Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The Last Dragon


Recently was recognized as Mildred L. Batchelder Honor Book for 2007.

de Mari, Silvana. 2006. The Last Dragon.

Yesterday, I spent quite a bit of time discussing the award-winning title THE PULL OF THE OCEAN. I didn’t feel it had much merit. Granted, I don’t read extensive amounts of international literature so I don’t know what the competition was like this year. But I do know an overrated, much-too-clever-for-its-own-good book when I see one. And one of my all-time favorite books THE LEGEND OF THE WANDERING KING is an international book from a Spanish writer, Laura Gallego Garcia. (Not to mention The Diary of Ma Yan which was translated first into French and then into English). So I know that there are good books out there being translated...just look at Cornelia Funke, a German writer. But I am digressing.

Focusing on the book in hand, THE LAST DRAGON was a treat of a book. I won’t lie. It’s not a perfect book. But it has something going for it: it’s generally entertaining. Yes, some of the jokes and gags might have lost something in the translation. But throughout, it is an interesting, FUN, book. If you can look past a few running gags or punchlines that get a little old after the third or fourth time, you’ll find yourself lost in the story of an elf...the last elf. Yorsh, when we first meet him, is a ‘baby’ elf. He’s new to the world, and not the brightest fellow. He’s confused. He makes mistakes. Some funnier than others. He can cause lots of mischief without really meaning too. It’s not his fault. He just doesn’t know any better. His mother died and his only memories are of his grandmother grieving the loss of her daughter. He has no memories of his father--he just knows he’s dead--perhaps even dead before his birth. So he is the ‘last’ elf on earth. An earth ravaged with floods and wild weather. When he and his two human companions find a prophecy about the ‘last elf’ meeting the ‘last dragon’ and saving the world...he has hope for the first time in his life. Now on a quest, Yorsh is out to save himself and the world. Can two humans and an elf set out to fulfill the ancient prophecy? What will they find when they venture into the mountains where dragons are supposed to dwell?

The Last Dragon is divided into two parts. However, as a reviewer I can’t really review both parts without spoiling everything. Needless to say, the first part of the book deals with the first half of the prophecy, and the second part set ten to twelve years later fulfills the second half of the prophecy. Two parts, two different quests, one very entertaining book. It has humor. It has adventure. It has a teeny bit of romance.

The book is translated from the Italian by Shaun Whiteside.

Read more...

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Pull of the Ocean

Mourlevat, Jean-Claude. 2006. The Pull of the Ocean.

Recently won the Mildred L. Batchelder Award for 2007.

To be honest, which I always am but I like to use prefaces, I never would have read this title if it hadn't just won an award. First of all, I wouldn't have known it existed. Second, if I had seen it on the shelf and been curious enough to pull it out to read the back cover, I probably would have placed it right back on the shelf. The book flap (side flap) reads: that The Pull of the Ocean is a 'social fable' and 'a modern reinterpretation of 'Tom Thumb' that deftly gives life to memorable characters and explores resonating themes. Which leads me to make this point: if someone has to tell you that a book has 'memorable' characters right on the bookcover that tends to make me suspicious. Don't get me wrong, it's fine with classic novels that have been around a generation or two...but for a 2006 book to flaunt or assert how wonderfully memorable the characters are leaves me with a certain degree of doubt. Furthermore to be told that a book 'explores' resonating themes is very condescending. Like a reader can't judge for him/herself that a book has 'memorable' characters and explores 'resonating' themes??? It's like someone is warning you: you SHOULD like this book because it is smart and clever and a social fable. And saying if you don't like this book it is because you're just not smart enough to 'get it.'

But putting aside certain prejudices, after all I don't know who is responsible for the book flap nonsense it could have been a perfectly fine book, I read the book practically in one sitting.

The book is about a young boy, a midget or dwarf, who has six older brothers--three sets of twins. They are very poor. Their situation is desperate. Their father and mother are too poverty-stricken, too stressed, too everything to care about the emotional needs of their children. Particularly their youngest child whom they openly despise because he is different. They blame him for not only being different but they use him as a scape goat. It's okay to verbally abuse him and treat him horribly because he deserves it. He asks for it. I'm a good parent. Really. If he didn't go around thinking he was 'better' than everyone else because he can read and write...then I wouldn't have to smack him around. Some of the twins are nice. Some are violent like their father. But it is the youngest, Yann, the one small enough to fit in a sack who is considered 'wise beyond his years' and 'respected and revered' despite his size and age.

The story is told through many voices. Voices of the young and old. Male and female. All walks of life. The story is one of a young boy leading his brothers on a journey far from home. He wakes them up in the middle of the night with a threat: I just heard Dad say he was going to kill all seven of us tomorrow. Their journey is not an easy one. They listen to Yann and trust Yann no matter what he leads them into.

If this character is supposed to inspire affection from the reader...it falls short. He is not an inspiration. Don't get me wrong. He shouldn't be picked on because he is small. He shouldn't be picked on because he likes to read. But he isn't a likeable character either. He does not talk. The book leaves the reader with the idea that his muteness is one of choice. He doesn't want to communicate with his family, his parents. They allude to the fact that he expresses everything that needs to be said with his eyes. Is the fact that he's a mute midget supposed to make him a hero who can do no wrong??? Not in my eyes.

S
P
O
I
L
E
R

He is a liar. The father was not going to kill him or his brothers. He was going to kill a stray cat and her kittens. If you're struggling to feed seven children should you be expected--on a farm in the country--to provide nourishment and care for stray animals? Apparently, Yann equated the death of cats with a certain amount of cruelty that he felt was intolerable. He would not try to stay in a house with a man who would 'take care' of strays in this manner. True his parents hated him. True they were abusive in the past. True the kids probably deserved a better homelife...but to reward his lies and make him a hero???? He's a liar. He's a thief.

If this is a social fable I fail to see what the message is...

Read more...

Monday, January 29, 2007

Ned Vizzini

Vizzini, Ned. 2006. It’s Kind of A Funny Story.

Craig Gilner thinks his acceptance into an elite high school will be the beginning of the best years of his life. But when the pressures of high school overwhelm him, he has no where to turn but to drugs. Thus his downward spiral begins at the height of his success. As academic and social pressures build, can Craig find a healthy way to cope with the anxiety? Or is he doomed to sleepless nights and days of vomiting? Can therapy and prescription drugs really be the answer? Or does the answer lay within himself? Is there a way out of his seemingly hopeless situation? It’s Kind Of A Funny Story follows the ups and downs of a young boys life as he learns about life, love, and coping with reality.

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Sunday, January 28, 2007

Markus + Diana

Hagerup, Klaus. 2006. Markus +Diana.

Klaus Hagerup, a Norwegian stage director and dramatist, has made a name for himself during the past decade as a writer of award-winning books for young people. Two of his books have been made into films. Five of his novels feature the unpredictable Markus Simonsen--a series that has gained enormous popularity in Norway and abroad

Despite the front cover, Markus + Diana is a novel that almost anyone can enjoy. Markus Simonsen is a great narrator. No one was a bigger coward than Wormster. Markus Simonsen who was afraid of heights and scared of the dark. Markus Simonsen who was sure lightning would strike him if he stepped on a crack in the sidewalk and who wouldn’t dare take an elevator, even if it would save his life. Markus Simonsen who was afraid of spiders and dogs and just about everything else you could be afraid of in this world. Especially girls. They scared the hell out of him and all they had to do to make him blush was look at him. And they did that a lot. Even though he wasn’t much to look at. Markus was the shortest, scrawniest boy in class 6B at Ruud Elementary School. He had sand-colored hair and thick glasses with brown frames. They made him look almost like an old man even though he was only thirteen. Actually, it wasn’t just the glasses that made him look older than he was. It was also all the anxiety he carried around with him. (7) Anxious though he may be, he has a best friend who helps him cope in this chaotic world, Sigmund, the tallest, most talented boy in the class (8). As his school year comes to an end and summer begins, Markus begins the adventure of a lifetime.

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Saturday, January 27, 2007

Most Decorated of 2006

Top Eight Decorated Titles of 2006

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak (15)


  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • BCCB 2006 Blue Ribbons,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Books 2006,
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year,
  • Horn Book Fanfare 2006,
  • Amazon’s Best Books of 2006,
  • 2006 Quill Book Awards Finalist,
  • Cybils Finalist in YA Fiction,
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2006,
  • Michael L. Printz Honor Book 2007,
  • BBYA Top Ten,
  • BBYA 2007,
  • Tayshas Reading List 2007-2008
  • The Jhunt Award


The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson (15)

  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • New York Times Notable Books,
  • BCCB 2006 Blue Ribbons,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Books 2006,
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year,
  • Horn Book Fanfare 2006,
  • Amazon’s Best Books of 2006,
  • National Book Award Winner,
  • 2006 Booklist Top of the List,
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2006,
  • Michael L. Printz Honor Book 2007,
  • BBYA Top Ten,
  • BBYA 2007,
  • Jhunt Finalist


Flotsam by David Wiesner (10)

  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • Washington Post’s Top Ten Picture Books,
  • New York Times Best Illustrated Books 2006,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Books 2006,
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year,
  • Horn Book Fanfare 2006,
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2006,
  • Caldecott Medal 2007,
  • Notable Children’s Books 2007


American Born Chinese by Gene Yang (9)
  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Amazon’s Best Books of 2006,
  • National Book Award Finalist,
  • Cybils Finalist in Graphic Novels,
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2006,
  • Michael L. Printz Award 2007,
  • BBYA Top Ten,
  • BBYA 2007


The Rules of Survival by Nancy Werlin (9)
  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Books 2006,
  • National Book Award Finalist,
  • Cybils Finalist in YA Fiction,
  • BBYA Top Ten,
  • BBYA 2007,
  • Tayshas Reading List 2007-2008,
  • Jhunt Finalist


John, Paul, George and Ben by Lane Smith (8)
  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • New York Times Best Illustrated Books 2006,
  • New York Times Notable Books,
  • BCCB 2006 Blue Ribbons,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year,
  • Horn Book Fanfare 2006,
  • 2006 Quill Book Awards Finalist


Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock (8)
  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • SLJ Best Books of 2006,
  • Kirkus Reviews Best Books 2006,
  • 2006 Quill Book Awards Finalist,
  • BBYA 2007,
  • Texas Lonestar Reading List 2007-2008,
  • Tayshas Reading List 2007-2008
  • Borders Original Voices Award


Sold by Patricia McCormick (8)
  • Librarians’ Choices 2006,
  • BCCB 2006 Blue Ribbons,
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year,
  • National Book Award Finalist,
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2006,
  • BBYA Top Ten,
  • BBYA 2007,
  • Tayshas Reading List 2007-2008

Read more...

Friday, January 26, 2007

Librarians' Choices 2006

Librarians' Choices 2006

About Librarians' Choices:

The Librarians' Choices project began as a class assignment in Fall, 2003 at Texas Woman's University, with graduate students in Library Science enrolled in a Book Reviewing class. It has since evolved into a significant professional development activity involving volunteer teachers, librarians, and librarians-in-training associated with the School of Library and Information Studies at TWU. They spent the fall, 2006, semester reading and discussing hundreds of new books for children and young adults provided by major publishers. In addition, other titles by other publishers were also sought out, read, and discussed. Participants determined which titles were most outstanding based on literary quality, appeal to children and young adults, the typical needs of a school or community library, and a comparative study of other professional review sources. Although we did not have access to ALL the children's and YA books published in 2006, nor did every student read every book as one would expect in a formal review or award committee, we did our best to be comprehensive and thorough.

In the end, a limit of 100 titles was set, with approximately half of the list being designated for picture books and half of the list designated for novels. Poetry and nonfiction titles were also incorporated as appropriate. As a culminating activity, each participant chose approximately nine titles to study closely and review. These reviews include a complete bibliography of each title with a description and analysis of the book, as well as connections for sharing the book with child/teen audiences and recommendations for related books to combine or compare with the featured title. The goals of the project are twofold, to develop participant knowledge base about current books for children and young adults and the ability to read and write critically about these books and to use this experience to create a professional resource for others interested in choosing outstanding and intriguing books for the young people they serve.

Texas Woman’s University
School of Library and Information Studies
Librarians’ Choices 2006
Master List

1. Agee, Jon. 2006. WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD? New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730942 [Suggested Grade Levels 1 – 6]

2. Alegria, Malin. 2006. ESTRELLA’S QUINCEANERA. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689878095 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

3. Anderson, M.T. 2006. THE CLUE OF THE LINOLEUM LEDERHOSEN. Ill. by Kurt Cyrus. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152053522 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

4. Anderson, M. T. 2006. THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION, Volume 1: THE POX PARTY. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763624020 [Suggested Grade Levels 9 – 12]

5. Aston, Dianna. 2006. AN EGG IS QUIET. Ill. by Sylvia Long. San Francisco: Chronicle. ISBN 0811844285 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

6. Balliett, Blue. 2006. THE WRIGHT 3. Ill. by Brett Helquist. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439693675 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

7. Bateman, Teresa. 2006. KEEPER OF SOLES. Ill. by Yayo. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823417346, 0823417344 [Suggested Grade Levels 2 – 6]

8. Beaumont, Karen. 2006. MOVE OVER ROVER. Ill. by Jane Dyer. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152019790 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

9. Bledsoe, Lucy Jane. 2006. HOW TO SURVIVE IN ANTARCTICA. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823418901 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

10. Brown, Tricia. 2006. SALAM: A MUSLIM AMERICAN BOY’S STORY. Photos by Ken Cardwell. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805065385 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

11. Brown, Calef. 2006. FLAMINGOS ON THE ROOF. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618562982 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

12. Budhos, Marina. 2006. ASK ME NO QUESTIONS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 1416903518 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-10]

13. Bulion, Lesley. 2006. HEY THERE, STINK BUG! Ill. by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 158089304X [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

14. Bunting, Eve. 2006. ONE GREEN APPLE. Ill. by Ted Lewin. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618434771 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

15. Carter, Ally. 2006. I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1423100034 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

16. Child, Lauren. 2006. BUT EXCUSE ME THAT IS MY BOOK. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730969 [Suggested Grade Levels K-1]

17. Cohn, Rachel, and David Levithan. 2006. NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375835318 [Suggested Grade Levels 10- 12]

18. Cunnane, Kelly. 2006. FOR YOU ARE A KENYAN CHILD. Ill. by Ana Juan. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 068986194X [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

19. de la Cruz, Melissa. 2006. BLUE BLOODS. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786838922 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

20. DiCamillo, Kate. 2006. THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763625892 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

21. Draper, Sharon. 2006. COPPER SUN. New York: Athenaeum. ISBN 0689821816 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

22. Elya, Susan Middleton. 2006. BEBE GOES SHOPPING. Ill. by Steven Salerno. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 015205426X [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

23. Engle, Margarita. 2006. THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA: A BIOGRAPHY OF JUAN FRANCISCO MANZANO. Ill. by Sean Qualls. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805077065 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

24. Fleischman, Sid. 2006. ESCAPE! THE STORY OF THE GREAT HOUDINI. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060850949 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-9]

25. Frazee, Marla. 2006. WALK ON! A GUIDE FOR BABIES OF ALL AGES. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152055738. [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

26. Freedman, Russell. 2006. FREEDOM WALKERS: THE STORY OF THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823420310 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

27. Freedman, Russell. 2006. THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 043952394X. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-9]

28. Frost, Helen. 2006. THE BRAID. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374309620 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 – 10]

29. Gould, Robert. 2006. FATHER AND SON READ-ALOUD STORIES. Ill. by Lara Gurin. Carlsbad, CA: Big Guy Books. ISBN 1929945671 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

30. Govenar, Alan. 2006. EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE: FIVE AMERICAN MASTERS OF TRADITIONAL ARTS. New York: Candlewick. ISBN 0763620475 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

31. Gratz, Alan. 2006. SAMURAI SHORTSTOP. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730756 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

32. Gravett, Emily. 2006. WOLVES. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416914919 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

33. Grimes, Nikki. 2006. THE ROAD TO PARIS. New York: Putman. ISBN 0399245375. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

34. Hardinge, Frances. 2006. FLY BY NIGHT. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060876271. (Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

35. Harris, Robie. 2006. IT’S NOT THE STORK!: A BOOK ABOUT GIRLS, BOYS, BABIES, BODIES, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS. Ill. by Michael Emberley. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763600474 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

36. Harvey, Gill. 2006.ORPHAN OF THE SUN. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1582346852 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

37. Hatkoff, Isabella, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu. 2006. OWEN AND MZEE; The True Story Of A Remarkable Friendship. Ill. by Peter Greste. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439829739 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

38. Hautman, Pete. 2006. RASH. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780689868016 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

39. Headley, Justina Chan. 2006. NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES). New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316011282 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

40. Hopkinson, Deborah. 2006. UP BEFORE DAYBREAK: COTTON AND PEOPLE IN AMERICA. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439639018 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-12]

41. Ichikawa, Satomi. 2006. MY FATHER’S SHOP. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller. ISBN 1929132999 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

42. Jansen, Hanna. 2006. OVER A THOUSAND HILLS I WALK WITH YOU. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda books. ISBN 1575059274 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

43. Jaramillo, Ann. 2006. LA LINEA. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 1596431547 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

44. Klages, Ellen. 2006. THE GREEN GLASS SEA. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670061344 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

45. Knudsen, Michelle. 2006. LIBRARY LION. Ill. by Kevin Hawkes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763622621 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

46. Kring, Sandra. 2006. THE BOOK OF BRIGHT IDEAS. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385338147 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

47. Kurlansky, Mark. 2006. THE STORY OF SALT. Ill. by S.D. Schindler. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0399239987 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

48. Larios, Julie. 2006. YELLOW ELEPHANT; A BRIGHT BESTIARY. Ill. by Julie Paschkis. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152054227 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

49. Liao, Jimmy. 2006. THE SOUND OF COLORS: A JOURNEY OF THE IMAGINATION. Trans. by Sarah L. Thomson. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316939927 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

50. Lin, Grace. 2006. THE YEAR OF THE DOG. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316060003 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

51. Lipsyte, Robert. 2006. Raiders Night. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060599464. [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

52. Look, Lenore. 2006. UNCLE PETER’S AMAZING CHINESE WEDDING. Ill. by Yumi Heo. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 9780689844584, 0689844581 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 5]

53. Lupica, Mike. 2006. HEAT. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0399243011 [Suggested Grade Levels 6- 9]

54. Lyga, Barry. 2006. THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618723927 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

55. Markle, Susan. 2006. RESCUES! Minneapolis: Lerner. ISBN 0822534134 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

56. McCaughrean, Geraldine. 2006. PETER PAN IN SCARLET. Ill. by Scott M. Fischer. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416918086 [Selected Grade Levels 4-6]

57. McCormick, Patricia. 2006. SOLD. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786851716 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

58. McCully, Emily Arnold. 2006. MARVELOUS MATTIE: HOW MARGARET E. KNIGHT BECAME AN INVENTOR. New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374348106, 0374348103 [Suggested Grade Levels 2 – 6]

59. McKissack, Patricia C. 2006. PORCH LIES: TALES OF SLICKSTERS, TRICKSTERS, AND OTHER WILY CHARACTERS. Ill. by Andre Carrilho. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375836195 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-10]

60. Meyer, Stephenie. 2006. NEW MOON. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316160199 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-11]

61. Moriarity, Jaclyn. 2006. THE MURDER OF BINDY MACKENZIE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439740517 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

62. Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. 2006. DAIRY QUEEN: A NOVEL. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618683070 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

63. Myers, Walter Dean. 2006. JAZZ. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823415457 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 6]

64. Nakagawa, Hirotaka. 2006. SUMO BOY. Ill. by Yoshifumi Hasegawa. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786836350 [Suggested Grade Levels K- 3]

65. Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. 2006. ROXIE AND HOOLIGANS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 1416902430 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

66. Nolan, Han. 2006. SUMMER OF KINGS. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152051082 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

67. Oppenheim, Joanne. 2006. DEAR MISS BREED: TRUE STORIES OF THE JAPANESE AMERICAN INCARCERATION DURING WORLD WAR II AND A LIBRARIAN WHO MADE A DIFFERENCE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439569923 [Selected Grade Levels 7-12]

68. Owen, James. A. 2006. HERE THERE BE DRAGONS. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416912274 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

69. Paterson, Katherine. 2006. BREAD AND ROSES, TOO. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618654796 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

70. Pennypacker, Sara. 2006. CLEMENTINE. Ill. by Marla Frazee. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786838825 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

71. Pericoli, Matteo. 2006. THE TRUE STORY OF STELLINA. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375832734 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

72. Pffefer, Susan Beth. 2006. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152058265 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

73. Pinkney, Jerry. 2006. THE LITTLE RED HEN. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0803729359 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

74. Portman, Frank. 2006. King Dork: New York: Random House. ISBN 0385732910 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

75. Reinhardt, Dana. 2006. A BRIEF CHAPTER IN MY IMPOSSIBLE LIFE. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385746989 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

76. Rubin, Susan Goldman with Ela Weisberger. 2006. THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR: COMING OF AGE IN TEREZIN. New York: Holiday House ISBN 0823418316, 9780823418312 [Suggested Grade Levels 3 – 8]

77. Schaefer, Lola M. 2006. AN ISLAND GROWS. Ill. by Cathie Felstead. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0066239311, 9780066239316 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK – 2]

78. Schubert, Leda. 2006. BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS. Ill. by Robert Andrew Parker. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook. ISBN 1596430753 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

79. Shafer, Audrey. 2006. THE MAILBOX. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 0385733445 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

80. Sidman, Joyce. 2006. BUTTERFLY EYES AND OTHER SECRETS OF THE MEADOW. Ill. by Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 061856313X [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

81. Siebert, Diane. 2006. TOUR AMERICA: A JOURNEY THROUGH POEMS AND ART. Ill. by Stephen T. Johnson. San Francisco: Chronicle. ISBN0811850560. [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]

82. Skelton, Matthew. 2006. ENDYMION SPRING. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385733801 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

83. Smith, Lane. 2006. JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1423101146 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

84. Sonnenblick, Jordan. 2006. NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439757797 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

85. Stanley, Diane. 2006. BELLA AT MIDNIGHT. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060775742, 9780060775742 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

86. Stone, Tanya Lee. 2006. A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385747020 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

87. Tchana, Katrin Hyman. 2006. CHANGING WOMAN AND HER SISTERS: STORIES OF GODDESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. Ill. by Trina Schart Hyman. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823419991 [Suggested Grade Levels 4- 8]

88. Tingle, Tim. CROSSING BOK CHITTO. Ill. by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press. ISBN 9780938317777, 0938317776 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

89. Vizzini, Ned. 2006. IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786851961 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

90. Vrettos, Adrienne. 2006. SKIN. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416906551 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

91. Weatherford, Carole Boston. DEAR MR. ROSENWALD, Ill. by R. Gregory Christie. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439495229 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

92. Werlin, Nancy. 2006. RULES OF SURVIVAL. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730012 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

93. Wiesner, David. 2006. FLOTSAM. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618194576 [Suggested Grade Level PreK-3]

94. Winter, Jonah. 2006. DIZZY. Ill. by Sean Quails. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439507375 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 6]

95. Wolf, Allan. 2006. IMMERSED IN VERSE: AN INFORMATIVE, SLIGHTLY IRREVERENT & TOTALLY TREMENDOUS GUIDE TO LIVING THE POET’S LIFE. Ill. by Tuesday Mourning. New York: Lark Books. ISBN 9781579906283 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

96. Wright, Betty Ren. 2006. PRINCESS FOR A WEEK. Ill. by Jacqueline Rogers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823419452 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

97. Wulf, Linda Press. 2006. THE NIGHT OF THE BURNING: DEVORAH’S STORY. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374364192 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]

98. Yang, Gene Luen. 2006. AMERICAN BORN CHINESE. Ill. by Gene Luen Yang. New York: First Second. ISBN 1596431520 [Suggested Grades Levels 7-12]

99. Yep, Laurence. 2006. THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060275243 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-5]

100. Zusak, Markus. 2006. THE BOOK THIEF. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375831002 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]


LIBRARIANS’ CHOICES 2006 REVIEWERS: S. Zulema Silva Bewley; Julie Brinker; Rose Brock; Mary D. Buckalo; Cay Geisler; Janet Hilbun; Tammy Korns; Becky Laney; Rebecca McKee; Suzy Parchman; Sylvia M. Vardell

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Thursday, January 25, 2007

Brand X

Shapiro, Laurie Gwen. 2006. Brand X: The Boyfriend Account.

When Jordie Popkin, a sixteen year old junior, receives her internmentship at an ad agency, no one quite knows what to expect. While her peers all received more academic assignments, she’s landed one of the few creative opportunities ever offered at the school. But is it too good to be true? Can a team of creative, free spirits teach Jordie a thing or two about life and love? Jordie’s life is fine--but she dreams of it being great. Of getting the most popular boy in school to be her boyfriend. She’s always thought he was out of her league...but can her employers--her coworkers--work their magic and transform her life. Can a person be created, shaped, transformed like a product’s image? And even if she can get him...should she? Is he even worth it?

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Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Popsicles or Lifesavers?

Han, Jenny. 2006. Shug.

What is a twelve-year-old girl to do when she falls in love with her best friend who doesn’t even notice her in that way??? Jenny Han’s narrator, Annemarie Wilcox (aka Shug) is about to take such a journey. As the summer of her twelfth year comes to a close, she knows that her first kiss must be just around the corner. And she knows that her best friend, Mark, is just the boy to give it. But separating reality and fantasy are just some of the things our young and spirited narrator must learn as she begins to grow up....

Some girls are pretty, and it’s like they were destined for it. They were meant to be pretty, and as for the rest of us, well, we get to exist on the outer edges of life. It’s like moths. They’re the same as butterflies, aren’t they? They’re just gray. They can’t help being gray, they just are. But butterflies, they’re a million different colors, yellow and emerald and cerulean blue. They’re pretty. Who’d dare kill a butterfly? I don’t know of a single soul who’d lift a finger against a butterfly. But most anybody would swat at a moth like it was nothing, and all because it isn’t pretty. Doesn’t seem fair, not at all. p. 11-12

This is Mark Findley who knows my favorite ice cream flavor (Rocky Road) and how I like my pizza (extra cheese, pineapple, and mushroom); Mark who pulls splinters out of my feet when I go barefoot in the summer; Mark who helped me bury my gerbil, Benny, when he died. This is Mark who was sitting next to me on the bus that time I threw up in third grade. He didn’t even say a word when some splashed on him; he just wiped it off and asked if I was okay. p. 13

The whole time we were sitting there, my eyes kept sliding back to Mark. How is it possible to have known a boy for eight years and never have seen how special he was, how terribly, secretly wonderful? Everything about him seems special now. I can’t stop looking at him, and I keep wanting to touch his hair or squeeze his hand. It’s so distracting. If anyone else noticed, I’d die. Mark didn’t look at me once. I mean, he looked at me, but not once did he see me. p. 36

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Tuesday, January 23, 2007

OSC's Review of Speak

Orson Scott Card is without a doubt my favorite writer. The fact that he occasionally reads young adult books is a bonus for me. I've read several books solely because he recommended them--Everlost; Here there Be Dragons; Goose Girl; Mira, Mirror; Peter and the Starcatchers--but this time he is reviewing a book that I've loved for years. It seems he's finally gotten around to reading just about the perfect YA book ever published....Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson.


My twelve-year-old had been raving about a book called Speak, but when she told me the plot -- "It's about a girl who is attacked by a guy at a party before her freshman year of high school" -- I winced and decided I'd probably never read it myself. Sounded like an after-school movie starring faded child stars.

But over the holidays, somebody got the film version of Speak as a Christmas gift, and I joined with the rest of the family in watching it.

This was writer-director Jessica Sharzer's first feature-length film, but you'd never know it -- she showed a deft hand at telling a story that jumps around in time. The film also deals very tastefully with a difficult subject. It's funny. It's moving.

And it has an amazing cast. Not that everybody's famous -- only a few of the actors are well known (Elizabeth Perkins, D.B. Sweeney, Steve Zahn) and none are "box office." But all the actors give outstanding, nuanced performances, especially the kids.

Melinda Sordino is wonderful as the silent girl whose school year has been wrecked by the fact that her phone call to the police inadvertently caused the whole party to be busted for underage drinking. But the other kids are good, too -- nobody plays a cliche or a "type."

Even the tiny parts are well performed. Leslie Lyles has been playing smallish character parts since 1987 -- but I bet you don't remember her. Yet this whole time, she's been capable of the kind of brilliantly nuanced performance she gives as "Hairwoman" -- the high school English teacher who hides from her students even as she stands in front of them lecturing.

I didn't see this film when it first aired (Showtime Networks is listed as its distributor), but it hasn't lost anything in the couple of years since it first came out. It remains a powerful, unforgettable movie, even if the small screen got it first.

Come to think of it, TV screens aren't necessarily "small" anymore. When you take into account the distance from the screen in the theater, I daresay the "small" screen I saw it on was subjectively larger than any screen I was likely to see it on in a movie theater!

Anyway, having fallen in love with the movie, I knew I'd have to read the book. My 12-year-old is so noble in spirit that she didn't say "I told you so." She loved the book so much she didn't care how long it took me to get around to reading it. Better late than never.

And guess what? Good as the movie is, the book really is better. It's arty in ways that usually annoy me, but in this case it totally works. There's not a thing in the book that I'd change. Everything that the movie altered was right -- for the movie; the way it was in the book was also right -- for the book.

Author Laurie Halse Anderson has achieved something unusual and fine with this novel. As a work of literary art and as a bit of practical moral instruction, I can't imagine how it could be better. It's so entertaining you don't realize you're being taught something important; and the experience is so powerful you can easily forget that it is, after all, just art.

Sadly, since most boys just won't read books about girls, few will read it. Yet I wish all boys could read it, or at least see the movie, because it might help a few lust-powered adolescent males realize that their desires and feelings aren't the only ones that matter. (Too bad that our society has decided to expose such young children to situations where sexual decisions are even possible.)

Meanwhile, I have added the book to my course on the Contemporary American Novel. Speak has already reached -- and changed significantly -- many thousands more people than most "literary" novels for adults. I'll take this one over pretentious drivel like Cold Mountain or The Corrections any day -- this shows contemporary American fiction at its very best.


Hatrack

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Trouble Don't Last


Pearsall, Shelley. 2002. Trouble Don’t Last.

Trouble has followed Samuel almost his entire life. Born a slave, he is owned by Master Hackler and life on his Kentucky farm is all he’s ever known. Raised not by parents but by fellow slaves, he learned that his mother was sold off the plantation when he was a baby. But Samuel’s luck is about to change. After being punished for breaking a plate, Samuel visits Harrison and is told to expect something big to happen that night. Fearing the worst, he goes to bed with his ‘top eye open’ like Harrison warned. The surprise--Harrison and Samuel are going to start their journey to freedom that night. At first Samuel is afraid. Afraid that they’ll never make it. Afraid of what will happen if they’re caught. When they’re caught. But Harrison reassures him by telling him to put all his fear about the journey into the pack Harrison carries on his back so he could carry it for him. And when us git there safe and sound, say I let it out, and it can float straight up into that free sky and be gone from us forever (23-24). With a few stolen items, a lot of courage, and Harrison’s secret knowledge that he’s obtained about the stops along the Underground railroad, the two begin on an unforgettable journey full of danger but also of hope. Can the pair reach Canada safely? And what kind of new life can they expect there? Are Samuel’s troubles finally over?

http://www.shelleypearsall.com/
Trouble Don't Last page of Pearsall's site

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Monday, January 22, 2007

The Announcements

Youth Media Awards
Press Release of Winners
Best Books for Young Adults 2007
BBYA Top Ten List for 2007
Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers 2007
2007 Notable Children's Books

The Awards
John Newbery Medal: The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron
Randolph Caldecott Medal: Flotsam by David Wiesner (written and illustrated)
Michael L. Printz Award: American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
Coretta Scott King Book Award (author): Copper Sun by Sharon Draper
Coretta Scott King Book Award (illustrator) Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom (written by Carole Boston Weatherford) illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Coretta Scott King/John Steptoe New Talent Award: Standing Against the Wind by Traci L. Jones
Schneider Family Book Award 0-10: The Deaf Musicians by Pete Seeger and Paul DuBois Jacobs
Schneider Family Book Award 11-13: Rules by Cynthia Lord
Schneider Family Book Award 13-18: Small Steps by Louis Sachar
Theodor Seuss Geisel Beginning Reader Award: Zelda and Ivy: The Runaways by Laura McGee Kvasnosky
Margaret A. Edwards Award: Lois Lowry
Laura Ingalls Wilder Award: James Marshall
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award: Team Moon: How 400,000 People Landed Apollo 11 on the Moon by Catherine Thimmesh
Mildred L. Batchelder Award: The Pull of the Ocean by Jean-Claude Mourlevat

The Honor Books
Newbery Honors: Penny from Heaven by Jennifer L. Holm, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson, and Rules by Cynthia Lord
Caldecott Honors: Gone Wild: An Endangered Animal Alphabet written and illustrated by David McLimans, Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People To Freedom (written by Carole Boston Weatherford and) illustrated by Kadir Nelson
Printz Honors: The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson, An Abundance of Katherines by John Green, Surrender by Sonya Hartnett, and The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Coretta Scott King Honor (author) The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
Coretta Scott King Honor (illustrator) Jazz (written by Walter Dean Myers) illustrated by Christopher Myers and Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes (edited by David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad) illustrated by Benny Andrews
Geisel Honor Books: Mercy Watson Goes For A Ride by Kate DiCamillo, Move Over, Rover by Karen Beaumont, Not A Box by Antoinette Portis
Sibert Honor Books: Freedom Riders by Ann Bausum, Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery, To Dance by Siena Cherson Siegel
Batchelder Honor Books: The Killers Tears by Anne-Laure Bondoux, The Last Dragon by Silvana de Mari

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Booklist Editors Choice

Booklist Editors' Choice List 2006

    Older Readers
  • Clay by David Almond
  • Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing by M.T. Anderson
  • Freedom Riders by Ann Bausum
  • Ask Me No Questions by Marina Budhos
  • This Is All by Aidan Chambers
  • The Poet Slave of Cuba by Margarita Engle
  • The Adventures of Marco Polo by Russell Freedman
  • An Abundance of Katherines by John Green
  • Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen
  • Dreamhunter by Elizabeth Knox
  • Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson
  • Kampung Boy by Lat
  • Keturah and Lord Death by Martine Leavitt
  • Fairest by Gail Carson Levine
  • Sold by Patricia McCormick
  • A Small White Scar by K.A. Nuzum
  • Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
  • The Great Circle by Neil Philip
  • Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
  • Ptolemy's Gate by Jonathan Stroud
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


    For Middle Readers
  • Victory by Susan Cooper
  • The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes
  • The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman
  • La Linea by Ann Jaramillo
  • Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
  • The Year of the Dog by Grace Lin
  • A Dog For Life by L.S. Matthews
  • Quest for the Tree Kangaroo by Sy Montgomery
  • Jazz by Walter Dean Myers
  • Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
  • Bella at Midnight by Diane Stanley


    For the young
  • Ivy and Bean by Annie Barrows
  • Sea Horse by Chris Butterworth
  • Best Best Friends by Margaret Chodos-Irvine
  • Little Mama Forgets by Robin Cruise
  • The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane by Kate DiCamillo
  • Lilly's Big Day by Kevin Henkes
  • Pancakes for Supper by Anne Isaacs
  • Boo and Baa Have Company by Lena Landstrom
  • Shivers in the Fridge by Fran Manushkin
  • Adele and Simon by Barbara McClintock
  • I'm Dirty by Kate McMullen
  • Night Boat to Freedom by Margot Theis Raven
  • Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Rosenthal
  • Black? White! Day? Night! by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
  • So Sleepy Story by Uri Shulevitz
  • Meow Ruff by Joyce Sidman
  • Baby Shoes by Dashka Slater
  • The Moon by Robert Louis Stevenson
  • Winter Is The Warmest Season by Laura Stringer
  • I'm A Pill Bug by Yukihisa Tokuda
  • Flotsam by David Weisner
  • Dizzy by Jonah Winter

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Sunday, January 21, 2007

Celebrating 150!


Today I am celebrating my 150th post! I am also anticipating tomorrow's announcements of best lists and awards (Newbery, Caldecott, etc) from the American Library Association. So for today's post I have prepared my own list of 'bests' celebrating some of the books that made 2006 so great.

If I had to pick a top five list of books that just made me feel good--really good--that satisfied me as a reader and left me wanting more...

The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes--possibly one of the best books I've ever read

Rash by Pete Hautman--hysterically funny, sarcastic, and a real 'must read' of the year...

Hit the Road by Caroline B. Cooney--again a very funny book, one that would make a great read aloud or audio book. It is an intergenerational read as well.

Cookies: Bite Size Life Lessons by Amy Rosenthal--though some may find the pictures a bit too cutesy, I love the text of this picture book. And for the record, I'm not one of those criticizing the illustrations. I love everything about this picture book.

King Dork by Frank Portman--while King Dork isn't a book for everyone--some may find the narrator a bit too honest when it comes to some small details in a young boy's life--it is funny and enjoyable and had me hooked from the very first paragraph.

Best historical fiction:

Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Weedflower by Cynthia Kadohata
Bread and Roses, Too by Katherine Paterson
Singing Hands by Delia Ray
Desperate Journey by Jim Murphy
A Summer of Kings by Han Nolan
Loving Will Shakespeare by Carolyn Meyer
The Book of Bright Ideas by Sandra Kring
Night of the Burning by Linda Press Wulf
Aftershock by William Lavender

Best realistic fiction and/or romance:

Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
Mercy Unbound by Kim Antieau
Just Listen by Sarah Desse
King Dork by Frank Portman
The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga
Rash by Pete Hautman
When It Happens by Susane Colasanti
I'd Tell You I Love You But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
Hit the Road by Caroline Cooney
All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall
The Road to Paris by Nikki Grimes


Best fantasy, science fiction, or supernatural

New Moon by Stephenie Meyer
Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
Storm Thief by Chris Wooding
Tanglewreck by Jeanette Winterson
Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer
Everlost by Neal Shusterman
Endymion Spring by Matthew Skelton
Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
Peter and the Shadow Thieves by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson
Peter Pan in Scarlet by Geraldine McCaughrean
Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
Specials by Scott Westerfeld
Runaway Princess by Kate Coombs
River Secrets by Shannon Hale

Best picture books

But Excuse Me That Is My Book by Lauren Child
The Princess and the Pea by Lauren Child
Dooby Dooby Moo by Doreen Cronin
Lilly's Big Day by Kevin Henkes
Cookies: Bite Size Lessons by Amy Rosenthal
Ballet of the Elephants by Leda Schubert

Best nonfiction

The American Story by Jennifer Armstrong
Freedom Walkers by Russell Freedman
Up Before Daybreak by Deborah Hopkinson
Over A Thousand Hills I Walk With You by Hanna Jansen
Dear Miss Breed by Joanne Oppenheim

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Saturday, January 20, 2007

The ABCs of Young Adult Novels

A is for Angus, Thongs, and Full Frontal Snogging by Louise Rennison
B is for A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray
C is for A Certain Slant of Light by Laura Whitcomb
D is for Blue Bloods by Melissa de la Cruz
E is for Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
F is for the Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl by Barry Lyga
G is for Looking For Alaska by John Green
H is for Hope Was Here by Joan Bauer
I is for I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have To Kill You by Ally Carter
J is for Just Listen by Sarah Dessen
K is for King Dork by Frank Portman
L is for The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
M is for Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer
N is for The Schwa Was Here by Neal Shusterman
O is for Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen
P is for The Teacher's Funeral by Richard Peck
Q is for Dairy Queen by Catherine Gilbert Murdock
R is for Rash by Pete Hautman
S is for Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson
T is for Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
U is for Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
V is for Skin by Adrienne Maria Vrettos
W is for What My Mother Doesn't Know by Sonya Sones
X is for Brand X: The Boyfriend Account by Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Y is for The Year of Secret Assignments by Jaclyn Moriarty
Z is for The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

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Michael Cart's Best of 2006 List

Michael Cart's Best List as published in Booklist

I can’t resist the call to conjure up a—well, let’s call it a "discursive assembly of at least some of the best books of 2006." Why can’t I resist? Here are three reasons: (1) it’s fun; (2) it gives me a chance to revisit some of my favorite books of the year just ended; and (3) it affords an opportunity to give some attention to worthy titles that may be overlooked elsewhere.

  • Clay by David Almond
  • The Astonishing Life Of Octavian Nothing
  • This Is All by Aidan Chambers
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak


For each of these books is simply too good to remain unread. Each, in its individual way, is unforgettable, both life-changing and lifesaving in its power. Forget Superman and Captain Marvel and all the rest. These books are the real superheroes as far as I’m concerned. And you don’t even have to say "Shazam!" to be transformed by them. All you have to do is open them and start reading. And discover the singular quality of the humane that shines from each of their pages. And maybe it’s that quality that has me so fired up about all of them. Frankly, I have seldom read books that have such a capacity for telling the tantalizing truth about the human ability to be at once horrible and sublime. I can’t offer higher praise than that.

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Friday, January 19, 2007

Taking Liberty

Rinaldi, Ann. 2002. TAKING LIBERTY: THE STORY OF ONEY JUDGE, GEORGE WASHINGTON’S RUNAWAY SLAVE.

Taking Liberty is the remarkable story--straight from history--of a slave woman who took liberty the only way she could. Born a slave, Oney Judge was the daughter of a slave that was ‘privileged’ enough to work in the big house as a seamstress and a white man who was an indentured servant. Taught and trained in her early years in the arts that would entitle her to work in the house rather than the field, she often thought herself lucky compared to the other slaves. Belonging to George Washington is a kind of privilege as well. Knowing that they belong to such a respectable, important man--the novel begins out in the years leading up to the revolutionary war--gives everyone an air of importance. As she grows up, she becomes a pet not only of the other house servants but of the mistress as well. Martha Washington takes a particular fondness for her. She secretly learns to read with her mistresses’ approval, and she is granted more and more luxuries. Now wearing finer clothes and given more privileges, her mother becomes crazy with jealous. Stressing to her daughter that no matter how much of a ‘pet’ she becomes she will always be a slave, her mother makes attempt after attempt to escape and rebel. During the war years, Oney is a good, obedient slave. She takes pride in her master and mistress. She is now the confidante of Martha. She goes everywhere with her. But her mother--now relegated to the field for her rebellious and crazy nature--remains resolute. When the British soldiers come to the plantation--Mount Vernon--she is one of the slaves that takes the British at the word that they’ll be freed if they switch allegiance. But with each passing year, Oney becomes more and more fascinated with the idea of liberty and freedom. Will she ever be brave enough, smart enough, resourceful enough to wage her own war against the system? Set during the revolutionary war and the first term of his presidency, TAKING LIBERTY is a wonderfully honest and emotional journey of one woman’s journey to freedom.

Sinda was another saltwater Negro. Born in Africa...we children loved to visit her...this was how I learned about life around me, the past of both the whites and the Negroes. It all became my past. Sometimes I mixed up people in Virginia society with African tribes. When there was fear, after the general left, that the British would come up the Potomac and seize Lady Washington and burn the place, I saw in my head Sambo Anderson’s village burned by the Hausa tribe. I saw Lady Washington with a leather thong around her neck, marched for miles to the sea... (19-22)

When you learn about someone, hear their stories, you tote them around. They flow in your blood and your dreams. They become a part of you. So that when something bad happens to you, there is something to liken it to. I know someone else it happened to. And he still lives and breathes. So, when I was four and my daddy left, I cried, but I understood. He became part of the Gone. (23)

It was all Patrick Henry’s fault that my daddy left. That’s what my mama said... ‘Give me Liberty or give me death’ sounded wonderful in there, with the fire crackling and us sewing. It didn’t sound so wonderful in our dwelling when Daddy told Mama he was taking his liberty and leaving. (24)

Sally’s (an old servant who was Mrs. Washington’s personal maid) advice to her replacement:
’White peoples will sometimes say things to each other in front of you. Give no never mind to you bein’ in the room. Like you a chair. If they do, you act like a chair.’ ‘How do I act like a chair?’ ‘Do a chair talk? Do a chair allow that it hear sumpthin’? Do a chair tell what it hear?’ So I acted like a chair. (102)

I don’t suppose it matters if you’re Negro or white. If your mama doesn’t love you, you’ve got no color. You’ve got nothing. (124)

White children have childhoods. Negro slave children don’t. If there are moments of joy, afternoons of splashing in a brook, playing ‘prisoner’s base’ or a game with clay marbles in the dust, the moment lives forever in the memory because it must. So little joy comes after. (132)

Remembering eases the pain. We can choose what we wish to remember and pretend that the things we wish to forget never happened. (136)

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Thursday, January 18, 2007

The Color of Fire

Rinaldi, Ann. 2005. THE COLOR OF FIRE. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786809388

Based on an historical event, THE COLOR OF FIRE, although fictionalized, is set during the "great Negro plot" of New York City in 1741. Phoebe is a slave of Assemblyman Philipse, and because her owner is a prominent man, she is given some amount of freedom--she is allowed to walk the streets alone and essentially go about her errands unquestioned. Her good friend, Cuffee, isn't so fortunate. Cuffee, who also works for Philipse, is the son of a man the town burned at the stake for allegedly taking place in an uprising. He is watched carefully and is always one of the prime suspects when something troubling happens. In 1741, there are series of fires set all over town. Rumors are flying around that the slaves are uprising. During this time of unrest, an almost unbelievable offer is made. Any slave or indentured servant who will give testimony or evidence against those setting the fires or uprising will earn his/her freedom. Phoebe dreams of one day being free, but is it really moral to gain freedom by naming names...when you don't really know who is setting the fires? Already some of her friends and acquaintances are coming forward listing dozens of names--mostly slaves. More and more slaves are being arrested, questioned, tried, and executed either by hanging or being burned at the stake. Cuffee is one of the slaves being named as a conspirator. When he is arrested, Phoebe's world is shaken. How can innocent people be jailed just because someone accuses them of this horrible wrongdoing just to earn their own freedom. Phoebe's choices are hard ones. But ultimately, she has to make the decision that's right for her.

THE COLOR OF FIRE is a compelling read. It offers an inside-look of an often-unfamiliar time period in American history. It examines the horrors of slavery, the mob mentality often only associated with the Salem witch trials, and the injustice and cruelty of the legal system. It is often difficult to read about the social injustice and prejudice experienced by African-Americans in the past, but it is necessary and benfecial as well. Rinaldi does a good job in THE COLOR OF FIRE of blending fiction with historical fact.

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Librarians Choices 2005

Librarians Choices 2005
  • Alphin, Elaine. THE PERFECT SHOT
  • Amateau, Gigi. CLAIMING GEORGIA TATE
  • Appelt, Kathi. MISS LADY BIRD’S WILDFLOWERS
  • Arnold, Katya. ELEPHANTS CAN PAINT TOO
  • Baker, Roberta. OLIVE’S PIRATE PARTY
  • Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. HITLER YOUTH
  • Beaumont, Karen. I AIN’T GONNA PAINT NO MORE!
  • Birdsall, Jeanne. PENDERWICKS
  • Birney, Betty. THE SEVEN WONDERS OF SASSAFRAS SPRINGS
  • Blumenthal, Karen. LET ME PLAY: THE STORY OF TITLE IX, THE LAW THAT CHANGED THE FUTURE OF GIRLS IN AMERICA
  • Bolden, Tonya. MARITCHA: A NINETEENTH-CENTURY AMERICAN GIRL
  • Borden, Louise. THE JOURNEY THAT SAVED CURIOUS GEORGE
  • Bower, Tamara. HOW THE AMAZON QUEEN FOUGHT THE PRINCE OF EGYPT
  • Broach, Elise. WHAT THE NO GOOD BABY IS GOOD FOR
  • Chambers, Veronica. CELIA CRUZ: QUEEN OF SALSA
  • Cooper, Elisha. A GOOD NIGHT WALK
  • Cordson, Carol Foskett. THE MILKMAN
  • Cowley, Joy. CHAMELEON, CHAMELEON
  • Creech, Sharon. REPLAY
  • Cronin, Doreen. WIGGLE
  • Cummings, Priscilla. WHAT MR. MATTERO DID
  • de Deu Prats, Joan. SEBASTIAN’S ROLLER SKATES
  • Dendy, Leslie and Boring, Mel. GUINEA PIG SCIENTISTS
  • Divakaruni, Chitra. THE MIRROR OF FIRE AND DREAMING
  • Dowell, Frances. CHICKEN BOY
  • Duble, Kathleen Benner. THE SACRIFICE
  • Ehlert, Lois. LEAF MAN
  • Erdrich, Louise. THE GAME OF SILENCE
  • Farrell, Jeanette. INVISIBLE ALLIES: MICROBES THAT SHAPE OUR LIVES
  • Fleming, Candace. LOWJI DISCOVERS AMERICA
  • Fleming, Candace. OUR ELEANOR: A SCRAPBOOK LOOK AT ELEANOR ROOSEVELT’S REMARKABLE LIFE
  • Florian, Doug. ZOO’S WHO
  • Garcia, Laura Gallego. LEGEND OF THE WANDERING KING
  • Gardner, Sally. I, CORIANDER
  • Giblin, James Cross. GOOD BROTHER, BAD BROTHER
  • Giff, Patricia Reilly. THE WILLOW RUN
  • Going, K. L. THE LIBERATION OF GABRIEL KING
  • Green, John. LOOKING FOR ALASKA
  • Grey, Mini. TRACTION MAN IS HERE
  • Griffin, Adele. WHERE I WANT TO BE
  • Hanson, Regina. A SEASON FOR MANGOES
  • Hautman, Pete. INVISIBLE
  • Hearn, Julie. THE MINISTER’S DAUGHTER
  • Hiaasen, Carl. FLUSH
  • Hughes, Lynn. YOU ARE NOT ALONE: TEENS TALK ABOUT LIFE AFTER THE LOSS OF A PARENT
  • Jacobson, Jennifer Richard. STAINED
  • Janeczko, Paul. A KICK IN THE HEAD: AN EVERYDAY GUIDE TO POETIC FORMS
  • Jenkins, Emily. THAT NEW ANIMAL
  • Jenkins, Steve. PREHISTICAL ACTUAL SIZE
  • Juster, Norton. THE HELLO GOODBYE WINDOW
  • Karas, Brian. ON EARTH
  • Keehn, Sally. GNAT STOKES AND THE FOGGY BOTTOM SWAMP QUEEN
  • Kinsey-Warnock, Natalie. NORA’S ARK
  • Klass, David. DARK ANGEL
  • Koertge, Ron. BOY GIRL BOY
  • Koja, Kathe. TALK
  • Krinitz, Esther Nisenthal and Bernice Steinhardt. MEMORIES OF SURVIVAL
  • Krull, Kathleen. HOUDINI: WORLD’S GREATEST MYSTERY MAN
  • Larbalestier, Justine. MAGIC OR MADNESS
  • Lendler, Ian. AN UNDONE FAIRY TALE
  • Lester, Julius. DAY OF TEARS
  • Lester, Julius. LET’S TALK ABOUT RACE
  • Levine, Ellen. CATCH A TIGER BY THE TOE
  • Lynch. Chris. INEXCUSABLE
  • Mah, Adeline Yeh. CHINESE CINDERELLA AND THE SECRET DRAGON SOCIETY
  • Mah, Yan. THE DIARY OF MAH YAN
  • Marino, Gianna. ZOOPA
  • McKernan, Victoria. SHACKLETON’S STOWAWAY
  • McKissack, Patricia. PRECIOUS AND THE BOO-HAG
  • Meyer, Stephenie. TWILIGHT
  • Minne, Natali. I LOVE
  • Murphy, Claire Rudolf. I AM SACAJAWEA, I AM YORK: OUR JOURNEY WEST WITH LEWIS AND CLARK
  • Nelson, Marilyn. A WREATH FOR EMMETT TILL
  • Partridge, Elizabeth. JOHN LENNON: ALL I WANT IS THE TRUTH
  • Pearsall, Shelley. CROOKED RIVER
  • Perkins, Lynne Rae. CRISS CROSS
  • Pham, LeUyen. BIG SISTER, LITTLE SISTER
  • Podwal, Mark. JERUSALEM SKY: STARS, CROSSES, AND CRESCENTS
  • Poole, Josephine. ANNE FRANK
  • Richardson, Justin and Parnell, Peter. AND TANGO MAKES THREE
  • Riordan, Rick. THE LIGHTNING THIEF
  • Rodman, Mary Ann. MY BEST FRIEND
  • Rosen, Michael. MICHAEL ROSEN’S SAD BOOK
  • Ruurs, Margaret. MY LIBRARIAN IS A CAMEL
  • Salisbury, Graham. EYES OF THE EMPEROR
  • Scieszka, Jon. SEEN ART
  • Shetterly, Robert. AMERICANS WHO TELL THE TRUTH
  • Sidman, Joyce. SONG OF THE WATERBOATMAN
  • Sills, Leslie. FROM RAGS TO RICHES: A HISTORY OF GIRLS’ CLOTHING IN AMERICA
  • Sorrells, Walter. FAKE ID
  • Volponi, Paul. BLACK AND WHITE
  • Waite, Judy. TRICK OF THE MIND
  • Weatherford, Carole Boston. FREEDOM ON THE MENU
  • Westerfeld, Scott. UGLIES
  • Whitcomb, Laura. A CERTAIN SLANT OF LIGHT
  • White, Ruth. THE SEARCH FOR BELLE PRATER
  • Wiles, Deborah. EACH LITTLE BIRD THAT SINGS
  • Wittinger, Ellen. SANDPIPER
  • Wooding, Chris. POISON
  • Zevin, Gabrielle. ELSEWHERE

Read more...

Librarians Choices 2004

Librarians Choices 2004

Recommendations of 100 new books for children and young adults reviewed and evaluated by librarians-in-training

Edited by Dr. Sylvia M. Vardell

1. Appelt, Kathi. 2004. BUBBA AND BEAU MEET THE RELATIVES. Ill. By Arthur Howard. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 0152166300 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-1]

2. Appelt, Kathi. 2004. MY FATHER’S SUMMERS. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805073620 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

3. Arbogast, Joan Marie. 2004. BUILDINGS IN DISGUISE: ARCHITECTURE THAT LOOKS LIKE ANIMALS, FOOD, AND OTHER THINGS. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 159078099X [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

4. Archambault, John. 2004. BOOM CHICKA ROCK. Ill. by Suzanne Tanner Chitwood. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0399235876 [Suggested Grade Levels K-2]

5. Barry, Dave, and Ridley Pearson. 2004. PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786854456 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

6. Beaumont, Karen. 2004. I LIKE MYSELF. Ill. David Catrow. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 0152020136 [Suggested Grade Levels K-2]

7. Bolden, Tonya. 2004. WAKE UP OUR SOULS: A CELEBRATION OF BLACK AMERICAN ARTISTS. New York: Harry N. Abrams. ISBN 0810945274 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and above]

8. Borden, Louise. 2004. THE GREATEST SKATING RACE. New York: Margaret K. McElderry Books. ISBN 0689845022 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

9. Bredsdorff, Bodil. 2004. THE CROW GIRL. Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374312478. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]

10. Brisson, Pat. 2004. MAMA LOVES ME FROM AWAY. Ill. By Laurie Caple. Honesdale, PA: Boyds Mills Press. ISBN 1563979667 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K -3]

11. Browne, Anthony. 2004. INTO THE FOREST. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763625446 [Suggested Grade Levels 3 and up]

12. Bruchac, Joseph. 2004. JIM THORPE’S BRIGHT PATH. Ill. by S.D. Nelson. New York: Lee & Low Books. ISBN 158430166X [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

13. Bryant, Jen. 2004. THE TRIAL. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375827528 [Suggested Grade Level 7-10]

14. Buzzeo, Toni. 2004. LITTLE LOON AND PAPA. Ill. by Margaret Spengler. New York: Dial Books. ISBN 0803729588 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

15. Carle, Eric. 2004. MISTER SEAHORSE. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0399242694 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K -1]

16. Child, Lauren. 2004. I AM TOO ABSOLUTELY SMALL FOR SCHOOL. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763624039 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K-1]

17. Cook, Sally. 2004. GOOD NIGHT PILLOW FIGHT. Illus. by Laura Cornell. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0062051903 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K-1]

18. Cowley, Joy. 2004. HUNTER. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0399242279 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-7]

19. Crews, Nina. 2004. NEIGHBORHOOD MOTHER GOOSE. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060515732 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

20. Cronin, Doreen. 2004. DUCK FOR PRESIDENT. Ill. by Betsy Lewin. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689863772 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

21. Curtis, Christopher Paul. 2004. BUCKING THE SARGE. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385901593 [Suggested Grade Levels 7 and up]

22. Delaney, Mark. 2004. PEPPERLAND. Atlanta: Peachtree. ISBN 156145317X. [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

23. Dessen, Sarah. 2004. THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670036390. [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

24. Downey, Lynn. 2004. MOST LOVED MONSTER. Ill. by Jack E. Davis. New York: Dial Books. ISBN 0803727283 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

25. Dunbar, Polly. 2004. DOG BLUE. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763624764. [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K-1]

26. Dunrea, Oliver. 2004. PEEDIE. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618356525 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-1]

27. DuQuette, Keith. 2004. COCK-A-DOODLE-MOOOO! New York: Putnam. ISBN 0399238891 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]

28. Durbin, William. 2004. THE DARKEST EVENING. New York: Orchard Books. ISBN 0439373077. [Suggested Grade Levels 6-8]

29. Ehlert, Lois. 2004. PIE IN THE SKY. New York: Harcourt. ISBN 0152165843. [Suggested Grade Levels Pre K - 1]

30. Farmer, Nancy. 2004. THE SEA OF TROLLS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 0689867441 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]

31. Fearnley, Jan. 2004. WATCH OUT! Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763623180 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K - 3]

32. Fleischman, Paul and Kevin Hawkes. 2004. SIDEWALK CIRCUS. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763611077 [Suggested Grade Levels K-2]

33. Freedman, Russell. 2004. THE VOICE THAT CHALLENGED A NATION: MARIAN ANDERSON AND THE STRUGGLE FOR EQUAL RIGHTS. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618159762 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]

34. Funke, Cornelia. 2004. DRAGON RIDER. Trans. by Anthea Bell. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439456959 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

35. Giblin, James Cross. 2004. SECRETS OF THE SPHINX. Ill. Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0590098470 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

36. Gleitzman, Morris. 2004. TOAD RAGE. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375827625 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

37. Goodman, Susan E. 2004. THE TRUTH ABOUT POOP. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670036749 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-5]

38. Grandits, John. 2004. TECHNICALLY, IT’S NOT MY FAULT: CONCRETE POEMS. New York: Clarion. ISBN 061842833X [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

39. Hale, Shannon. 2004. BURNING ENNA. Bloomsbury Publishing. ISBN 1582348898. [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]

40. Hannigan, Katherine. 2004. IDA B. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060730250 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-7]

41. Henkes, Kevin. 2004. KITTEN’S FIRST FULL MOON. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060588284 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-1]

42. Hesse, Karen. 2004. THE CATS IN KRASINSKI SQUARE. Ill. Wendy Watson. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439435404 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

43. Ho, Minfong. 2004. PEEK! A THAI HIDE-AND-SEEK. Ill. by Holly Meade. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763620416 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK -1]

44. Janeczko, Paul. 2004. WORLDS AFIRE. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763622354. [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

45. Jeffers, Oliver. 2004. HOW TO CATCH A STAR. New York: Philomel. ISBN 0399242864 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre K-1]

46. Jenkins, Steve. 2004. ACTUAL SIZE. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618375945 [Suggested Grade Levels K-4]

47. Kadohata, Cynthia. 2004. KIRA-KIRA. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689856393. [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

48. Kimmel, Eric A. 2004. WONDERS AND MIRACLES: A PASSOVER COMPANION. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439071755 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-10]

49. Koertge, Ron. 2004. MARGAUX WITH AN X. Cambridge. MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763624012 [Suggested Grade Levels 7 and up]

50. Kratter, Paul. 2004. THE LIVING RAIN FOREST. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 1570916039 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

51. LaRochelle, David. 2004. THE BEST PET OF ALL. Ill. Hanako Wakiyama. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525471294 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

52. Lawton, Clive A. 2004. HIROSHIMA: THE STORY OF THE FIRST ATOM BOMB. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 076362271 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-12]

53. Leedy, Loreen. 2004. LOOK AT MY BOOK: HOW KIDS CAN WRITE & ILLUSTRATE TERRIFIC BOOKS. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823415902 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

54. Mackler, Carolyn. 2004. VEGAN VIRGIN VALENTINE. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763621552 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

55. Marchetta, Melina. 2004. SAVING FRANCESCA. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375929827 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 and up]

56. Matthews, L.S. 2004. FISH. New York: Random House. ISBN 1400085217 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

57. Medina, Jane. 2004. THE DREAM ON BLANCA’S WALL. Ill. by Robert Casilla. Honesdale, PA: Boyd’s Mill Press. ISBN 1563977400. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

58. Micklethwait, Lucy. 2004. I SPY SHAPES IN ART. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060731931 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

59. Montgomery, Sy. 2004. THE TARANTULA SCIENTIST. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618147993 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

60. Moriarty, Jaclyn. 2004. THE YEAR OF SECRET ASSIGNMENTS. 2004. Scholastic. ISBN: 0439498813. [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]

61. Myers, Walter Dean. 2004. ANTARCTICA: JOURNEYS TO THE SOUTH POLE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439220017 [Suggested Grade Levels 5 and up]

62. Myers, Walter Dean. 2004. HERE IN HARLEM: POEMS IN MANY WORKS. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823418537. [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

63. Noyes, Deborah. 2004. HANA IN THE TIME OF THE TULIPS. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763618756 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

64. Noyes, Deborah ed. 2004. GOTHIC! TEN ORIGINAL DARK TALES. Cambridge. MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763622435 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

65. Odanaka, Barbara. 2004. SKATEBOARD MOM. Ill. by JoAnn Adinolfi. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0399238670 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

66. Palatini, Margie. 2004. MOO WHO? Ill. by Keith Graves. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060001062 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

67. Pennac, Daniel. 2004. DOG. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763624217 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

68. Prelutsky, Jack. 2004. IF NOT FOR THE CAT. Ill. Ted Rand. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060596775 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-5]

69. Raimondo, Joyce. 2004. IMAGINE THAT! ACTIVITIES AND ADVENTURES IN SURREALISM. New York: Watson-Guptill Publications. ISBN 0823025020 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-6]

70. Rascol, Sabina, Trans. 2004. THE IMPUDENT ROOSTER. Ill. by Holly Berry. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525471790 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-3]

71. Raven, Margot Theis. 2004. CIRCLE UNBROKEN. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 03743122893 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 2]

72. Ray, Deborah Kogan. 2004. THE FLOWER HUNTER: WILLIAM BARTRAM, AMERICA’S FIRST NATURALIST. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374345899 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

73. Robinson, Sharon. 2004. PROMISES TO KEEP: HOW JACKIE ROBINSON CHANGED AMERICA. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439425921 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

74. Roemer, Heidi. 2004. COME TO MY PARTY AND OTHER SHAPE POEMS. Ill. by Hideko Takahashi. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805066209 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

75. Rosen, Michael. 2004. SHAKESPEARE’S ROMEO & JULIET. Ill. by Jane Ray. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press. ISBN 0763622583 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-10]

76. Rosoff, Meg. 2004. HOW I LIVE NOW. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385746776 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 and up]

77. Runyon, Brent. 2004. THE BURN JOURNALS. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375826211 [Suggested Grade Levels 8 and up]

78. Ryan, Pam Munoz. 2004. BECOMING NAOMI LEON. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439269695 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

79. Schmidt, Gary. 2004. LIZZIE BRIGHT AND THE BUCKMINSTER BOY. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618439293 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]

80. Sheth, Kashmira. 2004. BLUE JASMINE. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786818557 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

81. Sierra, Judy. WILD ABOUT BOOKS. Ill. by Marc Brown. New York: Knopf. ISBN 037582538X [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K - 2]

82. Sis, Peter. 2004. THE TRAIN OF STATES. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060578386 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

83. Sobol, Richard. 2004. AN ELEPHANT IN THE BACKYARD. New York: Dutton. ISBN 0525472886. [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

84. Sones, Sonya. 2004. ONE OF THOSE HIDEOUS BOOKS WHERE THE MOTHER DIES. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689858205 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]

85. Spinelli, Eileen. 2004. SOMETHING TO TELL THE GRANDCOWS. Ill. By Bill Slavin. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 080285236 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

86. Steckel, Richard, et al. 2004. THE MILESTONES PROJECT: CELEBRATING CHILDHOOD AROUND THE WORLD. Berkeley, CA: Tricycle Press. ISBN 1582431325 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

87. Swanson, Julie. 2004. GOING FOR THE RECORD. Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans. ISBN 0802852734 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 and up]

88. Taylor, Debbie A. 2004. SWEET MUSIC IN HARLEM. Ill. by Frank Morrison. New York: Lee & Low Books. ISBN 1584301651 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

89. Thomas, Eliza. 2004. THE RED BLANKET. Ill. by Joe Cepeda. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439322537 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

90. Thompson, Lauren. 2004. POLAR BEAR NIGHT. Ill. by Stephen Savage. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439495245 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre K -2]

91. Turner, Pamela. 2004. HACHIKO: THE TRUE STORY OF A LOYAL DOG. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618140948 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

92. Updale, Eleanor. 2004. MONTMORENCY: THIEF, LIAR, GENTLEMAN? New York: Orchard. ISBN 0439580358 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-8]

93. Vecchione, Patrice. 2004. REVENGE AND FORGIVENESS: AN ANTHOLOGY OF POEMS. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805073760 [Suggested Grade Levels 7 and up]

94. Warren, Andrea. 2004. ESCAPE FROM SAIGON. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 037432244 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

95. Weeks, Sarah. 2004. SO B IT. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0066236223 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

96. Werlin, Nancy. 2004. DOUBLE HELIX. New York: Dial Books. ISBN 0803726066 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

97. Willems, Mo. 2004. KNUFFLE BUNNY. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786818700 [Suggested Grade Levels Pre-K- 3]

98. Winter, Jeanette. 2004. SEPTEMBER ROSES. New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374367361 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-5]

99. Woodson, Jacqueline. 2004. BEHIND YOU. New York: Putnam. ISBN 039923988X [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

100. Wright, Randall. 2004. HUNCHBACK. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805072322 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

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Wednesday, January 17, 2007

In My Father's House

Rinaldi, Ann. 1993. In My Father’s House.

IN MY FATHER’S HOUSE is an interesting historical novel based on actual historical events. Did you know that the land where the first battle of the Civil War took place was owned by the same man whose land provided the place for the signing of the Confederates’ surrender? Yes, the Civil War began on Will McLean’s property and ended on his property. Will McLean was a man who saw the collapse of the South years before the first battle of the Civil War took place. Considering himself a man of the New South, he raised his family to be more open-minded towards life. He even hired a Yankee governess for his children to tutor them. Oscie is Will McLean’s stepdaughter. Her father died when she was a young child--five or six--and Daddy Will has been the one to raise her for better or worse. Oscie is our young narrator. She provides a behind-the-scenes look at life on a plantation from 1852 to the close of the Civil War in 1865. As she grows up, she learns many life lessons--about life, love, family, and duty. She has difficulty at first deciding what exactly she believes and who she supports. Yet, as the civil war begins--she realizes as does her stepfather--that the Confederate cause is not only ill fated or doomed but that it deserves to be defeated so that something better can begin. Not an easy position to take when most of your neighbors would violently oppose your opinions if you aired them. But sometimes the right road isn’t always the easiest.

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Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mine Eyes Have Seen

Rinaldi, Ann. 1998. MINE EYES HAVE SEEN.

MINE EYES HAVE SEEN is a fictional portrayal of an historical event. In the summer of 1859, our heroine Annie Brown makes her way south with her sister-in-law to visit her father, John Brown, who under the name of Isaac Smith, has taken up residence near Harpers Ferry. Annie is fifteen, in love with life, and completely unsure about the sanity of her father. Annie has a love/hate relationship with this power-hungry, irrational abusive man. As do many of her brothers and sisters. Posted as watchdog, Annie provides readers an inside look into a dark period in American history.

Here is what the author's note has to say:

Fifteen years old in 1859, Annie came down from the Brown place in North elba, New York, with her seventeen-year-old sister-in-law, Martha, to help keep house for the Provisional Army and to make life at the Kennedy farm appear normal. She was assigned the task of "watchdog"--keeping watch on the porch for approaching strangers. The farm-house was soon full of men, eighteen in all (one arrived right before Annie and Martha left, two after). It was Annie's job to keep the men from running off, warn the inhabitants of the house when a stranger was approaching, and generally keep curious eyes at bay. John Brown could not have it known that so many men were living at the farmhouse, that he was receiving and storing arms there, and that some of the men were Negro. So Annie had her work cut out for her. Indeed, in some of the books on John Brown there are excerpts of Annie's account of life on the farm that summer. From these accounts, written by Annie in her later years when she was Mrs. Annie Brown Adams, I learned the nucleus of facts about that summer in Maryland, her description of some of the men, her chores, the newspapers her father subscribed to, the dog Cuffee, the description of the house, and, of course Mrs. Huffmaster.

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Monday, January 15, 2007

Author Spotlight: Ann Rinaldi

Spotlight On: Ann Rinaldi
Author Website http://www.annrinaldi.com/
About the Author:


  • Ann Rinaldi was born in New York City on August 27, 1934.
  • Discouraged by her family from writing and pursuing further education at college, she went into the business world and became a secretary.
  • In 1960, Ann married Ron Rinaldi. While raising her two sons, she decided she wanted to become a writer. After a few failed attempts at novel-writing, she decided to start small and begin by writing newspaper columns.
  • Her first creative piece of fiction was published in 1979.
  • As to why she writes historical fiction: Ann was drawn into the study of American history when her son, Ron, became involved in Revolutionary War reenactments while he was in high school. After visiting historical sites, participating in reenactments, and ". . .see[ing] the history. . .as it was, from the bottom up, hands on, instead of out of a history book," Ann was addicted.
  • As to why she writes for young adults: Ann Rinaldi explains, "I write young adult novels because I like writing them. But, as with my first book, I don't write for young people. I just write. Real life, as I know it, as I've learned it to be from my newspaper experience and own past, goes into my books. I draw all my characters fully, give my adults as many problems and as much dimension as the young protaganist. I give my readers good writing, literary writing. My books have been praised for the strength of my characters and my dialogue. "


Today I am beginning my author study on Ann Rinaldi. Today's review is NINE DAYS A QUEEN which was published in 2005.

Rinaldi, Ann. 2005. NINE DAYS A QUEEN.

When I first read NINE DAYS A QUEEN, I was not the self-proclaimed expert I am now on all things Tudor having worked my way through all four of Carolyn Meyer's historical novels or David Starkey's Six Wives of Henry the VIII. But I recognized it as a good story even then. Later, when I first began reading Meyer, I searched my memory and said I must go back and reread that one and see this all from Jane's eyes. But perhaps I'm rambling too much. NINE DAYS A QUEEN is the story of Jane Grey's childhood and adolescence. The daughter of a very important family--a titled family--she spent at least a year or two at court in London. As a child, she was a favorite playmate of Edward. She was on familiar terms with the other royal children as well, Mary and Elizabeth. The story focuses on her time spent at court and on her time spent with Katherine Parr and Sir Thomas Seymour--the former queen who was widowed and her new husband. Also in that household was Princess Elizabeth. Through it all, Jane Grey remains a likeable character. Mistreated by her family, she trusts no one really. She's come to view life as a skeptic. She's seen how dangerous it is to get involved with the royal family and the power struggle. She's seen close loved ones pay with their lives. Now, as a teen (fifteen or sixteen) her family involves her in a dangerous power play. Her husband and father-in-law have determined to make her queen instead of Princess Mary. Why? Because they don't want a Catholic on the throne. So manipulating the dying king, Jane is named next in line for the throne. Does Jane want to be queen? NO! There is nothing tempting her to claim power and wield the authority of life and death over her subjects. But can she escape the throne with her life?

NINE DAYS A QUEEN pairs well with Carolyn Meyer's series on others in the Tudor family: MARY, BLOOD MARY, BEWARE, PRINCESS ELIZABETH, DOOMED QUEEN ANNE, and PATIENCE, PRINCESS CATHERINE. These books show both the glamour and the danger that being royal involves.

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Becky Laney of Becky's Book Reviews

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