2005 Reviews


March 2005 Book Reviews SJ of NMS, LCSD
Barry Denenberg. PANDORA OF ATHENS: 399 B.C.. Scholastic Inc., 2004 ISBN 0-439-64982-X 125 p $10.95 Gr. 5 and up

Pandora, the thirteen year old daughter of a wealthy Athenian, longs for more in her life than is permitted by her strict upbringing and societal norms. Her one daily freedom is her trip to the community well. There she encounters Socrates. His brief insights influence and change Pandora and she seeks a less restrictive life after Socrates’ trial and death. P – 6 / Q – 8

Caroline Lawrence. THE TWELVE TASKS OF FLAVIA GEMINA. Roaring Brook Press, 2003 ISBN 1-59643-012-5 170 p $15.95 Gr. 5 and up
This is the sixth book in the Roman Mysteries series. Flavia Gemina and her three friends, her former slave, a neighbor, and a beggar boy, form a group of mystery solvers. In this adventure the group must investigate Cartilia Poplica, the woman vying for Captain Geminus’ attention. Flavia’s quest includes 12 tasks modeled after the 12 labors of Hercules. P – 7 / Q – 9

Catherine Forde. FAT BOY SWIM. Delacorte Press, 2003 ISBN 0-385-90237-9 231 p. $15.95 Gr. 6 and up.

Jimmy Kelly is fat. He knows it. His family knows it. Everyone at his school knows it. Yet, they all deal with it in different ways. Jimmy eats. His family ignores. And his classmates never let him forget it. Until Jimmy discovers some well of strength within himself. It propels him to the pool where he learns to swim, tones his body, conditions himself for a race, and learns a great deal about internal fortitude. P – 7 / Q – 7
Jean Fritz. Illustrated by Hudson Talbott. THE LOST COLONY OF ROANOKE. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2004 ISBN 0-399-24027-6 35 p. $16.99 Gr. 3 and up
The first settlers to the New World arrived in 1587. They had positive interaction with some of the natives, supplies, and structures. Yet they disappeared. It is one of the greatest mysteries in American history and Jean Fritz explores what is known about Sir Walter Raleigh’s settlers. P – 6 / Q – 9

Review by A.G. of LCSD
Harrison, Heather. Yesterday’s Warrior.
Word Warriors Press, 2004. 254 p. $13.15 ISBN 0974694002 High school.
This first-person account of an abuse survivor is in the tradition of “Go Ask Alice” and “Girl Interrupted”. The memoirist is writing 7 years after the incidents in the book, which conclude when she was 17 years old. It’s likely to appeal primarily to the older teenage girl, or to younger teens who have survived abuse, a larger population than most people would like to imagine. Teachers would do well to read it in order to understand what a surprising percentage of their students have faced. I read it in one sitting, drawn both by the mystery of what had brought Heather to such a desperate state of emotional distress, school blow-out, and substance abuse, and of how she would overcome it. The several scenes of sexual attack, while graphic, are central to the book’s purpose. The writing is smooth and compelling for a first book. I am recommending it to my 15-year-old daughter who enjoyed “A Child Called It” and its sequels.

Reviewed by E.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Cassidy, Cathy Dizzy, Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2004, ISBN: 0-670-05936-6, 247p. $15.99 Gr. 5 -up

“Dizzy” is the twelve-year old daughter of a former hippy and an aging flowerchild. Her vagabond mother left Dizzy and her father when she was only 4, and Dizzy is struggling with her loss and trying to recoup a mother-daughter relationship when her mother arrives on her birthday and takes her away to join her freespirited livestyle. Her mother, “Storm” is a self-centered thrill-seeker who uses Dizzy and others and betrays their trust. Written in Dizzy’s voice, this book is at times funny and sweet and also manages to present a dismal picture of substance abuse and mental illness. While the tone is juvenile and the plot somewhat predictable, the character development is rich and easy-to-relate to. There is a good message in the text: that ‘being real’ is more important that thrills and that love prevails over all. This book is a quick read and would engage youth grades 5 and up. P8 Q8

Santat, Dan. The Guild Geniuses Scholastic Books, New York 2004, ISBN: 0-439-43096-8 np. $16.95 Gr. PK-3
This book is a work of art: the illustrations are fresh and funny, and help to engage and pull the reader through the somewhat plodding story of a pet monkey who has difficulty getting one-on-one time with his master. The plot feels dreamlike, and the wonderfully creative illustrations help maintain this milieu. This would make a great read-aloud or read-alone for the younger set, with a bit of interpretive help on the terms like “guild” and “back to the drawing board”. This is a remarkable first book for the author, I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next! P8Q8

Harris, Monica A. Wake the Dead, illustrated by Susan Estelle Kwas, Walker and Company, New York, 2004, ISBN: 0-8027-8922-6, np. $16.95, Gr. 3-7
This has got to be one of the most creative, funniest kids’ books I’ve read in a long time, chock full of puns metaphors, and allegories. Henry, the protagonist, is “having a loud day”, loud enough to wake the dead. He does, and what follows is a Zombie romp through the town, searching for noisy Henry. On the way, they visit a beautician (‘dyeing’ hair), librarian (who expects ‘dead’ silence), the post office clerk ( who refers them to the ‘dead-letter’ section) and have lots of other deadpan adventures. Kwas’ watercolor and ink illustrations are perfect – not cute, but not grisly, funny but not distracting from the text. It’s obvious that the author and illustrator had fun in collaborating on this book and I hope they do it again and again, what a great duo! The publisher indictes on the end papers that this book is suitable for ages 4 through 8, but I think it has wider appeal. I could see teachers using this book to help teach about similies, metaphors, allegories, etc.; it would be a splendid book to use at Halloween or during the Days of the Dead. P9Q9

Staake, Bob Hello, Robots, Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2004 ISBN: 0-670-05905-6, np. $15.99 Gr.PK- 1
This book would be a wonderful read-aloud to a class of kindergartners or first graders. The illustrations are bright and evocative, and the text is mnemonic and fun. It takes us through a ‘typical’ day with a group of robot friends performing their specialized duties. Uh-oh, it starts to rain and the wet robots short circuit, confusing tasks, for “When it comes to robot brains, nothing’s worse for them than rain.” They start fuddling up their work and decide they need to switch their heads, so they pop them off and trade them. All ends well for the mixed-up group, proving that teamwork and flexibility are key to getting things done right. There’s a lot a teacher/parent could do with this book to inspire children’s creativity: making colorful robot collages, designing robots for specialized functions, or mixing up heads and bodies of different creatures/machines. What fun! P7Q8

Reviewed by K.R., WHS,
Souad, in Collaboration with Marie-Therese Cuny , Burned Alive . Warner Books, New York, 2004. 225 p. $24.00. High School.

Raised in a Muslim household, Souad is taught that women are worth less than the animals they care for. She learns to accept the daily beatings from her father and realizes, when she sees her own mother suffocate a baby girl, that there is no comfort for her anywhere. Local custom requires young girls to be virgins at the time of their wedding. When her family learns that Souad is pregnant, she realizes that she must be punished for them to save facein their community. While the cover of Burned Alive is melodramatic, the story itself is an eye-opiniong look at another culture. I don’t believe that the author(s) play the story for its shock value. There is a worthwhile memoir here about a real life that was nearly destroyed because of heartless ancient traditions and cruel family members. Souad (a pseudonym) repeats herself and glosses over
some of the details of her rescue and healing in order to avoid being discovered by her family who would certainly finish the job. However, the harsh world she describes is balanced by the kindness of a rescuer and the families (including her own children) that come to her aid.

Paver, Michelle. Wolf Brother; HarperCollins Publishers 2004. pp.295.
Torak has been raised by his father in the forest far from the other clams, yet close to the wolves. When a monstrous bear, created by bitter clan magicians kills Torak’s father, Torak is given the challenge to destroy the evil they created. During his challenges Torak acquires two traveling companions, a wolf cub, and a mage-in training Renn; he also confronts serious enemies who want to keep him from his goal. Overall, I liked this book for middle-school and high-interest low-vocabulary high school students. It is the first of what the author hopes will be a series of novels tracing the story of her young hero. I had two frustrations with the presentation of the story. First, occasionally the first-person narrative becomes “first-wolf narrative”. These interfere with the fluency of the story and cause strange word combinations like the “Bright Soft Cold” referring to ice/snow and “Bright Beast That Beast-Hot” for fire. The change in perspective does not come at logical or helpful places though students are not likely to be bothered by them. Second, only by keeping the action moving, is Paver able to keep from revealing much about Torak’s history until the last few chapters. Older students who have difficulty caring about Torak may not realize this is the reason. If I still taught Middle School, I might buy this book; I’m glad it is free so I don’t really have to decide.

Westerfield, Scott. Midnighters: The Secret Hour , HarperCollins Publishers, pp. 297.
I am always on the lookout for good “read alouds” for my high school students. This one has moved to the top of my list. Five high school students–misfits–become involved in a life-or-death struggle when Jessica moves to an unusual town where every change is noticed; this causes the other creatures who share their secret midnight hour attempt to destroy Jessica. Each of these students was born at 12:00 so every night, they are able to live in a blue-light hour’s time where slithers, darklings, and other creatures are the only other ones with the power to move about. Unlike the other four, Jessica really wants to be ordinary, but the fears of the night creatures won’t allow her to ignore her power, but she cannot use it without the help of these other friends. This is an absolute BUY on my list. My only frustration with this book is that it is only the first in a series and I am worried that I won’t be able to find the rest of them. A very WOW book.

Newman, Leslea. Jailbait; RandomHouse.2005 , pp.239. 
Jailbait is one of those “could be true” stories that many high school girls enjoy reading. Andi, a high school girl who feels alienated from her family and former friends, becomes involved sexually with Frank, a thirty-some year old who is a former convict. He’s the one that names her “jailbait” a term used in prison for girls younger than seventeen (Andi is 15) who get sexually involved men sent to jail. While it is true that Frank gives her the attention that she has been seeking, the easy way that Andi is manipulated into the relationship and her simple toleration of his emotionally abusive behavior reveals that Andi is a very immature main character. In fact, all the while I was reading the novel, I was predicting even worse experiences in Andi’s future than the ones that occur. Sure, I would leave it on my high school shelf, but I won’t encourage any of my students to read it. Those that find it will be pleased to discover that they are better decision-makers than Andi and relieved that things don’t turn out any worse for her than they do; at least the ending shows Andi has learned her lesson.

Harrar, George. Not As Crazy As I Seem, Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston. 2003. pp.202.
Devon Brown, the protagonist in this story about living with Obsessive-Compuslive Disorder, the the only character in the book who is not a stereotype. Mother is the kind, understanding lawyer. Dad is the overly crabby disciplinarian. Tanya is the understanding girlfriend who happens to be African-American. Ben is the other “friend” who uses Devon to get away with a racist crime. In spite of the flat characters, the book is still interesting and one that many secondary school students would enjoy because of their own feelings of alienation from the world they are supposed to participate in. Not as Crazy… is an easy read and Devon stands out as a sympathetic character; one that readers can relate to. In spite of its flaws, this book is a keeper.

Grahn, Geoffrey, What’s Going on in There? Orchard Books, New York; 2005.
This guessing book has very bright and colorful pictures. The “story” brings the reader to Grahnville, U.S.A. where the windows are open in all the houses and it is up to the reader to decide what is going on inside the building. Each building is labeled and the people are in shadow. Unfortunately, the “real” activities are corny or things that would not make sense to kids. For example, in the Gushing Spring Elementary windows, students look like they are studying, but turn the page, and they are actually in swimming/boating classes on two separate floors. This problem with the book is a major disappointment because the lettering and questions are large enough an entire classroom could see them and the pages feel “clean”–not too much information or too little. I might consider using the book at the high school level to talk about predicting, but I can’t see this book in a younger than 3rd grade room.

Swados, Elizabeth, The Animal Rescue Store; Arthur A. Levine Gooks, Scholastic, 2005. $16.95 (too much). 
In this picture book, both the author and the artist have simply tried to include too many–too many colors, too many unusual animals (for an elementary classroom), too many words. The Table of Contents lists about 18 different animals, ranging from “Ferretchoo!” to a Lobster. The “poetry” in which the book is written is mostly free verse in a difficult font and has gone overboard on the alliteration, assonance evidently because there is so little rhyme. While the theme is a good one, “Tomorrow you’ll be free…Goodnight my Vagabond Zoo. I will find a home for every single one of you.” only the onomotapia really saves the story from being maudlin and overwhelming at the same time.

Lewis Paeony, No More Cookies! The Chicken House, Scholastic Inc., New York; 2005. 
Although I felt that the ending wasn’t all that great, and the pictures were only okay, the story is cute and even has recipes at the end of it. Perhaps a Grandma entertaining a grandchild over a weekend would enjoy this book more than I did. The story concerns Florence and her stuffed money, Arnold, who are trying to decide which are Florence’s favorite cookie flavors. When Mom stops the “fun” Florence and friend try several different approaches to get Mom to change her mind and allow them to finish off the cookie packages in the cupboard. Some of the strategies are clever, but Mom is constantly portrayed as the “bad guy” and is shown doing all kinds of things except paying attention to the little girl. Finally, when Mom gets involved, the three of them make a big mess in the kitchen creating “Magic Monkey Bananas” (covered with chocolate, sprinkles and frozen). Now everyone is happy. I may be taking this too far, but I can’t help thinking that this kind of manipulative behavior and Mom’s lack of engagement with her daughter are two of the reasons for the obesity epidemic in America; I don’t want to contribute to it.

Zane, Alexander, The Wheels on the Race Car, Orchard Books, New York; 2005. 
Remember, “The Wheels on the Bus Go Round and Round”? Here we have the “Wildlife 500,” an Indianapolis 500 Race where the driver in the race car yells, “Go-Go-Go,” all around the track. While the “music” is not included, the song is so well-known, that this version, with the brightly colored cars, expressive animals driving, and the excitement of dust clouds make the book fun to sing along with. One other note, the illustrator, James Warhola, has included several surprises in the pictures: a laughing fish flies out of the raven’s back seat, and mechanics include snakes, sloths, boars, bison, and camels. While I might not purchase it for myself, I have a 4-year old grandson who would be delighted with this easy to read cacophony.

Watson, Richard Jesse, The Magic Rabbit, The Blue Sky Press, New York. 2005.
Of the several picture books I’ve reviewed, this one is THE KEEPER. It is the story of a rabbit who hops out of a magician’s top hat and discovers he can do tricks with the hat. He found scarves, balls, cards, and even a small car in the hat. But even magicians get lonesome. When he tries to conjure a friend from the same hat, he meets with disappointment until he discovers another hat inside the first; inside this hat is another rabbit. Together they share some more adventures until they return to the first hat together. The pictures are beautiful! The text is simple, easy to read, large and contrasts with the background–no more than 10 words on a page. The predictable pattern is easy to follow. There are also child-sized vivid verbs. Finally, it has a happy and fun ending.

Shannon, David, Alice the Fairy, The Blue Sky Press, New York. 2005.
The last thing a publisher wants to do is to give an English teacher one of her “pet peeves” on the first page, but Blue Sky Press has done that very thing by spelling “a lot” as one word. Frankly, that one error influenced my perception of what is otherwise a delightful book. Alice isn’t really a fairy, but, as an obviously 4-year-old girl with a busy imagination, she makes all kinds of magic happen in her house. For example, cookies actually disappear, and autumn leaves fall from trees when Alice has her magic wand in hand. Alice finally recognizes that she is a “temporary” fairy when she is asked to clean her room and discovers that only permanent fairies can use magic for that trick. The lettering seems to be hand done, and although it is large enough on each page, it also appears that someone spilled water on some of the words making it more difficult than necessary to read. Parents are shown only in part–no faces–and this clever approach adds to the possibility that Alice may have changed them after all. A keeper, especially for little girls named Alice.

Church, Caroline Jayne; One Smart Goose, Orchard Books, New York. 2003. 
This take off from the Ugly Duckling involves an ugly goose who, because he is always dirty, is never chased by the fox when the moon is full. Eventually, he helps the other geese avoid the fox, even though they have teased him. But it isn’t until he outsmarts the fox that the other geese accept him. The story is very, very simple; so are the drawings. I don’t believe that this cute book will get many rereads because there just isn’t enough to keep children’s attention.

Cartwright, Reg, What We Do; Henry Holy and Company, New York, 2004.
From “We are worms and we wiggle,” to “We are children and we play,” Cartwright has created a small book that would be a fun finger-play illustration for preschool and early grades. The illustrations are almost coloring book style while the text is similar to comic sans–easy for a teacher to read while looking from the top down so children can see the pictures. Nothing especially magical about it, but books like this have always had a place for new readers and pre-readers. One more thing, Cartwright carefully chose her animals to be the kinds that interest children, some unusual (hippopotamus, giraffe), others common (dog, squirrel)–unlike some books where the animals are so exotic the children cannot relate to the story.

Howard, Arthur; The Hubub Above; Harcourt, Inc., San Diego. 2005.
Sydney lives fifty-two floors up a skyscraper, Ivory Towers, in New York. She’s very happy there until elephants move in above her. Their talking and parties keep her awake and unhappy with the noise. However, she discovers that they are generous enough to invite her to a party and try very hard from then on to be more quiet. Cute story perhaps for children who life in a big city, but I’m not sure high school students could relate to it. The text is probably Times New Roman. The illustrations could have been done by anybody who can do better than stick figures and the heavy black lines around each object made the pictures and the theme as heavy as the elephants upstairs. Don’t bother buying this one.

Parker, Kim, Counting in the Garden. Orchard Books, New York. 2005.
One of life’s delightful ironies is having this book published by Orchard Books; the only thing better would have been Sunset Publishers! The colorful flowers are the brightest I’ve seen in a long time and they disguise the creature the child is supposed to find. The two turtles’ shells are covered by paisley and flowers so it takes a moment to find their outlines. The font is similar to Bookman, only a few words per page. The author uses unusual verbs for the critters: they meet, rollick, dart, tiptoe, etc. through the garden. It is not likely that little boys will gravitate toward this book, but little girls and grandmothers will find it sweet and happy.

Tafuri, Nancy, Goodnight, My Duckling (Companion to Have you seen my Duckling?). Scholastic Press, New York. 2005.
What mother doesn’t have a (literal) pet name for her child and then used that name to call that child to bed? This is definitely a bedtime story. The last of the little ducklings is following mama duck to the nest but is distracted by birds, a beaver, the frog, etc. until he finds himself in the middle of the swamp alone. Sad, but not frightened, the little duck is helped home by a friendly turtle. The illustrations are lovely. The author/illustrator pays enough detail to the swamp animals that the reader can see the near-realistic feathers, and beaks. It is a comforting book and well-worth the price and a place on a child’s shelf.

Bujor, Flavia; The Prophecy of the Stones, Miramax Books: New York. 2004. pp. 385. Grades 7-9 (or so).
With fantasy stories being so much in vogue, it is especially exciting to read a fantasy book written by a 15 year-old girl. I have students who are excellent writers who aspire to “authordom” and this is evidence that there is a place for them in the real world. The novel is not PERFECT! There are some serious plot holes and the three girls whose prophecied duty it is to save the kingdom manage to survive accidents, evil wizards and even death without serious harm. Born to parents who died shortly after giving them up to be raised by others, the three girls, Amber, Opal, and Jade are armed with only three stones, their courage, and fate–not much in a setting full of evil characters. However, the plot is marvelously complex (though not difficult to follow) and the author obviously cares enough about her characters to allow them to grow. The themes of sacrifice and change aren’t didactic, but well-presented. Finally, I especially loved the talisman that the Nameless One carries with him–a small box into which was captured his parents love and which later gives him courage when he most needs it. A mixed review, but overall, a worthwhile read.

Reviewed by L.R., TOMS
Collier, James Lincoln. The Empty Mirror. Bloomsbury 2004. ISBN 1-58234-949-5 $16.95. GR. 5-8, P8, Q7.

Thirteen–year-old Nick Hodges is raised by his uncle after his parents died in the flu epidemic in 1918. One day Nick wakes up feeling as though he has lost something and later notices that he doesn’t have a reflection. When neighbors start accusing Nick of being disrespectful, breaking church windows, setting fire to the school, and untying
boats, the town gets fed up and decides actions need to be taken to keep the town safe. Nick turns up a clue from the local cemetery that leads him on search for a boy who died during the flu epidemic who is exact age. This is a great story for the reader who enjoys the supernatural.

Coleman, Michael. On the Run. Dutton 2004. ISBN 0-525-47318-1 $15.99. GR 7+. P8,Q7.
Fifteen-year-old Luke is a thief. His specialty is picking locks and he’s good. One day in the middle of stealing a pair of running shoes out of a car, Luke is interrupted by two violent, criminals. Pushing Luke aside they jump into the car and speed off, just barely missing Jodi, a blind girl in the road who Luke pushes to safety. When Luke is caught and turned in by the car’s owner, he faces being sent away to a detention center. Luke is given another chance if he will agree to train to be Jodi’s guide in the London Marathon.
Wilkins, Rose. So Super Starry. Dial Books 2004. ISBN 0-8037-3049-7 $16.99. GR 7+ (I chose not rate this book)
Octavia Clairbrook-Cleeve attends a private high school in London that caters to the children of the rich and famous where everyone has names like India, Asia, and Twinkle. Clothes, makeup, the right parties and connections are all important to everyone, but Octavia until she meets Alex, “The Hotty” from the “A” list. Octavia finds herself questioning her ideals and trying to figure out how to stay true to herself. I did not particularly like or enjoy reading this book. The late nights partying, superficial attitudes, and classifying people was just too much……………for me.

Getz, David. Life on Mars. Henry Holt and Company Revised edition 2004. First published as a Redfeather Book 1997. ISBN 0-8050-7729-4 $14.95. GR. 3-6, P6, Q7.
In this updated version Getz summarizes what we know about Mar’s history and what others have thought through history. Black and white illustrations, photos, and drawings as well as a bibliography and index will give the reader an insight to what Mars is like.

O’Conner, Jane. If the Walls Could Talk:Family life at the White House. Illustated by Gary Hovland. Simon & Schuster 2004. ISBN 0-689-86863-4 $16.95. GR.3-6, P6,Q7. 
This is a fun book for reader s to pick up and learn some interesting facts about our President’s life while living in the White House. The illustrations are in the style of political cartoons in ink and watercolor.

Clements, Andrew. The Last Holiday Concert. Simon & Schuster 2004. ISBN 0-689-84516-2 $15.95. GR. 4-6, P6,Q6.
This is another book for fans of Clements who enjoy reading about common school events through the eyes and actions of a sixth grader. Hart Evans is in the 6th grade and dislikes chorus because he thinks it’s boring. One day he decides to shoot a couple rubber bands at his teacher and the story begins.

Wallace, Rich. Wining Season: Technical Foul. Penguin Group 2004. ISBN 0-670-05941-2 $14.99. GR. 4-6, P6,Q5.
Jared is a good basketball player and knows it, but when his teammates start snubbing him he has a hard time understanding why. When he loses his temper on the court and is thrown out of the game he learns that something needs to change. Jared learns that being a team player leads to being an all-round winner. Middle school sports enthusiasts will pick this book and read it not so much because it’s a good book, but for subject area.

Wallace, Rich. Winning Season: The Roar of the Crowd. Penguin Group 2004. ISBN 0-670-05940-4 $14.99. GR. 4-6, P6,Q5.
This is another book for those who will read almost anything relating to sports. Manny is a sixth grader who is determined to play although he weighs under 90 pounds. Being the small guy on the team prevents him from seeing much time on the field and when he does finally get into the game he makes some critical mistakes that cost his tam the game. Manny refuses to give up and in the end, hears the roar of the crowd!

Nathan, Amy. Count on Us: American Women in the Military. National Geographic Society 2004. ISBN 0-7922-6330-8 $21.95. GR. 6+, P7,Q7.
This book gives an up-close look at American women’s service in the military from 1775 to present day. Black and white drawings and pictures with informative captions and many featured military women with personal details of their service. A complete resource section and index make information easy to locate.

Klise, Kate. Deliver us From Normal. Scholastic 2005. ISBN 0-439-52322-2. $16.95. GR.5+. P7, Q8.
In this first solo written novel by Kate Klise the reader will find them selves laughing out loud, and most certainly smiling. This is a story about a wonderful family challenged by worldly influences and a desire to find normalcy. Throughout this well written story family is celebrated and reinforced.

Holt, Kimberly Willis. Keeper of the Night. Henery Holt and Company 2003. ISBN 0-8050-6361-7. $16.95. GR. 7+. P7, Q9.
Thirteen-year-old Isabel and her family live on the island of Guam and are trying to make sense and deal with their mother’s recent suicide. Being the oldest, Isabel feels a responsibility to keep the family together and find solutions for her father sleeping on the floor where his wife died, her brother cutting himself, and her little sister wetting the bed, all starting after her mother’s death. While this is a painful book, it is written in an almost poetic, free flowing manner that keeps the reader engaged and wanting to read on. A glimpse at life on the island of Guam and some modern day tradition adds to the books overall quality. I really liked this book.

Brooks, Kevin. Candy. The Chicken House/Scholastic 2005. ISBN 0-439-68327-0. $16.95. GR. 8-12. P8, Q7.
Fifteen-year-old Joe meets Candy and his life is turned upside down. When he learns of her difficult life he vows to rescue her even though he must lie to his father, jeopardize his future as a singer/songwriter, put his family in danger, and risk his life.
Quick paced with mature themes: peer pressure, teenage homeless, prostitution, drugs, and drug addiction. I think students will read this book and like it, but also question some of it’s believability.
Reviews by N.W.

Stamaty, Mark Alan. Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq. Knopf, 2004. $12.95. 0-375-83217-3. Unp. 6-10: 
The dramatic account of Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian of the Central Library in Basra, Iraq, who saved over 30,000 books before the library was burned, is the topic of two books for children published within the past few months. This one is told in black and white graphic-novel panels by a renowned cartoonist whose work appears in such publications as New Yorker, GQ, Newsweek, New York Times Book Review, and the online magazine Slate. The events are more detailed and more emotional in this book as Stamaty depicts Alia pleading with the government to help her save the irreplaceable treasures (they don’t) and then enlisting the help of neighboring shopkeepers and passersby after rescuing many of them by herself. Drawings and text are simple and clear yet project the pain and terror of the people subjected to the war created by the United States in 2003. P8Q8

Winter, Jeanette. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq. Harcourt, 2005. $16.00. 0-15-205445-8. Unp. Ages 4-7: 
Color acrylic and pen highlight the tale of Chief Librarian Alia Muhammad Baker, Basra’s (Iraq) Central Library, as revealed by New York Times reporter Shaila K. Dewan who told of Alia’s part in saving over 70% of the library holdings before the library was burned. A simpler story than Alia’s Mission, Winter’s telling but sometimes more poetic (“At last, the beast of war moves on”) this includes the danger to the restaurant owner who stored the books for a few days. Yet it seems to lack the impact on Alia and all the people who supported her, also omitting the information that the books were stored in different houses after the library burns. Both books would be valuable in a library collection, but I would purchase the Stamaty book if I could have only one. P8Q8

Florian, Douglas. Zoo’s Who. Harcourt, 2005. $17.00. 0-15-204639-9. 46p. Ages 5-10: 

This master of whimsical poetry about living creatures has produced another, sure-to-be-another-award-winner, collection of zoological delights from sleepy sloths and turning terns to ugly slugs and hissing snakes. What makes his books spectacular is the artwork “done with watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, ink, tin foil, candy wrappers, shredded papers, stencils, rubber stamps, and much collage on primed brown paper bags.” The two-page spreads show one full-page illustrations and one brief poem (The Manta Ray is only two lines) with open white space leading to easy reading. One joy of Florian’s poetry is his extensive vocabulary; using this with young readers will greatly expand their knowledge as will their search for details in illustrations. Those not familiar with Florian’s work might want to find Insectlopedia and Beast Feast. P9Q9
Castellucci, Cecil. Boy Proof. Candlewick, 2005. $15.99. 0-7636-2333-4. 202p. Ages 13-16:

Books about wealthy immature teenage girls alienated from their peer group can be a pain to read: this one is absolute fun for an adult and yet will be popular with teen readers as well. The elements of the novel–movie-star mother, divorced parents, trouble with schoolwork, new handsome boy at school–tend to appear in many young adult novels, but Castelluci succeeds in blending them with a non-stereotypical protagonist (high-school senior Victoria aka Egg) who wants to be in total self control and not bothered with members of the opposite sex, to be “boy proof.” A nice twist is Egg’s worship of the kick-ass heroine of her favorite SF movie Terminal Earth and her involvement with both the SF club and the high school newspaper. As might be predicted, she gets in trouble with her associates and then finds her way out of it. And one flaw is that the new handsome boy is just a bit too perfect with his environmental concerns and his gentle way with Egg as he dates another girl. The flowing writing style and well-rounded characterizations, however, overcome these problems. Highly readable with a quasi-journal/email first-person format that cuts chapters into smaller pieces, this first novel bodes well for future books from this author. P8Q8

Rinaldi, Ann. Nine Days a Queen: The Short life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey. HarperCollins, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-054924-6. 184p. Ages 12-15: 
Imagine being a queen at the age of 16, something that many young girls might aspire to. Yet Lady Jane’s reign, preceded by years of abuse by her family and fear of others around her, lasted nine days before she was beheaded. Impeccably researched as are all of this author’s books, this novel covers the mid-sixteenth century as Mary and Elizabeth vie for the throne after the death of the teenage English king Edward VI, Lady Jane’s cousin and son of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII. Told in first person, the narrative begins when Jane is nine and goes to live with Katherine Parr, Henry’s last wife. Rinaldi details the political intrigues and religious struggles of the period as well as the major players of these, sometimes so much that readers may get lost in the battles. Yet there is sufficient adventure and detail of Jane’s life to make the story interesting for those who enjoy historical novels. P6Q7

Reviewed by E.B
Bad Dog School , by Barbara M. Joosse, illustrated by Jennifer Plecas. NY: Clarion Books, 2004, 32 pages. $15.00 ISBN 0-618-13331-3

Zippy the dog was always going in the house with muddy feet and made all kinds of mud tracks on the sofa. The owners were planning on taking him to obedience school and finally they did. When Zippy came back, everyone missed the old Zippy so they made up a “bad dog school” so he’d have manners but he’d still be normal like playing outside. The book was good because it was funny. I liked the story. I liked the characters; my favorite was Zippy. The pictures look like normal people. The story has some good ideas for dealing with dogs like wiping their paws. I would tell my friends to read this book.
–review by E.B., 2nd grade, dictated to A.G., Indian Ed. Asst., Newport

Reviewed by B.R. Yaquina View
Rubel, David. Scholastic Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times. Scholastic, c 2005. $19.95 ISBN 0-439-28323-X 244 pg. Table of Contents and Index. Grades 3rd through 12th.

This book written in chronological order is a must for the classroom, which studies not only presidents but also historical events. The explanation on how to use the book helps the older elementary student quickly find information pertaining to their subject. The pictures of the presidents seem to be copies of the original official portraits. The text is written in a manner, which is easily understandable, by 3rd through high school ages. A really marvelous reference book. P4Q9
Kingfisher History Encyclopedia. Houghton Mifflin Co., c2004. $24.95 ISBN 0-7534-5784-9 491 pg. Table of Contents and Index. Grades 3rd through 12th.
This book is formatted in alphabetical order with a ready reference of world rulers dating from
40,000 B.C. to president day, major wars and Internet links. Excellent colorful pictures compliment the well-written text. P4Q9

Kingfisher Children’s Encyclopedia. Houghton Mifflin Co., c2004. $24.95 ISBN 0-7534-5767-9 468 pg. Introduction, How to Use Page, Fact finder and Index 3rd through 8th
Written for younger student reading levels this book contains wonderful pictures. The text passages are relatively short which should hold the children’s attention. A beautifully colored map, a list of: states with basic facts, presidents, international organizations, different bibliographies and highlights of the last 100 years complete this marvelous book. P4Q9

Arnold, Caroline, Pterosaurs Rulers of the Skies in the Dinosaur Age. Ills. By Laurie Caple. Clarion Books, c2004 $16.00 ISBN 0-618-31354-0 40 pg. Table of Contents and Index Grades 1st through 8th
Beautifully illustrated in watercolors the pictures seem to make these giant flying animals come alive in the mind. This book explains how these prehistoric animals were related to dinosaurs and other reptiles. Their varied appearance and lifestyles, their evolution and their extinction are explained in detail. This book will delight the youngest students love of flying dinosaurs as well as quench the thirst of knowledge about them.

Gunzi, Christiane. The Best Book of Endangered and Extinct Animals. $12.95 ISBN 0-7534-5757-1
32 pg. Table of Contents, illustrated glossary and Index Grades 3rd through 5th

Christiane Gunzi has edited and written many children’s books for over 15 years. If her other books are written and illustrated as well as this one, any library would be well advised to purchase all of the. This book focuses on animals that are already extinct as well as those that are currently endangered. Very clear, colorful and well detailed pictures enhance the interesting text in this book. P7Q9

Patrick, Denise Lewis. Jackie Robinson Strong Inside and Out. Harper Collins Publishers, c2005 ISBN 0-06-057601-4 $14.99 44pg. Table of Contents and Time Line Grades 3rd through 5th
A biography about Jackie Robinson, the first African American to ever play on a professional baseball team. This book tells about Mr. Robinson’s strong courage to survive the white’s abuse and anger to continue to play the game he so loved. “Jackie worked hard and proved to the world that it’s your character and talent—not the color of your skin—that really matters.” This book would make a great addition to any library’s biography section. There are many original pictures of his life. P4Q9

Upadhyay, Ritu. John F. Kennedy The Making of a Leader. Harper Collins Publishers, c2005
ISBN 0-06-057603-0 $14.99 Table of Contents and Time Line Grades 3rd through 5th

A biography about John F. Kennedy, the 35th president of the United States, the youngest to be elected. Original pictures of Mr. Kennedy’s life and clear writing make this book easy to read for young readers. This is a must have book for any library whose students study presidents. P4Q9

DeMauro, Lisa. Theodore Roosevelt, The Adventurous President. Harper Collins Publishers, c2005 ISBN 0-06-057606-5 $14.99 Table of contents and Time Line 44 pg. Grades 3rd through 5th
A biography about Theodore Roosevelt, the youngest person to serve as president. Excellent pictures and information of Mr. Roosevelt’s life. This is a must have book for any library whose young students study presidents. P4Q9

Ioris, Nicole. Spiders. Harper Collins Publishers, c2005. ISBN 0-06-057635-9 $14.95 Table of Contents and glossary 48pg. Grades 3rd through 5th
An excellent source of spider information, this book gives wonderful comparisons: “A silk thread can stretch across fifty feet without breaking. That means it could reach all the way across a basketball court!” The pictures grainy background emphasizes the close up shots of the spiders. This very well written book using kid-friendly language will be an excellent source for those children looking for information about spiders. P5Q9

Betz, Adrienne. Sharks! Find out what makes these super fish special. Harper Collins Publishers, c2005. ISBN 0-06-057633-2 $14.99 Table of Contents and glossary 32 pg. Grades 3rd through 5th
This book is written using varied sentence structure and paragraphs, great for the confident reader. The detailed diagrams, fact boxes and interviews with experts gives the young reader excellent information. P5Q9

Krulll, Kathleen, A Woman for President. Ills. By Jane Dyer. Walker & Company, c2004.
ISBN 0-8027-8908-0 unp. Grades 3rd through 5th

Victoria Woodhull was an amazing woman, born into a poverty-ridden family. At the age of 8 she was helping support her family by preaching and singing. She became a millionaire and used her wealth to help her dream of helping women. She eventually runs for President of the United States. This book has fascinating information that many people would not know. Its illustrations portray the elegance of the 1800’s with the women’s sweeping skirts and men’s dress suits. A must have book for the class which is studying women in history. P4Q8

Wallner, Alexandra. Grandma Moses. Holiday House, c2004. ISBN 0-8234-1538-4 $16.95 Grades 1st through 4th
Alexandra Wallner has previously presented the lives and figures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Betsy Ross, Abigail Adams and Beatrix Potter. She again has a well-written and informative book about Grandma Moses. This picture book will take the reader from Anna Mary Robertson’s childhood through her final years until she died on December 13, 1961. Colorful illustrations compliment the text of this book. This book would make a great addition to any classroom, which is studying women and their great accomplishments. P5Q9

Cowley, Joy. Chameleon, Chameleon. Ills. By Nic Bishop. Scholastic, c2005. ISBN 0-439-66653-8
Unp. Grades K-3

This non-fiction picture book is excellent for the youngest readers. The pictures are close, clear and crisp. It seems as if you can reach out and feel the roughness of the chameleon’s skin. Short concise sentences gives the reader information quickly. P7Q9

April 2005 Reviews
Reviewed by DH
ttyl, by Lauren Myracle, Amulet Books, 2004, $15.95, ISBN 0-8109-4821-4, pp209, audience is high school girls, P8/Q8

fezlo: told entirely in instant messages
DGH: this format is intriguing for kids, who BTW, communicate like this all the time
fezlo: OMG! I luved how the kids abb. Evrythng
DGH: the story line held up throughout as we learned about the heartaches, hangovers, and humor of three sophomore girls
fezlo: r u kidding? It was more about friendship, relationships, and the everyday pains of growing up in h.s.
DGH: Whatever…L8TRs
fezlo: ttyl

L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School 
Biography Selections: 
Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker. The President’s Daughter . Delacorte Press, 2004. $15.95. ISBN 0-385-73147-7. 166 p. Gr. 4-8; 
This fictional autobiography is a lively portrayal of Teddy Roosevelt’s youngest daughter, Ethel. Young readers will be amused by the antics of this ‘rough riding’ first family and will empathize with Ethel’s conflicting feelings about being a first daughter. The story opens as T.R. receives a call in the night that McKinley had been shot, and we follow the family in their move to the ‘dark and musty’ White House, Ethel’s enrollment at National Cathedral (boarding) School, and her joyous, tomboy visits home. Bradley’s meticulous researching is well-reflected in the text, but it never becomes bogged down in biographical data. The dialogue is very well done, and characters and setting are rich in detail. It is a thoroughly enjoyable, engaging read for older elementary and younger middle school students and would be a wonderful read-aloud in a classroom studying US Presidents. At the end of the book there a bibliography and an author’s note, replete with photos, on how the book was researched and the basis for her fiction. P6Q9

Dublin, Anne. Bobbie Rosenfeld: The Olympian Who Could Do Everything . Second Story Press, 2004. $11.95. ISBN 1-896764-82-7. 149 p. Gr. 5-9; 
This biography is a work of art: it’s tough to blend this much biographical data, anecdotes, photos, and clippings into a coherent and interesting story. Yet, teacher-librarian-author Dublin has done just that; the book is engaging enough to pull in even reluctant young researchers. Kids who are sports fans will find it particularly interesting and inspirational, as Rosenfeld was an amazing athlete who had a wonderful sense of humor, team work, and fair play. The text is rich in ethnic (Rosenfeld was a Russian Jew) and feminist themes, as well. Book has T of C, timeline, suggestions for further reading, bibliography, and index. P7Q10

Moss, Marissa. Mighty Jackie: The Strike-Out Queen . Illustrated by C.F. Payne. Simon & Schuster, 2004. $16.95. ISBN 0-689-86329-2. Np. Gr. 1-3; 
Covering the amazing achievements of one of the finest pitchers – woman or man – of all times, Jackie Mitchell, this picture-book biography is sure to fly off the shelves and engage even emerging readers, with it’s intense, bright illustrations and cliff-hanging text. The story centers around Jackie’s determination and hard work to become a great pitcher, fighting sexist discrimination and bad press. It’s a tale of what someone can do with their dream, and would be an inspiration to all young people, ballplayers or not. The illustrations perfectly complement the text, and serve to make the story more intense and easy to relate to. This would be a great read-aloud for any classroom or library story time, and might be used to inspire older children to write stories of times they persevered with their dreams. Book has an author’s note that lets kids know what happened to Jackie later on and a brief bibliography in the end papers. P7Q10

Thimmesh, Catherine. Madam President: The Extraordinary, True (and Evolving) Story of Women in Politics. Illustrated by Douglas B. Jones. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004. $17.00. ISBN 0-618-39666-7. 80p. Gr. 3-5; 
This collection of 23 (very) brief sketches of women in politics is like a wading pool of political biography. There’s not a lot of substance here, and the message (that women can succeed in politics) is a bit overdone. That said, the research and organization of this book is impressive; there is a timeline, exhaustive bibliography, and index in the back of the book that would appeal to those who want to dig further. The illustrations are nicely done, but I personally wish the choice of colors had been different; the sepia-outlined watercolor makes the pictures appear more dull than they are. What is nice, though, is that it covers some of the lesser-known women, like Sirimavo Bandaranaike and Nancy Pelosi and it covers women of political achievement through history (back to Abigal Adams). P6Q8

Book Reviews by A.G.
Girl Coming-Of-Age Stories
Fifteen, by Beverly Cleary. NY: Harper Collins, 1956. paperback, 231 pp., $5.99. ISBN 0-06-053300-5. P 5, Q 8

Cleary is best known for her “Ramona” and “Henry Huggins” books, classic favorites for the elementary set. This “classic tale of first love” is tame enough to please a romantically-inclined 8-year-old to a very sheltered 16-year-old. The story involves a 15-year-old girl who gets a crush on the dog food delivery boy (!). The crisis comes when he gets an attack of appendicitis and she has to deliver flowers to him. Best served with a dish of hormones, the action of the book could only be exciting to an adolescent, yet Cleary’s direct style of writing is honest and enjoyable. People interested in social history might find the book elucidating: the 15-year-old of 50 years old may have been motivated by the same hormones but certainly has different everyday experiences. There’s no TV, movies come with a newsreel and a cartoon,
dogs are served unadulterated horsemeat, girls covet cashmere sweaters, a boy’s first car is likely a Model A Ford, and teens have rarely eaten Chinese food.

So Super Starry, by Rose Wilkins. NY: Dial Books, 2004. 230 pp. hardback $16.99. ISBN 0-8037-3049-7. adolescents of all ages P 5/ Q 4
Fast forward almost 50 years, off to England and a rich-and-famous-kids’ school. Another 15-year-old innocent girl falls for her first love. This novel is centered on an exceptionally tall girl, Octavia, who is not particularly beautiful or popular in her school, but is the daughter of a Lord and a TV star. Her schoolmates are all upper class, or at least children of famous people, the sort that would be friends with the Prince of the land. Although the focus of the story is on Octavia’s love interest, most of the novel spends time with her girl friends & enemies. The story’s climax is when her mother tells off her aristocratic grandfather, therefore rejecting social climbing (yeah, it’s pretty tame). It’s a little difficult to believe that she would be so sexually innocent given that all of the parties she attends serve alcohol (apparently the Rich and Famous don’t heed MIP laws). The boys in this novel are a little less restrained than in that of the 1950’s, but apparently never go farther than a “stolen kiss”. The moral struggle for Octavia is whether to pursue Fame as a life goal. That she rejects it is admirable, and has a good message. The book’s style is frothy and wordy with vocabulary no teen I know uses, but then that’s the point: These are not Ordinary People. The author captures beautifully how mean girls can be to each other, capturing catty moments to a T, but the male characters are rather one-dimensional. This is not a bad job for a first novel, but the author has a long way to go to capture the Danielle Steel style.

The Nine Lives of Chloe King: Volume 1, The Fallen, by Celia Thomson. NY: Simon Pulse, 2004. 247 pp. paperback $6.99. ISBN 0-689-86658-5. adolescents of all ages P 9, Q 8
This story of a 15-year-old girl takes place in San Francisco and rates as much as a fantasy novel as a romance. Once again, the heroine is looking for love but has no experience with it. Unlike any other book, the heroine is killed off in the first chapter—but lives anyway (she has “nine lives”). The twist in this story’s self-discovery voyage is finding that Chloe is a sort of Cat Woman with claws, super powers and powerful enemies. The story’s crisis is way beyond any a real teen would encounter—I don’t know anyone who has confused a member of a secret order out to destroy her kind as a boyfriend—but certainly the principle of discovering someone you have a crush on is not what he appears will be familiar. The book is labeled as the first in a series, apparently of 9 stories, but is the only one so far published. I could see some merit in further volumes as several questions are left unanswered but could be amusing to explore. The writer’s style is clean and active and the plotting made me want to finish the book. This should appeal to the modern teen who enjoys fantasy, as well as to those who prefer romance.

Yesterday’s Warrior, by Heather Harrison. Anoka MN: Word Warriors Press, 2004. 256 pp. paperback $15.95. ISBN 0-9746940-0-2 older teens and adults P 9, Q 9
Perhaps because it’s nonfiction, a memoir, this is by far the grittiest of these coming-of-age-realization books. This first-person account of an abuse and incest survivor is in the tradition of “Go Ask Alice” and “Girl Interrupted”. The memoirist is writing 7 years after the incidents in the book, which conclude when she was 17 years old. It’s likely to appeal primarily to the older teenage girl, or to younger teens who have survived abuse, a larger population than most people would like to imagine. Teachers would do well to read it in order to understand what a surprising percentage of their students have faced. I read it in one sitting, drawn both by the mystery of what had brought Heather to such a desperate state of emotional distress, school blow-out, and substance abuse, and of how she would overcome it. The several scenes of sexual attack, while graphic and repulsive, are central to the book’s purpose. The writing is smooth and compelling for a first book. I am recommending it to my 15-year-old daughter who enjoyed “A Child Called It” and its sequels but am probably not recommending it for very sheltered children. [My daughter read it in a day and really enjoyed the book.]

No Laughter Here, by Rita Williams-Garcia. NY: Harper Collins, 2004. 133 pp. hardback $15.99. ISBN 0-688-16247-9 Elementary to adults. P 7, Q 8
Akilah’s friend Victoria went to Nigeria with her family one summer before fifth grade, and when she returned she’d quit laughing, or talking for that matter. After some bad feelings and misunderstandings, Victoria finally tells Akilah about what her mother, grandmother and aunts had done to her by a doctor in Nigeria. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is still practiced, albeit illegally, in some African countries and among some African migrants to America, the operation being done on girls as young as 7 years old. This book, told in first person narrative by an American 9-year-old girl, gives the reader an idea of what it would be like for a girl to undergo the operation or to have a friend undergo it. Although it is a powerful political statement, the book should also be helpful to younger girls who need to know about or deal with having had FGM themselves. The vocabulary is easy enough for a third-grader, although the publisher recommends it for 12 and up. The writing is easy reading, no self-consciousness or artificiality. The author reveals her absence from a classroom for a while; although Akila uses the internet to do research, she claps chalk erasers for her teacher and receives dittos in class—these have been long replaced by dry-erase whiteboards and Xeroxes. Despite these minor inconsistencies, the book will likely appeal to the modern young woman, and just might make her an activist.

The Double Life of Zoe Flynn, by Janet Lee Carey. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004. 233 pp. $16.95. ISBN 0-689-85604-0 “ages 8-12”; 8 through adult P 10/Q 10
Fifth grade Zoe is happy enough in her old house in the redwoods, with a brother, mother and father who get along. Her father, a former rock band manager and current PhD in English, loses his teaching job and bookstore to hard economic times, then loses the house. This story is about what it’s like to be a normal kid but homeless, and the difficulties it presents in school and for their social life. I got thoroughly involved in their story, and rooted for and cried with Zoe’s experiences. The author has clearly “been there, done that”, and it should be read by every school teacher (you never know when you might be laid off after all!) This would also be appropriate reading on through high school, though most logical in a middle school library. Highly recommended.

Action Adventure Books
Eddie and the Gang with No Name: Running with the Reservoir Pups, by Colin Bateman. NY: Delacorte Press/Random House, 2003. 263 pp. $15.95 ISBN 0-385-73244-9 Ages 8 and up P 8/Q 8

Eddie’s mom is abandoned by her husband, and Eddie has to move to the big city (Belfast, Ireland), leaving behind all he holds dear. His mother is a nurse at a hospital, so he begins to hang out there, running across a band of young con-artists and thieves going by the name of the Reservoir Pups. When Eddie overhears a kidnapping plan, he tries to warn people and ends up in worse and worse trouble when no one will listen to him. The story is wildly improbably—from kidnapping 12 babies to a rescue by helpful mutant children—but is fun. The lesson about gangs is good, no matter if they are a bunch of poor kids or a den of corporate monsters. The plot is a bit weak in tying loose ends, but reads well enough and will be especially enjoyed by boys hard to hook on reading.

Phantom Stallion: Gift Horse, by Terri Farley. NY: Avon/Harper Collins, 2003. 254 pp. $4.99 (paperback) ISBN 0-06-056157-2 Ages 10 and up P 6/Q 6
This is one in a long list of sequels, and reads like it: a bit formulaic. Teen hero Samantha has a special couple of horses who apparently have captured her heart, including the Phantom Stallion that leads a herd of wild horses. This story centers on mustangs descended from draft horses, and on the fate of mustangs sold at auction. The story is action-filled and informational, but lacks the kind of loyalty and perceptiveness of Walter Farley’s famous horse books. Still, for someone hooked on horse books it will please.

Fire in the Hole, by Mary Cronk Farrell. NY: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. 170 pp. $15 ISBN 0-618-44634-6 ages 8-13 P 8/Q 8
This is the story of a preteen boy in a Coeur d’Alene (Idaho) mining town in 1899. The story depicts the miners’ families’ difficult life and explores personal challenges such as physical abuse and difficult childbirth and lack of medical care. it’s primary strength is in explaining the labor movement, its causes and the way the government dealt with it. Highly readable and with lots of action, both boys and girls should enjoy it and learn some history along the way. A 3-page afterward recounts the real history of these particular labor troubles.

Early Chapter Books
Stink, the Incredible Shrinking Kid, by Megan McDonald, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2005. 103 pp. hardback $12.99. ISBN 0-7636-2025-4 2nd through 5th graders P 9, Q 9

A series about Judy Moony has apparently included her younger brother, nicknamed Stink. This book focuses just on him, the shortest second-grader in his
class. Stink tries to come to terms with his height, and in the process illustrates a scientific observation project, the principle of Impermanence, sibling rivalries, and some facts of history. Rather than following him until he finally grows taller, the book leaves him with a healthy attitude of acceptance. The vocabulary and print size will make this a good first chapter book, especially for hard-to-interest kids. The text is broken up by several comic-book-style illustrations that are funny, and the story itself is amusing. I thoroughly liked this book, and will enjoy reading it with young readers.

The Report Card, by Andrew Clements. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 173 pp. hardback $15.95 ISBN 0-689-84515-4 Elementary (ages 8-12 according to publisher), but enjoyable at any age. P 8, Q 9
Nora is bright—she’s actually a genius—but she hides it so that people will like her and treat her like any other kid, from kindergarten to her current 5th grade. This chapter book tackles some important school-related issues, from gifted kids’ programs to pushy parents to the importance (or unimportance) of grades and test scores. Nora tries several strategies, but finally realizes how to put her intelligence to good use. This book might work as a read-aloud book (though it would take some time) in an upper elementary or even middle school class, bringing up the subjects of peer pressure and dealing with grades and tests. It would be particularly effective as a discussion starter for AGP students as young as 2nd grade. The writing is clear and simple, with a minimum of new vocabulary, and the print is a good mid-size. I liked the book, and it was not just because, pressed between pp. 110 and 111 I found a wonderful, pressed, four-leaf clover! I guess we all need to believe in a little bit of magic.

Baby Babka, the Gorgeous Genius, by Jane Breskin Zalben, illustrated by Victoria Chess. NY: Clarion Books, 2004. 38 pp. $15.00 ISBN 0-618-23489-6 Ages 7-10 P 8/Q 8
This very short chapter book is about sibling rivalry, treating it in a light-hearted but convincing way. Oldest child Beryl looks forward to a baby sister named after her favorite sweet, Babka. Instead, her younger brother Sam is delighted to have a new baby brother named Zach. Uncle Morty takes care of the two while mom is in the hospital, and shares stories with them about his older sisters and how they dealt with him. With illustrations at least every other page, an early reader will find this book not intimidating. A minimum of new words (gorgeous genius among them) will help advance their vocabulary. Fun, and helpful in gently overcoming feelings of sibling rivalry.

Picture Books
Where Did That Baby Come From? by Debi Glioni. San Diego: Harcourt Inc., 2004. $16 ISBN 0-15-205373-5 Ages 3-10 P 9/Q 9

This book about sibling rivalry is in rhyming verse and takes its humor from the primitive thinking of a preschooler. by the end of the story, the negative thoughts of the older sibling (of a cat family) turn to loving feelings as the older child begins to see tht he can help the baby to stop crying and begin to laugh. The ¾ grade class I read it to
was appreciative of it, with many laughs out loud, and felt it would be good for all of elementary school students. The pictures are charming. A good read aloud book from preschool through fifth grade, with a minimum of new vocabulary.

This Is the Teacher, by Rhonda Gowler Green, illustrated by Mike Lester. NY: Dutton’s Children’s Books, 2004. $15.99 ISBN: 0-525-47125-1 Grades 2-5. P 9/Q 9
A wonderful read-aloud book, this is a wacky take-off on “The House that Jack Built” rhyme. It’s dedicated to all teachers who have had “one of those days”, ranging from food and ball accidents to escaped ant farms. Students can catch on quickly to join in on the repeating final lines, but one student complained that they ended just as they got to be predictable. The illustrations are crazy and fun.

No, I Want Daddy! by Nadine Brun-Cosme, illustrated by Michel Backes. NY: Clarion Books, 2002. 28 pp. $14.00 ISBN 0-618-38157-0 Ages 2-7 P 7/Q 7
A very simple book about hurt feelings—a young girl whose mother said “no” to everything, and a mother who feels rejected. She demands daddy do everything for a while ( a stage all kids seem to go through), but resolves her feelings with her mother by the end of the story. It’s written in present tense, and the drawings are very simple—appropriate for a young child. Not destined to be a classic perhaps but readable.

Picture Books—Historic Themes
Twenty-one Elephants, by Phil Bildner, illustrated by LeUyen Pham. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2004. 30 pp. $16.95. ISBN 0-689-87011-6 Ages 4-8 P 9, Q 9

When the Brooklyn Bridge was built, it was declared the 8th Wonder of the World and joined for the first time the two large cities of Manhattan and Brooklyn. This story features Hannah, aged about 10, and takes place in 1884. Because the bridge was so large and the first suspension bridge ever built, people were suspicious that it would not be safe, and after an unfortunate stampede of people triggered by someone tripping where a dozen people were killed—a story related in the afterword–most people wouldn’t use the bridge. Hannah has grown up watching it being built, and is inspired to find a way to convince people to use the bridge. The story deals with popular conceptions and how they are influenced, and promotes independent thinking. There’s enough new vocabulary to provide teaching moments, as well as opportunities to discuss engineering and history. Several phrases are repeated so that they become familiar to the reader. The illustrations are quite engaging. A good “read to me” or “read to the class” book.

Johnson, D. B., Henry Works. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2004. 28 pp. hardback $15.00 ISBN 0-618-42003-7 Early elementary. P 7, Q 8
Illustrated with attractive, cubist-style pictures, this story of a bear named Henry is a bit scattered. Henry is claiming to be working, but he’s doing some pretty random things, mostly to help the people he knows. At the end of the story we find out he’s a writer. According to the afterword (which a teacher will have to read to herself first), the story is based on Henry Thoreau at Walden Pond. Knowing that, the book could provide a starting point for discussions on how a writer gets his material, or about non-traditional occupations, but the story is not really engaging. Students won’t read Thoreau until high school, nor appreciate him until then for the most part, so a teacher will have to bring outside effort to making the story work. The writing is aimed at early readers who won’t likely be writing much philosophy, but may learn from this that any everyday activity is grist for the writer’s mill.

Barron, T.A. illustrated by Ted Lewin. High as a Hawk: A Brave Girl’s Historic Climb.
NY: Philomel Books, 2004. $16.99 ISBN 0-399-23704-6 Grades 2-5 P 8, Q 8

In 1905, an 8-year-old girl climbed Longs Peak in Colorado, the youngest to ever reach the peak. Her climbing partner, an older man, was dedicated to making the area a park, and indeed it became the Rocky Mountain National Park, one of the most visited in the country. This is a short story of how she came to do it. In the story, Harriets mother’s dream is to climb the mountain, but she dies. Harriet takes it on as a memorial to her, and pushes on even when the going is tough. Being dedicated to a challenge is one of the lessons of the story.The language is a bit stiff, and vocabulary such as “lass” will challenge a younger elementary reader, but it should work fine when read aloud to them. The illustrations are realistic and do a good job of portraying the beautiful country as well as the difficult trek.

Reviewed by K.R. WHS
MacCullough, Carolyn, Falling Through Darkness, Roaring Brook Press: Connecticut; 2003, 151 pages. High School girls.

This is the “chick flick book” of the year. “Girls” of every age can relate to the protagonist, Ginny, who is suffering under a tremendous sense of isolation following the death of her boyfriend. Ginny was in the car when Aidan deliberately wrecked it and, while working out her angst following this event, falls in love with an older man who is renting from Ginny’s father. MacCullough is a gifted writer who wastes no words and is able to focus the reader’s concern onto each of the characters–no flat/static people here. This novel is a keeper, one every high school library should have two of: one for the girls to read until it’s worn out and another with which to replace it immediately.

Reviewed by D.C.
Lincoln County Library District
Horowitz, Anthony. The Falcon’s Malteser: A Diamond Brothers Mystery. Philomel Books, 1995. $16.99. ISBN 0-399-24153-1. 191 pp. Age: 4th – 6th grades. P – 5, Q -6

Nick Diamond (Nick Simple) relates the story of his brother’s, Tim Diamond (Herbert Simple), first case as a detective. Tim may be the worst detective of all time but his 13 year old brother, Nick, is very bright and pulls them out of many a tight spot. The book starts out with Johnny Naples stumbling into their office, hiring them for 2 days and leaving them with a mysterious box of maltesers. For some reason the book gets a little slow for a few chapters but it does pick up again. The boys have the key for a stash of diamonds but they don’t know it.
Others are sure that they have the key and do everything to get it, including using bombs, kidnapping and feet in concrete. Every dark corner of London is explored. Though the middle of the story was a bit disappointing on the whole this is a good mystery and hopefully the next book in the series is better. This is the first American edition (2004) though it was published in 1995 in England.

Milgrim, David. See Santa Nap. Illustrated. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004. $14.95. ISBN 0-689-85928-7. 29 pp?. Age: Preschool – 1st grade. P – 8, Q – 5
This is a very simple, very early reading book. Santa delivers all of his packages and is ready for a nap. However, he can’t find a place to nap because wherever he goes everyone is playing with their gifts from Santa. This starts out in a kind of “Dick and Jane” style but really seems to be poking a bit of fun at the style. It turns out that the story is amusing and Milgrim’s illustrations really add to the story.

Young, James. Joey and Jet: Book 1 of Their Adventures. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2004. $15.95. ISBN 0-689-86926-6. 29 pp. Age: Toddlers – 1st Grade. P-7, Q-7
Yang’s style of illustrations is not usually a style that I find pleasant but this time it works. The story is simple. Joey throws a ball for his dog, Jet, to fetch. The ball travels to many places before Jet can recover it a bring it back to Joey. You can see Jet’s growing frustration while chasing the ball. Once again, Joey throws the ball. Jet’s face shows his shock and frustration as the story ends with “A dogs work is never done.” Pretty fun book.
Book Reviews by L.F, ToMS
Roberts, Willo Davis. Undercurrents. Atheneum Books 2002. ISBN 0-689-81671-5. $16.00. GR. 5-8. Q7, P 7.

Eight months after the death of fourteen-year-old Nikki’s mother, her father remarries. Nikki has a difficult time adjusting to the idea of having Crystal as a stepmother soon after her mother’s death and an even more difficult time with her strange behavior. When the family travels to the coast to stay in a house that Crystal inherited from a long lost aunt, the real weirdness begins and things get a bit spooky. A student who enjoys mysteries and is willing to stay with the book during the slow parts will find the ending a surprise.

Strasser, Todd. Can’t Get There From Here. Simon & Schuster 2004. ISBN 0-689-84169-8. $15.95. GR. 7+. Q8, P8.
Maybe is homeless and is trying to survive with a group of young teens who call themselves the asphalt gang. Illness, hunger, and cold weather are just a few of the obstacles these kids must battle to survive the streets. When several of the groups members die, Maybe finds herself
questioning the freedom life offers homeless teens on the streets and realizes she must make choices if she wants to survive. Todd Strasser gives us a very readable look at on the streets for homeless teens. While the subject area is mature, Strasser writes in a way that opens eyes and gives the reader enough details to makes inferences according to their maturity, personal experience, and knowledge.

Seely, Debra. The Last of the Roundup Boys. Holiday House Book 2004. ISBN 0-8234-1814-6. $16.95. GR. 7-9. Q8, P8.
After a rough winter Tom is sent to a neighboring ranch to work as a cowhand where he meets Evie, the wealthy ranchers daughter. Tom and Evie share a love for the land, ranching, and each other but must keep those feelings hidden if Tom wants to remain employed. Narrated in interchanging voices the reader is quickly drawn into a wonderful story describing the hardships of the open frontier and the complications that arise from being in love.

Patneaude, David. Thin Wood Walls. Houghton Mifflin 2004. ISBN 0-618-34290-7. $16.00. GR. 5+. Q7, P7.
After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, life as eleven-year-old, Joe Hanada changes. Joe’s father is taken away and his family is sent to an internment camp because they are Japanese. Joe deals with his feeling of isolation and loneliness by writing in a journal his father gives him. This is an okay book about an interesting subject, but It lacked substance. I think the reader may find this book a bit boring and have a difficult time completing it.

Reviews by NW
Chin-Lee, Cynthia. Amelia to Zora: Twenty-Six Women Who Changed the World . Il. Megan Halsey and Sean Addy. Charlesbridge, 2005. $15.95. 1-57091-522-9. 32p. Ages 7-10: 

Brief biographical vignettes, a quotation from the woman, and an illustration (collage sometimes with a photograph of the face) show these “first” women who demonstrated that women can accomplish great things. The first solo flier from Hawaii to California, the first to win 17 straight amateur tournaments, the first doctorate degree in astronomy from Harvard, the first in her family to attend college, the “first lady”–the list goes on and on. The alphabet book uses “first” names, suitable for women who carry a man’s name as the “last” name. Seventy-five percent of the women are American, but the racial/ethnic diversity is excellent. Selected bibliography covers over half the subjects. This inspiring book is a must for all collections because so little is covered for that age group and is excellent for reading aloud because one page (for one person) could be read each day and then discussed. P5Q7

Gonyea, Mark. A Book about Design: Complicated Doesn’t Make It Good. Holt, 2005. $18.95. 0-8050-7575-8. Unp. Ages 5+: 
With bright, primary colors on white, this graphic design artist shows young children (and all other readers) the basics for good design, why making something complicated doesn’t make it good. Humor will keep the readers and listeners wanting to know what’s next while the simple shapes, lines, and colors make even complex concepts easy to understand. Chapters include relationships of objects through size and color, importance of lines, size ratios, contrast, colors, balance, and emphasis. A real joy and unique part of a collection! P8Q10

Janeczko, Paul B., sel. A Kick in the Head: An Everyday Guide to Poetic Forms . Il. Chris Raschka. Candlewick, 2005. $17.99. 0-7636-0662-6. 61p. Ages 8+:

According to Robert Frost, poetry without rules would be like a tennis match without a net. With his humorous, simple explanations, Janesczko makes these rules fun and creative. From tercets to tankas, from opposites to odes, this books gives readers guidance as well as the freedom to explore outside the box. The creators explore 29 poetic forms in both welcoming text and imaginative illustrations. Because of the book’s simplicity, not all the rules for each poetic type are given, but it’s a great start. The whimsy of Raschka’s torn-paper artwork gives an extra dimension to the information, especially with the clever pictorial clues at the top corner of each page on which a new poem is introduced. This book is a must for every language arts teacher as well as library. P7Q9

Picture Books
Bower, Tamara. How the Amazon Queen Fought the Prince of Egypt . Atheneum, 2005. $16.95. 0-689-84434-4. Unp. Ages 5-10: 

Fascinated by Egyptology from the ages of 10, Bower has a great background for narrating and illustrating this book, learning archaeological illustration at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and working on-site at excavations in Egypt. This books is richly illustrated not only with the enhancements to the story of the women warriors fighting Egyptian soldiers but also the drawings of hieroglyphs throughout the book and on the endpapers. The tale of Queen Serpot, ruler of the Land of Women, and her fight against the Egyptian prince Pedikhons, comes from a story first inscribed on a papyrus scroll. In addition to the clear, simple telling of this mythic episode are explanations of the hieroglyphs and symbols Bower uses in the book and a list of further readings. The book is truly a fascinating view of the strength once displayed by women and a satisfying ending of compromise. P7Q9

Crew, Gary. Pig on the Titanic: A True Story! Il. Bruce Whatley. HarperCollins, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-052306-9. Unp. Ages 5-8:
Maxixe, the music box pig, tells his story of the disastrous trip with Miss Edith Rosenbaum, a famous fashion buyer. Representational oil paintings show the places on the Titanic that Maxixe would have seen with his owner before the ship began to sink and chaos reigned. Although Rosenbaum wanted to let others be saved before her, she was thrown into a lifeboat when a sailor thought that the carefully wrapped pig was a baby. And it was the music box that calmed the children on the lifeboat until their rescue. Charming narration enhanced by personal close-ups of many people on the ship make this an excellent introduction to the subject. Nice read-aloud. P7Q8
Hicks, Barbara Jean. Jitterbug Jam: A Monster Tale . Il. Alexis Deacon. Farrar, 2005. $16.00. 0-374-33685-7. Unp. Ages 4-7:
Just as children may fear the monsters that might hide under their beds, so monsters fear the children that are under their own beds. So starts the tale of Bobo who is sure that a boy hides in his bedroom. Bedtime anxiety is shown from the opposite perspective to allay children’s fears: a wonderful two-page, wordless illustration shows the confrontation of boy and Bobo as the young monster faces his fears before the boy explains that he’s hiding from his older brother in a game of Hide ’n’ Seek. The illustrations from Deacon, whose previous book Beegu was a New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of the Year, carry reminders of some of the best illustrators of the last 100 years. Especially poignant is the image of Bobo curled up in his mother’s lap as he tells her about “that boy underneath my bed.” A good gentle read-aloud. P9Q9

McDonald, Megan. Beetle McGrady Eats Bugs! Il. Jane Manning. Greenwillow, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-001355-9. Unp. Ages 4-8: 
Will Beetle McGrady eat a bug when double-dared on the playground? That’s the question answered in McDonald’s whimsical text as the thought first makes her sick and then intrigues her when Chef Suzanne brings gourmet many-legged creatures to Beetle’s second grade class for the culmination of Food Week. The author of the Judy Moody books has created another strong female character, this time a girl with “a taste for adventure” who dreams of being an explorer, a true pioneer, maybe to ANTarctica. Manning’s delightfully funny, colorful illustrations are the perfect match for exploring the world of second grade and insect-eating. Large picture make this great for reading aloud. P10Q8

McNaughton, Colin. Once upon An Ordinary School Days. Il. Satoshi Kitamura. Farrar, 2005. $16.00. 0-374-35634-3. Unp. Ages 5-8:
The ordinary thoughts and actions that greet an ordinary boy upon waking from his bed, dressing, and going to school are matched by the “ordinary” black and white illustrations. But once the “colorful” and extraordinary teacher
comes “bounding into the classroom,” he inspires color in his students, beginning with the ordinary boy who sees elephants because of the music that “grew and swooped and danced and dived once more.” Life will never be ordinary for the boy–and for the readers–who follow the flights of the storytelling and dream extraordinary dreams. Those who read aloud this delightful book might want to preview it to keep a straight face while reading that the boy “had an ordinary pee.“ P9Q9

Willis, Jeanne. Misery Moo. Il. Tony Ross. Holt, 2005. $16.95. 0-8050-7672-7. Unp. Ages 4-8: 
Ever met anyone who found unhappiness in everything? Well, this miserable old cow was like that. Yet the cheerful little lamb was happy about everything–rain, birthdays, the view, winter–until he was convinced by the cow that the world was terrible, miserable, rotten. But Willis, author of I Want to Be a Cowgirl, won’t leave the lamb in despair. Happiness for both the lamb and the cow comes from the realization for the cow that the lamb wants to be a friend–and turns happy. The message comes clothed in humorous illustrations with nice touches such as a wine glass on the cow’s dining table, the miserable cow sitting on Santa Claus’ lap, the penguin with its skateboard, and the multiplying ducks that appear near the end of the book. A great read-aloud that should bring joy to the listeners. P9Q9

Carbone, Elisa. Last Dance on Holladay Street. Knopf, 2005. $15.95. 0-375-82896-6. 196p. Ages 12-15: 

At 13, Eva Wilkins loses her adoptive parents and sets out to find the woman who gave her up at birth. Set in 1878 Denver, this novel about a racially-mixed child covers both the issues of racism and sexism as Eva discovers that her white mother, who makes her living as a prostitute, gave Eva away because the girl’s father was black. Eva’s adventures may be depicted as a bit too easy–an elderly black man rescues her when she arrives in Denver and others save her as she leaves the house of ill repute to find another home–but Eva is a delightful strong character who is not willing to give up as many other women did and finds a way to make money without being in servitude. The narrative shows the strength of early teachings, loyalty to family and friends, and brave survival. The narrative also shows the struggles of women on the frontier and the dangers of the rugged nineteenth-century West. A good read with well-depicted characters. P6Q8

Nye, Naomi Shihab. Going Going . Greenwillow, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-029366-7. 232p. Ages 12-15: 
A refreshing change from the formula books of romance and high-school life, this novel stars a 16-year-old girl who campaigns against franchises in an attempt to save the independent businesses in her beloved San Antonio. Half Mexican and half Lebanese, Florrie begins with involving her family before turning to her friends and then strangers through the media. Romance is not lacking in the book yet this, again, does not follow formula as she discovers the boy she has been dating has another girlfriend. Poet, essayist, and novelist Nye has given teen readers another thought-provoking book with engaging, well-developed characters who care about their environment. P7Q9

Reiche, Dietlof. Trans. John Brownjohn. Freddy to the Rescue . [Book Three: In the Golden Hamster Saga ]. Il. Joe Cepeda. Scholastic, 2005. $16.95. 0-439-53157-8. Ages 8-12: 
Freddy, the civilized golden hamster who can communicate with humans through typing on computers, is back with his wise tomcat friend, Sir William, and the two lower beings of the house (according to Freddy), guinea pigs Enrico and Caruso. This time, the mission is to save a colony of endangered field hamsters. This smooth translation of Freddy’s witty first-person narration showing his flaws and histrionics is sure to tempt both readers of humorous animal fantasy and teachers looking for a fun read-aloud. Also enjoyable are the simple black and white drawings that generously sprinkle the text. Understanding this novel is not dependent on reading the first two books in the series, but readers might want to begin with the first one anyway. P9Q9

Sage, Angie. Magyk. Il. Mark Zug. HarperColllins, 2005. $17.89. 0-06-057732-0. 564p. Ages 10+:
The seventh son of a seventh son is presumed dead and replaced mysteriously by a newborn girl in the wizard family of Silas Heap, his wife, and other six sons. Thus begins the wondrously magical tale of a princess, an evil Extraordinary Wizard, the white and black witches, and other quirky characters on a journey with charms, potions, and spells. Identities are lost and gained Jenna, the princess, runs for her life, befriended not only by her family but the grumpy former Extraordinary Wizard, a boggart, and other creatures of the marsh as well as the dragon boat that comes alive. This is a fantasy with more adventure, characters, and danger than the Harry Potter series yet with none of the sexism in Harry’s world. “Marvelous,” said Clive Barker, and I agree 100 percent. And it’s only Book One–there’s more. P7Q10

Turner, Ann. Maia of Thebes: 1463 B.C. Scholastic, 2005. $10.95. 0-439-45223-5. 169p. Ages 10-14:
The Life and Times series depends on the ability of the author for the quality of the book: fortunately Ann Turner is a good writer. That makes this story about an orphaned girl and her brother in Egypt somewhat realistic and fun to read. Maia’s good fortune when she escapes her cruel aunt and uncle is based on her ability to read, something she learns from her brother who is studying to be a scribe. When she accuses her uncle of stealing grain from the temple, she must escape to Thebes to save her life and yet goes to prison when she returns to testify. Good narration and characterization overcome the somewhat serendipitous adventures. P6Q7

April Book Reviews, C.B. N.M.S.
Bruchac, Joseph, Pocahontas, Silver Whistle, Orlando, Florida, 2003, 173 pgs, $17.00,
ISBN:0-15-216737-4, GR. 5+, P 7, Q7

If you are planning a unit on the colonization of America, this book will a great read aloud for those who are studying this topic. This book while fictional is written with historical accuracy from the time that the colonist left England to the end when John Smith is adopted into the native tribe. Peppered throughout the book are Indian legends which deal with their culture, gods and beliefs.

Cabot, Meg, The mediator twilight, HarperCollins, New York, 2005, 245 pgs, $16.89,
ISBN:0-06-072468-4, GR. 8+, P 7, Q7

The mediator twilight is the sixth boo in this series by Cabot. This book continues the adventures of Suze who sees and talks to ghosts and Paul Slater who also is a mediator with the ghosts. This time they are transported back in time but for different reason: Paul wants to help a ghost, Jesse to not die so that in the future Suze will not fall in love with him. Suze who returns to stop Paul for she does not want Jesse the ghost to disappear from her life. Readers who have followed this series will enjoy this book.

Collins, Pat Lowery, The fattening hut, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2003, 186 pgs,
$15.00, ISBN:0-618-30955-1, GR. 8+, P 8, Q9

A wonderful plot is developed in this story where a society is formed when a slave ship wrecks on an island and all the inhabitants, white slavers, slaves and natives, must work together in order to survive. The young girls in this story are fattened up before marriage and young Helen defies the traditions of the island when she yearns for another way of life. The first three chapters of this book are written in prose and it can be hard to follow at times. Teachers who are looking a story that deals with traditions of other lands or how a society can form will find this book useful.

Hannigan, Katherine, Ida B…and her plans to maximize fun, avoid disaster, and (possibly) save the world, Greenwillow Books, New York, 2004, 246 pgs, $16.89, ISBN:0-06-073025-0, GR. 4+, P8, Q10
Young Ida B goes to school on her first day and asks her teacher when does the fun start and is always met with the reply sit down Ida. Soon Ida
B hates school and dreads having to go. Her mother and father instead decided to home school her and she is delighted to be having fun and learning again. A promise made by her mother to never have to attend public school is broken when she can no longer teach Ida B due to an illness. The character of Ida B that emerges is a angry person who glares through eyes that are slits so that people will leave her alone. Any person who is going to teach should have to read Ida B.

Henkes, Kevin, Olive’s Ocean,Greenwillow Books, New York, 2003, 217 pgs, $15.99,
ISBN:0-06-053543-1, GR. 5+, P 8, Q 8

Olive Barstow a twelve year-old girl has always dreamed of becoming a writer and her father does too. Olive’s problem is that there can be only one writer in a family. Olive and her family go to visit her paternal grandmother, who also encourages Olive to pursue her dream, at Cape Cod for the summer. Her Olive and her parents discover who they are and that it is ok for Olive to be a writer. A great read aloud in health classes where family dynamics and issues can be discussed

Krishnaswami, Uma, Naming Maya, Farrar Strasu Giroux, New York, 2004, 178 pgs Glossary, $16.00, ISBN:0-374-35485-5, GR.5 +, P 8, Q8
Maya who has been raised in the United States must return with her mother to India where they have to sell her grandfather’s home. Here Maya finds who she really is and that her name is Maya, but too that she can also be Preeta, the name her father’s parents wanted to name her. This book offers teachers and students a look into the customs, life styles and religion of the Tami people of India.

Legangis, Peter, Smiler’s bones, Scholastic Press, New York, 2005, 147 pgs, $16.95,
ISBN:0-439-34485-9, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q8

Schools which do a unit on the exploration of the poles by the explorer Robert Peary will find this book a gem, for it tells the story of seven Eskimos that were taken by Peary to Canada to be studied as specimens. Young Minik is the sole survivor of the original seven Eskimo’s and is raised in Canada where he learns to adapt to their culture but is always yearning for his home.

Molloy, Michael, The witch trade, The Chicken House, New York, 2001, 249 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-439-29659-5, GR. 5+, P 8, Q8
This is the first book in series that Molloy plans to write using fantasy and magic in this story where the evil witches are inventing a machine that will give them control over the world. They are stopped by Captain Adam Starlight, Abby Cover and a boy Spike who join forces to battle the evil witches and bring peace to the world. All middle school students who love fantasy will covet this book.

Neale, Jonathan, Himalaya, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004, 153 pgs, $16.00, ISBN: 0-618-41200-X, GR. 5+, P 8, Q8
Climbing one of the mountains of the Himalaya’s has been the dream of Jack and his father. Finally the time has come and the whole family is going to Nepal to climb together and face the challenge of the mountain. Only it is the challenge of being a family and surviving that they must all face instead. This adventure book will delight any reader who is looking for a descriptive book of mountain climbing and the dangers that it can present.

Ryan, Pam Munoz, Becoming Naomi Leon, Scholastic Press, New York, 2004, 246 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0-439-26969-5, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q8
Naomi and her brother live happily with their grandmother at Avocado Acres Trailer Rancho until the day their mother, who had abandon them returns and ruins everything. Soon Grams is battling their mother for custody of Naomi and Owen in the court system. To protect the two, Gram and her neighbors take the children to Mexico where they seek Mr. Leon, their father. Here the children embrace their Mexican roots and find the father who has been sending money for their care to Grams. A great look into the families and traditions of Mexico.

Seabrooke, Brenda, Stonewolf, Holiday House, New York, 2004, 231 pgs, $16.95,
ISBN:0-8234-1848-0, Gr.6+, P 8, Q8

A young boy, Nicholas, is left in a horrible orphanage and remains there until one day he is drugged and taken to the castle. Here he is encouraged to find the secrets hidden in his mind as to his identity and secrets that were in trusted to him. One day he is drugged and his mind is searched for the secrets he knows. A girl, Larka appears one day when he’s older and they escape the castle taking the secret being sought with them. An adventure that is sure to capture the middle school readers attention.

Van Draanen, Wendelin, Sammy Keyes and the psycho kitty queen, Alfred A . Knopf, New York, 2004, 293 pgs, $ 15.95, ISBN:0-375-82349-2, GR. 5+, P 8, Q8
This book presents the further investigating adventures of Sammy Keyes, a young girl who is trying to solve the mystery of the disappearing dead cats that she find in garbage dumpsters. Young readers will again gravitate to this easy to read book.

Wallace, Karen, Wendy, Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, New York, 2003,
307 pgs, $16.95, ISBN: 0-689-86769-7, GR. 7+, P 7, Q7

A Edwardian time piece that features Wendy Darling, before Peter Pan, and her family as they go through financial and marriage problems. This book offers a more mature look at adultery and women’s places in society during this time. Children and adults who enjoyed reading Peter Pan will also enjoy this story.
Yep, Laurence, Tiger’s blood (book two), Harper Collins Publishers, New York, 2005, 226 pgs, $16.89, ISBN:0-06-001017-7, GR. 5+, P 8, Q8,
The second book which Yep has written tells of the further adventures of Mr. Hu, the guardian, his apprentice Tom, who are responsible for caring for and protecting the phoenix. This magical adventure takes the reader below the oceans into the world of the dragons and above again to combat the forces of evil who are vying for possession of the egg.

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell, Hitler Youth: growing up in Hitler’s shadow, Scholastic Nonfiction, 2005, 176 pgs, index, $19.95, ISBN:0-439-35379-3, GR. 7+, P 8, Q10

Featuring twelve young members of Hitler’s Youth Bartoletti tells the story of not Hitler but of the raise of the Hitler Youth program. Some of the members became aware of the freedoms and harm that Hitler’s policies were doing to Germany and fought against them. Others took the policies to heart and embraced the ideals to the point that they turned in their parents for speaking against Hitler in the privacy of their homes. This book will be a great resource for any person or teacher who is studying World War II.

May 2005 Reviews–D.C.
Horowitz, Anthony. Public Enemy Number Two: A Diamond Brothers Mystery. Philomel Books, 1997. $16.99. ISBN 0-399-24153-1. 190 pp. Age: 4th – 6th grades. P – 6, Q – 6

Nick Diamond is becomes Public Enemy Number Two when he is framed for a jewel robbery and ends up sharing a prison cell with Johnny Powers, Public Enemy Number One. This book was better than The Falcon’s Malteser. Any person who likes mysteries or is a fan of Anthony Horowitz will enjoy this book. This is the first American edition (2004) though it was published in 1997 in England.

Morpurgo, Michael. Private Peaceful. Scholastic Press, 2003. $16.95. ISBN 0-439-63648-5, pb 0-439-63652-1 202 pp. Age: Middle School. P – 5, Q – 7
A young man is waiting through the night, trying to stay awake. To stay awake he is thinking about his life and family up to that night. Each chapter is title with the time of day. Unless you read the fly, you don’t immediately know that this is taking place during World War I but find out as the story unfolds. But still, why is he waiting for his death, or is he? This is a very interesting story. It will not have wide appeal but those that do read it will have a good experience and learn a bit of history along the way.

Schwarz, Michelle. The Best Restaurant in the World. Illus. by Roland Harvey. Dutton Children’s Books, 2002 (published in U.S. 2004) $15.99 ISBN 0-525-47149-9 30 pp. Ages: Preschool. P – 6, Q – 5
The concept of a secret restaurant for kids that you might be invited to if you wait patiently on the beach is very appealing. The illustrations are appealing. However, the story is not as much fun as it appears it will be at first. The story would work as a good library story time book.

Stadler, Alexander. Duncan Rumplemeyer’s Bad Birthday. Illus. Simon & Schuster, 2004. $15.95 ISBN 0-689-86732-8 28 pp. Ages: Preschool P – 7, Q – 7
It is hard being a kid. There are so many rules to learn and it is hard to understand why the rules should be followed. Duncan Rumplemeyer is basically a good kid but some days it is hard to follow rules and it is hard to share. Unfortunately this hard day falls on his birthday. He learns why sharing is a good thing. Good illustrations and story. However, parents may appreciate the message more than children.

Book Reviews L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Nonfiction Selections: 

Macnair, Patricia. Bodyscope: Life Cycle – Birth, growth, and development. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $9.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5780-6 40 p. Gr. 3-7. 
This well-organized, nicely-presented volume of Bioscope is sure to engage young and reluctant readers and would be very helpful for classroom work. Topics range from reproduction and birth to inheritance and staying healthy. The graphics and photos make otherwise dry reading come alive, giving it far more appeal and relevance. A glossary and directory of helpful websites is included in the back. A glossy 18″ x 24″ poster on “Why We Look Different” is folded and bound into the book. P7 Q7

Llewellyn, Claire. Great Discoveries & Amazing Adventures . Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $18.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5783-0 80 p. Gr. 4-8. 
Though this book provides more tantalizing tidbits than it truly informs the reader, it’s a great book to have on hand for those browsers who want to go beyond Guiness or Ripley and dive into incredible, but true, factoids. Sections include natural marvels, Earth’s riches, lost wonders, and hoaxes and frauds. There are brief, but scintillating, reports on topics ranging from Otzi the iceman to the Titanic, all well presented with photos and graphics that engage the reader. There is an index in the back, and an inspiring forward by Dr. Robert Ballard in the front. P8 Q8

Philip, Neil. Mythology of the World . Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $24.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5779-2 160 p. Gr. 4-8. 
This book should’ve been great: the topics are interesting, the illustrations and typeset are engaging, but the text and organization are difficult to follow for this age group. That said, it’s still a wonderful reference addition to any library, as the snippets of information given in the book are just right for higher elementary and middle school researchers. The cultural snippets presented are especially fun and might inspire students to do further reading. Teachers that use this text in their classroom would find that constructing a time line might help students organize this somewhat boggling amount of information. In the back of the book there is a very nicely done compendium of Gods and Goddesses not covered in the text, a glossary, and a fairly comprehensive index. P7 Q8

Murrell, Deborah. The Best Book of Ancient Rome . Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $12.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5756-3. 32 p. Gr. 3-6. 
This book is a great first reader on ancient Roman history. The text is very easy to read and the illustrations are rich and engaging. There is a helpful glossary and index in the back of the book. This would make a nice addition to any elementary library but would also be great for lower level readers in middle school. P7 Q7

Gifford, Clive. Spies . Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $11.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5777-6. 64 p. Gr. 4-8.
Wow! What a fun book! This book not only draws kids in just by its title and cover, but it would keep them engaged with the scintillating text, which covers topics from history of spying to codes. The photos and graphics are superb, and text framing throughout the book is thoughtful and organized. There is a very helpful guide to some major espionage websites, a glossary, and a list of abbreviations of organizations (CIA, HVA, et al.) in the back of the book. P9 Q8

Walker, Richard. Microscopic Life. Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $11.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5778-4. 32 p. Gr. 4-8.
This is a wonderful book that will engage EVERYONE with its phenomenal photos of amazing organisms of the micro world. It really gives kids an idea of how these critters look and live and will inspire them to research more; this book is incredible and perspective-altering. It would be a great supplement to biology, health, and even art studies. Helpful website lists are at the end of each chapter and a glossary appears at the end of the book. P9 Q9

Ransford, Sandy. Kingfisher Illustrated Horse & Pony Encyclopedia . . Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2004. $24.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5781-4. 224 p. Gr. 3-8. 
This nicely-presented, well-organized book is a must-have for any elementary or middle school library. You can almost see the horsey kids hanging over it, drooling at the wonderful photos and absorbing the text, and making this a #1 circulation item. Topics range from horse anatomy to breeds to taking part in competitions, and the material is easy-to-understand, but comprehensive. Other helps presented in the book include lists of websites, a glossary, and an index. P9 Q9 QA International.

Scholastic Atlas of Space. Scholastic, New York, 2004. $17.95 ISBN: 0-439-67272-4. 80 p. Gr. 4-8.
This book would fall into the category of “just another space book”, except that it has some features not often seen in one book: handy-dandy tables of planet and star facts, lunar and solar eclipse dates to 2015, thought-provoking sidebars, and a few hands-on activities at the back of the book. The book is remarkably comprehensive in its scope, especially since there is so little text on each page. That may make it more attractive to library browsers, who want lots of pictures but not a lot of facts (though the book hardly is missing any of the important ones.) A glossary and index are also included in the back of the book. P7 Q8

Summer 2005 Reviews
Oregon Central Coast Book Center Previews
Reviews by NW
Stamaty, Mark Alan. Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq. Knopf, 2004. $12.95. 0-375-83217-3. Unp. 6-10: 

The dramatic account of Alia Muhammad Baker, the chief librarian of the Central Library in Basra, Iraq, who saved over 30,000 books before the library was burned, is the topic of two books for children published within the past few months. This one is told in black and white graphic-novel panels by a renowned cartoonist whose work appears in such publications as New Yorker, GQ, Newsweek, New York Times Book Review, and the online magazine Slate. The events are more detailed and more emotional in this book as Stamaty depicts Alia pleading with the government to help her save the irreplaceable treasures (they don’t) and then enlisting the help of neighboring shopkeepers and passersby after rescuing many of them by herself. Drawings and text are simple and clear yet project the pain and terror of the people subjected to the war created by the United States in 2003. P8Q8

Winter, Jeanette. The Librarian of Basra: A True Story from Iraq. Harcourt, 2005. $16.00. 0-15-205445-8. Unp. Ages 4-7:
Color acrylic and pen highlight the tale of Chief Librarian Alia Muhammad Baker, Basra’s (Iraq) Central Library, as revealed by New York Times reporter Shaila K. Dewan who told of Alia’s part in saving over 70% of the library holdings before the library was burned. A simpler story than Alia’s Mission, Winter’s telling but sometimes more poetic (“At last, the beast of war moves on”) this includes the danger to the restaurant owner who stored the books for a few days. Yet it seems to lack the impact on Alia and all the people who supported her, also omitting the information that the books were stored in different houses after the library burns. Both books would be valuable in a library collection, but I would purchase the Stamaty book if I could have only one. P8Q8

Florian, Douglas. Zoo’s Who. Harcourt, 2005. $17.00. 0-15-204639-9. 46p. Ages 5-10: 

This master of whimsical poetry about living creatures has produced another, sure-to-be-another-award-winner, collection of zoological delights from sleepy sloths and turning terns to ugly slugs and hissing snakes. What makes his books spectacular is the artwork “done with watercolor, gouache, colored pencils, ink, tin foil, candy wrappers, shredded papers, stencils, rubber stamps, and much collage on primed brown paper bags.” The two-page spreads show one full-page illustrations and one brief poem (The Manta Ray is only two lines) with open white space leading to easy reading. One joy of Florian’s poetry is his extensive vocabulary; using this with young readers will greatly expand their knowledge as will their search for details in illustrations. Those not familiar with Florian’s work might want to find Insectlopedia and Beast Feast. P9Q9

Castellucci, Cecil. Boy Proof. Candlewick, 2005. $15.99. 0-7636-2333-4. 202p. Ages 13-16: 

Books about wealthy immature teenage girls alienated from their peer group can be a pain to read: this one is absolute fun for an adult and yet will be popular with teen readers as well. The elements of the novel–movie-star mother, divorced parents, trouble with schoolwork, new handsome boy at school–tend to appear in many young adult novels, but Castelluci succeeds in blending them with a non-stereotypical protagonist (high-school senior Victoria aka Egg) who wants to be in total self control and not bothered with members of the opposite sex, to be “boy proof.” A nice twist is Egg’s worship of the kick-ass heroine of her favorite SF movie Terminal Earth and her involvement with both the SF club and the high school newspaper. As might be predicted, she gets in trouble with her associates and then finds her way out of it. And one flaw is that the new handsome boy is just a bit too perfect with his environmental concerns and his gentle way with Egg as he dates another girl. The flowing writing style and well-rounded characterizations, however, overcome these problems. Highly readable with a quasi-journal/email first-person format that cuts chapters into smaller pieces, this first novel bodes well for future books from this author. P8Q8

Rinaldi, Ann. Nine Days a Queen: The Short life and Reign of Lady Jane Grey. HarperCollins, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-054924-6. 184p. Ages 12-15: 
magine being a queen at the age of 16, something that many young girls might aspire to. Yet Lady Jane’s reign, preceded by years of abuse by her family and fear of others around her, lasted nine days before she was beheaded. Impeccably researched as are all of this author’s books, this novel covers the mid-sixteenth century as Mary and Elizabeth vie for the throne after the death of the teenage English king Edward VI, Lady Jane’s cousin and son of Jane Seymour and Henry VIII. Told in first person, the narrative begins when Jane is nine and goes to live with Katherine Parr, Henry’s last wife. Rinaldi details the political intrigues and religious struggles of the period as well as the major players of these, sometimes so much that readers may get lost in the battles. Yet there is sufficient adventure and detail of Jane’s life to make the story interesting for those who enjoy historical novels. P6Q7

Simon, Seymour. Guts: Our Digestive System. HarperCollins, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-054652-2. Unp. Ages 8-12:

From the esophagus to the rectum, this book shows the trail of food through the digestive tract as it is processed by humans. As always with Simon’s books, the text is simple and easy to understand (even by adults), and the striking photographs are full-page and gloriously colored. Readers will come away from this book filled with the wonder of the human body and its marvelous design. A great book for all libraries. P9Q9

Weber, EdNah New Rider. Rattlesnake Mesa: Stories from a Native American Childhood. Photo. Richela Renkun. Lee & Love Books, 2005. $18.95. 1-58430-231-3. 132p. Ages 9+:
In the early 1900s the U.S. Government forced Native American children to attend boarding schools so that they would assimilate the Anglo culture. EdNah was one of these children. At the age of seven, the little Pawnee girl was first taken to live with her father at the Crown Pont school on the Navajo reservation before being sent to Phoenix (AZ) a year later to attend another Indian school. The author tells of her experiences in painfully poignant, simple language accompanied by magnificent full-page black and white photographs. This truly remarkable book should be required reading for everyone so that they can begin to understand the travesty of government policies that abused a culture. P6Q9

Picture Books
Horowitz, Dave. The Ugly Pumpkin. Putnam, 2005. $15.99. 0-399-24267-8. Unp. Ages 4-8: 

The tale of the ugly duckling returns in this story narrated by a funny-looking pumpkin rejected by all who see him–until he figures out he’s a squash and finds out that he fits right in at the Thanksgiving dinner table. The bright fall colors of the cut paper and colored pencils are a feast for the reader’s eyes as is the humor of the pumpkins, skeletons, and gnarled trees that our hero encounters in his search for acceptance. The author uses Thanksgiving because “Thanksgiving quietly reminds us to be grateful–not only for what we have, but for where we’ve been, who we are, and what is to come.” A joy for all year long. P9Q9

Radunsky, V. I Love You Dude: A Long Short Story. Harcourt, 2005. $16.00. 0-15-205176-7. 45p. Ages 8+: 
Black humor rides high in this sorrowful tale with a happy ending by a Russian-born American author. Graffiti is the focus of this story about a lonely drawing (resembling a skinny blue elephant) who is forced to wander because people think he’s funny-looking. Long and short chapters vary in Dude’s adventures through New York (“How lovely it would be to have and to love your mom and dad.”) past a beach (“Could I be another tattoo?”) through a circus (“Are you some kind of clown? Look how skinny you are!”) to his happy ending on a museum wall. Doodles move into chubby cartoon figures into the ending with drawings satirizing Picasso and Matisse. P7Q10

Scieszka, Jon and Land Smith. Seen Art? Des. Molly Leach. Viking, 2005. $16.99. 0-670-05986-2. Unp. Ages 8-12:
A cartoon character’s search for his friend Art leads him to the Museum of Modern Art when he discovers a wide variety of “art,” including Calder, Picasso, Munch, Klee, Lange, Kahlo, Warhohl, and Miro. The humor of the misunderstanding of the work “art” and the extensive illustrations of MoMA make this book delightful and educational. The 48 pieces of “art” are repeated and briefly explained in the back of the book. In addition, the book’s format is short and wide, very easy to handle. P6Q10

Scotton, Rob. Russell the Sheep. HarperCollins, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-059849-2. Unp. Ages 4-8: 
What is a poor sheep to do when he cannot go to sleep? Our hapless hero tries a variety of solutions (including counting all the stars not once, but twice) until he happens upon the idea solution: count sheep. Large and small humorous illustrations, mostly bluish, come from one of Great Britain’s leading illustrators who lives in the countryside surrounded by sheep. A super first book sure to put little listeners to sleep, perhaps after the third or fourth reading. P9Q9

Tharlet, Eve. Nancy, the Little Gosling. Trans. Charise Myngheer. Penguin, 2005. $14.99. 0-698-40008-9. Unp. Ages 4-8: 
Those who cannot accomplish that which is expected will delight in this story about a gosling who doesn’t like to swim. Sweet, gentle drawings follow Nancy, who always has a colorful sock wrapped around her neck, as she fails to do the tasks that her classmates delight in–swimming and flying. But it’s Nancy’s yearning to be a butterfly researcher that leads her to find her own way, surfing on a lily pad. The French author/artist has provided an excellent lesson for those who don’t seem to fit in where others believe they should be through finding alternative methods. P8Q8

Couloumbis, Audrey. The Misadventues of Maude March, or Trouble Rides a Fast Horse. Random House, 2005. $15.95. 0-375-83245-9. 291p. Ages 10-14: 

Danger accompanies the feisty narrator and her sister as these girls disguised as boys experience bank robberies, outlaws with hearts of gold, horse-thieving, shoot-outs, blizzards, and all the other adventures expected in the Old West. Following the death of their stern aunt, orphans Sallie, 11, and Maude, 15, flee
their self-serving adult guardians, launching themselves into laughable times as Maude just wants to be a lady and Sallie wants to live the life found in the dime novels. Sallie’s narration provides a rollicking, edge-of-your-seat story with fast-paced action and memorable characters. Highly recommended for read-alouds! P8Q8

Croggon, Alison. The Naming. [The First Book of Pellinor] Candlewick, 2005. $17.99. 076362639-2. 492p. Ages 14+: 
In a land where children are imprisoned and used as slaves, 16-year-old Maerad learns that she possesses a powerful Gift after she is discovered by a great bard. As usual in fantasy, the heroine must stave off evil Darkness in a world shattered by war. It is the exceptionally superb writing of this award-winning Australian poet that makes this novel special. For those searching for a better book than the Harry Potter series, this will enchant, creating a hunger for the next three volumes in the series. P6Q10

Dunkle, Clare B. By These Ten Bones. Holt, 2005. $16.95. 0-8050-7496-1. 229p. Ages 10-14:
In a small Scottish Highland town, only Maddie can save a mysterious young man, a woodcarver who has gained the affection of the townspeople. The twists in the plot are enjoyable as the author explores the history of werewolves and their cure. A fun, scary read with a hint of romance by a former librarian. P8Q8

Hanley, Victoria. The Light of the Oracle. Random House/David Fickling, 2005. $15.95. 0-385-75-86-2. 312p. Ages 12-16: 
A humble stonecutter’s daughter, 15-year-old Bryn enters the famous Temple of the Oracle, only to find herself a threat because of her abilities to talk to the wind and the sky. The message of Bryn’s experiences is that you must follow your intuition in order to survive the obstacles that you face. Excellent characterization, descriptive setting, and exciting plotting make this coming-of-age book about a young woman a good read. P6Q8

Lindskold, Jane. The Buried Pyramid. TOR, 2005. $26.95. 0-765-30260-8. 399p. Ages 14+:
Part history and part fantasy, this novel follows spunky young Jenny Benet as she accompanies her uncle , a prominent British archaeologist, to Egypt at the turn of the 20th century. Jenny’s rearing in the Wild West before she is orphaned gives her the ability to rescue those she loves. Despite a slow, sometimes confusing beginning, the complex plot and colorful characters bring the reader into the Victorian world with its narrow social mores and restrictive attitudes toward women–attitudes that Jenny overcomes. A compelling read. P6Q7

Lion, Melissa. Upstream. Random House/Wendy Lamb, 2005. $15.95. 0-385-74643-1. 149p. Ages 14+: 
The entire focus of the book is the grieving that a high school girl endures after her boy friend’s death in a hunting accident. It is the type of novel that will appeal to a more introspective reader as Marty agonizes over people’s attitudes toward her and slowly reveals what has actually happened–that the death is her fault. Lion does a good job showing a slice of life in a small Alaskan town, but the readership will be specialized. P5Q8

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Alice on Her Way. Atheneum, 2005. $15.95. 0-689-87090-6. 322p. Ages 12-15:
After 16 books in the Alice series about a girl raised by her father and brother after her mother’s death when Alice was five, the author seems to be tiring of the subject. This one is about a visit to New York City with classmates, getting a driver’s license, and boyfriends. It is a frivolous look at high school life without the energy and individuality that Alice has shown in the past. Those who read the other Alice books will probably want to read this one also. P6Q5

Potter, Ellen. Olivia Kidney and the Exit Academy. Art. Peter H. Reynolds. Philomel, 2005. $15.99. 252p. Ages 9-13: 
Lemony Snickett, move over for Olivia! The craziness in this book will bring howls of laughter as 12-year-old Olivia and her father move into a Manhattan brownstone that has a lagoon in the living room, hosts visiting strangers in the middle of the night, and is mysteriously close to the spirit world. As Olivia navigates in a boat past bobbing furniture and snapping turtles to get to her bedroom, she wonders why they were invited to live here. Again, a great read-aloud. P9Q8

Trottier, Maxine. Sister to the Wolf. Kids Can Press, 2005. $16.95. 1-55337-519-X. 348p. Ages 12-16:
In the early 18th century, Canadians branded Native Americans for their slaves. When teenager Cecile watches the branding of Lesharo, a Pawnee or “People of the Wolf,” she purchases him to set him free. Instead he insists on accompanying her and her father as they make the dangerous journey to the new fort at Detroit. The story that Trottier tells is loosely based on her maternal ancestors, founding families of the fort. She tells of the customs of the time as well as the politics and the intrigue. This historical novel is rather typical of the genre but enjoyable adventure. P6Q7

Wiles, Deborah. Each Little Bird That Sings. Harcourt, 2005. $16.00. 0-15-205113-9. 247p. Ages 9-12: 
Those who remember Love, Ruby Lavender will know that Wiles can crawl into the skin of a young girl and express the frustrations of a ten year old. She does the same with Comfort Snowberger, who is plucky and lost at the same time as she loses her beloved Great-Uncle Edisto. The setting is quirky: Comfort lives with her parents in the town funeral home and helps them with the services. The novel requires lots of tissues for the tears. The biggest problem of the book is the three-page acknowledgment chronicling the author’s personal grieving process. The book should have been allowed to stand on its own rather than rest on the author’s personal problems. P7Q7

Belva Rice September 2005
Bourgeois, Paulette and Jorisch, Stephane. Oma’s Quilt. Kids Can Press, c2001. ISBN 1-55074-77-0, unp Grades 1-5 (Q7 , P5 ) 

An emotionally moving story about a Grandmother from the OLD Country who needs to move into assisted living housing. “Oma” is lonely and daughter and granddaughter make her a quilt out of old items she had kept. This activity brings daughter and granddaughter closer together as they decide what pictures to portray in the quilt. Oma loves the quilt and it helps her settle into her new home and enjoy life again.

Armstrong, Jennifer. Audubon Painter of Birds in the Wild Frontier. Ills. By Jos. A. Smith. Harry N. Abrams, Inc. C2003. ISBN 0-8109-4238-0. unp. Grades 3-6 (Q8, P6)
This biography about John James Audubon, one of America’s best-known frontiersmen will be enjoyed by all who enjoy the outdoors. He roamed the wilderness painting it’s beautiful scenery and wildlife. The writing lets the reader flow through the story with ease. Jos. Smith helps the story come alive with his lifelike illustrations.

Griffin, Kitty and Kathy Combs. The Foot Stomping Adventures of Clementine Sweet. Ills. By Mike Wohnoutka. Clarion Books, c2004. ISBN 0-618-24746-7. Unp. Grades 1-4 (Q5, P7)
Clementine Sweet was born with a smile as sweet as honeysuckle. On her sixth birthday she had been forgotten about because of a family reunion. This turned her into a very angry girl. This book will be a wonderful addition to a library’s tall tale selections. Outrageous happenings will delight and the cartoon illustrations will amuse the reader.

Dealey, Erin. Little Bo Peep Can’t Get to Sleep. Ills. By Hanako Wakiyama. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0-689-84099-3. Unp. Grades K-2 (Q5, P5)
Dealy used Mother Goose rhymes to create a bedtime story for the young. Bo Peep couldn’t find her sheep, so she couldn’t count them to go to sleep. Trying to remember where they were when she last saw them, the story goes to the meadow, the Farmer in the Dell, Jack and Jill, even the Big Bad Wolf. Finally in the end she trusts Mom and Dad and tells them her problem. Of course they help solve it and Bo Peep falls asleep .Old fashioned illustrations help make this story fun while it strives to encourage young children to trust their parents.

Rappaport, Doreen. In The Promised Land. Ills. By Cornelius Van Write and Ying-Hwa Hu. Harper and Collins, c2005. ISBN 0-06-059395-4. 31 pgs. Table of Contents, Research Sources. Grades 3-5 (Q7, P5)
A great resource book for students studying the lives of Jewish Americans. Written in varying sentence lengths should keep all readers interested. Thirteen people are brought to light in this well illustrated book. One incident out of each person’s life shows the individual’s contribution to the world.

Morrison, Gordon. Nature in the Neighborhood. Houghton Mifflin Company, c2004. ISBN 0-618-35215-5. 32 pgs. Grades 3-5 (Q7, P6)
Beautiful illustrations and information reveals the diversity and abundance of life that can be found as close as your backyard. This story journeys through the seasons and life cycles of plants and animal families.

Bustard, Anne. Buddy. Ills. By Kurt Cyrus. Simon & Schuster Book for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0-0689-8667-4. Unp. Grades 3-5 (Q7, P5)
Born Charles Hardin Holley and called Buddy from the first moment, Buddy Holly could accomplish childhood feats, shooting mables, hitting homers. And pelting tin cans with his slingshot. But come sixth grade he met up with a guitar and never let it go. This book would be great for the music teacher who wants her students to explore the beginnings of Rock ‘n’ Roll.

Schwartz, David M. Super Grandpa. Ills. By Bert Dodson. Tortuga Press, c2005. ISBN 1-889910-33-3. Unp. Grades 3-5 (Q7, P6) Includes audio CD.
Based on a true story, David Schwarts brings to life the story of Gustaf Hakasson, sixty-six years old, when he defied the judges by riding his bicycle over 1,000 miles in the Tour of Sweden. That is after first pedaling 600 miles just to get to the starting line. Audiences will enjoy listening to the CD which brings this historic bike ride to life. This story could be used by the PE teacher who wants to inspire students to stay fit and pursue their dreams.

Stevenson, James. No Laughtin, No Smiling, No Giggling. Frances foster Books, c2004 ISBN 0-374-31829-8. Unp. Grades K-2 (Q5, P5) 
A book written solely to make children laugh, yet I am not sure it will do so. The School Library Journal states “Stevenson had practically guaranteed their laughter…” Mr. Freshley Prest Pantz, Jr. is waiting to be presented for his prize. By the time he steps on stage he had felt something crawling inside his shirt and absolutely demolishes his perfectly dressed self.

Lyons, Mary E. Roy Makes a Car. Ills. By Terry Widener. Athenem Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0-689-84640-1. Unp Grades 4-5 (Q6, P6)
Based on a tall tale collected by legendary African-American writer, Zora Neal Hurston, Mary E. Lyon’s souped-up story will delight the car buffs. Roy Tyle just might be the best mechanic in the whole world. He figures if a car is built right there would not be collisions on the roads. Terry Widener helps this story with his bold dynamic illustrations.

Webb, Sophie. Looking for Seabirds Journal from an Alaskan Voyage. HoughtonMifflin Company, c2004. ISBN 0-618-21235-3. Pgs.47 Glossary and Index. (Q7, P6)
Sophie Webb takes us with her on her journey along the Aleutian Island chain, in Alaska. Her paintings show the beauty of the seabirds she is observing. An excellent adventure book for the class which is going to study seabirds.

Winter, Jonah. Roberto Clemente Pride of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ills. By Raul Colon Atheneum Books forYoung Readers, c2005. ISBN 0-689-85643-1. Unp. Grades 3-5 (Q7, P6)
This biography is written in simple short sentences. It outlines Roberto Clemente’s life beginning in Puerto Rico, where he played baseball with tree branches as a bat and a glove he made from the cloth of a coffee-bean sack, through his rise in major league baseball. The story ends when the plane he was taking relief to earthquake victims falls into the ocean.

Christelow, Eileen. Five Little Monkeys play hide-and-seek. Houghton Mifflin Co., c2004. ISBN 0-618-40949-1 pgs.33 Grades K-2 (Q6, P7)
A great or any time story for the young child. This story not only rhymes but also helps a child learn to count. Fun illustrations keep this lively story interesting.

Cushman, Doug. Mystery at the Club Sandwich. Clarion Books, c2004. ISBN 0-618-41969-1 pgs. 32 Grades 2-4 (Q6, P6) 
At the Club Sandwich, Lola Gale has lost her marbles. Really, she has literally lost her marbles, but she know just the person to find them. Nick Trunk a private detective finds the clues and hunts down the marbles. The black and white artwork along with the varying sentence lengths keep this story moving along. A great read-a-loud book for children.

Anderson, Peggy Perry. We Go in a Circle. Houghton Mifflin Co., c2004. ISBN 0-618-44756-3pgs. 31 Grades K-2 (Q6, P8)
An emotional moving story about where racehorses go after accidents that take the out of the racing circuit. Written in simple sentences, this book deals with disabled children and hippo therapy. The benefits are shared by not only the children, but the horses and the adults who run such programs.

St. George, Judith. Take the Lead, George Washington. Ills. By Daniel Powers. Philomel Books, c2005. ISBN 0-399-23887-5 unp. Grades 3-5 (Q7, P7) 
This bibliography of George Washington portrays George as a young boy, from birth till he turned sixteen. Judith St. George goes into some detail about his family as well as George’s desire to become a gentleman farmer. When he was about sixteen he was asked to accompany a survey crew for his neighbor. The trip was a turning point for young george he had proved he was ready for any challenge. Daniel Powers does marvelous art work in illustrating the life of George and his family.

The Kingfisher Children’s Atlas. Kingfisher Publications, c2004. ISBN 0-7534-5774-1 pgs. 80. Table of Contents, Index, World Map. Grades 1-5 (Q8, P5)
While not going into a lot of detail, this atlas does a good job of giving basic facts about the continents of the world. It tells how to use the maps and the symbols and words to mark different types of features. Bright maps with symbols will keep a child looking at this book for hours. A great resource for the student who needs to make a report on continents.

Wilson, Karma and Suzanne Watts. Bear Hugs. Margaret K. McEldberry Books, c2005. ISBN 0-689-85763-2 unp., Grades 1-5 (Q7, P7) 
A book of romantic and ridiculous poems about the antics of animals. This book could be used in a poetry unit, or a fun real-a-loud book.

Zweibel, Alan. Our Tree Named Steve. Ills. By David Catrow. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, c2005 ISBN 0-399-23722-4 unp., Grades K-2 (Q7, P7)
A really wonderful story from the beginning to the end. This book is written in a form of a letter from a father to his children. This family buys a piece of land to build their house. When they arrive to start the process they find a large tree that everyone falls in love with. Throughout out the letter, Dad talks about how each individual enjoys the tree. At the end he must let the children know that a storm took out their favorite tree. “Steve” preformed his last trick and protected all of then to the very end by falling away from all the things the family holds dear. This book is a powerful reminder of the meaning of friendship and the things that can bind a family together.

Alder, David A. Bones and the Cupcake Mystery. Ills. By Barbara Johansen Newman. Penguin Young Readers Group, c2005. ISBN 0-670-05939-0, pgs. 32 Table of Contents Grades 1-3 (Q6, P7)
Easy-to-follow story lines, brief sentences and visual clues in the illustrations makes this a perfect book for the new reader. A “Chapter Book” will make the young beginning reader feel proud about him/her self. A missing cupcake, a spinach noodle cupcake, is the center of this story. Detective Jeffrey Bones is always ready to help solve mysteries and does again in this book.
September 2005
September Book Reviews
From D.C
Bone, Ian. A Dangerous Secret. Illus. by Jobi Murphy. Delacorte Press, 2004. 179 pp. $16.99
ISBN 0-385-73210-4 (trade), 0-385-90240-9 (GLB) Ages: Middle School P – 6, Q – 5

This is the first Fast Forward book but the characters are the same as those in the four Vidz books. Hamish Wadja is a freshman at Capra Video High School. All Hamish wants to do is make videos so this seems like the perfect school for him. Then the mysterious First Director gives him a DVD that takes him into a video. He must solve the problems in the video to solve the real life problems in his school and he must find 4 others who have been chosen to help him. This is a fun story with a good pace. Some of the story is told through bits of video illustrations throughout the book, which will make the book more interesting to readers.

Esbaum, Jill. Stink Soup. Illus. by Roger Roth. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004. 28 pp. $16.00
ISBN 0-374-37252-7 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P – 5, Q – 5

Annabelle and her mischievous brother are going to spend the week with grandmother. Annabelle is suppose to keep her brother out of trouble and, at the same time, assist her grandmother in canning tomatoes. She hates the taste of tomatoes. When a skunk arrives on the scene the obvious thing happens. Yes, the canned tomatoes are needed for bathing in to take off the smell of skunk. The artwork is adequate, as is the story. Not a first purchase.

Malone, Patricia. The Legend of Lady Ilena. Delacorte Press, 2002. 232 pp. $15.95 ISBN
0-385-90030-9 (lib. bdg.), 0-385-72915-4 Ages: Middle School P – 4, Q – 5

A 15 year old girl’s parents have recently died so now she decides to find out where her family is from and why her parents told her nothing but to go to Dun Alyn and find Ryamen. This is sixth century Great Britain and there are many ongoing battles between King Arthur’s knights and invaders. Ilena finds herself defending the city of Dun Alyn. This is a good adventure that is weakened by Ilena’s constant reliance on men to save her. She is suppose to have been trained to be an accomplished warrior but seldom demonstrates this in the story.

McKay, Hilary. There’s a Dragon Downstairs. Illus. by Amanda Harvey. Simon & Schuster,
2003. 29 pp. $16.95 ISBN 0-689-86774-3 (hardcover) Ages: Preschool P – 5,
Q – 4

At first glance this looks like a fun book about scary things in the night. And who can resist a dragon? Well, this time dragons can be resisted. There is nothing scary in this book and even the youngest child will realize that Sophie’s actions will not help. The artwork is lifeless despite the occasional dragon.

Paterson, John and Katherine Paterson. Blueberries for the Queen. Illus. by Susan Jeffers.
HarperCollins, 2004. 31 pp. $13.49 ISBN 0-06-623942-7, 0-06-623943-5 (lib. bdg.)
Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P – 6, Q – 9

William dreams of being a knight and fighting in World War II but when he wakes in the morning he is still too young. During the summer a real queen comes to live. William decides to take her some blueberries despite his older brother telling him that he will never get to see the queen. Much to his surprise he does meet Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands. This story is based on the true story of John Paterson and his meeting with Queen Wilhelmina near Lee, Massachusetts during the summer of 1942. There is a short biographical note at the end. As always, Susan Jeffers illustrations bring the story to life. Recommended.

Rosen, Michael J. Three Feet Small. Illus. by Valeri Gorbachev. Harcourt, 2005. 28 pp.
$16.00 ISBN 0-15-204938-X Ages: Preschool P – 5, Q – 4

A young bear is frustrated because he is small and doesn’t seem to be changing. Then he realizes that he can now do some things that he was not able to do earlier. Yes, he is growing. The characters are cute but it is hard to tell they are bears. The artwork is basically flat. The story is average to boring.

September 2005 Reviews by A.G.
Hitch. by Jeanette Ingold. Harcourt Books, 2005. $17.00 271 pp. ISBN 0-15-204747-6 Ages 10 to adult 9/9

An older teen boy is caught up in the Great Depression in Texas, 1936. After being abandoned by an alcoholic father, he’s dropped out of school and is trying to support his family, though work opportunities are rare. His salvation is a position in the Civilian Conservation Corps in Montana where he learns hard work, teamwork, and leadership skills while helping construct a camp and soil-conservation demonstration project. There’s plenty of drama and action. This will appeal to anyone who’s wondered how our many outdoor CCC and WPA projects were accomplished, as well as to a wider audience, and must reading for kids considering the Job Corps. The large print and easy vocabulary will make it accessible to a variety of reading-skill levels.

Driving Hawk Sneve, Virginia, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Bad River Boys: A meeting of the Lakota Sioux with Lewis and Clark. NY: Holiday House, 2005. $16.95. Ages 6-10, enjoyable at any age. 9/9
This picture book gives the Native side of the meeting of Lewis & Clark’s expedition 150 years ago. The author is Rosebud Sioux, and mixes in some Sioux words (there’s a glossary and pronunciation guide in the back, along with endnotes about the history). The point of view is of some young boys who get rightfully frightened by the ominous tone set in the meeting. It gives a helpful balance to the many White accounts of the expedition and its purpose among the Natives. Some of the vocabulary, e.g. “pirogue”, will have to be explained but will enrich a history lesson. This is a very appropriate book to present on this anniversary.

Once Upon a Cool Motorcycle Dude. Written by Kevin O’Malley, illustrated by Carol Heyer & Scott Goto. Walker Pub. Co., 2005. $16.95. ISBN 0-8027-8947-1 Ages 6-10.

This is a fun, beautifully illustrated “fairy tale”. Two students, a boy and a girl, are assigned to tell their favorite fairy tale. Unable to decide, they make up their own, which illustrates the various sides of fairy tales and male/female differences in interests. It provides an interesting perspective on writing stories, and could be useful not only for its amusement value but to teach the process of storytelling.
Darleen Bailey Beard. Operation Clean Sweep. NY: Farrar Straus Giroux, 2004. $16. 151 pp. ISBN 0-374-38034-1 Grades 3-8 8/8
Based on a true story of Umatilla County, Oregon, in 1916, this tells about a clean sweep of elected city officials by an all-woman, secret set of candidates newly empowered by women’s suffrage. By telling the story through the eyes of a young boy (the mayor’s son) who tries to catch a notorious pickpocket, the author avoids being pedantic. The story moves along with life and some humor. The author includes an afterward about the actual events. This should be useful for 4th grade social studies and its coverage of Oregon history, as well as being just fun reading.

Peter Benchley. Shark life: True stories about sharks and the sea. Random House, 2005. $15.95. 193 pp. with glossary. Illustrated with photos. ISBN 0-385-73109-4 Rating: 9/9
This non-fiction book for young people by the author of “Jaws” is readable by third-grade science students to adult surfers, divers and wannabes. The author tells hair-raising stories about his personal encounters with sharks and other dangerous marine life and intersperses them with lessons about swimming safely in the ocean and ethical views about over-fishing. A short glossary at the end helps with technical but necessary words such as “plankton”, and overall the vocabulary is simple enough for young elementary readers yet compelling for adult readers. He’s a good teller of scary stories. I found myself recounting one of his stories to my teen surfer son. This book should be in the library of every coastal school (and possibly hotel) both for its lessons on water safety as well as nurturing understanding of marine life (although Benchley rarely focuses on the Pacific Northwest), and could be read aloud in sections in primary classrooms to high school marine biology classes.

Betsy Hearne. The canine connection: Stories about dogs and people. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2003. $15.95. 113 pp., ages 10-14. ISBN 0-689-85258-4 9/9
This collection of 12 short stories all include dogs, so will likely interest a variety of young people. They are quick to read, some reading almost as though a young person wrote them, and range from touching to humorous. The first story in particular illustrates the process
of writing a short story in a way that a student could relate to, and the author’s afterward also addresses the various ways of getting inspiration for writing short stories. These could be used as starting point for getting students to write, or as recreational reading for students with limited reading time.
Mary Amato. The word eater. NY: Holiday House, 2000. 151 pp. $6.95 paperback. Ages 8-12. ISBN 0-8234-1940-1 P7/Q6
This chapter book with occasional illustrations features a magical worm that can eat the printed word and so make the object it names disappear. The protagonist is a sixth-grade girl with principles who has to navigate the social difficulties of middle school: dealing with peer pressure, developing compassion for an unpopular kid, and learning what to accept and what to reject. The club name acronmym seemed clumsy, and the worm storyline kind of juvenile, but the fantasy became entertaining enough as it progressed.

Andre Norton. Three hands for Scorpio. NY: Tom Doherty Assoc., 2005. $23.95. 302 pp. ISBN: 0-765-30464-3 Rating: 9/8
The author is one of my youthful favorites, though I hadn’t read anything recently by her. After an initial orienting to the odd prose that indicates her setting of a medieval non-Earth fantasy world, the book moves into Norton’s usual easy and compelling action and dialogue. This story explores ways that even girls living in a medieval, male-dominated society can discover secret inner talents, and work in tandem with men and their specific talents to carry the day against evil and tough times. It is told first-person from the viewpoint of each of identical triplet girls, who are beautiful, high-born, and have powerful ESP talents beginning with mental telepathy between them. After sufficient action to keep you up reading, and a satisfying happy ending, the reader comes away feeling somehow that they, too, might have hidden potential. I’d recommend this to teens interested in “magic-type” games, anyone interested in fantasy books, and girls with low self-image. This is Norton’s last work; she died at the age of 93 around the time of publication. I could wish to be as productive at 90+ years old!

Rosie Greenwood. I wonder why Columbus crossed the ocean and other questions about explorers. Boston: Kingfisher (Houghton Mifflin), 2005. $11.95. 32 pp. Ages 5-8. ISBN 0-7523-5860-8 8/8
Columbus is not really the center of this nonfiction book about world explorers; a number of explorers are mentioned, including some lesser-known ones and some from Arab and Asian areas. Each question is answered in 50 words or less, accompanied by colorful and sometimes amusing illustrations. No attention is given to New World native explorers, although one illustration is of Native Hawaiian navigators (without an indication of who they were), nor is much said about what the explorers found in the New World; you can’t cover everything. This book would be easy to read aloud to younger readers, but words such as “aborigine” and “conquistadore” will be vocabulary that would be most appropriate to third grade and above. This would make a useful nonfiction resource book as an adjunct to a unit on world geography, and is appealing enough for any age.

September Book Reviews 2005 – CB 
Booth, Martin, Doctor illuminates: the alchemist son part I, Little, Brown, & Co., New York, 2003, 173 pgs, $14.99, ISBN:0-316-15576-6, Gr. 5, P 7, Q7,
A young boy, Sebastian, claims that he is the son of the man, an alchemist, who built the 15th century home that Pip and Tim are now living in. How can this be? Pip and Tim are along for the adventure of their life as they fight with Sebastian to thwart the evil, Pierre de LoudEac, Sebastian’s father’s enemy, from destroying the world. This historical magic world of strange animals, shape shifting and violence will draw readers in to a time that is also fraught with the internet and computer games.

Cheaney, J.B., My friend the enemy, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005, 266 pgs, $15.95,
ISBN:0-375-81432-9, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7

My friend the enemy gives middle school readers a chance to see the prejudice that Japanese Americans faced during WWW II. Within the pages of this book 11 year-old Hazel, who lives near Mount Hood, must choose to discriminate or accept Sogoji, a hidden Japanese orphan. This book if read aloud is sure to spark class room discussion about the treatment of the Japanese during WWW II.

Collins, Suzanne, Gregor and the curse of the warmbloods, Scholastic Press, New York, 2005, 360 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0-439-65623-0, Gr.5+, P 8, Q 7,
This third book continues with the adventures of Gregor, who must full feel the prophecy of blood in the sub terrain underworld of New York City. The development of a deadly virus, which attacks the blood of all who in inhabit the under word, brings all the beings together in a race to find a cure. If read aloud this book will stimulate discussions on the development of virus’s as a super weapon to be used in combat. This fast paced adventure will delight the readers of this series.

Conly, Jane, In the night on Lanvale Street, Henry Holt and Co. New York, 2005,
250 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0-8050-7464-3, Gr. 6, P 6, Q 6,

Mr. Healy lives next door to Charlie, 13, and his brother, Jerry seven. One night Mr. Healy is murdered and so starts the adventure to find who his murder is. With the help of Jim a former tenants of Mr. Healy the two boys are drawn deep into the mystery of finding who done it. Middle school students will love this book at the plot twist and thickens as the pages turn.

Creech, Sharon, Heartbeat, Joanna Cotler Books, New York, 2005, 180 pgs, $16.99, ISBN:0-06-054023-0, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,
Written in free-verse poems, this book tells of the problems faced by 12 year-old Annie. Her mother is pregnant, her grandfather is becoming more forgetful and she and her running partner are growing apart. Annie must face these problems and learn to deal with them. Elementary and middle school students will be drawn to this book.

Danticat, Edwidge, Anacaona, Golden, Flower, Scholastic, New York, 2005, 186 pgs, $10.95, ISBN:0-439-49906-2, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
The Spanish in the 15th century have invaded Haiti, the home of Anacaona, a Taino Queen. The story told from the natives viewpoint, spills over with the atrocities that the Spanish conquers inflict upon her people. Anacoana and her people struggle to maintain their culture and fight the invaders. This historical fiction will appeal to readers who love reading about different cultures.

Dent, Grace, LBD, Live & fabulous, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2004, 266 pgs, $15.99, ISBN:0-399-24188-4, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8,
Members of the LBD, Ronnie, Fleur and Claudette want to go the Astelbury Festival but they must first convince their parents to let them go. Panama Goodyear and her snooty friends already have tickets and lord it over the LBD group. The parents finally give their consent, when Spike Saunders, a singer, sends tickets and only if they go with a chaperone, Fleur’s crazy older sister Daphne. A wonderful story that gives readers a closer look at the lives of singers and at what life is like at a musical festival entails.

Deuker, Carl, Runner, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2005, 216 pgs, $16.00,
ISBN:0-618-54298-1, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8

Chance and his father, an alcoholic, live in Seattle, Washington, on a boat in the harbor. Here Chance struggles to pay the moorage fee, electricity and to eat each month. Chance works at washing dishes but the sporadic hours do not offer enough to cover all the expenses. Chance who is also a runner is approached to pick up packages in a hidden spot near the Seattle harbor, for two hundred a week. Even though he suspects that it is drugs being smuggled into Seattle he needs the money to much to quit. It is only after red squishy packages start appearing does he suspect that maybe sabotage to the Seattle port is going to take place. Middle and high school readers will clamor for a chance to read this book.

Downer, Ann, Hatching Magic, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2003,
242 pgs, 2003, ISBN:0-689-83400-4, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 7,

Wycca, is a small dragon called wynern, is seeking a place to lay her egg and stumbles on to a hole that sends her to the future. Here in 21st century Boston she lays her egg and becomes addicted to chocolate. Gideon, a wizard form the 13th century follows to rescue and bring her back through the time hole. Spiced with humor and adventures children will love to read this book.

Erickson, John, Discovery at Flint Springs, Viking, New York, 2004, 152 pgs, $16.99,
ISBN:0-670-05946-3, Gr. 5, P 6, Q 7,

In 1927 on a West Texas ranch the McDaniel’s brothers, Riley and Coy, have only each other and their mother for company. A visit by pilot, Alex Kaplan and archeologist Dr. Montorose brings the boys an adventure as they seek to find that the ruins of Native Americans who lived in Texas years ago. Strong characters make this fast paced novel come to life.

Grant, K.M., Blood red horse, Walker and Co., New York, 2004, 277 pgs, $16.95,
ISBN:0-8027-8960-9, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 10,

Teachers planning a unit on the Crusades will find this story loaded with historical details of people lives during the reign of King Richard, the Lionheart. The Crusades often portrayed as glamorous and with out much realism are depicted here as real in every sense of the world. The blood, gore, and dedication of each knight is brought to life on the pages of this book. Starting with the choice of a 13-year-old boy, William de Granville, chooses for his first warhorse, Hosanna, who is puny but charismatic. Hosanna goes on the Crusades and comes to stand as symbol of what is human in all of us, to both Christian and Muslim.

Griffin, Adele, Where I want to be, Dial Books, New York, 2005, 150 pgs, $15.99,
ISBN:0-399-23783-6, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,

In this book of two sisters, Jane whom is dead and Lily who is still living, the story of their relationship emerges. At first the story is confusing as the sisters speak in alternating chapters and it takes the reader a while to discover that Jane is speaking to you from the grave. But the reader is also pulled in to this at times complex relationship between two sisters as they struggle with their own fears and wishes.

Griffin, Peni, 11,000 years lost, Amulet Books, New York, 2004 322 pgs, $18.95,
ISBN:0-8109-4822-2, Gr. 5+, P 6, Q 6,

A unique time travel book which offers the reader a look at the lives of prehistoric nomadic people who gathered as they travel and wonder why the seasons and things in their daily lives were changing so much. Esther is 11 years old living in Texas when she finds a prehistoric spear. She is soon spending her summer vacation hanging out on a dig near her home. One day she steps through a rip in time and finds herself in prehistoric times running from dinosaurs and trying to survive with her new family from day to day.

Gross, Philip, Turn to stone, Dial Books, New York, 2002, 218 pgs, $16.99, ISBN: 0-8037-3005-5, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7,
This is a story of Nick a sixteen-year-old, who runs away from home, meets some of these artists and is drawn into their world. Nick performs very well his persona of a “Mozart” stature and soon captures the unwanted attentions of a sinister man, Dom. This shocking tale will have readers sitting on the edge of their chair as each charter unfolds to a shocking end. I was drawn to this book as I once saw in France the street artists who perform as statues that are depicted in the story.

Horowitz, Anthony, Raven’s Gate, Scholastic Press, New York, 2005, 256 pgs, $17.95,
ISBN:0-439-67995-8, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q9

This is new series that Anthony Horowitz is introducing and is as great as his Alex Rider’s series. A fast moving and scary plot makes the reader yearn to read of the further adventures 14-
year-old Matt, who runs with the wrong people and finds him trouble with the law, in England. Matt is sentenced to a new program to give first time delinquents a new chance. This new chance however is manipulated by the evil forces of Raven’s Gate and Matt finds himself struggling for his life. Wow!! What a book.

Jennings, Richard, Scribble, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2004, 149 pgs, $15.00,
ISBN:0-618-43367-8, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

Lawson is twelve year-old boy whose best friend Jip has died and all that he has left are his memories and her Terrier dog Scribble, as he struggles with his grief. Is this really all that Jip has left him? Soon Lawson is seeing ghosts of Sam Walton, Nat King Cole and Eleanor Roosevelt floating around and talking to him. Lawson with the aide of the ghosts soon discovers that Jip is trying to reach him with a message. Lawson must listen to the ghosts so that he may aide them in discovering what Jip wants him to find. Readers will love this narration of Lawson and his ghosts.

Johnson, Maureen, The key to the golden firebird, HarperCollins, New York, 2004,
297 pgs, $16.89, ISBN:0-06-054139-3, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,

Focusing on Meg the middle sister, who is smart and stable, Ms Johnson tales the tell of this family, the Gold sisters, who lives splinter apart after their fathers death from a heart attack. The two other sisters Brook and younger sister Palmer are both athletes who become dealing with problems themselves. Brook drinks and drops off the softball team and Palmer has anxiety attacks and poor self esteem. It is Palmer who finds her father’s ashes and plans to scatter them with or without her other sisters help. This book offers a thoughtful look into a family’s heart break after the death of a parent, how they all heal and become family again.

Mazer, Harry, Heroes don’t run : a novel of the pacific war, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, 113 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-689-85534-6, Gr. 5+, P7, Q7,
The adventures of Adam Pelko, now 17 years old continues with his enlisting in Marines. Adam journey is chronicled in the book from boot camp to the shores of Okinawa where he is wounded and sent home. Any history teacher will welcome this book as a read aloud to introduce World War II to their students.

McGrain, Oslin, The God’s & their machines, Tom Doughtery Associates Books, New York, 2005, 235 pgs, $19.95, ISBN:0-765-31159-3, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q, 7,
This sci-fi adventure fantasy will appeal to middle and high school students. When two forces on a distant planet discover that all is not as it seems. Two adolescents, Chamus Anderson and Riadni, from opposing sides meet they must learn to help each other to save themselves and their world.

Paolini, Christopher, Eldest, Random House children’s Books, New York, 2005, 677 pgs, $21.00, ISBN:0-375-82670-X, Gr. 7+, P 9, Q 9,
In Eldest, Christopher Paolini gives us the further fantasy adventures of Eragon, a dragon rider, and Saphira, his dragon. Here the reader is griped by the visual portrayal of a world of elves, dwarfs, humans and dragons as they all come together in a war between good and evil. It does help to have read the first book Eragon but this book will stand alone as a good read. Young children will find it a hard read just because of the length, but if they stick with it they will find this book to be a very entertaining.

Paratore, Coleen, The wedding planner’s daughter, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, 200 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-689-87340-9, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Willa Havisham is 12 and looking for her mom a new husband and herself a new dad. Stella, mom, wants nothing to do with love and goes out of her way, by moving, when romance comes knocking. Willa has finally found the right guy for Mom, their next door neighbor Sam. The romance is off and Willa, who Stella ignores in favor of her wedding planning job, is finally happy. When mom, scared again moves and in doing so finally finds her daughter and true love. Health teachers should be on the look out for this little gem that gives a look at the relationship between mom’s and daughters. If planning a wedding unit what better way to do so than reading this book aloud to a class?

Pietri, Annie, The Orange trees of Versailles, Delcorte Press, New Work, 2000, 137 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-385-73103-5, Gr. P 7, Q 7,
I was again drawn to a book because of my own adventures in France. In the late 17th century at the court of Louis XIV, Marion Dutilleul, the daughter of the grounds keeper of Versailles, enters the service of the Marquise de Montespan. Here her duties as maid soon change to that of an unofficial perfumer where she makes scents for the Marquise, the mistress of the King of France. Marion is pulled into a plot to poison the queen and she must find a way to stop it. This historical novel will appeal to teachers who are planning to study France and the mysteries surrounding the courts of the time.

Sachs, Marilyn, Lost in America, Roaring Book Press, New Milford, Connecticut, 2005, $16.95, ISBN:1-59643-040-0, Gr.5+, P 6, Q7,
It’s 1944 and Nicole, 17 year-old Jewish girl is looking for her mother, father and sister who were taken by the Gestapo, three years earlier. Nicole comes to learn that they all died in the Auschwitz Concentration Camp. Nicole immigrates to America where she must adjust to life in America while dealing with the grief for her lost family.

Sheth, Kashmire, Blue Jasmine, Hyperion Books for Children, New York, 2004, 186 pgs, $15.99, ISBN:0-7868-1855-7, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
The move from India to Iowa City is hard on 12 year-old Seema, as she must leave behind her family and friends and learn to adapt to a new culture in America. This book gives the reader a closer look at the trials of adjustments families face when moving to America. Teachers looking for a book which is loaded with the experiences and observations of the difficulties faced in
America by emigrants will find this book a valuable resource to read aloud to students. Glossary of terms and expressions is provided at the end of the book.

Stone, Jeff, Tiger, Random House, New York, 2005,196 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-375-83071-5, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
Five orphan boys reside together in a Chinese monastery where the grandmaster is teaching them martial arts. Each of the five orphans is taught the skills of the animal he most resembles. This first installment of this new series features Tiger, who battles the imperial forces who have attacked the monastery in 17th century China. Pursuing novels will feature each of the boys and the animal that they portray.

Stone, Phoebe, Sonata #1: for Riley Red, Little, Brown and Co. New York, 2003, 194 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-316-99041-8, Gr. 5+, P 6, Q 6,
This book is narrated by Rachel, who is 13 years old who tells the story of her small group of friends who all live in Cambridge Ma. in the early sixties. Here they try and rescue all the cats at the shelter home who are going to be destroyed and finally the elephant who is being mistreated in a local zoo. Through all of this each character and finds who they really are and discovers the fears and secret of each other.

Torrey, Michele, Voyage of Plunder, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005, 200 pgs, glossary, $15.95, ISBN:0-375-82383-2, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8
A nautical adventure awaits the reader of this book, packed with pirates and adventure on the high seas. It’s the late 16th century and Daniel’s merchant father decides to move them from Boston to Jamaica. On the way the ship is attacked by pirates and Daniel sees his father murder before his eyes. Though Daniel swears revenge on the pirates he is soon drawn into their life of plunder and murder. Middle and high school students will love this book.

Velde, Vivian, Wizard at work, Harcourt, Orlando, Fl, 2003, 134 pgs, $16.00,
ISBN:0-15-204559-7, Gr. 4+, P 6, Q6,

This fantasy adventure begins in the summer when a witch is unhappy at the way a young wizard has treated her. She tells him he will never be happy until he is less judgmental of people and sees beyond the surface of things. The many adventures of the young wizard bring to mind the many stories of my youth, which held talking mirrors, magical unicorns, and princesses who disappear only to be rescued by their true love. All of these are incorporated in this book to teach the reader the true meaning of happiness.

Velmans, Hester, Isabel of the whales, Delacorte Press, New York, 2005, 181 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:0-385-73202-3, Gr. 5+, P7, Q 7,
Living in Provincetown, Massachusetts, 11-year-old Isabel believes she is just a plain girl who will do something special with her life. Little does she realize that this will soon happen when she is jostled off a boat when her class goes on whale watching field trip. Here, surrounded by
whales of different species, she is transformed in to a Humpback whale. Here she must learn the life of the whales and teach them of the human world and that she is special. If you are planning a whale watching trip or a unit on whales read this aloud to your students.

Wilson, Diane, Black storm comin’, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 2005, 295 pgs, $16.95, ISBN:0-689-87137-6, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,
Young Colton Wescott, 13 years-old is left to care for his family when his father runs off after he accidentally shoot his son in the leg. Struggling to keep his bi-racial family together, Colton passes himself off as white and becomes a pony express rider who crosses the Sierra Nevada Mountains to Sacramento, California. This historical novel deals with prejudice of the pre civil war, crossing the U.S. in a covered wagon and the toil many faced in this time. Written at a level that middle school students will enjoy this fast paced adventure of a pony express rider will appeal to history buffs.

Non- Fiction:
Carlsen, Mari ed. Red hot salsa: bilingual poems on being young and Latino in the United States, Henry Holt and Com. New York, 2005, 140 pgs, ISBN:0-8050-7616-6, Gr. 7+
P 6, Q 9,

Carlsen in 1994 publish a collection of poems in her book Cool Salsa, she has again collected poems which deal with such topics as family, language and neighborhoods. These bilingual poems which are side by side in both Spanish and Language bring poets such as writers as Gary Soto to light. These stories which show a wide a wide range of experiences are also funny and heartrending. They do however bring home to the reader the challenges that are faced by many emigrants in America today.

Cooper, Irene, Jack: the early years of John Kennedy, Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2003 168 pgs, index, ISBN: 0-525-46923-0, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,
Starting with John F. Kennedy’s birth this book highlights the early life of a future President. Presented with many black and white photo’s middle and high school who are researching JFK will see a future president grow into a young adult.

Cyrus, Kurt, Hotel Deep: light verse for dark water, Harcourt, Orlando, Florida, unp, $16.00, ISBN:0-15-216771-4, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q10
If you are planning on doing a unit on the oceans start by reading the poems of this beautiful book to your students. The reader of these poems will swill and twirl through the depths of the oceans as the creatures of the deep are brought forth for them to view.

Frank, Mitch, Understanding the holy land: answering questions about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, Viking, New York, 2005, 152 pgs, $17.99, ISBN:0-670-06032-1,
Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 9,

Following the success of his first book Understanding September 11, Frank now presents aclear view of the problems faced in holy land between the Israeli’s and the Palestinian’s. Staring with a historical point of view of the Jews and the Arabs of the region Frank follows with chapters which break down the subject even more. Clear precise language and black and white photos bring this book and subject alive for the reader. This book brings a clear and unbiased view about the problems faced in this region for those students and teachers whom are interested in understanding more information.

Harnes, Cheryl, Ghosts of the Nile, Simon & Schuster for Young Readers, New York, 2004, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0-689-83478-0, Gr. 4+, P 6, Q 7,
Zach and weird acting great aunt Allie are visiting a museum when suddenly after touching an Egyptian they are transported to ancient Egypt. Here Zach and Aunt Allie learn how pyramids were built, how the dead buried the importance of the Nile River and hieroglyphs. All of these topics are told through cartoon like illustrations that are full page and very busy. Students who like to search for details will love this book.

Homan, Lynn, Women who fly, Illus by Rosalie M. Shephard, Pelican Publishing Co, Gretna, Louisiana, 2004, 103 pgs, No price given, ISBN:1-58980-160-1, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Flying in America was at one time something that only men took part in. With this novel those boundaries are broken as women soar first in planes they to use in barnstorming to the astronauts of today. Sure to delight readers interested in flying and women who broke through barriers.

Krull, Kathleen, Houdini: World’s greatest mystery man and escaping king, illustrated by Eric Velasquez, Walker & Co. New York, 2005, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0-8027-8953-6, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 8,
This biography of Houdini is told through facts and the use of poetry. Each trick that he developed is spotlighted and discussed. This book is sure to capture both middle and elementary school student’s attention.

MacLeod, Elizabeth, Marie Curie: a brilliant life, Kids Can Press, 2004, 32 pgs, index, time line, $14.95, ISBN:1-55337-570-X, Gr. 4+, P 6, Q7,
This biography of Marie Curie starts with her birth in Poland, centers on her career, and then her death in 1934. Small photos, art work and comments are presented on each page along with text that tells of this remarkable woman’s life. If you are planning a biography unit this book could be read aloud to stimulate interest in other biographies.

Nelson, Marilyn, A Wreath for Emmett Till, illustrated by Philippe Lardy, Houghton Mufflin, Boston, unp, 2005, $17.00, ISBN:0-618-39752-3, Gr. 8+, P 7, Q 9,
In 1955 Emmett Till a 14 year-old African-American boy was lynched for supposing having whistled at white woman. There are 15 poems, sonnets that retell the story of the lynching and
mourning for this young boy. The author uses Italian or Petrarchan sonnets, these are ones in which the last line of a poem is used as the first in the next poem. Marilyn Nelson further states she used this strict form “became a kind of insulation, a way of protecting herself from the intense pain of the subject matter. The reader does however feel the pain and suffering of this young boy and those left behind. Any poetry unit that teachers are planning this book will contribute greatly to it.

Reef, Catherine, Alone in the world: Orphans and orphanages in America, Clarion Books, New York, 2005, 136 pgs, index, $18.00, ISBN:0-618-35670-3, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
Reef gives us a glance into the 1800’s and early 1900’s where poorhouses, mental asylums and orphanages held many of the orphans of America. The text is peppered with photos of the time that bring home the many conditions that orphans faced during this time. This book also explores the political differences that were faced by families who emigrated to the U.S. like racism, unemployment, and child labor. Middle and high school students who are researching the social issues that deal with orphans will value this book as a resource tool.

Soto, Gary, Worlds apart: traveling with Fernie & me: Poems, illus. by Greg Clarke, G.P. Putnam & Sons, 2005, 56 pgs, $14.99, ISBN:0-399-24218-X, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,
Gary Soto with the aide of Greg Clarke takes the reader on a journey around the world with his collection of humorous poems. Leaving San Francisco we travel all the continents of the world and return finally to California. What a great way to introduce a social studies unit in elementary or middle school classes than by reading this collection aloud.

Short Stories:
Climo, Shirley, Monkey business: stories from around the world, illus by Erik Brooks, Henry Holt and Co. New York, 2005, 118 pgs, $18.95, ISBN:0-8050-6392-7, Gr 4+, P 7, Q 7,

This will be a great book to read aloud to Social Studies classes. Thirteen folktales, all dealing with monkeys, have been gathered from different countries around the world. Climo presents them with Erik Books bold watercolor illustrations. She also presents the stories by continents and gives facts about each different monkey species featured.

Larsen, Lunge, Lise, The hidden folk: stories of fairies, dwarves, selkies and other secret beings, illus by Beth Krommes, Houghton Mifflin, Boston, 2004, 72 pgs,
ISBN: 0-618-17465-8, Gr. 3+, P 7, Q 10,

Lunge Larsen is a professional story teller who has collected stories, about traditional legends and myths, of Northern Europe. She has used illustrations by Beth Krommes which brings life to each of story. Fairies, Elves, Gnomes Dwarves and Selkies dance across the pages as each their stories are retold.

Soto, Gary, Help wanted: stories, Harcourt, New York, 2005, 216 pgs, $17.00,
ISBN:0-15-205201-1, Gr. 7+ P 6, Q 7,

This is remarkable book which deals with the lives of Latino’s who live in central California. The ten stories short stories which are sad and but also make you laugh deal with the problems that are struggles faced by many teens in America today. Trying to find who they are while dealing with single parent homes, and where the schools and neighborhoods are below the standard of America. A glossary at the end of the book helps with the Spanish language used through out the stories. Students and facility’s looking to have a window into the lives of Latino Americans will enjoy these stories.

Picture Books:
Curtee, Lynn, Ballpark: the story of America’s baseball fields, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, 41 pgs,$17.95, ISBN:0-689-86-742-5, Gr. 4+, P 7,
Q 10,

The history of baseball parks is told in this wonderful book. Most emphasis is placed on the early playing fields built in early part of the 20th century. Early players, Ruth, Cobbs and Mays, are also featured in the ballparks that they played in too. It is the ballparks however that tells the story of the growth of one of America’s favorite pastime. From the open fields to enclosed covered stadiums of today, each one change reflects to growth and love of baseball in America. This would be a great book to read aloud to any P.E. class at the start of a baseball unit.

Diakite, Baba, The magic gourd, Scholastic, New York, 2005, 32 pgs, $16.95
ISBN:0-439-43960-4, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 9

This wonderful read aloud story offers elementary students to read about author’s native country, Mali. Here rabbit is given a magic gourd, for rescuing chameleon, which gives the bearer anything that is asked for. Diakite also illustrates his book with bold colorful native artwork. Teachers who are planning a unit on Africa will value this as introduction to African tales.
Ehlert, Lois, Leaf Man, Harcourt, Orlando, Florida, 2005, unp, $16.00,
ISBN:0-15-205304-2, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 9,

Autumn has arrived, a leaf man dances across the pages of this wonderful book. If you are planning a unit on leaf identification or a leaf art this is your book. Students and adults will love it.

Krensky, Stephen, Dangerous Crossing the revolutionary voyage of John Quincy Adams, Illus by Greg Harlin, Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2005, unp, $16.99,
ISBN:0-525-46966-4, Gr.3+, P 6, Q 10,

It’s the winter of 1778 and England and the colonies are at war. John Adams and his so age ten are facing a dangerous crossing of the Atlantic Ocean to seek help from the French people. Using entries from John Adams own diary the story of this journey is retold using almost full page
illustrations by Greg Harlin. An enemy warship is spotted on the horizon and the chase, storm and eventual safe port are all experienced by the reader of this eventful crossing.
Thomsom, Sarah, Imagine a day, Illus by Rob Gonsalves, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, Bethesda, Maryland, 2005, unp, $16.95, ISBN0-689-85219-3, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,
If you read Imagine a night then you will love this companion that Thompson has written. Again pictures (paintings) captured your eye and draw you into a visual fantasy that makes the reader only wonder and imagine such a world. The text while inviting did not stagger me as in Imagine a night. This book will however draw readers both young and old to see what is on the next page.

October 2005 Reviews
October Reviews A.G.
Hicks, Betty. Busted! Brookfield CT: Holtzbrinck Pub., 2004. 168 pp. $15.95 Ages 8-15 ISBN 1-59643-004-4 P8/Q8

Soccer-player Stuart, aged 12, is hounded by a hung-up single mom who grounds him for the tiniest infraction. “Busted” in this case refers to his mom finding out he got a ride to soccer practice from an 18-year-old friend. Stuart’s solution is to matchmake for his mom, to distract her. The book was likely written by a soccer mom rather than a man; it has unmistakeable signs of understanding what makes moms tick. There is no teen romance involved. It should appeal to students of single parent families, or sports enthusiasts.

Gibbons, Gail. Dinosaur discoveries. NY: Holiday House, 2005. 33 pp. $16.95 Ages 5-12 ISBN 0-8234-1971-1 P8/Q9
This illustrated children’s book is not only up-to-date regarding scientific discoveries of dinosaurs (and includes an endpaper map of sites), but presents it in terms of how scientists have found out about dinosaurs. The known dinosaurs are grouped by the age in which they lived and by their group (e.g. theropods, sauropods, etc.) The illustrations and explanations are short and to the point, and they give the pronunciation of those long difficult Latin names (very helpful when you’re reading to children who know these beasts). An index is included. I have no doubt that this will be a hit with the kindergarten class that studies dinosaurs up to the grade school students doing reports.
Bass, Scott, illustrated by Julie Collins. Girl vs. Wave. NY: Walker Publishing, 2005. 30 pp. $16.95 Ages 5-10 ISBN 0-8027-8937-4 P9/Q8
The surfer-girl image is very appealing to our coastal girls, and this book will be quickly picked up. The cartoon-style illustrations are engaging and fun. The story involves a young girl learning from her father how to surf, and the set-back of wiping out really badly. Ruby tells the reader how she felt, and how it felt to get back out to face
her fear and conquer it. An endnote gives the Hawaiian history of surfing and its rise to popularity.

Bridges, Margaret Park, illustrated by Christine Davenier. I love the rain. San Francisco: Chronicle Books, 2005. 25 pp. $15.95 Ages 3-9. ISBN 1-58717-208-9 P7/Q8
This Oregon author shows the reader how to face the inevitable rain with a cheerful attitude. Written in short, easy sentences, it should be readable by beginning readers. Teachers can use it both to point out the advantages of attitude and the use of simile and metaphor. The illustrations are fun, and kind of nostalgic, and reveal the illustrator as coming from “the Valley” rather than the coast (the people in the pictures are using umbrellas).

Gill, Shelley, illustrated by Shannon Cartwright. Sitka Rose. Watertown MA: Charlesbridge, 2005. 31 pp. $16.95 Ages 4-10. P9/9
This delightfully illustrated tall tale was the instant favorite pick of some visiting primary-age girls. The story was written by an Alaskan and has the flavor of authenticity. It’s told in rhyming couplets, making it fun to read aloud. The illustrations are endlessly fun in their detail and appeal (a dog sled harnessed to snarling wolverines?) A map in the back shows the travels of Sitka Rose around Alaska.

Freeman, Martha. Who Stole Halloween? NY: Holiday House, 2005. 232 pp. $16.95 Ages 7-12. ISBN 0-8234-1962-2 P7/Q8
This “Chicadee Court Mystery” features cat-loving Alex and his friend-who-is-a-girl Yasmeen as they solve the mystery of who stole the cat Halloween and a number of other cats. They make a passing reference to spoil-sport parents whose complaints stopped school celebrations of Halloween (which “used to be the best day of the year”, which I happen to agree with). The large print and simple vocabulary make this a decent chapter book for third grade up to maybe sixth grade (it definitely sticks with childish interests rather than preteen love interests), although it runs a bit long.

October 2005 reviews by C.S.
Picture Books
Nagda, Ann Whitehead. Panda math: Learning about subtraction from Hua Mei and Mei Sheng. Zoological Society of San Diego . Holt, 2005. $16.95. 0-8050-7644-1. 29p. Ages 5-10. P9Q7

This is a book best read aloud to a single child, or small group of children. The photos, although charming, are small. The text is relatively easy to understand, although some vocabulary (pandemonium, debut, solitary) will be a challenge to this age group. The book has a dual purpose. Using the pages on the right hand side, the author tells some very interesting facts about Pandas as well the story of the two pandas born in captivity to Bai Yun, at the San Diego zoo. This material will be useful in school reports. The corresponding left hand page demonstrates a math problem related to the text. Ie: weight at birth vs. weight at two weeks; lifespan of pandas in the wild vs. pandas in captivity. Elementary schools go to great efforts to teach problem solving in the decimal system using cubes and graphs. This book is a creative attempt to teach simple math problems. Teachers and parents should find it useful, and young children should find it engaging.

St. George, Judith. The Journey of the one and only Declaration of Independence . Will Hillenbrand. Philomel Books, 2005. $16.99. 0-399-23738-0. Unp. Ages 6-11. P3Q7
Colorful history of the Declaration of Independence in a nutshell. St. George provides a fast paced, somewhat comical, chronology of the history, travels and significance of the document. This book will best suit the needs of students and teachers and will make a fun addition to studying the actual Declaration. The illustrations are suited to narrative and audience. Bibliography.

Early Chapter Books 
Osborne, Mary Pope. Season of the Sandstorms. [Magic Tree House #34: A Merlin mission.] Sal Murdocca. Random House, 2005. $11.95. 0-375-83031-6. 106p. Ages 5-12. P9Q8
Jack and Annie undertake a journey to ancient Baghdad. Their mission is to help the caliph spread wisdom to the world. Mary Pope Osborne sees to it that her reader learns a bit about Baghdad, the desert, Aristotle and more. Just by virtue of being part of the Magic Tree House Series this story will be enjoyed by many young readers, and a good number of adults who read aloud to children!

Krovatin, Christopher. Heavy metal and you. Scholastic, 2005. $16.95. 0-439-73648-X. 186p. Ages 13-18. P5Q5

Krovatin is a twenty-year-old college student. He was a PUSH writing intern the summer before his first year in college. His novel, Heavy metal and you, is a genre that will definitely appeal to teenage heavy metal fans. Written in a style indicative of provocative teen language today, this is Sam’s story. Sam is a teen boy who attends a New York City private prep school. Since the age of 10, Sam has loved heavy metal music. It gives him his identity, punk-like, separate from the Goths and jocks and preps. Sam, a.k.a Conan the Barbarian, meets Melissa and becomes infatuated with a girl who finds him special and wants to learn all about him and heavy metal. This is a coming of age story with a current theme. Krovatin uses flashbacks occasionally to convey his source of insecurity . Does Sam choose his friends, or his girl? Or, can he have both? Catcher in the Rye it is not, however it will be interesting to follow this writer and see if his stories will stand the test of time.

Yoo, David. Girls for breakfast. Delacorte Press, 2005. $15.95. 0-385-73192-2. 294p. Ages 14-18. P5? P4?
. The story begins with Nick Park, on graduation rehearsal day. It took me awhile to figure out that this book is a chronological series of flashbacks beginning with elementary school where he was the only Korean kid in his class, a “ banana, ” white on the inside, yellow on the outside. Nick is preoccupied with girls and popularity, or lack thereof. This is a story for a quest for popularity (or to just fit in) and a girl For awhile I couldn’t figure out if I was reading a higher level elementary/middle school book – or something aimed at high school teens. Much of the subject material is definitely high school. Nick goes through most of his public school years hating his ethnicity. In reality, his ethnicity is not the problem. “Finding oneself” is always pertinent to someone. David Yoo, is a 31-year-old author perhaps stuck in adolescence. Although the book kept me reading to the end, it feels outdated.
Farrell, Jeanette. Invisible allies: microbes that shape our lives. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. $17.00. 0-374-33608-3. 165p. Ages 10-adult. P4Q8.

Jeanette Farrell writes a fascinating history on the discovery and importance of microbes. To bring the subject home she considers “lunch”: a cheese sandwich and a chocolate bar. We investigate full circle the use of yeast and bacteria in the production of bread, cheese and chocolate through the digestion and recycling of waste. We see how microbes touch every ounce of our being, and how completely necessary they are in the constant recycling of the earth’s resources and refuse: from digestion and dead bodies to biodegradable trash. Illustrations, references. What a great introduction to microbiology. I highly recommend this book, particularly for schools.

October 2005 Book Reviews–S.J., Isaac Newton Magnet School – Lincoln County School District
Stephanie Spinner. QUICKSILVER. Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 ISBN 0-375-82638-6 229 p $15.95 Gr. 4 and up.

Told from Hermes’ point of view this is the retelling of some classic Greek myth including the tale of Atalanta. Hermes plays an unwilling part in the beginnings of the Trojan War when he takes Paris to the three goddesses. He is wracked with guilt and sorrow as the war escalates and it his unfortunate task to escort the dead to Hades.
P9 Q10

Marthe Jocelyn. MABLE RILEY: A RELIABLE RECORD OF HUMDRUM PERIL AND ROMANCE. Candlewick Press, 2004 ISBN 0-7636-2120-X 279 p 277 $15.99 Gr. 4 and up.
When Mable Riley’s sister is hired as the schoolteacher in another town, Mable is excited to accompany her hoping to find adventure. Instead she meets the eccentric Mrs. Rattle who, in 1901, is quite a revolutionary. Mrs. Rattle organizes a strike at the local factory, believes women should vote, and even wears pants! Mable finds herself caught between the expectations of proper society and her own strong sense of justice.
P7 Q8

Jane Yolen and Robert J. Harris. ATALANTA AND THE ARCADIAN BEAST. Harper Collins Publishers, 2003 ISBN 0-06-029454-X p 245 $15.99 Gr. 4 and up.
Yolen and Harris have crafted a novel that expands upon the Greek myth of Atalanta. Atalanta cannot live the isolated, solitary life she loves when a beast slays her adopted father. She sets out to track and kill the Arcadian beast, but finds she cannot complete the task alone. Orion organizes the hunting party for the king and, begrudgingly, Atalanta is permitted to join.
P8 Q9

Peter W. Hassinger. SHAKESPEARE’S DAUGHTER. Harper Collins Publishers, 2004 ISBN 0-06-028467-6 p 310 $16.89 Gr. 5 and up.
Susanna Shakespeare, daughter of the famous bard, finds life in Stratford-upon-Avon dull and uneventful. She longs to be in London with her famous father or pursuing a life of her own singing, quite scandalous pursuit, according to her mother. Susanna must choose between her desires to follow her own destiny or the constrained expectations of her mother.
P7 Q9
Graham Salisbury. EYES OF THE EMPEROR. Random House Children’s Books, 2005 ISBN 0-385-72971-5 p. 223 $15.95 Gr. 6 and up.
Salisbury returns to Hawaii at the beginning of WWII in this novel. Utilizing a character mentioned in Under the Blood Red Sun, he spins a tale of Eddy Okubo’s loyalty and wishes to grow up. His desire is so strong he lies about his age and joins the US Army. After Pearl Harbor is bombed, Eddy and his friends become targets of suspicion and prejudicial treatment. Eventually, after months of endless training, they are sent to an island in the Mississippi and given a top-secret mission. They are the “enemies” of dogs being trained to sniff and seek Japanese. Eddy and his mates endure humiliation and degradation with strong sense of duty and wounded pride. This novel is based upon an actual event in US history.
P7 Q10

Avi. THE END OF THE BEGINNING: BEING THE ADVENTURES OF A SMALL SNAIL (AND AN EVEN SMALLER ANT). Harcourt Children’s Book Publicity, 2004 ISBN 0-15-204968-1 p. 141 $14.95 Gr. 2 and up.
Avi weaves a tale of a snail, Avon, who wishes adventure. When he encounters Edward, the ant, the two decide to embark on an adventure together. An allegory for children, The End of the Beginning teaches that adventures can be great and small, happiness is a choice, and friendship comes in all shapes and sizes (even those begun without proper introductions).
P8 Q10

Caroline Lawrence. THE ASSASSINS OF ROME. Roaring Brook Press, 2002 ISBN 0-7613-1940-9 p. 161 $15.95 Gr. 5 and up.
This, the fourth volume in the Roman Mysteries series, is more an adventure than mystery. Freethinking, sea captain’s daughter, Flavia, and her companions, Nubia and Lupus, are following their friend, Jonathan, to Rome. He’s disappeared and could be tangling with an assassin who might change the course of fate between Emperor Nero and Jerusalem.
P6 Q8
Patricia Finney. CONSPIRACY. Delacorte Press, 2005, ISBN 0-385-73153-1 p. 197 $6.95 Gr. 4 and up.
Patricia Finney writes as Grace Cavendish, a maid of honor to Queen Elizabeth I, in the third novel in a series titled “The Lady Grace Mysteries”. Once again Finney plunges the reader into the world of Queen Elizabeth I. It is summer in England and time for the Royal Court to tour the land on progress. Yet a series of accidents seems odd to Grace. In her secret role as the Queen’s investigator Grace determines to discover the truth behind the “accidents” and reveals a plot that would have changed Queen Elizabeth’s reign, had it been successful.
P7 Q9
Book Reviews – October 2005
L.F., Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Nonfiction Selections:
Giblin, James Cross. Good Brother, Bad Brother. Clarion Books, New York, 2005. $22.00 ISBN: 0-618-09642-6 244 p. Gr. 7-10.

This well-presented, meticulously researched biography covers the lives and deaths of two very different actors, John Wilkes and Edwin Booth. Numerous daguerreotypes, photos, playbills, and etchings make this well-written account come alive. Giblin carefully constructs a set: both actors were born into highly gifted acting family. Edwin Booth is the caring, compassionate liberal who deals with a lifelong drinking problem, the death of his first wife, and the bipolar behavior of his second wife. John Wilkes is the egotistical, conservative, womanizing adventurer. As might be expected given such a setting, Edwin is anti-slavery, pro-Union while John Wilkes takes the pro-Confederacy stance that eventually leads to his assassination of Lincoln. While scholarly in it’s presentation, the text is very readable, though some vocabulary may be beyond middle school level. Also Contains: Bibliography, and Source Notes. P6 Q9

Nilsen, Anna. Art Auction Mystery. Kingfisher, Boston, 2005. $16.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5842-x 48 p. Gr. 6-9.
Another fantastically innovative tome from Anna Nilsen, following the format of her Art Fraud Detective and Great Art Scandal books. Readers are invited to join Detective Henry Hammer in solving a caper involving forgers of 16 famous paintings. The only way to figure out which ones are fakes is to compare them to the real thing. In addition, Hammer engages the reader in searching for who the mastermind of the hoax is, by completing an elaborate accounting spreadsheet. If that wasn’t enough to engage even reluctant readers, there are brief, easy-to-read biographies on 34 famous artists, and vignettes on each of the 34 different paintings represented in this book. While the book is best suited to individual discovery, it would be a great complement to any art history classroom curriculum and belongs in every middle school library. P9 Q10.

Marrin, Albert. Old Hickory: Andrew Jackson and the American People. Dutton, New York, 2004. $30.00 ISBN: 0-525-47293-2 262 p. Gr. 7-12.
While an exhaustive and meticulously researched biography on Andrew Jackson might not be the hottest book in circulation, it’s a worthy addition to any middle or high school library collection. This book gives the reader a profound picture of life during Jackson’s time, and the vivid accounts of minority mistreatment are not for the faint of heart. While Jackson’s life is the centerpiece of this, the charismatic and ostentatious leader does not dominate the pages, but the turmoil and politics of his era do. That said, there is enough personal drama woven into the elaborate text to carry the reader through his humble beginnings, personal tragedies and triumphs, to his death of tuberculosis. The book would benefit from having more illustrations, photos, and maps added and the typeset is light and difficult to read. Also Contains: footnotes, bibliography, and index. P5 Q8

Hopkins, Andrea, Ph.D. Damsels Not in Distress. Rosen Publishing Group, New York, 2003. $29.25. ISBN: 0-8239-3992-8 64 p. Gr. 5-8.
It’s hard to know what to think about this book. It’s very interesting and presents a lot of detailed information on a little-known topic, but some passages appear poorly edited (e.g., the judgement on Eleanor of Aquitaine that “during her pregnancy, it would of course be perfectly safe for her to have affairs with other men.” The interests of the author (her thesis was in medieval romance) are evident in how in-depth she goes into love and marriage and how briefly she treats medieval women of historical significance. Overall, though, it’s a nicely presented discussion that will engage even young reluctant readers and that’s an achievement for historical nonfiction. The book is well illustrated with tapestries, stained glass, manuscripts, and frescos. Also Contains glossary, bibliography, further reading references, and index. P5 Q7

Cooling, Wendy, compiler. D is for Dahl. Illustrated by Quentin Blake. Viking, New York, 2004. $15.99 ISBN: 0-670-06023-2 145 p. Gr. 3-7
For the life of me, I can’t figure out why Roald Dahl is listed as the author of this book, which is basically a collection of biographical snippets on the author. I imagine it might be a marketing gimmick? At any rate, it’s a fun little book that presents Dahl-dom in A to Z form. However, the book is far from organized, as entries meander from reality to dreams, to stories in his many books. At the end, though, the reader can’t help but feel like they have gotten a true glimpse into Dahl’s (never cleaned) writing shack. It is thoroughly charming, and an excellent biography selection for reluctant upper elementary and middle school readers. Also contains: written and pictorial bibliographies. P8 Q8

Shulevitz, Uli. The Travels of Benjamin of Tudela. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 2005. $17.00 ISBN: 0-374-37754-5 48 p. Gr. 4-7.
This book is a wonderfully written, beautifully illustrated, factual account of one man’s travels during the 12th century AD. His route is perilous enough for a solitary man living during dangerous times, but more so because he is a Spanish Jew. Though the book is not preachy, the reader feels as if they are experiencing the same pilgrimage and fervor through the author’s rendering the journey as a first-person narrative. While younger readers will find the action-packed plot interesting, the informative sidebars and biblical connections will further engage older readers. There are a few typos, but overall, it’s meticulously researched and faithful to the account originally told in the subject’s Sefer ha-Massaoth (Book of Travels). The book would be a great addition to any elementary, middle school, or secular library. Also contains detailed Author’s Note and bibliography. P7 Q9.

Fiction Selection:
Finney, Patricia. I, Jack. Harper Collins, New York, 2000. $16.89 ISBN: 0-06-052208-9 85 p. Gr. 3-7

It would be easy to blow this cute book off as yet another stupid animal autobiography, but there’s something special about this one: it’s actually a real howl! Not only that, but this author has done her research: the canine protagonist’s behavior follows what dog psychologists have documented. The story follows retriever Jack and his samoyed girlfriend, Petra, through courtship and the birth of their litter, with plenty of fun in-between. There’s enough action in here to keep even the youngest, most reluctant readers engaged and this would be a great read aloud in a classroom. P8 Q7

October 2005 Book Reviews – C.B.
Cadnum, Michael, The dragon throne, Viking, New York, 2005, 212 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:0-670-03631-5, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 8

Those readers who enjoy adventures will love the detailed description of the sword play and life during the middle ages that this book offers. Opening with a joust at Prince John’s court a promised is made for a pilgrimage if Lady Ester’s father recovers from his wounds. So a journey over the Alps to Rome is undertaken. A great read aloud to a Middle School class that is studying about the Middle Ages.

Couloumbis, Audrey, Summer’s end, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2005, 184 pgs.,
$16.99, ISBN:0-399-23555-8, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9

The Vietnam War is taking place in the world when Grace’s brother burns his draft card in protest of the war. Before her 13 birthday party Colin also departs for Canada to avoid the draft. With this action a huge division in her family’s life takes place. Her mother stands with Colin’s decision, her father a Korean War veteran feels he should have served his duty and Grace herself just feels that Colin thinks of himself. Eventually they all find they were to healing this division and new family dynamics are the result. Any unit on planned by teachers, for middle and high school age students, should read this book aloud introduce the Vietnam War.

Czech, Jan, Grace happens, Viking, New York, 2005, 153 pgs., ISBN:0-670-05962-5, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 8
Grace is the daughter of a Movie Star, Constance Meredith, who is in need of a rest and decides to go home to Martha Vineyard. It is here that Grace’s questions about her mother’s family, her mother’s early life and the identity of her father are finally revealed to Grace. Middle and high school students will be drawn to this story.

Gates, Susan, Dusk, G.P. Putnam’s Sons, New York, 2005,170 pgs., ISBN:0-399-24343-7, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 7
The scientist at a research facility, SERU, has been doing secret experiments that genetically mutate animals and humans. The results create Dusk, a girl who appears human but has the night vision of the hawk her genes were crossed with. A fire breaks out the laboratory is destroyed but Dusk and other mutant animals escape. Middle and high school age students will be drawn to this book

Halam, Ann, Siberia, Wendy Lamb Books, New York, 2005, 262 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:0-385-74650-4, Gr. 7+, P 7, Q 8
Rosita is 3 years old when she and her mother are transported to a political prison in Siberia. Here Rosita and Mama Struggle to survive while hiding a case that holds the secret experiments that Rosa parents were working on. Rosita becomes Sloe upon entering school and is sent away to a school for the gifted. Sloe must escape back to Siberia find her mother and carry the secret case, of genetically engineered animal life forms, to safety.

Hale, Shannon, Princess academy, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, New York, 2005, 314 pgs., $16.95, ISBN:1-58234-993-2, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9
Miri and her family live on Mount Eskel, where her father is a miner for the rare stone Linder. The local girls of the village are offered a rare opportunity to become the wife of the reigning prince. Thus the Princess Academy is created and all the girls under 18 must to attend and here they will learn to read and write and conduct themselves as a future princess. Middle and high school students will love this book.

Haptie, Charlotte, Otto and the bird charmers, Holiday House, New York, 2004, 416 pgs.,
$17.95, ISBN:0-8234-1883-9, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 7

This is the sequel to Otto and the flying twins, and the second book of the Karmidee series, which opens with Otto trying to figure out why his city’s weather is changing. Otto must somehow bring everything back into compliance so that his family and the other of the city can survive

Kehret, Peg, The ghost’s grave, Dutton Children’s Books, New York, 2005, 210 pgs.,
$16.99, ISBN:0-525-46126-0, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7

Josh is looking forward to summer playing on a local baseball team only to discover that he must now venture to Washington state instead. Here he meets his great-aunt who is just a little odd, eccentric, and also the ghost of coal miner. Josh agrees to find the man’s buried amputated leg, to dig it up and to rebury it with his body in his grave.
Josh while digging finds more than he bargained for and the summer he thought would be boring he finds not to be so. This spooky adventure is full of suspense that any middle school student will love to read.

Ly, Many, Home is East, Delacorte Press, New York, 294 pgs, 2005, $15.95,
ISBN:0-385-73222-8, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7

A young Cambodian American girl, Amy tells the story of how her mother abandons her and her father. Seeking to find her mom Amy and her father follow her mother from their home in Florida to California. What they find instead is that another life exists here, a new family, a new job and that they can survive without mom. Sure to appeal to Middle and high school age students. Those teachers who are looking for a book to introduce topics of abandonment and about the difficulties that people face in a new country will treasure this book as spring board when read aloud to classes.

Maynard, Joyce, The Cloud chamber, Antheneum Books for Young Readers, New York,
274 pgs., 2005, $16.95, ISBN:0-689-97152-X, GR. 6+, P 7, Q 8

Nate arrives home from his school to find police cars in his front yard and to discover that his father has tried to shot himself. This books gives middle and high school age students the chance to look into the lives of a family who struggle to survive after someone has shot themselves. Nate feels that with help of his school friend Naomi that they can win the prize from the science fair which will enable him to go and see his father. Through the development of his science fair project, the creation of the cloud chamber, this can happen, but is it the answer.

Molloy, Michael, Peter Raven under fire, The Chicken House, New York, 502 pgs., 2005, $17.95, ISBN: 0-429-72454-6, Gr 7+, P 7, Q 8
In 1800 13-year-old Peter Raven joins his majesty royal navy and starts on an adventure that takes him from the Caribbean to the city of Paris, France. Peter becomes involved in a plot by Napoleon which offers the mad Count Vallon the land west of the Mississippi River for his kingdom in exchange for gold. Peter must secure the gold in Paris and stop the Count Vallon in the Caribbean. The plot twist and turns and the middle and high school reader will not be able to put this book down.

Salisbury, Graham, Eyes of the emperor, Wendy Lamb Book, New York, 2005, 229 pgs.,
Glossary, $15.95, ISBN:0-385-72971-5, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9

Under age at 17, Eddy Okubo, joins the United States Army in Honolulu in1941. Here he trains to the best soldier he can be, but with the bombing of Pearl Harbor by the Japanese, Eddy finds that the Army is not all that it can be. Because he is of Japanese decent he is looked upon as an enemy and faces racism within the military. He is however a U.S. citizen and a member of our armed forces, this factor does not matter however when and other of Japanese decent are assigned to a secret experiment. They are to act as the enemy and to help train attack dogs to discriminate between scent of a white man’s scent and that of a Japanese man’s scent. History teachers will find this a book that will ensure lengthily discussions of racism of the Japanese during WWII.

Torrey, Michele, Voyage of plunder, Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005, 200 pgs.,
$15.95, ISBN:0-375-82383-2, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7

This seventeenth century sea yarn is filled with great fight scenes as pirates attack Daniel Markham, his father and stepmother as they make their way, by ship, from Boston to Jamaica on the high seas. Often violent this yarn is sure to capture middle and high school students who like a novel of this sort which is loaded with action and nautical terminology.

Non Fiction
Marcantonio, Patricia Santos, Red Ridin’ in the hood : and other cuentos, illustrated by Renato Alarcao, Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2005, 181 pgs., Glossary, $16.00, ISBN:0-374-36241-6, Gr. 7+, P &, Q 8

This collection of 11 fairy tales is retold through the Latino perceptive. Jumping off the pages are bold black and white drawings that show the wicked demons and witches of the stories collected. This collection will enhance any library collection and will be a great addition for any teacher planning a unit where fairy tales are to be rewritten by students.

Van Maarsen, Jacqueline, A friend called Anne: one girl’s story of war, peace and a unique friendship with Anne Frank, Viking, New York, 2004, 163 pgs., Time line, $15.99, ISBN:0-670-05958-7, Gr. 5+, P 8, Q 8
The author of this book Jacqueline Van Maarsen is a childhood friend of Anne Frank and has drawn upon this friendship to write how she survived during World War II and Anne did not. Students who are interested in Anne Frank’s story will be drawn this compelling story too.

Russo, Marisbina, Always remember me : how one family survived World War II, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0-689-86920-7, Gr. 3+, P 8, Q 10
It’s Sunday dinner at Oma’s when she takes out a two photo albums to share with her granddaughter, Rachel who is 13 years old. One is new and the other old and brittle, it is this old album which until now has never been shared with Rachel. Now that she is old enough her family memories of the Jewish Holocaust are revealed to her. Threw pictures, passports and the yellow Jewish star the rise of the Nazi’s and the elimination of the Jewish population are revealed to Rachel. A great read aloud for any grade to introduce a unit on World War II.

October Book Reviews
Jeapes, Ben. The New World Order. David Fickling Books/Random House, 2004. Pp. 434. $15.95 ISBN 0-385-75013-7 (trade), 0-385-75015-3 (lib. bdg.) Ages: 8th grade on up. P – 6, Q – 8

England is in the middle of a civil war, May 1645, between King Charles I and Parliament, when the Holekhor appear with superior weapons, air ships and other technology. The Holekhor are from a world in a different plane and travel through gates of power to England. The battles and other conflict are very realistic. People are also killed as witches or to convert to a different religion. This historic science fiction work is very imaginative. It is probably best for high school age but the reading level is lower so can be enjoyed by more mature middle school students. The endnotes give a bit more of the history of the time, both for England and Okh’Shenev.

Kurtz, Jane. Do Kangaroos Wear Seat Belts? Illus. by Jane Manning. Dutton Children’s books, 2005. Pp. 27. $15.99 ISBN 0-525-47358-0 Ages: Toddlers & Preschoolers P – 5, Q -3
Never judge a book by the title. Fun title, boring, sickening sweet book. A young boy and his mother go to the zoo. A little bit of how each animal lives is part of the story. The point of the story seems to be that mom will always be there to care for the boy.

Segal, Lore. The Story of Mrs. Lovewright and Purrless Her Cat. Illus. by Paul O. Zelinsky. Atheneum, 1985. Pp. 30. $16.95 ISBN 0-689-87327-1 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade. P – 6, Q – 8
Mrs. Lovewright knows that there is something missing from her life that will help her feel cozy. As she says, “There’s no being cozy without a cat.” Of course, all cat owners know that cats will do what they want to do no matter how cute and soft they are. For years Mrs. Lovewright and her cat live in conflict which is cleverly illustrated by Zelinsky. This is a reissue that has not aged.

Stevens, Janet and Susan Stevens Crummel. The Great Fuzz Frenzy. Illus. by Janet Stevens. Harcourt, Inc., 2005. Pp. 45. $17.00 ISBN 0-15-204626-7 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade. P – 9, Q – 9
A dog drops his tennis ball down a prairie dog hole and scares the prairie dogs. They have never seen a tennis ball before. However, a brave little prairie dog goes up the ball and finds out that it is fuzzy. Then all of the prairie dogs want some of the fuzz. Of course a fuzz battle starts. “It was a fuzz fight. A fuzz feud. A fuzz fiasco.” This is a picture book so of course it all works out in the end–or does it? The end papers are an intricate part of the story. There are two pages that fold out which could wear over time but the paper is fairly thick so this will not be an immediate problem.

October 2005 more Reviews

Kuskin, Kara. TOOTS THE CAT. Illus. by Lisze Bechtold. Henry Holt and Company, 2005 ISBN 0-8050-6841-4 unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3
This cat Toots has attitude as she wanders in and out through the day. It’s her day, her way and you can’t help but be taken in by her feline charm. These brief poems about Toots and whimsical illustrations will make cat lovers wish they had a cat of their own just like Toots. Use this for storytimes about cats. (P-6, Q-6)

Kuskin, Karla. SO, WHAT’S IT LIKE TO BE A CAT? Illus. by Betsy Lewin. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005 ISBN 0-689-84733-5 unp $15.95 Gr. K-2
In a question and answer format between a child and a cat, rhyming verse tells the story with the help of whimsical illustrations that capture the personality and moods of the cat. This would pair nicely with “Toots the Cat” and begs to be read out loud. (P-5, Q-7)

Gorbachev, Valeri. BIG LITTLE ELEPHANT. Gulliver Books, 2005 ISBN 0-15-205195-3 unp $16.00 PreS-1
Big little elephant has everything except friends. When he finally finds some to play with, they all find very quickly that being much larger doesn’t always help in play situations. (I won’t even go into the safety factor!) Finally, by working together, they find that there are some things they can do together. Nice story for the very youngest about friendship and fitting in. (P-5, Q-5)

Archer, Dosh and Mike. LOOKING AFTER LITTLE ELLIE. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2005 ISBN 1-58234-971-1 unp $15.95 PreS-1
What a hoot! Six little mice agree to look after baby Ellie, but don’t consider the challenges of pushing little Ellie in a stroller, feeding her, or changing her diaper. She is, after all, an elephant. Children will roar at the diaper change and the mouse with the gas mask. Babysitting has never been so much fun. (P-6, Q-6)

Schulman, Janet. 10 TRICK-OR-TREATERS; A HALLOWEEN COUNTING BOOK.Illus. by Linda Davick. Alfred A. Knopf, 2005 ISBN 0-375-83225-4 unp $8.95 PreS-K
Ten costumed trick-or-treaters start off on an evening of fun, but one-by-one they are scared off by different creatures of the night. This not-so-scary counting book with rhythmic text is okay holiday fare for the youngest set. (P-7, Q-5)

Frazee, Marla. SANTA CLAUS THE WORLD’S NUMBER ONE TOY EXPERT. Harcourt, Inc., 2005 ISBN 0-15-204970-3 unp $16.00 PreS-2
For being the number one toy expert and one who loves his job, this Santa sure looks gloomy and uninspired. While he may be overworked and tired, he still looks grumpy and unappealing and most children will wonder if he really does give the “exact right toy to the exact right kid 99.9% of the time.” Nowhere on the pages do elves appear to help this beleaguered Santa. (P-4, Q-4)

Demas, Corinne. TWO CHRISTMAS MICE. Illus. by Stephanie Roth. Holiday House, 2005 ISBN 0-8234-1785-9 unp $16.95 PreS-2
Annamouse and Willamouse, each in their own burrows, decide they are going to have a lonely Christmas when they can’t get out because of the heavy snow. When one starts to play the violin, the other hears the sound through the wall and they soon discover that their burrows are divided only by a little earth. After the wall is torn down, a friendship blossoms between the two that is sure to last beyond Christmas Day. (P-6, Q-5)

Garland, Michael. THE GREAT EASTER EGG HUNT. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005 ISBN 0-525-47357-2 unp $15.99 Gr. 1-4
When budget money is tight, it’s hard to justify an Easter holiday book, but children will love this “look again” title and eagerly follow Tommy and the bunny in this hide-and-seek game as they search for clues on each page. This is like the “I Spy” titles that are so popular and the book will have heavy use during the season. (P-9, Q-5)

Polacco, Patricia. THE GRAVES FAMILY GOES CAMPING. Philomel Books, 2005 ISBN 0-399-24369-0 unp $16.99 Gr. 3-5
This family, similar to the Adams family, goes on a wild camping trip to collect specimens for Dr. Graves. When they attract a fire-breathing dragon after leaving food outside, they almost don’t get home in time for the Fourth of July fireworks display that Dr. Graves must put together. Even when they do arrive, the dragon follows them home for more delicious Jum Jill treats. After the dragon accidentally soaks all the fireworks, the doctor comes up with a solution that satisfies everyone. This is a rambling story, not too funny and the illustrations are so-so. This is for larger libraries only, or ones where the first Graves book is popular. All-in-all, a disappointing offer by this prolific author. (P-4, Q-5)

Polacco, Patricia. MOMMIES SAY SHHH! Philomel Books, 2005 ISBN 0-399-24341-0 unp $16.99 PreS
Toddlers will enjoy repeating the sounds that different animals make and repeating the phrase, “Bunnies say nothing at all.” This is an acceptable title for the home market or schools serving very young children. (P-5, Q-5)

Kent, Jack. THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS A DRAGON. Random House,1975 ISBN 0-375-83208-4 unp $12.95 Gr. 1-2
This popular story first published in 1975 should be in all libraries. Billy Bixbee’s mom says there is no such thing as a dragon even though the evidence suggests otherwise. The need to be noticed is the theme and cartoon-like illustrations show just how ridiculous the situation really is as the dragon grows larger every time mom proclaims, “There is no such thing as a dragon!” Replace your old copy or add another. (P-8, Q-8)

Mayer, Mercer. THERE ARE MONSTERS EVERYWHERE. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2005 ISBN 0-8037-0621-9 unp $15.99 Gr. 1-2
Following his success with “There’s a Nightmare in My Closet” and “There’s Something In the Attic,” Mayer creates another that children will love. He takes a scary topic and has his character overcome his fears to defeat the monsters – with karate no less! Illustrations create the perfect mood for a story that is sure to be a hit during October and Halloween time. (P-8, Q-8)

Cabrera, Jane. IF YOU’RE HAPPY AND YOU KNOW IT! Holiday House, 2003 ISBN 0-8234-1881-2 unp $16.95 PreS-K
This popular song invites children to clap, shout, nod, spin, etc. and has the added benefit of illustrations showing animals doing the same thing. When children are moving around and doing the moves, I’m not sure if the pictures will be looked at, but a first reading with the actions coming later might work well. It would also be effective with small groups. (P-7, Q-5)

Wood, Audrey. THE DEEP BLUE SEA; A BOOK OF COLORS. Illus. by Bruce Wood. The Blue Sky Press, 2005 ISBN 0-439-75382-1 unp $15.99 PreS-1
This concept book is a treat for little ones learning their colors. The language is simple, repetitive and just right for beginning readers too. The bright digitally created images should hold reader’s interest. All primary libraries should include the title by this famous author/illustrator team. (P-7, Q-8)

Leedy, Loreen. THE GREAT GRAPH CONTEST. Holiday House, 2005 ISBN 0-8234-1710-7 32p $16.95 Gr. 1-4
This is a great resource for the math curriculum and one that teachers will use when presenting lessons on all kinds of graphs. Gonk the toad and Breezy the lizard make the learning fun as they compete to see who can make the best graph. Much better than most of the uninspired Math-Start books, this title is informational and entertaining and should be on all elementary library shelves. (P-5, Q-9)
Tang, Greg. MATH POTATOES. Illus. by Harry Briggs. Scholastic Press, 2005 ISBN 0-439-44390-3 unp $16.95 Gr. 3-5
This author just keeps making math more fun with every math offering. (He did The Grapes of Math, Mathterpieces, and several more.) In this book, a riddle or poem is given that presents a problem and kids must use their problem-solving skills to solve the puzzle. This is another great resource for the math curriculum for older elementary students. The illustrations help with the problem solving and many of the riddles are challenging so it’s a good thing answers appear at the end of the book. (P-5, Q-8)

Auch, Mary Jane and Herm. CHICKERELLA. Holiday House, 2005 ISBN 0-8234-1804-9 unp $16.95 Gr. 1-3
This fractured fairy tale is filled with puns and humor and will be enjoyed by children looking for a fun read. Sometimes the illustrations overpower the storyline, but they also offer lots of detail and children may want to take another look. Chickie probably deserves a place on the display shelves with the other Cinderella variations. (P-7, Q-5)

Yaccarino, Dan. THE BIRTHDAY FISH. Henry Holt and Company, 2005 ISBN 0-8050-7493-7 unp $16.95 PreS-K
Any child who has ever wished for a special pet, like a pony, will understand Cynthia’s dismay when she receives a goldfish. Before she is able to dump it down the drain, the goldfish explains he is magical and if she will let him go in the lake, he will grant her wish. On the long trek to the lake, a bond forms and little Cynthia comes to see that friendship can be found in unusual places, that this pet is special and is really the perfect pet after all. (P-6, Q-6)

Gibbons, Gail. THE PLANETS. Holiday House, 2005 ISBN 0-8234-1957-6 Unp $16.95 (revised edition) Gr. K-3
Signature Gibbons illustrations accompany this title about the planets that is a revision from the title published in 1993. While most children prefer real images, this one is still an adequate introduction. If the older version is available or if there is a high demand for Gibbons books, this one should be purchased. (P-4, Q-5

Cole, Joanna. MS. FRIZZLE’S ADVENTURES IMPERIAL CHINA. Illus. by Bruce Degen. Scholastic Press, 2005 ISBN 0-590-10822-0 40p $16.95 Gr. 3-5
Ms. Frizzle continues her adventures when she is invited to spend Chinese New Year with one of her Chinese students. Lots of facts are included in the storyline and this should be a great resource for classrooms learning about the country of China and its customs. One error, the author claims that “In China everyone eats a lot of rice . . . . “
That is true in the southern part of the country, but in the north, noodles are the starch of choice. (P-8, Q-8)

Bertram, Debbie and Susan Bloom. THE BEST TIME TO READ. Illus. by Michael Garland. Random House, 2005 ISBN 0-375-83025-1 unp $14.95 K-1
A child who wants to share his new ability to read can’t find anyone to listen. When he finally goes to his room to read to his bunnies and bears, he hears a knock on the door and finds that everyone is ready at the same time to hear his story. Any child who has ever wanted to read out loud to someone who will listen will empathize with this character. Used one on one, this book may encourage children to keep looking for listeners. (P-4, Q-5)

Carlson, Nancy. HENRY’S 100 DAYS OF KINDERGARTEN. Viking, 2004 ISBN 0-670-05977-3 unp $15.99 Gr. K-2
Can there ever be too many “100 days” books in a primary library? Having said that, this one is a winner. Ms. Bradley tells the class she will put one jelly bean in the jar every day until they get to day 100 and then they will have a party. The school year proceeds with fun activities until February and the 100th day of school arrives. Each child brings in 100 of something, but Henry’s big surprise is bringing his Great-Aunt Millie who is 100-years-old. When each of the 20 kindergartners gets 5 jellybeans each from the jar, the disappointment is plain so Ms. Bradley has a lesson on division. Knowing that 5 jellybeans does not a party make, she then brings out a cake with 100 blazing candles. (P-7, Q-7)

Pinkwater, Daniel. BAD BEARS AND A BUNNY. Illus. by Jill Pinkwater. Houghton Mifflin, 2005 ISBN 0-618-33926-4 unp $16.00 Gr. 1-2
Those two bad bears, Irving and Muktuk, now live in a zoo. When they see a white rabbit nibbling on grass by their enclosure they are afraid of the mini-polar bear until Roy, a good polar bear who lives at the hotel, explains it’s just a bunny. Then Irving and Muktuk tease it and make fun of it. Bad idea. The bunny goes into attack mode and kicks and bites the naughty bears. All ends well when Roy invites everyone to a party and the bad bears learn that everything can turn out well if they behave themselves. Buy this where there is an Irving and Muktuk following. (P-6, Q-6)

Ryland, Cynthia. MR. PUTTER & TABBY MAKE A WISH. Illus. by Arthur Howard. Harcourt, Inc., 2005 ISBN 0-15-202426-3 unp $14.00 Gr. 1-3
Every child should know Mr. Putter and Tabby. These stories for beginning readers have just the right amount of fun and suspense. If I had a classroom of children learning to decode words, I would have a shelf full of these stories ready to go and this one is no exception. While Mr. Putter is now an old man, he still thinks about his special day, his birthday. When he asks Mrs. Teaberry to come over for tea, she doesn’t disappoint, but makes him wait for a very long time so she can bake a cake, get the perfect present and buy balloons. (P-6, Q-8)

Melissa De La Cruz. Skinny-dipping. Simon & Schuster, 2005. $16.95. ISBN 1416903828. 289p.No index or glossary. Grades 9-12. (P8 /Q3 )
This book is the second in a series of “the au-pairs” … the babysitter’s club to the rich and famous. This is the on-going drama of the lives of three girls and the boys they hook up with over the summer while being au-pairs for families in the Hamptons of Long Island, NY. It’s a lot like an east coast 90210 meets the O.C. what with mini-scandals, back-stabbing innuendo, and name-dropping. It’s all about who is being seen with whom and what labels are they wearing. I waded my way through the syrupy plot to see how the author handled the flirtations and sexual experimentations and found it to be PG-13. There is some swearing, both in French and English, but it seemed well within the characters’ personalities. Even though selfishness and shallowness are admired and rewarded throughout the story, the characters learn lessons in the end that show they have grown up and grown together… until next summer, when it all begins again!

Blumenthal, Karen. Let Me Play: The Story of Title IX the Law That Changed the Future of Girls in America New York. Antheneum Books For Young Readers Pub., 2005. 152pp. $17.95 Ages 12 and Up ISBN 0-689-85957-0 P8/Q9
Gr 7 Up-A look at the birth, growth, and final emergence of Title IX. The author is supportive of its passage and implementation. Interesting and easy-to-follow chapters highlight the process of creating, revising, fighting for, and ultimately passing this legislation that gave girls and women equal access to physical-education classes, gymnasiums, universities, and graduate schools. Human-interest stories personalize the issues, and photographs of congresswomen fighting for equal opportunities for girls, women demonstrating, and the ultimate victory-a woman on the cover of Sports Illustrated-show how challenging, yet ultimately rewarding, the battle has been. Charts depict amazing statistics about the increase in athletic participation by females from 1970 to 2001. Cartoons show the humorous but painfully true attitudes of our culture toward women as they have strived to achieve equality in this country. The book closes with a “Then and Now” section highlighting the changes Title IX has brought about.

October Reviews K.R.
McKay, Hilary, Indigo’s Star. Margaret K. McElderry Books: New York, 2003.

Indigo Casson is probably the most normal of the Casson family. In a book that appears to be a sequel of another McKay book, he returns to school after having been ill and meets Tom, an American boy attending the school. The main theme has to do with bullying, but the characters are sound and definitely quirky. As a high school teacher, I am always looking for high interest, low vocabulary books for many of my students. Unfortunately, this one has characters who are too young for my crowd. The story is worthwhile and might appeal more to upper elementary and middle
school students. I enjoyed the book enough to give it 7 points, but as to whether I’d purchase it, I’d have to say no for high school students.

Isobelle Carmody, Night Gate. Random House: New York, 2000.
My students are getting frustrated by the number of “Book One in a Trilogy” books I have one hand. This one is sure to make them come unglued. What a terrific story created from the most unusual elements: a girl, a goat, dogs, and a mysterious gate in the forest that transforms the animals into human-like creatures that help Rage Winnoway in her quest to make her mother well. Unfortunately, this one, like the Indigo’s Star novel reviewed above is just a bit young for my high school kids. The ones who would enjoy it most are already reading Harry Potter et. Al. However, this—that is the whole trilogy—would be an excellent investment for the fantasy fans in upper elementary/middle school.

Hobbs, Valerie, Letting go of Bobby James, or how I found my self of steam. Frances Foster Books: New York, 2004.
I always worry when the title of a book seems too long for the number of pages in the novel itself. However, with as many teens in trouble as there are these days, this book certainly offers hope for people in the worst of situations. When Sally Jo Walker marries Bobby James and heads to Florida for a honeymoon, she discovers that he is abusive, and not the man she thought she had married. When he leaves her, she spends a night on a bus and in a parked car before she finds work and friends—friends whose lives become better because of knowing Jody. The book reminded me of another novel where the heroine, a girl named Hope, always leaves the phrase “Hope was here” whenever she and her aunt leave town. She, too, changed lives for the better. While the book isn’t perfect—a letter about coleslaw being the chief offender here—it is an inspiring and cheerful little piece of writing that even my high school students would enjoy. Buy it, sure, but don’t pay full price.

Harrar, George, Not as Crazy as I Seem. Houghton Mifflin Company: Boston, 2003.
If you have ever joked about Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Not as Crazy as I Seem is real enough to generate empathy rather than humor over this discomfiting phobia. Devon Brown has an obsession with the number four, a fear of germs, and a collection of psychological neuroses that make him appear peculiar to peers and teachers alike. Fortunately, he has supportive parents and a knowledgeable therapist to help him deal with the consequences of his OCD. This book is NOT Kissing Doorknobs. Devon’s OCD actually stems from an event from his childhood. Once he recognizes this, healing can occur.
I liked this book. It is an easy read for most high school students, but it deals with real problems and real people. For some readers, it will appear to be non-fiction! This is a must buy for reluctant readers.

Hawes, Louise, The Vanishing Point. Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston: 2004.
While I personally enjoy the historical fiction genre, it takes something really special to attract my students to it. This book is one of those “special” ones. The story deals with Lavinia Fontana, daughter of a portrait painter in the 1500’s. She has her father’s talent in a world that doesn’t accept women artists so she must follow her dream to gain recognition in spite of her father’s resistance to her learning his skills.
I hope I was not overly impressed by the author’s knowledge of painting, but this certainly gave me some insights regarding what is required of individuals who have this talent. I felt that in many ways, the story could have told itself without “Dickensonian” contrivances that just happened to put Vinni where she needed to be and with whom.
Rating: 8 for historical content/storytelling Purchase: 6-7 because I believe that the audience for this novel is somewhat limited.

Hausman, Gerald and Loretta, Napoleon and Josephine, The Sword of the Hummingbird. Orchard Books: New York, 2004.
So. Another work of historical fiction. This time the emphasis is on the fiction. Told mostly from the point of view of Josephine, this novel emphasizes the fairy tale, romantic life that she led following the divorce and execution of her first husband during the French Revolution.
While the work is well-written, as a social studies teacher I am troubled by works like this that are so-o-o fictional that many parts of the lives of the characters are ignored or hardly touched on. I think it gives students an excuse to disbelieve the “real” lives of the people who made history, makes them cynical, and causes them to believe that much of what we teach in school is fantasy. Don’t buy or even bother to read this book. As well-done as it is, it cannot hold a candle to the truth.

Zusak, Markus, I am the Messenger. Alfred A. Knopf: New York, 2002.
I have been looking for a new read-aloud for my sophomores and THIS IS IT! The story about Ed Kennedy, a “loser” 19-year-old is one that my students can relate to. His father is dead and his smelly dog is just about his only friend. However, Ed’s life changes when he captures a bank robber and then begins receiving Aces from a card deck that have instructions for him to follow. The results are marvelous; in changing others’ lives, Ed changes his own.
This book should be in every middle to high school English class room. It proves that stories with humor and a theme of helping one’s neighbors can be successful. Y.A. authors don’t need to dwell on the miserable side of growing up in order to appeal to teenagers.

McNeill, J.D., The Last Codfish. Henry Holt and Company, New York, 2005.

Predictable. The Last Codfish is predictable. For middle school students, perhaps, that is all right, but high school students are usually looking for something more. The author shares that while she was writing this, her first novel, she was also dealing with grief as does her main character, Tut. His mother died in a boating accident and he has refused to speak since then. Eventually, he gains control over his life (as did the author) and is faced with a crisis: getting into a boat again to rescue Alex, a (girl) friend from school.
The novel is easy to read; the characters are interesting and the plot, for most early teens would be new—I suppose. The teen issues are dealt with in a simple manner, but, again, for early teens that may be enough. Buy? 5 or 6 Book Quality? 6

Newberry, Linda, Sisterland. David Fickling Books: New York, 2003.
Sisterland is a novel where there is much to chew on. On the one hand, Heidi has to deal with the arrival of her senile grandmother into her home, a cheating boyfriend, a father who has been cheating, and a sister who makes poor choices for friends. On the other hand, the dichotomy is complete; Heidi also has close family relationships, romance, family history, mystery, and some wonderful characters.
Students at WHS have been involved in a national interviewing project where they have talked to and recorded the stories of WWII veterans. This novel would round out their experience as Heidi searches to find the truth behind her grandmother’s ramblings and evidence of a secret she has held inside for years.
Sisterland is not for the faint of heart. The issues of racism, family loyalty and even sexual orientation are dealt with on the complex level that they deserve. Three cheers for an author who knows how to handle such topics so well.
Buy? Yes! 9 – 10 Book Quality? 9

Bitton-Jackson, Livia: Hello America. Simon & Schuster: New York, 2005.
Hello America is the middle book in an autobiographical trilogy that began with I Have Lived a Thousand Years. Bitton-Jackson was a survivor of the Holocaust who shares her story of coming to America in 1951 and discovering that there is both prejudice and ignorance regarding the horrors faced by Jews in the concentration camps. Although the story is humorous in some places, what struck me most was the disillusionment resulting from her mistakes at trying to become an American.
While I would recommend Hello America to students who are interested in the impact WWI had on Europeans and Jews, specifically, I think that it has a limited appeal. As an adult, I enjoyed the details of her every day life, but it is those very kinds of details that
frustrate many students when they are reading novels. Nevertheless, for interested students, her story of her arrival in America and her journey from immigrant to teacher is a great example of how one goes about attaining the “American dream.” Buy? Sure, 7/8 Book Quality? Limited audience so 6/7

Marcello, Patricia Cronin, Gloria Steinem: A Biography. Greenwood Press: Connecticut, 2004.
Teachers my age, who grew up during the beginning years of the feminist movement, may feel disappointed that girls today have had no experience with the beginnings of the opportunities that are theirs because of Steinem and others. I was glad to read this book simply because even with my own understanding of “the movement,” I had never known anything about one of its authors.
This is a book for young adult women who need to see their own potential and what the future can bring to them. Steinem did not have a “typical” childhood, but learned independence and responsibility at an early age when she became the breadwinner for her family. The founder of Ms.Magazine and the writer of inspiring essays for women had a fascinating childhood that Marcello presents in an easy to digest book that is entirely accessible to high school readers.
Buy? 9 Book Quality? 9

Swanson, Julie A. Going for the Record; Eerdmans Books for Young Readers: Michigan, 2004.
Some writers can capture the readers’ imagination and whole heart, while others just seem to set up a world of disasters for their characters, not once connecting with the reader. Swanson has given readers a look at a real family facing the upcoming death of a beloved father and the tremendous impact it has on each everyone—particularly Leah Weiczynkowski, a talented soccer player who has just reached her goal of reaching the Olympic training team. Through the events that happen in the story, Leah realistically faces giving up her training, dealing with a crisis of faith, and spending time with her weakening father. Like Leah, I am close to my own father and I cried and cried. Great Book! Students who want to know the meaning of life can easily read this novel to follow Leah’s experiences while she discovers what is most important to her.
Buy? 10! Book Quality? 9 (I wish it weren’t in papberback)

Brashares, Ann. Girls in Pants: The Third Summer of the Sisterhood. Delacorte Press: New York 2005.
I think that what makes the Girls in Pants series so appealing to students is the way the author really cares about her characters. Far from presenting everything about them in the first book, Brashares has allowed the four girls to develop into nearly real people.
This summer, the last before college, some of the girls confront old challenges and others have new problems awaiting them. However, the pants that fit every size and shape arrive just in the nick of time, bringing with them the reassurance and love only friends from birth can share with each other. Tibby’s friend wants to become her boyfriend—and sex. Carmen’s family is changed by her mother’s announcement that she is pregnant. Bridget is reunited with the boy she met at soccer camp and Lena must deal with her father’s refusal to pay for her education in art.
Students in my class have been waiting for this book in the series; I can hardly wait to get it on the shelf to see who gets it first. My only concern with the book is its emphasis on sex. I know that students are much more knowledgeable about it than ever before, but I often wish we could go back to the “olden days” when that subject wasn’t a regular element of Y.A. literature. Nevertheless, the novel’s theme regarding the special relationships between best friends is an enduring one—a regular favorite in high school classes. Buy? 10 Book Quality? 9

Book Review October 2005 L.R.
Hillman, Laura. I Will Plant You a Lilac Tree. Atheneum, New York, 2005. $16.99 ISBN 0-689-86980-0 243 p. Gr. 7+. 

Hillman describes her life from the years 1942-1945 as a survivor of the Holocaust. Her story is one of courage, hope, love and also determination and she tells it in a manner that leaves the reader chilled at the brutality the Jewish race experienced through this time period. Maps and several family photos add to the appeal of this nicely written book. P.8, Q.9.

Zenatti, Valerie. When I was a Soldier. Bloomsbury, New York, 2002 translated 2005. $16.95 ISBN 1-58234-978-9 235 p. Gr. 9+.

In Zennatti’s memoir, When I was a Soldier, she describes her experiences and feelings when she served her compulsory military service in the Israeli army during the years 1988-90. Valerie’s life quickly changes as she must now endure the hardships of training, living away from home, and reconnecting with friends and family when she goes home on visits. A few party scenes, and subject matter makes this a title better suited for upper grade collections. P.7, Q.8.

Sandler, Martin W. America Through the Lens: Photographers Who Changed the Nation. Henery Holt, New York, 2005. $19.95 ISBN 0-8050-7367-1 182 p. Gr. 6+.
Sandler highlights the work of twelve photographers whose work made a lasting impression on the world. Each chapter profiles a period of time and photographer. Beginning with the Civil Was and ending with NASA’s photographs of space give a variety of subjects. In addition to photographs, biographical narratives, and accomplishments the photographers have discovered. A nice resource to be used in a variety of subject areas. P.8, Q.9.

Poole, Joshephine. Anne Franke. Illus. by Angela Barrett. Alfred A Knopf, New York, 2005. $17.95 ISBN 0-375-83242-4 Gr. 3-6.
This is a wonderfully illustrated picture-book biography of Anne Franke. Poole tells Anne’s story in a way that will spark interest and most likely encourage readers to read Anne Frank’s diary. While the book is not real informative it does give a nice introduction. A detailed chronology and personal story conclude. P.8, P.9.

Moses, Shelia P. I, Dred Scott. McElderry Books. 2005. $16.95 ISBN 0-689-85975-9 96 p. Gr. 5-8.
A fictional slave narrative based on the life and legal precedent of Dred Scott with a forward by John A. Madison Jr., great-grandson of Dred Scott. Moses gives insight to Dred’s life as a slave, never knowing his family. After spending a lifetime as a slave, he learns he is legally a free man according to the law, and spends 11 years trying to gain his freedom in court. Student will probably not pick this book up on their own to read, but one a teacher could certainly use as a resource. P.6, Q.7.

Bitton-Jackson, Livia. Hello, America. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005. $16.95 ISBN 0-689-86755-7 230 p. Gr. 7+. 
In this book, the third title in an autobiographical trilogy, the author describes her experiences as she and her mother arrive and live in New York after surviving the cruelties of living in death camps during the holocaust. Wanting to fulfill her dream of getting an education, and becoming a teacher, Elli works days and attends night school. Ellie’s strength, dedication, and commitment are admirable and truly inspiring. The book reads a little slow, but will make a nice addition to Holocaust collections. P.7, Q.8.

Rodowsky, Colby. The Next-Door Dogs. Illus. by Amy June Bates. Farrar Straus Giroux, New York, 2005. $15.00 ISBN 0-374-36410-9 103 p. Gr. 2-4.
Sara Barker is afraid of dogs. Her family has done everything to help with her phobia, but nothing has worked. When her neighbor needs help Sara must put her fears aside and help. Kids with fears will be able to relate to Sara. P.8, Q.8.

Yu, Chun. Little Green. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005. $15.95 ISBN 0-689-86943-4 112 p. Gr. 5-8. 
Little Green is born just as the Cultural Revolution is beginning. This is her story; a beautiful memoir in poetry. When her father is sent away for re-education and her mother works in the city, Little Green is sent to the country to live with her grandmother. Her childhood memories are brought to life with colorful language, first through the eyes of a carefree and slowly maturing into an aware-of-the-times young girl over time. I think this book would make a wonderful extension resource for teachers introducing the Chinese Cultural Revolution. P.7, Q.8.

Moore, Peter. Caught in the Act. Viking 2005. $16.99 ISBN 0-374-36410-9 Gr. 8+
A good read for high school aged students. The author, a middle school guidance counselor writes dialog that the reader will find accurate, interesting and fast paced. The characters are realistic and the plot unfolds in a way that will keep the reader engaged. I have no doubt that the reader will wasn’t to keep an eye out for future titles by this author.
Ethan is a good kid, right on track with what is parents believe will lead him to a career as a doctor one day. But when his honors chemistry class gets too difficult, Ethan resorts to cheating. When his teacher catches him, he knows that not only will his parents be disappointed, but he will also have to quit drama where he has a big part. This is where the strange new girl on campus comes into Ethan’s life and attempts to straighten everything out in her way. Now Ethan is in bigger trouble than he could ever imagine. P.8,Q.8.

Pascoe, Elaine. Fooled You: Fakes and Hoaxes Through the Years. Illus. by Laurie Keller. Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2005. $16.95 ISBN 0-8050-7528-3 87p. Ages all.
Twelve chapters, each describing a different hoax or fake is detailed for the reader. The author presents information surrounding the fakes and hoaxes and scattered illustrations add to the book’s quirkiness. P.5, Q.5. ( Not one of my picks)

Book Review October 2005 A.G
Whitelaw, Nancy. Catherine the Great and the enlightenment in Russia. Greensboro, NC: Morgan Reynolds Pub., 2005. 160 pp. Ages 14 up ISBN 1-931798-27-3 P6/Q9

This fascinating biography of the Russian czarina is richly illustrated and lively reading. The author takes an unconventional point of view—that of women’s history—to give some needed insight into the actions Russia took which so affected 18th century European history. Catherine’s frustrated love life takes center stage, without being terribly explicit. It gives new meaning to the concept that money, fame and power aren’t everything. This will make interesting free reading, or helpful biographic information for a world history class. A helpful timeline and map are included.

DuPrau, Jeanne. Car Trouble. NY: Greenwillow Books (Harper Colins), 2005. 274 pp. $16.89 Ages 13 up. ISBN 0-06-073674-7 P7/Q7

The boy-coming-of-age story features a 17-year-old computer geek heading out from Virginia to California in his new beater car. The school of hard knocks teaches him lessons every kid will need to know eventually, and on the way he meets a girl. While his life gets a bit more exciting than most, many of the difficulties ring true, and I wanted to quickly finish the book to find out how it ends. This may be a book that will interest otherwise nonreader boys.

Shusterman, Neal. Dread Locks. NY: Dutton’s Children’s Books (Penguin), 2005. 164 pp. $15.99 Ages 10 and up. ISBN 0-525-47554-0 P9/Q8
In this volume of the “Darkfusion” series, the author has wedded the fairy tale of Goldilocks and the Three Bears with the Greek myth of Medusa (goldilocks + gorgon = dreadlocks). A 15-year-old boy from a rich neighborhood befriends a new and mysterious neighbor girl, and creepy things start happening to the kids at school—from eating mud to looking very gray and moving very slowly. It should breathe life into ancient myth while still appealing to young people’s delight in scary stories. The vocabulary and vernacular style will make it easy to read aloud.

MacCullough, Carolyn. Stealing Henry. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook Press, 2005. $16.95 196 pp. Middle school/high school. ISBN 1-59643-045-1 P9/Q9
This is a fast-paced, well written story about a girl whose mother got pregnant with her out of wedlock, left home, and went traveling around the country. Alice wasn’t a bad mother exactly, but pretty hard on her luck, and eventually marries a man who is abusive to daughter Savannah. Savannah runs away, taking her little half-brother with her. The story alternates between present day and flashbacks on Alice and Savannah’s earlier life. The end of the story hints at the cycle of poverty. This story should appeal as free-reading for high school girls in particular.

November 2005 Reviews

Book Reviews – November 2005 L.F, Newport Middle School/Isaac Newton Magnet School
Nonfiction Selections:
Platt, Richard. Forensics. Kingfisher, Boston, 2005. $12.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5862-4 64 p. Gr. 5-8. 

This engrossing and fairly comprehensive book on crime detection would be a #1 circulated book for 5th-8th graders, if only the title wasn’t a word many kids don’t understand (hey, even my spell checker doesn’t recognize it.) While the book provides a general overview of techniques and technology used in forensics, it’s detailed enough to be a great resource for reports and interesting enough to make students want to know more. This would be a fabulous resource to use when introducing the microscope to kids, as it would provide impetus for learning how to use the microscope to find clues. Lavish photos, text symbols (indicating career paths, places to visit, etc.), an eye-catching layout, and easy-to-read fonts add to the appeal of this book. Each chapter includes a summary, www resources, brief bibliographies, and definitions. Also included: T of C, Foreword, Glossary, Acknowledgements, and Index. P10 Q8

Butterfield, Moira. Pirates & Smugglers. Kingfisher, Boston, 2005. $12.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5864-0 64 p. Gr. 3-8. 
Can there ever be too many books on pirates in a school library? Aarrgh, Matey, ye be keyhauled fer treason if ye think so! The lavishly illustrated, thoughtfully presented text is engaging enough for even the most reluctant readers. A great deal of history is presented in the book, as well as a detailed discussion on modern piracy and smuggling. This book might easily be used to introduce nonfiction works to lower elementary students, as the presentation is clear and well organized, yet engrossing as heck. Like other Kingfisher Knowledge books, each chapter includes a summary, www resources, a brief bibliography, and definitions. Also included: T of C, Foreword, Glossary, Acknowledgements, and Index. P10 Q8

Murrell, Deborah. Knights and Castles. Kingfisher, Boston, 2005. $12.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5935-3 32 p. Gr. 2-5. 
While there may be some overgeneralizations about knight-errantry, religion, and history given in this book, overall it is a nicely done primer on medieval civilization,
castles, and knights. Lavish illustrations in the book help make this a great read-aloud to younger classrooms, inspiring them to create castles, design a personal coat of arms, or even have a mini-medieval fest. It would make a great addition to any elementary school library. Also included: a pictorial T of C, Glossary, and Index P9 Q8

Shapiro, William E., general Editor. Student Encyclopedia of the United States. Kingfisher, Boston, 2005. $29.95 ISBN: 0-7534-5925-6 796 p. Gr. 4-8
This book is mediocre, as far as resource books go. Good things about it: easy to read, engaging, nicely illustrated, doesn’t take up a lot of shelf space. Negative things about it: some passages inaccurate, ‘punchy’ writing style isn’t good modeling for kids who need to know how to write complete sentences, much information missing. While it seems like a user-friendly idea to add ‘subject symbols’ to each heading, they are too small to discern what the symbol even is. Altogether, there are better concise encyclopedias out there that are worth the money. Better yet, spend the money on more almanacs! Also included: Alpha/page Index, Subject Index (nonpaginated, for some strange reason), Acknowledgements. P5 Q5

Goddu, Krystyna Poray. Dollmakers and their stories: women who changed the world of play. Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2004. $17.95 ISBN: 0-8050-7257-8 146 p. Gr. 5-12. 
The author notes “in this book you meet the women behind some of the most important dolls of the past hundred years.” That pretty much sums up the subject, but it hardly entices the casual browser. Yet, this book is truly a ‘sleeper’: meticulously researched, thoughtfully presented, and engaging. There are many aspects to this book that are appealing. For one, it’s a treatise on courageous, creative women who used their imaginations to succeed. Secondly, it’s historical biography that is concise, yet complete. Finally, it’s a vivid account of how our world of play was changed by these 5 women. The author also includes a section on “today’s women and the future of dolls.” The only thing that might have improved this book would be more photos, as the text leaves the reader hungry for more pictorial images. Also includes: T of C, Resources (organizations, websites, et al.), Bibliography, Acknowledgements/credits. P7 Q9

Millman, Isaac. Hidden Child. Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, New York, 2005. $25.25 ISBN: 0-374-33071-9 74 p. Gr. 3-7. 

This is one of the most incredible children’s books I have read in a long time. The author, a graphic designer/illustrator, has thoughtfully presented his autobiography of his formative years spent in hiding from Hitler’s forces. Unlike Anne Frank, Isaac is not isolated in a single room, but is shuttled from farm to farm, finally taken in by a wonderful, compassionate Hena, who makes sure he is delivered to safety in the end. The beautifully-written text is intense, made even more so by the author/illustrator’s segregation of graphic and text pages (i.e., text pages have no graphic distractions.) Though the story is very sad (the author’s parents are taken away to concentration camps, where they perish) it paints a picture of the courage and inextinguishable hope that helps the author survive and love life, despite the inhumanity he endures. This book might not be the most appealing to casual browsers, but it would be a great tool in the classroom for studies in history, culture, autobiographical work, or even graphic arts. Also Includes: afterword, acknowledgments. P6 Q10

White, Linda Arms. I could do that: Esther Morris gets women the vote. Illustrated by Nancy Carpenter. Farrar, Straus, Giroux, New York, 2005. $22.50 ISBN: 0-374-33527-3 40 p. Gr. 2-5. 
This lively book is a slightly fictionalized account of the life of Wyoming suffragist Esther Hobart Morris. It takes us from Morris’ childhood in New York to her widowhood in Illinois, and onto the Wyoming territory, where she opened her second hat shop and fought for the women’s right to vote. Throughout the text the reader is presented with her ‘can do’ attitude and questioning of society’s limitations on women. Humorous, vivid, and action-packed paintings engage the audience and the book would be a superb read-aloud to younger elementary classrooms. Altogether, this book is a must for elementary libraries! P7 Q9

Giovanni, Nikki. Rosa. Illustrated by Bryan Collier. Henry Holt and Co., New York, 2005. $16.95. ISBN: 0-8050-7106 # p. Gr. 3-5. 
This is a beautifully wrought account of Rosa Park’s refusal to sit in the back of the bus. The reader is introduced to her family, personality, daily routine, and the steaming streets of Montgomery, AL via the engaging text and rich illustrations. The prose is poignant and succinct, but the stage is well set for what ends up being a turning point in the Civil Rights Movement. Events following Rosa’s arrest are briefly discussed in a manner that is easy for even young listeners to understand, e.g., the meeting of the Women’s Political Council sounds a lot like something their moms might do. All in all, even though Rosa’s action was remarkable, it brings home the idea that it was something that an average person could do to protect their dignity. That is one of the things that makes this book so special: young readers will understand that they may be tools of social change. The one negative thing about this book, and it is a very minor thing, is the double-page fold out. While it is splendid and would add a lot to classroom read-alouds, it also makes this book less durable for wide circulation. All in all, though, it’s a book that belongs in every public and elementary library and would be a wonderful tool for discussing civil rights/disobedience, women’s issues, biography, or artistic technique. P8 Q10

Fiction Selections:
Hill, Laban Carrick. Casa Azul: An Encounter with Frida Kahlo. Watson-Guptill, New York, 2005. No price given, uncorrected proof copy ISBN: 0-8230-0411-2 148 p. Gr. 9-12. 
This book is another in the publisher’s “Art Encounters” series, which seek to educate young readers about the lives of famous artists “through evocative and thrilling stories that reflect the individual paintings featured.” In this book, Kahlo’s painting “Self Portrait with Thorn Necklace and Hummingbird” is the centerpiece. There’s a lot of great things about this work: it is enthralling, manages to give a lot of accurate biographical data, and, perhaps most importantly, it draws even reluctant students into art history and leaves the reader wanting to know more. What’s not so great: the fantasy distracts and misinforms, but, as the author points out in the preface, “the problem with real life is that it does not always add up.” Truly, this story is tidy and optimistic, where Kahlo’s life was often a mass of ‘thorn necklaces’ and angst. Two children – a 14 year old girl and her 8 year old brother – serve to personalize the book for young readers through their own dark adventure that becomes intertwined with Kahlo’s life immediately after her divorce from Diego Rivera. The author shows some brilliance by choosing to have the animal characters in Kahlo’s paintings (and even the inanimate articles in Casa Azul) come alive, talk, and help Kahlo rescue the two young protagonists. The reading level on this could easily be middle school, except for the adult language Kahlo uses. As a work of fiction, it’s an engaging read; as a biography, we can only hope that readers will want to seek the truth on their own. P7 Q8

Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s 6th Grade Notebook. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005. $9.95 ISBN: 0-689-87040-x 80 p. Gr. 4-7. 
The ever-insightful, precocious Amelia is promoted to middle school and faces a whole set of new challenges. Through her first-person narrative, written in a chipboard school journal, readers will walk the halls of preteen trauma and share her angst and victories. As the parent of 2 children who recently navigated the 6th grade minefield, I can attest to her portrayal being fairly accurate. The Amelia books are wonderful for so many reasons: they give a voice to preteen feelings, which can be hard for them to sort out; they show journaling at its finest; most importantly, they are entertaining. Unlike so many of the popular preteen books, Amelia books can be read in any order or by themselves without frustrating the reader. My only wish: that Moss would write a series from the boy’s perspective. My son loves Amelia books, but wouldn’t be caught dead checking one out in middle school! P9 Q8

Moss, Marissa. Amelia’s Most Unforgettable Embarrassing Moments. Simon & Schuster, New York, 2005. $13.95 ISBN: 0-689-87041-8 80 p. Gr. 5-8. 
Continuing on her middle school dialogue, Amelia writes a compendium of embarrassing moments, or at least that’s how it begins. Right after she pens “kids to avoid working on science projects with” she lets the reader know that her science class is going on a long field trip. This might be not so embarrassing, except that her klutzy, gross, and carsick older sister Cleo has been asked to go along as an aide. From that point on, it’s a tale of two siblings who discover each other’s strengths and learn to communicate and support each other. It’s a bit more saccharine than other Amelia books, but a good read. P9 Q8

Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Queen of the World. Random House, New York, 2005. $5.95 ISBN: 0-375-83229-7 96 p. Gr. 2-6. 
This is a fun romp through preteen angst, using a most unusual cast of characters: a mouse, cat, giraffe, weasel, and other assorted animal friends. Baby Mouse is at the center of this, as she deals with her fantasy of being ‘queen of the world’, peer pressure and rejection, and learning the value of true friendship. This would be yet another cutesy book, except that it is told so creatively in graphic novel format. It’s a great book for engaging reluctant readers (though it seems targeted towards girls, with its pink and black illustrations and girl power message) and might also be used to inspire beginning writers to construct their own graphic novels. P8 Q7

Holm, Jennifer L. & Matthew Holm. Babymouse: Our Hero. Random House, New York, 2005. $5.95 ISBN: 0-375-83230-0 96 p. Gr. 2-6. 
Continuing on the same theme as Babymouse: Queen of the World, this lighthearted, young graphic novel deals with other preteen concerns: school work, bullies, self esteem. Babymouse learns to assert herself and becomes a hero. On the way, she indulges herself in some very amusing fantasies. A nice series, but it’s not necessary to read them in sequence. P8 Q7

Landstrom, Lena and Olof. Four Hens and a Rooster. Raben & Sjogren Bokforlag, Stockholm, 2005. $16.00 ISBN: 91-29-66336-9 28 p. Gr. pK-2. 
OK, I’ll admit it: I’m a chicken farmer and a sucker for any sort of poultry books, especially cute Swedish chicken ones. That said, I’m pretty critical of how chicken’s characters are portrayed, since there’s nothing worse than bad poultry anthropomorphizing.. Chickens are subtle, and their social structure is complex. Hens are usually pretty complacent and roosters can be major jerks. This book uses those traits to create a great story that even beginning listeners will be engaged by. The illustrations are so funny and complement the sardonic text perfectly. Four Hens and a Rooster would be a great addition to any elementary or public library, perfect for read-alouds. (Call me if you want to borrow a chicken!) P9 Q9

Reed, Lynn Rowe. Thelonius Turkey lives!: (on Felicia Ferguson’s Farm) Alfred A. Knopf, New York, 2005. $15.95 ISBN: 0-375-83126-6 40 p. Gr. pK – 2 
Forget what I just said above about my hatred of bad poultry anthropomorphizing. This book’s central character, Thelonius, is a smart turkey (though in the real word, turkeys are famous for their doorknob-like I.Q.’s) who thinks his days are numbered and launches a barnyard revolution. This off-the-wall, quirky turkey replumbs the milking machine to give farmer Felicia a milk shower, makes “pinch me” signs and hangs them on Felicia for the geese to read (ouch!), hard boils the hens’ eggs, and talks the pigs into crawling into Felicia’s bed (pee-eww!) All the while, Felicia patiently feeds him and plucks his feathers. The day before Thanksgiving, Felicia hauls Thelonius into town, only to show him her fashion hat factory. Thelonius is relieved he isn’t going to be dinner and thrilled that his feathers have made him a hat celebrity. The illustrations, a combination of bright, flat acrylics and 3-D collage items (like plastic horses and feathers) in the book are very fun and easy for young readers to relate to. This would make a great read-aloud (possibly inspiring some unique collages) to classes, especially around – you guessed it – Thanksgiving. P7 Q7

November 2005 Book Reviews by D.C.
Banks, Paul. It’s a Dog’s Life. Illus. by Jakob Kirchmayr. Penguin: 2005 $14.99 ISBN 0-698-40009-7 Ages: Preschool P – 7, Q – 5

This book will be picked up because of the cute dog illustrations but the story is someplace between average and irritating. Banks has adapted on of his songs for this book. When reading the story it is obvious that it may be a song and might work alright that was but doesn’t flow as well as a story. It might have helped to have the song, with music, included with the book.

Broach, Elise. Wet Dog! Illus. by David Catrow. Dial: 2005 $16.99 ISBN 0-8037-2809-3 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P – 7, Q – 8
An old and very hot dog shows everyone how to enjoy life and cool off on a hot summer day. Some will want to read or look at this book just for the dog illustrations.

D’Lacy, Chris. The Fire Within. Orchard: 2005, c2001 $14.95 ISBN 0-439-67243-0 Ages: Grades 4th – 7th P – 7, Q – 7
Anyone who wants to have their own dragon will enjoy this story. David is a college student who moves into a house with Liz and her eleven-year-old daughter, Lucy. Liz makes small clay dragons to sell at the craft fairs. But there is a mystery surrounding her dragons and David learns more about the dragons as he also learns that he is a talented writer. The cover alone will encourage people to pick up the book and read it.

Hewitt, Kathryn. No Dogs Here! Illus. Dutton: 2005 $15.99 ISBN 0-525-47200-2 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P – 8, Q – 7
It seems that everyplace is off limits to dogs. Three dog friends decide this is because they don’t have clothes. They put on clothes and enjoy going to the library, out for pizza, shopping, and skateboarding. The trouble comes when the get hot and decide to try out the public swimming pool. The moral to the story is great – and you have to read the book to learn it. The illustrations are very fun.

Kelly, Irene. A Small Dog’s Big Life: Around the World with Owney. Illus. Holiday House: 2005 $16.95 ISBN 0-8234-1863-4 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P – 6, Q – 9
This is a fictionalized account of the adventures of Owney. The travels are real. The letters are the author’s thoughts about what might have happened at some of Owney’s stops along the way between 1889 and 1897. Owney and his tags are an exhibit of the National Postal Museum, part of the Smithsonian Institute. The story and illustrations are entertaining and more interesting information about Owney and the writing of the book is in the Author’s Note.

King, Stephen Michael. Mutt Dog! Illus. Harcourt: 2005 $16.00 ISBN 0-15-205561-4 Ages: Preschool – 1st Grade P – 9, Q – 10
Mutt Dog is trying to survive on his own living in the city. Finding shelter and food is very difficult. But he really is a cute, scruffy dog and finds a home in the end. The best illustration is Mutt Dog just after he is brushed. This is just a fun story.

Robertson, M. P. The Great Dragon Rescue. Illus. Dial: 2004 $16.99 ISBN 0-8037-2973-1 Ages: Preschool – 2nd Grade P – 7, Q – 9
What could be better than a story with dragons, witches, toads, fiery dragon breath, a race and a rescue? Yes, all of the ingredients for a good story. On top of that the illustrations are perfect, including one where the caged baby dragon is forced to barbecue toads for the witch.

Sturges, Philemon. Waggers. Illus. by Jim Ishikawa. Dutton: 2005 $16.99 ISBN 0-525-47116-2 Ages: Preschool P – 5, Q – 4
The story is about a meeting of the dogs about getting rid of cats that a small cat spies on. The dogs all hang up their tails before the meeting and the tails all get mixed up. So, dogs now sniff each other looking for their own tails. Even the youngest child will probably think the concept of dogs taking off their tails/waggers is just implausible.

Turner, Sandy. Cool Cat, Hot Dog. Illus. Atheneum: 2005. $16.95 ISBN 0-689-84946-x Ages: Preschool P – 5, Q – 5
The illustrations for the book are the main interest, not the story. The illustrations are made with cut paper, pencil and collage. This is a conversation between a cat and a dog about who is best, of course.

November 2005 reviews by C.S.
Picture Books
Collicutt, Paul. This rocket. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. $15.00. 0-374-37484-8. unp. Ages 4-10. P8 Q4 

This book has technical text on endpapers aimed at sophisticated student readers. However the endpapers surrounds lack luster illustrations and verse, the longest sentence containing nine words. Most of these words are too complicated for beginning readers, but too lame for advanced readers.

Mugford, Simon. Sharks and other dangers of the deep. Priddy books [for St. Martin ’s Press], 2005. $9.95. 0-312-49533-1. unp. Ages 4 and up. P9 Q9 

Totally enjoyable! Colorful, informative! The only flaws I could find: a couple borders slightly irregular, and the curiosity of highlighted text. Some words appear in the glossary, most don’t. This is such a minimal infraction, it’s hardly worth mentioning. Wonderful endpapers (including glossary); terrific “danger rating” (zero jaws to five); creative “size” comparison model. I highly recommend this book! It will be a great asset when studying ocean units at school! Moreover, I learned a lot about sharks while reading it. For $9.95, it is a bargain!

Reilly, Matthew. Crash course [Hover car racer, Bk 1]. Pablo Raimondi. Simon & Schuster, 2004. $9.95. 1-4169-0225-2. 207 p. Ages 10-18. P8 Q9.

This young Australian author first published Hover car racer online… No longer free online, it is now in print. The fast-paced action is set slightly in the future. Fourteen-year-old Jason Chaser and his 12-year-old brother, “Bug,” pilot and navigate a hover craft. The boys are so talented they become the youngest team accepted into the world-renown International Race School in Tasmania . Futuristic : an elderly and eccentric backyard inventor creates a revolutionary flying machine and then rather and patent it, he makes the technology freely available to anyone. Hover technology requires no gasoline, so the Mid-east oil-producing countries crumble. Feminist : Jason befriends Ariel, the first girl to break into the “old boys club” racing world. Other racers ostracize Ariel. Being the youngest racer Jason can relate to being ostracized. Subtle morals : advice given to Jason from his adoptive father “Never ever worry about having the “Hard” teacher. Trust me, the hard teachers are always the best teachers.” This author has a lot going for him! This fast paced, attention-grabbing story has an environmentally friendly nature, feminist worldview, and great role models. Terrific web site, very appealing to Reilly fans and beginning authors alike. This author will win over a lot of reluctant readers! Reilly has five successful adult novels: Contest ; Area 7 ; Temple ; Ice Station ; and Scarecrow and is rapidly gaining readership around the world.

Krull, Kathleen. Giants of Science: Leonardo da Vinci. Boris Kulikov. Viking, 2005. $15.99. 0-670-05920. 124 p. Ages 10-adult. P7 Q8.

This biographical study of Leonardo focuses on his fascination with science and investigation, less with his sculpture and painting (which actually was very minimal.) Leonardo was particularly known for starting projects and then not completing them. Because Leonardo’s math skills were lacking he often saw patterns that were not there. His Vitruvian Man, although anatomically correct, caused him to incorrectly theorize that squares and circles formed the basis of everything in the world. Today Leonardo’s manuscripts, know as Codices are spread around the world. Some are still missing, many codices are available online, such as through the British Library in London . This book seems well researched and provides a good bibliography and index. I wish some of da Vinci’s actual drawings (Vitruvian Man, flying machines, etc.) could have been included, the illustrations provided are weak, almost comic, by comparison. Toward the end of the book (p. 112), Krull defines Leonardo: “he was like a surfer on a huge wave—the spirit of intellectual tolerance fostered by the Renaissance, the empowering access to information supplied by the new printing presses. Yet he always remained out of step: a left-handed, illegitimate, homosexual, antiwar vegetarian with extraordinary artistic talent. His outsider status took him on paths others couldn’t even see.”

November 2005 Reviews by N.W.
Allen, Judy. Fantasy Encyclopedia: A Guide to Fabulous Beasts and Magical Beings–From Elves and Dragons to Vampires and Wizards. $24.95. Kingfisher, 2005. 0-7534-5847-0. 144p. Ages 10+: 

Bold, colorful two-page spreads present the historical creatures from myths, legends, fables, and folklore of magic, both natural and human, Each subject includes a brief list of books and movies, some fictional and some informational, that feature these creatures. The fanciful illustrations and descriptive stories will captivate readers interested in the spellbinding world outside accepted reality. P9Q7

Cheney, Lynne. A Time for Freedom. $15.95. Simon & Schuster, 2005. 1-4169-0925-7. 202p. Ages 12+: 
The wife of the current vice-president encourages readers to “appreciate the great good fortune we have to be Americans” through providing chronological sound bites of the events from 13,000 years ago to 9/11/2001. With the white space and the black and white photos, the text gives only a sampling of occurrences, showing an interesting bias for the past 40 years with times of Republican presidents reflecting more positive events than those of the Democratic presidents. Perhaps a subtitle would be “American Events as Selected by a Conservative Republican.” P4Q4

Ross, Stewart. Egypt in Spectacular Cross-Section. Il. By Stephen Biesty. $18.99. Scholastic, 2005. 29p. Ages 10+: 

The oversized, highly detailed format of places and objects across history made famous by Dorling Kindersly two decades ago appears in a new Biesty book accompanied by the story of an 11-year-old traveling with his father on a 30-day journey up the Nile River during the reign of Ramses the Great in 1230 BCE. Incredible detailed drawings highlight bustling river ports, rock a quarry, a pharaoh’s tomb in the Valley of the Kings, the seven stages of mummification, and the Nile itself during the civilization of ancient Egypt. This is great for browsers although the attempt at a story seems to take away from the book’s interest. P9Q7

Shetterly, Robert. Americans Who Tell the Truth. $18.99. Dutton, 2005. 0-525-47429-3. 46p. Ages 10+: 
In our society, the telling the truth, struggling to keep democracy, is becoming a more precious–and little-used–commodity. This book uses portraits, quotations, and brief biographies to highlight 50 people , 40% of them still alive, who fought to close the gap between what the United States says about equality, justice, and democracy and what it does. The list includes writers, labor leaders, artists, environmentalists, political activists, reporters, and politicians, even a teenage girl. Sharing this book with young people can show them that they too shape history by their actions. Curriculum support and information about the traveling art show on which this book is based is at http://www.americanswhotellthetruth.org. P7Q8

Picture Books
Banyai, Istevan. The Other Side. $15.99. Chronicle, 2005. 0-8118-46-8-3. Unp. Ages – All: 

The Hungarian creator of wordless books Zoom and Re-Zoom has produced another book about perspective providing clever twists to point of view with the back, the front, the top, the bottom, and the opposite of familiar scenes. What’s on the other side of the door? In graphite and digitally colored illustrations, Banyai shows us. This is a book that inspires creativity and thought. P10Q9

Cronin, Doreen and Betsy Lewin. Click, Clack, Quackity-Quack: An Alphabetical Adventure. $12.95. 0-689-87715-3. Unp. Ages 3-6: 
The cows of Farmer Brown’s farm are typing again, this time with the story told letter by letter. From “animals awake” to “zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz” the book shows the creatures’ adventures throughout the day. Although not as engrossing as the earlier Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type, Lewin manages to capture some of the animals’ personalities in the bold watercolors, particularly those of the kittens kicking, leaping, and licking. P7Q8

D’Amico, Carmela & Steven. Ella. $16.99. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2005. 0-439-62794-X. Unp. Ages 4-8: 
The charming little elephant is back, this time in a tale resulting from her need to help in her mother’s bakery. Soft clored-pencil line and bright warm colors evocative of Ludwig Bemelman’s Madeline books enhance Ella’s adventures as she finally gets an assignment to deliver a cake to Captain Kernel’s lighthouse, sometimes with disastrous results, once again because of her need to help. Librarians will like the part where Ella offers to return a toppling pile of books to the library for a neighbor. And all of us will enjoy the illustrations of the village on the edge of the bright blue sea as completely shown in the endpapers. P9Q9

Geisert, Arthur. Lights Out. $16.00. Houghton, 2005. 0-618-47892-2. 32p. Ages 8+: 
Geisert’s well-known tongue-in-cheek silliness manifests itself again in his porcine obsession as he illustrates in meticulous detail the extent to which a mechanical genius piglet will go to keep the light on until he goes to sleep–even though he has pulled the cord to shut it off. Using dominoes, scissors, cord, sand, water, a bicycle, bellows, broom, a ball, tub, magnet, and other household objects, he devises a contraption of kinetic wonder with each action triggering another reaction. As always with Geisert, a true delight with its delicately tinted engravings and patient parent pigs. P8Q8

Marino, Gianna. Zoopa: An Animal Alphabet. $14.95. Chronicle, 2005. 0-8118-4789-6. Ages 3-6:
Although another alphabet books might go from “ant” to “zebra,” Marino takes a different twist as a multitude of creatures surround the letters in the red soup. And not all the animals are typically well-known to the United States audience; for example, iguana, koala, nanny goat, hedgehog, yak, and, especially, xenops. There’s lots of fun finding all the animals as each two-page spread collects two or three more until all 26 are clustered at the end. Fortunately, there’s a cheat sheet to identify the animals; the challenge is finding all of them throughout the book. A fun, colorful read from the ant on the front endpage to “The End” on the broken soup bowl on the last. P9Q8

Munsch, Robert. The Sand Castle Contest. Il. Michael Martchenko. $3.99. Scholastic, 2005. 0-439-7465-8. Unp. Ages 4-8: 
Matthew’s trip to the beach with his family is made even more entertaining when Matthew enters a sand castle contest, building a house so realistic that the judges won’t believe that it’s made of sand. Typical Munsch humor comes out in the illustrations, with pile of “needs” for the beach stacked high on the trailer and the dry delivery of the narrative. Yet those looking for the sweetness of Love You Forever or the hilarity of Good Families Don’t will find a fairly ordinary book at a good price. P7Q5

Richardson, Justin and Peter Parnell. And Tango Makes Three. Il. Henry Cole. $14.95. Simon & Schuster, 2005. 0-689-8745-1. Unp. Ages 4-7: 
The movie The March of the Penguins has made the Emperor Penguin famous. This gentle tale set at New York’s Central Park Zoo does the same for two male chinstrap penguins that fall in love and start a family by sitting on an abandoned egg until it hatches. The clear text begins with a discussion of families, both human and animal, before describing the relationship between Roy and Shilo who watch the other penguins and then first try to hatch a rock. Watercolors by the illustrator of The Sissy Duckling help the text trace the penguins’ relationship and parenting abilities. P8Q8

Slonim, David. He Came with the Couch. $15.95. Chronicle, 2005. 0-8118-4430-7. Unp. Ages 4-8:

Tender whimsey in both watercolors and narrative highlight the message of caring when a family searches for a new couch and discovers that their purchase comes with an unusual creature attached to it suffering from, according to the doctor, “an acute case of upholsterosis.” From the first scene of a burning couch being thrown out a window through attempts to get rid of the creature and then take him on a vacation–on the couch–to the saving of the family’s daughter as she falls out of a tree keep the reader chuckling and wanting more. Maybe a sequel? Because “it wasn’t long before we were off to another rummage sale.” People who delight in searching for treasures among used items will especially love this zany story. P10Q10

Stimson, James. Thirteen O’Clock. $15.95. Chronicle, 2005. 0-9811-4839-6. Unp. Ages 6-10: 
Black and white pencil illustrations tinged with dark green illuminate the variety of fonts for the narrative that shows a mastery of word-smithing. The antics of a perky prankster in pajamas is a feast of words filled with sly wordplay, atmospheric illustrations, and a baker’s dozen of spritely, spooky, spunky characters each appearing with the chimes of the “thirteen o’clock.” What terrifies the ghosts and ghouls and other mischievous things? Why, the small girl whose clocks counts not twelve but a spooky…kooky…thirteen! More fun than fright with more mystery than mayhem. P9Q9

Young, Ed. Beyond the Great Mountains: A Visual Poem about China. $17.95. Chronicle, 2005. 0-811-4343-2. Unp. Ages 4j+: 
Spare prose and gorgeous paper-collage illustrations combine to convey the many aspects of China and form a poetic picture, lovely as a rice-paper painting, of the land’s grace, depth, and majesty. From the first line, “Beyond the great mountains” to the last, “This was middle empire, China,” the lyrical text and soft colors demonstrate the beauty and richness of China. Some librarians will hate the sideways format, difficult to hold, whereas others will delight in the depiction of the Chinese characters, both ancient and modern, and their connection to Young’s illustrations. P6Q10

Carter, Betsy. The Orange Blossom Special. $23.95. Algonquin, 2005. 1-56512-449-9. 296p. Ages 14+: 

In 1958, widowed Tessie Lockhart, mother of a 13-year-old daughter, pins her hair in a French twist and gets ready to change her life. The depiction of their move to Florida, full of richly drawn characters, shows the variety of ways people struggle to escape grief and get on with their lives. From the innocence of the 1950s to the changes of the 1960s, the novel is ideal for teenage readers who want to examine other lives and other times. Thoughtful and endearing with charming humor. P7Q8

McKissack, Patricia. Abby Takes a Stand. Il. Gordon C. James. [Series: Scraps of Time] $14.99. Viking, 2005. 0-670-06011-9. 104p. Ages 7-10: 
When Mattie Rae finds an old menu from a Nashville restaurant in her grandmother Gee’s attic, Gee tells the story of what happened in 1960 when, at the age of ten, she passed out flyers while her cousin and other adults held sit-ins at restaurants and lunch counters to protest segregation. In fiction form, the author explains the different lives that African Americans lived then and now. The prejudice and bigotry are demonstrated without didactic overtones, and the characters are personable and likable as they pursue their goals. Black and white drawings extend this view of everyday life for those who changed racist policies in this country. P7Q7

Klise, Kate. Regarding the Trees: A Splintered Saga Rooted in Secrets. Il. M. Sarah Klise. $15.00. Gulliver/Harcourt, 2005. 0-15-205163-5. 145p. Ages 8-12:
Letters, newspaper articles, and secret notes tell the story of Geyser Creek Middle School–its students, faculty, staff, and designer Florence Waters who opposes the principal’s plan to cut down the trees at the school. Middle school readers will enjoy the breezy format, sometimes almost unbearable puns, the conflict between the boys and girls, and all the other pieces of this intricately developed look at a segment of society. Reading this book makes one want to find Regarding the Fountain and Regarding the Sink, earlier books in the series, and watch for Regarding the Bathrooms: A Privy to the Past.” P8Q8

Thomas, Jane Resh. The Counterfeit Princess. $15.00. Clarion, 2005. 0-395-93870-8. 197p. Ages 12-16: 
The character and personality of teenage Elizabeth before she becomes England’s queen in the sixteenth century are shown through the eyes of Iris, a fictional daughter of an English earl and countess who loses her home and parents through the political intrigues of the time. The novel shows both the dangers to Elizabeth and the treachery of the English court as Iris becomes first a spy and then poses as Elizabeth. The description of the political structure is clear, and the messages and romance are not overdone. Iris comes into her own, Elizabeth continues to live, and the newly crowned Queen Mary forces her religion on the English people. P6Q8

November 2005 Reviews by M.W. WEMS
Walker, Rob D. Il, Mahurin, Matt, Once Upon a Cloud, 2005 2p, $16.95, 0-439-668879-5 K-1 /Picture Book

What are clouds made of and why do they float? This is the beginning of opening up a child’s imagination to what the possibilities might be. The book is filled with bright, warm illustrations and is fun to read. I can picture this one being read to K-1 classes during library time. P9Q9

Whybrow, Ian, Il Reynolds, Adrian. Harry and the Dinosaurs at the Museum Random House, 2005, $15.95, 0-375-83338-2, K-1/Picture Book 
An adventure of a young boy who loves his pet dinosaurs. The book would be appealing to a child who loves dinosaurs. The illustrations were good. The story was okay. The ending was cute but not as interesting getting to it (even for as short as it was). P7/Q7

Cox, Judy, Il Sims, Blanche, That Crazy Eddie and the Science Project of Doom, Holiday House/New York, 2005, 88p, $15.95, 0-8234-1931-2, 3rd grade 
It’s a book about friendship and its ups and downs as a 3rd Grader. It talks about situations that most 3rd graders could relate to. The main characters team up to work on a science project and find out things don’t always go as planned. It is a good book for early readers and at the end tells the reader how to build a volcano. P8/Q8

November 2005 Book Reviews by C.B.
Banks, Kate, Friends of the heart : amici del cuore, Frances Foster Books, New York, 2005, 138 pgs., $16.00, ISBN: 0-374-32455-7, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,

Lucrezia and Ollie’s and their families have been friends forever. Lurezia narrates this tale of two best friends for who time and distance makes no difference to the friendship they share. The one last summer they have together in Milan, Italy brings both friends the realization that time moves on and they will change but they will remain friends too. Hating goodbyes Lucrezia bids Ollie one more before he is killed by a terrorist bomb. Middle and High school students looking for a good read will love this book.

Clements, Bruce, What Erika wants, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, 215 pgs., $16.00, ISBN:0-374-32304-6, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
Erika is a 14-year-old girl whose divorced parents are fighting for custody of her. Erika is pulled between both of her parents trying to make every one happy. With the help of Erika’s lawyer, Jean Rostow-Kaplan, Erika discovers that she can only be responsible for her own happiness and not others. Sure to appeal to middle and high school students who are looking book that deals with self discovery and divorce.

Cooney, Caroline B, Code Orange, Delacorte Press, New York, 2005, 200 pgs., Glossary, $15.95, ISBN:0-385-73259-7, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q8,
A science class assignment on disease leads Mitty to choose smallpox for his report. So starts Mitty’s adventure when he finds smallpox scabs in old medical journal and inhales them. Mitty finds there is fourteen day incubation for this disease and goes to the internet seeking to what to do next. Captured by a cell of terrorist in New York Mitty must escape to ensure they do not use him for resource to wipe out the city of New York with the smallpox disease. Teachers looking for a read aloud book to introduce topics of terrorism, terrorist cells and bio warfare this book is it. Middle and high school students will find it a fascinating and disturbing read.

Courtnay, Bryce, The power of one, Delacorte Press, New York, 1999, 291 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:0-385-73254-6, Gr. 8+, P 7, Q 7,
Peekay is a friendless young man growing up in South Africa during World War II. It is the chance meeting of a boxer that changes Peekay and gives him the dream of one day being a boxing champion of the world. It is also a look into the prejudice of South Africa towards blacks and people of color at this time. Peekay becomes fast friends with two men, one a German professor who teaches him piano and the other a man of mixed race who teaches him boxing. Set in a prison of South Africa Peekay comes to understand not to judge a man by his race or his country’s origins but rather what is inside a person. High school students will gravitate towards this book which offers a closer look at the development of a boy’s dreams.

Delaney, Joseph, The last apprentice : revenge of the witch, Greenwillow Books, New York, 2005, 344 pgs., $14.99, ISBN:978-0-06-076618-4, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,
Being the seventh son of a seventh son is just one of the requirements needed by 13 year-old Thomas, to become the spooks, old Gregory, apprentice. It is time for Gregory to teach his trade, ridding the local villages of evil, to another and so he takes Thomas to do so. The problem is their have been 29 others who have already failed. But can Thomas learn all he needs to deal with witches, ghouls and boggarts? Thomas and Gregory together must ban together and strive to make a success to keep the evil at bay. Sure to appeal to those readers who are drawn to fantasy books.

Frank, E.R., Wrecked, Atheneum Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, 247 pgs., $15.95, ISBN:978-0-689-87383-6, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,
Anna and her friend Lisa are driving home from a party one night when they hit and kill Cameron, a beautiful and talented high school student. Cameron is also the girl friend of Jack, Anna’s brother. This is a complex story offering middle and high school students a look into the lives of a family devastated by an accident that involved drinking and driving. Health teachers looking for a book to use in discussion about teenage drinking will clamor for this book.

Gavin, Jamila, The blood stone, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2003, 340 pgs., $18.00, ISBN:0-374-30846-2, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Set in the 17th century this story takes the reader on an adventure from Venice, Italy to court of the Mogul in Agra. It is Filippo, 14 years old, who is chosen by his family to carry the jewel “Ocean of the Moon” to the great Mogul’s court, where he will exchange it for money to ransom his kidnapped and hostage father. Disaster is waiting around every turn for Filippo as he makes this journey. Students who like adventure will love this book.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson, Double identity, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, New York, 2005, 218 pg., $15.95, ISBN:978-0-689-87374-4, Gr.5+, P 8, Q 8,
Bethany is awakened by her father one night and mysteriously taken across the state to be left with her father’s sister, aunt Myrlie. Here in Sandersville, Illinois Bethany fast approaching 13 finds that her father and mother had another child and that they left mysteriously one night and changed their names from Cole to Krull. Bethany is also in grave danger and has only her aunt and an old friend of the family, her dead sister’s best friend Joss to help her. As people take double takes of Bethany and compare her to her dead sister does the truth about her creation come out. The conclusion of this book will grip the reader as well as the twist and turns that the story offers to the reader.

Mayall, Beth, Mermaid park, Penguin Young Readers Group, New York, 2005, 248 pgs., $16.99, ISBN:1-59514-029-8, Gr. 8+, P 8, Q 8,
Living in New York Amy Rush, 16 years-old, feels she is not part of her dysfunctional family. A verbally abusive bullying step father, a mother who picks losers, and a pretty sister all help to make Amy feel unwanted. A trip to the coast of New Jersey finally gives Amy the chance to find out who she really is and the chance to grow into herself. Any teenager will find this book a fun read.

Meyer, Carolyn, Marie dancing, Harcourt, 2005, 255 pgs. $17.00, ISBN:0-15-205116-3, Gr. 9+, P 7, Q 8,
Every dancer dreams and struggles to be the best that can be. Marie growing up in Paris, France also dreams of one day being a great ballerina. Her family who are poor struggle to keep both her sisters and herself dancing. 14 year-old Marie does dance and Degas the famous painter asks her to pose for him to. It is Marie who models for his famous sculpture “Little dancer Aged Fourteen,” with the money she earns her family’s life is for a while a little less severe. Marie’s older sister becomes pregnant it is Marie who gives up her dream of being a dancer and cares for her sister child. Dancers of high school age will love this book.

Poole, Amy Lowry, The Pea Blossom, illustrated by Amy Poole, A Holiday House Book, New York, 2005, unp, $16.95, ISBN:0-8234-1864-2, Gr. 2+, P 8, Q 9,

Set in Beijing, China five peas in a pod are growing. As they become plumper it also becomes more crowded each pea wants escapes to find their destiny. One special pea, the smallest is content to wait to see what will happen. As a young boy pops the pod open the pea finds itself deposited on the window sill of a young sick girl. Here the young pea helps to heal girl by giving her hope. Beautifully illustrated with full page colored layouts any student who is interested in tales from other lands will cherish this story.

Spirin, Gennady, Martha, Philomel Books, China, unp, $14.99, ISBN:0-399-23980-4, Gr. 2, P 7, Q 7,
Based on the true story of the author’s son, Ilya who while living in Moscow befriends an injured wild bird, a Crow. This is the story of how this unique bird became part of a family and in the end how it is returned to the wild. The illustrations of this book also depict the warmhearted life in Russia today. Elementary students will love this read-aloud book.

Sidman, Joyce, Song of the water Boatman & other pond poems, illustrated by Beckie Prange, Houghton Mifflin Co., Boston, 2005, unp., $16.00, ISBN:0-618-13547-2, Gr. 4+, P 8, Q 10,

This collection of poems offers the reader not only poems but factual scientific notes on each animal portrayed. Full page colored spreads abound in this collection of various poetry forms on animals of the ponds. Sure to appeal to any grade level that is studying poetry.

Rubin, Susan Goldnman, The flag with fifty-six stars : a gift from the survivors of Mauthausen, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth, Holiday House, New York, 40 pgs., 2005, $16.95, ISBN:0-8234-1653-4, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,
When Mauthausen concentration camp was liberated by American troops in the spring of 1945, they were honored by the survivors who had stitched a flag together with scraps from found in the camp. This vivid illustrated book shows the hope that the survivors finally had when they learned the allied forces were near. Sure to appeal to all history teachers planning a unit on horrors of World War II.

Sills, Leslie, From rags to riches : a history of girls’ clothing in America, A Holiday House Book, 2005, $16.95, 48 pgs., index, pictures, ISBN:0-8234-1708-5, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 7,

Students who are in need of book that deals with the history of clothes will find this book a great place to start. A short history of those immigrants to America who dealt with the clothing manufactured in dark crowded buildings and the fire at the Triangle Shirtwaist factory are mentioned in this book. It does however give a more historical view of the changing fashions starting with the Colonial period to that of today.

November 2005 Reviews by A.G
Cooney, Caroline B. Code Orange. NY: Delacourte Press, 2005. $15.95. 200 pp. ages 12 and up ISBN 0-385-73259-7 P9/Q8

This mystery thriller centers on a teen boy who has to write a biology research paper on an infectious disease. The catch is that he has to use books, not just the Internet.
The topic he chooses is smallpox, and the story is a good way to cover the history and epidemiology of the disease that nearly wiped out North American Natives. The mystery includes the teen actually experiencing symptoms and encountering terrorists who try to use him as a “weapon of mass destruction”. There is much that is familiar to teens—procrastinating term papers, preferring to listen to music, an active social life, etc.—as well as the action which should make this lesson in biology and history fascinating. The author includes an endnote that contains a bibliography of the written sources she used to write the book.

Erdrich, Louise. The game of silence. NY: Harper Collins, 2005. $16.89 256 pp. ages 8 and up ISBN 0-06-029790-5 P8/Q9
This story, second in a series set in 1850 in the Great Lakes region among the Ojibwa, could be a companion to the “Little House in the Prairie” series. The protagonist is a young girl who has to deal with an annoying little brother and various personalities among the other villagers. Her tribe has been double-crossed by the white government, forced to leave their land but not paid as they were promised. It’s a good way to learn everyday cultural life of the time, similar to the Wilder series, while following a family over time as they leave one home and start a new life. Erdrich is a good writer, and her use of many Ojibwa words works (not only is there a glossary in the back, but she usually defines the words in the sentence). Longfellow wasn’t the only author to use these words; students may run across them elsewhere as well.

Carlson, Lori Marie, Ed. Moccasin thunder. NY: Harper Collins, 2005. $16.89 156 pp. grades 7 and up ISBN-13: 978-0-06-623959-0 ISBN-10: 0-0006-623959-1 P9/Q9 
The stories of modern (and good) Native American authors are collected here. From Sherman Alexei to Louise Erdrich, their stories are of modern Indian youth, sometimes gritty and sometimes humorous, reflecting the variety of experiences that face Natives today. The stories are short and their vocabulary is not overly-challenging. They may be the ticket to interesting unmotivated Native teens to read.

Raschka, Chris. New York is English, Chattanooga is Creek. NY: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2005. 32 pp. $16.95 ages 4-7 ISBN 0-689-84600-2 P8/Q9
This charming picture book introduces the origin of place names as though they were party guests of different heritage. The endpapers have a map with the places highlighted, and the book begins with a list of U.S. city names and their name origins phrased in a young person’s vocabulary. The story should make a good read-aloud, and would be particularly appropriate in the areas of language and geography, teaching while being plain fun.

Flanagan, John. Ranger’s Apprentice. Book One: The Ruins of Gorlan. NY: Philomel Books, 2005. $15.99 249 pp. Ages 10-18 ISBN 0-399-24454-9 P 8/ Q 8
This medieval fantasy centers on a boy coming-of-age in a world where a dark lord threatens to come back to war with his mysterious creatures. The hero, Will, is a foundling raised in the royal household. When it comes time to apprentice, he is chosen by the mysterious Rangers, who are essentially spies/special forces. The story has the appeal of discovering hidden talents, and of course the hero comes through in the clinch. It’s a quick and satisfying read, and likely to lead to the desire to read the rest of the as-yet-unpublished series. The vocabulary keeps invented words to a minimum, and doesn’t resort to the common artifice of “medieval” flowery talk. This may work as an introduction to the fantasy genre for students who appreciate action-adventure.

Patent, Dorothy Hinshaw, illustrated by Deborah Milton. Garden of the Spirit Bear: Life in the Great Northern Rainforest. NY: Clarion Books, 2004. $16.00 40 pp. ages 7-12 ISBN 0-618-21259-0 P7/Q8
This beautifully illustrated book written by a zoologist focuses on the rainforest of coastal British Columbia that is the home to the white-colored black bear called the Spirit Bear. There are many references to the Natives of the area. The book focuses on the ecology of the rainforest, and makes a case for eliminating clear-cut logging in the proposed Spirit Bear reserve area. This book should be useful for (second grade) classes studying particular animals and (third grade) classes studying rainforests. It is also a good companion book to “Touching Spirit Bear”, which takes place in the same area, or as interesting reading for any age.

Yee, Lisa. Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time. NY: Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), 2005. $16.99 296 pp. ages 10-15 ISBN 0-439-62247-6 P 8/ Q 8
Sixth-grader Stanford Wong bucks the Asian stereotype of being an academic, preferring basketball to anything else in life. He flunks English and in order to play on the A-Team he has to do summer school, getting tutored by his “arch-enemy”, Millicent Min. The book has lots of enjoyable family moments, especially Stanford’s relationship with his grandmother, and focuses especially on Stanford’s difficulty in living up to his cold father’s expectations. The book’s strength is in leading young people to overcome prejudices, whether it’s about “nerds” or the elderly, and it has a heart-warming ending where Stanford shows true leadership. This book may be something to give the reluctant boy scholar to read.

MacPhail, Catherine. Underworld. NY: Bloomsbury, 2005 (first pub. in Great Britain in 2004) $16.95 285 pp. ages 10-18 ISBN 1-58234-997-5 P 8/ Q 8
Students on a school field trip in Scotland explore caves inhabited by a legendary Great Worm, only to have the cave collapse on them. Most of the book focuses on a small group of students of varying backgrounds who have severe social difficulties with one another. While extreme at times, the problems are not unfamiliar, sort of “Breakfast Club” meets “Tom Sawyer”. There is a minor plot problem with the elimination of all other characters but the main half-dozen, but it isn’t too annoying. The adventure moves along, and, by the end, through their shared ordeal the characters have resolved their differences and shown how to get along. The Scottish vernacular provides some flavor, and the “legend” gives the story some spookiness. It is light reading for either sex, without particularly challenging vocabulary and set in large font.

December 2005 Reviews

December 2005 Reviews by A.G
Baptiste, Tracey. Angel’s Grace. NY: Simon & Schuster, 2005. $15.95 165 pp. ages 10 and up ISBN 0-689-86773-5 P7/Q8

Fourteen-year-old Grace spends a summer at her grandmother’s home in Trinidad and discovers that the man she thought was her father all along isn’t who she thought he was. The author brings first-hand knowledge to the descriptions of Trinidad and its people’s lilting English. The treatment of Grace’s feelings about her family is handled delicately and sets up a positive visualization for handling such news.

Wyss, Thelma Hatch. Bear Dancer: The story of a Ute girl. NY: Margaret Kay McElderberry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2005. $15.95 181 pp. Ages 8-12 ISBN 1-4169-0285-6 P 6/Q 8
In this story, the Utah author tries to imagine what it was like for Bear Dancer, a Ute girl during the 1860’s. The first half tells of traditional life among the Tabeguache Utes in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado. Later, Bear Dancer is stolen by Cheyenne warriors, then traded to Arapahos, and is finally brought home by Whites in an effort to convince the Utes to sign a treaty. The afterword describes the real history of the girl Bear Dancer, later known as Susan Johnson, and her historic action to save some White women in exchange for her return to her own people years before. The vocabulary is simple and the typeface large. Stories of the old West probably appeal to students less today than they once did, but this one is a fast read and depicts a way of life that is unknown to most from a point of view that is far more sympathetic to and accurate about the tribes than the old stories.

Pearsall, Shelley. Crooked River. NY: Alfred Knopf, 2005. $15.95 247 pp. ages 8 and up ISBN 0-385-82389-1 P7/Q8 
Written from the point of view of a young white frontier girl, this novel of 1812 is set in Ohio and involves the accusation and trial of a Chippewa man. The story explores racism and mob justice from innocent eyes. The thoughts of the Indian captive, who is kept in the family’s attic while he awaits “trial”, are expressed in one-page free verses in a couple of places. It gives insight into the Indian-white relations along the frontier, as well as into the carrying out of justice in the courts. It’s well written and interesting to read, and should appeal as a work of fiction to students in upper elementary and middle school.

Smith, Roland. Cryptid Hunters. NY: Hyperion Books for Children, 2005. $15.99 352 pp. ages 10 and up ISBN 0-7868-5161-9 P7/Q6 
This adventure story features a boy and girl aged 13 who discover they have a mysterious uncle who searches for fantastical creatures such as Bigfoot and modern dinosaurs (known collectively as “cryptids”, hidden beings). Their adventure in the Congo is far-fetched but enjoyable enough reading. The boy hero is a bit unreal, baking excellent soufflés at his age, not to mention his inflated vocabulary and ego. Escapist literature for preteens, this book is a bit long for the average reader of that age.

Grimes, Nikki, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Danitra Brown, Class Clown. Harper Collins, 2005. $16.89 30 pp. ages 6-10 ISBN 0-688-17291-1 P9/Q9
This is a wonderfully illustrated story about a girl who shows how to be a good friend. It’s written in rhyme and should be an easy and fun read-aloud. The illustrations are enjoyable, somewhat realistic watercolors. The fact that the heroine is African American is not a particular issue, but may help some students either identify with the character or broaden their minds.

Bogart, Jo Ellen. Illustrated by Maxwell Newhouse (and by Emily Carr’s paintings). Emily Carr: At the Edge of the World. NY: Tundra Books, 2003. $18.95 40 pp. Ages 10 and up ISBN 0-88776-640-4 P7/Q9 
Emily Carr is one of the few Pacific Northwest artists with an international reputation, a contemporary of Georgia O’Keefe, yet chances are few students are familiar with her work. Native to Victoria, BC, Carr first painted Native friends and villages on the west coast of Vancouver Island. Later she adopted a post-Impressionist style, and she painted more of the deep forests as well as totem poles. This book is as suited to older students and adults as to anyone, giving an introduction to her interesting life and eccentric style. The illustrations are line drawings of her life done by a fellow British Columbian, accompanied by full color reproductions of her paintings. This would be a fine addition to a collection of famous women, great Canadians, and modern art.

Adler, David A. Illustrated by Terry Widener. Joe Louis, America’s Fighter. NY: Harcourt Books, 2005. $16.00 30 pp. Ages 6-9 ISBN 0-15-216480-4 P8/Q8 
Heavyweight boxing champion of the 1930’s and ‘40’s, Joe Louis was a hero to African Americans because he was the first Black boxer to take the title, but this story points out how he became America’s champion against the Nazis as well. Louis’ life obstacles are mentioned but not dwelled upon, and most of the story is about his fights. A timeline and historic endnotes are included, which mention that Louis was also Native American. The illustrations are lively and in a style popular to his era. This book should appeal to youngsters looking for books on popular heroes, and may provide a read-aloud for Black History Month.

Pollet, Alison. The Pity Party: 8th grade in the life of me, Cass. NY: Orchard Books (Scholastic), 2005. $15.95 150 pp. 12 up ISBN 0-439-68194-4 P 8/ Q 7 
A rich but orphaned 13-year-old attending a private school in NYC deals with issues of peer group relationships and of being orphaned. After connecting with a “behavior problem” boy in her class, she finds that having parents isn’t always great, either. She runs away to meet him while away at Outdoor School. The book is written to a youthful level and moves at a good clip. Fun reading while dealing with issues of family that sometimes need addressing, it could appeal to both boys and girls.

Book Reviews December 2005 by B.R. Yaquina View Elementary
Wick, Walter. Can you see what I see? The night before Christmas. Scholastic, c2005. ISBN 0-439-76927-2. 35 pgs. $13.99. Grades K-5. (Q8, P9)

Children love to search for items in books. The co-author of the I Spy series has a hit with this one. Using a Christmas theme children look for many items on the colorful pages. This book will always be checked out.

Anderson, Derek. Gladys goes out to lunch. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0-689-85688-1. unp. $15.95 Grades Pre.-2nd (Q6, P5)
Gladys, a purple gorilla, eats bananas for breakfast, lunch and dinner, but when she smells a wonderful aroma, she starts to hunt for the source. Away from the zoo, followed by two zoo keepers, Gladys finds a pizzeria, an ice cream parlor, a French Café and back to a food cart at the zoo before she completes her mission. Banana bread is the final delicious food she finds. This book will delight children and fit into a unit on the five senses. A recipe of banana bread is appended.

Barber, Tiki and Ronde. Game day. Ills. by Barry Root. Simone & Schuster Books, c 2005. ISBN 1-4169-0093-4. unp. $16.99. Grades 1-3 (Q 6, P5) 
A true story about two NFL football players, who happen to be twin brothers. When Tiki and Ronde were young, they played on the same football team. Tiki carried the ball and made touchdowns, while Ronde was a blocker for his brother. All the glory went to Tiki for making the touchdowns. Ronde was feeling down until one day he had hurt his ankle and while watching his team play, realized it wasn’t so easy for his team to score without his blocking. This would be a great book for developing teamwork and camaraderie.

Anderson, Christine. Bedtime. Illus. by Steve Salerno. Philomel Books, c2005. ISBN 0-399-24004-7 Unp. $14.99. Grades Pre.-2 (Q7, P6) 
It is bedtime but Melanie is too busy building her tower bigger and bigger. Instead of doing the bedtime routine, Melanie’s mother decided to get Bart, the family dog, ready for bed. She gives him a bath, combs his hair, brushes his teeth, and even puts a ribbon in his hair. But when it comes time for the goodnight kisses and bedtime story, Melanie decides she should be the one Mom is attending to. This hilarious picture book has irresistible illustrations and will delight parents and children alike.

Daly, Niki. Ruby sings the blues. Bloomsberry Childrens Books, c2005. ISBN 1-58234-998-9 Unp. $16.95. Pre.-2nd. (Q7, P5) 
Ruby is loud, that is LOUD. It drives everyone crazy and when her parents and teacher suggest she turn it down, she does the opposite and turns it up. Soon even her school friends have had enough. Bernard and Zelda, her jazz playing neighbors help Ruby
control her volume by teaching her to sing. She sings at the school assembly and becomes a hit.

Ford, Bernette. First Snow. Ills. by Sebastien Braun. Holiday House Books, c2005. ISBN 0-8234-1937-1 Unp. $16.95. Pre-2nd (Q7, P6) 
Join Bunny and his brothers and sisters as they venture out into the cold first snow of winter. Chipmunks gather pinecones, gray wolves prowl, barn owls swoop to search for dinner yet the bunnies know to hide in the cold snow. Children will be delighted to hear this story as well as see the floppy eared illustrations.

Bass, Scott. Girl vs. wave. Ills. by Julie Collins. Walker & Company, c 2005. ISBN 0802789374. Unp. Pre-4th (Q4, P5) 
Ruby likes to go to the beach. Her dad is teaching her to surf when she takes a bad spill and becomes afraid to go back out into the ocean. After sitting and watching Dad surf, Ruby decides to climb back on and try again. The comic strip like illustrations keeps this book from being a dull read. While the story line is interesting and informative, the writing holds this book back from being very exciting.

Berenzy, Alix. Sammy. Henry Holt and Company, c2005. ISBN 0805040242. unp. Pre-3rd Grades. (Q7, P7) 
Mrs. B’s class returns from the weekend to find their class pet guinea pig, Sammy making funny noises. They try to find out why. Giving him a treat didn’t work, next Mrs. B. checked to see if he was sick and finally she checked to see if he had hurt himself. Nothing worked. Finally Maria picked him up and cuddled him. That did the trick. Sammy had been lonely and was glad to see his friends and receive some attention. In twined into the story is information on how to take care of guinea pigs. This book would be great in a classroom which decides to have a guinea pig and a class pet.

Cazet, Denys. The perfect pumpkin pie. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0689864671 Unp. 1st-4th (Q7, P8) 
Alive, Mr. Wilkerson is an ill-tempered disagreeable, sour and impatient old man. When he died, he got better, but not much. He is now back and still looking for that perfect pumpkin pie. Jack and his grandmother move into Mr. Wilkerson’s house and bake a pie. Mr. Wilkerson’s ghost comes to try the pie. He is not happy with the pumpkin pie. Finally a perfect pie was made. This story will be a favorite read aloud for the Halloween Holiday. Students love to be frightened, and this book will supply that need.

Elting, Mary & Folsom, Michael. Q is for duck. Clarion Books, c2005. ISBN 0618573895 unp. Pre-3rd grades. (Q7, P7) 
The authors’ inventive approach to the ABC’s makes this not just another alphabet book, but one with a twist to make it exciting. This book is a guessing game. Why does Q stand for duck?–because ducks quack. N is for cat, why? Because cats nap. Students will love reading this book and figuring out the answer to the riddles.

Broach, Elise. Hiding Hoover. Dial Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0803727062 unp. $16.99. Pre-2nd. (Q5, P6) 
NO PETS!! Says Dad. No puppies, or parakeets, cats or canaries, gerbils or turtles or mice. You get the idea, Dad says NO PETS. But Hoover was found by the brother and sister. They brought Hoover, a big, big dragon, into the house to keep. Hide him from Dad they did. He was too spiky to hide under their blankets, too big to hide in the closet, too flappy to hide in their clothes. When Dad got home, they had a new coat stand in the hallway, next a fancy new lamp with a flickery flame, a new vacuum cleaner, a new umbrella for walking in the rain, and a frilly new canopy over their bed. And best of all Dad didn’t suspect a thing! Or did he? Children will love to laugh at this silly story.

Bolliger, Max. The happy troll. Ills. by Peter Sis. Henry Holt and Company, c2005. ISBN 0805069828 Pre-3rd grades. (Q6, P6)
Gus is an ordinary troll who has a special talent no other troll has. He has a beautiful voice. Trolls from far and wide came to hear him sing. To show their gratitude, they brought him things he needed, fresh water, crunchy nuts, tender roots and juicy berries. Gus was happy. One day a raven, with a gold ring, flew in to hear Gus sing. Gus thought if he had the shinny ring his happiness would be complete. Next a snake with a gold crown came, then a frog in a golden carriage. Of course Gus wanted them also, so he traded his singing for the beautiful items. Soon he would not sing to anyone anymore and Gus became lonely. Gus gave back all his shiny items and began to sing again. Soon his friends came back and Gus was again happy. This new version of an old classic will delight children.

Buzzeo, Toni. Ready or not dawdle duckling. Ills. by Margaret Spengler. Dial Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0803729596. $15.99. Pre-1st grades. (Q6, P6) 
Mother duck plays hide and seek with her four ducklings. Three ducklings hide effectively but the fourth gets some help from his friends. After several times of Mother finding him he successfully hides. The lively pictures done in pastels enhances the feeling of actually being at the beach.

Clements, Andrew. Naptime for Slippers. Ills. by Janie Bynum. Dutton Children’s Books, c2005. ISBN 0525472878. $12.99. Pres-2nd grades (Q7, P7) 
Slippers had nothing to do while the other family members were all busy. After investigating all their activities, Mom working outside, Dad at work, Laura at school and Edward taking his nap, Slippers lay down to take a nap. But Slippers couldn’t go to sleep. In this story Slippers finds much to do, and when the family is ready to take him for a walk, he is too tired and finally lays down for his nap. Janie Bynum uses watercolors to illustrate Slippers antics which should engage the young reader’s attention.

Clements, Andrew, Slippers at home. Ills. by Janie Bynum. Dutton Children’s Books, c2005. ISBN 0525471383. $12.99. Pre-2nd grades (Q7, P7) 
A day in the life of Slippers is exciting. As this story goes through the day; Slippers, plays and takes a nap with Edward, the baby, goes to Laura’s room to play with her, watches Mommy cook and clean, and takes a walk with Dad. Janie Bynum adorable watercolor illustrations will delight the young and adults alike.

Clements, Andrew, Slippers at school. Ills. by Janie Bynum. Dutton Children’s Books, c2005. ISBN 0525471898. $12.99. Pre-2nd grades. (Q7, P7) 
Slippers wants to go to school with Laura, but school is no place for dogs. He sneaks his way into her backpack and rides the bus to school. There he visits the classroom, the cafeteria, and the principal’s office without Laura noticing. Although Laura did not notice Slippers at school others did. A simple but charming story with delightful illustrations will be a hit with children.

Gorbachev, Valeri. That’s what friends are for. Philomel Books, c2005. ISBN0399239669 $15.99. Pre-2nd grades. (Q6, P7)
This is the fourth book Valeri Gorbachev had written about Pig and Goat. Pig finds Goat crying and is trying to think what could have happened to make his friend so say. What ever it is Pig thinks of ways to help his friend, after all that is what friends are for. This is a wonderful book about unconditional friendship. The watercolor illustrations help make this story a treasure to read.

Gregory, Kristina. Catherine, The great journey. Scholastic, c2005. ISBN 0439253853. $10.99. 3-5th Grades. (Q8, P6)
Catherine is a 14 year old girl living in Prussia, becomes engaged to Peter III, who was heir to the throne of Russia. This story brings Catherine from girlhood into adulthood and describes the experiences she had in that journey. Peter is assassinated seven months after their marriage, and Catherine rules Russia for thirty-four years.

Carman, Patrick. The Dark Hills Divide. Scholastic, c2005. ISBN 0439700930. 251 pgs. $11.95 Grades 3-7. (Q7, P7)
Twelve-year-old Alexa Daley is spending another summer in Bridewell with her father. She lives in The Land of Elyon, a community which is surrounded by a 42 foot wall of brick. Alexa is curious of what lies beyond the wall. As she unravels the truth about what lies outside the wall she discovers an unexpected new power. She exposes a danger that could destroy everything she holds dear and change the land she lives in forever. Anyone who enjoys mystical fantasy will enjoy reading this book.

December 2005 Book Reviews – C.B. NMS/INMS
Creech, Sharon, Replay, Joanna Cotler Books, New York, 2005, 180 pgs, $16.89, ISBN:978-0-06-054020-3, Gr. 4+, P 7, Q 8,

Leo is a 12 year-old boy who belongs to loud Italian family. Leo also feels lost in this family and carries the nickname Sardine, as he is always squished between someone in the family. It is the discovery of his father’s journal, written when his father was 12 too, in the attic that opens a door for Leo. Leo sees himself as a hero who rescues his family and friends from all sorts of imaginary situations. Through the reading the journal and gain the part in the school play, the old crone, Leo discovers himself and similarities to his father. At the end of the book the actual play is included. Teachers looking for a good read aloud will enjoy this book.

Croggon, Alison, The Naming, Candlewick Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts, [2002], 2005, 489 pgs, $17.99, ISBN:076362639-2, Gr. 7+, P 8, Q 9,
Maerad is 16 years old and a slave in remote village when she meets a magical man, Cadvan. Cadvan knows that Maerad is actual a Bard like himself and may even be the one prophesied to battle the dark force who’s force is growing in the world. Cadvan must help Maerad to learn about her talents by being her teacher. He must also protect her and her identity as the cross this magical kingdom.

Dubble, Kathleen Benner, The sacrifice, Margaret K. McElderry Books, New York, 211 pgs, $15.95, ISBN:978-0-689-87650-9, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 8,
It’s 1692 and Abigail and her family live in the Puritan society of Salem, Massachusetts. It was in Salem that the witch hunts of the time took place. First Abigail’s aunt is called a witch and finally Abigail and her sister. While in prison the aunt dies and Abigail’s mother beseeches he daughters to name her witch so they may go free. A truly emotional and historical look at the Salem witch trials that coursed through America during the Puritan time. Teachers who are planning a historical unit on this time will find this book a wonderful read a-loud to their classes.

Mead, Alice, Swimming to America, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, $16.00, ISBN:0-374-38047-3, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
Linda Berati is in the 8th grade and her English teacher has given her the assignment of finding out more about her family roots. The problem is that her mother always ignores any inquiry about the family. The assignment makes Linda have nightmares in which she remembers crossing and river and almost drowning. Linda also wants to know how her mother acquired that awful scare on her face. This book tells of the difficulties faced by many illegal families that live in America today.

Reiche, Dietlof, Ghost ship, Scholastic Press, New York, [2002], 2005, $16.95, 313 pgs, ISBN:0-439-59704-8, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 7,
230 years ago a ship, the Storm Goddess, takes part in illegal activities stealing slaves, committing murder and hiding stolen gold. As a result of these vile acts the Sea Goddess is cursed and is not until 12-year-old Vicki helps to break the curse. It is Vicki who discovers a hidden secret in the figurehead of ship when it is taken to be restored. Thus starts an adventure to solve the mystery of the ship and to set all the spirits free who are held by the curse aboard the ship.

Staples, Suzanne, Under the Persimmon Tree, New York, Frances Foster Books, 2005, 275 pgs, glossary, $17.00, ISBN:0-374-38025-2, Gr. 6+, P 7, Q 9,
This is one of the most moving books that I have ever read. It is shortly after 9-11 that America bombs Najmah, a young girl, village in Northern Afghanistan. It was shortly before this attack that the Taliban had raided her village and taken food and her father and brother. During the attack by the Americans Najmah’s mother and baby brother are killed and Najmah is rescued by her uncle who helps her flee across the border to Peshawar, Pakistan. Her at refugee camp Najmah finds an American woman, Nusrat, a recent convert to the Muslim religion, who is waiting for her husband, Faiz to return. This story offers the reader a glimpse of the heart break and suffering the people of Afghanistan have suffered in this war on terrorism and also by the Taliban in their country.

Sammons, Mary, Insparation: a teens guide to healthy living inspired by today’s top spas, Watson-Guptill Pub., New York, 2005, 127 pgs., $14.95, ISBN:0-8230-2641-8, Gr. 6+, P 8, Q 9,
Using photographs of actual spas thoughout, America Mary Sammons has compiled a book that helps today’s teens deal the stressful lives that the lead today. Devoting chapters to skin care, body builders, stress zappers and finally spirit lifters this unique book draws upon the different spas and their recipes to help the young teens face the world. The use of bright photographs along with helpful tips will surely draw the teens to this book.

Atkins, Jeannine, How high can we climb? The story of women explorers, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, New York, 2005, 209 pgs, index, $17.00, ISBN:0-374-33503-6, Gr. 5+, P 7, Q 7,
Atkins has collected the stories of twelve women who throughout time who have faced challenges and diversity as they sailed and climbed their way from ice cave’s to highest
mountain in Peru. Each story is accompanied by simple black and white drawing which depict the goal of each of these remarkable women.

December 2005 Reviews L.R. ToMS
Okorafor-Mbachu, Nnedi. Zahrah the Windseeker. Houghton Mifflen Company, 2005. ISBN 0-618-34090-4. $16.00. Grades 5+. P.7, Q8. 
Zahrah the Windseeker is a wonderfully written fantasy with a strong, female character who will enchant the reader and keep the pages turning from one adventure to the next. Born with dada locks and rumored to having powers, Zahrah is shunned by people and longs to be normal. When she discovers she has the power to levitate she tells her only friend, Dari. Together they go to the forbidden Greeny Forest where Zahrah can practice flying without anyone seeing her, there Dari is bitten by a snake and Zahrah must put her fears behind and travel in search of an antidote. African culture, folklore, myths, humor, earth friendly, and a lesson all make this a wonderful read.

Pullman, Philip. The Scarecrow and his Servant. Alfred A. Knopf, 2004. ISBN 0-375-81531-7. $15.95. Grades 5-8. P.7, Q8. 
A scarecrow brought to life after being struck by lightening and an orphan boy set out in search of adventure and to claim Spring Valley and prevent it from falling into the hands of the Buffalonis family. Fun, witty, and delightful!

Deans, Sis. Rainy. Henry Holt and Company, 2005. ISBN 0-8050-7831-2. 16.95. Grades 5+. P8, Q8.
Rainy is worried about being sent to camp. How will she manage without the help of her family and who will take care of her beloved dog, Max? Sis Deans writes a wonderful story about a highly energetic girl with ADHD, and gives the reader insight into what life might be like for someone who must continually deal with an inability to focus, difficulty sleeping, making friends, school, etc. Scattered swear words and a true to life young voice are sure to delight the young reader as well as keep them reading. Just as good as her earlier book, Racing the Past.

Douglas, Lola. True Confessions of a Hollywood Starlet. Penguin Group, 2005. ISBN 1-59514-035-2. $16.99. Grades 9+. P8, Q7. 
Morgan Carter has lived the life of the rich and famous, a life most would think would be glamorous and exciting. As a teen actress she has traveled, partied, and hung out with the hollywood’s coolest people and also found herself in rehab for her drug and alcohol addiction. To escape the public eye, Morgan takes on a new identity and goes to live with an old friend of her mothers in a small town in Indiana. There she enrolls in school and learns what it’s like to experience life as an average teen. Famous brands, designer labels and a lot of bling, bling as well as descriptions of inappropriate party scenes make this book disturbing, but in the I think high school girls will enjoy it and look forward to the next book coming in the fall of 2006.

Shusterman, Neal. Red Rider’s Hood. Dutton Children’s Books, 2005. ISBN 0-525-47562-1. $15.99. Grades 7+. P7, Q6. 
The second book in the Dark Fusion series. Sixteen-year-old Red loves driving around town in the mustang he’s spent the last couple years restoring to perfection. When his car is stolen and his grandmother is robbed by the local wolf gang, Red declares war only to find out that there is more to the wolf gang than meets the eye. They are werewolves. To learn more about the Wolves, Red joins the gang. With the help of his girlfriend and his grandmother plans are made to rid the streets of werewolves. The author’s interest in fairy tales as led him to create an updated version with an original twist, which he does, but will the reader buy into a “buffy the werewolf slayer,” Harley riding grandmother? Quirkey for the older reader and I think a bit violent for the younger reader.

McDonough, Yona Zeldis. The Doll with the Yellow Star. Henry Holt and Company, 2005. ISBN 0-8050-6337-4. $16.95 Grades 4-6. P7, Q7. 

Eight-year-old Claudine has just celebrated her birthday and has learned that she must travel to America without her parents to live with her aunt and uncle because France is no longer a safe place for Jews to live. The only thing that makes the journey bearable is that her beloved, birthday doll will accompany her. When circumstances cause her to have to leave the boat without her doll, Claudia is heartbroken and fears she will never see her doll again. Nice illustrations throughout the book give the book a nostalgic appeal for the younger reader and also may help the reader identify with this difficult period in history.

Sneed, Brad. Deputy Harvey and the Ant Cow Caper. Dial Books for Young readers, 2005. ISBN 0-8037-3023-3. $16.99 Grades 3+. P7, Q7.
Sneed is both author and illustrator of this western-style mystery. The ants are concerned when cow ants (aphids) are disappearing and the town’s honeydew supply is dwindling. A group of Polka-dot bandits (lady bugs) are thought to be the culprits, but in the end the mystery is solved. Nice illustrations and Author’s note describing some bug behavior makes this an amusing read as well as bug information. Not sure if the younger listener will follow the story line…the reader may just want to skip to the author’s note.

Brunelle, Nicholas. Snow Moon. Viking, 2005. ISBN 0-670-06024-5-0. $15.99 Grades K-3. P.8, Q9.
Beautifully illustrated and written story inspired by a visit from a hawk to the author as a child. The flowing language and winter wonderland illustrations make it a wonderful book selection to read to a group.

Book Reviews 2005 L.R., Media Specialist
KINGFISHER FIRST ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ANIMALS.Kingfisher, 2005 ISBN 0-7534-5922-1 144p $9.95 Gr. K-3

This paperback book is the perfect choice for young children who are just beginning to do simple research. The first chapter gives introductory information on habitat, defense, food, migration, etc.. Then the animals are grouped by type– mammal, bird, reptile,etc. with brief information given on each. A “Find Out More” box will lead curious children to related topics and with more than 500 photos and illustrations this will also make a good browsing book. There are a couple problems, however. The text calls the giant panda a bear when it is of the raccoon family. After discussing killer whales who have teeth, they mention that some whales like the blue whale feed on krill, but don’t mention the word baleen or how the krill are eaten. The text on shellfish does not explain how they reproduce or how the shells are formed, just that when the animal dies the shell remains. Even with these errors/omissions the price is right for all libraries serving primary aged children and the book will be used. (P-8, Q-7)

deGroat, Diane. BRAND-NEW PENCILS, BRAND-NEW BOOKS. HarperCollins Publishers, 2005 ISBN 0-06-072615-6 unp $16.89 PreS-1
This is a story about Gilbert’s first day of school and the excitement and worry he feels about having a new teacher and classmates. Children will relate to Gilbert and his friends on that all-important first day. This is an additional purchase. (P-5, Q-6)

Edwards, Pamela Duncan. THE BUS RIDE THAT CHANGED HISTORY; THE STORY OF ROSA PARKS. Illus. by Danny Shanahan Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005 ISBN 0-618-44911-6 unp $16.00 Gr. 2-4
This tribute to Rosa Parks comes on the 50th anniversary of her refusal to give up her seat on a bus in Montgomery, Alabama. This is an historical account of the beginning of the Civil Rights Movement and is told in cumulative fashion with dialog balloons that give the events and pose questions to the reader. While many books have recently been published about this remarkable woman, this should find a place on all elementary library shelves. It will be used for Women In History, Black History, and U.S. History. (P-6, Q-8)

Goode, Diane. MIND YOUR MANNERS! Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005. ISBN 0-374-34975-4 unp $16.00 Gr. 1-3
A book about rules for children’s behavior at the dinner table that was published in 1802 inspired this book. When a family arrives for dinner at the Abbots every rule of etiquette is broken in this finely illustrated and researched rendition depicting dining in the nineteenth-century. This is an additional purchase. (P-4, Q-7)

Fradin, Dennis Brindell. LET IT BEGIN HERE! LEXINGTON & CONCORD; FIRST BATTLES OF THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION. Illus. by Larry Day. Walker & Company, 2005 ISBN 0-8027-8945-5 unp $16.95 Gr. 2-4
This is an informative description of how the Revolutionary War began with the battles of Lexington and Concord. The main characters in the story are listed in the “Who’s Who” section at the front and “What Happened to the People” is added at the end. The compelling jacket cover and illustrations will insure an audience and the text, design and layout make this a complete package that is above average. Elementary libraries should make room on the shelves for this telling. (P-7, Q-9)

Friedman, Robin. THE SILENT WITNESS; A TRUE STORY OF THE CIVIL WAR. Illus. by Claire A. Nivola. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005 ISBN 0-618-44230-8 unp $16.00 Gr. 1-3
This book is based on a true story about a little girl, Lula McLean, who lived during the Civil War and saw first-hand the effects of that war. When the war landed in their front yard in Manassas, Lula’s father decided to move his family to a village called Appomattox Court House. It was there in April of 1865 in the parlor of the family home, that Lee surrendered to Grant. And it was there that Lula’s rag doll, which was laying on the sofa, was dubbed the silent witness and then was taken by a soldier as a souvenir. Lula never saw her doll again. This could be used in story times about dolls or when discussing this period in U.S. history. It is an important addition for this age group. (P-6, Q-8)

Gantos, Jack and Nicole Rubel. BEST IN SHOW FOR ROTTEN RALPH. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2005 ISBN 0-374-36358-7 48p $15.00 Gr. 1-3
Rotten Ralph’s insecurities show when he thinks his cousin Percy will outshine him in the upcoming cat show. When all is said and done Ralph does win, but he wins for being himself. Children who have enjoyed the other Rotten Ralph books will want to read this beginning chapter book. (P-7, Q-7)

Giovanni, Nikki. ROSA. Illus. by Bryan Collier. Henry Holt and Company, 2005 ISBN 0-8050-7106-7 unp $16.95 Gr. 3-5
This could be considered a picture book biography of Rosa Parks but centers on the event that changed the course of history in this country. The 1955-56 Montgomery bus boycott is highlighted and the beginning struggle for Civil Rights. Every child should know the story. Many fine picture books are currently available about the quiet stand that Rosa Parks made on that city bus, but this one is among the best and should be in all picture book collections. ((P-6, Q-9)

Jurmain, Suzanne. THE FORBIDDEN SCHOOLHOUSE; THE TRUE AND DRAMATIC STORY OF PRUDENCE CRANDALL AND HER STUDENTS. Houghton Mifflin Company, 2005 ISBN 0-618-47302-5 150p $18.00 Gr. 5-8
This would be the perfect choice for required reading in a middle school class about women in history. Little known Prudence Crandall risked everything to open an African American school for girls in Canterbury, Connecticut. The opposition was fierce and finally turned violent even after Prudence had supporters from out of town that aided the cause, but the remarkable thing about this courageous woman was that the year was 1833. She was a pioneer in promoting education for all people including black girls who had few or no choices concerning education. This is a quick read and includes photographs and source notes. Girls especially will be in awe of this courageous young woman who could not even attend the town meetings concerning her school because it was not considered ladylike. While existing records are sketchy and incomplete, an appendix lists the names of some of the brave girls who attended the school and what the future held for some of them after the school closed. (P-6, Q-10)

McClintock, Barbara. CINDERELLA. Scholastic Press, 2005 ISBN 0-439-56145-0 unp $15.99 Gr. K-3
There are many versions of Cinderella on the market today and this one is illustrated beautifully with pictures in the time period of Louis XIV. While the execution is finely done, it will probably appeal to adult readers more than children. In one picture Cinderella’s powdered wig filled with roses looks more like the head of Medusa. This would make a good “compare and contrast” title, but children are more likely to go for Ruth Sanderson’s realistically illustrated version. Buy this if another version is needed. (P-5, Q-8)

Poole, Josephine. JOAN OF ARC. Illus. by Angela Barrett. Alfred A. Knopf, 1998 ISBN 0-679-89041-6 unp $17.95 Gr. 3-5
This well-known tale of the maid of Orleans who heard voices from heaven and helped her countrymen defeat the enemies of France is beautifully illustrated with paintings of medieval life. A chronology of events surrounding Joan’s life is appended. This would make a fine addition to the biography shelves if another book is needed about Joan of Arc. (P-5, Q-7)

Schwartz, Amy. BEGIN AT THE BEGINNING; A LITTLE ARTIST LEARNS ABOUT LIFE. Katherine Tegen Books, 2005 ISBN 0-06-000112-7 unp $16.89 Gr. 1-3
After a day at school where nothing goes right, the teacher asks Sara to create the most wonderful painting for the up-coming art show. Ideas are slow in coming or don’t seem good enough, but when an idea hits, it’s one so large that she doesn’t know how to execute it. With a little urging from her Mom, Sara learns that you can only begin at the beginning and sometimes your first idea is the best. This is a 1983 reissue with new illustrations and could be used by teachers to prepare children for a drawing assignment. (P-4, Q-6)

Spenning, Mark. THE FAIRY TALE CAKE. Illus. by Jonathan Langley. Scholastic Inc., 2005 ISBN 0-439-68329-7 unp $15.95 PreS-K
The King and Queen of Hearts make a birthday cake and it is rolled throughout fairytale land to a child as a birthday treat. The illustrations depict storybook characters and children may spend time searching for their favorite, but all-in-all, this is a spendy additional purchase with a tiresome, limited text. (P-4, Q-3)

Spirin, Gennady. MARTHA. Philomel Books, 2005 ISBN 0-399-23980-4 unp $14.99 Gr. 1-3
This is based on a family story that happened in Russia before the author/ illustrator moved to the United States. His son and wife found an injured crow and brought it home to see if they could mend the broken wing. As the bird began to heal, it became part of the family, but when spring came the bird flew out the window and didn’t return. A satisfying conclusion makes this a good choice for story time and for independent readers as well. Wonderful illustrations move the story along and are well executed in watercolor.(P-6, Q-8)

December 2005 Book Reviews C.S.
Picture Books
Dewdney, Anna. Llama llama red pajama. Viking, 2005. $15.99. 0-670-05983-8. Unp. Ages 2 and up. P8 Q10. 

This is an absolutely adorable book. The prose is simple and rhythmic. Bedtime is a topic to which young children and parents can both relate. The illustrations perfectly suit each emotion. A charming book!

Durango, Julia. Dream Hop . Jared Lee. Simon & Schuster, 2005. $15.95 0-689-87163-5. Unp. Ages 4-9. P8 Q 7
What do you do when you have a bad dream? …you “dream hop” ……play it forward. Cute, slightly cumbersome prose. This poor kid has some macabre nightmares, and that power of suggestion might be a bit too much for the faint of heart. Cute ending starts the cycle all over again.

Estefan, Gloria. The Magically mysterious adventures of Noelle the bulldog . Michael Garland. Includes CD: Noelle’s Song (Been Wishin’). HarperCollins Publishers, 2005. $17.99. 0-06-082623-1. Unp. Ages 4 and up. P8 Q8 
A bulldog puppy, Noelle, worries about “fitting in” at her new home. Noelle meets all the animals in the neighborhood and that makes her feel like an outsider, as if she has nothing to offer. The next day brings new challenges, and Noelle answers the call each time. Moral of the story: strength and true beauty comes from inside.

Tamblyn, Amber. Free stallion: poems. Simon & Schuster, 2005. $14.95. 1-4169-0259-7. 81 p. Ages 13 and up. P6 Q8 
Amber Tamblyn’s poetry exudes existentialism. She explores sexuality, fame, superficial values, the ills of society, culture. Her writing is provocative and challenges the reader’s interpretation. I think any reader who enjoys complex significance will find this poetry engaging.

Poe, Edgar Allan. Tales of Terror . Michael McCurdy. Includes CD Narrated by Edward Blake. Alfred A. Knopf, 2005. $15.95. 0-375-83305-6. 89 pg. Ages 13 and up. P8 Q9.
Six of Poe’s most popular stories, four of which are recorded on an enclosed CD. McCurdy’s wood engravings fit the subject and mood of each story. Poe is an acquired taste, so McCurdy’s brief biography adds some context to Poe’s background. His brief paragraphs introducing each story provide some historical perspective for the novice

Stewart, Paul & Chris Riddell. The Last of the sky pirates. Book 5. The Edge Chronicles. Random House, 2005. [Originally published in Great Britain in 2002.] $12.95. 0-385-75078-1. 369 p. Ages 9-13. P7 Q5
Fourteen year old Rook Barkwater is an “under librarian” in Undertown. An entire community of scholarly creatures is driven underground when “stone sickness” grounds the skyships. Much to his surprise, Rook is chosen to be a “Knight Librarian”. Thus with a select group he sets off on a perilous journey to the Deepwoods where he will study under the Academics at Lake Landing . This story is a bit Lord of the Rings meets Harry Potter and Star Wars. The story contains gnokgoblins, prowlgrins, gimpelgrubs, banderbears, spindlebugs, shrykes, muglumps and more creatures….too many to mention. A spy infiltrates the student ranks. Rook, being a bit of a loner himself, bonds with the spy. Does the spy go back to the dark side? Is Rook in peril? The authors spend pages describing creatures then sum up an entire phase of Rook’s education in a paragraph. The writing continuity could use some polishing, however I doubt that will dissuade young readers from enjoying the action.

Wizowaty, Suzi. A Tour of evil. Philomel, 2005. $10.99. 0-399-24251-1. 196 p. Ages 10-15. P7 Q8. Alma is an orphan, maybe 11 or 12 year old, who finds herself in a country home with
Madame Jouet, who cares for many foster children on a tight budget. There are no modern appliances, no TV, no cell phones. Alma copes by utilizing her imagination creating adventures for herself, all the while remaining cynical and reluctant with each new home she is placed. She feels she doesn’t fit in. Accompanying the new family to the Farmers’ Market, Alma takes her leave to explore the city. She is vaguely aware that children have recently gone missing and her encounter on this particular day brings her into contact with two rather unique and strange men. Barlach is a poor street sweeper. He is a large man, old and crippled and he rarely speaks, and seems feeble minded. Malocchio is a guide at the cathedral – he is tall and thin, and Alma thinks of him as “one of the long, thin souls writhing and twisting as they fell into hell, in the scene engraved over the cathedral’s main doors.” Could one of these men have something to do with the disappearance of the children? The author spins a modern day thriller, set in France , amid relics and gargoyles and crypts. Spooky and intriguing, but not so scary as to give the young reader nightmares.

Reviews December 2005, J.C. Cataloger LCLD
Armstrong, Jennifer. Magnus at the fire. Illustrated by Owen Smith. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2005. ISBN 0689839227 $15.95 “Ages 5-8.” P7Q6

Magnus is one of the horses that pull the fire engine. When the Chief brings in a new-fangled motorized fire engine, Magnus and the other horses are put out to pasture. But, Magnus is bored and when he hears the fire siren, he jumps the fence and races to the fire, embarrassing the Chief. Then, when the new fire engine quits on the way to a fire, Magnus comes to the rescue. The story is enhanced by dynamic illustrations in an heroically old-fashioned style. However, the quality of illustration is not consistent throughout the book, and the story occasionally lags. Purchase for collections on horses or historical materials.

Barrett, Tracy. On Etruscan time. Henry Holt, c2005. 172 p. ISBN 0805075690 $16.95 Ages 11-14. P7Q7 
Hector faces a long, lonely summer at an Etruscan site where his mother, a specialist in ancient languages, will work at the dig. His discovery of an unusual stone eye links Hector’s dreams to the life of a boy who lived at the site thousands of years ago. Well researched, this time travel story will interest those who enjoy books about other place, times and cultures. Includes Etruscan/English and Italian/English glossaries. Recommended for school and public library collections.

Bauer, Marion Dane. If frogs made weather. Illustrated by Dorothy Donohue. Holiday House, c2005. 1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ISBN 0823416224 $16.95 
Cut paper illustrations show a small child and various animals (frogs and weasels, robins, cats, flies and turtles, bats, hawks, geese, and polar bears) illustrating a poem about the kinds of weather each would create. I particularly liked the turtle. Recommended for public libraries and preschool collections. Except for the jacket blurb, nothing in the book indicates the gender of the child—who writes the blurbs, anyway? Plan to lose the jacket.

Bell, Hilari. Rise of a hero. “The Farsala trilogy, book 2.” Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, c2005. 462 p., map. ISBN 0689854153 $16.95 Ages 12-up. P6Q7
After the fall of the noble deghans, the Hrum conquer the kingdom of Farsala. Only a remnant of the army remains, lead by the high-commander’s bastard son, Jiaan. Soraya, the high-commander’s daughter, takes a job as a kitchen maid in the Hrum army to find where her mother and younger brother have been taken. Kavi, the itinerant peddler and double agent, foments rebellion among the farmers and townspeople. Loosely based on the Persian stories of Rustam and Sorhab, this sequel to Fall of the Kingdom (originally titled Flame) follows the adventures of the three main characters, Soraya, Jiaan, and Kavi—but as there is no reprise of events from the first novel, readers need to have previously read the first installment. Recommended for school and public libraries that will also purchase the first and third books in the trilogy.

Cooper, Susan. The magician’s boy. Illustrated by Serena Riglietti. Margaret K. McElderry Books, c2005. 100 p. ISBN 068987622X $14.95 “Ages 8-12.” P5Q6 
Apprenticed to the Magician/puppetmaster, the Boy finds himself on a quest to locate the missing St. George in the fairytale land of puppets. Unfortunately, although Cooper is an accomplished author, the characters in this book are as one-dimensional as the puppets upon whom the story is based. Appropriately accompanied by attenuated illustrations, this book is recommended only for those libraries collecting full set of the author’s works.

French, Jackie. Pete the sheep-sheep. Illustrated by Bruce Whatley. Clarion Books, c2005. 32 p. ISBN 061856862X $14.00 Ages 3-up. P9Q9 
Into the Australian world of sheep shearing, where men are men and all sheep shearers have sheep dogs, comes Shaun and his sheep sheep, Pete. The creators of Diary of a Wombat repeat their success with this new title. A hilarious send-up of the macho world. Recommended.

McMillan, Bruce. Going fishing. Houghton Mifflin, c2005. 32 p. : col. ill. ISBN 0618472010 $16.00 Ages 8-12. P7Q8 
In a tiny village in Iceland, a young boy goes fishing for cod and lumpfish on two boat trips with his father and grandfathers. Illustrated with color pictures, this book introduces aspects of Icelandic culture, and two types of fish upon which the people depend. Recommended for public and grade school libraries. [Editor’s note: this book has been described as a photo-documentary and includes information on the two types of fish–cod and lumpfish–in notes at the end of the story.]

Pullman, Philip. Aladdin and the enchanted lamp. Illustrated by Sophy Williams. “Arthur A. Levine Books.” Scholastic, c2005. 71 p. : col. ill. ISBN 0439692555 $16.95 All ages. P7Q8
A Moorish sorcerer tries to use Aladdin, the wastrel son of a Chinese tailor, to gain a hidden treasure, but Aladdin escapes with the aid of a genie. As Aladdin gains experience (and falls in love with the beautiful Badr-al-Budur), he grows in maturity and wisdom, which allows him to win the battle against the sorcerer, even after losing the fabled lamp. A pleasant retelling, lavishly illustrated. Recommended for public and school libraries.

Stevens, Janet and Susan Stevens Crummel. My big dog. Illustrated by Janet Stevens. “A Golden book.” Random House, c2005. 1 v. (unpaged) : col. ill. ISBN 0375832971 $12.95 Ages 3-7. P8Q7
Merl the cat has a purfect life—at least, until the puppy comes to live in the perfect house. And the puppy keeps growing. When Merl finds the situation too much to bear, he leaves, only to find that the outside world is anything but purfect. And, of course, he is saved by the VERY big dog. The first collaboration between Janet Stevens and her sister, Susan Stevens Crummel. Predictable, but endearing illustrations will charm both dog and cat lovers. Recommended for public library collections.

Reviewed December 2005 by D.G.H. LCSD Media
Picture Books
Hassett, John & Ann. The Finest Christmas Tree. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $15.99. 0-618-50901-1. Unp. Ages 2 and up. P7 Q6.
I’m not ordering this one for the LCSD libraries. The paper quality was the best part of this book’s experience. The artwork and story were fair at best. We are to feel good that Santa wants Farmer Tuttle’s Christmas tree because it is the finest in the forest, but getting there was hard!

Setterington, Ken. Mom and Mum are Getting Married!. Alice Priestly, Second Story Press, no copyright given. $11.95 1-896764-84-3. Unp. Ages 4-9. P7 Q 6 
The back cover tells us that when Rosie finds out that her two mothers are planning to get married, she only has one worry… will she get to be a flower girl? A joyful celebration of love and family in a changing world. This book was a fine story, but without much conflict to resolve. I would pre-read this before doing a “story-time” with a group of students to anticipate questions and define my purpose.

Robberecht, Thierry. Back Into Mommy’s Tummy. Philippe Goosens. Clarion Press, 2005. $15.00. 0-618-58106-5. Unp. Ages 2 and up. P8 Q8 
I enjoyed the illustrations as a blend of cartoon with very unique highlighting and shadowing techniques. Other than being in mommy’s “tummy” rather than “womb”, this book accurately describes what is going on inside a pregnant woman, and how children feel about going back to that emotionally secure place. The ending tied it all together in an “ah ha” kind of way!

Creech, Sharon. Who’s That Baby?. David Diaz. Joanna Cotler Books, 2005. $16.89. 0-06-052940-7. Unp. Ages 2 and up. P6 Q5 
“New-Baby Songs” is the subtitle, and the verses of these poems rhyme (sort of), there was no way to tell what the tune should be. I tried reading it silently and then out loud (sometimes in song) to see if I could get it, but no. The illustrations didn’t attract me either except the ones that drew from Picasso’s style. It was like there were two illustrators!

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