Wednesday, January 28, 2009

A spooky book with an environmental twist.

Bracegirdle, P.J. (2008). Fiendish Deeds.* (The Joy of Spooking, bk.1) Grades 4-7.
Eleven-year-old Joy Wells loves to read horror stories. When she comes across a book of scary tales by E.A. Peugeot, Joy believes the similarities between the swamp in her town of Spooking and that in the story "The Bawl of the Bog Fiend" are more than just a coincidence. She also learns that the same bog is going to be destroyed in order to make room for a water park!
As Joy sets out to find the truth behind the story and ventures into the bog with her less than enthusiastic brother, Byron, she hopes to find evidence of mysterious animals or plants so that she can prevent the waterpark from being built. Will she find the bog fiend or some other horrible creature lurking in the swamp? You'll have to read this book to find out.
*Request through interlibrary loan.

Monday, January 26, 2009

And the winners are...

2009 Newbery Award Winner:
Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. Gr. 5-8.

Newbery Honor Books:
Appelt, Kathi. The Underneath. Gr. 4-8.
Law, Ingrid. Savvy. Gr. 4-7.
Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac & D Foster.* Gr. 6-10.

2009 Caldecott Award Winner:
Swanson, Susan Marie. The House in the Night.

Caldecott Honor Books:
Bryant, Jen. A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams.*

Sunday, January 25, 2009

Summer of self-discovery

Hirahara, Naomi (2008). 1001 Cranes. Grades 5-8.

Twelve-year-old Angela is sent to live with her grandparents and aunt Janet in Los Angeles for the summer. Unhappy with this situation, Angela arrives determined not to have a good time. Her parents are in the midst of a divorce and Angela feels that they are just trying to get rid of her. She spends the summer learning how to make cranes out of origami for wedding decorations--and actually begins to like it! While in L.A., she meets Rachel, who seems to compete for Angela's grandmother's attention and develops a crush on a skater boy. Angela also becomes friends with an elderly neighbor who is suffering from cancer. Although the adults in her family are very secretive and do not always show their love in obvious ways, over the summer, Angela realizes that love exists in many different shapes and forms.

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Friendship and strength in the Bronx

Adler, David A. (2008). Don't Talk to Me about the War. Grades 5-7.
It is 1940 and thirteen-year-old Tommy's life is about to change. All his friend Beth talks about these days is the war in Europe. But Tommy doesn't care about that--it's so far away. He would rather listen to the Dodgers game and play stickball. When Beth introduces him to a girl named Sarah, who used to live in Germany, Tommy learns about her experiences with the war and the reason why her family came to the U.S. In addition to the war, Tommy's mother's health is declining and she doesn't know why. The responsibilities at home begin to increase and at first Tommy worries that he won't have time to spend with his friends, but in the end he realizes what really matters.
Adler provides accurate historical details from this time period and creates a character that kids will be able to relate to while learning more about America's role during World War II.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Great picture books that teach about equality and friendship

Here are some great books to read to your preschoolers that introduce concepts of equality, difference, and friendship.

Hallinan, P.K. A Rainbow of Friends.
A story about the special qualities friends have, despite their differences or difficulties.

Howe, James. Horace and Morris but Mostly Dolores.
Three mice learn that the best clubs include everyone.

Raschka, Chris. Yo! Yes?
Two boys meet on the street and after exchanging a few simple words become friends.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

A Houdini Murder Mystery

Lawrence, Iain (2008). The Séance. 262 pages. Grades 5-7.

In 1926, Houdini arrives in the city to appear in several shows as well as to expose fake mediums. Thirteen-year-old Scooter King is excited to see Houdini, but his mother (a medium) isn't as thrilled. Luckily, she isn't on Houdini's list and doesn't have to fear public exposure as a fraud. But things don't go as planned for Houdini. First, a comedian is found dead in Houdini's water tank, then several more people are murdered at a séance, held in the same theater. As Scooter attempts to solve the mystery, he only places himself into more danger. His trail leads him to the home of the Russian medium, Viktor Valerian, but will he be able to make it out alive in order to notify the authorities?
If you liked this book, try Tom Lalicki's Danger in the Dark: A Houdini and Nate Mystery.

Monday, January 5, 2009

Action, adventure, and a hidden diamond

Golding, Julia (2008). The Diamond of Drury Lane. 424 pages.
Grades 6-8.

Set in London c. 1790, Cat, who was orphaned as an infant, lives at the Drury Lane Theater under the care of Mr. Sheridan. One night, she stumbles upon a secret meeting and learns that there is a diamond hidden in the theatre. To protect the diamond, Cat embarks on an action-packed adventure with Pedro, an African violinist, her noble friends: Lord Francis and Lady Elizabeth, as well as her street friends. But is there really a diamond or is Cat protecting something else? From the boxing matches to the street gangs, this story is full of action and drama. Stay tuned for more books in this series.