Reviews are sorted alphabetically by author’s last name.
Watersmeet. Abbott, Ellen Jensen. Marshall Cavendish, 2009. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 341pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5536-3.
In Vranille, Abisina is a dark-haired Outcast who has been scorned and abused all her life. With the arrival of the handsome and charismatic Charach, things go from bad to worse. Her mother is killed by an angry mob, and she must flee. Can she overcome her own prejudice and fear to make the perilous journey to Watersmeet, to find her father, and to join the forces of good against evil before it is too late? This book is a well-written parable about the dangerous power of prejudice. (ALC)
In the space left behind. Ackermann, Joan. HarperCollins Publishers, 2007. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 394pp. $18.89. ISBN 978-0-06-072256-2.
Life for 15 year old Colm is a little different than that of a typical kid his age. He lost his dog to a tragic window box accident, his mother has just married for a third time, and he has recently learned his family home (the only stable part of his life) may be up for sale. Then Colm’s real father, after abandoning him as a young child, calls him and wants to reunite. Initially Colm rejects his father’s request, but later accepts when he is offered $70,000 to make a trip across the country with him. This book offers more than just a good story about a father making amends with the son he hasn’t seen. It is a book where a son forgives his father for his past mistakes. This coming-of-age-novel is imaginative and insightful. It is sure to enlighten students about relationships and life. Recommended for ages 12 and up. (ADA)
Worldweavers: Cybermage. Alexander, Alma. HarperCollins Publishers (Eos), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 426pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-083961.
In this final book of the Cybermage trilogy, Thea comes to understand she is an elemental mage, with the rare and dangerous ability to master the elements of nature. As she seeks to understand her magical powers, she must decide who her true friends are and how she can work with them together to save the world. Readers would be able to follow the characters and events of the book if they had read the earlier books in the series. The book is well-written and suspenseful. (ALC)
The essays: The Chicana & chicano visions of the American series. Anaya, Rudolfo A. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2009. [email protected], (405-325-3200). 313pp. $24.95. ISBN 978-0806140230.
A book that represents some of the sharpest commentary and poignant insights of author Rudolfo Anaya collected from his shorter works, essays, and speeches. Anaya provides a glimpse of America’s diversity of cultural experiences that can only be offered by someone who has experienced an abundance of history and culture as well as the daily lives of differing people. A storyteller in his own right, these essays allow the author to expound on subjects close to his heart; Latino culture, life in the Southwest, and human nature. Anaya’s writing style is fluid and his prose provides an accessible yet powerful vision of the world we live in. It is excellent non-fiction for anyone with an interest in or familiarity with the rich cultural tapestry that exists in the American Southwest and among its people. (CL)
Wintergirls. Anderson, Laurie Halse. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (Viking), 2009. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 278pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-670-01110-0.
Best friends Lia and Cassie make a pact and turn their individual eating disorders into a game. Now Cassie is dead, leaving Lia feeling pained and ashamed. Blurring her real life and the ghost of her dead friend, Lia’s compulsive pursuits of calorie counting and weight loss collide to become more and more self-destructive. Anderson does not sugar coat any of the dark and gruesome details of Lia’s anorexic world. This powerful book is sure to give readers some sort of rude awakening, however minimal. Highly recommended. Grades 9 +. (ADA)
Faery rebels: Spell hunter. Anderson, R.J.. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 329pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-155474-2.
All is not as it seems in this fairy realm, where the fearsome Queen and her strict laws keep the fairies from straying beyond their Oak. Only the hunters may venture out into the forest and have contact with the outside world. When the orphaned Knife, a courageous young fairy hunter, falls in love with Paul, a disabled human, she must decide if her actions will help save her dying realm or doom it. Readers will enjoy this cleverly plotted, absorbing, and well written book. (ALC)
Name that dog: Puppy poems from A to Z. Archer, Peggy. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (Dial), 2010. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 32pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8037-3322-0. Illustrated by Stephanie Buscema.
Every puppy needs a name. With so many puppies in different shapes and sizes each with their own personalities, how do owners choose a name? From Aspen to Zipper, this book gives 26 options for puppy names matching the personality of the puppy with a name. Each name is presented as a poem describing the story behind the name. As the owner of a daschund with multiple personalities, this reader found the name Frank slightly offensive and lacking in imagination. But as a whole, this is a cute book with realistic illustrations of specific dogs with different personalities. (MB)
The awakening. Armstrong, Kelley. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 360pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-166276-8.
In this sequel to The summoning, Chloe learns to harness the power she has discovered: the ability to see and summon ghosts. Chloe and her classmates have each been given supernatural powers as the result of a genetic experiment gone awry. The Edison Group scientists, though appearing to be helpful, are determined to kill them in order to protect the world from their destructive power and to destroy the evidence of their mistake. Chloe must convince the remaining classmates that they are in grave danger so together they can protect themselves, thwart the Edison Group, and learn to use their power for good before they destroy everything. (ALC)
The reckoning. Armstrong, Kelley. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen), 2010. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 400 pp. $17.99 ISBN 978-0-06-166283-6.
Chloe, a fifteen-year-old necromancer, who could be in love with a werewolf, is on the run from a secret organization seeking to recapture her and her supernatural friends. As the book opens, Chloe and her friends are planning to break into the headquarters of the same organization they are fleeing to rescue friends and family. This is not a stand-alone book. It is dependent upon background information provided in the first two books of the trilogy. Also, while Chloe and her friends face hair-raising adventures, the reader is not emotionally invested in the outcome. The characters lack depth and the dialogue is stilted. Current fans of the author and/or series will enjoy the book, but will likely be disappointed by the lack of resolution in the story. (MB)
The pirates of crocodile swamp. Arnosky, Jim. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), 2009. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 230 pp. 15.99. ISBN 978-0-399-25068-2.
Eleven year old Sandy and nine year old Jack are self-proclaimed pirates. Readers, however, will see the two as heroes born out of adversities. Their father is an abusive drunk who accidentally killed their little brother. When their father believes he has accidentally killed their mother as well, he kidnaps his sons and drives them all night from Pennsylvania to the Florida Keys. Fearing that they will suffer the same fate as their brother and mother, the boys escape their abusive father and ironically seek safe harbor in the shark, snake, and crocodile infested mangroves of Crocodile Swamp—a place so dangerous it’s off limits to people. Sandy and Jack learn to survive in their new environment thanks to a young girl and an old fisherman. This book is a winner! Teachers will find it a wonderful resource to teach characterization and setting, and readers of all levels (especially males) will find themselves captivated and wanting more of this fictional adventure tale. A must-read. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Jo-Jo and the fiendish lot. Auseon, Andrew. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 473pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-113923-9.
The story begins with 17-year-old Jo Jo taking a marijuana joint and a gun to the river to kill himself. He is stopped when a young, beautiful, naked zombie floating in the water stands up, kisses him, and tells him she needs clothes and a Slushie. As it turns out, she has a rock band in the Afterlife and has returned as a guardian angel for him. This quirkily humorous book raises important life and death issues about the way humans are meant to live. Because the book contains mature subjects such as suicidal and murdered teens, it may not be appropriate for younger readers. Teen zombie enthusiasts will be attracted to the cover design. (ALC)
The Caulder game. Balliett, Blue. Scholastic Inc., 2008. Scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 379pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-439-85207-4.
Walter Pilay’s world is shaken when his seventh grade son, Caulder, disappears from a remote English village. Along with the boy’s disappearance, an Alexander Caulder sculpture “The Minotaur” has also gone missing. Admitting that he isn’t always aware of his son’s involvements, he flies his sons’ friends, Petra and Tommy, to England to help search for Caulder. This book is both chilling and sweet. Author Blue Balliett uses illustrations, puzzles, and words to help the characters solve the mystery. Teachers will find this book a useful and fun way to engage motivated students in language arts, math, and art. Highly recommended for grades 7 +. (ADA)
On native ground: Memoirs and impressions. Barnes, Jim. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2009. [email protected], (405-325-3200). 288pp. $16.95. ISBN 978-0806140926.
On native ground is a collection of short stories and poems tracing the years and memories of poet and storyteller, Jim Barnes. Although Barnes is often identified, or labeled as a Native American writer, very little of the memories and poetry in the title bare directly on his experiences as such. Nonetheless, Barnes is a gifted writer and does an excellent job of describing snapshots of places in time, such as the mountains and countryside of his childhood in Eastern Oklahoma or the Villa Walhberta in Switzerland during one of his many fellowships abroad. The great part about this book is that Barnes intersperses poetry with his recounting of various instances in his life in such a way that allow you not only to understand his state of mind at that moment, but also to more clearly comprehend the thrust of a particular poem or verse. On native ground is a great read, for those familiar with Barnes’ work and those not, likewise it requires no previous knowledge of poetry. (CL)
The lightning key. Berkeley, Jon. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 399pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-060075513-3.
Virtually every chapter in The lightning key begins with a rhetorically clever and often alliterative trope, like these: “Miles Wednesday, storm-soaked and tiger-winded” and “Miles Wednesday, frozen, frightened and free-falling”. The orphan Miles Wednesday, with his stuffed bear, his best friend, the former Song Angel named Little, and other colorful allies, tries to harness the power of the Bengal tiger whose soul egg he possesses, rescue his father from the black hole he inhabits, protect them all from death, and restore Little to her world. The lightning key is the third and final book in the Wednesday Tales series. Although readers may enjoy reading the previous books in the series, they will be able to follow the storyline of this book without doing so. (ALC)
The remarkable& very true story of Lucy & Snowcap. Bouman, H.M. Marshall Cavendish (Cavendish Children’s Books), 2008. [email protected], (914-332-888). 270pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5441-0.
Fantasy lovers and history buffs are sure to enjoy this book. The story takes place in the late 1700s near a fictional island called Tatenland. The native Colay occupy the land, but oddly, all male natives mysteriously and inevitably turn to stone. As a result, naturally, when baby Robert is born, his twelve year old sister Lucy is concerned. Rumors circulate. Lucy can possibly save her brother from the unknown and petrifying disease by taking him to another island. On her journey, Lucy crosses the path of Snowcap, an English child-governor trying to escape her parents’ killers. Lucy and Snowcap’s relationship begins strained, but when their resentment towards each other melts, they learn to work together to solve what threatens them. This fantasy book is driven by themes of distrust, survival, magic, and mystery. A great and fast-paced adventure for all young adults. Recommended for grades 5 and up. (ADA)
The september sisters. Cantor, Jillian. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 361 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-168648-1.
Abigail and Becky bicker over everything. As often happens with sisters who are close in age, they argue about who gets the orange pool float, what channel to watch on TV and whose turn it is to wash the dishes. Each day seems awfully like the one before, until one summer morning when Abigail wakes to find her parents sitting with the police who tell her Becky has gone missing. As the story unfolds, the reader watches Abigail and her parents’ lives spin out of control as they endure the awfully uneventful search for Becky. Abigail soon begins to realize that all of her petty arguments with Becky were rooted in love as she begins to learn about love and the different forms it can take. The september sisters is a great book about relationships, especially relationships within the family and between siblings. The emotions in the novel are portrayed effectively and realistically, and tough issues such as depression, grieving, love, emotional absence, and loneliness are beautifully depicted. This is a definite not to miss read that is sure to keep you turning the pages. (ES)
Because I am furniture. Chaltas, Thalia. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (Viking), 2009. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 368pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0670062980.
Anke feels as insignificant as the reclining chair in the living room. The youngest child of three, she has spent the majority of her life in the shadows of her siblings; however; she feels unnoticed because father is abusive of everyone except her. As she enters into her freshman year of high school, Anke begins to learn things about herself she never before realized. She finds that she has a talent for volleyball and for the first time she begins to feel important, valued and listened to. Slowly, she begins to comprehend that sometimes staying quiet just doesn’t cut it; if she can be heard in volleyball, maybe she can be heard at home. Written completely in free verse poetry, this is a great, quick, powerful read that leaves the reader with an appreciation for those closest to them. (ES)
The roar. Clayton, Emma. Scholastic Inc. (The Chicken House), 2009. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 481pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-439-92593-8.
Set mostly behind a 50 foot concrete wall topped with barbed wire and shooting burgs, this science fiction thriller follows the lives of twelve year old Mika and his twin sister Ellie. Ellie, kidnapped and presumed dead one year ago, yearns to reunite with her family. She holds a secret about the “outside” world and its plague-ridden animals. According to some, she must be stopped before reaching her family. Meanwhile, in the “inside” world, Mika is convinced that his sister is still alive. If he wants to see her again, he knows he must be the best player in an arcade, pod-fighting game built on lies. Tip your hats to author Emma Clayton on this novel. The characters are appealing, and the plot is action packed and gripping. Readers of all ages will keep their fingers crossed in hopes for a sequel or sequels. Highly recommended. Grades 6 and up. (ADA)
Counter clockwise. Cockcroft, Jason. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected],com, (212-207-7000). 202pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0061255540.
With the help of a giant Beefeater who turns out to be his grandfather, Nathan must save the world by helping his father understand and accept the past. Nathan and his father relive the same day over and over in this quirky and poignant book, which begins and ends with the death of Nathan’s mother—a part of the past Nathan cannot undo. (ALC)
LA Candy. Conrad, Lauren. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 336pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0061767586.
Best friends, Jane and Scarlet just moved to Los Angeles and are finding it harder than they anticipated to forge connections. Jane is busy with her internship with a party planning business and Scarlet is occupied with school, leaving them little free time to explore the city. One night they decide to explore the city’s night scene and are approached by a TV producer to star in a reality TV show about young, pretty girls living in LA. After sealing the deal with the producer, Jane finds herself in the middle of a whirlwind; not only does she have to deal with all of her personal life being caught on camera, but she also has to handle her newfound celebrity status. It doesn’t take long for scandals to come to the surface and for Jane to learn that maybe a glamorous, fast paced life isn’t all it is cracked up to be.
This book is very similar to the TV show starring author Lauren Conrad, ‘The Hills’. The book deals with relevant themes and issues in the lives of young adult females, especially those of romantic relationships and female friendships. (ES)
Top of the order. Coy, John. Macmillan Publishing (Feiwel and Friends), 2009. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 182pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-312-3729-0.
Ten year old Jackson Kennedy loves baseball, and all he wants to do is be part of a winning team. When one of his teammates is injured, leaving the Panthers short of a second baseman, the team is on the prowl for a new replacement. Then Sydney shows up. She’s an excellent player, and the team needs her, but she’s a girl, and she plays her best game with her very pink glove. Will Jackson and his teammates risk forfeiting the season and get rid of Sydney? This book has many underdeveloped subplots: Jackson’s divorced parents, anticipated middle school woes, and a strained friendship. Regardless, author John Coy maintains plenty of baseball action to keep young baseball fans wanting to read more. Highly recommended. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Mistwood. Cypess, Leah. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow Books), 2010. [email protected], (212-207-7528). 304pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195699-7.
Isabel is the Shifter, an immortal being protecting the kings of Samorna, by changing her shape into animals, wind or mist. When she is not needed, she returns to her home in Mistwood but always comes to Samorna when summoned. However, one summons is different. Though she leaves Mistwood with the prince to be his Shifter, she cannot remember anything. She does not remember her identity or powers. As Isabel struggles to recover her memories she discovers the prince has been lying to her. Isabel must make difficult choices as the truth unravels, some which may go against the instincts of the Shifter. This original story is well told and not at all predictable. Because of this, it is enjoyable and engaging. (MB)
Hoofbeats: Margret and flynn. Duey, Kathleen. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (Dutton), 2008. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 172pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-525-47936-9.
The lives of 12 year old Margret and her older sister will never be the same. Set in Colorado Territory in 1875, the girls become orphans after a terrible accident leads to the death of their parents. Libby’s basic mistrust of people keeps the girls hopping from family to family. They are now living with the kind Mrs. Fredrickson, and Margaret has a new friend and has become the proud caretaker of a beautiful horse. When Libby wants to leave, Margret must convince her sister to set her basic instinct to mistrust aside if she wants them to stay together. The characters are a bit underdeveloped and the situations exuberantly sad, but this historical fiction will be a brief, pleasant read for female horse-lovers. Recommend. Grades 5-8. (ADA)
Anastasia’s secret. Dunlap, Susanne. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 333pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-420-7.
Revolution is brewing in Russia, but the youngest Roman daughter, Anastasia, is barely aware that her life is about to change drastically. When she befriends a young guard named Sasha, he shows her the tumultuous world outside her palace. When Anastasia’s situation becomes worse, their friendship blossoms into a romance. Dunlap takes a risk by writing from the perspective of such a famous historical figure and fabricating a love story, but weaves together the facts and the imagined romance believably enough. Young teen girls with an interest in history will especially enjoy this novel. (MC)
The deep. Dunmore, Helen. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 326pp. $16.99. ISBN978-0-06-081858-6.
In this third book of a series, Sapphire and her brother Conor lead a double life—one with their mother and her boyfriend in a Cornish village and the other with the mer people of Ingo. They are drawn back to the mer world to placate the Kracken, a monster who terrorizes Ingo and threatens to destroy the world. If they succeed there, can they rescue their father, who is trapped in Ingo? The Deep is absorbing and well written. (ALC)
In a heartbeat. Ellsworth, Loretta. Macmillan Publishing (Walker), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 216pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-2068-9.
In a Heartbeat tells the story of two girls and one heart; when sixteen-year-old Eagan dies, her heart is transplanted to fourteen-year-old Amelia so that she can live. The story alternates between the two girls’ perspectives as one tries to make peace with her death and the other tries to get over the guilt of living with the help of someone who died. Tactfully told and presenting interesting ideas, this book is highly recommended to junior high students and up. (MC)
Beastly. Flinn, Alex. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen), 2007. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 304pp. $17.89. ISBN 978-0-06-087417-9.
Ninth grader Kyle Kingsburg has it all – good looks, a very wealthy father, and an endless string of girls. Unfortunately, his arrogance gets the best of him, and he ends up humiliating a goth girl named Kendra. When Kendra can no longer tolerate Kyle’s constant condescension, she admits to being a witch and places a spell on Kyle. He is now an unsightly, hairy beast. He has two years to break the spell to return to his human form, or else he stays in his current ugly form forever. This book is a well-written retelling of The Beauty and the Beast. It is a revolving door of lessons – bullying, humiliation, and disrespect – that can be either internalized by readers on their own, or discussed within the classroom or family unit. Middle and high school readers, both male and female, will find this a quick and captivating read. Recommended. (ADA)
Visions of the big sky: Painting and photographing the Northern Rocky Mountain West. Flores, Dan. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2010. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 234pp. $45.00. ISBN 978-0806138978.
Dan Flores’ Visions of the Big Sky is a captivating book about the artists and iconic images of the West. What you have in this book is a collection of essays tracing the history, art, and public perception of the northern Rocky Mountains from Lewis and Clark’s expedition to World War I. In Flores’s estimation the artists of northern Rockies in Montana and Wyoming have often been overshadowed by the bigger names in California and the Southwest, such as Georgia O’Keefe. What the author does so effortlessly in this book is lay out for his reader how unique and exceptional the art of the northern Rockies and Plains really is. Visions of the Big Sky succeeds primarily because Flores’s writing is so fluid in the language he uses, familiar, avoiding jargon and other technical terms. Also, he talks about so many familiar, yet diverse, topics – such as the railroad, Native Americans, cowboys, and settling the frontier – that you find yourself instantly captivated about what he has to say.
This book is very approachable and enlightening for any reader – even those with little background in art, art history, or the history of the northern Rocky Mountains. This is an amazing collection of paintings, photographs, and essays that provide the central detail’s of each artists life, explore the historical context in which their art was made, and discuss the impact that artist’s work had on our perception of nature, history, culture, frontier, and the American West. George Catlin, Maynard Dixon, and Ansel Adams are just a few of the major artists that Flores focuses on in his essays. Visions of the Big Sky is a great introduction to the art and history of the Northern American West for all readers. This book is recommended to anyone with interests in American and Western art as well as the history of the Northern Plains and Rocky Mountains, but also for anyone with interests in our National parks, geography, and conservation. (CL)
Pushing the bear: After the Trail of Tears. Glancy, Diane. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2009. 197pp. $14.95. ISBN 978-0806140698.
In Pushing the bear Diane Glancy revisits the Cherokee as they start their new life in Indian Territory. Glancy tells the story of two brothers and their families as they struggle to build their farm near Fort Gibson, Oklahoma. But the farming is only one problem they face. She describes the lives of the Cherokee people after the Trail of Tears in a way that pays tribute to their resiliency without minimizing the trauma – emotional, physical, and cultural – inflicted by the ordeal. As with many of the Cherokee people in the late 1830’s life on their new reservation meant emotional hardships as well. The brothers, Knowbowtee and O-ga-na-ya, each struggle in their own way to create a new identity in a new land. For Knowbowtee, the Christian convert, this new identity means leaving the old ways behind. O-ga-na-ya, on the other hand, struggles to retain his Cherokee identity in the face of the new political and economic realities of his people.
The author does a great job of telling a story that is both captivating and touching, with complex yet relatable characters. In spite of the fact that this story picks up after the first novel, Pushing the Bear: A Novel of the Trail of Tears, Glancy does an excellent job of introducing the families and recounting their lives to set the stage for this novel. No prior knowledge of the main characters or the history of the Cherokee people is needed to thoroughly enjoy this story. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in Native American history or literature. (CL)
Dragonfly. Golding, Julia. Marshall Cavendish, 2009. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 400pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5582-0.
Princess Taoshira is ordered to marry Prince Ramil, but the two could not be more different. However, when both are kidnapped by an enemy, they must learn to work together to save both of their countries. In the end, they reach both political and romantic success. Golding creates a fascinating world but does not have the writing skills to entirely pull it off in this fast-paced but ultimately generic-feeling fantasy novel. (MC)
The museum of Mary Child. Golds, Cassandra. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (858-456-0540). 336 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-935279-13-6.
What is the first memory you have? For Heloise, her first memory is of her godmother looking down at her with her beautiful face then scowling and handing her work to do. From that moment on, Heloise is destined to a life of absolute isolation. She is not allowed books, games, pencils, or anything else that is considered a waste of time, including the thing she wants the most, a doll. She cannot venture outside unless in the company of her godmother and she has never been inside the doll museum next door where her godmother earns a living as a tour guide. After one particularly tedious day, Heloise finds a doll under a loose floorboard and life as she knows it changes completely. Through a cast of quirky characters and their stories Heloise is able to find herself and discover the one thing she has never known in life, love. The museum of Mary Child is a mystifying tale that will leave readers questioning and second-guessing the whole way through. It is an intriguing read, although it is a bit terrifying and disturbing at times. (ES)
The books of Bayern: Forest born. Hale, Shannon. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2009. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 389 pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-167-1.
Rin, formally known as Rinna girl, is a wild child. Growing up with her family in the forest, she has never once ventured outside into the walls of the fortress. Rin has a connection with the forest, especially with the trees, and can always find peace and serenity within their branches; one day she can no longer connect with the trees. She decides to venture into the city, hoping to find a place where she belongs and can find peace. Rin becomes a lady in waiting to the Queen and quickly forms bonds with the fire sisters, magical, powerful girls who would do anything to protect the wellbeing of the city. When a mysterious danger repeatedly threatens the city, Rin and the fire sisters embark on a long journey, leading them through the woods and into the kingdom of Kel. This is a wonderful book about the power of female friendship. The magic in this book is believable and mystical and imagery is absolutely superb. The characters are easy to relate to. I highly recommend this book for anyone looking for adventure and romance; it will leave you wanting to move into the forest. (ES)
Dormia. Halpern, Jake and Peter Kujawinski. Sandpiper Publications, 2010. [email protected], (07 5444 7522). 528pp. $7.99. ISBN 978-0-547-32887-4.
Alfonso is an active sleeper. While asleep he can tight rope walk, climb hundred foot ice covered trees, and other tasks he would never do while awake. Shortly after his sleeping self grows a mysterious plant, a man appears claiming to be Alfonso’s uncle with an incredible story. Alfonso learns he is a Dormian (a people known for their powers of sleep), the plant he grew is a Dormian Bloom (a tree that makes life possible in Dormia), and the bloom must be delivered to Dormia soon. Thus begins Alfonso’s incredible journey. Along the way Alfonso learns more about Dormia, his powers of sleep, and himself. This is a remarkable, captivating,creative and imaginative tale. Though the reader is expected to believe some unbelievable things, the authors skillfully build the story and the readers forget they are reading fantasy (MB).
A taste for red. Harris, Lewis. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Clarion Books), 2009. children’[email protected], (617-351-1185). 169pp. $16.00. ISBN 978-0-547-14462-7.
Formerly home schooled, Svetlana “Stephanie” Grimm struggles to transition smoothly into public school. She dislikes her classmates, she finds her science teacher creepy, and she suspects danger in her new neighborhood. When three of her classmates disappear from school, Svetlana conducts her own investigation to find them. In the process, she learns that she belongs to a quirky but talented group called The Circle of Red. Using her talents and a couple of classmates, Svetlana tries to uncover the truth behind her unusual teacher and her missing classmates. This book may start off slow, but it speeds up and ends “bombastically.” Some characters lack depth, but Svetlana is developed into a clever and witty gal. This vampire fantasy shows definite signs of some promising sequels. Every library should have a copy. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Hearts at stake. Harvey, Alyxandra. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 248pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-2074-0.
Harvey is quick to jump on the vampire bandwagon with this Twilight-inspired novel about teen vampires. Alternately narrated by future vampire queen Solange and her mortal friend Lucy, the novel tells a fast-paced tale injected with humor, and yes, forbidden romance. While there is little depth to be found here, teens that enjoyed Twilight will probably devour Hearts at stake. (MC)
Violet Raines almost got struck by lightning. Haworth, Danette. Macmillan Publishing (Walker), 2008. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 162pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-9791-9.
Eleven year old Violet Raines feels her friendship with best friend Lottie is jeopardized when a new, sophisticated girl from Detroit named Melissa shows up in their small Florida town of Mitchell Hammock. In addition to evading sudden and unlooked-for bolts of lightening, Violet must figure out how to maintain her friendship with Lottie while trying to deal with other relationship issues. An easy read with likable characters in which readers will relate, this coming of age fiction novel is sure to satisfy. Recommended for grades 5 and up. (ADA)
Alex Van Helsing: Vampire rising. Henderson, Jason. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen), 2010. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 256pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-195099-5.
Less than one week in at a new boarding school in Switzerland, fourteen-year-old Alex Van Helsing thought the worst thing he had to worry about was the school bully. Instead, he discovers he has stumbled into a world where vampires are real and there might be more to those old stories told by Bram Stoker and Mary Shelley than he originally thought. Alex discovers Van Helsing is not just a last name. This book is an adventure story blending aspects of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and James Bond. The story stands alone, but there are hints of sequels to come. (MB)
Emma dilemma and the camping nanny. Hermes, Patricia. Marshall Cavendish, 2009. customerser[email protected], (914-332-8888). 144pp. $15.99.
Emma O’ Fallon is nine years old. Her parents seem to be as understanding as ever. She reveres her brother for his innate ability to analyze situations for consequences. And, her relationships with her sisters and her nanny have never been stronger. But, Emma has problems anyway. First, her favorite nanny in the whole world has more claims on her free time now that she has “Bo,” her boyfriend and Irish dance partner. Second, Emma feels she is losing her best friend Luisa to a classmate she dislikes. When Luisa turns down Emma’s invitation to go on a family camping trip, while Bo graciously accepts, Emma feels hurt and betrayed. Young readers will find Emma’s positive solutions to her feelings of jealousy and betrayal something to which they can relate. An enjoyable read for grades 2-5. Highly recommended. (ADA)
Emma dilemma and the soccer nanny. Hermes, Patricia. Marshall Cavendish, 2008. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 112pp. $15.99.
Nine-year-old Emma O’Fallon loves to play soccer. When she learns that she must travel to Washington D.C. for her first soccer match, Emma begins to campaign for her nanny to chaperon the trip rather than her own mother. When her parents reject her campaign, Emma gets her brother and sisters to go on strike to overturn her parents’ denial. A local newspaper reporter catches wind of the strike and makes it front page news in the local newspaper. Overall, the book is a good, quick read. The solutions to Emma’s dilemmas, however, seem a bit unrealistic from the angles of honesty and respect. Recommended for young readers grades 2-5. (ADA)
The secret year. Hubbard, Jennifer R. Penguin Group (Usa) Inc. (Viking), 2010. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-670-01153-7.
Colt lives a dual life; he struggles within his “white trash” social group, working hard to earn money and watching his friends’ families tear themselves apart. However, he also is reliving the past year through letters from Julia, the girl he’d spent a year with in secret before she died in a car accident. Exploring issues of class divide, this novel features believable characters and issues, which rise above the clichés that could have abounded in a “rich girl meets poor boy” forbidden romance. (MC)
Shipwrecked on Mad Island: Twisted journey #11. Jolley, Dan. Lerner Publishing Group, 2009. [email protected], (800-328-4229). 111pp. $27.93. ISBN 978-0-8225-7911-3. Illustrated by Courtney Huddleston.
Readers need to decide what they would do if shipwrecked on a strange island. Would they stay on the beach or travel further inland. Each choice takes the story to a different middle and conclusion. And not all conclusions are favorable. With literally scores of potential story lines, it is a different book each time it is read. This book, written and illustrated like a graphic novel, is perfect for reluctant readers because it actively engages the reader. (MB)
Young Zeus. Karas, G. Brian. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press), 2010. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 48pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-439-72806-5.
Karas retells the Greek myth of how Zeus became the ruler of the Gods on Mt. Olympus. Young Zeus follows Zeus from birth to his defeat of his father, Cronus, an event that freed his brothers and sisters. While the heart of the story is accurate, connoisseurs of Greek mythology will be frustrated by several artistic variations. For example, the story takes place when Zeus is 12 years old, rather than in his adulthood. The storytelling itself often lacks continuity between pages, leaving the reader wondering if a page is missing. However, young readers will enjoy the larger than life and well done illustrations as they are introduced to Greek mythology. (MB)
Literacy for real: Reading, thinking, and learning in the content areas. Lent, ReLeah Cossett. Teachers College Press, 2009. www.tcpress.com, (800-575-6566). 144pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0-8077-4943-2.
In the forward, Jeffrey D. Wilhem states: “getting to the point is something ReLeah Lent knows how to do.” ReLeah Lent’s book will help teachers struggling to relate literacy to other content within the classroom. Unlike many other books on literacy in the classroom, Lent provides examples of activities that work in different content areas. Topics include engagement and motivation, active reading, building and activating students’ background knowledge, study through dialogue and generating questions, differentiated vocabulary instruction, increasing students’ self-efficacy, critical reading and critical literacy, and online reading skills. Lent also provides resources for each content area to aid in classroom discussion or to enhance a classroom library. Literacy for real: Reading, thinking, and learning in the content areas breaks down the concept of literacy in the classroom in an understandable way. Many teachers or pre-service teachers will find great ideas to use in their classrooms that their students will enjoy! (KW)
Wondrous strange. Livingston, Lesley. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 327pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-157537-2.
Wondrous strange is about a Shakespeare production of Midsummer night’s dream filled with real fairies. Unbeknownst to the theatre audience, a real Oberon, a real Titania, and a real changeling participate in the production. A young actress named Kelley discovers she has fairy blood and has been hidden and protected by unlikely undercover fairies from others in Faerieland who could use and harm her. Meanwhile, the fairy guard named Sonny, who has fallen in love with her but believes she is mortal, tries to protect her himself. Well written and suspenseful, the novel cleverly uses the Shakespearean production as a backdrop for this fairy/mortal romance. (ALC)
Jane in bloom. Lytton, Deborah. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (Dutton), 2009. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 182pp. $16.99, ISBN 978-0-525-42078-1.
Strong-willed and independent Jane absolutely reveres her beautiful and perfect older sister Lizzy. Jane’s world changes when Lizzy, bludgeoned by anorexia, loses her life. Suddenly Jane and her parents must deal with the guilt and shame associated with the loss of their beloved family member. While her parents deal on their own, Jane finds understanding in a puppy, a babysitter, a friend, and a new hobby. This book shows the tremendous strains on families dealing with eating disorders. It will grieve young readers and bring tears to their eyes. Fiction. Recommended. Grades 5-9. (ADA)
The returners. Malley, Gemma. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 252pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-443-6.
When Will’s neighbor Yan is falsely accused of murder, Will must decide whether to team up with his father to convict him or to do the right thing. His decision becomes all the more complicated when he discovers he is a Returner, someone who comes back to cause suffering and injustice over and over again. Will must decide whether to accept his destiny or fight for change in this thought-provoking and tense novel. Recommended for high school students, particularly those studying the Holocaust or other genocides. (MC)
Fragile eternity. Marr, Melissa. HarperCollins Publishers (Bowen Press), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 389pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-121471-4.
In this teenage romance set in Fairyland, Aislinn is caught between the fairy world, where she is the Summer Queen with Keenan, and her mortal world, where she loves Seth and must help protect mortals from fairy destruction. Love, intrigue, temptation, and terror are mixed together in this well-written book, with complicated moral dilemmas and alliances. Readers try to figure out how Aislinn can manage her double life and how the mortal Seth can compete with a treacherous, vulnerable, and immortal Fairy King for her affections. In the meantime, Aislinn has her own rivals. As this book is part of a series, readers would be better able to understand the complex fairy rules if they had read the earlier books in the series. (ALC)
Droppers: America’s first hippie commune, Drop City. Matthews, Mark. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2010. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 233pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0806140582.
Droppers tells the story of Drop City, founded in 1965 by Eugene Viktor Krebs Bernofsky and a handful of friends from his time at the universities of Kansas and Colorado. Drop City popped up outside the small town of Trinidad in Southeastern Colorado and shared similarities with many of the so-called “hippie communes” of the time. Bernofsky and his cohorts, referring to themselves as ‘Droppers’, decided to let the “cosmic forces” direct their new society and set out building a small community of artists and free spirits. Created with the intention of building a new sort of society based on the ideals of personal freedom, cooperation, and creative expression, Drop City was not unlike many of the communal experiments that came before and after. While the book focuses much of its attention on Drop City Matthews’ provides a great deal of biographical information about Bernofsky and details much of the early history of communes in America.
Matthews does an exemplary job of illustrating the social and cultural movements that fed into the creation of Drop City and other communes around the country. Unlike many similar titles in this genre, Droppers is not a story about sex and drugs, but rather the retelling of an adventure in community experimentation. The author writes with a very clear and straight-forward style that builds the story, adding the perfect level of background information and detail to inform your ideas as you progress through the book. He puts everything in historical context and provides a remarkably clear picture of the forces working for and against non-traditional communities. Droppers is a great read for anyone interested in the culture and history of the 50’s and 60’s, as well as readers seeking to learn more about the history of communal living in America. (CL)
The witches of Dredmoore Hollow. McKenzie, Riford. Marshall Cavendish (Cavendish Children’s Books), 2008. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 264pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5458-8. Illustrated by Peter Ferguson.
Witchcraft mixed with a bit of comedy makes this book worth the read. Set in New England in 1927, twelve year old Elijah gets a visit from his two strange, eccentric aunts. The intelligent, observant Elijah begins to suspect peril when his parents suddenly go missing and his aunts immediately offer to care for him. It doesn’t take long before Elijah finds himself taken out of his hometown of Dredmoore Hollow and into his aunts’ eerie home at Moaning Marsh. What’s even stranger is that his aunts seem to harbor an intense fixation on his first and lone chin hair. Eventually Elijah learns that he has been kidnapped, and he uses his unknown and inherited magical powers to escape his aunts—but not without having to endure perilous twists and turns. This book, straying from the typical seriousness of other witches’ fiction, has a refreshing and humorous, yet creepy flare that will appeal to its audience. Highly recommended for grades 5-9. (ADA)
Kiowa military societies: Ethnohistory and ritual. Meadows, William C. University of Oklahoma (Norman), 2010. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 455pp. $75.00. ISBN 978-0806140728.
This book is an amazingly detailed history and discussion of the military societies of the Kiowa people. These societies existed among many Native American tribes on the Great Plains and served important functions in the day-to-day lives of the people. This book focuses primarily on the history of Kiowa societies during and after the Reservation Period, a time when their traditions, and in fact the societies themselves, were being lost. The author provides an important compendium of knowledge about Kiowa military societies and how they’ve evolved over the centuries to meet the needs of their people and their changing realities. He details the oral traditions surrounding the creation and rules of behavior for each, including songs. Not only does he discuss how such tribal societies functioned in the past, but he also explains the role of those societies as they exist in the culture today. The author does a remarkable job of explaining how these military societies, and their associated ritual and regalia, are incorporated into the modern ceremonial life of the Kiowa people, whether at powwows or other tribal ceremonials. It is perhaps most noteworthy for Meadows’ discussion of the Scout Dog Society and the influence of the Omaha Dance Society on modern Pan-Indian powwow culture. Although it is written more for researchers in tribal history and culture, this title may still be of great interest to anyone with interests in the culture and history of the Kiowa People. (CL)
Gods of Manhattan: Spirits in the park. Mebus, Scott. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (Dutton), 2009. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 372pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-525-42148-1.
The next novel in the Gods of Manhattan series cleverly explores the simmering enmity between the native Munsees who are magically trapped in Central Park and the ghosts of people of European ancestry who made New York their home in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Now the native people may be released from their two-hundred year old trap. Will their release bring healing or terrible destruction? Young Rory Hennessy, aided by his courageous little sister, a Paper Boy, the ghostly Rattle Watch, and a cockroach patrol, must thwart Willem Kieft’s evil plot to foment war in Manhattan. This book is a riveting way to learn some New York history, but readers should check the facts presented against a more reliable source. Alexander Hamilton, Washington Irving, Typhoid Mary, Captain Kidd, Walt Whitman, and Peter Stuyvesant are among the many historical figures in the book. There is a very helpful list at the book’s beginning to help readers keep track of people and alliances. Look for a sequel, as Rory searches for his father. (ALC)
Savvy girl. Messina, Lynn. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt), 2008. children’[email protected], (617-351-1185). 252pp. $7.95. ISBN 978-0-15-206161-6.
High schooler Chrissy Gibbons has a summer internship at her favorite magazine, Savvy. She aspires to be Savvy’s first teen columnist, but the summer holds other obstacles in the form of competition, parties, and a boy. Drunken parties and predictability ensues. The writing style and themes never reach a depth beyond what one would find in magazines like Cosmo or Glamour, but for girls looking for a quick read, Savvy Girl might prove to be an entertaining, if unsubstantial read. (MC)
Choctaw crime and punishment 1884-1907. Miheshuah, Devon Abbot. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2009. [email protected], (405-325-3200). 339pp. $32.95. ISBN 978-0806140520.
Choctaw crime and punishment is a detailed account of the political struggles that shook the Choctaw Nation after their removal to Indian Territory in the latter half of the 19th century. The Choctaw people experienced many of the same problems of other Native American tribes during the reservation period: tangling with government bureaucracy, unfair treatment and exploitation by unscrupulous traders and profiteers, and the effects of colonization and cultural assimilation. The author does an excellent job of explaining the divisions within Choctaw politics as well as providing a wealth of background information to detail the history of events during this period.
Much of the book reads similarly to old western novels. However, the level of detail, direct historical documentation, and cultural insight provided by Miheshuah makes it clear that these events were real and had a lasting effect on the Choctaw people. This non-fiction would be of interest to anyone fascinated by the history of Oklahoma, Indian Territory, the Choctaw, or early attempts at political re-organization by Native American peoples. (CL)
The mark. Nadol, Jen. MMacmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 228pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-431-3.
Cassie has the power to see when someone is about to die, and her life becomes increasingly complicated when her boyfriend begins pressuring her to warn those who don’t have much time left. Infused with philosophical discussions and realistic, believable characters, The Mark is an enjoyable read, although some parents and educators may be concerned with the nonchalant inclusion of sex and drinking in one scene. Recommended for high school-aged students. (MC)
The leaning dog. Nuzum, K.A.. HarperCollins Publishers (Joanna Cotler Books), 2008. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 250pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-113935-2.
Eleven-year-old Dessa Dean just witnessed her mother’s death. Although her father has been sensitive to her resulting nightmares and daymares, Dessa Dean cannot shed the shame and guilt she feels. Then she finds a half-starved and injured dog on her porch. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect; Dessa could use a friend and confidant. At first the dog keeps its distance and remains vigilant. Gradually it grows to trust Dessa and along with its trust, Dessa learns to overcome her own fears. Animal lovers are sure to find this quiet novel powerful and satisfying. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Split. Petrucha, Stefan. Macmillan Publishing (Walker), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 257pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-9372-0.
When Wade’s mother dies, he is torn between whether to finish school and become a computer programmer or quit school to pursue a music career. When an experiment creates an alternate reality, Wade is able to do both, although the book never explains how this reality is created. Still, it is up to the two Wades to save the world. With distracting prose style, lack of plot information, and few likeable characters, Split is best put aside for better science fiction yarns. (MC)
Starclimber. Oppel, Kenneth. HarperCollins Publishers (Eos), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 390pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-06-085057-9.
In this clever novel set in a nineteenth-century alternate universe, Matt Cruse and his love interest Kate de Vries join forces for the third time as they to travel toward the moon via a space cable. Along their unprecedented and dangerous journey, they encounter Tower of Babel saboteurs, giant hatching space eggs, a fortuitously farting monkey, and Kate’s inconvenient engagement to another man. This book is quirky, suspenseful, and well written. Details of a troubling death in the storyline may make it an inappropriate choice for some readers. (ALC)
Oath breaker. Paver, Michelle. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 292pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-072837-3.
Torak and his best friend, Bale the Seal Boy, fight over the affections of beautiful young Renn, an apprentice mage of the tribe. Then, while Torak sulks by himself after their fight, the unprotected Bale is murdered by a powerful evil wizard. Guilt-ridden and heartsick, knowing he is unlikely to survive, Torak swears an oath to avenge his friend and rival’s death. Accompanied by Renn, who is learning how to harness her powers, and by his Wolf brother, Torak travels through the territories of warring tribes, seeking the wizard. Will their combined powers enable them to overcome the powerful and treacherous wizard and bring peace to the land? The fifth book in Chronicles of Ancient Darkness is a well-written book and stands well on its own. (ALC)
Full court quest. Peavy, Linda and Ursula Smith. University of Oklahoma (Norman), 2008. www.oupress.com, (800-627-7377). 479pp. $29.95. ISBN 978-0806139739.
Full Court Quest is a boarding school story unlike any you’ve ever read. It is the true story of how a group of Indian girls from reservations in Montana, Idaho, and Washington almost single handedly created the sport of Women’s basketball. While the authors do not shy away from talking about the cultural and psychological impact of life at the boarding school they squarely focus their attention on the positive impact Fort Shaw, and especially its basketball team, had on the lives of many of its students.
Peavy and Smith do an excellent job of tracing the history of the Fort Shaw Indian School from its inception in 1892 and build the story throughout to its astonishing conclusion at the World’s Fair in 1904. The reader will become deeply immersed in the lives of the girls at Fort Shaw and share in their triumphs throughout the book. I highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in the history of sports, particularly women’s sports; once the Fort Shaw team started rolling it was very hard to put this book down. (CL)
Big Nate in a class by himself. Peirce, Lincoln. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper), 2010. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 214pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-0-06-194434-5.
Nate is an average sixth grader destined for greatness. He receives a fortune cookie reading, “today you will surpass all others.” Nothing goes exactly as planned, but Nate is tenacious and keeps his cool through each challenge. Nate’s comical adventures will have readers smiling and frequently laughing out loud. The author, also a cartoonist, uses illustrations to augment the story and make it come alive. Cover to cover, this book is simply fun to read. (MB)
Split. Petrucha, Stefan. Macmillan Publishing (Walker), 2010. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 257pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8027-9372-0.
When Wade’s mother dies, he is torn between whether to finish school and become a computer programmer or quit school to pursue a music career. When an experiment creates an alternate reality, Wade is able to do both, although the book never explains how this reality is created. Still, it is up to the two Wades to save the world. With distracting prose style, lack of plot information, and few likeable characters, Split is best put aside for better science fiction yarns. (MC)
Footprints in time. Popescu, Petru. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 248pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-088399-7.
Thirteen year old Jack Conran is looking forward to spending the summer researching lions on the Tanzanian Savannah with his scientist father. But when traveling to their first expedition, a horrific plane crash leaves Jack as the only survivor. Being alone in an unfamiliar wilderness full of combative lions and other unknown creatures, Jack finds himself overwhelmed with anguish and anxiety. Eventually Jack befriends a mysterious, prehuman creature he calls Stoneboy. Together Jack and Stoneboy use their survival skills to help each other find their separate ways. This book is a well-paced survival and adventure story about Tanzania and African wildlife. Middle school students will find this survival story interesting and exciting. Highly recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Tales of terror from the black ship. Priestly, Chris. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2008. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 243pp. $12.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-290-6.
Tales of black cats and bloody hatchets, brotherly betrayal and foul-smelling, and gluttonous sludge are just some of the terrors that lurk between the pages of this Chris Priestly collection of eerie tales. While twelve year old Ethan and his sister wait for their father to return with a doctor, they listen to a mysterious sailor named Jonah Thackery narrate gruesome stories of the sea. Teachers may find the creepy atmospheres of each tale enough to teach setting and mood. Other readers may or may not enjoy the mutiny, murder, and cruelty of the ghosts, demons, creatures and pirates that take part in the action of the book’s ten bone-chilling tales. Recommended for grades 7 and up. (ADA)
Dreams of the dead. Randall, Thomas. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2009. [email protected], (646-607-5151). 276pp. $8.99. ISBN 978-1-59990-250-0.
After Kara’s mother dies, she and her father move to Japan to start a new life for themselves. Kara learns someone at her new school was brutally murdered, and now more students are turning up dead. It is up to Kara and her friends to determine whether the murders are being committed by students or something paranormal and sinister. Randall demonstrates his knowledge of Japan by incorporating ancient Japanese lore and modern culture into the novel to craft a taut murder mystery. This book is most appropriate for high school-aged students. (MC)
Jake Ransom and the skull king’s shadow. Rollins, James. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 399pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-147379-1.
Jake Ransom and his older sister Kady are orphaned after their parents disappear into the jungle on an archaeological expedition. When some of their parents’ stunning Mayan artifacts are recovered, Jake and Kady are invited to the internationally acclaimed exhibition and become drawn into a dangerous and impossible adventure. They find themselves in a world where dinosaurs live with Egyptians, cave dwellers, Vikings, and necromancers. The pair must find out for themselves whether their parents are alive and how Bledsworth Sundries and Industries, Inc. is connected to the ancient and evil Skull King. Readers will be drawn into this well written and suspenseful novel. (ALC)
The dreamer. Ryan, Pam Munoz. Scholastic Inc. (Scholastic Press), 2010. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 372pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-439-26970-4. Illustrated by Peter Sis.
Neftali is a painfully shy, skinny boy who loves words and finds beauty in the smallest of things. Told from Neftali’s point of view, the book follows Neftali as he grows. As the years pass he slowly learns his harsh, authoritarian father will never change, but Neftali finds his voice and strength regardless of his oppressive home environment. This is a beautifully told story shifting seamlessly between the real world and the imagination of a lonely boy. Short poems enhance the story and make the reader pause to reflect on life. The dreamer takes the reader on a journey not quickly forgotten. (MB)
Mousetraps. Schmatz, Pat. Lerner Publishing Group (Carol Rhoda), 2008. [email protected], (800-328-4929). 129pp. $17.95. ISBN 978-0-8225-8657-9.
In elementary school, Maxie and Roddy made great memories and made a great team building mousetraps together. Maxie is in high school now, and hasn’t seen Roddy since seventh grade. Much to her surprise, Roddy (who now prefers to be called Rick) has shown up in her chemistry class. Maxie, feeling alienated by her drug-abusing best friend, and recently discovering that her cousin Sean is a homosexual, seeks simplicity in her life and tries to rekindle her friendship with Rick. However, it is soon revealed that Rick isn’t the same person as sordid details of a brutal gay-bashing attack unravel. With all its themes – bullying, homosexuality, drug abuse, and racism, this book will be thought provoking and eye-opening to older readers. It inspires students to understand the true meaning of friendship. Recommended for students in high school. (ADA)
Love bites: A vampire kisses novel. Schreiber, Ellen. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen), 2010. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 192pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-168942-0.
Raven is a mortal teenager in love with a vampire, Alexander. This book is the seventh in a series following Raven and Alexander’s relationship. Despite references to books one through six in the series, a new reader of the author can follow the story with little difficulty. This story begins with the arrival of Alexander’s best friend Sebastian, also a vampire. Things start to get complicated when Sebastian declares his love for Raven’s best friend, a mortal, who also happens to have a boyfriend. The author’s take on the vampire mythology tends more toward Twilight than Dracula with a gothic twist. This book is a good fast read for those who want a light hearted supernatural love story. (MB)
Vampire kisses. Schreiber, Ellen. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 562pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-06-177894-0.
The beautiful cover of this trilogy suggests a close connection to Twilight, though these books seem to be more light-heartedly quirky and less intensely pseudo-erotic than other vampire books. In the first book, Raven, who loves all things Goth, falls for Alexander, whose family has just moved into the town’s “haunted” mansion. Raven does not fit into the social scene of the high school and finally finds a kindred spirit in the artistic and erudite Alexander. Though the townspeople at first suspect him of being a vampire, they come to trust him. In the second book, she discovers he really is a vampire! In the third and final book, with Alex’s help, she must help protect her high school arch-enemy, Trevor, from vampires who seek to claim him for their own. Readers will enjoy this clever and well written book. (ALC)
Immortal. Shields, Jillian. HarperCollins Publishers (Katherine Tegen Books), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 360 pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-137580-4.
Immortal is a story about the power of first love and the influence it can have on people.
After being sent away to a remote, elite boarding school for girls, Evie finds herself more alone than ever before. The teachers are strict, the girls are snobbish, and no one seems willing to give her a chance to fit in, let alone to make a friend. There is also a ghostly looking girl who looks just like Evie and keeps appearing, causing Evie to earn demerits. Her only enjoyment at the Wyldcliffe Abbey School for Young Ladies is found in Sebastian, an obscure, mysterious outsider who leaves her feeling more rejuvenated than she has since her arrival. As their friendship buds into romance, Evie can’t help but think Sebastian is hiding something from her, and she becomes determined to discover his secrets. The search to unveil these secrets proves to be much more complicated and perplexing than Evie ever could have imagined; Sebastian’s secrets hold the power to destroy her if they are discovered.
This book is a great read for someone who truly likes to get lost in a book! The plot is fast paced and gripping, combining elements of mystery, romance, suspense and horror. It is set against a wonderful gothic background and the stage is set perfectly for a modern twist on a literary tradition. It is well written, and a choice book for those who enjoy mysteries. (ES)
Blackbriar. Sleator, William. Marshall Cavendish, 2009. [email protected], (914-332-8888). 224pp. $16.99 ISBN 978-0-7614-5585-1.
The secluded house of Blackbriar is surrounded by a mysterious and eerie atmosphere. Danny senses this when he moves into the house with his guardian, Philippa, and her surly cat, Islington. As Danny begins unraveling the mystery of the house with the help of his friend Lark, things take a sinister turn when the two discover that the horror of the house wasn’t only in the past. Originally published in 1972, the novel feels dated in places, but its suspenseful plot will keep readers, especially those in middle school, turning the pages to find out what happens. (MC)
You’re a bad man, Mr. Gum! Stanton, Andy. HarperCollins Publishers, 2008. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 110pp. $14.89. ISBN 978-0-06-115243-6.
When Mr. Gum discovers his “perfect” garden has been destroyed by a huge dog named Jake, he seeks revenge. Mr. Gum arms himself with poison-soaked meat and harmful intentions and sets out to solve his problem. Little does Mr. Gum know that a young girl named Polly is about to destroy his clever strategy. Happy resolutions, colorful illustrations, and a glossary of fun-to-say phrases will appeal to the readers of this fiction book. Recommended for grades 4-6. (ADA)
Noodle pie. Starke, Ruth. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2010. [email protected], (858-456-0540). 189pp. $15.99. ISBN 978-1-935279-25-9.
Andy is visiting Vietnam with his father, a former refugee. Andy, who has grown up in suburban Australia, experiences major culture shock when he meets his father’s family and sees the tiny, dirty restaurant they brag about owning. When Andy sees how his cousin Minh begs in the street instead of going to school and how much tourists are willing to pay compared to the locals, he comes up with a plan to put his family’s restaurant on the tourist map. The way Andy faces the cultural differences is very realistic, and Starke brings both positive and negative aspects of Vietnamese culture to life. I would recommend this book for late elementary-Jr. high-aged students. (MC)
The model president. Tacang, Brian. HarperCollins Publishers, 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 246pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-073914-0.
Millicent Madding believes she has what it takes to become the sixth grade class president at Winifred T. Langley Middle School. She is smart, creative, and determined. When the Pretty Liddy’s Junior Fashion Academy undergoes renovations, its students transfer to Millicent’s school. With new eccentric students, it doesn’t take long for the election process to change into who looks the best, rather than who solves school issues the best. Will Millicent conform and change her fashion, or will she break the rules and stick with her passion? Readers will find themselves engaged and wanting to read more of the unusual storyline and the resounding advice to do what they think is right. Recommended Grades 7 and up. (ADA)
Baby Doe Tabor: The madwoman in the cabin. Temple, Judy Nolte. University of Oklahoma Press (Norman), 2009. [email protected], (405-325-3200). 260pp. $19.95. ISBN 978-0806140353.
Lizzie “Baby Doe” Tabor, born Elizabeth McCourt, moved to Colorado in 1877 with her first husband Harvey Doe. Thus begins the legend of “Baby Doe”, who would rocket to notoriety after marrying her second husband, silver mining tycoon, Horace A.W. Tabor. Judy Nolte Temple does an excellent job of examining the numerous facets of the story surrounding the woman, who at the end of her life, lived alone in an old shack in the mountains near Leadville, Colorado. She tells the story of her early life, rise to high society, and eventual fall to a life of seclusion and poverty.
Temple could have taken the easy route that so many authors before her did, and sensationalize the life and times of “Baby Doe”; instead she seeks to understand Elizabeth through the lens of her life and times. This title is more than just biographical or historical, it is a story about a woman who lived quite an amazing life, and whose twilight years were filled with eccentric behavior, rumors, and speculation. To this day, Elizabeth “Baby Doe” Tabor is still one of the most popular attractions in the Colorado Historical Society. Baby Doe Tabor: The madwoman in the cabin is a fascinating read and I would highly recommend it to anyone with interests in historic research, Colorado history, or thoroughly researched and nuanced biographies of historic figures. (CL)
Pete’s disappearing act. Tripp, Jenny. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (Harcourt Children’s Books), 2009. children’[email protected], (617-351-1185). 168pp. $16. ISBN 978-0-15-206177-7. Illustrated by John Manders.
Littered with funny quips and zany adventures, readers are sure to laugh out loud at Pete the performing Poodle and his sassy counterpart Rita the Chimp. The hilarious conflict begins when, during a performance, Pete and Rita turn into rivals and their once-popular act hurriedly turns from good to bad. Oh well, Pete is tired of the circus life and wants to get away – or maybe not! Just before Pete has second thoughts on becoming a pet to the rich and famous, a tornado whisks him away to Kansas. Now Pete is convinced the circus life is for him, and he is determined to journey his way back to his ring-master in Florida. Ironically, on his trek to Florida, Pete stumbles into Rita as well as several other traveling companions. This sequel to the book Pete and Freemont will attract both reluctant and avid readers. Many will find the illustrations and short action-packed chapters humorous and engaging. Two thumbs up! Highly recommended for ages 10 +. (ADA)
Voices of dragons. Vaughn, Carrie. HarperCollins Publishers (Harper Teen), 2010. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 320pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-179894-8.
Dragons are real. Since a brief, violent war sixty years ago, there has been an uneasy truce between humans and dragons. Uneasy because neither side knows what the other is doing. There is no communication. Dragons and humans stay on their respective sides of the border. Until one seventeen-year-old girl, Kay, literally stumbles over the border and comes face-to-face with a young dragon called Artegal. They slowly build their secret friendship as the truce begins to crumble. Kay and Artegal find themselves worried about getting caught at the same time wondering if they could help. This book is well written, grabbing the reader and refusing to let go. With an effortless blend of fantasy and reality, the author crafts a fantastic believable world. In addition to the pleasurable storyline, there are several morals the reader can ponder making the book suitable for living room and classroom conversations. (MB)
Oathbreaker: Assasins Apprentice. Vaught, S.R. and Redmond, J.B. Macmillan Publishing (Bloomsbury), 2009. [email protected], (646-307-5151). 384pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-1599901626.
Aron of Brailing had a very happy, simple childhood growing up with his family on their farm, outside of the city walls. His father had always told him tales of the guilds, the law of the lands and Aron knew his loyalty was to lie in the guild of the stone, no matter what. However, nothing his father said could prepare Aron for what was going to happened to him; kidnapped, taken from everything familiar to him, and forced to become an assassin, he must decide for himself if he should fight the force and defy the laws or accept his fate. Aron must learn to control his powerful legacy or face a very certain death. This is an original, creative fantasy tale. The world is vivid and real, the creatures believable and the reader can really get lost in this book! (ES)
Stolen. Velde, Vivian Vande. Marshall Cavendish (Cavendish Children’s Books), 2008. [email protected], (914-332-888). 160pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-7614-5515-8.
Author Vivian Vande Velde delivers a well-crafted story of mystery and suspense that readers will find tough to put down. On the same day an old witch’s house is being burned down by villagers, a 12 year old girl is rescued from the dark forest. The girl has no recollection of who she is or where she came from. Some speculate that she is Isabelle, the long lost girl that a witch stole 6 years prior, while others believe she’s working as an undercover witch. After six years, Mady is quick to label the mysterious girl as her long-lost daughter. This belief, however, quickly sparks a wave of disbelief in other characters such as the older sister Honey. A small village in a dense, dark forest offers the perfect setting to this haunting tale, while clever clues placed strategically throughout the storyline piece together to reveal Isabelle’s true identity. Simply stated, this novel is a must read. Recommended for grades 5-8. (ADA)
Num8ers. Ward, Rachel. Scholastic Inc. (Chicken House), 2010. scholastic.custhelp.com, (212-343-6100). 325pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-14299-1.
As long as she can remember, Jem has seen a series of eight numbers associated with every person she meets. Until the day her mother died, they were just ordinary, common numbers. On that day, 10-10-2001, her mother’s numbers, 10102001, disappear. Haunted with the knowledge she knows the date of death for everyone she meets, Jem isolates herself emotionally. Unlike other books about individuals with special powers, Num8ers is not a story about learning to harness supernatural powers to save the world. This is a story about a young girl learning to live with an awesome burden. Tired of her self-imposed isolation, Jem risks befriends a school mate despite his number of 12152010. Bad choices are made by all, but in the end life happens. (MB)
Impossible. Werlin, Nancy. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc., 2008. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 371pp. $9.99. ISBN 978-0-14-241491-0.
For Lucy Scarborough, the song “Scarborough Fair” takes on a whole new meaning when she discovers that her family is cursed, and the only way to break the curse is to complete the three impossible tasks in the song. Readers will be fascinated by this modern, pragmatic female as she solve riddles from hundreds of years ago, especially since her struggle to complete the tasks becomes a fight to save herself and her future child. Lucy is a character that is easy to root for, and the concluding message that love conquers all is trite but fitting for the story. High school aged girls will particularly enjoy this story. (MC)
The fetch. Whitcomb, Laura. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2009. children’[email protected], (617-351-1185). 379pp. $17.00. ISBN 978-0-618-89131-3.
A haunting and inventive love story between a “fetch,” a death escort, and Anastasia, the daughter of the doomed Romanov czar during the Russian revolution. When a young fetch named Calder goes to claim Ana’s dying younger brother Alexi, Calder sees Ana and falls in love with her. When he meets Ana again many years later, he leaves the age-old Order of the Fetch to be with her, breaking the rules of the universe and putting everything in jeopardy. This is a beautifully told story and an imaginative introduction to Russian history. (ALC)
Radiant darkness. Whitman, Emily. HarperCollins Publishers (Greenwillow), 2009. [email protected], (212-207-7000). 274pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-06-712449-7.
An overbearing Mother Earth, trying to protect her daughter from men, hides her daughter Persephone in a remote valley. However, Persephone secretly meets Hades, falls in love, discovers he is the God of the Underworld, and agrees to become his queen. Meanwhile, a grief-stricken Demeter, who believes Persephone to be abducted against her will, savages the earth until Persephone returns to reassure her and protect the Earth world she has come to love. Readers will be captivated by an imaginative and well-written retelling of the Persephone myth. (ALC)
Boys, girls, and other hazardous materials. Wiseman, Rosalind. Penguin Group (Usa), Inc. (G.P. Putnam’s Sons), 2010. [email protected], (212-366-2000). 282pp. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-399-24796-5.
After the experiences of being in a clique of mean girls in 8th grade, Charlie wants a fresh start when she begins high school. However, when she reconnects with her old childhood friend, Will, she witnesses his lacrosse team pull a prank that crosses the line. Charlie is torn between doing the right thing or protecting the boy she has developing feelings for. Wiseman, author of the nonfiction Queen bees and wannabes, accurately portrays the high school experience with realistic dialogue and situations, although the plot and characterization occasionally leave something to be desired. (MC)
Escape under the forever sky. Yohalem, Eve. Chronicle Books, LLC, 2009.
[email protected], (800-759-0190). 224pp. $16.99. ISBN 978-0-8118-6653-8.
Teenage Lucy Hoffman wants to relish in the life and landscape of living on the continent of Africa. However, her over-protective mother, who is the United States Ambassador to Ethiopia, stifles Lucy’s thrill-seeking ideas by confining her to the embassy. To stave off the boredom of confinement, Lucy and her friend sneak out of the house into the nearby city. Soon Lucy finds herself kidnapped and held for ransom. Using knowledge gained from African wildlife books, Lucy executes her escape plan. Based on true events, this book offers facts of the Ethiopian landscape and wildlife as well turning lessons of hope and fear into preparation and motivation. Young readers are sure to revel in the suspense and adventure of this fast-paced novel. Highly recommended. Ages 10 and up. (ADA)