Monday, November 30, 2009

Mike Steller; Nerves of Steel

I really really really enjoyed this book! Mike Stellar; Nerves of Steel by K. A. Holt is probably one of the best new science fiction books for kids this year. It's also a funny and fast-moving mystery/adventure story all rolled into one.

In the year 2074, Mike still has to go to school and do reports for English class, but he also has lots of cool tools like peapod communicators, readers, comm-bracelets and my personal favorite - grass shrinkers - no more mowing the lawn! Mike and his best friend, Stinky, sometimes spend more time hacking computers than studying.

Mike's parents work with the project to send a ship to terraform and colonize Mars. Things didn't go well the last time a ship was sent out. It disappeared and along with it, Stinky's older brother Hubble. Some people suggested Mike's mom was responsible for the failure and things are tense again as the new flight is readied.

Suddenly Mike finds himself on the flight with his parents. They are going to Mars! On the ship Mike meets a very unusual girl named Larc. Back on Earth, his sister Nita disappears and suspicious things begin to happen all over the ship. Most seriously, Mike's parents might be sabotaging the mission. Mike and Larc set out to discover the truth!

Click here to find out how real transforming of Mars might work.

Watch the Mike Stellar book video below:

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell in Love

Super logical Emma-Jean Lazarus (who earlier Fell Out of a Tree) returns. Now it is spring and the 7th grade dance, where the girls ask the boys, is coming soon. Whenever she is around Will Keeler, she gets a little heart flutter. Will she get up the nerve to ask him to the dance?First she has to figure out who her friend Colleen's secret admirer is AND try to keep their boarder (who is in love with her mother) from moving to California.

Emma-Jean and her friends are always busy, getting into misunderstandings and drama. Follow them through the spring at William Gladstone Middle School and laugh along!

Lauren Tarshis is the author of both of the Emma-Jean books. She often comments that if you knew her when she was in fourth-grade, you would have thought she was the least likely person to become a writer! Lauren Tarshis struggled very hard to learn to read. Look around your classroom and find the person you think is unlikely to do something special - I promise you - you will be surprised at what the future holds.

Friday, November 13, 2009

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity is the first book in the new Brixton Brothers series of exciting and thrilling mysteries.

The first mystery is - who is the other Brixton brother - since we only discover Steve Brixton in this book! Steve LOVES the series about two brothers who are boy detectives, The Bailey Brothers, who sound suspiciously like the Hardy Boys to me . . . Steve turns to the Bailey Brother Detective Handbook for advice on everything from escaping from second floor windows to escaping from kidnappers.

On an innocent assignment to the public library to research "American needlework" for his teacher - Steve is attacked by a librarian SWAT team, pursued by the evil Mr E and other bad guys, mistaken for a detective by the police, and finally placed on a wanted list by the government. And that report on needlework is due on Monday!

I also like the illustrations by Adam Rex, who wrote another funny book, The True Meaning of Smekday. Click here to find out what Smekday is all about!

Mac Barnett, the author of The Brixton Brothers, reveals the top-secret information he discovered about librarians in this video clip.

The Middle of Somewhere

Ronnie Sparks is motivated. She's twelve-years-old and already has plans (and some of the money) to buy her own car. When her mom gets hurt and has knee surgery, her life expectantly changes. Her grandfather appears and takes her and her brother Gee (who has ADHD) on the road in his new RV. Their adventures and challenges make for a rousing story.

Ronnie, Gee and her grandfather take a wild ride across Missouri and Kansas, where their grandfather is wind prospecting - finding places to situate wind farms. They meet some interesting characters along the way and get themselves into some sticky situations. They find out some revealing things about each other, too!

J.B. Cheaney is the author of The Middle of Somewhere. J.B. Cheaney has written several other books you might enjoy. My Friend The Enemy is set during World War II. Both The Playmaker and The True Prince take place in Elizabethan England, during the times of Shakespeare. These two books are filled with danger and intrigue!

Monday, November 9, 2009

When You Reach Me

Wow! This is really an unusual book. Pay close attention to the story and the details and the clues. It all comes together at the end and you will say "wow" too!

Our story starts when twelve-year-old Miranda, who is also our narrator, starts receiving a series of very strange and disturbing notes. How does this note writer know these things? What is going on? These things have not happened yet!

Miranda lives in an apartment in New York City. Her very favorite book is A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L'Engle. This is one of the important clues. If you have read A Wrinkle in Time, you know it is about time travel.

Miranda's mother is going to be a contestant on a famous TV quiz show - The $20,000 Pyramid. After school and after work, Miranda and her mother practice and practice the game.

Things are not going well for Miranda herself. Sal, who has been her best friend for years. is avoiding her. Annemarie, who has not been her friend, starts hanging around with her. The homeless man on the street by her apartment is frightening her. And then, there are those mysterious notes!

This story by Rebecca Stead is amazing and extraordinary. It is also very hard to describe, as most extraordinary books are. To get a taste of the author's style, click on the title above to read the first chapter online in a book reader.

And pay attention to the book cover - more clues are found there!

Friday, November 6, 2009

Extra Credit

Abby Carson is stunned when her teachers tell her that she might get held back in sixth grade. It isn't that she can't do the work, she doesn't like to, so she hasn't been doing it. Now she's willing to do almost anything to move on to seventh grade. She makes a deal with her teachers. She will do ALL her assignments for the rest of the year and take on a special extra credit assignment, which is to correspond with a student in another country at least three times, create a bulletin board, and do an oral report for her class. She chooses a country with lots of mountains, because she loves to climb (and she lives in flat farm country) -- Afghanistan.

The story is told both from Abby's point of view and that of her penpal, Sadeed. Their lives are very different, as you will see, but they do build something of a friendship in a short time. One of the things I liked about this book is that you learn about the similarities of the two kids as well as their differences.

Andrew Clements has written quite a few books for young readers. This one seems different to me than some of his others. He helps kids learn about a part of the world that is often in the news, but rarely visited by Americans other than soldiers, through the eyes of someone their own age.

If you would like to read the first chapter online, click on the title Extra Credit above. You can also hear a sample of the audio book here.