January 2008 Reviews

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November 2008 Reviews

Book Reviews, November 2008


Preus, Margi, The Peace Bell. Illustrated by Hideko Takahashi.  Henry Hold & Co, LLC, NY, 2008, ISBN 0805078002, np, $16.95, Grades 1-3 Told through the reflections of a Japanese grandmother, this sweet and spunky historical fiction tells the tale of an ancient brass temple bell.  The grandmother recalls when she heard the bell in her childhood:“I loved the deep KA-DOON of an ancient temple bell.  Its song was as gentle as cherry blossoms,  as deep as the Bon Odori drum, and as round and full as the moon.”   She tells of the special New Year’s Eve ringing of the bell – 108 times, “each toll chasing away one of the one hundred and eight worries of the world.”   Sometime during her pre-teen years, the bell is donated to the shipyards for melting down and making war materials, and the traditional ringing ceases.  Years after World War II ends,   the bell is discovered in Minnesota, where American sailors had taken it during the war.  As a goodwill gesture, the city returns the bell and enshrines it.   At the end of the story, the grandmother walks her granddaughter Yuko and her American friend Katie-chan (who happens to live in that Minnesota town where it was discovered) to the shrine of the bell where the two friends joyously ring it. The colorful acrylic illustrations are authentic and detailed, but simple enough to engage early readers, who might easily relate to the characters.    Based on a true story of one of the thousands of Japanese temple bells that were lost during the war, this c.1686 bell was found in Duluth, MN (where the author also resides) and returned to the city of Ohara in 1954 and dubbed the “American-Japanese Friendship Peace Bell.”   The cities have forged a sister-city relationship, and, in 1991 Ohara (now called Isumi City) presented Duluth with a matching Peace Bell.   

This book could accompany classroom studies on Japan, peace, war, or music traditions.  Many schools also have “peace pole” dedications and this book would be a wonderful read-aloud introduction to that activity. 
P6 Q8

Reader: J.G WHS Student

The Vampire's Assistant, Darren Shan Date read 11/04/08

“The Vampires Assistant is the second book in the series “Cirque Du Freak”

Darren Shan isn’t any ordinary boy. He is half vampire, and isn’t coping with it well.  He refuses to drink human blood, and grows weak.  Darren also wants to fit in and to have friends, especially after an accident that made him realize how different he really was.  His creator, Mr.Crepsley, takes him to live with a traveling freak show; called “Cirque Du Freak” Darren immediately feels at home and becomes friends with the snake boy Evra Von, and a local boy named Sam. But he also makes some new enemies along the way.  This book is easy to read and fun.  You can read them out of order if you like.

Oregon Coast Preview Center for Young Readers

November 2008 S.E. Grandparent Volunteer


O’Connor, Barbara.  Greetings from Nowhere.  Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.  2008.  ISBN 10 0 374399379, 13 9780374399375.  200p. Ages 13-18. $16.00.  This is a wonderful and uplifting story of a few different people from different walks of life in the smoky mountains, coming together at a motel out in the middle of nowhere and the impact they all make on each other.  I enjoyed this book and would like it to be in all middle school libraries in Lincoln County.  One of the boys in the story is on his way to a reformatory for being incorrigible.  What he takes away from his view alone leaves the reader knowing that he has changed his outlook on life through this experience as have the others involved in the book.  A wonderful read.  Q9P9

Willems, Mo. I Love My New Toy.  Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.  NY.  ISBN 9781423109617.  57p.  Ages 5-89.$9.00  This is one of an Elephant and Piggie series and I enjoyed this so much.  Piggie has a new toy and Elephant wants to play with it and it breaks.  Piggie goes through her denial and anger and depression and finally gets it all out when a squirrel picks up the pieces and snaps the two pieces together and says that they have a cool snap and pull apart toy.  I really liked this book.  I would like to see the whole four books of the series in our library at the elementary school.  Q10P10.

Willems, Mo.  I Will Surprise My Friend.  Hyperion Books for Children, An imprint of Disney Book Group, NY.  ISBN 9781423109624.  57p.  Ages 5-8.  $9.00.  This is a book from the Elephant and Piggie  series and I loved this book and laughed out loud.  Elephant and Piggy see a squirrel playing with another squirrel by hiding and scaring each other and Elephant and Piggy this this would be a fun way to spend some time...it is a riot and I would like to see this book in all the elementary schools.  Q10P10

Book Reviews October 2008

Yaquina View Elementary

Doty, Jean Slaughter.  Summer Pony.  Ills. by Ruth Sanderson.  Random House, c1978. 

 ISBN 0375947094.  Pgs. 139.  Grades 3-5.  (Q7, P8)
Ginny desperately wants a pony for the summer, but when Mokey arrives, she is shaggy, dirty and unkept.  Throughout the summer Ginny learns responsibility about being in charge of taking care of this animal.  This is a great book for children who dreams of owning a pony.
Seibold, Jotto and Vivian, Siobhan.  Vunce upon a time.  Chronicle Books, c2008. 
 ISBN 0811862712.  unp. $16.99 Grades K-3.  (Q8, P8)
Dagmar is a vampire who is afraid of humans.  Being a vegetarian there is only one thing he likes better than vegetables, CANDY!  His friends bring him a stash once a year but it has now run out.  His skeleton friend tells him about one night a year that humans hand our FREE candy but he will have to wear a scary costume.  A kitty, a puppy and butterflies are among the costumes he thinks about and discards.  He gets so agitated that he turns into a bat and flies away eventually finding out his vampire looks are just right for Halloween.

Smith, Lane.  Madam President.  Hyperion Books.  C2008.  ISBN 1423108469. unp. $16.99

 Grades K-2  (Q6, P5)
One little girl imagines what her day would be like as President.  Executive decisions, such as vetoes, the tuna casserole for lunch, press conferences, keeping the peace, are among the many tasks she must do.

Peterson, Sheryl.  This Land Called America California.  Creative Education, c2009. 

 ISBN 1583416307.  32 Pgs.  Grades 3-8.  (Q3, P7)
This fascinating book about California with beautiful photographs is filled with an abundance of interesting facts.  There is a timeline of happenings which runs throughout the book.  A list of quick facts about the state in located on the last page and a bibliography and index is included.  The only drawback is the statement “It is bordered by Washington on the north”.  This makes me wonder how many of the other facts may not be quite right.

Tarbox, A.D.  A Mountain Food Chain.  Creative Education, c2009.  ISBN 158341598X

 Pgs. 43.  Grades 4-8.  (Q6, P7)
Fantastic photographs throughout this book will make it popular for all ages.  The information about biomes and the food chain is written in an easy readable manner with certain key works in green which indicates they are in the glossary at the end of the book.  Two page spreads include a large picture and an informational panel about different animals of the mountains throughout the world.

Pradlin, Michael P.  Daniel Boone’s Great Escape.  Illus. by Ard Hoyt.

 Walker & Company, c2008.  ISBN 0802795811.  unp.  Grades 4-8  (Q7, P7)
This little known story is about Daniel Boone’s capture and escape by the Shawnee.   This book tells of Boone and his men’s capture, their torture from the Shawnee, Boone’s adoption into the Shawnee tribe through his escape and his arrival back to the fort. This book would be a wonderful addition to any library. 

November 2008 Book Reviews

Eddyville Charter
Student Reviews

Non Fiction

Swanson, James. Chasing Lincoln’s Killer. Scholastic Press, 2009. $16.99. 10:0-439- 90354-8. 166p. Ages 12+:
This is a well-written historical depiction of the assassination of Abraham Lincoln from
the point of view of John Wilkes Booth. The story starts with Booth’s plans for the assassination and ends with his death and the convictions and deaths of his co-conspirators. Many pictures are included in the text, and these add to the feeling of authenticity. The book is easily read. This would be an excellent required text for United States history classes. P7Q9

Kuklin, Susan. No Choirboy, Henry Holt & Company c2008. 208p. ISBN 978-0-8050-7950-0. $17.95 Ages 14-19 P7Q6

This book tells the stories of a bunch of juveniles who went to prison just when they were teens, most of the crimes were for violence and murder. The inmates tell their story of how they were convicted how they dealt with prison life speaking in their own voices.  A lot of inmates received the death penalty; this is their story, sharing their thoughts and feelings about how they ended up in prison.

Juvenile Fiction

Cushman, Karen. The Loud Silence of Francine Green. Laurel-Leaf,2006. 978-0-385-73720-3. $7.99 Ages 12- 15
In 1949 Francine is thirteen years old and goes to a Catholic School. One day she meets a girl named Sophie who is new at the school and moves to the house next to Francine. Soon they become friends and Francine finds out that her friend believes strongly in the freedom of speech. Sophie is always punished because of this. This book is very good because it starts out good and ends excellently. P8Q10
Napoli, Donna Jo. Mogo, The Third Warthog. Hyperion Books for Children,
c2008. 194p. ISBN 978-1-4321-0816-0 $15.99 Ages 8-12 P6Q6
Mogo, the runt of a large family of warthogs, finds it hard to sometimes make his voice heard, but is determined to make it on his own in the African Savanna someday. That day comes quicker than Mogo expects when his mother suddenly kicks him and his two brothers, Kebiro and Mathani out of the home to make room for a new litter of warthogs. With illustrations by Lita Judge, this book comes to life as Mogo journeys into a world full of danger, adventure and even loneliness as he becomes of age in the Africa Savanna. Recommended for grades 3rd-5th.

Buckley, Michael. The Sisters Grimm. First Scholastics Printing, 2007. $4.00. 0-439-92876-1. Grades, 5th -8th.

Sabrina and Daphne’s parents disappear and they are placed in the custody of their grandmother Relda who they have never heard of before. They go to live with her in a town called Ferryport Landing where it is revealed to them that they are descended from the famous story-telling Grimm brothers. Ferryport Landing is also a magical town filled with magical people that straight out of fairytales. When Relda goes missing Sabrina and Daphne have to save her with the help of their new fairytale friends.

Bell, Cathleen Davitt. Slipping. Bloomsburg, c2008. $16.99. 978-1-59990-258-6. 215p. Ages 14+

Slipping is about a boy named Michael whose grandfather dies and his spirit seems to linger. Michael wasn’t close to his grandfather, but for some reason, he chose him to share his memories. If Michael can’t figure out what his grandfather needs to move on soon, then Michael might join his grandfather, slipping into the river between life and death.

Griffin, Paul. Ten Mile River. The Penguin Group, 2008. $ 16.99. ISBN978-0-8037-3284-1. 186p. Ages 15- 17

After they escaped from juvenile detention centers and foster care, Jose and Ray are trying to stay out of trouble. They are forced to live in an old stationhouse on Ten Mile River in New York. They made money by stealing cars until a girl named Yolie and her niece, Trini, offer to take them to work at her Braid Palace. This is realistic. It could really happen to someone. P8Q9

Picture books:

Burleigh, Robert, Abraham Lincoln Comes Home.  Henry Holt, c2008. Unpaged : col. ill. ISBN 13-978-0-8050-7529-8 $16.95 Ages 6-10 P7Q9
Luke and his father are anxiously awaiting the arrival of the train carrying the former president, Abraham Lincoln; they have traveled all night long to see this.  Luke and his father stood there with hundreds of others to wait.  This book is a historic tale written during a dramatic and emotional time. Abraham Lincoln has been assassinated. I liked the book because it was true.  My book buddy, on the other hand: didn’t like it very much he only knew that President Lincoln wore a top hat. 

Moses, Will, Raining Cats & Dogs Philomel Books, New York, c2008. unp. ISBN 978-0-399-24233-5,  $17.99  Grades Pre-3. P6Q8

Moses has put together a collection of our favorite idioms and added his famous folk-art style illustrations to draw the reader in. Definitions of each idiom, its meaning and a table of contents make this a great teaching resource.

Cooper, Floyd, Willie and the All-Stars Philomel Books, c2008 unp. ISBN 978-0-399-23340-1, $16.99 Grades 2-5

Willie is a young African American boy living in Chicago. Willie has a dream to one day play for Chicago’s major league baseball team. One day Willie is on his front porch and he overhears his neighbor saying it’s a shame no African Americans can play on any major league team, and they have to play in their own league. Willie’s dream is crushed, but a neighbor gets tickets to go see the Chicago team play the Negro team. He was kind enough to give Willie the tickets. Willie and his friend go to the game and get to experience the Negro team beat the Chicago Cubs! The illustrations are really good and the book is quite readable. P8Q8

Brett, Jan. Gingerbread Friends. G.P. Putmamn.s Sons New York, NY c2008.  unp.  ISBN 978-0-399-25161-0, $17.99   Ages 5-7 P8Q8

The Gingerbread Baby lives in a house with everything that he could ever want except one thing; friends. He lives in a room with a boy named Mattie. So when Mattie leaves to play with his friends the Gingerbread Baby is all alone and very lonely. The Gingerbread Baby gets to the point where he is so lonely he has nothing to do so he goes out to find a friend. When he doesn’t find any friends he goes back home to find all of the friends that Mattie has made for him. I liked this book a lot it is very delightful to children and it has very good illustrations and it is very well written.

Jeffers, Susan. My Chincoteague Pony. Hyperion books for children,2008. $16.00. 13: 978-142310023-2. Grade k-3rd.

Julie loved ponies. She always dreamed about having her own pony, but she never had enough money to buy one for herself. She decided to earn money. When she got to the auction, she saw the most beautiful pony. She said to the pony,” if you become my pony, I will name you Painted Dream.” During the auction, all the ponies are being sold, even Painted Dream. Then everybody around her gives her money. By the time she had enough money, all the ponies were sold. She was sad. Then somebody returned a pony. It was Painted Dream. She was so excited. They had another auction. Julie got Painted Dream. The beautiful illustrations add to the quality of the story.P9Q9.

Stuchner, Joan Betty. Josephine’s Dream. Independent PublishersGroup, 2008. $16.95. 9781934393048. Ages 4-7

In this biography of Josephine Baker, Josephine dreamed she would become a famous singer. The only problem was she was African American. Her dream finally came true after she moved to France from America. There she helped the French Resistance and won the Medal of Honor. This book has many colorful illustrations and is easy to understand. P7Q9

 November 2008  Reviews by N.W.


Fradin, Dennis Brindell.  Duel!  Burr and Hamilton’s Deadly War of Words.  Il. Larry Day.  Walker, $16.95.  978-0-8027-9583-0.  unp.  Ages 7-10:  An important piece of history, U.S. Vice-President Aaron Burr and former secretary of the treasury Alexander Hamilton followed a close friendship with a feud that led to Hamilton’s death in 1804.  The book is a story of the tragedy that results when both sides hold grudges and try to outdo each other.  Glorious watercolors highlight the action of the narration and extend the excitement.  An endnote tells a bit about others, including Abraham Lincoln, who actually or almost dueled.  P8Q9

Goodman, Susan E.  See How They Run:  Campaign Dreams, Election Schemes, and the Race to the White House.  Il. Elwood H. Smith.  Bloomsbury, 2008.  $9.95.  978-1-59990-171-8. 96p.  Ages 9-12:  Humor, cartoons, and sidebars lighten this compendium of election information about the history of democracy from ancient Greece to the party system in the U.S., the process of running for president including the negative pieces behind this, election day, voting, the 2000 election controversy, and why voting matters.  A bonus is the line up of presidents from 1 through 43 complete with illustrations and funny facts.  For example, Zachary Taylor didn’t find out about his nomination for president for almost a week because he refused to pay extra postage if someone sent him a letter without enough stamps.  This book is a must!  (You can just paste a picture of Barack Obama in the back.)  P7Q8

Krull, Kathleen.  The Road to Oz:  Twists, Turns, Bumps, and Triumps in the Life of L. Frank Baum.  Il. Kevin Hawkes.  Knopf, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-375-83216-1.  unp.  Ages 5-8:  An attractive layout and colorful watercolors enhance the story of the man who followed Dorothy on the yellow brick road out of Kansas.  An advantage of this biography is the depiction of life during the second half of the 19th century complete with a picture of small-town life and  a visit to the 1893 World’s Fair in Chicago.  Krull uses her usual humor to tell of Baum’s continual failures before he listened to his children about what they wanted in books.  Absolutely delightful and a fun read-aloud.  P8Q8

Scieszka, Jon.  Knucklehead:  Tall Tales and Mostly True Stories about Growing Up Scieszka.  Viking, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-670-01106-3.  106p.  Ages 9-12:  From the first National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature and a strong advocate for special reading directed at boys comes this autobiography of a boy who grew up second of six males.  With short chapters and lots of excitement in their activities, young readers will enjoy the humor and sometimes identify with Scieszka’s issues and activities.  The cover page with its tank and airplanes dropping bombs may lead to disappointment when readers open the book, but it is more than 100 pages—a good book for biography assignments which kids may enjoy.  P7Q7

Stone, Tanya Lee.  Sandy’s Circus:  A Story about Alexander Calder.  Il. Boris Kulikov.  Viking, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-670-06268-3.  unp.  Ages 5-8:  The man known for creating the mobile was known as a joyous, playful man.  One of his early creations was a movable circus that he made from found materials.  Black and white drawings meld with fanciful paintings of his life in Paris while he built the circus with his huge hands and then demonstrated it to anyone who would watch.  Stone’s love for Calder’s work shows through in her loving language, and Kulikov’s whimsy only adds to the joy.  P8Q9

Waring, Geoff.  Oscar and the Cricket:  A Book about Moving and Rolling.  Candlewick, 2008.  $14.99.  978-0-763-64029-3.  29p.  Ages 3-7:  Oscar the curious kitten is back, this time getting his information about how objects start moving, why they stop moving, and how animals use their muscles to get around from a friendly cricket.  As in the previous books of this series, the illustrations are boldly delineated, the information carefully explained, and the index useful for teaching this skill.  For information about sound, check out Waring’s Oscar and the Bat:  A Book about Sound (978-0-763-64025-5).  P8Q8

Whitehead, Kathy.  Art from Her Heart:  Folk Artist Clementine Hunter.  Il. Shane Evans.  Putnam, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-399-24219-9.  unp.  Ages 5-8:  When she began, Hunter sold her art for $.25, but by the time she finished, her work was selling for thousands of dollars.  Meantime, she had to sneak into a museum after hours to see an exhibit of her work because African Americans were not allowed into the museum.  During her 100+ years of life, Hunter saw many changes as demonstrated though her art and the art in this book.  Her indomitable spirit kept her moving forward and painting through all the hard times.  Whitehead’s inspired prose and Evans’ folk-like art show the struggles of life and the achievements for at least one person’s hard work.  P7Q9

Yaccarino, Dan.  The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau.  Knopf, 2009.  $16.99.  unp.  978-0-375-85573-3.  Ages 4-8:  Bold, colorful, simple, cartoon-like illustrations show the famous ocean explorer’s progress as he invented ways to go deep into the water and film what he saw.  This marvelous look at ocean life includes a list of events in Cousteau’s life.  “If we were logical, the future would be bleak indeed.  But we are more than logical.  We are human beings, and we have faith, and we have hope, and we can work.”  P8Q9


Reibstein, Mark.  Wabi Sabi.  Il. Ed Young.  Little, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-316-11825-5.  unp.  Ages 5-9:  What does wabi sabi mean?  The little cat in Kyoto, Japan, with that name keeps asking but must leave home to find the answer.  Lyrical haiku and text, breathtaking mix-media collages, and elaborate Japanese characters demonstrate Wabi Sabi’s journey through the forest and into a temple.   And the meaning of the little cat’s name as described in this beautifully simple book?  It is a way of finding beauty in the ordinary.  A classic of poetry and culture.  P8Q10

Stiegemeyer, Julie.  Gobble Gobble Crash!  A Barnyard Counting Bash.  Il. Valeri Gorbachev.  Dutton, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-525-47959-8.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  When four noisy wild turkeys smash through the barnyard, waking up the farmer, they search for hiding places among all the other creatures.  Silly rhymes and muted watercolors (remember—it’s dark!) promote animal identification, numbers from one through ten, and just plain fun!  P9Q9

Picture Books

Allen, Jonathan.  “I’m Not Scared!”  Hyperion, 2008.  $6.99.  978-078683723-6.  unp.  Ages 2-5:  When Baby Owl takes his toy Owly into the moonlit woods, he tells Badger, Bear, and Bat that he isn’t scared, but his papa knows better.  This delightful board book shows a reassuring father caregiver as well as way of letting the little one acknowledge his fear by claiming that his little Owly is the one that is afraid.  A fun book with nice covert messages.  P10Q9

Breathed, Berkeley.  Pete & Pickles.  Philomel, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-399-25082-8.  unp.  Ages 4-8:  Emphasizing “p” words, the author follows the growing friendship of a practical and uncomplicated pig after a circus elephant hides in his living room and the plans that Pickle has for Pete through ups and downs.  The creator of Opus shows the importance of friendship and how the possibility of losing it makes the relationship very precious.  “The illustrations were created with virtual acrylics and virtual watercolor on 100% rag archival virtual illustration board” with colors, silhouettes, and purply (sepia in purple) drawings.  Totally delightful!  P10 Q10

Heide, Florence Parry.  The One and Only Marigold.  Il. Jill McElmurry.  Schwartz & Wade, 2009.  unp.  Ages 4-7:  Four linked stories star a stubborn and lovable Marigold who refuses to give up her old coat, loves to invent ugly faces and bug her friend Maxine, sets up a lemonade stand with surprise packages (of garbage!), and pretends to wear clothes to school instead of what her mother requires.  Hilarious, joyful, real, fabulous—Marigold is a classic, hopefully to be continued in a series.  “Marigold did not agree with her mother, or her father, or her friend Maxine.  But she agreed with herself, and that was the important thing.”  P9Q9

McDonnell, Patrick.  South.  Little, 2008.  $14.99.  978-0-316-00509-8.  unp.  Ages 5+:  Illustrations of yellows, browns, and teal outlined in black tell the sweet story, almost without words, of how Mooch the cat helps a lost little bird on a journey.   The addition of “weep, weep, weep” on one of the pages was unnecessary because the bird’s tears show the action.  Other than that, quite well-done.  P8Q8

Our White House:  Looking In, Looking Out.  Candlewick Press, 2008.  $29.99.  978-0-736-2067-7.  240p.  Ages 9-12:  This compendium of factual and fictional information about the most famous home in the United States from 108 authors and illustrators plus some presidents, scholars, and other White House employees and residents provides one segment of our national history.  Most of the stories are well-known traditional ones; all show a positive view of the presidents described.  (The less popular ones have been omitted or glossed over.)  This one-sided view of our history provides a fantasy of the past two centuries.  It has been selected for the National Endowment for the Humanities We the People Bookshelf which distributes free books to 3000 libraries.  A pleasant escape from reality.  P4Q7
Rosoff, Meg.  Wild Boars Cook.  Il. Sophie Blackall.   Holt, 2008.  $16.95.  978-0-8050-7423-6.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  The bossy, selfish, and stinky creatures are back, and this time they’re hungry.  Readers young and old will delight in recoiling from the combination of foods that they decide to put into their “Massive Pudding” before they gobble it down.  And the bonus to this rollicking romp through the kitchen is another recipe—Massive Cookie!  This book is sure to make readers love boars and cooking.  P9Q8

Sharratt, Nick.  The Foggy Foggy Forest.  Candlewick, 2008.  $12.99.  978-0-7636-3921-1.  unp.  Ages 3-6:  Translucent pages and black silhouettes foreshadow the answers to the recurring questions, “What can this be in the foggy, foggy, forest?”  The next pages show such colorful magical beings as “a unicorn playing a horn” and “an ogre doing yoga” culminating in the traveling fair.  The repetition, detail, and surprises in the book are sure to delight young readers.  P8Q7

Tan, Shaun.  Tales from Outer Suburbia.  Arthur A. Levine, 2009.  $19.99.  978-0-545-05587-1.  unp.  Ages 12+:  Continuing his distinctive surreal artistic style in The Arrival and The Red Tree, this Australian writer/illustrator now tells a tale of an exchange student who is really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration more bizarre than he says, and other odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an increadible life of their own.  In this quirky book, Tan proves that he is the king of the first sentence, one which draws the reader farther and farther into an engrossing tale.  P8Q10

Tanen, Sloane.  Appetite for Detention.  Photo. Stefan Hagen.  Bloomsbury, 20o8.  $14.99.  978-1-59990-075-9.  unp.  Ages 12+:  Using “peeps,” the creators of this book show the struggles of seven “typical” teenagers to navigate a world plagued by unrequited love, pop quizzes, bullies, and embarrassing parents.  The wickedly hilarious approach will delight both those in the trenches and others lucky enough to graduate from these painful experiences.  P9Q8

Willems, Mo.  Are You Ready to Play Outside?  An Elephant and Piggie Book.  Hyperion, 2008.  $8.99.  unp.  Ages 3-5:  Caldecott Honor-winner has a winner in these best friends who are always opposites in their approach to life.  This story tells of Piggie’s complaining about the rain while Gerald tells him the advantages of wet weather; he’s so convincing that Piggie complains when the rain ends.  And as usual, Gerald has a solution.  Simple gray and pink illustrations and brief text.  P8Q8

Graphic Novel

Schade, Susan and Jon Buller.  Simon’s Dream.  (Fog Mound, Bk. 3).  Simon & Schuster, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-689-87688-2.  198p.  Ages 8-12:  In the conclusion to this trilogy, Thelonius Chipmunk and his friends face new adventures after they find a Time Machine and Bill the Human regains his ability to speak.  In their attempts to save their beloved Fog Mound from the Dragon Lady and her evil ratmink assistants, readers learn the truth about the past of the humans and animals alike.  The black and white illustrations in the fanciful graphic portion of the book are highlighted with purple and laced with excitement and humor.  P9Q8


An, Na.  The Fold.  Putnam, 2008.  $16.99.  978-0-399-24276-2.  280p.  Ages 13+:  Plastic surgery for a Korean girl who wants to look “American” is the focus of this coming-of-age novel about high schooler Joyce Kim who hopes that enduring this will make her more attractive to a boy who has never noticed her.  An creates believable characters in her depictions of Joyce, her older sister who thinks that Joyce shouldn’t have the surgery, the “benevolent” aunt who is insisting on it, and the girls’ mother who only wants Joyce to be polite to her aunt.  This look at the notions of beauty and the affect of its perceptions on people who also want to stay true to themselves will provoke thought in the reader while Joyce’s struggling with high school life will ring true to all adolescents.  P8Q8

McKillip, Patricia.    The Bell at Sealey Head.  Ace Books, 2008.  $23.95.  98-0-441-01630-3.  277p.  Ages 13+:   The queen of classic fantasy is back with a gentle story about the mystery of a ringing bell that no one can see and not everyone can hear.  Sealey Head, a small town on the edge of the ocean, shelters many secrets, most of them surrounding Aislinn House, a great house at the outskirts of town, its dying mistress, and the strangers who come to town to learn more about the place.  McKillip treats the love interests among the characters almost as if Jane Austin would:  a wealthy farmer’s son Raven is courting Gwyneth who loves to read and prefers the innkeeper’s son, Judd Cauley.  The plot, people, and writing of the book will entrance the reader from the first glorious page to the solution of all the mysteries.  P7Q9

Sage, Angie.  Queste.  [Septimus Heap Bk. 4].  HarperCollins, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-06-088207-5.  595p.  Ages 9-12:  No one returns from the Queste, but that’s the journey that 12-year-old Septimus finds himself on, accompanied by Princess Jenna, who wants to find displaced Nicko in another time, and faithful Beetle, who has been unfairly fired from his Manuscriptorium position.  Much excitement, adventure, and humor accompany the three as they interact with ghosts, royalty, villains, family, and unearthly creatures.  The fourth fantasy in this series—preceeded by Magyk, Flyte, and Physik—is a fast read, a book that can’t be put down once started.   P8Q9

Nov. 2008 Reviews by M.D. ASPIRE

Etten, David Van. Likely Story. Alfred A. Knopt, New York. 2008. $15.99. ages middle to high school. 978-0-375-84676-2 p 8/q 8

Surprisingly this is written by a male about a young teenage girl and her soap opera mother.  Mallory’s mother is a crazy soap star and she wants to write her own soap about normal teens.  But in the end her mother becomes part of her perfect soap opera.  The soap has to have some adults.  In the end she learns to accept her mother and she gets her boyfriend all to herself. 

Ackermann, Joan. In the Space left Behind. Laura Geringer Books Harper Teen. 2007. $18.99. ages middle school. 978-0-06-072256-2. p 7/ q7

This book would appeal to both male and female readers as it is about Colm who is a middle school boy who acts too grown up for his age.  His mother and baby sister have gone to Las Vegas for his mothers third marriage.  His mom starts singing in a lounge and doesn’t come home when he thought.  His mother has decided to sell their house and move – he takes the news badly and decides he will buy his mothers house. His estranged father sends a note and wants to give him $70,000.  They go on a cross country trip and learn to not hate. Colm gives the money back to his father who gives it to the old neighbor man who ran over Colms father when he was riding a bicycle threw town. This book would help students whose parents have failed them.

Howell, Simmone. Notes from the Teenage Underground. Bloomsbury. New York. 2007. $16.95. ages high school. 978-1-58234-835-3.  p7/p7

The summer is here and what will Gem, Lo and Mira do to make it interesting and memorable.  They decide to create an Ug Film similar to Andy Warhol.  Gem works at Video Nasties with Dodgy and enjoys hanging out and talking about obscure movies.  The girls shoot different party “happenings” the ultimate betrayal happens when Gem is talked into catching a couple on tape getting a little frisky at a party.  She is betrayed when it is Mira and Dodgy.  Gem was just getting used to the idea that she may have feelings for Dodgy but not now.  In the end the girls get threw things and figure out what true friends are all about.  This book has sex, scandal and underground freak activities.  Students who feel like they are on the edge of society would enjoy this book.

Matlin, Marlee & Doug Cooney. Leading Ladies. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers.  New York. 2007. $15.99. ages middle school. 978-0-689-86987-7   p7/p7

There are two other books by the author about Megan “ Deaf Child Crossing” and  “Nobody’s Perfect”.  Megan is deaf and loves to be an actress mainly in her own bathroom mirror but when her school puts on the play Wizard of Oz she wants the part as Dorthy.  She gets the part her friend is the speaker for her as she acts and does the sign language. The author is also a deaf actress.  Girls who dream of being an actress would enjoy this book.

Hyde, Catherine Ryan. The Day I Killed James. Alfred A. Knopf. New York.  2008. $16.99. ages high school.  978-0-375-84158-3. p8/ q 8
Theresa feels like she killed James because she blew him off for another guy when she took him to a party to make that guy jealous.  She is seeing a therapist and writing in a journal to try and get threw these feelings.  She doesn’t let in anyone to her circle as she has closed everyone out since James rode his motorcycle off the cliff.  A little girl next door to her attaches herself to Theresa after her mother locks her out of the house.  They both have to learn how to heal so they can get to the little girls grandmother who lives in another city.  Theresa starts to forgive herself as they journey cross country and visit James mother. This book will hold any young readers interest.

Harvey-Fitzhenry Alyxandra. Waking. Orca Book Publishers. Washington.  2006. $9.95. ages high school. 978-1-55143-489-6. p 7/q 7.

The girls in this book have different names Beauty and Luna.  Beauty has bad dreams after her mother’s death.  She has to figure out what her dreams mean and the Shadow Lady.  The girls are making their very own book for a school project.  Her father has been crazy since her mother committed suicide and won’t even let her cut her own fruit.  This is a short read with girls who die\s their hair brilliant colors and learn to take back their lives.

Rosenbloom, Fiona. We are so Crashing your Bar Mitzvah. Hyperion. New York. 2007. $15.99. ages middle school 978-078683890-5. p7/q7.

Unfortunately this book took a little while to get involved in the plot and didn’t really resolve everything in a happy package at the end. All the cool middle school kids have been invited to Eben’s Bar Mitzvah except two girls who decided to get dressed up as divas and crash the party.  Things go terribly wrong when everyone finds out who they are and now they are really a bunch of nobodies.  Things get better when they realize they aren’t part of the kissing catastrophe.

Reviews – C.B. NMS/INMS


Campbell Bartoletti, Susan, The boy who dared, Scholastic Press, New York, 2008, 202 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0439680131, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,


The author Susan Bartoletti has selected 16-year-old Helmuth Hubner from one of her previous books, Hitler youth. This is a historical fictionalized account of the life of Helmuth Hubner. The story starts with the imprisonment of Helmuth in a jail cell after he has been sentenced to death by the courts of Nazi Germany. Helmuth has a series a flash backs that retell his story of illegally listening to the BBC broadcast on a short-wave radio and then distributing the information in Germany. This book will capture the attention of middle and high school students.

Carman, Patrick, Rivers of fire, Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, New York, 2008, 303 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0316166723, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

This is the second book in the Atherton series, where Atherton is a three-tiered world and is in actual fact a huge man-made satellite that is man kinds only refuge from a dying Earth. The three-tiered world, three different lands which had been separated before are now collapsing into each other and the inhabitants of this strange world must work together to survive. Edgar one of the main characters is determined to save the world and to discover the truth about Atherton too.


Paver, Michelle, Outcast, Katherine Tegen Books, New York, 2008, 319 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0060728345, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9,


This Michelle Paver’s fourth book in the Chronicles of Ancient Darkness series, you now find Torak has been keeping a secret from the rest of his clan. He had been infected by one of soul-eaters in the previous book, the mark he has hidden is discovered and he is cast out of his clan and all other clans will not recognize him either. This book deal with an ancient world where Torak’s friendship is tested, he must survive on his own, deal with magic and earn his place back, if he can, in his clan. This adventure story will appeal to all who have read the rest of this series.


Curlee, Lynn, Mythological creatures : a classical bestiary, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2008, 35 pgs., $17.99, ISBN:1416914536, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,

 Lynn Curlee presents the gods and goddesses of Greek mythology by using his own bright paintings to illustrate each of them as he brings their tales alive in this collection.

The creatures and beasts of Greek Mythology are also found in the pages of this book.


DiPucchio, Kelly, Sipping spiders through a straw : campfire songs for monsters, illustrated by Gris Grimly, Scholastic Press, New York, 2008, unp, $15.99, ISBN:0439584019, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,

 Using familiar songs DiPucchio, has created a mixture of ghastly and witty lyrics that will appeal to all who read the pages of this book. Using supercilious lyrics he replaced worlds from “To take me out to the ballgame” with “Take me out to the graveyard, take me out to the tombs.” Using black and brown watercolors he uses stretched out and really drawn out illustrations to reveal the figures of the characters in this collection.


Fitzgerald, Dawn, Vinnie and Abraham, illustrated by Catherine Stock, Charlesbridge, China, 2007, unp, $15.95, ISBN:1570916586, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 8,

 This book show cases the life of Vinnie Ream who was a sculpture and has a marble statue of Abraham Lincoln that now stands in the Capitol Rotunda. This statue is marble and was unveiled when Vinnie was 23 years-old in 1871. This book brings home to a younger audience the life of this remarkable artist. The author begins with her life in Wisconsin, and then to her becoming one of the youngest women, 14 years-old, hired by the U.S. Post Office and concluding with President Lincoln sitting for her. The water colors by Stock are soft but capture the vitality of this extraordinary young woman.


Hansen, Rosanna, Caring for Cheetahs : my African adventure, Boyds Mills Press, Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2007, 32 pgs., index, glossary, $16.95, ISBN:1590783875,

Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,

 The Cheetah Conservation Fund in Namibia, Africa is featured in the pages of this book as Chewbaaka is the main Cheeta featured too. Chewbaaka was rescued and then raised by the members of the conservation. Using photos the relationship of this cheetah to Dr. Laurie Marker are shown. The research between Chewbaaka and Dr. Marker has enabled the world to get a better perspective on the growth, eating habits, size and lifespan of the Cheetah. Elementary students will love this book as they discover how one small area of the world is working to save this endangered animal.


Matthews, John & Caitlin, Trick of the tale : a collection of trickster tales, illustrated by Tomislav Tomic, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008, 85 pgs., $18.99, ISBN:0763636460, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 9,

 The gorgeous black and white engravings by Tomic Tomislav invite the reader into this book to discover the world of the tricksters as they lie and cheat their way out of trouble and to success. This collection features stories from all over the world and will appeal to all audiences.

Michelson, Richard, As good as anybody : Martin Luther King Jr. and Abraham Joshua Heschel’s amazing march toward freedom, illustrated by Raul Colon, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2008, unp, $16.99, ISBN:0375833358, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

 Two men are featured in this book Rabbi Abraham Heshel and Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. The Rabbi Heshel was a Jewish man who escaped from Nazi Germany to America and was drawn in the civil rights movements of the 60’s. He became a good friend of Dr. King. and marched with him from Selma to Montgomery, Alabama. These two men were vastly different and came from different cultures and religions but they proved through their friendships and respect prejudices can be over come. The illustrator of this book uses two colors schemes, brown hues for King and blue hues for Heshel to illustrate theses two different men’s lives. This book should be included in all school libraries.


Rapport, Doreen, Lady Liberty : a biography, illustrated by Matt Tavares, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008, unp, $17.99, ISBN:0763625302, Gr. 3+, P 8,

Q 9,

 The Statue of Liberty has greeted many people to the shores of America and in the pages of this book we are treated to her creation from the financial aspect to those in France who dreamed of giving her as gift to America. Professor Edourd de Laboulaye, a French man wished to honor our struggle during the American Revolution and to celebrate the friendship between our two countries. It is however the creator French sculptor, Auguste Barthodi who made Laboulaye dream come true. The illustrator Matt Tavares uses bright colors to depict the models and building and story of this famous statue.



Scott, Michael, The alchemist : the secrets of the immortal Nicholas Flamel, Delacorte Press, New York, 2007, 375 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0385733577, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,

Sophie and Josh Newman, each 15 years old, are excited about their jobs in San Francisco and the money they can earn. The jobs are situated right across the street from each other. Sophie is working in a coffee shop and Josh in a book store. All is going well until the day that black magical beings enter the book store, to steal the Codex  (a ancient magical book). Josh rips two crucial pages out before they leave with the stolen book. Josh and his sister find out that Nick and Peggy Fleming, Nicks employers, are really 14th century alchemists and are the guardians of the book. This fantasy adventure will grab both middle and high school student attention.


Walden, Mark, The overlord protocol, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2007, 376 pgs., $19.99, ISBN:1416935738, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

This is the second book in the H.I.V.E. series and from the first page it is packed with adventure and danger. The characters in them first book again save the day and with it the Higher Institute of Villainous Education. While attending Wing’s father’s funeral he is kidnapped by Cyper, a true villain who wants to take over the world and destroy H.I.V.E.
Wing finds that Cyper is mass producing Ninja robots who can outfight any other Ninja warrior and that they cannot be destroyed by bullets either. This fast paced adventure will appeal to all.


Broach, Elise, Masterpiece, illustrated by Kelly Murphy, Henry Holt and Company, 2008, 292 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:0805082700, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8,

James is a 12-year-old boy who lives in New York city with his mom, stepfather and little brother William. William is the only god thing that James sees that has come out of his parents divorce.  He is lonely and has a hard time making friends that is until on the night of his birthday when a young beetle draws a miniature picture for him. Marvin is a beetle that lives in James families apartment under the sink in a hole in the wall. The friendship that develops between theses two unlikely characters is one that will appeal to middle school age students. James father is an artists, he sees Marvin’s drawing and takes it and James to Metropolitan Museum of Art. Here Christine, a curator, sees the drawing and with the help of James and Marvin they stage a heist of one Durer’s, a renaissance artist, paintings called Justice. The simple black ink drawings by Kelly Murphy show Marvin and William in many different situations as their friendship grows.


Burg, Shana, A thousand never evers, Delacorte Press, New York, 2008, 301 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0385734700, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8,

It’s 1963, Addie Ann Pickett, lives in Kuckachoo, Mississipp with her Mother, Uncle Buck and her brother Elias. Addie is a 12-year-old African American girl who faces the racism and the civil rights movement of the time. Here in this little town her brother is accused of hurting a white boy, Uncle Bump of ruining the town garden and the truth of how her father was burned alive before her birth. This historical fiction told from Addies point of view will bring to life this horrible era in America’s history.


Clements, Andrew, Things that are, Philomel Books, New York, 2008, 167 pgs., $16.99,

ISBN:0399246916, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,

This Andrew Clements third book in this story and he continues now with Alicia, a young blind girl who chooses to as independent as she can be. Alicia, also narrates the story as she explores her feelings for Bobby and tries to help him after he returns from his audition in New York and is follow by an invisible man.  The FBI visits Alicia’s home to warn them to report anything concerning this man. Alicia’s parents don’t know that he is in their basement have been hidden there by Alicia. Her father and Bobby’s have also been conducting secret experiments to discover the cause of Bobby having once been invisible too. This fast paced adventure will invite older middle school and high school students in.

Mass, Wendy, Every soul a star, Little, Brown and Company Books for Young Readers, New York, 2008, 322 pgs., $15.99, ISBN:0316002569, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9,

Three young children, Ally, Bree and Jack come together in the days before a solar eclipse in Moons Shadow campground. All three characters are narrators as they tell their story in different chapters as their lives converge for this momentous occasion. Ally, lives at the camp ground with her family and can’t imagine living anywhere else. She is also a confident young girl who is able to take on the many tasks at the campground. Bree is a young debutante from California whose parents are moving to the Moon Shadow campground to take over for Ally’s family. Bree can’t imagine any place else to live but California and is horrified to learn she must leave her popularity, designer clothes and shoes all behind. Jack is an over weight boy who has flunked science and is only going to go to view the eclipse to avoid summer school. The three find instead that there lives are changed by each other and events and they all come to see the world in a different way.


Mikaelsen, Ben, Ghost of spirit bear, HarperCollins, 2008, 154 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0060090073, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 8,

This is Mikaelsen’s continuation of his Touching Spirit Bear saga. Cole and Peter, both characters from the first book, are on an island exiled to together trying to come to terms with each other. Now as they go back to their high school they must learn to cope with their own fears and also in a world where violence and gangs exist. Peter who is disabled, after Cole had beat him up, is a prime target for those who bully students. Cole fears that others will expect to be the same person, a bully, as before.  It takes the suicide of another student to make the staff, principal and the students come together to try and change their school where they will have a zero tolerance to bullying. Students who liked his first book will be drawn to this one as well.


Rodman, Mary, Jimmy’s stars, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2008, 257 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:0374337039, Gr. 6+,  P 9, Q 10+,

“James McKelvey is to report to the Union Station at 6 A.M. October 2, 1943.” This message is delivered to the eleven year-old Ellie McKelvey house and her whole life changes. Close to her older brother she dreads the day he will leave and extracts a promise from that he will be home for Christmas. He always keeps his promises and when Christmas day arrives and he doesn’t come she is determined that the tree will stay up till he comes home. Six months later on Ellie’s twelfth birthday she receives a birthday card from Jimmy and also a telegram that reports his death. This is a book that I could not put down.

Springer, Nancy, The case of the bizarre bouquets: an Enola Holmes mystery, Philomel Books, New York, 2008, 170 pgs., $14.99, ISBN:0399245189, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 9,

Enola Holmes is determined to do two things in this the third book in the Enola Holmes Mystery series. One she will not be found by her older brothers Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes. The other is to help find Dr. Watson who has disappeared without any trace. This fast pacing historical mystery will appeal to middle school age students who are looking for a heroine who refuses to bend to the rules of society. To be a proper young woman and to get married, instead she will be an independent private eye.


Zarr, Sara, Sweethearts, Little, Brown and Company, New York, 2008, 217 pgs., $16.99,

ISBN:0316014559, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,

Two young children have made friends with each other when no one else would ever be their friends. One day Cameron Quick does not come to school and Jennifer Harris is left alone with no one. They have done everything together and depended on each other for so much. At home she has had to take care of herself as her mother works during the day and goes to school at night. She is an over weight young girl whom no one likes until the day she meets Cameron Quick and she finally has a friend. Jennifer transfer to another school where she reinvents herself into Jenna, looses weight and has many friends. When Cameron reappears in school years later Jenna is happy but also doesn’t want to lead a life like she had before. This coming of age book will appeal to older middle school age students and also to high school students.

Non Fiction:


Li, Cunxin, Mao’s last dancer, Walker & Company, New York, 2003, 290 pgs., $16.99,

ISBN:0802797792, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8,

Li Cunxin is eleven years-old when he is chosen from his rural village, Qingdao, China, to join the Beijing Dance Academy. Chairman Mao’s Cultural Revolution is in full swing during this time and information, food and work all controlled by the communist government. Cunxin carries his red book, filled with Moa’s teachings. He believes everything that he is told by the government and worships Moa. He works hard and appreciates the chance he has been given to better his life. After five years of hard work is recognized as one of the best dancers and is given a chance to represent China as a dancer in America. He arrives in Texas and soon comes to see that the teachings of the communist government are false.  The truth is as he discovers is that America is a great place to live and he realizes what freedom is. Cunxin returns to China and is refused, at first, in his request to return to American to study dance.  He returns to Texas, marries and defects to spend the next sixteen years dancing with the Houston Ballet Company.


Frisch, Aaron, The story of Nike, Creative Education, 2009, 48 pgs., glossary, index, $32.00, ISBN:1583416080, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,

The Nike company has become a clothing and shoe giant and with their signature swoosh one that is recognized around the world. This company which originated in Oregon is a story of success that students will enjoy reading about.


Weatherfird, Carole, Becoming Billie Holiday, art by Floyd Cooper, Wordsong,  Honesdale, Pennsylvania, 2008, 116 pgs., $19.95, ISBN:159078507X, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 9,

Written in poetry the life of Billie Holliday is explored. What is really unique of the poems is that each title is actually the title of one of her songs. Each one tells about her life struggle to become the singer that she was. Floyd Cooper’s pictures mostly in mute browns and gold tones depict the Holliday’s life experiences.


Picture Books


Arnosky, Jim, Dolphins on the sand, G. P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2008, unp., $16.99, ISBN:0399246061, Gr.2+, P 8, Q 8,

Dolpins and whales for some strange reason we are finding that they will beach themselves on land. This strange occurrence is explored in this story, which is also based on a rescue that the author witnessed. Students will see the with Arnosky’s gleaming and shimmering illustrations the struggle to save these splendid creatures.


Browne, Anthony, Little Beauty, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 2008, $16.99, ISBN:0763639591, Gr.1+, P 8, Q 8,

Little beauty has everything he needs, except a friend. So one day this loveable ape signs to his caretakers he wants a friend and is given a tiny little white and orange tabby as friend. What an unusual pair to be friends and what tenderness this huge ape shows towards his friend. This would be a great book to use to discuss what a friendship is in an elementary school setting.


Choi, Yangsook, Behind the mask, Frances Foster Books, New York, 2006, unp., $16.00,

ISBN:0374305226, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,

Halloween is just around the corner when Kimin decides to use his grandfather’s mask and be him for Halloween. Kimin’s grandfather had been a famous mask dancer in Korea before his death. Kimin feels that by wearing the mask he will be honoring his grandfather as he wears it as costume. He also wants his friends to see the masks and they are soon dancing on the pages of this book, as Kimin teaches them some dance moves. The illustrations are yellows and brown muted fall colors that help to tell the story.


Field, Eugene, Wynken, Blynken, and Nod, illustrated by Giselle Potter, Schwartz & Wade Books, New York, 2008,unp, $16.99, ISBN:0375841962, Gr. K+,  P 9, Q 9,

Using bright elementary colors the full page illustrations by Giselle Potter help to tell this familiar nursery rhyme. Kindergarten students will love the journey of these three pixie looking cherubs as they dance across the night sky.


George, Jean Craighead, The wolves are back, paintings by Wendell Minor, Dutton’s Children Books, New York, 2008, unp, $16.99, ISBN:0525479473, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 8,

At time there was a bounty that was placed on wolves and they were hunted down until they were almost extinct. As a result the ecosystem was off balance and in some species they became over populated. Wolves were then years later reintroduced into protected areas to get the ecosystem back in balance. Jean Craighead has in this book shown how the wolves are an iatrical part of the ecological unit and also how bright, funny, and loving they are in a family unit. The water colors by Minor also show the reader the effect that the wolf has had on the environment and how inquisitive the wolf is too.


Lipp, Frederick, Running shoes, illustrated by Jason Gaillard, Charlesbridge, New York, 2007, unp, $16.95, ISBN:1580891756, Gr. 2+, P 7, Q 8,

Soft muted pastel water colors welcome the reader into the tale of Sophy, a young Cambodian girl who dreams of going to school. Sophy who lives in a very poor village is visited by a doctor who later sends running shoes to her. This act of kindness changes her life and we see her running across the pages in this book on her way to school. Students in elementary schools will love this book as they see Sophy overcome all obstacles to be able to learn.


Rocco, John, Moonpowder, Hyperion Books for Children, New York, unp, 2008, $15.99, ISBN:1423100115, Gr. 2+, P 9, Q 10,

Set during World War II, Eli Treebuckle’s father is a pilot and away at war. It’s just him and his mom who are still at home where he is the little man who helps do so many things around the house and also fixes things that are broken. Wearing his aviator hat to bed he is soon off to dream land, where he has been having nightmares for the last few months. Not able to fall asleep again he is visited by Mr. Moon who implores him to help to fix the moonpowder factory, which produces the dream dust for all dreams. Rocco’s illustrations are superb in tones of gold and browns against a aqua night sky. Here elementary age children’s imagination will soar across the sky with Eli and Mr. Moon.


Teague, Mark, LaRue for mayor: letters from a campaign trail, The Blue Sky Press, New York, 2008, unp. $16.99, ISBN:0439783151, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,

It’s election time in the city of Pumkinville and Mr. Hugo Bugwort is running for mayor.  One of Bugwort’s campaign promises is the threat to crack down on the dogs that are roaming around freely and causing havoc in the city. The dogs ban together and soon are ruining things for Bugwort. Through a series of letters to the editor, Mr. Bugwort and  Mrs. LaRue the story reveals a mischief dog, Ike who is determined that the next mayor will be the mysterious candidate named LaRue. When Ike rescues Mr. Bugwort his sentiments towards dogs change and the residents of Pumpkinville see a gentler and kinder candidate. Mark Tegue’s illustrations of Ike and his cohorts jump across the pages as they steal icecream, hotdogs, and even the ball from a baseball game. One side is in color, which is reality and the black and white side is the fantasy that Ike sees. Elementary children who are writing letters or studying election procedures will love this book.

December 2008 Reviews

Book Review



Hopkins, Ellen. Identical. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2008. $17.95. 978-1-4169-5005-2. 565p. Gr.10-12


A novel in verse, but the poetic style only amplifies this gritty story that is not for the feint of heart. Recently, a girl at WHS asked me to get books about families with problems… it’s here! In typical Hopkins fashion this story takes it all on as the reader experiences a family that put the “dys” into dysfunction: tragedy, incest, drug abuse, cutting, binging/purging, masochistic sex, and mental illness.

Following an accident that ripped through a family that appeared “normal” on the outside, we find out the repercussions of choices made by each member. The reader is taken into the depths of emotional turmoil, but by the end gains empathy for the protagonist and the decisions she made.

Although this book took the reader to the darkest underbelly of teen existence it does merit being read by a mature audience wanting the vicarious experience of the victim of incest… and a way out. P8Q8


Reviews by S.E. Grandparent Volunteer


Wolf, Allan.  Zane’s Trace.  Candlewick Press, Ma. 2002.  ISBN 0763628581.  $16.99. 177p.  Ages 15-18.  This is a somewhat factual account of a disturbed young man who has a disease called Geschwind Syndrome that includes seizures and hypergraphia, an overwhelming urge to write and write a lot.  It is also called the “midnight disease”  His purpose and goal is to reach Zanesville in his dead father’s Plymouth Barracuda to kill himself on his mother’s gravesite.  He writes on his walls in indelible ink describing his imprisionment, ie: his mind.  His encounter with a young hitchhiker seems to help himself discover new things about himself but she is as troubled as he is.  He has stolen his brother’s credit card and uses it which enables his brother to find Zane in time to save him.  Q6P6




Hopkins, Ellen. Glass. Margaret K McElderry Books Ny, an imprint of Simon and Schuster children’s publishing Division.  2007.  ISBN 141694090. $16.00.  680p.  Ages 15-18.  This is a very long and drawn out story of a young lady who gets hooked on smoking crank.  It is way too long with absolutely no redemption at the end.  I wasn’t impressed.  Q5P4

Fiction/folk stories

Hamilton, Virginia. Il. Leo and Diane Dillon. The People Could Fly.  Alfred A Knoph, an imprint of Random House Inc. NY. 2007 ISBN 978037592405-7. $17.99.  Ages 6-10.  This is a beautifully illustrated retelling of a story of a group of slaves who call upon African Magic to transport them away from their suffering as slaves and allows them to fly away.  A Coretta Scott King award. Text copywrite 1985.  Q9P8



Stein, David Ezra, Monster Hug.  GP Putnam’s sons, a division of The Penguin Group. NY 2007.  ISBN 9780399246371.  $15.99.  ages 5-6.  Two monsters from different backgrounds come together for a day of fun until their parents call them home for the evening.  The drawings are primitive and it has very few words but my youngest grandson calls it one of his favorite books so who am I to say it won't be popular? Q7P9

Roberts Bethany, Il. Vladimir Vagin, Cookie Angel.  Henry Holt and Co. NY 2007.  ISBN 0805069747. $16.99.  Ages 5-8.  It is Christmas eve and the Carroll family make their special cookie angel who comes to life after the family has gone to bed.  All the toys under the tree come to life and all misbehave and it is up to the cookie angel to calm them all down.  It is a nice Christmas Eve read aloud book.  Q8P8


McDonnell, Patrick, Hug Time.  Little Brown and Co. NY 2007. $14.99.  ISBN 0316114944.  this is a very sweet story about a kitten who wants to hug everybody and makes a “hugs to do list” and travels the world hugging everything on his list.  It is a sweet story and will be popular among children ages 5-7.  The illustrator is the creator of the comic strip “Mutts”  Q8P8


\Maass, Robert, Little Trucks With Big Jobs. Henry Holt and Co. NY 2007.  ISBN 100805077480. $16.95.  Ages 5-7.  This is a short story about trucks that kids will want to check out primarily because they love big rigs that do big jobs inicluding ambulances and forklifts and mail trucks.  Q6P6.

Johnston, Tony. Il. Melissa Sweet Off To Kindergarten.  Cartwheel books, Scholastic Inc. NY 2007. ISBN 0439730902.  $7.99.   Ages 5-7.  a sweet book about a boy’s first day of kindergarten and what all he wants to take with him.  It is a good read aloud book.  Q8P8


Aruego, Jose &Ariane Dewey, The Last Laugh.  Dial Books for Young Readers Group. NY. 2007.  ISBN 0803730934. Age K.  $12.99.  This is an exceptionally good book dealing with bullies.  A not so nice snake gets the tables turned on him by a duck with lots of friends.  Kindergarten age children will love this book.  Q9P9


Purmell, Ann.  Il Jill Weber, Christmas Tree Farm.  Holiday House NY 2006.  ISBN 0823418863 $16.95.  Ages 5-10.  This is an  informative book about a young boy who helps his grandpa throughout all phases of tree farming.  The illustrations are great and shows how much hard work goes into this type of farming all year long.  A good holiday book.  Q7P7.


Wilson, Karma, Il. Christa Unzner,  Princess Me  Margaret K McElderry books and imprint of Simon and Schuster children’s publishing division.  NY.  ISBN 9781416940982 . 2007. $16.99. Ages 5-7  A cute easy to read and nicely illustrated book about a young girl who dresses up as a princess and plays with all the toys in her realm.  A great read aloud book.  Q8P8

Non fiction 

Michelson, Richard, Il Mary Azarian, Tuttles Red Barn. The Story of America’s Oldest Family Farm. G Putnam’s Sons, a division of Penguin Young Reader’s Group, NY. 2007. ISBN 9780399243547. $16.99.  Ages 6-10.  This is a story of a generational farm that goes back to 1632 and follows the family farm throughout time to the present.  It is the winner of the Caldecott Medal. Q8P8


Morrison, Taylor, Tsunami Warning.  Houghton Mifflin Co. NY 2007  ISBN 061873435. $17.00.  Ages 7-11.  This is a nicely illustrated anthology of significant tsunamis throughout history including the most recent 2004 tsunami in the Indian Ocean.  It teaches what is being done about understanding tsunamis and the newest technology to detect a coming tsunami.  Q8P9

Koscielniak, Bruce, Looking at Glass Through the Ages.  Houghton Mifflin co. NY 2007. ISBN 0618507507.$16.00  Ages 7-11.  This is an in depth look at how glass was made throughout the ages starting in Egypt.  It is a very informative book and I recommend it to students who are interested in glass fusion and glass window art.  Q8P8

Non fiction/Math/animals

Whitehead, Ann Nagda, Cheetah Math.  Henry Holt &Co. NY 2007.  Ages 6-11.  ISBN 9780805076455.  $16.95.  In collaboration with the San Diego Zoo, this informative book teaches how division, multiplication, addition and subtraction are used in determining how to care for cheetahs.  The photography is good and I like how it shows how math can be applied in everyday use.  Q8P7


December Book Reviews

A.M., Student Reviewer, NHS


Ruckdeschel, Liz & Sara James. What if…Everyone Was Doing It: a choose your destiny novel. Random House, New York, 2008. $8.99 ISBN: 9780385735025 264 p. Gr. 9-11 This book focuses on a high school girl and her life in high school. The choices the reader makes affects her social and emotional outcomes and the way the story ends. I liked this book; it’s really modern and reminds me of a lot of teenagers (and their social lives) that attend Newport High. I think girls would enjoy it more than boys. P9.5 Q8



Fletcher, Christine. Ten Cents a Dance. Bloomsbury, New York, 2008. $16.95 ISBN: 1599901641 356p. Gr. 9-12 The main character of this book is a teenage girl who lives in poverty, working a low paying job. One day she meets “gangster” Paulie who advises her on a job that will pay more: dancing, which is what she loves to do. Eventually, she makes good money and falls in love with Paulie who – in the end – turns out to be a very bad guy. This book is easy to read and easy to enjoy. P6 Q6



December Book Reviews

D.J., Student Reviewer, NHS


Funke, Cornelia. Inkdeath. Scholastic, New York, 2008.   $14.99   ISBN: 0439866286 656p.  Gr. 7-12

This is a great book with a plot that contains more than one antagonist and protagonist.  The contents of this book are pretty safe for younger people with a few exceptions.  The organization is pretty straightforward with no back tracking and links actions together instantaneously.  This book outlines three to five main points of view but only goes into great detail in two of them.  The characters were detailed but not to the extreme like the other two books in this trilogy were.  The setting is in a beautiful land with a rotten, evil king, but this book is not believable because it takes place in a book with real people in it.   P7 Q8


December Book Reviews

K.J., NHS Student Reviewer


Peters, Julie Ann. Grl2grl. Little, Brown, & Co., New York, 2007. $11.99 ISBN:9780316013437 152 p. Gr. 9-12 This is a collection of very short fiction about lesbians and transgenders. Some were wonderful and had real meaning, but others were ridiculous and confusing. Random organization, some humorous, some ironic, some completely pointless. I really liked about half the stories and really hated a few of them. Some left me extremely curious for more story and background, but some of them I couldn’t finish fast enough. P6 Q4


George, Madeleine. Looks. Penguin, New York, 2008. $16.99 ISBN:9780670061679 240p. Gr. 7-12 Meghan is fat. Really fat. And new girl Aimee is skinny. Scary skinny. Meghan is good at being invisible, ironically. And all Aimee has is her poetry. The way these characters see everyone else and observe life in high school is dead-on and detailed. You relate to them both, and share their pain, both as Meghan is ignored by everyone yet teased horribly and as Aimee struggles to find people she can count on to control her disorder. Both are judged based on their looks, though people are so much deeper than that. The characters are realistic and easy to relate to. They each have a fantastic sense of humor and irony, and see things more clearly than anyone else. P8 Q8


Jocelyn, Marthe. Would You. Random House, New York, 2008. $15.99 ISBN:9780375837036 166 p. Gr. 7-12 Natalie’s best friend is her older sister Claire, and even though they have their own lives, they intertwine and connect. So when Claire gets hit by a car and spirals into a coma, no one even knows how to react. Claire was perfect. She was smart, pretty, a soccer star. How could someone like her die? I really like some of the descriptions but I didn’t like the story itself or the way it was written. P6 Q6


Link, Kelly. Pretty Monsters: Stories. Illustrated by Shaun Tan. Penguin, New York, 2008. $19.99 ISBN978067001090 400 p. Gr. 7-12 Pretty Monsters is a collection of short stories, all of which are a little bit morbid and none of them truly have a happy ending. At first, the characters seem normal, but the fantasy element keeps the plot moving and makes you wonder if the ending of the story is really an end at all. Dark, suspenseful, ironic. I liked this book. My favorites were the last two stories, and they could turn into full books, but because they are short stories, you get just a little taste and you want more. P7 Q8


December Book Reviews

K.C., NHS Student Reviewer


Dobkin, Bonnie. Neptune’s Children. Walker & Co., New York, 2008. $16.99 ISBN:9780802797346 262 p. Gr. 7-12 Neptune’s Children by Bonnie Dobkin is an excellent post-apocalyptic type of story. Some biological terrorists have killed every adult in the world, but for some reason the children all survived. This book centers on all the kids that were at the Isles of Wonder theme park when all the adults died. Suddenly alone and without anyone to lead them, the young teens band together under the park’s patron Neptune. Soon they establish a government, lead by the Core. But signs are starting to appear that they are not alone, after all, and the Core will do whatever it takes to stay in power. It was interesting and clever and made one think. It had good characters and points out the base survival/fear instincts that we try to ignore. Easy to read and believable! A great book, but I’m glad it didn’t happen to me. P8 Q9



Birdsall, Jeanne. The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. Random House, New York, 2008. $15.99 ISBN: 9780375840906 308 p. Gr. 6-12 The Penderwick sisters are delighted when their Aunt Clair comes for a visit. They become rather less thrilled when their Aunt reveals that she is there to start their widower father dating again. They come up with the “save Daddy” plan, a plot so funny and daring, only the Penderwick sisters could have come up with it. However, it rather pales in comparison to the utterly brilliant “new save Daddy plan.” Apart from the trouble at home, Rosalind is finding their neighbor Tommy even more annoying than usual, Skye loses her temper spectacularly, Jane’s imagination and love of writing begins to get her in trouble, and Betty gets into mischief with spying activities. I liked this book; it was absolutely wonderful! All the characters are perfectly, beautifully formed with funny, clever, and insightful points of view. No one is brilliant, brave, and amazing in quite the way the Penderwicks are. P8 Q9


December Book Reviews

A.C., NHS Student Reviewer


Michaels, Jamie. Kiss My Book. Random House, New York, 2007. $7.99 ISBN:9780385734998 274 p. Gr. 8-12 Ruby Crane was never in the “it” crowd, until she got a book of hers published. Everyone wanted to be seen with her, get her autograph, and be her best friend. Ruby loved it, going from a nobody to a somebody in a couple of minutes. Then at a party she got asked from a news reporter the last thing she wanted to hear, “Why did you plagiarize?” Not knowing shat to do, she ran away to live with her aunt. Ruby no longer, she changes her name to Georgie, cuts her hair, wears glasses again, and dresses differently. While in hiding, Georgie makes friends, finds her true love, and learns that she cannot run away from her love of books. I liked the book, but I hated the ending. The book just stops. If the author had smoothed the ending a little bit, it would be better. P8 Q8


Marr, Melissa. Ink Exchange. HarperCollins, New York, 2008.   $16.99   ISBN: 9780061214684   336 p.  Gr. 9-12   Leslie doesn’t like her life, so she goes to a tattoo shop everyday, looking for one that might change her life.  Unknowingly, she chooses a tattoo that binds her to the Dark King.   The Dark King needs a queen to help him feed his court.  When he does, it would bring chaos into the world.  This book makes you believe that there are a bunch of invisible faeries running around doing pranks on us. P10 Q10


Mitchard, Jacquelyn. The Midnight Twins. Penguin, New York, 2008.   $16.99   ISBN: 9781595141606  240 p.  Gr. 7-12    Mallory and Meredith Brynn are not just regular twins. They can see into the past and future.  They can also talk to each other telepathically.  After a fire that changed their lives, Mallory could see the future, and Meredith could see the past.  They were very confused with their new powers, but lucky for them they had their grandma.  Grandma explains everything to them: why they see what they see, their ancestors, and how their gifts will never go away.  The point of view jumps around a lot from Mallory to Merry and that is what makes the book confusing.  I didn’t really like the book, it’s believable, but I don’t like the plot.  It’s a little too confusing for me. Another thing that makes the book confusing is the names. They sound so much alike I get confused.  P7 Q8

December Book Reviews J.K.
Lincoln County Juvenile Detention
Teacher Assistant

Barker, M. P. A Difficult Boy. Holiday House, New York, 2008.294 pages. ISBN 978-0-8234-2086-5. $16.95. 6th grade +. P7Q8.

A novel about the unlikely and reluctant yet primal friendship between two boys and a horse who need each other. Beautifully written with vivid imagery. I’m kind of a weenie about violence and at some places in the book, I found it difficult to even think about continuing because I knew what was coming and it wasn’t going to be pretty. Ethan and Paddy (real name Daniel) are both indentured to Mr. Lyman who feels it’s his duty to ‘discipline’ the boys, ergo bloody beatings. In spite of that, I really loved this book. I loved the story.

Jones, Sabrina. Isadora Duncan a Graphic Biography. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2008. Unpaged. ISBN 978-0-8090-9497-4.Tentative price: $16.95. 7th grade +. P6Q8.

I’m not a huge fan of graphic novels; however, perhaps because of my background in dance, I really enjoyed this one. My only concern for recommending this book comes from Isadora’s promiscuity, but the author doesn’t judge Ms. Duncan one way or the other. She only states, in a concise yet artfully flowing way. As a dancer, I was reminded how much Isadora Duncan’s unique and revolutionary dance/performance style influenced every aspect of my dance experience for forty three years.

Taylor, G. P. – Mariah Mundi- The Midas Box. Penguin, New York, 2007. 304 pages. ISBN 978-0-399-24347-9. $17.99. The lovely use of descriptive language makes this a very visual book. In fact, while I was reading, I kept seeing a movie. AND the author leaves the story open for a sequel. I got hooked right away by the fast paced story of boys from the private Chiswick Colonial School disappearing from their place employment: The Prince Regent hotel. The latest Colonial recruit , Mariah Mundi, has stumbled upon the secrets and mysteries of the exclusive, health-oriented, luxury, steam-operated hotel. In the course of his employment as assistant to the resident magician, Bizmillah, a magical and murderous plot, complete with changelings and dragons, emerges. Yet utterly believable. A very satisfying read which leaves the reader ready for the sequel. Not on minor error: on page 15 the clock strikes midnight, and sometime later, on page 28, midnight strikes again.

Declare Yourself – Speak. Connect. Act. Vote. More Than 50 Celebrated Americans Tell You Why. HarperCollins, 2008. 325 pages. ISBN 978-0-06-147316-6. $11.99. High School +. P7Q7.
A timely book encouraging our youth to step up to taking responsibility for their futures by politically educating themselves about the issues as well as the candidates. I found a few of the stories quite uplifting and motivating, but after the first ten or so it began to feel like overkill. I do think that politically-minded 15 through 18 year olds will find the celebrity entries interesting reading.

Muòoz, Manuel. The Faith Healer of Olive Avenue-Stories. Workman Publishing, New York, 2007. 239 pages. ISBN 978-1-56512-532-2. $12.95. High School +. P8Q9.

A collection of stories about Mexican/Americans living in the Fresno area of the San Joaquin Valley. This well-crafted book is beautifully written and rich with humanity and emotion. One of the best books I’ve ever read!

December Book Reviews

E. C. NHS Student Reviewer

Flanagan, John. Ranger’s Apprentice. Penguin Books, New York, 2008 $17.99  ISBN: 978-0-399-25032-3  295 p. Gr. 7-12 

Very good plot with a cliffhanger, nail biting on the edge of your seat suspense which takes you in one direction and then you are on to another adventure. The story keeps connected with the other 4 books in this series The Sorcerer of the North with Will finally making a full-fledge Ranger.  Without revealing too much of the plot would spoil the adventure for the reader.  The author, Flanagan, who has a great following has once again masterfully connected this story to the series yet made it almost like a separate part.
I liked this book and the other 4 books in the series. But to really understand this book and its characters you would have had to read the other books. While reading you must pay close attention to the plot in order to stay connected with the characters. You must read with an open minded attitude. P8 Q 8

December 2008 Reviews

L.R. for Siletz Library

Picture Books

Spinelli, Eileen. The Best Story. Il. Anne Wilsdorf. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2008, unpgd. Ages 6-8. ISBN 9780803730557 $16.99. P6 Q8

A little girl learns about a writing contest at her local library and the prize is a ride on the “Sooper Dooper Looper Roller Coaster” with her favorite author. She is so excited, she goes home and starts composing right away. But, one by one, everyone in her family gives her advice on what the story needs. Soon it is a wild mishmash. Eventually she figures out that she has to “write what is in her heart and feels happy with the result. It has a nice little lesson to kids to learn to savor a feeling of accomplishment over a prize. The illustrations are nicely done---full of action, emotion and humor.

Nash, Ogden. The Adventures of Isabel. Il. Bridget Starr Taylor. Sourcebooks, Inc, 2008, unpgd. Ages 5-9. ISBN 9781402210273 $16.95. P8 Q9

This poetry just has to be read aloud, and it includes a CD of Ogden Nash reading the poem that he wrote for his daughter over 80 years ago. Fearless Isabel eats bears, turns witches into milk, and cuts off a giant’s head. In the gorgeous watercolor illustrations, Isabel always has a defiant, slightly bemused smile. You can’t help but like this character and reader and listener will have fun with this book. The overall quality of the book is good and a great way to introduce kids to a famous poet.

Jacques, Brian. Urso Brunov and the White Emperor. Il. Alexi Natchev. Penguin Young Readers Group. 2008, unpgd. Ages 6-10. ISBN 9780399237928 $17.99. P6 Q8

Urso Brunov, “Little Father of All Bears,” is a miniature bear as big as a thumb. He dresses in a style reminiscent of a Russian Cossack and goes around blowing a shiny bugle. He goes on a mission to return two normal sized polar bear cubs to their family, who happen to be an Emperor and Empress who live in an impressive ice castle. The watercolor illustrations are done beautifully in jeweled tone colors, but some of the renderings of the animals are so realistic they may be scary to young readers. There are wolves, wild boars, whales and of course, lots of bears in the story. It is a pretty good folk tale, but maybe not for the very young.

Tafuri, Nancy. Whose Chick are You? Harper Collins Publishers, 2008, unpgd. Ages 2-6. ISBN9780060825140 $16.99. P8 Q8

Here is the book for the very young! All the birds around the pond are looking in anticipation at an egg about to hatch. It turns out to be a gray, fuzzy thing with a black bill and neither the songbird, the duck, the goose or the chicken know who is might belong to. Eventually, a swan comes by and claims it as her own. It is a very simple, touching story book with lively, colorful pictures. This will be a favorite for story times!

Stanley, Diane. The Trouble with Wishes. HarperCollins Publishers, 2007, unpgd. Ages 5-12. ISBN 9780060554514 $16.99. P6 Q9

Based loosely on the Greek myth “Pygmalion,” this story pokes fun at humans who worship physical perfection. Pyg is a sculptor who creates a beautiful marble goddess and promptly falls in love with her. He wishes her to life, only to find out that she is quite demanding and spoiled. When she moves on up to the castle on the hill, he is only too happy to escape back down the hill to a quiet life with his faithful assistant, Jane. The illustrations are what make this book. They are beautiful and playful and really bring the characters, including a cast of kittens, to life. The combination of Greek-style drawings with little modern elements (such as the goddess’s attendants using a hairdryer to make her look like the latest Vogue cover) add to the fun. A very charming book!

Teen books

Todd, Pamela. The Blind Faith Hotel. Simon and Schuster Children’s Publishing Division, 2008, 312 pgs. Ages 12 and up ISBN9781416954941 $16.99 P5 Q5

The Blind Faith Hotel is sort of a cross between The Secret Garden  and Huckleberry Finn, without the great dialects and rich regional descriptions. But it is a pretty good story of a 14 year old girl who is uprooted, along with her mother, brother and sister, from the Pacific northwest coast to an old house in the middle west, next to a prairie reserve. The girl, who is bitter, and hates everything about her new life, gradually comes to accept it and even love this strange new countryside. First, she has to have a brush with the law and be sentenced to community service in the prairie. Then, she has to find a wild child teen boy who loves the prairie. Then, she has to discover her grandmother’s forgotten garden and bring it back to life. Sound familiar? Possibly the messages in the book will resonate with a teen reader, but if you are on a really tight budget, I would buy something else for your library.

First Thursday Book Review Center

Nov. 2008 Reviews—J.C.

Picture books:

Doyle, Malachy. Horse. Illustrated by Angelo Rinaldi. Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2008. 1 v. (unp.) ISBN 9781416924678 / 1416924671 $16.99 “Ages 5-9.” P7Q7
A lushly illustrated story of the first two years in the life of a foal.  Recommended for school and public libraries.

Isaacs, Anne. The ghosts of Luckless Gulch. Illustrated by Dan Santat. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2008. 45 p. ISBN 9781416902010 / 1416902015 $18.99 Ages 5-9. P8Q7

This California-based tall tale features Estrella, a girl who can run so fast that she leaves trails of flames wherever she goes, and her pets, the Kickle Snifter, a Sidehill Wowser, and a Rubberado puppy.  When greedy ghosts steal her pets and put them to work in the mines, Estrella uses her wits to free them.  The tall-tale formula will appeal to children, though the sheer number of words on the pages will make this a difficult book to share in storytimes.  Recommended for elementary and public libraries.

McKissack, Patricia C. Stitchin’ and pullin’ a Gee’s Bend quilt. Illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. Random House, c2008. 1 v. (unp.) ISBN 9780375831638 $17.99

Inspired by the quilts and quilters of Gee’s Bend, Alabama.  A young girl watches her mother and the other women of Gee’s Bend piece and quilt brilliantly colored works. When her grandmother says that it is time for her to work on her own quilt, the girl chooses fabrics that tell the story of her family and the community of Gee’s Bend. The style of illustration incorporates the somewhat worn feel of reclaimed quilt pieces, and carries the story forward, creating a whole work of art.  Recommended for school and public libraries.

Nonfiction picturebooks:

Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Boy, were we wrong about the solar system. Illustrated by John Rocco. Dutton Children’s Books, c2008. 1 v. (unp.) ISBN 9780525469797 $15.99 Ages  4-8. P6Q7

An attempt to do for astronomy what the earlier Boy Were We Wrong About Dinosaurs did in introducing scientific theory and the history of paleontology.  Unfortunately, the artwork and treatment of the subject do not carry the same delightful sense of discovery as the earlier book.   Would be useful for elementary school and public library collections that need additional material on astronomy.

Ray, Deborah Kogan. Wanda Gag, the girl who lived to draw : the creator of Millions of Cats. Viking, c2008. 1 v. (unp.) ISBN 9780670062928 $16.99 “Ages 5 up.” P7Q8

A picture book biography of children’s book illustrator Wanda Gag. The author intended the illustrations to be in the style of the subject, but the text was more successful in conveying biographical information.  Recommended for elementary and public library collections.

Juvenile fiction:

Appelt, Kathi. The underneath. Illustrated by David Small. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2008. 313 p. ISBN 9781416950585 / 1416950583 $16.99 Ages 12-up. P6Q8

The haunting stories of a small cat, her kittens, an abused hound dog, and a 1,000 year old cottonmouth snake.  Love, longing, and loneliness tie together the story threads of the present day animals and the long ago family of shapeshifters who lived with the Caddo Indians in the Texas swamps. Highly recommended for middle school and public library collections.  Please note, however, that the stories include the drowning of the cat.

Horvath, Polly. My one hundred adventures. Schwarz & Wade Books, c2008. 260 p. ISBN 9780375845826 $16.99 “Ages 8-12.” P7Q7

Twelve-year-old Jane lives with her single mother and younger siblings in a cozy house by the sea.  Jane determines to step into the place where she will have adventures—and finds herself delivering Bibles, stealing a hot-air balloon, searching for a healing talisman in a weird friendship with preacher and wannabee psychic Nellie Phipps, and donating her services as babysitter to the Gourd family to pay for a crime she might have committed.   An excellent transition novel about fitting into a community while being your own individual self.  Recommended for middle school and public library collections.

Ibbotson, Eva. The dragonfly pool. Illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. Dutton Children’s Books, c2008. 377 p. ISBN 9780525420644 $17.99 P6Q8

Tally’s fascination with the land of Bergania leads her school to send a delegation to an international folk dancing festival in that country—even though none of the students know how to dance.  When the Germans kill the king and take over Bergania, Tally and her friends rescue the crown prince—once from the Germans, and again from the stultifying atmosphere of his aristocratic English relatives.  Written in a determinedly old-fashioned style, The Dragonfly Pool celebrates the willingness of people the world over to help one another.  Highly recommended for middle school and public library collections.

Jones, Diana Wynne. House of many ways. Greenwillow Books, c2008. 404 p. ISBN 9780061477959 $17.99 Ages 12-up. P7Q8

Charmain Baker is assigned to look over her Great-Uncle William’s cottage while he is ill, but her great-uncle is a wizard, and Charmain knows little magic.  To further complicate matters, an apprentice shows up, the cottage doors open into multiple places and times, a terrifying beast called a lubbock appears, and Charmain becomes involved in a frantic search for a magical artifact.  A sorceress named Sophie is visiting the court, which is experiencing an epidemic of rocking horses—and where Sophie is, can the wizard Howl be far away?  Sequel to Howl’s Moving Castle.  Highly recommended for middle school, high school, and public library collections. 

Langton, Jane. The dragon tree. (Hall family chronicles, book 8) HarperCollins, c2008. 166 p. ISBN 9780060823412 $15.99 “Ages 8-12.” P7Q7

The Hall family learns about their new neighbor when he brings out a chain saw and cuts down all the trees on his property.  Mortimer Moon—the neighbor—is the new tree warden, and his crusade is to cut down all the beautiful old trees in town, including the mysterious new tree that is growing on the property line at the edge of the Hall’s yard. Meanwhile, in the Moon’s own house, a young orphan named Emerald is a virtual slave.  How can Eddy and George Hall save the mysterious tree and stop Mortimer Moon?  Melodrama abounds.  Recommended for middle school and public libraries.

Lisle, Holly. The ruby key. (Moon and sun, book one) Orchard Books, c2008. 361 p. ISBN 9780545000123 / 0545000122 $16.99 Ages 12-up. P7Q8

Desperate to obtain the taandu sap which might save their ailing mother, Genna and her younger brother Dan venture out into the nighttime, even though it breaks the treaty between the nightfolk and the humans, and might betray them into slavery.  Unexpectedly aided by Naari, one of the nightfolk, Genna makes a deal with the kai, the lord of the nightfolk, to retrieve his heart's desire in exchange for healing, safety, and the ruby key.  High fantasy for young readers.   Genna is brave, courteous, clever--feisty, if you will.  Also, she comes to understand the difference between coercion and free will, and works to free both the humans and the enslaved nightfolk from corrupt leaders.  While Lisle has written several fantasies for the adult science fiction market, this is her first book for young readers.  Obviously skilled at the craft of writing, Lisle has put together an appealing story while avoiding the temptation to oversimplify or to talk down to her audience.  Recommended for middle, high school, and public libraries.

December Book Reviews

C.S. - Siletz Public Library

Picture Books:


Ellery, Tom and Amanda. If I Had a Dragon. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2006. Not paged. ISBN: 978-1-4169-0924-8. $14.95. Ages 3-7. P7Q6.

A short book about a boy whose mom wants him to play with his little brother. Morton wishes he could play with a dragon instead, but through the book, finds that maybe a dragon isn’t such a good playmate, and his brother is okay. The pictures are nothing special, but the story is cute.


Farrell, John. Stargazer’s Alphabet: Night-Sky Wonders from A to Z. Boyd’s Mills Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-1-59078-466-2. $16.95. Ages 6-9. P7Q8. I found this book very interesting. It is an alphabet book, but has a lot of good information about astronomy.


Greenburg, David T. Ill. Munsinger, Lynn. Crocs! Little, Brown and Co., 2008. ISBN: 978-0-316-07306-6. $15.99. Ages 4-7. P8Q8. I loved this book. It’s about a boy who leaves the city to avoid disgusting creatures like cats and dogs, and ends up surrounded by crocodiles with various unpleasant habits. It’s really funny, and a certain kind of kid will love it.


Wood, Audrey. A Dog Needs a Bone. The Blue Sky Press, 2007. ISBN: 978-0-545-00005-5. $16.99. Ages 3-5. P7Q7. A very cute book about a dog who wants a bone from his mistress- he pleads and makes various promises before becoming disappointed. In the end he gets his bone. I read this to a group of 3-4 year olds and they laughed a lot at the pictures.



Zimmer, Tracie Vaughn. The Floating Circus. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2008. 198 p. ISBN 1-59990-185-4. $15.99. Ages 8-12. P8Q8.

Owen, a twelve year old orphan, realized that his brother Zach would have a better chance at adoption without him, so he leaves the orphan train and after some adventures, ends up working for a floating circus. He comes to understand some things through his experiences- that the “freaks” he meets in the circus are people just like him, that slavery is an evil thing, and that the circus can be a home and family for him. I really liked this book. The characters are engaging, the writing is nice, and it moves along at a good pace.


Martinez Wood, Jamie. Rogelia’s House of Magic. Delacorte Press, 2008. 300p. ISBN 978-0-385-73477-6. $15.99. Ages 12+. P7Q5.

Three 15 year old Hispanic girls with very different personalities and backgrounds find that they have magical powers while they are learning from a Mexican curandera (wise woman/ shaman). The author deals with topics like cultural identity, fitting in with a new group, grieving, and developing personal power. The writing isn’t top quality, and the author has an annoying habit of dropping brand names to make an effect, but teenage girls might like it.




Claybourne, Anna. 100 Most Dangerous Things on the Planet. Scholastic, 2008. 111 pages. ISBN 978-0-545-06927-4. $7.99. Ages 9-12. P8Q7.

This book is a collection of dangerous things and situations, survival tips, and your chances of living. Some of them are: avalanches, falling into a volcanic crater, and being attacked by hyenas. It’s kind of a fun book and I can see 12 year olds being interested, but some of the advice isn’t very useful- if you fall into a volcanic crater, you should yell for help!

Dec. 2008 Reviews by Melinda Dye


Hood, Ann. How I Saved My Father’s Life (and ruined everything else) Scholastic Press. New York. 2008. $16.99. ages middle school. 978-0-439-92819-9 p 8/q 8

Madeline is twelve-years old and believes she can perform miracles and wants to become a saint.  She prays when her father is in an avalanche and believes she has performed a miracle when he survives.  Things fall apart when he returns from his trip – he leaves her mother and starts a new family with another women.  She travels to Italy with her mother and learns what family and faith really are.  She figures out the truth about her father and decides the divorce it wasn’t really her mother’s fault.  This would be a great book for any young person who’s parents are divorcing.  Madeline has to learn to see the truth despite her feelings.


Beck, Nina. This Book Isn’t Fat, It’s Fabulous. Point. New York. 2008. $16.99. ages middle & high school. 978- 0-545-01703-9  p 7/q 7

Riley has been sent to New Horizons a fat camp for the summer and doesn’t want any of her friends to find out.  Riley is good at kissing any guy she wants and causing havoc among her friends. She is rich and has told her best friend who happens to be a boy that she is going to a spa instead. She loves her best friend but they are just friends so why is she lying to him.    When she gets to the camp she meets a guy Eric who wears red nail polish and falls in love with her.  She gets kicked out of camp when they are discovered sleeping together on a camping trip.  She doesn’t want to be kicked out and comes up with an plan to get back to Eric.  Her life is falling apart she has to get D her best friend and Eric together and figure out which boy she really loves.  I think girls who are overweight might enjoy reading this book because despite her weight she goes after what she wants.  Riley learns what true love really is and what it isn’t. 


Johnson, Maureen. Suite Scarlett. Point. New York. 2008. $16.99. ages high school 978-0-439-89927-7.  p8/q8

Scarlett’s family own the Hopewell hotel in New York so everyone thinks they are rich.  Far from the truth everyone of them has to clean a specific room.  Scarlett turns 15 and she gets her own room.  This summer Mrs. Amberson a permanent resident in the hotel is in Scarlett’s room.  Mrs. Anderson hires her to help her write a book but instead nearly gets her arrested for shoplifting.  Mrs. Anderson saves the day as she helps to back Scarlett’s brother’s community Shakespeare play.  Scarlett falls for one of the other actors and becomes a big part of the production.  She learns how important it is to stick together as a family and who she is.   This is a very enjoyable coming of age story.  The author has also written 13 Little Blue Envelopes.


Van Etten, David. All That Glitters  A Likely Story Novel. Alfred A Knopf. New York. 2008. $15.99. ages high school. 978-0-375-84678-6. p8/q8

Last month I read the first book in this series Likely Story.  I was so excited to read the second book and look forward to other books about Mallory a teen writer of the Likely Story soap opera.  The cover of this book makes one think it will be about sex as it has a picture of Dallas without his shirt.  Dallas doesn’t want to be exploited and writes with a black sharpie “This Body wasn’t meant to sell TV shows” and ruins the shot when the director asks him to take off his wet suit. Mallory tells her boyfriend Keith she will fire Dallas if that would make him happy.  She has a hard time juggling school work, her mother, the soap and her boyfriend.  The soap opera makes it to it’s first airing despite all the drama and the ratings are threw the roof.  This is a very captivating series and I hope they write other books.


Ferguson, Sarah the Duches of York. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. Tea for Ruby. Sima & Schuster Books for Young Readers. New York. 2008. $16.99. ages pre-school – 3rd grade. 978-1-4169-5419-4.  p8/q8

 This book was written by Fergie the Duches of York for her young daughters Beatrice and Eugenie.  The drawings are colorful and cute with nice expressions on the peoples faces.  I enjoyed the way the castles were done in light drawings and the characters were bright.  It is a story of having tea with the Queen and the message of manners and proper behavior when having tea with the Queen.  The adult would have to point out in the pictures what Ruby is doing wrong.  It would make a good discussion book for a circle time on manners. The Queen is Ruby’s grandmother. 


Hector, Julian. The Little Matador. Hyperion Books for Children. New York. 2008 $15.99. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-142310779-8. p7 / q 7

There was a little matador who practiced bullfighting every day with his father.  Whenever he had free time he would draw animals in the forest.  Sometimes he could get the animals to pose for him.  When it was time to participate in his first bullfight he decided to get the bull to sit still by drawing his picture.  His parents had a meeting with him and said it was ok if he became an artist rather than a bullfighter.  This would be a great book for discussion about career choices and doing what you want with your life.  The illustrations were cute and simple with an old time feel – kind of like the Madeline book series.


Gonzalez, Lucia. Illustrations by Lulu Delacre.  The Storyteller’s Candle La velita de los cuentos. Children’s Book Press. San Fancisco, California. 2008. $16.95. ages 3rd- 5th grade. 978-0-89239-222-3. p7 / q 7

The author and illustrator both won the Pura Belpre Honor Award.  The book has a book plate in the front cover and a glossary of terms, a note about the artwork and a biography about the author and illustrator.  There is also an introduction about Puerto Ricans and the Great Depression and Pura Belpre the Puerto Rican librarian and her stories.  The book has the English and Spanish words on each page.  This book has many words on each page and would take a long time for a child to read.  The family talks about all the things they miss about Puerto Rico and how they speak Spanish and the people in the library only speak English.  One day Pura comes to the schools and lets the children know she works at the library and speaks Spanish. The book ends with the fact that the library belongs to all and has a nice paragraph about Pura Belpre and her life.  I liked the beautiful realistic drawings and the fact that both English and Spanish readers could read this book.


Rannen, Sarah S. Uncle Bobby’s Wedding. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York 2008 $15.99. ages pre-school – 1st grade 978-0-399-24712-5. p6/ q 7

Chloe is upset when her Uncle Bobby is going to get married.  Chloe and the rest of her friends appear to be very cute guinea pigs. Her Uncle talks to her about how they want to get married so they can have their own children.  Except one thing was strange – when they get married she was going to have two Uncles – so the story is about two gay guinea pigs getting married.  The book would need to be used for the correct audience.


Milusich, Janice. Illustrated by David Gordon. Off Go Their Engines. Off Go Their Lights. Dutton Children’s Books. New York. 2008. $15.99. ages pre-school – 2nd grade 978-0-525-47940-6. p7 / q 7

This is a good night story about a city with all of the working vehicles turning off their engines and lights at the end of the day.  The phrase Good night, ____ truck, good night is used at the end of each vehicles journey.  The pictures are simple and the eyes on the vehicles give the book a magical feel. The yellow taxi is the last one to go to sleep before the little boy closes his eyes for the night.


Graham, John. Illustrated by Tomie DePaola. I Love You, Mouse.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. 2008. $15.99. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-0-399-25079-8. p 6/ q 7

It is about a little boy who loves all kinds of animals and if he were them he would do what they do.  If he were a pig he would “loaf”  which may be a hard word for young children to understand.  The drawings of some of the animals are a little scary – for example the mice.  It is a fun book and a way to teach children the names of lots of different animals

Sutton, Sally. Illustrated By Brian Lovelock. Roadwork. Chandlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2008. $15.99. ages pre-school – 2nd grade. 978-0-7636-3912-9. p 8 / q 8

The last page of the book has the machine facts with pictures and what each vehicles job entails.  The pictures are bright, colorful, simple and enjoyable.  I enjoy the way the book explains each step for building a road.  This book would help with a book about sequence.  It also has words like ping, bang and tap ect.  This would be a fun book to try different sounds.


Nakagawa, Chihiro. Illustrations by Junji Koyose. Who Made This Cake? Front Street. North Carolina. 2008. $16.95. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-1-59078-595-9.  p 7 / q 7

The first page with the title is not the best picture in the book – the mother looks a little weird.  The book is about how machines and little tiny people mix all the ingredients for a cake.  The eggs have to be lifted with a crane.  They are building a birthday cake for the little boy.  The end papers are really cute and would be for a game of can you find.


Blabey, Aaron. Pearl Barley and Charlie Parsley. Front Street. North Carolina. 2007. $16.95. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-1-59078-596-6. p 6 / q 7

Peal and Charlie are best friends but they are so different.  Pearl is noisy and Charlie is very quite.  The book uses the word amok – which some younger students will not know what that means.  The pictures are a little dark and the faces that Pearl and Charlie make may scare some children.  It is good that children realize that different types of people can be friends. 


Goldman, Judy. Illustrated by Rene King Moreno. Uncle Monarch and the Day of the Dead. Boyds Mills Press. Pennsylvania. 2008. $16.95. ages 7 and up. 978-1-59078-425-9. p 8 / q 8

This is a story about how the Monarch butterflies are believed to be the souls of the families dead.  Lupita is taught by her Uncle to never be afraid of the dead and be careful with the butterflies.  This book has some words in Spanish and talks about Dia de Muertos and getting ready for the celebration.  Lupita’s Uncle passes away and the next year that they celebrate Dia de Muertos she finds one lone Monarch butterfly.  There is a glossary and explanation of Dia de Muertos holiday. 


Horacek, Petr. Look Out, Suzy Goose. Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2008. $14.99. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-0-7636-3803-0. p7 / q 7

This is a book about geese honking except Suzy Goose.  She wanted quiet so she went off by herself.  She went to the forest but was not alone – a fox was waiting for dinner.  Then a wolf, bear, owl who screeched and everyone ran.  Luckily she heard a noise and it was her friends.  It was good to be with the flock and protected.  The drawings were like paintings with cut out paper figures.  The illustrations are very simple and art looking.  This would make a good discussion story for staying safe and with you family even though they are doing things you don’t like. 


Sierra, Judy.  Pictures by Marc Brown. Born to Read. Alfred A. Knopf. New York. 2008. $16.99. ages pre-school – 2nd grade.  978-0-375-84687-8. p 8/ q 8

This is from the creators of the acclaimed Wild About Books and is an E.B. White Read Aloud Award Winner. The pictures are bright and a little busy.  It is funny that the mom is reading the little baby several books so the children will notice all of the books in his crib.  Sam grows and still keeps reading.  There is a funny baby giant Grundaloon who comes threw town turning everything upside down.  Sam traced his tracks and took books and snacks into the woods and called UPS to deliver the baby back to his mommy giantess.  He went back to town with sacks of toys for the children and they said “Yes, readers can do anything.”  What will Sam grow up to be? “Yes, readers can go anyplace.” 


Kolar, Bob. Big Kicks. Candlewick Press, Massachusetts. 2008. $16.99. ages pre-school – 2nd grade. 978-0-7636-3390-5. p 7 / q 7

The local soccer team asks Biggie the Bear to be on there team because he is big and strong.  He isn’t very good at soccer but helps them win the game when he bends down to pick up a special postage stamp.  He decides to just be a cheerleader for the team and not be a player on the field.  He would rather collect stamps and throw parties.  This is a great book for showing how all different kinds of people and skills are needed for sports teams.  The pictures are very simple with clear lines and non distracting details. 


Goldfinger, Jennifer P. My Dog Lyle. Clarion Books. New York. 2007. $16.00. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-0-618-63983-0. p 8/ q 8

I loved this book about a snuggly, smart, howling, burping, slurping, stinky-pink ect dog Lyle.  It made me laugh because some of the things Lyle get into so does my dog.  Very fun bright pictures make up this story book that builds on it self with each thing the dog does.  Any dog lover will enjoy this story. 


Chamberlain, Margaret. Please Don’t Tease Tootsie. Dutton Children’s Books. 2008. $16.99. ages pre-school -1st grade. 978-0-525-47982-6. p 6/ q 7

It is a simple book with monochromatic drawings and color on each page.  The book would be great for a story time about not teasing animals but how to treat animals nicely.


Carlson, Nancy. Henry’s Amazing Imagination!. Viking. New York. 2008. ages pre-school – 2nd grade. 978-0-670-06296-6. p 7/ q 7

The pictures are very bright & colorful and a little busy.  Henry the mouse likes to use his imagination especially during show and tell but then his friends think he is a fibber.  His teacher encourages him to write stories instead and use his imagination in a good way.  This would make a great book for discussion about lying, show and tell and using one’s imagination in writing. 


Segal, John. Alistair and Kip’s Great Adventure! Margaret K. McElderry Books. New York. 2008. $15.99. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-1-4169-0280-5. p7 / q 8

Alistar the cat wants to build a boat to travel to distant lands.  The book has a page with different kinds of boats and their names so the book could provide a great deal of discussion and education. The book also tells step by step what they did to build the boat and shows sequence. When out on the ocean a whale saves them and helps them get back home.  Next they want to build an airplane.  John Segal has also written Sleepy Head and Carrot Soup.  The drawings are very simple and get more involved as the story continues.


Kirk, Daniel. Keisha Ann Can! G.P. Putnam’s Sons. New York. 2008. $15.99. ages pre-school-1st grade. 978-0-399-24179-6. p8/ q 9

Keisha Ann is an African American little girl who can do lot’s of things like ride the school bus, wait in line ect. She is in kindergarten or 1st grade and can do lot’s of things by herself.  This would be a great story for a child who may be having a hard time starting school.  I loved the pictures as they remind me of an old time story and are very bright and colorful. If Keisha Ann can do these things so can you. 

Ahlberg, Allan. Illustrations by Andre Amstutz. The Baby in the Hat. Candlewick Press. Massachusetts. 2008 16.99. ages pre-school – 1st grade. 978-0-7636-3958-7.  p7 / q 8

This is an old time story about a baby in a hat.  The story continues with a little boy from London who fell onto a ship and grew up to become a captain.  When he returns to London he falls in love and is married and guess what it was the baby in the hat.  I didn’t understand the story and had to read it twice to figure it out.  I like the beautiful pictures which have muted old timey looking colors.


Lloyd, Sam. Doctor Meow’s Big Emergency. Henry Hold and Company. New York. 2007. $14.95. ages pre-school – 2nd grade. 978-0-8050-8819-9. p7 / q 6

The end papers tell part of the story and help to tell what happened in the end.  The doctor is a female cat and the ambulance driver is a male dog.  I liked the fact that the doctor was a woman.  It teaches children that they should not chase or hurt one another and to say sorry.  Tom Cat falls out of the tree because he was chasing Mr. Bird and then broke his leg in the process.  The pictures are nice but not beautiful – more like cartoons. 


 December 2008  Reviews by N.W.



Evans, Dilys.  Show & Tell:  Exploring the Fine Art of Children’s Book Illustration.  Chronicle, 2008.  $24.99.  978-0-8118-4971-5.  150p.  Ages 12+:  From the illustrators of Eloise to The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, children’s illustrations of the past half century have delighted and fascinated both young readers and the adults lucky enough to see children’s books.  After Evans founded The Original Art Exhibition, an annual show in New York dedicated to the idea that children’s book illustrations was as much an art form anything hanging in a museum, she began advising award committees, curating other exhibitions, and teaching people about the power of visual storytelling.  What makes this book so valuable is Evans’ language as she specifically explains why artists use the lines, formats, and styles that they do.  Although some biographical information about these 12 artists is included, the information is largely woven into that about their art.  This book is an invaluable resource for young people developing their artistic styles, people working with children’s books, and everyone interested in the field of art.  A must for all libraries.  P7Q10


Picture Books

Nyeu, Tao.  Wonder Bear.  Dial, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-8037-3328-2.  unp.  Ages 3+:  Two children plant seeds:  the girl’s long rows have a picture of a watermelon at the end, and the boy plants just one seed beside a picture of a hat.  After one night, when they sleep beside their tiny garden, the one seed grows into a huge plant that provides a fantasy land with a huge white bear who pulls out many creatures from his hat.  Children will love following the antics of insects, lions, an octopus, fish, and other imaginary joys that travel through the air and water of these silk-screened illustrations of bright orange, green, blue, and the dramatic use of white.  This wordless book will delight young and old.  P8Q8



Napoli, Donna Jo.  The Smile.  Dutton, 2008.  $17.99.  978-0-525-47999-4.  260p.  Ages 14+: Mona Lisa may be one of the world’s most famous paintings, but few people know much about the subject of this painting.  Napoli fictionally fleshes out the life of   Lisa del Giocondo (1479-1542 or 1551) a member of a moderately wealthy family in Florence.  But her sitting for the painting in the early sixteenth century is almost minor to the storyline as events unravel following the death of Elisabetta’s mother, the rejection of the cruel and vicious Medici family by the citizens of Florence, and Lisa’s forced marriage to a widower instead of the young man she loves.  The novel enlivens the struggles in Florence it was one of many states that later combined to become Italy, the lives of women and girls at that time, and an ill-fated romance.  P8Q8

 GLBTQ Books for Young Readers 


The following list of books is taken from, the Rainbow Project, selected by an American Library Association committee that annually picks the best of gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgender/ questioning books for young readers.  This is neither the complete nomination list nor the ones selected for the 2009 list—just some of my recommendations for libraries.—N.W.


Alsenas, Linas.  Gay America:  Struggle for Equality.  2008.  160p.  Amulet/Abrams, $24.95.  (978-0-8109-9487-4). Ages 13+:  This book of events in queer politics from the past century is peppered with photographs of movers and shakers who changed the country from a closeted population to a world in which gays and lesbians can marry.  


Bach, Tamara.  Girl from Mars.  Trans. Shelley Tanaka.  2008.  180p.  Groundwood Books, $12.95.  (978-0-88899-725-8) Ages 12+:  At fifteen, Miriam's life in a small German town lacks excitement and meaning--until she meets Laura, and sets off on a personal journey.  Learning about love, loss, and true friendship, she ultimately discovers herself, and how full and rich her life really is.  Realistic with great descriptions, and one of the best of the year.


Bauer, A.C.E.  No Castles Here.  2007.  270p.  Random House, $15.99.  (978-0-375-83921-4).  Ages 9-12:  Accidentally stealing a book of fairy tales from a bookstore sets 11-year-old Augie Boretski on his path out of his shell as he learns to accept his gay Big Brother and turns to activism in saving his school from closure.  A successful, heartwarming, ghetto story--not very realistic but it doesn’t need to be.  


Brannen, Sarah. Uncle Bobby's Wedding. 2008.  unp.  Putnam, $15.99. (978-0-399-24712-5) Ages 4-7:  When Chloe, a young guinea pig, learns that Uncle Bobby, her favorite uncle, is getting married she worries that he won't have time for her anymore. Uncle Bobby and Jamie, his partner, take Chloe sailing, to the ballet and out for ice cream, helping Chloe understand that she is not being replaced. At the end of the story Chloe is the flower girl in the wedding and claims to have "planned it all from the beginning." 


Brothers, Meagan. Debbie Harry Sings in French.  2008. 240p.  Henry Holt, $16.95. (9780805080803/1-8050-8080-5).  Ages 14+:  Although he is frequently called bullied and gay-baited at school due to his small stature and the fact that he wears eye liner, Johnny is pretty sure he isn’t gay. But he’s not quite sure what it means that he wants to be Debbie Harry--to dress like her and have hair like hers.  This gives another dimension to the concept of “non-straight” in its depiction of a straight boy who likes to dress in drag. 


Dole, Mayra Lazara. Down to the Bone. 2008. 370p. HarperTeen. $16.99 (trade); $17.89 (lib binding) (978-0-06-084310-6; 978-0-06-084311-3).  Sixteen-year-old Laura is outed at school, kicked out of her home, loses her girlfriend, and finds herself in this hilarious debut novel with an all-Latino cast.  A great look at gay life in a non-Anglo culture with a fast-paced plot and sensitive characterization.


Dunnion, Kristyn. Big Big Sky. 2008. 244p.  Red Deer Press, $14.95.  (978-0-88995-404-5). Ages 15+: The relationships of a pod of five young female warrior assassins trained by mysterious officials to carry out missions makes them physically and emotionally connected in intimate ways.   Great rich language in a totally different style because of the changes in words; good adventure and subtleties.


Ewert, Marcus.  10,000 Dresses.  Il. Rex Ray.  2008.  32p.  Seven Stories Press, $14.95.  (978-1583228500). Ages 5-8:  Every night, Bailey dreams about dresses--pretty dresses, silly dresses, and dresses that show you the world.  But when she's awake, her parents only tell her to forget about the dresses, because she is a boy.  Bailey finds comfort in a new friend who can accept her for who she is, and help her realize the dresses of her dreams.  This is a really brave picture book and needed to show young children how they can be whatever gender they want.


Ford, Michael Thomas.  Suicide Notes.  2008.  295p.  HarperTeen, $16.99.  (978-0-06-073755-9).  Ages 14+:  After he wakes up in a psychiatric hospital, 15-year-old Jeff describes the events that led up to his attempted suicide and the changes that he makes during his 45-day sentence there.  The rising tension in Jeff’s fast, irreverent, frank, first-person narrative strengthens the novel.  Long before Jeff confronts the truth, readers will realize that he is gay, and his denial is part of the humor and sadness many readers will recognize.


Geerling, Marjetta.  Fancy White Trash.  2008.  258p.  Viking, $16.99.  (978-0-670-01082-0).  Ages 14+:  Fifteen-year-old Abby struggles with her highly dysfunctional family (for example, her mother and her older sister are pregnant by the same man) while her best friend, Cody, suffers from his classmates homophobia as he tries to come out to himself as well as others.  This begins as almost a satirical farce but ends with great warmth for the characters.  The sense of setting (Cottonwood, AZ) is also excellent in this first novel.  The gay character is not the protagonist, but his essence permeates the entire book. 


Greenberg, Melanie Hope.  Mermaids on Parade.  2008.  unp.  Putnam, $16.99.  (978-0-399-24708-8).  Ages 4-7:  A shy “mermaid” comes out of her shell to march in the annual Coney Island parade with a great variety of sea creatures in all their diversity.  Although neither the text nor the images is overtly GLBT, the dress on the bearded man shows an acceptance of different sex orientations.


Hardy, Mark.  Nothing Pink.  2008.  109p.  Front Street/Boyds Mills Press, $16.95.  (978-1-932425-24-6).  Ages 13+:  Tormented by knowing that he is gay, Vincent, son of a Pentacostal preacher, fights his impulses until he meets Robert, a friend in church, who is much more accepting about his homosexuality.  Good descriptions and realistic emotions combine with forceful writing.  The characterization of Vincent and his mother has a solid reality.


Harmon, Michael.  Last Exit to Normal.  2008.  275p.  Knopf, $15.99. (9780375840982).  Ages 14+:  What could be better for an urban, skateboard-loving teenager being raised by two dads than moving to rural Montana?  Almost anything, in Ben Campbell's eyes.  The town is too small, the people are too country, and now it's even harder for him to deal with his gay dads.  What he discovers, however, is that if you make the best of what you have, life can be good no matter where you are.  A great view of a young man coming to terms with his father’s sexual orientation and his own growth.


Hegamin, Tonya Cherie.  M+O4EVR.  2008.  164p.  Houghton Mifflin, $16.00.  (978-0-618-49570-2).  Ages 13+:  Close friends in childhood, Marianne gradually pulls away from Opal as Opal finds herself in love with her past best friend, a relationship that ends when Marianne loses her life in the same Pennsylvania ravine where a slave girl died while fleeing in 1842.  This is a poignant look at two girls whose sexual desires change as they grow older.


Juby, Susan. Another Kind of Cowboy. 2007. 644p. HarperTeen, $16.99. (0-06-076517-8, 978-0-06-076517-0).  Sixteen, gay, and closeted, Alex has dreamed of riding dressage since childhood, although his father wants him to be a "real" cowboy.  Fate conspires to give him a chance to learn dressage alongside the spoiled and rebellious Cleo, and he learns as much about himself, friendship, and love as he does about riding.  The combined stories of a boy who struggles with defining his sexual identity and a spoiled, rich girl who learns to feel compassion is skillfully blended with a delightful horse story.


Konigsberg, Bill. Out of the Pocket.  2008. 256p. Dutton, $16.99.  (9780525479963).  Ages 14+. Bobby Framingham, a top high-school quarterback, comes to realize that he is gay. He is hoping for a football scholarship to Stanford and then to move up to the pros. When he is outed by a new friend in the school newspaper, he bravely faces tough responses from his teammates, his coach, his "girlfriend," and his mother. The elements in this story ring true, from Bobby’s initial struggle with his sexual identity to the sometimes hostile reaction of his teammates.  The plot has great energy that compels the reader forward through Bobby’s personal issues with himself and his father


Lecesne, James.  Absolute Brightness.  2008.  472p.  LauraGeringer Books/ HarperTeen, $17.99.  Ages 14+:  This is the story of a shirttail orphaned cousin, Leonard, who moves into the basement of his step-relatives in Neptune, New Jersey.  He's too swishy for his cousins' taste, but Leonard maintains his dignity while wearing stylish Capri pants. His disappearance, which seems to affect the entire town, leads to a final discussion on good versus evil.  The plot line loosely follows the story of Mathew Shepherd, a young gay man killed in Wyoming.


Lieberman, Leanne.  Gravity.  2008.  245p.  Orca, $12.95.  (978-1-550469-049-7).  Ages 14+:  Reared as a strict Orthodox Jew to believe that homosexuality is an abomination, 15-year-old Ellie struggles with her sexual feelings for another girl.  Many readers will identify with this excellent description of a girl's devotion to her religion and the angst that results from her inability to change to fit into her perception of her faith. 


Malloy, Brian.  Twelve Long Months.  2008.  316p.  Scholastic, $17.99.  (978-0-439-87761-9).  Ages 15+:  Molly carries her love for Mark from a small Minnesota town to college in New York City where she first discovers that he is gay and then that her new boyfriend loves Mark instead of her. The voices in the book are quite strong, and Molly’s growing understanding of her friends’ gay lives. 


McLaughlin, Lauren.  Cycler.  2008.  250p. Random House, $17.99.  (978-0-375-85191-9).  Ages 14+:  Transformed from a girl into a boy for four days before her menstruation, 17-year-old Jill becomes more and more frustrated with her counterpart Jack (as he does with her) especially after she works toward getting a boy to take her to the prom and discovers that he is bisexual.  This is gender-bending in an unusual way! 


McMahon, Jennifer.  My Tiki Girl.  2008.  246p.  Dutton/Penguin, $16.99.  (978-0-525-47943-7).  Ages 14+:   Maggie Keller’s life loses her friends after the car accident that killed her mother and physically handicapped Maggie.  Making friends with Dahlia Wainwright, who is dealing with a mentally ill mother and the challenges of being part of a poor family in a rich town, is made even more complex when Maggie falls in love with her new friend.  The book distinguishes itself not only by its focus on a same-sex relationship, but by its sensitive treatment of how the lure of normalcy can cause people to make different choices.


Penny, Patricia G.  Belinda’s Obsession.  [Not Just Proms & Parties Series]  2007.  134p.  Lobster Press, $7.95.  (978-0-897073-62-9). Ages 13-16:  Her growing relationship with last summer’s fling, Candace, is damaged by Belinda’s obsession with saving her parents’ marriage after she discovers that her mother is having an affair.  This simple-looking paperback delivers more than the cover promises.


Prono, Luca.  Encyclopedia of Gay and Lesbian Popular Culture.  2008.  310p.  Greenwood Press, $90.00.  (978-0-313-33599-0).  Ages 14+:  From The Advocate to B.D. Wong, the information in these almost 100 entries of same-sex subjects and biographies of gays and lesbians in popular culture reveal the way that people were forced to conceal their same-sex desire until popular culture became a more welcoming culture for some actors, artists, and singers. An advantage to the book is the bibliographies at the end of each entry that includes articles, books, and websites.  The index is also detailed, another use for readers in search of GLBTQ information. 


Rosen, Selina.  Sword Masters.  2008.  313p.  Dragon Moon Press, $19.95.  (978-1-896944-65-4).  Ages 14+:  Determined to avenge her father’s death, Tarius pretends to be a male and non-Katabull to study with the Sword Masters but finds more than she bargained for when she falls in love with the headmaster’s daughter, Jena, who thinks that Tarius is a man.  A fun adventure in a fast-paced fantasy.


Ruditis, Paul.  Entrances and Exits.  [Drama series].  2008.  242p.  Simon Pulse, $8.99.  (978-1-4169-5906-9).  Ages 14+:  A first time director, high school junior Bryan has to learn to cope with a temperamental playwright, the leading actress’s jealous boyfriend, a vicious attitude toward a new girl on the drama scene, and his yearnings for Drew, his ex-best friend who kissed him and then ran.  A bit fluffy but fun.


Sax, Aline.  We, Two Boys.  2008.  Clavis, $24.95.  (978-1605370248).  Ages 14+:  When teenager Albert emigrates from Belgium to New York City in the early 19th century, he finds himself alone when all his family members are returned to their native country but wants to stay after developing a relationship with Jack, an American boy.   This historical novel is powerfully and strikingly honest in its portrayal of adolescent homosexuality.


Tamaki, Mariko and Tamaki, Jillian.  Skim.  2008.  140p.  Groundwood Books, $15.00.  (0888997531/9780888997531). This Canadian import is a graphic novel created by cousins.  Set during the early 90's at an all-girls school, Kimberly Keiko Cameron, aka Skim is witty and a good observer.   Skim struggles to find meaning to life by experimenting with wicca, dressing as a goth, and finding romance with her English teacher.  This was one of New York Times’ ten best illustrated children’s books and definitely deserves it.


Wilson, Martin.  What They Always Tell Us.  2008.  293p. Delacorte, $15.99. (9780385735070). Ages 14+:  After an attempted suicide, Alex finds himself isolated and unsure of his place in his family and school—and increasingly at odds with his older brother, James.  But as Alex grows increasingly close to one of James's friends, he begins to come out of his shell to find love, discover good friends he didn't know he had, and rediscover his relationship with his brother.  A good first novel about a boy coming to terms with himself.


Wittlinger, Ellen. Love & Lies: Marisol's Story.  2008. 256p. Simon & Schuster, $16.00. (1416916237) (978-1416916239):  In the sequel to Hard Love, Marisol takes a year off between high school and college to write a novel, and falls in love with her creative writing teacher, Olivia. But is Olivia's love real or is it a fiction?

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