Monday, May 31, 2010

A Tribute to our Military

Looking for a war-time book that doesn't overwhelm a young reader with the brutality and unfairness of war?

NUBS, THE TRUE STORY OF A MUTT, A MARINE & A MIRACLE by Major Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, and Mary Nethery, Little, Brown and Company BFYR, 2009.

The friendship of a boy and his dog is universal, never dull, always unique simply because each combination of boy and dog brings different personalities into the mix.

Nubs is an Iraqui dog of war. Love and kindness are unknowns. Then he meets an American Marine. The transformation of Nubs to a dog of peace and his jounrney into a surprising future is a story an entire range of family members will appreciate.

Illustrated with photos and email, this is a great book to have on hand for Memorial Day weekend or the 4th of July or any time war news weighs us down.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Mystery Comics

Pictures may become our global language. From wordless picture books to illustrated novels, books are more visually oriented every day. Comics have always been popular with kids. Book publishers who build on that popularity may bank on it, too.

JOEY FLY, PRIVATE EYE, IN CREEPY CRAWLY CRIME by Aaron Reynolds, illustrated by Neil Numberman, Henry Holt and Company, 2009.

Just like reruns of Law and Order, Dragnet and Joe Friday will probably be around forever. Joey Fly stars in this graphic novel for young readers. He sounds a lot like Joe Friday to me.

If you’re a purist about language and sentence structure, you won’t be comfortable handing this over to your young reader. However, if your goal is to get that youngster reading and he or she loves a punny mystery, this could work.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Suspense for Teens

When teens find a book and author they like and the book leads to a series, teen readers inhale these titles as if they were the latest fast food super meal--with extra fries. According to the book jacket of today's offering, author Peter Abrahams has many series to his credit. If the book I just read–the first I’ve read of his long list and it’s a stand alone so far–is any indication, he understands the heart ache of the young who can’t have what they want but won’t give up no matter the odds.

REALITY CHECK by Peter Abrahams, Laura Geringer Books, 2009

Cody is 16 and in love with Clea whose wealthy father opposes their relationship. Big time. He sends his daughter to Hong Kong for the summer and to boarding school in Vermont forever.

Or so it seems.

Cody, blocked in every direction, drops out of his Montana high school and heads for Vermont when he hears that Clea is missing. Hunger, homelessness, and cold are nothing to a young man in love. Girls will like this part, but there’s plenty of action for the guys, too. Villains and heroes in disguise abound. Who can be trusted? How much pain can be ignored?

Both girls and guys will care about the horse.

A quote from Stephen King appears on the cover: “My favorite American suspense novelist.” Will your teen agree?

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Chills Cool Summer Readers

Got Boys? Here’s a mystery to open the summer reading season.

CLOSED FOR THE SEASON by Mary Downing Hahn, Clarion, 2009

Logan is thirteen when his parents move to a house greatly in need of TLC in rural Virginia. School is out for the summer and the next door neighbor has been yearning for a new best friend. If this sounds like a set-up for a summer of fun as two boys discover a fishing hole and have rock skipping contests, it isn’t.

Hardly anything about the next door neighbor fits Logan’s picture of a best buddy.

In spite of this, while house repairs distract his parents, Logan finds himself tearing around the small town’s streets on his bike, pursuing clues about the possible murder that took place in his new/old house, escaping from a gang of toughs, and hunting for the money the murdered woman was accused of stealing. All of this because Logan’s neighbor builds a convincing story about the murder and thinks the money is hidden somewhere in an amusement park closed so long it’s covered in kudzu.

Why must murder mysteries be solved at night? Because that makes them scarier!

This mystery for middle-graders and other novels by the same author will be a great discovery for reluctant readers, especially boys. They might surprise you, too, and become readers!

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

I'm Back!

I've been away from my desk, but not my books.

I have lots to share--soon. Thanks for your patience.

Coming up: My summertime favorite: mysteries

Sunday, May 9, 2010

A Friend Indeed

How special are your friendships?

A FRIEND LIKE YOU by Tanja Askani, Scholastic Press, 2009

Illustrated with full color photos of surprising pairs of animals caught getting along, this book is recommended for preschool through 2nd grade. However, the range of interest should include an entire family. Anyone, child or adult, will appreciate and enjoy this display of unexpected camaraderie in the animal world.

Each photo is accompanied with a conversation starter for the very young who are just starting to think about the nature of friendship. At the end of the spare text, the photos appear again with a brief history of how these special friendships came to be and where the animals are now. The author has rescued, adopted, and rehabilitated animals since she was a child, and her observations are astute and entertaining. Most of these animals live in or near the author’s home in Hamburg, Germany.

Share this book with a child you want to delight.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Bringing Fortune Home

Take one author/illustrator enchanted by the folk tales of her ancestors. Stir up her rich imagination. Simmer with a storyteller’s talents. Steep until the full flavor emerges.


Minli and her parents live in a poor village in the shadow of a barren mountain. Their house is so small it is difficult for all three of them to sit at the table at the same time. Minli’s father is a story teller, but her mother complains that stories fill one’s head with impossible dreams.

Minli decides to change her parents’ drab lives and sets out on a quest to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask him to bring life to Fruitless Mountain. A magical goldfish is all Minli’s adventuresome spirit needs for encouragement. It isn’t long before she finds a dragon that can’t fly to keep her company on her travels.

This book is a charming, engaging 200 plus pages, ideal for enjoying on a porch swing for an entire summer afternoon. No need to read this before your daughter does. Boys will probably prefer more action. However, the plot is captivating, the messages are pure, delivered with a light, delicate touch, and (spoiler alert!) the story has a happy ever after ending.

Hillview School Library