October 2008 Reviews
Eddyville Charter October 2008
White, Ruth. Little Audrey, Farrar Strauss Giroux, ©2008, 146P. ISBN 978-0-374-34580-8 / 0-374-34580-5. $16.00 Ages 11-14. P6Q7 Audrey tells the story in her older sister’s voice. The story takes place in 1948 at a rural coal mine town. The family is stepped in desperation and dysfunction, desiring a change but not sure how to obtain it. When Dad dies the family is forced to move on and actually end up with a better life.
Burgess, Melvin. Sara’s Face. Simon Pulse, ©2006. 264 P. ISBN 978-1-4169-5815-4 / 1-4169-5815-0 $7.99 Ages 14-18. P6Q7
Sara doesn’t like herself and will do anything to be pretty, popular, and famous. Borderline anorexic, multi-personality disorders, a risk to self are just some of Sara’s issues. When she meets Jonathon Heat, a famous celebrity, known for his addiction to cosmetic surgery, he promises to help her out. How far will she go and at what cost? The many contemporary issues and a peak inside the life of the rich and famous will appeal to young adult readers.
Zindel, Lizabeth. The Secret Rites of Social Butterflies. Masterfile, ©2007. 289 P.
ISBN 978-0-670-06217-1 $16.99 Ages 14-18. P7Q9
A girl named Maggie went to a school in New Jersey her whole life until her parents separated in the summer before her senior year. She had to move to New York with her mom and her grandpa sent her to a high class school called Berkley Prep. At first it seems like she will never fit in until the highest clique in the school becomes her best friends. Their “mission” is to write the truths about girls in their school on The Wall. But Maggie starts to wonder if they are using The Wall for the right reasons. I really liked this book and plan to recommend it to my friends to read.
Kwasney, Michelle D. Itch. Henry Holt and Company, ©2008 ISBN-13:978-0-8083-4 ISBN 10:0-8050-8083-x $16.95 Ages 11-14. P4Q7
Delores also known as “Itch” tries to adapt to living in a new town. After her grandfather dies Delores lives with her grandma who is very strict and dull. This book was very boring, no excitement and extremely dull.
Griffen, Paul. Ten Mile River, Dial Books. ©2008, 186 pg. ISBN 978-0-8037-3284-1, $16.99 Ages 12-17. P6Q7
Having escaped from juvenile detention centers and foster care, two teenaged boys live on their own, in an abandoned shack, in New York, making their way by stealing, occasionally working, and trying to keep from being arrested. The book pulls in the reader by being able to relate to the two boys. I suggest this to teenage male readers. This is the first novel by Griffen.
Joyce, Graham. The Exchange. Viking. ©2007 241 pg. ISBN 978-0-670-06207-2. $16.99 Ages 16-18 P5Q5
The Exchange is about two best friends, Caz and Lucy, who sneak into other people’s homes while they are sleeping just for fun. One night Caz is caught in the act by Mrs. Tranter, who snaps a bracelet on her wrist. Caz is unable to take the bracelet off and stop the unusual powers it has. Not a great read due to slow parts and weak characters.
Crane, E.M. Skin Deep. Delacorte Press. ©2008 270 pg ISBN 978-0-385-73479-0/978-0-385-90477-3 $16.99 Ages 12-16 P8Q8
Andrea Anderson is a sixteen year old girl who is taking care of the neighbor’s sick dog. In the book Andrea learns a lot about life, death and friendships. The character is easy to connect with and has a believable back-story and a normal life. Andrea has very common opinions and a basic down-in-the-dumps life.
Swanson, Susan Marie. The House in the Night. Houghton Mifflin Company, ©2008 Unpaged: col. III. ISBN 13:978-0-618-86244-3/10:0-618-86244-7 $17.00 Ages 4-7 Inspired by Iona and Peter Opie who collected nursery rhymes and handed them down over many years. This traditional poem inspired the pattern of this picture book; illustrations are all black and white with a smatter of yellow.
Schaefer,Carole Lexa. Big Little Monkey. Illustrated by Pierre Pratt. Candlewick Press. ©2008 ISBN 978-0-7636-2006-6. $16.99 Grade K-2. P7Q7.
Early one morning in a big mango tree, Little Monkey wakes up and finds his whole family still asleep. Little monkey sets off on his own to find his way along with some fun. The kindergarten liked the story as well as the colorful artwork.
Polacco, Patricia. For the Love of Autumn, Philomel, ©2008. unpaged. ISBN 978-0-399-24541-1. $16.99. Grades K-3. P7Q8
Miss Parks finds an abandoned kitten that she adopts as her own. Autumn is a pesky playful companion that fills the void in Miss Parks’ life. When the job takes them to Washington they both learn how to adapt living by the sea. One night during a storm the kitten runs away, only to return off and on, but always returning well cared for. Autumn now has two owners, Mr. Noton and Miss Parks. Through Autumn, true love erupts and they all become one big happy family.
Stewart, Joel. Addis Berner Bear Forgets Doubleday, ©2008 Unpaged ISBN-13: 9780374300364 $ 16.95 Ages 4–6 P5Q5
Addis a musical bear comes to the big city, but is so overwhelmed by the noise and the confusion that he actually forgets why he came to the city. Addis wanders all over the city until he realizes why he came. Addis truly is a great trumpet player. Someone who really pays attention will pick up the picture clues. I felt that young readers would need help understanding the message in the book.
Gorbachev, Valeri. Turtle’s Penguin Day. Alfred A. Knopf New York. © 2008. Unpaged. ISBN 978-375-84374-4 $16.99 Ages 4-8.
The pictures bring this book to life. This book shows how information found in books can be inspiring to ones imagination. Over all this is a very enjoyable story.
Silverman, Erica. There was a Wee Woman…Melanie Kroupa Books, ©2008. Unpaged: col. III. ISBN 978-0-374-38253-7 $16.95 Ages 5-8 P9Q9
Inspired by the nursery rhyme “The Old Women in the Shoe,” this book illustrates a lively tale of a wee woman, her many wee children, and their pets too, living in one big shoe. When the children start fighting and the pets multiple, the adventure begins for this wee family and pets to find a new home: but beware there are giants out there. With illustrations by Rosanne Litzinger, this easy to read book comes to life following a family into a world full of adventure and surprises as they search for a new home.
Pullen, Zachary. Friday My Radio Flyer Flew. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. ©2008. Unpaged, col. Ill. ISBN 978-1-4169-3983-2 $16.95 Ages 4-7 P8Q8
When a young boy goes searching for things up in his attic, he stumbles upon his Dad’s old radio flyer. With motivation and hard work, find out what happens when one boy is determined to make the radio flyer fly. With colorful illustrations, Zachary Pullen follows one boys dream to make his Dad’s old radio flyer fly.
Oregon Coast Preview Book Center for Young Readers Oct. 2008 Reviews by M.D. ASPIRE
Berry, Lynne. Illustrated by Hiroe Nakata. “Duck Dunks.” Henry Holt and Company. New York. 2008.
$16.95. ages pre-k-2nd grade. 978-8050-81282 p8/q8
This is a companion book to “Duck Skates.” This is a very enjoyable text with rhymes and adventures for five little ducks that venture to the ocean for a swim & pick nick. This would be a fun read a loud book with a focus on counting the five little ducks one to five. I liked the beautiful water color type pictures and end papers.
Lin, Grace. “Bringing In the New Year.” Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2008. $15.99. ages pre-k-2nd grade 978-0-375-83745-6. p9/q9
This simple book tells what the Chinese New Year is all about. The end papers have simple drawings and words that describe some of the items used to celebrate. The pictures are bright, bold and colorful. This is an exciting book with a few surprises – the last page folds out to show the entire Chinese dragon. The book also contains detailed explanations of the Chinese New Year which can be read & shared by the teacher to a young audience.
Grimes, Nikki. Illustrations by Mike Benny “Oh, Brother!” Amistad. Harper Collins Publishers. 2008. $17.98.ages k-3rd grade. 978-0-688-17295-4. p7/q7
The illustrations are captivating but seem a little old fashioned even though the author references’ the baseball player “A-Rod”, I’m afraid some readers might not make the connection. The book is written in poetry form with different poems starting with titles. It is a story about an African American and his Hispanic boys whose parents marry and form a step family. I enjoyed most of the poems except the ending was abrupt and didn’t make sense with the previous theme of the book.
Mortensen, Denise Dowling. Illustrated by Melissa Iwai. “Wake Up Engines.” Clarion Books. New York. 2007. ages prek-1st 978-0-618-51736-7. $16.00. p7/q7
I enjoyed the bright muted illustrations of a pre-school boy waking up to all the engines outside. He plays with his own engines inside and on the next page we see the same type of engine outside starting its day. Simple works and rhymes make up this fun pre-school reading book.
Stohner, Anu. Henrike Wilson. “Santa’s Littlest Helper Travels the World.” Bloomsbury Children’s Books. New York. 2006. ages 1st-3rd grade 978-1-59990-187-9. $15.95. p8/q8
Santa’s littlest helper saves Christmas when all the helpers get Christmas pox. He asks the animals to help deliver the presents and they fly to all the most beautiful cities in the world. The save Christmas and only one little boy wonders why Santa looks a little like an elk. The pictures are beautiful and the story flows perfectly. This is a very enjoyable Christmas book.
Elliott, David Illustrated by Christopher Denise “Knitty Kitty.” Chandlewick Press. Cambride, Massachusetts. 2008. ages prek-1st grade. 978-0-7636-3169-7. $16.99. p 8/ q8
This is a perfect bed time story for little children. The only thing is the words knitty kitty could be a bit of a tongue twister. The cat mom knits them scarf’s, shawls, and mittens but the kittens’ use them to build a snowman and when it’s bed time they are cold. She keeps them comfy warm instead of the things she knitted for them.
Baek, Matthew J. “Be Gentle with the Dog, Dear!” Dial Books for Young Readers. New York. 2008. ages prek-1st grade. 978-0-8037-3250-6. $14.99. p8 / q8
This is a great book to teach a young toddler to be gentle with the family pet. The words and drawings are very simple and are inspired by the author’s young daughter. I love a book that teaches a principle and helps parents raise better children.
Chessa, Fancesca. “Holly’s Red Boots.” A Holiday House Book. New York. 2008. ages pre-k-1st grade. 978-0-8234-2158-9. $16.95. p9 / q9
I loved this book it was funny and beautiful drawings. Holly can’t go out in the snow till she finds her red boots – she finds everything but them. She makes good sense but her mom still won’t let her go out till she finds the boots. When she does the snow has melted. Luckily her mom and baby brother join her in splashing in the puddles.
Wojtusik, Elizabeth. Pictures by Sachiko Yoshikawa. “Kitty Up”Dail Books for Young Readers. New York. 2008. ages prek-1st grade. 978-0-8037-3278-0. $12.99. p8 / q8
Cute pictures and two word phrases make up this book. The kitty gets lost and scared then makes it home with the dog to keep her warm. This is a great book to help babies learn words.
Meister, Cari. Illustrated by Rich Davis. “Tiny on the Farm.” Viking. New York. 2008. ages pre-k-1st grade. 978-0-670-06246-1. $15.99. p8 / q 8
A very bright and beautifully tall tale illustrated book that young readers will enjoy. It is similar to Clifford the Big Red Dog, but this is Tiny who lives on a farm and is helping the little boy hunt for the kittens.
Meadows, Michelle. Illustrated by Dan Andreasen. “Pilot Pups” Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers. New York. 2008. ages pre-k-1st grade. 978-1-4169-2484-5. $15.99. p8 / q8
The pictures are soft and beautiful. It is a story of stuffed animals who fly in airplanes and save one another. They fly around the house and encounter things like fog and smoke. It made me laugh and children will enjoy the fun quick story.
Bergstein, Rita M., Pictures by Susan Kathleen Hartung. “Your Own Big Bed.” Viking. New York. 2008. ages prek-1st grade. 978-0-670-06079-5 $15.99. p8 / q 9
The book cover illustration does not do this book justice. It is has beautiful almost old fashioned drawings with muted colorful tones. The story is wonderful as it takes the little boy from birth to being big enough for a big boy bed. It compares him to animal babies so it would be a fun book to teach toddlers about different animals.
Eaton III, Maxwell. “The Adventures of Max and Pinky Superheroes.” Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2007. ages 1-3rd grade. 978-0-375-83805-7. $16.99. p8 / q7
This book could be read on two different levels. For younger readers the words at the bottom of each page would be perfect to read. Older readers could read the little comments in the bubbles by Max and the pig who want to be superheroes. It is defiantly a make believe book and would have to be stressed with some audiences as they may try to send a friend flying off of a teeter totter like in the book. Cute and colorful cartoon pictures make up this silly story. The end papers are cute and funny and the book jacket has some really cool addendums to the story.
Gershator, Phillis adapted by. Illustrated by Marjorie Priceman. “This is the Day!” Houghton Mifflin Company, Massachusetts. 2007. ages prek-1st grade. 978-0-618-49746-1. $16.00. p7 / q 8
The front end paper has the tune and music that this book is adapted from “This Is The Day”. In the back of the book there is a note from the author about how the author first heard this song in 1960. The song story is about adoption and giving away babies. It has beautiful pictures and bright colors. The book would also help students learn the days of the week.
Rosen, Michael. Illustrated by Adrian Reynolds. “Bear’s Day Out” Bloomsbury Children’s Books. New York. 2007. ages prek-1st grade. 978-1-59990-007-0$16.95. p8 / q 8
This is a story of a bear that lives in a cave and hears the city far off in the distance and travels there. Some little children find him and help him get back to his cave by the ocean. The book is written in a rhyming sing song with repeat of words over and over. The pictures are bright and lively with a very cute big bear. This book is from the author of “We’re Going on a Bear Hunt.”
Spranler, Brie. “Peg Leg Peke.” Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2008. ages prek-2nd grade. 978-0375-84888-9. $15.99 p 7 / q 7
This is a very funny and cute story about a dog with a broken leg who thinks about becoming a pirate. In the end his blankie is his treasure and it helps him feel all better. This would be a great story for a child who has broken his leg and feels sad. The pictures are simple and bright.
Elya Susan Middleton. Illustrated by Jenny Mattheson. “Tooth on the Loose” G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. Ages 1st-3rd grade. 978-0-399-24459-9. $16.99 p 7/ q8
This book has both English and Spanish words in the story. It has a helpful glossary and pronunciation guide in the front with the Spanish words in bold print. It would be a good book for young students learning Spanish and to read to ESL students. It may be hard to read this book till the reader knows how to say the words and what they mean. An English reader can get the idea of the story. A little girl is about to loose her tooth and she wants it out badly so she can get money for her fathers birthday present. It doesn’t happen in time for the party so she makes him a card instead.
Thomas, Patricia. Illustrated by Chris L. Demarest. “Red Sled” Boys Mills Press. Pennsylvania. 2008. ages pre k – 1st grade. 978-1-59078-559-1. $16.95 p 6 / q 7
This is a simple story about a dad and a boy who play with a sled in the snow. It is a rhyming book with two word sentences for each page. It would be fun for small children to learn rhyming words. It has very simple bright drawings.
Cousins, Lucy. “Maisy Goes to School” Candelwick Press. Massachusetts. 1992. grade prek-1st grade.
978-0-763-64095-8. $11.99 p 9 / q 9
This is part of the Maisy Lift-the Flap Classics: others include Happy Birthday, Maisy!, Maisy at the Farm, Maisy Goes to the Playground, Maisy’s ABC. It would not be good for a library unless the flaps and tabs were reinforced. But it has cute simple drawings and flap books are always fun for toddlers.
Stoeke, Janet Morgan. “It’s Library Day” Dutton Children’s Books. New York. 2008. grade pre k-1st grade. 978-0-525-47944-4 $12.99. p7 / q6
This is a simple rhyming easy reader book that uses different children from various nationalities to rhyme their names with simple sentences. It would appeal to all children because they can see themselves in the story. The pictures and quality of the book and papers are a little on the cheap side.
Harris, Robie H. Illustrated by Michael Emberley. “ Mail Harry to the Moon.” Little, Brown and Company. New York. Ages pre k – 2nd grade. 978-0-316-15376-8. $16.99. p 7 / q7
This is a perfect book for children whose mothers are pregnant or have had another baby. It is about Harry and his brother and how Harry doesn’t want a baby in the house and wants to throw him in the trash, put him in the zoo or send him to the moon. Harry can’t find his baby brother and panic’s when he thinks his parents may have really sent him to the moon. He finds his brother and they play make believe together and then he say’s now there’s Me and Harry.
Cousins, Lucy. “Maisy Goes to the Museum – A Maisy First Experiences Book.” Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. Ages pre-k – 1st grade. 978-0-7636-3838-2. $12.99. p9 / q 9
The pictures are bright and colorful with very simple backgrounds that helps the reader focus on the action and the words on the pages. Maisy books are always fun and popular.
Walsh, Melanie. “10 Things I Can Do To Help My World – Fun & Easy Eco-Tips” Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. Ages prek – 3rd grade. 978-0-7636-4144-3. $15.99. p 9 / q 9
The cover has a very neat cut out of a lightbulb on the front and the book is made from 100% recycled materials. I really enjoy the way the pages are cut in different shapes with which provides visual interaction as the reader lifts the paper and reads about the topic. The words on the pages are go around the objects in different shapes. This book would make a great resource for teachers talking about recycling.
Stott, Ann. Illustrated by Matt Phelan. “Always.” Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. Ages pre k – 1st grade. 978-0-7636-3232-8. p8 / q 9
A little boy asks do you love me when I’m nice when I’m not ect.? At the end his mother loves him no matter what. This book has white page backgrounds and very simple pictures and muted tones. It is a beautiful book with simple words and pictures.
Hayes, Sarah. Pictures by Hannah Broadway. “Dog Day.” Farrar Straus Giroux. New York. Ages pre k- 1st grade. 978-0-374-31810-9. $16.95. p 8/ q 8
Ben & Ellie have a new teacher a dog. They learn to wag their tails and bark. The book is funny because it has the word poo in the book. My son would laugh so loud. It made me laugh so much because the dog teaches the students to lift their legs on trees and wag their bottoms. The book has bright pictures with cute words and simple pictures. Students would love the see the naughty things.
Reader:K.T. WHS Student
Princess Ben ,Catherine Gilbert Murdock Date Read:8/16/08
Summary: Princess Ben is not your typical princess. Instead of a proper, waif-thin, ladylike teenager. Ben (short for Benevolence) is loud, big-boned, and opinionated. Her parents encourage her independence and are her best friends. Unfortunately, Ben’s life is forever changed when her mother and father are murdered while on a day trip to her grandfather’s grave. Ben is left an orphan and becomes the ward of her aunt, Queen Sophia. Too young to rule her country, Ben is to be properly groomed by Sophia before becoming the ruler of her country. Queen Sophia is cold and seemingly cruel to Ben- forcing her to learn how to be a princess, how to dance, and worst of all, how to eat a “princess portion”. Ben, never stick-thin, turns to food for comfort during her grief and Queen Sophia is furious. She locks her in a tower and forbids her to leave unless Sophia allows her to leave the room. However, everything changes when Ben discovers the magic. Ben is amazed by the discovery: a hidden magical room. There she learns spells from a mysterious spell book while the rest of castle sleeps. But Ben will have to learn more than magic if she’s to ever escape from aunt’s clutches and keep her country from being overrun by the very people that conspired in her parents’ murders. Princess Ben is a princess that doesn’t need saving from a Prince. You will fall in love with Ben who is not a ordinary princess
October Book Reviews
A.C., Student., NHS
Marr, Melissa. Wicked Lovely. Harper Collins, New York, 2007. $17 ISBN: 00061214655 327 p. Gr. 10-12 This magic book is about a girl named Aislinn. She may seem like an ordinary girl, but she has a dangerous power – she can see faeries! Aislinn is raised by her grandmother, as her mom and dad died. Her grandmother and her are the only ones that have the “sight.” When her grandmother found out that Aislinn had the “sight, “ she taught her 3 rules: 3) Don’t stare at the invisible faeries; 2)Don’t speak to the invisible faeries; and MOST important 1)Don’t EVER attract the faeries’ attention. She went on with her life, following those rules and everything was fine until she meets the Summer King. The Summer King is looking for his Summer Queen, and he thinks Aislinn is “the one.” This book, with its many characters, brings fantasy to modern day. If you like scary, suspenseful, fantasy books, this book is for you. It has some mature stuff, but it’s a good read for kids 13 and up. P10 Q 9
October Book Reviews
K.J., Student., NHS
Oatman, Linda. Planet Pregnancy. Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, PA, 2008. $17 ISBN: 9781590785843 197 p. Gr. 10-12 The main character is Sahara, writing in 1st person, in rhythmic poetry verse. The story opens on her pregnancy test, and she seems unable to believe that that it’s positive. The story follows her pregnancy; focus is put on her weight gain and pathetic inability to tell anyone what happened. She finally tells her best friend and her mother. The friend is surprisingly supportive and the mother freaks out. She considers abortion and adoption, but when she finally gives birth, her entire outlook changes. It’s a believable book, but not an especially strong cast of characters. The story focuses more on her story and struggles than on her own life. P6 Q 6
Monninger, Joseph. Baby. Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, PA, 2008. $17 ISBN: 9781590785027 173 p. Gr. 10-12 Right off, as a reader you want to understand Baby. She wants to be different, but in that sense she is unoriginal. She’s a foster kid convinced that she can’t be helped, so she does what she wants. Her “last chance” is with an older couple that Baby initially describes as “hippie” and they raise rare sled dogs. As Baby discovers, things that she never realized she could love or do, she changes. It’s gradual, but when confronted with people she used to be chill with, she realizes that things are different, and it’s all about what you believe, who you surround yourself with, and the choices you make. I loved the characters, the lessons Baby learns, and even the author’s style. The more I read, the more I wanted to read, and saw things the way Baby perceives them. Towards the end, she sees things in such a new way. I cried. P7 Q 9
Sept. 2008 Book Reviews
Nance, Andrew. Illus. by Coleman Polhemus. Daemon Hall. NY: Henry Holt & Co., 2007. $16.95 259 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 0-8050-8171-2 P7/Q7
This horror novel features several stories within the story. A famous horror author sponsors a writing contest, the winner of which will be published. The catch is that the several top competitors have to spend the night with him in an old haunted house. There they read their stories, and eerie things happen to them, one by one. I’m not a big fan of horror, but enjoyed this book. The short stories that the students read while in the haunted house give good examples of a variety of story types that students may be inspired to use in their own stories. The cover should attract readers, and the story is scary enough, I think, to satisfy them.
Mebus, Scott. Gods of Manhattan. NY: Dutton Children’s Books, 2008. 340 pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-525-47955-0 P8/Q8
Rory Hennessy is 13 and thinks that he knows all about his native town, New York City. It’s not until seeing a party magician’s trick that he realizes that he’s been blind to a whole parallel universe taking place in the same Manhattan where he lives. In this alternate world which occasionally meshes with his, the civic leaders are Gods of various powers which people think of as important (there’s a god of parking spaces, for example). They are really more like demi-gods, though, as they can fade in importance and no longer hold their position. Rory turns out to be important in their world because he is impelled to track down the reason that some gods are now being killed. The story is fun in its fantasy and action, but it also teaches geography and history of Manhattan, complete with a fold-out map in front which will help the many readers who have never been to New York.
Bauer, Michael Gerard. Don’t Call Me Ishmael. NY: Greenwillow Books (Harper Collins), 2007 (1st pub. in Australia, 2006) $17.89 255 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 978-0-06-134835-8 P7/Q8
Ishmael is 14 and thinks of himself as a loser. It doesn’t help that his name, Leseur, is butchered by the school bullies into “Loser”, and when they find out that Ishmael comes form a story about a white whale, he’s in for it. When an unusual boy moves to his school and handily defies the bullies, Ishmael begins to work out how to survive them. Despite his insecurities as a speaker, Ishmael gets talked into joining his new friend’s new debate team. It’s fun to see the character grow and become more self-assured. Readers will also learn how debates work and what makes for a good speaker. Primarily it’s a book about bullying, and may give readers insight into both the tendency and how to overcome it.
Bastedo, Jamie. On Thin Ice. Calgary, Alberta: Red Deer Press, 2006. $10.95 348 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 0-88995-337-6 P8/Q8
Ashley is 16, French Canadian and Inuk, and lives in the Arctic where traditional houses were igloos. Times have changed in more ways than one: Now the weather is turning things upside down. Ashley hasn’t always lived in the far north; her family moved back to her mother’s hometown to take care of her wacky Native uncle. Several of her relatives recognize what Ashley is slow to, despite dramatic dreams, that she has a special sensitivity and connection to polar bears. The story is exciting and has lots of realistic detail about living in a warming arctic environment (the author is a science writer who lives in the Northwest Territories). A companion teacher’s guide with novel study, “Polar Bears in a Climate of Change”, is available online.
Wittlinger, Ellen. Parrotfish. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007. $16.99 304 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-4169-1622-2 P7/Q8
Angela is a high school junior who is trying to learn how to handle some issues that plague many teens, others that are pretty unique. Having been home-schooled through 9th grade, she has only one good friend, and that friend turns out to be weak and more interested in “making it” with the popular girls. The big challenge is Angela’s “gender dysphoria”. While physically she appears as a girl, her real gender identification is as a boy, and this year she decides to act like it: change her name, dress like a boy, etc. Her parents have some difficulty with this, but at school the kids are downright hostile, and the story includes dealing with aspects of bullying. The book is a fun read, spiced with the conversations she imagines in her head and with her dad’s unique obsession with an over-elaborate Christmas light display on their house and yard. The characters have some depth, the story has some humor, and I found it fun to spend some time with Angela in her world. Whether or not the readers have questions about their own gender identification, or know anyone who does, the story stands alone as a drama about adjusting to teen social life. The title refers to the parrotfish species’ ability to change physically from a girl into a boy.
McDonald, Megan. Illus. by Petr H. Reynolds. Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2007. $4.99 130 pp. ages 5-8 ISBN 978-0-7636-3669-2 P8/Q7
In this third of the Stink series, our second grade hero explores smells. There’s a stinky-sneaker contest coming up and he is sure he’ll win it. In the process of his preparation, he learns amazing facts about things that smell bad, and that some people make a career of smelling. The large type, fun illustrations, and engaging topic will no doubt appeal to young boys who normally resist reading. Unlike many books written for this reading level, it’s fun reading for anyone.
Weyn, Suzanne. Reincarnation. NY: Scholastic Press, 2007. $17.99 293 pp. ages 13 up ISBN 978-0-545-01323-9 P8/Q8
For a romance novel, this one has some depth. The story follows a couple from one lifetime to the next, starting in the Stone Age before one species had much in the way of language up to the present, skipping many lifetimes but hitting interesting historic periods. There are 4 people who encounter each other in different lives, sometimes as male sometimes as female, but usually in similar roles. The main couple never does have a successful couple relationship….until now? The outcome is left a bit in question, but they have a good start, and the reincarnation backstory gives some clue as to why they find each other uncommonly compatible. This was one of the more memorable books I read this summer, and I suspect it will be appreciated by teens who enjoy romances.
Hautman, Pete & Logue, Mary. The Bloodwater Mysteries: Doppelganger. NY: G.P Putnam’s Sons, 2008. $16.99 159 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-399-24379-0 P7/Q7
It’s not always easy to find a mystery that’s appropriate to younger age levels. This one will more likely appeal to the preteen group (it includes no romance). The story follows a couple of friends, a boy and a girl, who apparently appear in other mystery stories. This one explores Brian’s history as a young child. He’d always been told he was adopted, but was never very clear about the details. Suddenly he’s being pursued by strange and aggressive people, and he doesn’t know why. Then he meets someone who looks just like him! Does he have a twin? That’s the origin of the “doppelganger” title. The story is exciting without being horrifying, and should keep the reader to the end.
Selvadurai, Shyam. Swimming in the Monsoon Sea. Toronto, Can.: Tundra Books, 2005 $18.95 274 pp. ISBN 08876-735-4 P5/Q7
The story takes place in Sri Lanka (Ceylon) and involves two cousins, a boy who is visiting from Canada and a local boy. The story centers on the self-discovery of the Sri Lankan and his slow identification of his sexual identity (he’s gay as it turns out). There are some interesting cultural details included, but not enough to think of the book as a sort of travelogue. It will be a good book for guys sorting through their feelings about their sexual identity, but may leave other readers a bit cold. It is not an action book, but more introspective.
Hawking, Lucy & Stephen. Illus. by Garry Parsons. George’s Secret Key to the Universe. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007. $17.99 297 pp. ages 8 up ISBN 975-1-4169-5462-7 P8/Q9
The great works of the physicist Stephen Hawking are out of reach for the average young student. Here he and his mother have collaborated on a novel which will demonstrate the principals that he his renowned for, including some his latest thoughts about black holes. The book is lavishly illustrated both with fun drawings of the story action and with scientifically annotated photographs of the astronomical facts and details additional to the story. Talk about a painless way to learn astrophysics!
Monninger, Joseph. Hippie Chick. Asheville, NC: Front Street, 2008. $16.95 156 pp. 12 up ISBN 978-1-59078-598-0 P7/Q8
A fifteen-year-old girl, Lolly, loves to sail alone on her Boston Whaler. One night she swamps her boat and is lost at sea. Since she’s known as a free spirit, no one looks for her immediately, but when they do they can’t find her. Manatees have saved her. This is a survival story that gives an intimate look at life in the Florida keys and of the gentle sea mammals, manatees. The title is a little misleading: It’s more of an action adventure than a social drama. Animal lovers, nature story enthusiasts and both boys and girls should enjoy this story.
Bondoux, Anne-Laure. Translated by Y. Maudet. Vasco, Leader of the Tribe. NY: Delacourte Press (Random House), 2004 (translation c. 2007). $15.99 336 pp. ages 10 up ISBN 978-0-385-73363-2 P7/Q7
Vasco is a harbor rat who sees that his ‘race’ is rapidly being exterminated by humans. His tribe gone, he looks for a new place and way to live. Gathering various orphaned or unhappy rats with him, he jumps on a ship looking for a better life. This story is mostly an allegory about human leadership, the qualities it takes and the kind of diplomacy, battling and feelings that are involved. Unlike “Lord of the Flies”, this world has a history of and population of functioning social groups. But it does have its despots, mavericks that endanger the group, etc. It offers a field of social grouping that is unhindered by cultural associations the reader might bring to it, and is able to explore the functioning of a long-term social group that can be termed a “tribe”. It will probably appeal more to the fifth-sixth grader who has the patience to finish a longish book.
Bradbury, Jennifer. Shift. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008. $16.99 245 pp. ages 12 up ISBN 1-4169-4732-9 P8/Q8
A “road” or “buddy” story, this one has the unique approach that the two 18-year-old boys who are the protagonists cross the country on bicycles. The near-end of the story becomes the beginning, and the book explores how it happened that one of the buddies disappeared at the end of the trip, and why it might have happened. It’s well-told and keeps the reader on edge wondering if foul play was afoot. The author explores the motivations of the disappeared boy well, exploring his relations with his rich and powerful parents. This story should appeal to readers of both sexes, especially high school age, and to those who like adventure or social drama.
Shaw, Susan. Safe. NY: Dutton Books, 2007. $16.99 168 pp. age 12 up ISBN 978-0-525-47829-4 P7/Q8
Twelve-year-old Tracy is still grieving over the death of her mother when she was younger, and has a good relationship with her father. Neither he nor her good friends are able to help, though, when Tracy is grabbed, abducted and raped by the older brother of a classmate. This story is not about the violent act, but about how the girl is traumatized, how it affects her thinking and behavior, and how she eventually comes to terms with it. Counselors, friends of victims of violence, and the victims themselves will find this book helpful in examining the sometimes unrecognized symptoms of traumatic stress, especially rape. Perhaps the perpetrators of such crimes should also read this in order to understand what effects it has. This book could find a place in a middle school library as easily as high school.
Downard, Barry. The Race of the Century. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2008. $15.99 30 pp. ages 5-8 ISBN 1-4169-2509-0 P9/Q9
The illustrations for this classic tortoise and the hare race story are simply fabulous. Using collaged photographs and some painting, Downard has illustrated the classic story to make it fresh and funny. This is one of my favorite books of the year.
Tingle, Tim. Illus. by Stacey Schuett. When Turtle Grew Feathers. Atlanta, GA: August House Little Folk, 2007. $16.95 30 pp. ISBN 0-87483-777-4 P7/Q7
This version of the tortoise and the hare race is taken from the Choctaw Tribe’s tradition. Rather than pointing out the quiet perseverance of the tortoise that beat the hare, this version points out the arrogance of the hare. Turkey tries on tortoise’s shell, and arrogant Hare comes along and challenges him to a race. Rather than point out that he’s actually a turkey, he accepted the challenge and then flew to the finish line, showing up Hare. The moral of this story is “you don’t have to be the biggest or the fastest, or the best, but it sure is nice to be friends with those that are.” The painted illustrations are enjoyable and bring out the feelings of the contestants.
C.S.- Siletz Public Library
Fearnley, Jan. Martha in the middle. Candlewick Press, 2008. Unpaged. ISBN 978-0-7636-3800-9. $16.99. Ages 3-5. P7Q7.
Martha is the middle mouse in a family of three sibling mice. She feels in the middle in every way- in age, sleeping position, arguments, etc. She doesn’t feel like this is a very special position to be in. A wise frog teaches her that in the middle is the best place to be. It’s a cute book, and the group of kids I read it to liked it a lot. They had lots of comments about “being in the middle” in different ways.
Himmelman, John. Katie loves the kittens. Henry Holt & Co, 2008. Unpaged. ISBN 978-0-8050-8682-9. $16.95. Ages 3-7. P8Q8.
A funny story about a dog who loves the new kittens, but doesn’t know how to behave around them. The pictures are really nice, and the kids at story time found some of them hilarious. This could be a good story to read to small kids who need to learn how to treat their pets.
Matsuoka, Mei. Footprints in the Snow. Henry Holt & Co., 2007. Unpaged. ISBN 978-0-8050-8792-5. $16.95. Ages 3-6. P8Q8.
Wolf is unhappy about the wolf characters he finds in books since they’re always unpleasant characters. He decides to write a story with a Nice Wolf as the hero. But he finds that his wolfish instincts are very strong. My story group really liked this book- both the story and the illustrations.
Chrustowski, Rick. Big Brown Bat. Henry Holt & Co., 2008. Unpaged. ISBN. 978-0-8050-7499-4. $16.95. Ages 6-8. P4Q7. Describes the life cycle of a bat. Very informative; it might appeal to kids who are fascinated by animals. The illustrations are well done, but might be scary for very young kids.
Begin, Mary Jane. The Tale of Toad and Badger. Little, Brown, & Co. Unpaged. ISBN. 978-0-3160-1352-9. $14.99. Ages 4-6. P5Q7. A story about young Toad and Badger (from The Wind in the Willows) and how they began their friendship. Very cute illustrations. The story stressed the importance of sharing, but might not mean as much to children who haven’t read The Wind in the Willows yet.
Joose, Barbara. Grandma Calls Me Beautiful. Chronicle Books, 2008. Unp. ISBN. 978-0-8118-5815-1. $16.99. Ages 4-8. P7Q9. The story of a girl named Beautiful, and her strong bond with her grandmother. Lovely watercolor illustrations give a sense of Hawaiian culture, where this story is set. I loved this book.
Young Adult/ Juvenile Fiction:
Stow Ellison, Elizabeth. Flight. Holiday House, 2008. 245 p. ISBN. 978-0-8234-2128-2. $16.95. Ages 8-12. P6 Q6. This books deals with the issue of illiteracy in the family. Elizabeth is worried about her brother Evan. He has problems at school land gets in trouble a lot. She realizes that Evan can’t read and wonders why nobody, even his or her parents, will do anything about it. In the end we find that their mother can’t read either. At the beginning I wasn’t impressed with the writing, but the story pulled me along and by the end it seemed fine. I don’t know whether it improved or I stopped seeing the problems! Students who have struggled in school might appreciate this book.
Shusterman, Neal. Antsy Does Time. Dutton, 2008. 247 p. $16.99. ISBN. 0-525-47825-6. Ages 12+. P8 Q8. Antsy Bonano signs over a month of his life to a friend who believes he has six months. This gesture becomes a movement in his school, then a media campaign, and then gets completely out of control. This book brings up a lot of ideas that are important to teenagers- dating, friendship, dealing with death, sacrificing for others, surviving a dysfunctional family,… I found it entertaining and fast paced.