Monday, December 20, 2010

Half Upon a Time by James Riley

OK - so Jack's father disappeared in the whole Giant and the Beanstalk incident and everyone keeps pushing him to go rescue a princess, but Jack thinks maybe this whole fairy tale thing is not for him. He's not real handy with a sword and he always messes up all the "rescue the princess" simulations his teachers assign to him.

And then - bam - a princess falls out of the sky. Her name is May and she doesn't believe she's a princess. However Jack and all the guys in the village know she is, because she's wearing a T-shirt that says "punk princess." She is in trouble though - and Jack figures it out. The Wicked Queen has kidnapped her grandmother and a huntsman is chasing her.

Half Upon a Time is a hysterical, fractured fairy tale! You can read the first chapter online here.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

War Horse by Michael Morpurgo

Joey is a big, beautiful red-bay horse with four white stockings and white cross right on his forehead. Albert's father bought him as a six-month-old foal. Joey was very frightened when he went to is new home, but he found a lifelong friend in Albert. Over the next few years they both grew up working hard on their small English farm, happy and devoted to each other despite the occasional anger-filled rages of Albert's father.

And then, World War I began in Europe. Without Albert's knowledge, his father sold Joey to the British Army where he would become the trusted cavalry horse of Captain Nicholls. Albert was heart-broken but he swore that when he was old enough he would enlist and find Joey so that he could bring him home again.

War Horse is a very emotional and powerful story. We see the terror and death that war brings, all through the eyes of Joey. We also see the good and brave people he meets after the death of Captain Nicholls. Joey eventually finds himself captured by the Germans, where he spends long dangerous days hauling carts of wounded soldiers and artillery guns. Joey wonders if he will ever see Albert again.

War Horse is a book in the excellent tradition of Black Beauty and other classic animal stories. The book has been adapted as a play in London and Steven Spielberg is currently filming the story as well. Enjoy the book now - I promise you will shed a few tears of both joy and sorrow.

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Saving Sky by Diane Stanley

Twelve-year-old Sky Brightman lives on a ranch near Santa Fe, New Mexico. Other people would probably describe her parents as back-to-earthers or even "old hippies" since the family lives off the grid - meaning they generate their own electricity from solar power, heat with firewood, and raise most of their own food. This lifestyle became even more important when terrorists began to attack the United States. Over the past several years, the terrorists have focused on America's power supply - oil and natural gas. Life has become more difficult, but some things continue. Sky and her younger sister still go to school but everyone lives in fear of the next big attack.

When another big attack occurs, something awful happens and the country begins to put people who look like the terrorists into relocation camps. Sky and her family believe this is wrong so they hide the son of a friend on their property. They also create a hiding place behind a barn wall, where Kareem can go if anybody comes looking for him. Then, one awful day, government men do come to search the family ranch.

I really liked Sky as a character. At times she was afraid but mostly she believed that she needed to stand up for what she believed was right. In the end, she had to be very brave but she also made a big difference.

Click here to read an e-book version of the first chapter.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Hero by Mike Lupica

Zach Harriman was fourteen-years-old when his father died unexpectedly in a plane crash. Zach's dad was a famous man - a "special adviser' to Presidents. A man whose reputation was larger than life. A man who got things done.

What Zach didn't know was how his father did these things. As Zach discovers, his father had special abilities. He really was a superhero. And now that he is dead, Zach seems to be developing special powers of his own.

Is Zach ready to take on the role of hero? One thing is for certain - he wants to discover how and why his father died.

Click here to read the first chapters online. Watch the book trailer below.

Hero by Mike Lupica

Monday, November 1, 2010

After Ever After by Jordan Sonnenblick

A sequel to Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie, this is funny, yet sad story of two 8th grade students who have fought cancer. Both still suffer after-effects of their treatments, but go on courageously. Jeff and Tad are just two ordinary boys who must deal with extraordinary circumstances.

We met Jeff in the first book, when he was only 5 years-old and fighting leukemia. Now, he is an eighth grader living a life that is both sad yet also funny.

Here's a challenge: find out what the words beau geste mean and see how it applies to these two boys.

Turtle in Paradise Jennifer L Holm

Turtle knows it's a tough world. It's 1935, the Depression years. When her mama gets a job as a housekeeper for a mean old lady who doesn't like kids, Turtle has to go live with Aunt Minnie and her cousins Beans, Kermit and Buddy in Key West, Florida. The author creates a lively story based loosely on the experiences of her great-grandmother. The cousins have some great times and get into some funny scrapes. They have an unusual business - watching Bad Babies!

I you have ever visited Key West, you will enjoy finding out what it was like before all the tourists invaded the island! I especially liked the Conch Telegraph.

Here is a challenge for you. Can you identify the real character from history in the story?

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

The Magnificent 12: The Call by Michael Grant

Here is the beginning of a big new series called The Magnificent 12. If you followed The 39 Clues, you will enjoy this series as well.

Twelve-year-old Mac MacAvoy thinks he has a normal boring life - until one day at school when things really change! Grimluk, a 3000 year-old man, appears in the boy's bathroom to tell Mac that he is one of the Magnificent 12! Mac needs to find the other 11 twelve-year-olds in order to stop the Evil that threatens the world. Mac is not sure about all of this but he seems to have no choice. The adventures that follow are full of magic and excitement but they are also really funny!

Click here to visit the series website, follow the interactive map, learn more about the characters, and discover important clues.

And be sure to watch the book trailer below. It is probably one of the best book trailers I have ever seen.

The Candymakers by Wendy Mass

I love those cooking contests on television! Beautiful cakes, scrumptious desserts, and those towering sugar sculptures! If you love watching those shows or cooking, this is the book for you!

The four main characters - Logan, Miles, Daisy, and Phillip - have all been selected to compete in a national candy making contest. The winning candymaker will earn $1000, but best of all - their recipe will be produced and sold around the world! Each of our competitors is very different from each other but they soon find themselves in the middle of some sticky surprises and some gooey suspense. And everything sounds delicious - Oozing Crunchorama or Neon Yellow Lightning Chew.

Wendy Mass is certainly one of our favorite authors. She also wrote 11 Birthdays, 12 Finally, and Every Soul a Star. Click here to watch Wendy Mass explain how she came to write a book all about candy! Yum!

Saturday, September 4, 2010

No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve

Everyone knows there are no such things as dragons. Dragons are the stuff of fantasy and legend.

Back in the old days, many people were afraid of dragons. Lonely shepherds disappeared high on the mountain pastures, or their sheep did. When the people in a village became afraid they hoped a brave knight in shining armor would come to slay the dragon. Johannes von Brock was one of these knights.

Or rather, he pretended to be a dragon killer. Because, as all intelligent and rational people know - there are no such things as dragons. Ansel is his ten-year-old servant boy, left unable to speak by the tragic death of his mother and sold into servitude by his greedy father. Ansel knows that his master is a fake but at night when he hears sounds on the high spaces, he wonders and worries. What if dragons are real?

This story of a con man takes a frightening turn when a real dragon appears. And really captures people and animals. And suddenly Ansel's very life is in real danger. From this moment in the story, hang on tight to your favorite reading chair because you are in for a non-stop, action-filled, scary adventure!

Saturday, August 21, 2010

The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

What if fairy tale magic really existed? What is there was a library where you could check out the magical items from fairy tales? What if you could get an after-school job at this library?

In The Grimm Legacy there is such a library. While it also loans out all kinds of other objects - costumes, dishes, tools, historical objects and artwork - in one special room there are magical items from the tales collected by the Brothers Grimm.

Our main character, Elizabeth, sometimes feels like she is living in a fairy tale, especially since her father remarried and she gained a step-mother and two step-sisters who are a little bit evil. At a new school with no friends, she jumps at the chance to work as a page at the New York Circulating Material Repository. She likes her new job putting things away on the shelves and finding objects for library patrons, but then she discovers the Grimm collections and scary things begin to happen. As magical items begin to be stolen from the library, Elizabeth and her new friends - Marc, Aaron, and Anjali - find themselves in a life or death race to find some very important items.

If you love fairy tales or magic or a little romance, this is the book for you! Or if you love libraries - like I do - you will really enjoy this special library. I wonder if there is some magic lurking somewhere on our library shelves? Hmmm . . .

Click here to read the first chapter online and watch The Grimm Legacy book trailer below.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The White Gates by Bonnie Ramthun

Here's a great book for kids who like snowboarding, adventure and a mystery!

Twelve-year old Torin Sinclair has just moved to Snow Park, Colorado. All of his life he's been pretty much a surfer boy living with his dad and step-mom, but now he's come to live with his mom who is the new town doctor. His first big goal is to learn to snowboard!

But the kids in school aren't too friendly and he begins to hear about the curse that seems to follow whoever is the town doctor. Fortunately he makes a couple of friends - Raine Douglas, whose father owns the snowboard shop, and Drake Wexler, whose father is a famous snowboarder. Raine's family is of Ute Indian heritage and she eventually tells him about the sacred mountain her family seeks to protect and the origins of the mysterious Ute curse.

Is there really a curse? Is someone out to develop the protected mountain land? And what is with the kids who keep threatening Torin on the slopes?

And what are the White Gates? Well - they are a dangerous avalanche run. Plenty of snowboard action ahead!

Friday, August 6, 2010

Nick of Time by Ted Bell

Pirates, time travel, spies, a Nazi submarine, sword fights, sailing ships - Nick of Time is non-stop adventure and action!

Nick McIver is the hero of our adventure and a hero is just what Nick wants to be. The year is 1939, and war with Germany is coming closer. Nick lives with is parents, the lighthouse keepers, on Greybeard Island in the Channel Islands between England and France. Nick is a marvelous sailor and longs for the days of his ancestor Captain Nicolas McIver and his idol Lord Nelson. Things are becoming dangerous for Nick himself as he gets caught up in his father's secret work as a spy against the Nazis.

Things really spin our of control when he discovers a time travel device sent to him from his ancestor Captain McIver, who desperately needs Nick's help in the past. He also meets Captain Blood, a time traveling pirate. Then a Nazi submarine surfaces off the island and Nick finds himself needed in two places as once. Author Ted Bell also introduces us to his adult fiction character Alex Hawke, who is a British spy.

When he was a boy, author Ted Bell loved books like Treasure Island and Kidnapped. His character Nick McIver seems to spring right out of books like these old-fashioned adventures.

This is the first adventure in the Nick McIver series. Nick of Time is followed by The Time Pirates.

Click here to read the first three chapters of Nick of Time.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Crunch by Leslie Connor

Fourteen year-old Dewey is in a crunch. Actually his whole family is in a crunch - all because of another crunch - a fuel crunch.

Crunch, the book, is a great read! It is a mystery - who is stealing bike parts from the family bicycle shop? Can Dewey catch the thief? It is a what if story - what if a fuel crisis stranded your parents several hundred miles away from home and left you and your siblings to take care of both themselves and the bicycle shop? And it is realistic fiction - older sister Lil is eighteen, but it is a lot of responsibility for her and Dewey to take care of the family farm, the bicycle shop, and their younger siblings.

Things do start to get a little scary as well. The fuel crisis is causing food and other necessities to disappear from store shelves. Cars stop going up and down the highway next to their home. The highways are filed with people walking and bicycling. Suddenly lots of people need their bikes fixed just to get around. Dewey and his slightly younger brother Vince are swamped with bike repairs. And someone is breaking into their shop and stealing not only valuable bike parts but also the money they make for their work. This is not turning out to be the summer vacation anyone planned on.

I really enjoyed the family story in Crunch as well. Everybody is trying but they are still kids and they are under a lot of pressure. And I really like their small family farm as well - a big garden, fruit trees, chickens, goats and sheep. Hmm - I wonder whose farm that sounds like? Click here to find out!

Leslie Connor is a very good writer of realistic fiction. Waiting for Normal won lots of awards for children's literature and I predict Crunch will as well. Click here to read an interview with Leslie Connor and find out just where some of her ideas for Crunch came from. Meanwhile, I'm going to make sure my bicycle is in good working order. You never know when you might really need it . . .

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Spaceheadz by Jon Scieszka

I've worried about the subject of this book for a LONG time. If there are aliens out there somewhere, we have been sending all our television signals out to space and the ALIENS HAVE BEEN WATCHING! I'm glad that Jon Sciezka, who is a very funny and very good author, also started worrying about this too. If you are wondering about all the CAPITAL letters, you haven't read Spaceheadz yet.

As we all know, good science fiction starts with the question - what if? So, what if the only thing aliens know about us came from our commercials? If you are thinking OH NO right now, you are right! When the aliens send their representatives to Earth, they make contact with Michael K. - yes, there is more than one Michael in the room. All kids know that instantly, but grownups may have forgotten the secret code that reveals that fact.

Poor Michael K. is just trying to blend in since this is his first day in his fifth grade classroom, where he is the new kid. If you were the new kid, the last thing you would want is two aliens following you around. Did I mention the aliens are pretending to be students too? And then there is the alien leader, who has taken over the body of Major Fluffy, the class hamster. This is not a good first day of school for Michael K.

If you want to learn more about the SPHDZ and how you can help SAVE THE WORLD! click here:

Or watch this top secret video:

Monday, July 5, 2010

Flight of the Outcast by Brad Strickland

Space Opera is one of my favorite sub-genres of science fiction. When kids ask me to suggest a good space opera, I usually think of Star Wars or Star Trek. Now I have a new recommendation - Flight of the Outcast by Brad Strickland.

This is a first story in a new series called The Academy and I can't wait for the next book! This series has everything that makes good space opera - lots of worlds and characters set far in the future, lots of exciting action involving spaceships and martial arts, cool technology, and a good story about good versus evil.

Thirteen-year-old Asteria Locke is an orphan. Her father was a veteran of the Royal Spacefleet and a hero, but after his injuries he was given a large farm on a remote world. After raiders attack their farm and kill her father she vows to become a Spacefleet pilot herself and protect others from the raiders. She travels alone to the Academy where she learns to fly and fight and even makes a few friends, especially a boy named Dai, but she also makes some enemies. She also discovers a serious threat to the Fleet and the citizens it protects - one that involves her, the cybots that serve humans and what really happened all those years ago when her father saved his ship when it was under attack from an alien threat. She also has a piece of alien technology that seems to be giving her super-human powers.

This is a fast exciting read that I couldn't put down. In many ways it reminded me of Harry Potter with its school setting and a bad guy as slimy as Draco. And boy, can Brad Strickland write and exciting flight scenes! I especially liked the times Asteria and Dai learned to fly their one-person fighters. Woo - hang on!

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Theodore Boone, Kid Lawer

Theodore Boone is thirteen-years-old and what he wants more than anything is to be a lawyer and a judge when he grows up. Both of his parents are lawyers and he hangs out either at their offices or the courthouse nearly every day after school. Theodore already knows a lot about the law and it is surprising how many kids and adults ask him for advice.

By accident Theodore discovers some very important information and evidence concerning a murder trial. He knows he needs to tell someone but he's also given his word not to endanger the source of his information.

If you enjoy watching lawyer and police shows, this is the mystery for you! John Grisham is a very famous adult author of legal mysteries and a lawyer himself. He really liked the Hardy Boys series when he was the age of Theodore Boone and this story reminds me of those books as well. He plans to write a series of books about Theodore.

Click here to read the first chapter of Theodore Boone online.

Click here to listen to the podcast of John Grisham talking about how and why he created Theodore Boone and his hopes for this new series. I especially liked the story he told about his daughter, who is a fifth grade teacher. All the fifth graders at her school received a copy of Theodore Boone three weeks before it was released!

Monday, June 14, 2010

Dark Life by Kat Falls

OK, you should not judge a book by its cover but the cover of Dark Life is amazing! You really need to pick this book up and check out its cover. I kept running my hand over it as I read it.

Fortunately, Dark Life is also a exciting and well-written science fiction story. And it is also non-stop action!

Fifteen year-old Ty was born under the sea, where his parents and other settlers live and farm on the sea floor. Global warming and over-population have made "topside" a hard place to live, with people crowded into huge multi-story apartment buildings. The Topsiders look down on those living the Dark Life, under the sea, but they need the food the settlers raise and catch on their farms.

It's dangerous under the sea but Ty, his sister Zoe, and the other kids born undersea feel right at home. There are rumors of special "gifts" the kids are developing, perhaps due to the deep water pressure. When Gemma, a girl from the Topside, arrives in search of her missing brother, she and Ty suddenly find themselves facing new and surprising dangers - not all of them native to the sea.

I really enjoyed this new world found under the sea. From the slang and technology, to the way the kids zip around on manta boards, to the wonders of ocean life - it was all believable and compelling. Besides all the action there are several surprising twists and revelations. There is also a satisfying conclusion although I hope we can return one day to more adventures of Ty, Gemma, and Zoe in the Dark Life.

Click here to watch a terrific video book trailer about Dark Life!

Click here to read the first chapter of Dark Life online!

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

The Birthday Ball

One of my favorite authors, Lois Lowry, has written a new book that is very different from The Giver. The Birthday Ball is a fairy tale-like story about a bored princess who trades places with one of her maids to see how the rest of the world lives. She goes to school for the first time and experiences life beyond the castle walls. She also must figure out how to choose her husband at her Birthday Ball. The only three suitors are VERY unsuitable!

This fast-paced story has elements of the silly and the serious. The illustrations by the famous cartoonist Jules Feiffer add to the fun.

Lois Lowry explains where she got the idea for The Birthday Ball and explains how she developed the story, in the video below:

Friday, May 14, 2010

The BIG 39 Clues Summer Book Club

Get ready for the BIG Maltby summer reading club - The 39 Clues. the 39 Clues books are a terrific mix of adventure, history, biography, geography and mystery. Brother and sister, Dana and Amy, are hunting the hidden 39 clues, left by their Aunt Grace, in order to inherit one million dollars. The books follow Dana and Amy as they pursue the clues. The books are also written by several of our favorite authors.

There are lots of ways to participate this summer.

1. Go to our local Barnes and Noble store beginning May 25th for our monthly book club meeting. Find all the dates and times here. Our reading therapy dog Caesar will also be there to greet you.

2. Join the Scholastic Read for the World Record Challenge. Login in here

3. Play online here.

The 39 Clues books:
Book 1: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan
Book 2: One False Note by Gordon Korman
Book 3: The Sword Thief by Peter Lerangis
Book 4: Beyond the Grave by Jude Watson
Book 5: The Black Circle by Patrick Carman
Book 6: In Too Deep by Jude Watson
Book 7: The Viper's Nest by Peter Lerangis
Book 8: The Emperor's Code by Gordon Korman
Book 9: (due out May 25, 2010) by Linda Sue Park
Book 10: (due ou August 31, 2010) by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Watch the Advanced Agent Training video featuring The 39 Clues authors: Rick Riordan, Gordon Korman, Peter Lerangis, Jude Watson, and Patrick Carman

Friday, May 7, 2010

The Mysterious Howling by Maryrose Wood

The Mysterious Howling is the first in a new series called The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place. The children are not really incorrigible, but are called that by their adopted father. He found them in the woods, believing they were raised by wolves. Have you heard people say that? "Were you raised by wolves?" Incorrigible means "incapable of being corrected or reformed." How harsh!

Miss Lumley is the new, young governess for these incorrigible children - Alexander, Cassiopeia, and Beowulf. These three act like wolves - Alexander gives little nips, Cassiopeia barks, and Beowulf chases squirrels!
If you like Lemony Snicket and the Series of Unfortunate Events, this is the book for you!

Click here to listen to a great podcast by the author. Maryrose Wood tells you about how she came to write this book, the first in a new series, and reads an excerpt aloud.

Click here if you would like to browse inside the ebook of The Mysterious Howling.

The incorrigible children themselves are very good at spotting squirrels! See how good you are here.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

"Peter blinked his eyes but there was no question that the rat was suspended in space, as if from a string, but there was no string."

Well - if you didn't get goosebumps from that, then go ask your parents is you are human! Peter and the Starcatchers is a must read.

Our story starts out with Peter and his friends, the orphans, who are about to be sent as slaves to Rundoon. Peter's suspicions begin when a mysterious trunk is also brought onboard their boat, The Neverland. On the voyage, Peter meet a girl named Molly, who has some unusual secrets which will be revealed throughout the story. They also meet the most feared pirate in the world, Black Stache. He is willing to do anything to get the mysterious trunk - even if if it means death! Peter learns there is much more at stake than his life - the world itself.

- Written and reviewed by Harrison Greenleaf

Be sure and catch up with the entire Peter and the Starcatchers series! Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson are well-known adult authors. Together they have also written another great book for middle schoolers - Science Fair - non-stop action adventure with spies, secret agents, and - yes - a science fair! Ridley Pearson has another good series as well - The Kingdom Keepers - where holographic teens battle villains in Disneyland at night! Click here to play the online Kingdom Keepers game!

Click here to see some funny photos of these two authors on tour for their books.

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan

Warning - this book is a must read alert from the Maltby Media Center! If you haven't read this, contact your local library right now and ask for Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief.

The story starts out with Percy Jackson, an average teenage, who is about to get kicked out of school. But his life suddenly changes when a math teacher tries to kill him - and that isn't the worst of his problems! He learns that he is half-god! And his Greek god family is really mad at him because he is accused of stealing Zeus' master bolt, which is the most powerful weapon ever created. Percy only has ten days to recover the bolt or there will be a war between the gods. Percy and his friends set off on an adventure filled with monsters, action and a twist in the end that will even shock the gods.
- Written and reviewed by Harrison Greenleaf

Have you missed reading all five books in The Lightning Thief series?
Click here to watch a news report on the whole Lightning Thief phenomenon!

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Sports Camp by Rich Wallace

Just in time for summer vacation! Have you ever gone to a sports camp? Rich Wallace, the author of Sports Camp, did when he was eleven years old just like the main character of this novel - Riley Liston.

Camp Olympia is a two-week-long, sleep-away camp and Riley feels like the smallest and youngest kid there. The place is also somewhat terrifying. The camp sign is a picture of a giant snapping turtle. Soon kids are telling him stories of Big Joe, the real snapping turtle who lives in Lake Surprise, and supposedly bites at the fingers and toes of swimmers.

Camp Olympia sounded like lots of fun - basketball, baseball, track, cross-country, canoe races, tug-of-war, swimming and water polo all day long. However, the older and bigger kids are scaring Riley just a little bit. Riley thinks his big chance to shine will be the mile-long swim race across Lake Surprise, but what about Big Joe?

Have you ever seen a snapping turtle? They can grow very big. If you would like to learn more about snapping turtles in Michigan, click here.

And don't stay out of the water this summer!

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

The Fast and the Furriest

Kevin Pugh's dad is an ex-pro football player. Kevin has no interest in the sport, but keeps trying...and getting clobbered. He'd rather be playing video games with his friend, Zach, and hang out with his dog, Cromwell. When Cromwell spots a dog agility competition on TV, he starts behaving strangely. The former couch potato dog becomes active and tries to get Kevin involved in his activity. With Zach's help and financial backing, Kevin and Cromwell investigate and get involved in the world of dog agility competition.

Is agility a sport? Could Kevin and Cromwell have finally found their niche? This amusing tale will keep you in stitches!

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone

Do you love dollhouses and all their miniature furniture and decorations? If you do, this is the book for you!

At the Art Institute of Chicago there are 68 miniature rooms, just like the rooms of a dollhouse. These rooms were the idea of a real person, Mrs James Thorne, who had them built and furnished by craftspeople in the 1930s. Each room depicts a true-to-life room at some time in history, some place around the world. You can go to visit the Thorne Rooms in Chicago.

The Sixty-Eight Rooms by Marianne Malone is based on the real Thorne Rooms. The two main characters of this story, Ruthie and Jack, do just that on a field trip with their class. Ruthie loves these rooms and imagines what it would be like to visit or live there! When Jack finds a way to sneak into the hallway behind the rooms, they find a mysterious key. This key gives them the power to shrink and fit right into the rooms! At first it is just an adventure to explore the rooms but soon they discover mysterious objects that don't belong there. Who left them? What is the real story of the rooms?

Click here to examine photos of the real Thorne Rooms. Click on a photo to enlarge or begin slide show. Fascinating!

Monday, March 29, 2010

Saving the Baghdad Zoo by Kelly Milner Halls

The Iraq War made a shambles of its capital city, Baghdad. When bombs fell, people ran in fear for their lives. If the animals in the zoo were even a thought, they were taken for food or to sell. Many were left behind in the main zoo and in the Luna Park zoo. Some exotic animals were left behind in Saddam Hussein's palace and that of his son, Uday. A team of U.S. Army officers and volunteer set out to save them and rebuild the zoo.

Today the zoo is reopened. Follow the stories of some the animals that survived and the people who helped them. Included are animals such as Arabian horses, a camel, pelicans, lions, tigers and even a bear (oh, my!).

Monday, March 22, 2010

Falling In by Frances O'Roark Dowell

Isabelle Bean isn't like other children. She doesn't fit in. She hears noises that no one else hears. Some of the other kids tolerate her, but most just leave her alone. She doesn't have any friends.

One day she falls into the closet in the school nurse's station and finds herself in an entirely different world! She meets up with a young girl named Hen and an old woman named Grete and suddenly she feels like she's home.

Find out what world Isabelle has fallen into. It's downright magical!


Rory Swenson has been waiting to turn twelve for most of her life because twelve is the magic age at which you are allowed to do almost everything! Now she can get her ears pierced, get a cell phone, take babysitting classes, go to the mall without a parent and even sit in the front seat of the car!

Many mishaps befall Rory as she completes all those things on her twelve-year-old To Do list. Along the way she meets a mysterious woman who tells her, "You will get what you want when you see what you need." What can that possibly mean?

Wendy Mass is also the author of 11 Birthdays. This book is about someone else, but there is a connection. Can you figure it out?

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Captain Nobody by Dean Pitchford

Newt Newman is almost invisible. He's the younger brother of the town's star football player and something of a nerd. When his brother is injured in the big game and is hospitalized, he is left to fend for himself. It's Halloween and his two best friends fix him up with a costume--Captain Nobody.

When he wears his costume, Newt becomes another person. He really is Captain Nobody. Before long he is wearing it everywhere, including to school. He saves the day in many situations. Is it because he has superpowers when he wears the costume or is something else happening? You'll laugh out loud at the adventures of Newt and his friends!

Click here to visit the author's website. You can read or listen to a sample chapter, watch a video about Captain Nobody or take a fun quiz!

Monday, February 15, 2010

The Prince of Fenway Park by Julianna Baggott

"There was a curse. It was reversed. And this is the boy who did it."

In 1919, the Boston Red Sox sold Babe Ruth to the New York Yankees. Since that day, the Sox have been cursed. They will never win a World Series.

It is now 2004, and twelve-year old Oscar Egg also believes he is cursed. Or at least betrayed. His adoptive parents have divorced. He rarely sees his Dad, who seems like an old man to Oscar. And now his mother has gone off to live with the Condo King. Somehow Oscar thinks this must all be his fault - after all, he doesn't look like either of his parents. The kids at school teases him - "Who's your Daddy" they chant.

And now Oscar has to live with his Dad, who seems really upset. Reluctantly, Oscar's Dad takes him home - to Fenway Park - the home of the Red Sox. Very strange and bizarre things begin to happen almost immediately. Who is my Daddy, Oscar begins to worry.

And just what part does Oscar play here?

May you be cursed, Fenway Park,
May horned creatures reign the dark.
May a Pooka roost in your hill,
May the Banshee cry and keen at will.
May weasels nest
and nettles infest.
May herds of mice swarm
and evil managers do harm.
May you be close enough to taste the win
but always, truly, lose before you even begin.

Julianna Baggott also writes under the pen name N.E. Bode - who is the author of The Anybodies series. Check out The Prince of Fenway Park - just in time for spring training.

Click here to take a virtual tour of Fenway Park.

The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. by Kate Messner

Gianna Z. is a multi-faceted person. She's an athlete, an artist, and a good friend. She's not, however, a very good student. She's disorganized and has trouble getting things turned in on time. If she misses the due date for her leaf collection project, she won't be able to go the cross country sectionals. She knows she has to get it done, and her best friend, Zig, her mom and her grandmother all try to help her, but things just keep getting in the way. If she doesn't get it done, her arch nemesis, Bianca, will get to go in her place. That would be awful!

This novel is at times, funny, and at others, extremely touching. It's always fast paced and entertaining. Gianna Z. is a winner!

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First watch this video from the author, Kate Messner. Look carefully in the background and see if you can find either Mrs. Dohner or Mrs. Weyand. We were lurking around all these authors while the video was being filmed!

Find more videos like this on Kidlit Book Trailers

Monday, February 1, 2010

Woods Runner by Gary Paulsen

Gary Paulsen has written another exciting tale of adventure.

This time we follow Samuel, a 13-year-old boy living during the time of the Revolutionary War. He and his parents live in a small colony in Pennsylvania. Samuel is a woods runner - someone who spends much of his time in the woods hunting for food.

He returns to the settlement after a lengthy hunt to find the houses burned, several of the settlers murdered and his parents gone! He determines that they have been taken prisoner and he sets out to find them. His journey is long and dangerous and leads him into enemy territory. Follow him as he fights for his family, meeting some wonderful characters and facing more tragedy along the way.

This is a real story of courage, not only Samuel's, but of many people he meets along the way.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Homer Figg usually tells the truth - usually. He does have an unfortunate habit of exaggerating the truth . . .

Homer does have a serious problem. Actually - several problems. Homer and his brother are orphans and they live with their uncle. Their uncle is "the meanest man in the state of Maine." Finally he does a really terrible thing - he sells Homer's older brother, Harold, into the Union Army during the Civil War. Harold is definitely too young to be a soldier. Homer is terribly worried about his brother so he sets of on a "borrowed" horse to find Harold and explain to the authorities that Harold doesn't belong in the war. Homer ends up, after many exciting adventures, right in the middle of the Battle of Gettysburg!

Homer Figg is just the right combination of history, adventure, danger, comedy and seriousness. Along the way, Homer meets good guys, bad guys, heroes, spies and con men.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
is written by Rodman Philbrick, the author Freak the Mighty and several other books. In this video clip, Rodman Philbrick reads a chapter from his new book: