Monday, December 29, 2008

Love and friendship in the Bayou

Appelt, Kathi (2008). The Underneath. 313 pages. Grades 4-8.

Deep in the Bayou, three very different characters are led down paths that bring them together. An abandoned cat about to have kittens is taken in by a neglected hound who lives in the Underneath, which is under his owner's home. His owner, Gar Face, fled from his abusive and alcholic father years ago and is now obsessed with capturing the largest alligator in the bayou. Then there is Grandmother Moccassin, a shape-shifting serpent who has been asleep in a jar for the last thousand years and is ready to seek her revenge. The turn of events in the characters' lives plays an important role in the underlying message--sometimes all you need is love and friendship.

Monday, December 22, 2008

Fans of Funke's Inkheart

Have you read Cornelia Funke's Inkheart trilogy? Get ready for the film, which is to be released on January 23. Click here to read about the cast and other goodies.

If you haven't read Inkheart, here's a brief summary.

Twelve-year-old Meggie has lived with her father, a book binder, for many years without knowing that he has kept a secret from her. He can "read" fictional characters to life. One night when Meggie was little, he brought several characters from a book, called Inkheart, into his living room. At the same time as the characters appeared, Meggie's mother disappeared. This is why Mo has never told Meggie about his talent. Unfortunately, his secret won't be kept in the dark for long, soon Dustfinger, one of the characters brought into this world by Mo, pays them a visit. He also brings with him a warning, which can have dire consequences. Capricorn, a powerful and evil villain, is on Mo's trail and he will stop at nothing until he has forced Mo to "read" several more characters out of Inkheart; characters which will bring death and dread to everyone around. The only chance of survival is to find the author of Inkheart and have him pen a new ending, but will Meggie and Mo find him in time?

Friday, December 19, 2008

NFPL Blog is One Year Old!

Here are some fun birthday books to read together:

Asch, Frank. Happy Birthday, Moon.

Bear discovers that he and the moon have the same birthday! What kind of a present can he give the moon?

Miranda, Anne. Alphabet Fiesta: An English/Spanish Alphabet Story.

Zelda Zebra's friends plan to attend her surprise party and look to bring something to make her birthday really special.

Patricelli, Leslie. The Birthday Box.

An imaginative young child has a wonderful time playing with a box he receives for his birthday. What's better than getting a brand-new toy as a birthday gift? Playing with the box it came in!

Sperring, Mark. The Fairytale Cake.

Can fairytale characters come to life and bake a yummy cake? Find out who made the cake!

Monday, December 15, 2008

"Revolution is not a dinner party, or writing an essay, or painting a picture..."

Compestine, Ying Chang (2007). Revolution is Not a Dinner Party. 248 pages. Grades 5-8.

In early 1972, eight-year-old Ling lives with her parents, both doctors, in a comfortable apartment building. But that very summer, Ling's life changes when Comrade Li, a political officer, moves into a room in their apartment. Chairman Mao is the adored leader and anyone who disagrees with his views or is seen as being part of the bourgeois, is declared an enemy. Ling begins to witness the cruelty that meets her neighbors and her own family during the Cultural Revolution. Over four years, Ling grows into a teenager and endures more hardships than anyone, especially a child, should ever face.

An intriguing story about a young girl's life during the Cultural Revolution, based on the author's own experiences.

Wednesday, December 10, 2008

The Power of Music in a Women's Prison

Karr, Kathleen (2003). Gilbert & Sullivan: Set Me Free*. 226 pages. Grades 5-8.

Experience the power of music and the injustice of being an inmate during the the early 1900s at the Massachusetts Sherborn Prison for Women (SPW). Libby Dodge arrived at SPW in her finest of clothing, but her story or the reason why she ends up in prison does not surface until halfway through the story. She is soon befriended by another inmate, Ma McCreary, who stands up for her when the other women treat her unkindly. Fortunately, Libby's luck is about to change when Mrs. Wilkinson, the new chaplain, arrives at SPW. She is forming a women's choir and begins recruiting the inmates. The choir gives these women hope and acts as an escape from their dreary lives in prison. Mrs. Wilkinson hopes to reform the inmates through the power of music and for the most part she succeeds. The women put on a successful performance of Handel's Hallelujah choir and take on Gilbert and Sullivan's comic opera, The Pirates of Penzance. In the process, Libby and the other women's talents emerge, as they learn more about each other and the world around them.

Karr's story is wonderfully written. She portrays the harsh reality of life in a women's prison during the early 20th century using characters based on real women who made significant changes in the Massachusetts women's prison system.

*Request this book through interlibrary loan.

Great Books for the Holidays!

For the Picture Book Crowd:

Arnold, Katya. Adventures of Snowwoman.

Bianco, Margery Williams. The Velveteen Rabbit.

Glaser, Linda. The Borrowed Hanukkah Latkes.

Hobby, Hollie. Toot & Puddle: I'll Be Home for Christmas.

Katz, Karen. Counting Christmas.

Lehman, Barbara. The Red Book.

Medearis, Angela Shelf. Seven Spools of Thread.

Polacco, Patricia. The Trees of the Dancing Goats.

Van Allsburg, Chris. The Polar Express.

Wilson, Karma. Bear Stays Up for Christmas.

For the Independent Readers:

Cooper, Ilene. Sam I Am.

Giff, Patricia Reilly. December Secrets.

Godden, Rumer. Premlata and the Festival of Lights.

Hall, Lynne. Here Comes Zelda Claus, and Other Holiday Disasters.

Kline, Suzy. Horrible Harry and the Holidaze.

Koss, Amy Goldman. How I Saved Hanukkah.

McDonald, Megan. The Holly Joliday.

Paterson, Katherine. Angels and Other Strangers.

Monday, December 8, 2008

19th century story for younger readers

Coville, Bruce (2007). Hans Brinker. Grades 3-5 or a Read-aloud.
A young Dutch boy and his sister seek out medical help for their sick father and hope to win an ice skating competition. This advanced picture book is a shortened version of Mary Mapes Dodge's original novel, Hans Brinker; or, The Silver Skates, A Story of Life in Holland (314 pages). Readers will enjoy the wintery illustrations, which capture aspects of life in a Dutch village during a cold winter.

Monday, December 1, 2008

How can a plane land without a pilot?

Haddix, Margaret Peterson (2008). Found. (The Missing, bk.1) 314 pages. Grades 5-7.

Thirteen-year-old Jonah always knew that he was adopted. His parents were honest with him from the beginning. His friend, Chip, didn't learn that he was adopted until more recently. And it came as a complete shock. Unlike Jonah's parents, Chip's parents do not want to discuss the details with him and would rather he not ask them any questions. But, when both boys begin receiving anonymous letters concerning their adoptions, they begin to think that something is not right. With the help of Jonah's sister, Katherine, they attempt to figure out who is sending the letters and why. In the process, they discover that as babies, they were found on a plane that appeared out of nowhere, with no adults on board. Now it is up to the three friends to warn the other people who were on that plane before it is too late.

Friday, November 28, 2008

Ghosts in the Libary?

Alter, Stephen (2007). The Phantom Isles. 210 pages. Grades 5-8.

Sixth-graders Courtney, Orion, and Ming sneak into the library late one night and find a book, The Compleat Necromancer, which contains an incantation, that will awaken the ghosts. Their adventure begins as soon as they recite the spell. They find that the books were donated by Hezekiah Osgood, a scientist, and they contain the ghosts he captured on the island of Prithvideep and imprisoned within his books! Their images move and speak, but they cannot leave their page. In addition to figuring out how to help free the ghosts, the children's teacher, Mrs. Hokum stirs up controversy by attempting to ban books she disapproves of and to shut down the library. The chapters alternate between the children's adventure and the story of the ghosts they discover.

Note to reader: You may find a ghost or two hidden within the pages of this book.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Do you have what it takes to win the Golly-whopper Games?

Feldman, Jody (2008). The Golly-Whopper Games. 308 pages. Grades 4-7.
Twelve-year-old Gil Goodson's life hasn't been the same since "the Incident," when his father was falsely accused of stealing money from his employer, the Golly Toy and Game Company (GTGC). The kids at school treat him horribly and can't seem to get over "the Incident." Gil believes that his only chance at a fresh start for him and his family is to compete and win the Golly-whopper Games sponsored by the GTGC. Gil and thousands of other children must solve word games, puzzles, and other stunts in order to win prizes, including a college scholarship. During the games, Gil must work with the other finalists as a team, as well as independently in order to get to the final four. Some of the puzzles and codes are tricky, but the contestants solve them in their own unique way. Readers can solve the word puzzles and codes along with Gil and the other contestants. A fun and humorous book about a boy who justs wants to live a normal life.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Back in time -- London circa 1763

Buckley-Archer, Linda (2006). Gideon, the Cutpurse. 404 pages. Grades 5-8.

Peter has been looking forward to spending his twelfth-birthday with his father, who has had to postpone their plans twice already. When his birthday is put on hold for the third time, Peter has had enough. His father sends him to Derbyshire for the weekend with his au pair where he meets Kate and her large, but loving family. Peter imagined the weekend as being a horrible time in the country, but he couldn't be more wrong. During a trip to Kate's father's science lab, Peter and Kate stumble upon a time-travel machine, known as the anti-gravity machine, which transports them back to London c. 1763. At first, they are uncertain of where they are and what year it is, until they meet Gideon Seymour who aids them throughout their journey. In order to get back to their time period, they must rely on this stranger who knows where the anti-gravity machine is being held. While stuck in the London of 1763, the children meet King George and Princess Charlotte, as well as a few other historical figures. Find out if Peter and Kate make it back to 21st century London. The adventure continues with the sequel: The Time Thief.

And if the historical detail leaves you wanting to read more about the 18th century, try:

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

What would you do if someone you knew disappeared right before your eyes?

Dowd, Siobhan (2008). The London Eye Mystery. 322 pages. Grades 5-8.

During his visit to London, Salim's cousins, Ted and Kat take him to ride on the London Eye. While waiting in line, they are approached by a stranger who offers them one ticket for the ride. Ted and Kat suggest that Salim take the ticket, which turns out to be a mistake. They watch as Salim walks into the pod that will carry him around the wheel, but when it opens again Salim has vanished! Ted and Kat must work together to solve the mystery of Salim's disappearance.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Curl up with your little one and read a book about dads!

Dorros, Arthur. Papa and Me.
A boy spends the day with his father, who only speaks Spanish.

Holmberg, Bo R. A Day with Dad.
Tim's father lives in a different town. When he takes the train to visit Tim, they spend the entire day together, doing all of their favorite things

Warnes, Tim. Daddy Hug.
Animal dads and their little ones share lots of love and hugs.

Yaccarino, Dan. Every Friday.
Every Friday, a father and his child share a special tradition.

More books about dads:

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Needham Elementary Students' Artwork on Display!

Visit the Children's Department to view artwork created by Needham elementary students!

Wednesday, November 5, 2008

A family of dolls and an unsolved mystery

Martin, Ann M. (2000). The Doll People. 256 pages. Grades 3-6.

Annabelle has been eight years old for one hundred years. How is that possible? She is a porcelain doll who has lived with her parents in a Victorian dollhouse, which belongs to Kate. But, when Kate's younger sister receives a modern plastic dollhouse complete with plastic dolls, the original Doll family is not too pleased. In addition, Annabell has discovered a journal belonging to her Aunt Sarah who disappeared almost 45 years earlier. Will she be able to solve the mystery behind her Aunt's disappearance? You'll have to read and find out.

Wonderful illustrations by Brian Selznick (illus. The Invention of Hugo Cabret) make The Doll People a delightful read!

If you've read The Doll People, there are two books that follow: The Meanest Doll in the World (2003) and Martin's most recent The Runaway Dolls (2008).

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Three little pigs and a big bad wolf

Do your kids love the story of The Three Little Pigs?
Here are some more books that use these characters in a different way:

Kasza, Keiko. The Wolf's Chicken Stew.
The big bad wolf is always hungry. In this story he tries to fatten up a chicken before he makes his stew, but will his plan work?

Kulka, Joe. Wolf's Coming!
The animals all know that the wolf is on his way, but where is he going?

Sierra, Judy. Mind Your Manners, B.B. Wolf
B.B. Wolf is invited to a library storytime tea party! His friend crocodile tells him to always remember his manners. Will wolf prove to be a perfect guest?

And for a classic Three Little Pigs, try Paul Galdone's version.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

I don't think we're in Kansas anymore...

Wilson, N.D. (2007). 100 Cupboards. 289 pages. Grades 4-6.
Henry's life changes dramatically after his parents are kidnapped. He leaves Boston, where he lived a sheltered life, and moves in with his Aunt, Uncle and their children in Kansas, where he can roam freely and even ride in the open cab of his Uncle's truck. Henry is given a cozy room in the attic, which has a secret waiting for him to discover. When pieces of plaster begin to fall from the wall, Henry finds hidden cabinet doors in all shapes, colors, and sizes. With his cousin, Henrietta, they discover that each door leads to a different world.

The story begins on the slow side, but the excitement picks up once Henry and Henrietta begin wandering through the different worlds. You can find the list and a drawing of the cabinets at the beginning of the book.

Monday, October 27, 2008

Fans of Funke's Inkheart Series

If you've finished reading Inkdeath or are waiting for your copy, you might enjoy these books:

Collins, Suzanne. Gregor the Overlander. (Underland Chronicles, bk.1)
11-year old Gregor and his 2-year old sister enter into a mysterious underground world where they embark on a quest to find their missing father.

Durst, Sarah Beth. Into the Wild.
Julie's mother, Rapunzel, escaped her fairy tale, but when "the wild" takes over the entire town, Julie must prevent everyone from being trapped in a fairy tale forever.

Gordon, Roderick. Tunnels.
Will Burrows and his friend Chester must venture into an underground world with cruel and evil inhabitants in order to rescue his father.
Kladstrup, Kristin. The Book of Story Beginnings.
After moving to Iowa with her family, Lucy finds a notebook that brings stories to life. When Lucy writes in the notebook, her story adventures lead her to her great uncle, who disappeared as a boy.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Celebrate Massachusetts Family Literacy Month

November is Family Literacy Month!

What can you do with your children to encourage literacy?
  • Visit the library for a storytime, music program, or book group. Visit the Children's Website for event information. We have a variety of storytimes and programs for infants through grades 4!
  • Encourage your child to read or listen to an audiobook. Find a book in our catalog or ask a librarian for a suggestion (781) 455-7559 ext. 204.
  • Have a family read-aloud night. You can find many books that can be read-aloud and enjoyed by all ages. For starters, try: E.B. White's Stuart Little, Beverly Cleary's Henry Huggins, or Judy Blume's The Pain and the Great One.
  • Participate in our Read-a-thon! You can win prizes and enter a raffle to win 1 ticket per family to a show at the Wheelock Theatre. Register online or at the Children's desk.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

A story of friendship and a talking hen

Cowley, Joy (2008). Chicken Feathers. 149 pages. Grades 3-5.

During the summer while Josh's mother was in the hospital waiting for her baby to be born, Josh spent his time with a chicken who possesed a special talent. Her name was Semolina and she could talk! When Josh noticed that eggs were disappearing, he asked Semolina, who informed him that a fox was stealing them. Unfortunately, Josh's father didn't believe him, especially when he found out who it was that told Josh. Find out if Josh can convince his father in time and prevent Semolina from becoming fox's dinner.

Friday, October 10, 2008

Women who ran for president

Gephart, Donna (2008). As if being 12 3/4 isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! 227 pages. Grades 5-7.

Vanessa's mother, the Governor of Florida, is running for President! In addition to the normal stress of being in seventh grade, Vanessa begins receiving threatening notes from someone who doesn't want her mother to run for president.

Krull, Kathleen (2004). A Woman for President: The Story of Victoria Woodhull. 32 pages. Grades 3-5.
Did you know that in 1872, Victoria Woodhull, was the first woman to run for president? Find out more about her life and role in politics.

Smith, Lane (2008). Madam President. Ages 4 and up.
A little girl imagines what her days would be like if she were President of the U.S.A.

St. George, Judith (2007). The Ghost, the White House, and Me. 153 pages. Grades 3-5.
Eleven year old KayKay has moved in to the White House with the President of the U.S.A., her mother. There are rumors that the White House is haunted and KayKay uses this knowledge to play a prank, which doesn't turn out as planned.

Thimmesh, Catherine (2004). Madam President. 80 pages. Grades 2-5.
Take a walk through history and explore the many women and their roles in politics, from the time of Abigail Adams to Benazir Bhutto.

Adventures of a small town boy and his dog

Ylvisaker, Anne (2007). Little Klein. 186 pages. Grades 3-6.

Nine-year-old Harold Sylvester George Klein, known as "Little Klein," is the smallest and youngest in his family, and his brothers, "the Bigs," never let him forget it. One day, a dog named LeRoy finds Harold and follows him home. Soon the two are inseparable and they find themselves having one adventure after another. But, when disaster strikes and his brothers are the ones needing help, Harold takes action and saves the day.
This is a great story for kids who enjoy reading realistic stories about adventure and friendship between children and animals. Other books to try include: DiCamillo's Because of Winn Dixie, Naylor's Shiloh, and Twain's The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Halloween books for the younger crowd

Brown, Margaret Wise (2003). The Fierce Yellow Pumpkin.
A little pumpkin dreams of the day when it will be a fierce, yellow pumpkin.

Fleming, Denise (2001). Pumpkin Eye.
Rhyming text describes the sights and sounds of Halloween night.
Count along as ten trick-or-treaters encounter ghosts, spiders, and other creepy creatures on Halloween night.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Imagine if another world existed underground...

Gordon, Roderick and Williams, Brian (2008). Tunnels. 472 pages. Grades 5-9.

The one thing that fourteen- year-old Will Burrows enjoys most is digging tunnels. He and his father frequently go on archeological digs to uncover lost items that are sometimes added to his father's museum collection. But when Will's father disappears, Will and his friend Chester embark on a dangerous journey to an underground world known as "The Colony." Will and Chester are shocked to find that there are people living under London with their own set of rules and punishments. Will is certain that this underground society is the reason behind his father's disappearance, but how will two young boys from London survive in this mysterious place, let alone rescue his father?

Sunday, October 5, 2008

Interested in an Online Book Club?

In October, the 3rd - 4th grade book club will be reading:
Kate DiCamillo's The Tale of Despereaux.
We will hold an online discussion on Wednesday, October 29 from 4-5 pm.
This wiki is only open to those who sign up for the book club and is monitored by the Children’s librarian.
To register and to access the Book Club wiki, please contact the Children's Librarian: 781-455-7559 ext. 204.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Get into the Halloween Spirit...

Irving, Washington (2007). The Legend of Sleepy Hollow. Grades 4-8.

Irving's story of Ichabod Crane, a schoolmaster who falls in love with the farmer's girl and has an encounter with the headless horseman is newly illustrated by Gris Grimly. This rendition of Sleepy Hollow will leave you feeling spooked! The story is presented in a graphic novel format, with the illustrations complementing the original text.

Wednesday, October 1, 2008

Creative look at book making for children

Pietromarchi, Sophie Benini (2007). The Book Book: A Journey into Bookmaking. 131 pages. Grades 4-8.

In this book, Pietromarchi takes the reader on a journey in book making. She provides tips on finding everyday materials for illustrations, such as pencil shavings, beginning a story, and making different types of books. In each chapter, readers will find quirky illustrations and simple, but creative, ideas about book making. Children who enjoy writing or illustrating will find this book inspiring and can use it as a springboard for their own creative outlets.

Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Short stories by Judy Blume for Beginning Readers

Blume, Judy. Soupy Saturdays with the Pain & the Great One. 108 pages. Grades 1-3.

In seven short stories for beginning readers, Blume expands on her earlier book The Pain and the Great One. The chapters alternate between Abigail (the Great One) and Jacob's (the Pain) side of the story. Each one is filled with humor and depicts the insights of sibling relationships. In addition to the funny stories, readers will enjoy the great illustrations by James Stevenson, another picture book author/illustrator. This is a great book to read aloud with the whole family!

Monday, September 29, 2008

Last Call for Summer Reading Goodie Bags!

Did you participate in the Summer Reading Club?
If you read 10 books/hours you can pick up your goodie bag and certificate!
The deadline is Tuesday, September 30!

Friday, September 26, 2008

Madame President and a Haunted White House

St. George, Judith (2007). The Ghost, The White House, and Me. 153 pages. Grades 3-5.

After their mother is elected President of the United States, eleven-year-old KayKay and her sister Annie move into the White House. Although their new home comes with great features, such as a bowling alley and their own chef, the girls miss spending time with their busy mother. KayKay occupies her time by writing mystery books and scaring her sister with stories about a ghost who haunts the Lincoln bedroom. After some persuasion, Annie joins KayKay in investigating the mystery and scaring an important guest, but in the end they get a surprise of their own.

Monday, September 22, 2008

Higgins, F.E. (2007). The Black Book of Secrets. 273 pages. Grades 5-8.

After barely escaping his thieving parents, Ludlow Fitch hitches a ride on the back of a carriage to the village of Pagus Parvus where he meets Joe Zabidou, the "Secret Pawnbroker." Ludlow becomes his assistant and each night when a different villager appears on Joe's doorstep to share a deep, dark secret, he transcribes these confessions. Through these midnight sessions, Ludlow and Joe learn how Mr. Ratchet, who owns most of the town, has cheated and blackmailed most of the residents. The situation quickly gets worse when Mr. Ratchet realizes what is going on and he attempts to turn the villagers against Joe and Ludlow.

Monday, September 15, 2008

A new adventure from Erin Hunter

Hunter, Erin (2008). The Quest Begins. (The Seekers, bk.1) 293 pages. (Grades 5-7).

The story follows the journey of three bears: Kallik, a polar bear, Toklo, a grizzly bear, and Lusa, a black bear. Each bear must overcome hardships in order to continue their quest to the Northern Lights. Kallik becomes separated from her family and must continue on her own. Toklo is abandoned by his mother and meets a shape-shifting cub. Lusa meets Oka, Toklo's mother in the zoo, and promises to find him and bring him a message. It seems that destiny will bring these three bears together on a dangerous journey that will continue throughout this new series. Includes an excerpt from Great Bear Lake (The Seekers, bk. 2).