New Book Reviews
Reading Level: PreK - Grade 3
Josh Schneider hits the mark again as he reinvents the classic monster under the bed tale. Arnold is your average boy. He trashes an imaginery Fifth Avenue and bites off the heads of animal crackers. But Arnold doesn't want to go to bed for fear of bedtime monsters. Sure enough, they appear one by one. Some very silly monsters jump into bed with Arnold since it turns out that they are afraid other monsters. Readers will laugh aloud at the imaginative illustrations and love the surprise ending!
Reading Level: Grades 3 - 7
This is Rumpelstilton as never before. Instead of the nasty, baby stealing gnome, Rump is a young boy, small for his age, malnourished, and picked on by village bullies. His mother died when he was born and the last thing she uttered was his name. In a kingdom where your name is your fate, how much worse could it get than to be named Rump? But is it his full name?
The orginal story is here. There's the greedy miller, his beautiful daughter, a gold loving king, and a boy who can spin straw into gold. Add in messanger gnomes, gold crazed biting pixies, witchesin woods, and smelly trolls and readers will agree that Shurtliff can spin some tale.
Reading Level: Grades 7 & up
Set in a dystopian American, years ago before the story begins a new virus killed millions of people and turned others into half-human, half-animal mutants. The rest of humanity fled and built a wall along the Mississippi River to separate themselves from the "Feral Zone."
When 16-year-old Lane McEvoy learns her father has gone missing, she must enter the forbidden "Feral Zone" to complete a mission that could save his life. Everson, a handsome border guard, and bad boy Rafe accompany Lane her astonishing journey. The characters are multi-faceted and, like all good science fiction, Inhuman raises important questions, namely, what it is to be human or humane. Readers will eagerly await the next two books in the trilogy.
Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8
...until Morgan Sturtz kicks my butt
Sam Lewis and Morgan Sturtz were best friends all through elementary school, but by seventh grade Sam is the brainy, nerdy, small kid while Morgan is is the popular football player who struggles in school. Readers know something has happened to warrant the promised "butt kicking," but don't find out until later in the book. Hask-Lowy takes readers through a boring social studies class, a classic food fight, a fire drill and the cover "butt kicking." Sam is a smart, likeable narrator. "If you know someone was going to kick you someplace, would you not hope for that place to be your butt?"
There are so many books about the changing friendships among girls. Here's one about boys that girls will enjoy, too.
Reading Level: Grades 6 - 8
Sixteen-year-old Dan is thrilled to be spending the summer on a real college campus taking college courses with a bunch of kids who actually CARE about school. When he arrives he learns that the summer students are all going to be housed in an old asylum which is being converted to dorms. Camp start off normal enough, but after Dan and his new friends explore an off limit area, things start getting strange. Dan begins to have strange dreams involving doctors experimenting on mental patients, and then the blackouts start.
Reading Level: Grades 2-4
It was a sweet story when Gran Gran bought it. She wrote a loving inscription circled by a heart, "Happy Birthday, Alexander! To my little birthday bunny on his special day. Love, Gran Gran."
The saccharine book was more than Alexander could take. With pencil in hand he changes the gentle story of a little birthday bunny into the wild, raucous adventures of the villainous Battle Bunny!!!
Books by Jon Scieszka
Books by Mac Barnett
Other subversive stories include:
Chester by Melanie Watt
Killer Koalas From Outer Space by Andy Griffiths and
Tales for the Perfect Child by Florence Parry Heide
Reading Level: Grades 4 - 8
England has always had ghosts, but ever since The Problem began hauntings have become more frequent and much more dangerous, with ghosts being able to kill people with a touch. Most people are born with the ability to sense ghosts, but they lose this skill when they reach adulthood so now children are employed to watch for and hunt ghosts under the supervision of an adult leader.Thirteen-year-old Lucy, who can hear ghosts, joins the rogue pair of ghost hunters known as Lockwood & Co. which has no adult in charge. Needless to say, nobody is terribly surprised when she and Lockwood accidentally burn down a house on one of her first missions. This new supernatural adventure series by the author of the the Bartemaeus books will leave the reader hoping book two comes out soon.
Reading Level: Ages 12 & up
This nonfiction book reads like a fast paced spy thriller. Israeli Mossad agents, German and Israeli government officials, and private citizens worked together to abduct Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichman and bring him to justice. Eichman, responsible for the deaths of six million Jews, disappeared after the war ended. Then there came a report that he was living in Argentina.
All the elements of a spy novel are here: a dangerous mission, false identities, safe houses, and split second timing, but this is a true, well documented history.
Reading Level: Ages 8 - 12
Dad has been left in charge of the house in Mom's absence and there is no milk for his children's cereal. Not much of a plot unless the author is Neil Gaiman. In the ultimate "the dog ate my homework" story, Dad explains why it took so long to get the milk. The story involves alien aduction, pirates, a dinosaur professor in a hot-air balloon, "wumpires," the space-time continuum- oh, you get the idea. Illustrator Skottie Young 's illustrations manage to match the zaniness of the plot. I'd write more, but I think Bigfoot needs help finding a book and there's the spell cast on the Youth Services Department and . . .
16-year-old Sydney Carton is an orphan. As a baby he was rescued from the eastern wastelands by the Benevolent Society...for a price. Syd must repay the cost of his rescue and education. To recoop their costs the Society sold baby Syd's services to Mr. Brindle, an ultra-wealthy member of the ruling class, as his son's proxy.
16-year-old Knox Brindle only thinks of Syd when he is forced to watch the screen that broadcasts Syd receiving Knox's punishments which range from violent electical shocks to weeks of hard labor.
In two years Syd's debt will be paid and he will never have to worry about suffering for his unknown "patron" again. Syd counts the days until he is free. His hopes are dashed when Knox does the unforgivable, leaving Syd to face years in a brutal maximum security prison. It is a fate Syd is determined to escape.
Other action-packed dystopian tales include:
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Coda by Emma Trevayne