an old clock that was lost to his family over 300 years ago. Things go terribly wrong when she convinces an old family friend to use his ability to transport them back three centuries to retrieve the item. The changes unleashed by the trip threaten to take the life of Tam's best friend, Tam's sister Rowena and to destroy her entire clan.

Other stories of emerging power include:
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Charmed Life by Diana Wynne Jones
So You Want to Be a Wizard by Diane Duane and
The Warrior Heir by Cinda Williams Chima

Posted by Stephanie

The Kings of Clonmel by John Flanngan

Reading Level: Grades 4-7

This eighth entry in the popular "Ranger's Apprentice" series does not disappoint. Will, now a Ranger in his own right, his old master Halt and Horace, the young champion knight of the realm, are sent out on a perilous mission to thwart an evil cult which is destroying a neighboring kingdom.

Posted by Stephanie

June 28, 2010

Hearts at Stake by Alyxandra Harvey

Reading Level: Grades 7+

Vampire fans mourning the end of the Twilight saga can take heart. This first book in the Drake Chronicles has everything: sexy vampire guys, a vampire princess and her intrepid human best friend. As Solange Drake approaches her 16th birthday, the age she will come into her powers, war breaks out between vampire clans as they seek to control or destroy her.

For a list of other suggested vampire tales see the review for Blood Promise by Richelle Mead

Posted by Stephanie

Malice by Chris Wooding

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

When Luke showed Heather the Malice comic it creeped her out. Luke couldn't believe it. Did Heather really think that kids could get trapped in the comic's horrifying world?

Although Heather begs him not to, Luke performs the ritual. One by one he puts a black feather, a twig, a knot of cat fur, a tear and a piece of his hair in a bowl then sets it all on fire. Grinning at Heather, Luke recites in a spooky voice, "Tall Jake, take me away!" six times. Heather was relieved when nothing happened. The next day Luke disappeared.

When Luke disappears, the police are sure he ran away. His best friend Seth is not, especially after he talks to Heather. Seth is determined to find his friend, no matter the risk.

Posted by Stephanie

Nothing by Janne Teller

Reading Level: Grades 8+
Winner of the Le Prix Libbylit

On the first day of school Pierre Anthon stood up and announced:
Nothing matters.
"I have known that for a long time.
So nothing is worth doing.
I just realized that."

With that he repacked his backpack and left. He never came back to school. Pierre Anthon spends his days in a plum tree in front of his house, throwing plums at his classmates as they walk to school. Every day they hear him shouting about the futility of school and life in general.

As the nothingness begins to pervade all of their lives, Pierre Anthon's classmates realize that to be able to live they must convince Pierre Anthon that life has meaning. One by one they are forced by the group to add what is most precious to the "heap of meaning." Each wrenching addition brings the children closer to a precipice that they may not be unable to avoid.

Warning: This book is not for the faint of heart!

If you are ready for another haunting existential tale try:
Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Posted by Stephanie

Meridian by Amber Kizer

Reading Level: Grades 6 - 9

Death not only follows Meridian, it seems to seek her out. When Meridian was a baby her parents had to clean the dead ants out of her crib every morning. As she grew into a sickly child, the dead things became bigger too. She would awaken to find the bodies of bigger bugs, and then small animals, under the covers with her. She lost her only friend the day that her friend's hamster died in her hands. Then, after her sixteenth birthday and right before Christmas, just steps from her house, she witnesses a horrific car crash involving some of her schoolmates. She stumbles home where her father immediately puts her in his car and drives her to the bus station. She is told she is going to her great-aunt Meridian's house to live and she shouldn't bother to call home because the rest of her family is moving and they are not telling her where. Meridian can only hope that her great-aunt will be able to help her understand and control whatever is happening to her.

Posted by Susan

June 26, 2010

Nature Girl by Jane Kelley

Reading Level: Grades 4-6

11-year-old Megan is miserable. Spending the summer in Vermont with her family is even worse than usual. She can't eat junk food, she only gets to watch one hour of TV a day AND can only use the cell phone once a week. Even worse, Megan's BFL Lucy has chosen to stay home instead of spending the summer with Megan as planned. Then her parents leave for an overnight outing and Megan's older sister ditches her in the woods! When the lost girl stumbles across the Appalachian Trail she decides not to head back to her family but instead to hike all the way back home to Massachusetts.

If you enjoyed this Appalachian Trail adventure try:
Halfway to the Sky by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

Posted by Stephanie

The Book That Eats People by John Perry

Ages 4-8

Hold on a second, I have to catch my breath.


I just narrowly escaped this book and ran here to tell you that under NO circumstances should you read it. Seriously. This book EATS people.

Intriguing, right?


But if you don’t believe me, at least promise me that you won’t read this book alone, okay? And wear protective armor.

Just be safe, okay?

Posted by Emily

Troy High by Shana Norris

Grades 6 and up

If you’re a student at Elm Place, Northwood, or Edgewood, you probably know about the rivalry that exists between the three schools.* But the Highland Park Middle School rivalry isn’t anything like the rivalry between Troy High and Lacede High. The Trojans and Spartans have been cross-town rivals for as long as anyone can remember, but the animosity hasn’t been ever been this bad.

When the beautiful Spartan Elena has to transfer schools and become a Trojan, she breaks up with her hot Spartan boyfriend and starts dating Perry Prince, Troy football star. The Spartans, especially the bereaved ex Lucas Mennon, are not happy, and a prank war to end all prank wars begin.

Caught in the middle is Troy High sophomore Cassie Prince, whose two older brothers are the cocky, proud faces of Troy and will not be humiliated. To make things worse, Cassie’s best friend is a Spartan, and with the rivalry going on, her friendship (and crush on) Greg is difficult to continue.

In this expertly crafted retelling of Homer’s The Iliad, Troy High is a delightful read whether you’ve read Homer, or whether you just like a good prank war.

* Elm Place is totally the best, by the way.

Posted by Emily

June 25, 2010

The Year of Goodbyes A True Story of Friendship, Family, and Farewells

Ages 10 and up

The author's mother,Jutta Saltzberg, was a 12-year-old Jewish girl living in Germany during 1938. The book chronicles the year as life becomes increasingly harsh and perilous for all Jews. The author blends her own poetry with drawings, photos, and entries in her mother's poesiaalbum (poetry/authograph album) to tell this story of the Holocaust as seen by a lovely, perseptive girl.

Posted by Harriet

June 24, 2010

The Birthday Ball by Lois Lowry

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

With her sixteenth birthday celebration fast approaching, where she will have to choose between three loathsome suitors, Princess Patricia Priscilla is desperate to experience real life. After grilling her new chambermaid about life in the nearby village, Princess Patricia decides to live a secret life as "Pat" a new student at the village school.

For another light-hearted fairy tale romp try:
The Frog Princess by E.D. Baker

Posted by Stephanie

June 23, 2010

Enchanted Glass by Diana Wynne Jones

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8

Andrew Hope knows his sorcerer grandfather is dead when he almost runs into his ghost while driving home from work. When he goes to his grandfather's house to claim his inheritance he discovers he has been left not only the house and land, but two resentful demanding servants, and a "field-of-care". Unfortunately he does not know what a field-of-care is and his memories of being taught magic when he was a child are almost non-existent. Then a young orphan named Aiden Cain, who is being chased by monsters, shows up asking for help and together they figure out what Andrew is meant to be doing for Aiden, the house, the servants, the townspeople and the odd creatures that inhabit Andrew's new property.

Posted by Susan

The ROAR by Emma Clayton

Reading Level: Grades 4-7

This adventure is set in a future where all animals and plants have been eliminated and the human race lives in densely packed quarters behind a high wall. When 12-year-old Mika's twin sister disappears he stubbornly refuses to accept the evidence she is dead. Instead, he embarks on a dangerous mission to find her before she is gone forever.

Other dark dystopian adventures include:
Rash by Pete Hautman
The White Mountains by John Christopher

Posted by Stephanie

June 22, 2010

This Family is Driving Me Crazy

Grades 6 and up
Ten short stories about weird, crazy, adventurous, annoying, and just plain normal families. And you thought you had it bad.

This book contains short stories by the following authors. Clicking the links will show you a list of other books written by those authors.
Gordon Korman
David Lubar
Mel Glenn
Nancy Springer
John H. Ritter
Jack Gantos
Sharon Dennis Wyeth
Dian Curtis Regan
Joan Bauer
Walter Dean Myers

Posted by Emily

June 21, 2010

NERDS: National, Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society by Michael Buckley

Reading Level: Grades 4-6

Jackson Jones, one of the most popular kids in the 5th grade, often initiates the teasing and abuse of "nerds" in his school. After he gets braces and a headgear, his friends reject HIM as a nerd. When Jackson realizes that some of the biggest nerds in his class often leave class and disappear, he is determined to find out where they go. When he follows them, he ends up in an adventure beyond his wildest imaginings.

Other tongue-in-cheek adventures include:
Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson and
The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman

Posted by Stephanie

Never Cry Werewolf by Heather Davis

Reading Level: Grades 8 - 12

Shelby's life hasn't been easy since her mom died and her dad remarried and moved them to Beverly Hills from Wisconsin. Her stepmother is always looking for ways to catch her doing something wrong, which seems to be happening a lot, and when she is caught out in the garden after curfew with a boy her stepmother convinces her father to send her to "Brat Camp" where rich juvenile delinquent teens are sent to be straightened out. Shelby is relieved that her father decides to send her to a easy one in the woods instead of a desert boot camp, but she is still not thrilled, and predicts she will be bored to death, until she meets fellow camper Austin Bridges III, and things becomes not only interesting, but dangerous.

Posted by Susan

June 18, 2010

Solace of the Road by Siobhan Dowd

Reading Level: Grades 8+

When 15-year-old Holly dons a blond wig she finds in her foster mother's closet she becomes "Solace" a smart, sexy teen who sets off across the English countryside to search for Holly's mother.

Other road trips of discovery include:
Secrets, Lies and My Sister Kate by Belinda Hollyer and
Runaway Twin by Peg Kehret

Posted by Stephanie

Once by Morris Gleitzman

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

When 6-year-old Felix's parents dropped him off at the Catholic orphanage they told him they were going to travel around Europe to buy books for their bookstore. Felix believed them.

Four years later, when a group of Nazis burn most of the books in the orphanage, Felix decides that Nazis hate books and booksellers. Terrified for his book-selling parents, Felix runs away from the safety of the orphanage to find and warn them before it is too late.

Other compelling tales of innocents caught in the horrors of the Holocaust include:
The Final Journey by Gudrun Pausewang
The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne and
Milkweed by Jerry Spinelli

Posted by Stephanie

June 17, 2010

The Goat-Faced Girl: A Classic Italian Folktale retold by Leah Marinsky Sharpe

Illustrated by Jane Marinsky


Reading Level: Ages 5 - 9

A sorceress finds a baby in the woods and raises it up to be a lazy woman. Because of her great beauty a lazy prince takes her off to be his bride and the sorceress must act quickly if she is going to prevent her adopted daughter from living a life of sloth.

Posted by Susan

Mirror Mirror by Marilyn Singer

Illustrated by Josée Masse

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 9

These creative fairytale-based poems have different meanings when read front to back or back to front.

Posted by Susan

Young Zeus by G. Brian Karas

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 9

This is a funny, modern, irreverent retelling of the ancient Greek myth which explains the origins of the original big six gods.

Posted by Susan

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Reading Level: Grades 5-7

Philip Reeve revisits the world of Mortal Engines in this haunting prequel.

Fever has lived with Dr. Crumb ever since he found her as an infant 14 years ago. Raised to be unemotional and logical, Fever is an ideal apprentice; the only female in the Order of Engineers. When an archeologist asks the order to lend him Fever as his assistant, she is plunged into a dangerous adventure that may cost her her life.

Other steampunk adventures include:
Larklight, or, The Revenge of the White Spiders!, or, To Saturn's Rings and Back! : a Rousing Tale of Dauntless Pluck in the Farthest Reaches of Space by Philip Reeve
Airborn by Kenneth Oppel
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher and
Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld

Posted by Stephanie

I Kissed a Zombie, and I Liked It by Adam Selzer

Reading Level: Grades 8 - 12

Alley is a member of The Vicious Circle, which is what the school newspaper kids are called. The newspaper is actually a collection of blogs whose sole purpose is to make fun of kids The Vicious Circle doesn't like, which is basically anyone who is not a member of The Vicious Circle. While covering (making fun of) a local band's performance Alley hears Doug sing in a breathy voice, and falls for him immediately, but he isn't a member of The Vicious Circle, his skin looks a little weird and he has a funny smell. Can this relationship last?

Posted by Susan

June 14, 2010

Half-Minute Horrors

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 6

This collection of VERY short horror stories by famous writers such as Neil Gaiman, M.T. Anderson, Avi, and Jon Scieszka lives up to its name. The tales range from an wordless drawing to a 2 1/2 page story and all are good ones!

Posted by Susan

Rikers High by Paul Volponi

Reading Level: Grades 8+

Paul Volponi, who once taught reading to young prisoners, has drawn on his experiences to write a chilling account of a teen's dehumanizing experiences when he is held on Rikers Island.

For other prison stories see the review for Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Posted by Stephanie

June 10, 2010

Escape Under the Forever Sky by Eve Yohalem

Reading Level: Grades 5-7

13-year-old Lucy Hoffman is tired of missing out. Her over-protective mother, the American Ambassador to Ethiopia, constantly frets about Lucy's safety and insists that Lucy never go ANYWHERE unsupervised by an adult.

The day Lucy and her best friend finally manage to slip out to enjoy Ethiopia on their own, Lucy discovers that her mother's worries were all to real.

Other stories of African survival include:
A Girl Named Disaster by Nancy Farmer

Posted by Stephanie

Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes

Grades 5 and up

On the first day of sixth grade, the new teacher, Miss Loupe, bends over and makes a big masking tape rectangle on the ground. This Taped Space will become a stage for her classroom, and her students its’ improv actors. But the Air Force base that runs the school is more interested in cleanliness and discipline than improv acting and art. Miss Loupe and her students carry on anyway, until Miss Loupe’s brother goes missing while deployed in Afghanistan. Suddenly, the Taped Space is empty for days. Can Miss Loupe’s students get their teacher back?

For other stories with inspirational adults and kids working together for a greater cause, pick up
The View from Saturday,
Notes from the Dog or
Whale Talk.

Posted by Emily

This Means War! by Ellen Wittlinger

Reading Level: Grades 4-5

During the tense days of the Cuban missile 5th grade Juliet is drawn into an escalating series of dangerous boy vs. girls challenges by her brash new best friend Patsy.

Other absorbing stories set in the 1960s include:
Gemini Summer by Iain Lawrence
Kaleidoscope Eyes by Jen Bryant and
Shooting the Moon by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Other entertaining boy vs. girls tales include
Thirteen Ways to Sink a Sub by Jamie Gilson
The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor and
No Talking by Andrew Clements

Posted by Stephanie

June 09, 2010

I Want a Dog! by Helga Bansch

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 8

Lisa loves dogs and wants one really badly, but her parents won't let her have one because their apartment is too small, but Lisa comes up with a creative solution that makes everyone happy.

Posted by Susan

My Life in Pink and Green by Lisa Greenwald

Grades 4 and up
*New to Book Match List for Grades 4-5*

Lucy Desberg is, like, businesswoman of the year in training. She plans to single-handedly save the future of her family’s pharmacy by creating a Relaxation Room (which she later decides will become an eco-spa) and doing makeup for kids in town before special events. The only problem is, her mom and grandmother don’t take her seriously. And she has a crush on her best friend’s older brother.

Posted by Emily

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Grades 3-6

Oakland, 1968.
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern arrive at the airport to spend the summer with their mother, Cecile. Cecile abandoned her three daughters shortly Fern’s birth and hasn’t seen or spoken to them since. Delphine is not looking forward to the summer. When she finds out her mother is involved in the Black Panthers, Delphine wonders how she can protect her sisters from the rioting and arrests that are happening, because it’s obvious Cecile isn’t going to.

Posted by Emily

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

Grades 4 -6

Mrs. Starch is not a teacher to mess with. Unless your name is Duane “Smoke” Scrod, Jr., of course. Then you can bite Mrs. Starch’s pencil in half, eating the half in your mouth and leaving the other half in her dumbfounded hand.

Mrs. Starch’s class goes on a field trip to Black Vine Swamp, which is interrupted by a forest fire. As the students rush to their buses, Mrs. Starch bravely runs back into the swamp to get one student’s inhaler.

She never returns.

No one at school seems to be worried by the note of a “family emergency” Mrs. Starch sends in shortly after the fire. Except Nick Walters and Marta Gonzales, two friends in her class who are suspicious.

Has Mrs. Starch been murdered? Kidnapped? Was she eaten by a panther in the swamp?

Posted by Emily

Breathless by Jessica Warman

Grades 8 and up

Two of the most important things in Katie Kittrell’s life have always been her brother and swimming. She feels comforted when slicing her body through the water, feeling the bubbles against her mouth, muscles burning and lungs pumping. But then her brother’s schizophrenia becomes too much for Katie’s family to handle, and he is sent away to an institution. Katie’s parents decide to send her away as well, and ship her off to an elite boarding school. Quickly, she immerses herself in the most popular crowd and in her swimming, and everyone knows she is bound for the Olympics one day.

And of her brother? Katie tells everyone at school that there was an accident. Her brother is dead. Only her distant, harsh roommate Mazzie, knows the real truth. Mazzie has hidden demons of her own, and the roommates quickly form a bond over their secrets, becoming unlikely and inseparable best friends.

But how long can Katie keep her secret from her friends in the popular crowd? How long can she hide her brother from her boyfriend? How long does she want to continue living the popular life, ignoring everything about where she came from?

In an incredible debut novel, Jessica Warman explores Katie’s turbulent and emotional life with ease and grace. This is a novel you will not want to put down, even after you’ve finished it.

For other novels about mental illness, try

The Best Little Girl in the World by Steven Levenkron
Breathe My Name by R.A. Nelson or
Stop Pretending: What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones.

Posted by Emily

We the Children by Andrew Clements

Grades 4 and up

Benjamin Pratt, a sixth grader, suddenly is seeing a lot of change in his life. His parents are splitting up, and his school is in danger of being torn down. But when the school janitor gives Benjamin a prophetic coin just seconds before he dies, Benjamin’s life starts to change in a way he never could have predicted.

Posted by Emily

Half-Minute Horrors edited by Susan Rich

Grades 3 and up

Turn the lights off, get a flashlight, and check your bedroom for monsters, ghosts, ghouls, or axe murderes before settling down with these thirty-second scaaaaaaaaaaaary stories from some of your favorite authors.

Posted by Emily

Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith

Grades 6-9

"Beneath Heaven is Hell. Beneath Hell is Furnace." -Alex Kalajzic, fourteen year old Furnace inmate

Alex is only fourteen years old, but after he is caught pulling off a house burglary, he’s been sentenced to life in prison. But not just any prison. Alex is being sent to Furnace.

Furnace is the worst prison imaginable for anyone, but the only inmates there are children. No one has ever escaped, but Alex doesn’t take no for an answer. He knows he can find a way out.

For another great other adventure-survival book, try The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

Other books that take place in prison:
Hard Time by Julian F. Thompson
Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers
Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Posted by Emily

June 08, 2010

Is It Night or Day?

Grades 5-9

in 1938 the author's mother was 12-years-old when she was sent by herself to America to escape Nazi persecution. She was part of the One Thousand Child Project that rescued twelve hundred children. This novel, written to give voice to her mother's experiences is told as though her mother is speaking. Edit, (Edith in English) makes the tran Atlantic crossing. She settles in Chicago and copes with a new language, customs, and relatives who treat her like a servant. Edith lives for the day when her parents will be able to leave Germany and they will be a family again.

Posted by Harriet

June 07, 2010

The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancy

Reading Level: Grades 8+

12-year-old Will Henry is an unwilling witness to unspeakable mayhem when a nest of Anthrpophagi begin preying on the people of his village, both living and dead.

WARNING: For fans of hard-core horror only.

If you like this terrifying tale try:
Lord Loss by Darren Shan
The Haunting of Alaizabel Cray by Chris Wooding and
Raptor by Paul Zindel

Posted by Stephanie

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb

Reading Level: Grades 6-7

To his parents, classmates and teachers 12-year-old Oliver Watson is a unremarkable rather simple boy. In actuality he is the all-powerful head of a wide-reaching secret syndicate. When Oliver's father implies that Oliver could never get elected, Oliver decides to use his vast secret resources to become class president.

For other tales of young "evil" geniuses try:
Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer and
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks

Posted by Stephanie

June 05, 2010

The Total Tragedy of a Girl Named Hamlet by Erin Dionne

Reading Level: Grades 5-7

For years Hamlet has managed to keep her crazy home life and her "normal" school life separate. That all ends when her Shakespeare mad parents decide that her genius younger sister, seven-year-old Desdemona, will be attending 8th grade with Hamlet.

Posted by Stephanie

Messed Up by Janet Nichols Lynch

Reading Level: Grades 7-9

15-year-old R.D. is well known to the teachers and administration of his middle school for all the wrong reasons. His second time through 8th grade is going no better than the first. But when his step-grandfather Earl dies, R.D. finds he must change his ways if he wants to keep the authorities out of his business.

Another good tale of a teen on his own is:
The Car by Gary Paulsen

Posted by Stephanie

June 02, 2010

Stuck on Earth

Ages 11-14

Ketchvar III is a highly evolved snail-like creature from the planet Sandoval. His job as a level 5 evaluator is to inhabit the body of a typical earthling to determine if the human race should be annihilated. 14-year-old Tom Filber is selected. In the process Ketchvar finds out about school bullies, dysfunctional families, and beautiful, popular next door neighbors. The evaluator's comments are hilarious and dead on. Ever think of school as 12 years of voluntary incarceration?

Posted by Harriet

Dewey the Library Cat

Grades 4-7

This is the true story of Dewey, a cat that came to be known all over the world. He was found in the library book drop one frigid winter morning. The staff of the library adopted the kitten and nursed him back to health. Dewey, in turn, adopted the town of Spencer, Iowa. Whether he was encouraging special needs kids, winning a cute animal contest, or outsmarting the library staff, Dewey was a most memorable person, er, cat. Readers will laugh out loud and they'll be guaranteed to shed a few tears. This is a must read for anyone who has ever loved an animal.

Posted by Harriet

Lockdown by Walter Dean Myers

Reading Level: Grades 8+

15-year-old Reese, who has been in juvenile detention for almost two years, longs for early release. To earn it he must put up with corrupt guards, avoid fights and take care of an old man who thinks all black kids are hoodlums.

Other gripping tales set behind bars include:
Rikers High by Paul Volponi
Hard Time by Julian F. Thompson and
Lockdown by Alexander Gordon Smith

Posted by Stephanie

A Kiss in Time by Alex Flinn

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

Princess Talia hates her life. She is never allowed to leave the grounds of the castle. Even IN the castle she is constantly supervised. Everyone is terrified she will touch a spindle. How stupid do they think she is?

Jack hates his life. His parents make all the decisions. This summer they have forced him to go on a boring trip to Europe. Europe is totally lame. If Jack sees one more museum, he's going to puke.

One fateful day Jack ditches the tour, hacks through brambles and kisses a beautiful sleeping girl. Their parents are going to freak.

If you enjoy this laugh aloud fractured fairy tale try:
Ella Enchanted by Gail Levine,
Leaping Beauty : And Other Animal Fairy Tales by Gregory Maguire and
My Fair Godmother by Janette Rallison

Posted by Stephanie

June 01, 2010

The Great Death by John Smelcer

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

When their entire village is killed by a plague brought by light-colored strangers, 13-year-old Millie and her little sister must brave the perilous Alaskan wilderness to make their way to safety.

If you like this tale of children battling a harsh environment on their own try:
Camel Rider by Prue Mason and
The Great Wide Sea by M.H. Herlong

Posted by Stephanie

The Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan

Reading Level: Grades 4-8

Riordan, author of the popular Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, kicks off his new Kane Chronicles series with a bang.

When Egyptologist Dr. Julian Kane performs a dangerous rite he accidentally releases the angry god Set who promptly entombs Julian and unleashes forces to destroy the world. After their father disappears before their eyes 14-year-old Carter and 12-year-old Sadie embark on a dangerous quest to free their father and save the world.

If you are a fan of mythological adventures try:
The Shadow Thieves by Anne Ursu
Oh.My.Gods. by Tera Lynn Childs
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh and
The Game by Diana Wynne Jones

Posted by Stephanie

May 27, 2010

Food, Girls, and Other Things I Can't Have

Ages 12 and up

Andy is smart, funny, and self-depreciating. He's also the second fattest boy in the high school. Andy is used to geek status, his one friend, and model U.N., but then he meets April! And he tells her that he's on the football team. Then, miracle of miracles, he gets the chance to play varsity football and everything begins to change, including Andy.

Posted by Harriet

May 25, 2010

Along For the Ride by Sarah Dessen

Reading Level: Grades 8+

Auden, the very "good", high achieving daughter of two self-centered academics, spends the summer before college with a mysterious boy who introduces her to the teenage life she never had a chance to experience.

Posted by Stephanie

Far From Gringo Land by Edward Myers

Reading Level: Grades 7-9

17-year-old Rick learns about work, loyalty and love when he spends a summer vacation of backbreaking labor helping family friends build their home in the barrio of Santo Domingo, Mexico.

If you enjoyed Rick's summer in another culture try:
How to Ruin a Summer Vacation by Simone Elkeles

Posted by Stephanie

A Million Shades of Gray by Cynthia Kadohata

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

13-year-old Y'Tin does not want to be a farmer like his father. Nor does he want to be the learned man his mother imagines. He has all he wants as the youngest and best elephant handler in his Vietnamese village. But when the Americans leave and the Viet Cong sweep down on the village, Y'Tin discovers he wants something else even survive.

Stories from war-torn lands include:
Forgotten Fire by Adam Bagdasarian
The Breadwinner by Deborah Ellis and
Fish by L.S. Matthews

Posted by Stephanie

May 24, 2010

Wishing for Tomorrow: The Sequel to A Little Princess by Hilary McKay

Reading Level: Grades 3-6

After a 106 year hiatus the story of Sara Crewe and the girls at Miss Minchin's boarding school continues through the eyes of Ermengarde, Sara's one true friend among Miss Minchin's students.

Other worthy successors to classic tales include:
Racso & the Rats of NIMH by Jane Leslie Conly which continues the story of Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of Nimh by Robert C. O'Brien and
Winter in the Willows by William Horwood a continuation of The Wind in the Willows by Kenneth Grahame

Posted by Stephanie

May 21, 2010

The Middle of Everywhere by Monique Polak

Reading Level: Grades 7-9

Noah's life changes drastically when his mother insists he spend a semester with his father in an isolated Inuit village.

Other Arctic adventures include:
The Trap by John Smelcer
The Call of the Wild by Jack London
Wilderness by Roddy Doyle and
Far North by Will Hobbs

Posted by Stephanie

May 19, 2010

The Doll Shop Downstairs by Yona Zeldis McDonough

Reading Level: Grades 2-4

The idyllic life of three little girls and their family is threatened when World War I breaks out and goods from Germany are embargoed making it impossible for their father to get materials for his doll repair shop.

Other gentle tales of Jewish-American girls from earlier times include:
All-Of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
Strawberry Hill by Mary Ann Hoberman and
Faraway Summer by Johanna Hurwitz

Posted by Stephanie

May 18, 2010

For Keeps by Natasha Friend

Reading Level: Grades 7+

Life changes for 16-year-old Josie Gardner and her 32-year-old mother when the parents of the father Josie never knew move back to town.

If you liked this story try:
One of Those Hideous Books Where the Mother Died by Sonya Sones

Posted by Stephanie

Out of the Blue by S.L. Rottman

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

With his brother off to college and his father in Arizona caring for an aged relative, 15-year-old Stu must deal alone with his overbearing mother as she takes over as the new commander of an Air Force base.

Other books about kids from military families include:
Operation Yes by Sara Lewis Holmes
Shooting the Moon by Francas O'Roark Dowell and
Off To War: Voices of Soldiers' Children by Deborah Ellis

Posted by Stephanie

May 17, 2010

The Girl with the Mermaid Hair by Delia Ephron

Grades 6 and up

selfie (n.): 1. a cell phone portrait of the self used to check one’s appearance in the absence of a mirror. 2. Sukie Jamieson’s way of making sure her hair, face, and makeup are perfect.

perfect (adj.): 1. conforming absolutely to the description or definition of an ideal type. 2. excellent or complete beyond practical or theoretical improvement. 3. exactly fitting the need in a certain situation for a certain purpose. 4. entirely without any flaws, defects, or shortcomings.

How far would you go to be perfect? How far is too far?

Posted by Emily

May 15, 2010

Lincoln Tells a Joke: How Laughter Saved the President (and the Country) by Kathleen Krull and Paul Brewer

Grades K-3
Knock, knock.
Who’s there?
Abe Lincoln.
Abe Lincoln who?
Don’t you know who Abe Lincoln is??

You may have known already that Abraham Lincoln was the sixteenth President of the United States. And if you didn’t, you do now! But did you know that President Lincoln loved to tell a good joke? He believed that any gloomy situation could be made better with a little humor. (I agree!)

Posted by Emily

All-Star! Honus Wagner and the Most Famous Baseball Card Ever by Jane Yolen

Grades K – 3

Get ready for Bookyard Baseball, our Summer Reading program for 2010 by reading this biography of baseball great Honus Wagner.

Posted by Emily

The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler

Reading Level: Grades 2-3

When King's girl Kaya and her family dropped him off at Barker Bob's they said it would only be for a little while. After elventy-three days King ended up in the p-o-u-n-d. Soon after he got a new family and a new name, Buddy. King wants HIS family. Until his new boy disappears. Now King has lots of people to find.

If you enjoyed this doggy detective tale try:
Dracula Madness by Mary LaBatt

Posted by Stephanie

Claim to Fame by Margaret Haddix

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

Linday Scott was a famous TV star until she was eleven when she developed the power to hear everything anyone in the world said about her. She has been hiding ever since.

For another tale of a girl with an extraordinary gift try:
Almost Fabulous by Michelle Radford

Posted by Stephanie

May 13, 2010

Tangled by Carolyn Mackler

Reading Level: Grades 8+

The lives of four teens are changed when their paths cross on a vacation in the Caribbean. This engrossing tale alternates between four narrators.

Other books featuring multiple narrators are:
TTYL by Lauren Myracle
Sorcery and Cecelia, or, The Enchanted Chocolate Pot : Being the Correspondence of Two Young Ladies of Quality Regarding Various Magical Scandals in London and the Country by Patricia Wrede
How to Bad by E. Lockhart

Posted by Stephanie

Catmagic by Holly Webb

Reading Level: Reading Level 3-5

Lottie is astounded and a bit overwhelmed when she the animals in her uncle's pet shop begin to speak.

Posted by Stephanie

The Fast and the Furriest by Andy Behrens

Reading Level: Grades 4-6

Couch potato Kevin's life is turned upside down when his equally sluggish dog Cromwell suddenly begins training for dog agility competitions.

Other humorous dog stories include:
I, Jack by Patricia Finney and
Chuck and Danielle by Peter Dickinson

Posted by Stephanie

The Sweetheart of Prosper County by Jill Alexander

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

When 15-year-old Austin Grey decides that she will become the next Sweetheart in the annual Big Wells Christmas Parade she must deal with her overprotective mother, the local bully and a rooster with an attitude.

Other small town tales include:
Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock and
Squashed by Joan Bauer

Posted by Stephanie

May 12, 2010

Boys Without Names

Grades 4-7

New to the big city, eleven-year-old Gopal trusts a stranger and finds himself locked in a small sweatshop. There, along with five other boys, he's forced to labor making beaded picture frames for no money, little food, and almost no chance of escape. The boys are not allowed to talk to each other and are not even allowed to use their own names. Will Gopal's talent for kahanis, or stories, be enough to break through the fear and distrust? Will his determination be enough to reunite him with his family? Set in modern day India, this is a story of forced child labor, a practice that continues in many countries around the globe.

Posted by Harriet

The Delicious Bug by Janet Perlman

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 6

Two chameleon friends accidentally catch the same wonderful bumble bug and each insists it is his which leads to near disaster in this silly story about the importance of sharing.

Posted by Susan

Walking Backward by Catherine Austen

Grades 5 - 8

Josh’s mom recently died in a car crash. She was extremely phobic of snakes, and crashed into a tree when she saw a garter snake on the passenger seat of the car. Now Josh’s dad spends all his time in the basement, working on building a time machine so he can go back and take the snake out of the car. Josh’s little brother Sammy speaks to a pink Power Ranger who he believes is the spirit of his mother. Will Josh’s family ever be normal again?

Posted by Emily

Dirty Little Secrets by C. J. Omololu

Grades 6 and up

One morning, Lucy finds the body of her mother, a compulsive hoarder, under a pile of newspapers and National Geographics. Lucy has always kept her mother’s compulsion a secret, never wanting anyone to see the endless piles inside her house or smell the rotting garbage and mildew from the kitchen and bathrooms. She has been called “Garbage Girl” one too many times and will not go through that again.

So Lucy doesn’t call 911. She vows to herself that she will not tell anyone of her mother’s death, not even her older siblings, until the house is presentable. If the paramedics see the state of Lucy’s house, she’ll never hear the end of it from the media. Lucy covers her mother’s body with a sheet and gets some trash bags.

But how long can a secret this big stay inside Lucy? - especially with her long-time crush Josh finally noticing her, and her best friend Kaylie wondering why Lucy seems upset.

Posted by Emily

The Night Fairy

Grades 2-4

Flory, a young night fairy, is attacked by a bat just three days after being born. Her wings destroyed, Flory takes up residence in a birdhouse and decides to become a day fairy. Without her wings and in the daytime, Flory has to learn to live differently.

Posted by Emily

The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place Book 1: The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

Grades 4-6

After graduating from the Swanburne Academy for Poor Bright Girls, Miss Penelope Lumley is on her way to the very first job interview she has ever had. The interview is at the luxurious Ashton Place with the prim and proper Lady Constance Ashton, and everything about the job seems perfect.

Except, of course, that Lady Constance has not – and will not – mention the children. But, eager to do her part as a governess, Penelope signs her contract.

But first things first. What is that howling coming from the barn? Against the wishes of her new employer, Penelope rushes to the aid of what must surely be an injured, dying animal... and finds...

...three children. Her new charges. Penelope is told that the children were discovered in the forests of Ashton Place, and are thought to have been raised by wolves. Lord and Lady Ashton wish the children to be civilized and suitable for "presentation" to their high society friends by Christmas. What is Penelope to do?

The first book in the saga of the Incorrigible Children reminds me of Roald Dahl mixed with Mary Poppins.

Why I picked it up: The book sounded like an amusing story, and the cover drew me in. A long time ago, I read Children of the Wolf by Jane Yolen, and enjoyed reading about the adaptation of feral children to society – this seemed like a similar story with a humorous twist. Another good book about a feral child is Music of the Dolphins by Karen Hesse.

Why I finished it: It was extremely well written and easy to read, as well as being everything I expected and more, so I just kept turning the pages happily! I especially liked Penelope’s words of wisdom from the Swanburne Academy, my favorite being “All books are judged by their covers until read.”

Who I would recommend it to: Fourth, fifth, or sixth graders looking for the kind of story they won’t have read before, or just a good book they won’t be able to put down.

Posted by Emily

May 11, 2010

Star in the Forest by Laura Resau

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

When her father is deported 11-year-old Zitlally becomes convinced that her father's fate is tied to an abandoned dog she finds in the woods.

Posted by Stephanie

May 10, 2010

Geektastic: Stories from the Nerd Herd edited by Holly Black and Cecil Castelluci

Grades 8 and up

What kind of geek are you? A Trekkie? A Jedi? A Whovian? A Buffy fanatic? BSG-obsessed? A science nerd? A dungeon master? A theatre geek? On stage crew? Into cosplay? An RPG-er? Constantly reading comics or novels? On Quiz Bowl? Head in the stars?

If you align yourself with any of these types of geekdom, or even some that I haven’t mentioned, at least one story in this book is definitely for you. And, hey. There’s even a story about a girl who knows absolutely nothing about being a geek.

As for what kind of geeks the librarians of the Youth Services Department are… you’ll have to read the book for yourself and see if you can guess.

Why I picked it up: Because I, like you, am a geek. Also, the authors who contributed to this collection are some of my favorites in Young Adult fiction!
Why I finished it: Each story was so different from the next that I had to keep reading. What geekdom would they write about next?!?!
Who I'd recommend it to: Anyone who needs to embrace their inner geek. Romance lovers. Humor lovers. Geeks everywhere!

Posted by Emily

Goddess Boot Camp by Tera Lynn Childs

Reading Level: Grades 8+

Phoebe, granddaughter of Nike, is back in her second adventure. Since she recently discovered her powers (learn how in her first adventure, "Oh. My. Gods,) Phoebe has been accidentally wreaking havoc around the island. She now has two weeks to gain control of her powers or face the gods' displeasure.

Other light mythological spin-offs include:
Temping Fate by Esther Friesner
and The Pig Scrolls by Paul Shipton

For more serious mythological adventures try:
The Night Tourist by Katherine Marsh
and Goddess of Yesterday by Caroline Cooney

Posted by Stephanie

Give Up the Ghost by Megan Crewe

Reading Level: Grades 8+

Cass McKenna's only friends are Norris and Bitzy, two teen ghosts who hang around her high school. They fill her in on all the dirty secrets. These secrets keep the "in crowd", who have tormented Cass for years, at bay. But when on of that crowd turns to Cass for supernatural help, she finds herself drawn back into the world of the living.

For other tales of teenagers and ghosts try:
Chasing Brooklyn by Lisa Schroeder,
The Hollow by Jessica Verday
and I So Don't Do Spooky by Summy Barrie

Posted by Stephanie

May 08, 2010

Flight of the Phoenix by R. L. LaFevers

Grades 3-5

When Nate’s parents are declared missing (from a 3-year adventure at the North Pole), Aunt Phil A. Fludd takes him under her wing. Soon Nate, who has never been a real lover of adventure, finds himself, a talking dodo, and a gremlin, on an adventure to Arabia, where they will watch the birth of a phoenix. But on their first day in the desert, Aunt Phil is captured by Bedouins, leaving Nate alone with the phoenix egg. Can he protect the phoenix and save his aunt?

This first book in the Nathaniel Fludd: Beastologist series heralds a promising new adventure series.

Posted by Emily

Shattered by Kathi Baron

Grades 7 and up

Cassie has just become the Chicago Youth Symphony Orchestra’s violin soloist when, in a fit of rage, her father smashes her prized violin. Frightened, angry, and betrayed, Cassie runs away and gets on a bus to her grandfather’s, with no money and no real idea where she is going.

When Cassie returns home, both her parents have changed. Her parents are separated, her father working with a therapist to control his anger, her mother showing more attention to Cassie than she ever had before. But will it be enough to bring her family back together? And what about her soloist position? With a destroyed violin, how can she possibly play in the CYSO?

Posted by Emily

The Secret Year by Jennifer R. Hubbard

Grades 8 and up

Everyone knows Julia Vernon. She’s one of the rich kids who live up on Black Mountain, dating the quarterback, beautiful, popular, in every way perfect. But no one knows Julia quite like Colt Morrison. And no one knows that Julia and Colt were together for a year, in love with each other for a year, despite their vast social and economic differences; despite Julia’s quarterback boyfriend.

When Julia is killed in a car accident, Colt has no one to turn to. No one knows about his relationship with Julia, not even his best friends. Then Julia’s brother Michael gives Colt a diary full of letters. Julia’s diary – letters to CM. Colt Morrison.

Why I picked it up: I'm a sucker for a good romance, especially a socially unacceptable, Romeo and Juliet style romance!!
Why I finished it: Hubbard's writing style made it easy to keep turning the pages, before I knew it I was at the end of the book. I do wish that more of Julia's diary had been included in the book, because I really enjoyed getting to know her as a character.
Who I'd recommend it to: Romance lovers - guys or girls.

Posted by Emily

Pennies for Elephants by Lita Judge

Ages 4-8

Have you ever tried to raise money for something you wanted? Was it hard to do? In Pennies for Elephants, a whole city of children are trying to raise money to buy three somethings that they want – elephants! Can they raise enough money to buy the three elephants for the Boston zoo before they are sold to someone else?

Pennies for Elephants is based on a true story – in 1914, children all across New England did odd jobs and chores for pennies to help pay for the elephants.

Posted by Emily

May 07, 2010

The Shadow Project by Herbie Brennan

Reading Level: Grades 6-8

Danny Lipman gets more than he bargained for when he finds a secret door in a home he is burglarizing and is "recruited" for a secret government astral projection spy program.

If you enjoy tales of spies and vigilanties try:
Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz
The Lab by Jack Heath and
Omega Place by Graham Marks

Other tales of psychic teens include ;
Numbers by Rachel Ward
Here Today, Gone Tomorrow by Marilyn Kaye
and Hidden Talents by David Lubar

Posted by Stephanie

May 04, 2010

They Never Came Back by Caroline Cooney

Reading Level: Grades 6-9

When a boy confronts 15-year-old Cathy claiming he is her long lost cousin Murielle who was abandoned by her criminal parents, the other students in the summer language school set out to find the truth.

Other engrossing stories about abandoned children include:
Love, Aubrey by Suzanne M. LaFleur
and Homecoming by Cynthia Voigt

Posted by Stephanie

May 03, 2010

Ratfink by Marcia Thorton Jones

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

Logan's reputation as a "truth stretcher" catches up with him when his grandfather, whose mental state is deteriorating, moves in with Logan's family.

If you enjoy this story about an impulsive boy try;
The Trouble Begins by Linda Himelblau

For another story about an interesting grandfather try:
The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

Posted by Stephanie

April 30, 2010

The Hallelujah Flight by Phil Bildner

Illustrated by John Holyfield

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 9

Based on a real historical event, this picture book tells the story of James Banning and Thomas Allen's flight across America in a biplane in 1932; the first transcontinental flight ever completed by African Americans.

Posted by Susan

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor

Reading Level: Grades 4-6

When Stephanie's parents put Stephanie and her little sister Nellie on the train in Vienna their father promises them they will only have to stay in Sweden for six months. By then he is sure the craziness with the Nazis will be over. Homesick and terrified for their parents' safety, Stephanie and Nellie must adapt to a foreign climate, religion, culture and new families. Based on the experiences of the 500 Jewish children evacuated to Sweden after the Nazi takeover of Austria.

Other stories of children separated from their parents by war include:
Sheltering Rebecca by Mary Baylis-White
Jacob's Rescue by Malka Drucker
Good Night, Mr. Tom by Michelle Magorian
and Parvana's Journey by Deborah Ellis

Posted by Stephanie

April 29, 2010

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Reading Level: Grades 7-9

"My arm rises toward my face and the pincer touch of cold steel rubs against my jaw.
I chose hooks because they were cheaper.
I chose hooks because I wouldn't outgrow them so quickly.
I chose hooks so that everyone would know I was different, so I would scare even myself."

Lucius caused the explosion that destroyed his arms, his family's home and any trust his parents ever had for him. All he wants is to lurk on the edges of his new school, observing but never engaging.

When Aurora's mother died, Aurora and her father lost their happiness and their home. All she wants is to make new friends and forget the past.

When the beautiful girl encounters the "crazy" boy anything is possible in this modern take on Beauty and the Beast.

Posted by Stephanie

Milo Armadillo by Jan Fearnley

Reading Level: PreK – Grade 1

All of Tallulah’s friends have pink fuzzy rabbits, so when it’s almost Tallulah’s birthday, she asks for a pink fuzzy rabbit as a gift. But NONE of the stores Tallulah and her parents visit have any pink fuzzy rabbits.

Tallulah’s grandma decides that she will knit Tallulah a pink fuzzy rabbit friend. But her knitted creation, whose name is Milo, doesn’t turn out to be a pink fuzzy rabbit at all.

Milo tries and tries to be more like a pink fuzzy rabbit, and Tallulah tries to pretend that she’s not upset about his… armadillo-ness.

Will Tallulah ever learn to love Milo for who he is, before it's too late?

Posted by Emily

Tortoise Races Home by Jill Atkins and Beccy Blake

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 6

Tortoise challenges his friends Rabbit, Squirrel and Mouse to a race home, but only Tortoise knows why he is guaranteed to win.

Posted by Susan

April 27, 2010

The Secret Alliance and the Copycat Crook by Eleanor Davis

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

When the new kid, nerdy genius Julian Calender is befriended by Ben, a "dumb jock" and Greta, a girl with a reputation as a "dangerous maniac", they form the Secret Science Alliance. Deep in their underground laboratory they work on fantastic inventions. The Alliance must spring into action when the nefarious Professor Stringer steals their invention notebook to use their inventions for evil.

If you enjoy this fantastic graphic novel caper try:
Mail Order Ninja by Joshua Elder
From Zero to Hero by Jeremy Diamond
and Stone Rabbit by Eric Craddock

Posted by Stephanie

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Reading Level: Grades 6-9

News of the rebellion against the king has barely reached the western Pennsylvanian wilderness when the British strike. 13-year-old Samuel is hunting, miles away from home, when he sees the black smoke. He races home to find the settlement destroyed and most of the settlers massacred. When Samuel realizes his mother and father are among the few spared he vows to rescue his parents.

If you are fascinated by this unsettling look at the terrible cost of war try:
The Fighting Ground by Avi
Eyes of the Emperor by Graham Salisbury
and Fallen Angels by Walter Dean Myer

Posted by Stephanie

April 26, 2010

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5

In the middle of the war in Iraq a dog with cut off ears shows up at a border fort and befriends Major Brian Dennis, a marine, who calls him "Nubs" since that is all that is left of his ears. Unfortunately it is against the rules for soldiers to keep dogs and, after two soldiers report Major Dennis for violating the rules, he knows he must find a way to get Nubs to America before he is ordered to kill him.

Posted by Susan

The Magical Ms. Plum by Bonny Becker

Illustrated by Amy Portnoy

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 4

If Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle had a granddaughter that granddaughter would be Ms. Plum. Ms. Plum is a very special third grade teacher who's changes her student's lives with the help of her amazing storage closet and its odd inhabitants.

Posted by Susan

April 23, 2010

Hot Rod Hamster by Cynthia Lord

Illustrated by Derek Anderson

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 5

We, Hickory, Dickory and Doc, the Library Gerbils, recommend that you read this book about a hamster who wants to compete in a hot rod race. Since he doesn't have a car, he goes to the wrecking yard to find just the right parts he needs to BUILD the perfect racer. Sure beats running around in a plastic ball!

Posted by LibraryGerbils

April 22, 2010

Meanwhile by Jason Shiga

Reading Level: Ages 8-12

Have you ever thought about reading 3,856 stories before? Maybe. Have you read that many stories in your lifetime? Probably not. But if you check out Jason Shiga’s new graphic novel, Meanwhile, you will. All you have to do is decide… chocolate or vanilla?

Posted by Emily

April 21, 2010

Crazy Beautiful by Lauren Baratz-Logsted

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

Lucius Wolfe has no hands. Instead, he has metal hooks; ugly prosthetics to replace the palms and fingers he blew off in a chemistry experiment. He knows his first day at his new high school is going to be unpleasant; he knows he won’t many any friends at all. What he doesn’t expect is Aurora – the beauty to his beast.

Crazy Beautiful is a rich, gripping tale of forgiveness, redemption and of course, love.

Posted by Emily

Dodger and Me by Jordan Sonnenblick

Reading Level: Ages 8-12

Willie Ryan’s best friend Tim just moved away, and left him with no friends but the annoying Lizzie who won’t leave him alone. His mom is way overprotective and he STINKS at baseball.

One day after costing his baseball team a win, Willie cuts through the forest he isn't supposed to and picks up a piece of trash. Inside the McDonalds bag is a dirty teapot. Little did he know that rubbing the teapot hidden within that Happy Meal bag was going to change his life...

Posted by Emily

April 14, 2010

Everything Is Fine by Ann Dee Ellis

Reading Level: Grades 6-9

Mazzy insists that everything is fine, even though her mom won't (or can't) get out of bed, her dad is always traveling for his job, and something mysterious and terrible seems to have happened to her baby sister. This is a tender, serious story about a teenager who is trying to hold her family together but is afraid to ask anyone for help.

Posted by Cynthia

Invasion of the Relatives by Alexander Stadler

Reading level: Grades 3-5

Disguised as a nine-year-old Earthling boy, Federation first officer Julian Rodriguez is tested to his limits when the parental units insist he shed his protective Federation uniform, fraternize with genetically linked mini-brains and eat barbarically stuffed bird.

If you enjoy this laugh-aloud graphic novel try Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom by Eric Wight.

Posted by Stephanie

April 12, 2010

Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricane Katrina, Friendship, and Survival by Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery

Illustrated by Jean Cassels

Reading Level: Ages 5 - 7

A touching story of a dog and a cat who, left behind by their owners when Hurricane Katrina struck, managed to stay together and survive on their own.

Posted by Susan

April 08, 2010

A Small Brown Dog with a Wet Pink Nose by Stephanie Stuve-Bodeen

Illustrated by Linzie Hunter

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 7

Amelia wants a dog, but her parents always say they aren't ready for one. So, Amelia comes up with a clever plan to make her parents realize they ARE ready to add a dog to the family.

Posted by Susan

April 07, 2010

The TRICK series by Scott Corbett

Reading Level: Grades 2-5

Are you looking for a good read-aloud or an old classic you haven’t read before? Look no further than the TRICK series, starring Kerby Maxwell and his faithful dog, Waldo! The TRICK series’ first novel, The Lemonade Trick, was published in 1960, and paved the way for a comedic series of misadventures mostly revolving around Kerby’s use of the Feats O’ Magic Chemistry Set. Kerby was given the chemistry set in TRICK book one by an elderly woman named Mrs. Graymalkin, as a thank you for helping her free her high heel from a sewer grate.

In The Lemonade Trick, Kerby tries out the set for the first time, with some nice results! Then in The Mailbox Trick, some accidentally mailed letters cause a huge problem. In each TRICK book, Kerby, Waldo, and their friends accidentally get themselves into a new sort of trouble.

If you liked Henry Huggins or Freddy the Pig, you might like the TRICK series, or vice versa!

Posted by Emily

April 02, 2010

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Reading Level gr.5-8

Katarina Bishop finds her break with her family of elite thieves is short-lived when she is pressured to reenter the life in order to protect her father from a deadly crime lord.

If you enjoyed this tale of a teen raised on the wrong side of the law try:
Son of the Mob by Gordon Korman
and Stealing Heaven by Elizabeth Scott

Other tales of teen lawbreakers include:
Thieves Like Us by Stephen Cole
How to Steal a Car by Pete Hautman
and the graphic novel Cat Burglar Black by Richard Sala

Posted by Stephanie

April 01, 2010

Just the Right Size: Why Big Animals are Big and Little Animals are Little by Nicola Davies

Reading Level: Grades 2-5

Have you ever wondered why you can’t fly like an insect? Why you can’t walk on water like a water strider? Why you can’t walk on the ceiling like Spider-Man or a gecko? Why you can’t lift a bus? Why you’ll never be as big as a blue whale? Find out the answers to these great questions and MORE by reading Just the Right Size.

Posted by Emily

March 26, 2010

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Reading Level Ages 10+

"I have never spoken a single word in my life. I am almost eleven years old." So says 11-year-old Melody, a brilliant child with a photographic memory; a child with such severe cerebral palsy no one knows about her talents.

Other engrossing stories about disabled children includes:
Petey by Ben Mikaelsen
Stuck in Neutral by Terry Trueman
and Window Boy by Andrea White

Posted by Stephanie

March 24, 2010

Back Home by Julia Keller

Reading level 5-8

When Brownie's father is horribly injured in Iraq she grapples with the loss of the father she knew.

Posted by Stephanie

March 22, 2010

Pigs Make Me Sneeze! by Mo Willems

Reading Level: Grades K - 2

Gerald and Piggy are back, but can they still be friends when Gerald starts sneezing uncontrollably in Piggy's presence? What will they do if Gerald is allergic to Piggy?!

Posted by Susan

March 17, 2010

Sit-in How Four Friends Stood Up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Grades K - 2

The year was 1960 and four African-American college students sat in at Woolworth's lunch counter and waited to be served. The story is told with food and service metaphors, making this a lyrical telling of a defining moment in the struggle for equality. A timeline of the Civil Rights movement is appended.

Posted by Harriet

March 15, 2010

Anatopsis by Chris Abeouzeid

Reading Level: 5 - 8

Princess Anatopsis is astounded when her mother, the evil witch Queen Solomon, informs her that Prince Barnaby, the son of the queen's bitter rival, will be joining Anatopsis for magic lessons with the sinister Mr. Pound.

Posted by Stephanie

Models Don't Eat Chocolate Cookies by Erin Dionne

12-year-old Celeste never worried about her weight...before she started middle school. Most of the other girls dropped their "baby fat" over the summer. Not Celeste. If anything she's gained a bit. Now Celeste is the favorite fat-joke target in the school. Celeste's woes compound when her aunt enters her in the HuskeyPeach modeling competition. Celeste scrambles to keep the competition a secret while she frantically tries to throw the contest.

Posted by Stephanie

Bug Boy by Eric Luper

Grades 6-8

Set at Saratoga Racetrack during the Great Depression, 15-year-old Jack is an excercise boy who suddenly is given the chance to become an apprentice jockey or bug boy. All Jack wants is become a first rate jockey and earn enough money to help his family back home. While a life of fame and money opens up to him, Jack learn about the darker side of racing where some men will do anything to make him throw a race. Even a romance with a beautiful, rich female bookie is his for the taking. The races are exciting and there's plenty of fascinating information about track life. Jack's living an adult life with adult decisions to make.

Posted by Harriet

March 12, 2010

DORK Diaries by Rachel Renée Russell

When Nikki J. Maxwell is awarded a scholarship to an elite middle school she must deal with being the only student without expensive clothes and accessories while she tries to hide the fact that her father is an exterminator.

If you like stories in diary format try:
"Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley's Journal by Jeff Kinney
and "The Diary of Melanie Martin, or, How I Survived Matt the Brat, Michelangelo, and the Leaning Tower of Pizza by Carol Weston

Posted by Stephanie

Invisible Lines by Mary Amato

When Trevor, a new student from the projects, is accidentally placed in the gifted science class, he struggles to keep his economic status a secret from his 8th grade classmates.

For another tale of a boy with a secret try "Dog Years by Sally Warner

Posted by Stephanie

March 11, 2010

Dragonbreath by Ursula Vernon

Reading Level: Grades 2-4

Danny is the only dragon at the Herpitax-Phibbias School for Reptiles and Amphibians. After he gets an F on an essay about the ocean, his mom suggests Danny go to visit Cousin Edward, who lives there. Edward takes Danny and his best friend Wendell, a marine iguana, on a wild, hilarious, and educational ride!

Posted by Emily

The Ask and the Answer by Patrick Ness

Reading Level: Grades 8 and up.

In the first novel in the Chaos Walking trilogy, The Knife of Never Letting Go, Patrick Ness brought his readers into a world filled with Noise, introducing them to Todd, Viola, and the men of Prentisstown. Book Two picks up with the same intensity as Book One’s cliffhanger and doesn’t let up.

The last time Todd saw Viola, she was in his arms, bleeding to death after being shot by Davy Prentiss. Now he’s awake, he’s in a dark room, he’s tied to a chair and bound, and the Mayor has Viola. Mayor Prentiss assures Todd that Viola is being cared for, and that he is not who Todd thinks he is.

Again alternating between Todd’s and Viola’s experiences in New Prentisstown, The Ask and the Answer brings to light traits of Todd and of Viola that neither character thought they possessed.

Posted by Emily

March 10, 2010

Paulie Pastrami Achieves World Peace by James Proimos

Reading Level: Ages 4-8

Paulie Pastrami isn’t very good at a lot of different things, but that isn’t going to stop him from achieving world peace.

Posted by Emily

The Batboy by Mike Lupica

14-year-old Brian Dudley, a batboy for the Detroit Tigers, is excited to learn that disgraced great Hank Bishop has been signed by the team. His excitement cools when he discovers that Hank is an angry, bitter man who seems to have a special dislike for Brian.

If you enjoy this tale of behind the scenes sports action, try:

"Change-up: A Mystery at the World Series by John Feinstein
and "Football Hero by Tim Green

Posted by Stephanie

February 26, 2010

Walking with Lucy: A Puppy's First Year

Reading Level: Preschool to Grade 2

Walk (or run) outside with Lucy the puppy through all the months of the year!

Posted by Emily

Say the Word by Jeannine Garsee

Reading Level: Grades 7 and up

Shawna has never been proud of the fact that her mother left her father for another woman, least of all that her mother is a lesbian. Kids at school don’t know her mom’s gay, and she wants to keep it that way. Then Shawna gets a call from the Frankfurter (Mom’s new wife) – Shawna’s mom has had a stroke, and is dying.

After her mother’s death, Shawna hopes that life can get back to ‘normal,’ whatever that is. But Mom’s will was never updated after she left Shawna’s father, and Dad isn’t being nice about things. He repossesses Fran and Mom’s house, Mom’s art gallery, forcing Fran and her two sons, Arye and Schmule, to move in with an aunt and financially ruining them. Though she feels she should hate Fran, Arye, and Schmule for taking her mother, she finds herself questioning her allegiance to her father and wonders which side is right. When Dad discovers that Schmule is his own son, hidden from him by Fran and Mom, he begins a legal battle to regain his lost son and Shawna’s choice becomes even more difficult.

Though Shawna’s thoughts and actions aren’t always perfect, her genuine emotional struggle and desire to preserve her family - whoever she decides that might be - is authentic and powerfully written. Her story is more than just one of family strife – it is fraught with homophobia, depression, suicide, shame, anger, domestic violence, and love.

Posted by Emily

Mudshark by Gary Paulsen

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

Mudshark is the coolest kid in school, without a doubt. He’s fast, he’s smart, he’s observant – and he’s the school’s resident detective. Lost something? That’s okay, Mudshark knows where it is. Got a question? Mudshark knows the answer, no problem. Even the principal asks Mudshark to help him solve mysteries!

Then Mrs. Underdorf, the librarian, starts using Sparky the armadillo as a purse (long story) and buys a parrot. Everyone in school really likes the parrot, especially when they discover it is psychic!

Suddenly Mudshark isn’t the coolest thing in school anymore.

Posted by Emily

February 25, 2010

Guess Again! by Mac Barnett

Illustrated by Adam Rex

Reading Level: Ages 3 - 8

You will never be able to guess the answers to the puzzle rhymes in this nonsensical book, but trying will keep you and your child laughing to the very end.

Posted by Susan

February 11, 2010

I Spy Fly Guy! by Tedd Arnold

Reading Level: Ages 4 - 6

Things go terribly awry when Fly Guy and his friend Buzz play hide and seek on garbage day.

Posted by Susan

February 08, 2010

Chicken Butt! by Erica S. Perl

illustrated by Henry Cole

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 4

Guess what? If you have ever tormented a three-year-old (or been tormented by a three-year-old) with the chicken butt word game you will enjoy this take on a classic. CHICKEN BUTT!!

Posted by Susan

The Unfinished Angel by Sharon Creech

In the top room of a stone tower high in the Swiss mountains lives a rather confused angel. "Do other angels know what they are doing? Am I the only confused one? Maybe I am unfinished, an unfinished angel." One day a new girl named Zola bursts into the angel's tower. Unlike all the other people in the village, Zola can see the angel. Zola thinks that angels are supposed to FIX things. She is constantly telling the angel to do something! When Zola discovers a group of desperate children, she begins a campaign that will change the angel, the village and even her own life forever.

For another gentle, funny story about a well-meaning but inept supernatural being try Gossamer by Lois Lowry.

Posted by Stephanie

February 05, 2010

The Boy Who Went Ape by Richard Jesse Watson

Benjamin, the most unruly kid in Ms. Thunderblum's class, has a knack for getting in trouble. He can't resist doing exactly the opposite of what he is told. When told on a field trip to the zoo NOT to open the animal cages, Benjamin opens and enters the ape cage...and gets locked in. While the chimps deal with Benjamin, Ms. Thunderblum frantically tries to control "Benjamin" (the chimp in Benjamin's clothing).

Posted by Stephanie

Minerva the Monster by Wednesday Kirwan

Minerva is tired of being a sweet little puppy. Instead, she decides to be a roaring, stomping, uncooperative monster. Wearing her monster mask, Minerva goes on a day long rampage but as the day draws to a close, Minerva realizes there are advantages to being her mother's little puppy after all.

Posted by Stephanie

February 01, 2010

Ava Tree and the Wishes Three

Reading Level: Grades 3 – 5

During her eighth birthday party (a backwards, upside down, and inside out party), Ava Tree realizes that she has a wishing power!! But how far can she take this newfound power? Can Ava wish her parents back to life? And what happens if she wishes for something bad?

Posted by Emily

Bunnicula: A Rabbit Tale of Mystery by Deborah and James Howe

Reading Level: Grades 3 and up

Settle back with a classic and pick up the first novel in the seven-part Bunnicula series. In this first novel, we are introduced to Harold (the loveable dog-writer), Chester (the paranoid cat), and the vampire rabbit himself… Bunnicula.

If you’re reading Bunnicula again, or want to for your first read, try it out as an audiobook!! The Bunnicula Collection includes the first three books in Deborah and James Howe’s thrilling series – Bunnicula, Howliday Inn, and The Celery Stalks at Midnight.

Posted by Emily

No Girls Allowed (Dogs Okay) by Trudi Trueit

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

Scab McNally, fourth grade inventor, hates his twin sister Isabelle, and he HATES girls. Good thing he’s got the perfect invention to both help him get rid of Isabelle AND get enough money for a dog – a sister repellent called Isabelle’s Smell that is a hit with the fourth grade boys!! It won’t be long before Scab sells enough of Isabelle’s Smell to show his parents he’s responsible enough for a dog and can help pay for it. But when a bottle of Isabelle’s Smell breaks in the middle of class one day, Scab’s perfectly laid plans turn disastrous.

Posted by Emily

A Prince Among Killers by Susan Vaught

This second title in Vaught's Oathbreaker series picks up where Assassin's Apprentice left off. Tension mounts as Aron struggles with his loyalties to Stone, an unyielding guild of enforcers, the hidden and badly damaged prince, Nic and Dari, who has a magical secret of her own.

Other intricate, engrossing fantasy realms can be found in:
The Hero and the Crown by Robin McKinley
Fall of a Kingdom by Hilari Bell
Graceling by Kristin Cashore and
The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan

Posted by Stephanie


January 28, 2010

Stanley's Beauty Contest by Linda Bailey

illustrated by Bill Slavin

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

Stanley the dog is given a B-A-T-H and taken to a dog contest, but how can he concentrate when the prizes smell so good and his people forgot to give him breakfast? Don't humans understand what is truly important?

Posted by Susan

January 27, 2010

Bobby Vs. Girls (Accidentally) by Lisa Yee

Bobby's best friend is his neighbor. They like to hang out together. They even have a secret handshake. When they are out of school they are inseparable. In school they have nothing to do with each other. That's because Bobby's best friend Holly is a girl. Bobby and Holly are used to keeping their secret. They hang out with their school friends at school and each other when they're not in school. When Holly's new school friend, bossy Jillian, gets into an argument with Bobby's school friend, Bobby and Holly find themselves on opposite sides of a war that involves the entire 4th grade.

If you enjoyed Bobby and Holly's friendship you'd also enjoy:
The Trouble With Rules by Leslie Bulion
Granny Torrelli Makes Soup by Sharon Creech,
The Liberation of Gabriel King by K.L. Going
Minn and Jake by Janet S. Wong
11 Birthdays by Wendy Mass
and The Mulberry Project by Linda Sue Park

If the fight between boys and girls was your favorite part of the story check these books out:
Thirteen Ways to Sink a Sub by Jamie Gilson
No Talking by Andrew Clements
and The Boys Start the War by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Posted by Stephanie

The Birthday Pet by Ellen Javernick

illustrated by Kevin O'Malley

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

Danny is promised that he can get whatever pet he wants for his birthday, but nobody thinks that he could really want a turtle.

Posted by Susan

The Dunderheads by Paul Fleischman

Miss Breakbone, well known child hater and mean teacher, made four mistakes 1) She insulted her class calling them, among other things, dunderheads, 2) She had no eye for talent, especially the nefarious kid kind, 3) she confiscated one thing too many from her class and 4) She issued a challenge, "And don't even think about getting them back!"

When Einstein, class problem solver extraordinaire, devises a plan to recover the confiscated one-eared ceramic cat, Miss Breakbone doesn't stand a chance.

If you'd like to read another great kids vs. nasty adult caper story try Swindled by Gordon Korman.

Posted by Stephanie

Dinosaur Woods by George McClements

Reading Level: K-2

The animals in the forest are in danger of losing their homes! The tree factory construction starts in just FOUR days… how can seven animal friends save their forest? Luckily, Rojo has a GREAT idea.

Posted by Emily

Glamsters by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel and Pet Shop Lullaby by Mary Ann Fraser

Reading Level: K-2
Glamsters is one of Hickory, Dickory, and Doc’s new favorite books (even though they are gerbils, and not that into fashion). They wonder what they would look like as glamsterbils.

Reading Level: preschool and up
Pet Shop Lullaby is another that our Library Gerbils want to make sure you don’t miss out on. They like to hear it as a good morning story, not a good night story, because they like to sleep during the day, too!

Posted by Emily

January 26, 2010

I Need a Monster by Amanda Noll

illustrated by Howard McWilliam

Reading Level: Ages 2 - 5

When Ethan's underbed monster, Gabe, leaves a note saying he has gone fishing and will be back in a week Ethan tries out a lot of substitute monsters, but nobody is quite right for him.

Posted by Susan

January 19, 2010

Spies & Anti-Heroes

Adventures stories have long captured the imaginations of young readers. In 2001 Anthony Horwitz’s Stormbreaker introduced 14-year-old Alex Rider, a reluctant M16 agent. Before Alex Rider spy stories for tweens and teens were almost nonexistent. Since then the genre has grown in both variety and popularity.

Some great spy stories are:

Andy McNab's Traitor
Robert Muchamore's The Recruit
Roland Smith's I,q, Independence Hall
Charles Higson's Silverfin
Jack Heath's The Lab
Greg Logsted's Alibi Junior High
Michael Spradin's Live and Let Shop
Ally Carter's I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You.

2001 also saw the introduction of Eoin Colfer's Artemis Fowl, an anti-hero. This story contained many of the same elements as the spy novel, danger, intrigue, clever gadgets, with one important difference---the main character, or the organization the main character is affiliated with, does not have honorable intentions. This genre has also grown in variety and popularity.

Engrossing anti-hero tales include:

Michael Simmon's Finding Lubchenko
Mark Walden's H.I.V.E.: Higher- Institute-of Villainous Education
Catherine Jink's Evil Genius
Stephen Cole's Thieves Like Us.

Posted by Stephanie

Creature ABC

Reading Level: Preschool and up.

Andrew Zuckerman’s beautiful photography makes learning the animal alphabet a fun experience! Don’t forget to look at the glossary in the back for facts about each animal used in the alphabet.

Posted by Emily

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Reading Level: Grades 8 and up.

The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.
‘Need a poo, Todd.’
‘Shut up, Manchee.’
‘Poo. Poo, Todd.’
‘I said shut it.’
We’re walking across the wild fields southeast of town, those ones that slope down to the river and head on toward the swamp. Ben’s sent me to pick him some swamp apples and he’s made me take Manchee with me, even tho we all know Cillian only bought him to stay on Mayor Prentiss’s good side and so suddenly here’s this brand-new dog as a present for my birthday last year when I never said I wanted any dog, that what I said I wanted was for Cillian to finally fix the fissionbike so I wouldn’t have to walk every forsaken place in this stupid town, but oh, no, happy birthday, Todd, here’s a brand-new puppy, Todd, and even tho you don’t want him, even tho you never asked for him, guess who has to feed him and train him and wash him and take him for walks and listen to him jabber now he’s got old enough for the talking germ to set his mouth moving? Guess who?

New World has only one settlement – Prentisstown, populated by only men. When colonizers landed on New World, everyone caught a virus that killed half the men and every woman as well as broadcasting the surviving men’s thoughts into Noise. There isn’t any escaping Noise, not even at the bar in Prentisstown that plays loud music in an attempt to drown out drunken Noise, not even alone in the swamp where the thoughts of crocs (EAT, EAT) and squirrels (come on, whirler dog, come on, come get, come on, come get). So when Todd and Manchee discover the impossible - a hole in the Noise, out in the swamp near the old Spackle buildings, he wonders if another impossible has happened. Are the Spackle back?

But the hole in the Noise is not the return of the human-slaughtered Spackle. The source of the Noise-hole is a girl – the first girl he’s ever seen in his life, the first girl to be on New World or in Prentisstown since shortly after Todd was born. Though Todd tries to keep his knowledge of her quiet, in a world with Noise secrets are scarce.

Soon forced to leave Prentisstown for reasons he does not understand, Todd finds himself on the run with the Noiseless girl, Viola, chased by a posse of men that quickly turns into an army. But where can a boy and a dog hide in a world filled with Noise?

Other dystopian novels you may enjoy after reading The Knife of Never Letting Go are: The Giver by Lois Lowry, The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, Unwind by Neal Shusterman, or The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer.

Posted by Emily

January 15, 2010

Jasper Dash and the Flame-pits of Delaware: A Pals in Peril Tale by M.T. Anderson

illustrations by Kurt Cyrus

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 7

Jasper, Kate and Lily head off to the wild and mysterious state of Delaware to save Jasper's friends (a group of monks living on one of the mountains of Delaware) from evil-doers who are trying to exploit them and their magical powers, but can they get past the dictator of Delaware's spies, the jungles full of dinosaurs and the dreaded mountain squid in time? If you enjoyed Whales on Stilts you will love this third book in the series.

Posted by Susan

January 13, 2010

Notes from the Dog by Gary Paulsen

Reading Level: Grades 6 and up.

15-year old Finn is REALLY looking forward to this summer. His master plan is to speak to no more than twelve people (other than his dad, his grandpa, and his best friend Matthew), get a job, and read as much as he can. But when Johanna moves in next door and hires him to plant a garden in his own backyard, his plans completely change. Johanna tells Finn and Matthew that she’s going to train for a super-sprint triathalon for at the hospital where she gets breast cancer treatments. To help her raise money, Finn finds himself talking to more than his quota of a dozen people within a week, and is surprised that he doesn’t mind at all. As the summer progresses, punctuated with inspirational notes from Dylan the dog, Finn’s friendship with Johanna blooms (unlike his garden) and he realizes that maybe it’s time for his loner lifestyle to come to an end.

Paulsen’s characters are rich and full of emotion, his writing quick and witty, and his story truly heartwarming.

Posted by Emily

100% Wolf by Jayne Lyons

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

On the night of his first transwolfation 10-year-old Freddy Lupine transforms in front of the entire Fang Council into a...poodle!

Other humorous tales of otherworldly creatures include:Weird Wolf by Margery Cuyler and The Vampire in My Bathtub by Brenda Seabrooke

Posted by Stephanie

The Maze by James Dashner

Reading Level: Grades 6 - 9

Thomas arrived at the Glade just like all the previous boys, terrified and angry with no memory of his previous life except for his first name. The boys who pulled him off the lift were no help. All they knew was that the "Greenie" had to fit in if he wanted to survive, but Thomas isn't like the other boys. Even with his wiped memory he KNOWS that he must be a maze runner, one of the boys who risk their lives daily braving the murderous Grievers to search for a way through the maze that surrounds the protected Glade. Time is running out. It is either escape or annihilation.

Other dark dystopian adventures include:
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
The Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
and Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Posted by Stephanie

January 10, 2010

The Reformed Vampire Support Group by Catherine Jinks

Reading Level: Grades 7 and 8

Stephanie Meyer has it ALL WRONG! Just ask any of the members of the "Reformed Vampire Support Group." Vampires are pale, skinny, weak losers. They do not attack people and suck their least vampires in the support group don't. They use guinea pigs and clean up the mess when they're done. Nina hates her "life". Since the fifteen-year old was fanged fifty-one years ago NOTHING interesting has happened until one of her group is staked, then this odd band of misfits realizes they must either brave the world to find the killer or be picked off one by one.

For another off-beat take on vampires try Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

Posted by Stephanie

January 08, 2010

T4 by Ann Clare Lezotte

Reading Level: Grades 6, 7 and 8

This brief novel told in poems introduces another group persecuted by the Nazi regime...the disabled. Paula, the daughter of a loving Christian family, must be hidden if she is to escape being "mercy killed" by the authorities.

Another gripping tale set in the dark days of fascism is The Boy Who Dared by Susan Campbell Bartoletti

Posted by Stephanie

January 07, 2010

Zoobreak by Gordon Korman

Reading Level: Grades 3, 4 and 5

The gang from Swindle is back! When 11-year-old Savannah's beloved monkey Cleo disappears Savannah's suspicions of foul play are confirmed when she spots Cleo imprisoned on Mr. Nastase's floating zoo. Despite her pleas and demands, no adult helps her regain her monkey. All her hope rest with classmate Griffin and his improbable plan.

If you like this crazy caper try Whales on Stilts by M.T. Anderson

Posted by Stephanie

January 05, 2010

Faith, Hope and Ivy June by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor

Reading Level: Grades 5, 6 and 7

When 7th grade Ivy June is selected to represent her impoverished school in an exchange with a 7th grader from an affluent town she learns to appreciate her own family and community.

Other homespun tales include: Belle Prater's Boy by Ruth White and Love, Ruby Lavender by Debbie Wiles.

Posted by Stephanie

Odd and the Frost Giants by Neil Gaiman

Reading Level: Grades 3, 4 and 5

12-year-old Odd has had a very rough few years. In short order his father died, Odd's leg was crushed by a tree and his mother fell into a deep depression. Her marriage to Fat Elfred, an abusive drunk, did nothing to improve Odd's lot in life. With no place for him at home or in his Viking village, Odd treks through the woods to live in his father's old woodcutter cabin. Before he can settle in a fox leads Odd on a rescue mission that will change his life forever.

If you enjoy this mythological adventure try: Sea of Trolls by Farmer or The Lightning Thief by Roirdan.

Posted by Stephanie