Monday, August 31, 2009

New York Times: Best sellers for kids & young adults

From the New York Times, here are the top ten lists for childrens' and young adult books for the week of August 30: an assortment of dogs, cats, vampires, ducks, wolves and llamas ... and Harry Potter, of course! Find copies using the World Catalog and search boxes on BookBag.

Picture books

1. Goldilicious, written and illustrated by Victoria Kann. (Harper/HarperCollins, $17.99.) A girl who loves pink and purple turns to gold. (Ages 5 to 8)

2. Gallop!, written and illustrated by Rufus Butler Seder. (Workman, $12.95.) Animals seem to move when you flip the page. (Ages 4 to 8)

3. Marley Goes to School, by John Grogan. Illustrated by Richard Cowdrey. (HarperCollins, $17.99.) A loyal pup brings chaos to the classroom. (Ages 3 to 8)

4. Swing!, written and illustrated by Rufus Butler Seder. (Workman, $12.95.) Children seem to move when you flip the page. (Ages 4 to 8)

5. Listen to the Wind: The Story of Dr. Greg and 'Three Cups of Tea,' by Greg Mortenson and Susan L. Roth. (Dial, $16.99.) A school grows in Pakistan. (Ages 4 to 8)

6. Explorer Extraordinaire!, by Jane O’Connor.

Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. (HarperCollins, $12.99.) Fancy Nancy meets the outdoors in the finest tradition of the great explorers. (Ages 4 to 7)

7. Llama Llama Misses Mama, written and illustrated by Anna Dewdney. (Viking, $16.99.) A little creature goes to preschool. (Ages 2 and up)

8. The Curious Garden,written and illustrated by Peter Brown. (Little, Brown, $16.99.) A boy named Liam nurtures a straggly garden to vivid fruition. (Ages 4 to 8)

9. Tea Parties, by Jane O’Connor. Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser. (Harper/HarperCollins, $12.99.) Extended pinkies at Fancy Nancy’s. (Ages 4 to 7)

10. Duck! Rabbit!, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal. Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld. (Chronicle, $16.99.) Which is it? It’s all in how you look at it. (Ages 3 and up)

Chapter books

1. L.A. Candy, by Lauren Conrad. (Harper/HarperCollins, $17.99.) Excitement in TV land by someone who has been there. (Ages 14 and up)

2. The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic, $17.99.) In a dystopian future, a girl fights for survival on live TV. (Ages 12 and up)

3. Daniel X: Watch the Skies, by James Patterson and Ned Rust. (Little, Brown, $19.99.) A young hero takes on a larger-than-life villain. (Ages 12 and up)

4. Shiver, by Maggie Stiefvater. (Scholastic Press/Scholastic, $17.99.) Love among the lupine. (Ages 12 and up)

5. Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen. (Viking, $19.99.) A summer on two wheels for a girl who is ripe to learn more about herself and the people she cares about. (Ages 14 and up)

6. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Dave McKean. (HarperCollins, $17.99.) To avoid a killer a boy takes up residence in

a cemetery. (Ages 10 and up)

7. Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher. (Razorbill, $16.99.) Before committing suicide a girl records and sends explanatory audiotapes to 13 people. (Ages 14 and up)

8. Twilight: Director's Notebook, by Catherine Hardwicke. (Little, Brown, $17.99.) The making of "Twilight," the movie. (Ages 9 to 12)

9. When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead. (Wendy Lamb, $15.99.) A sixth-grade girl in New York City begins receiving mysterious notes. (Ages 9 to 12)

10. Scat, by Carl Hiaasen. (Random House, $16.99.) An eco-mystery, with a dismal swamp and wild characters who are not always what they seem. (Ages 9 to 12)

Series books

1. The Twilight Saga, by Stephenie Meyer. (Megan Tingley/Little, Brown, hardcover and paper) Vampires and werewolves in school. (Ages 12 and up)

2. Percy Jackson & the Olympians, by Rick Riordan. (Disney-Hyperion, hardcover and paper) Battling mythological monsters. (Ages 9 to 12)

3. House of Night, by P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast. (St. Martin’s, hardcover and paper) Vampires in school. (Ages 14 and up)

4. Diary of a Wimpy Kid, written and illustrated by Jeff Kinney. (Abrams, hardcover only) The travails of adolescence, in cartoons. (Ages 9 to 12)

5. The 39 Clues, by various authors. (Scholastic, hardcover only) Siblings unravel a mystery. (Ages 9 to 12)

6. Harry Potter, by J. K. Rowling. (Arthur A. Levine/Scholastic, hardcover and paper) A young wizard hones his skills while fighting evil. (Ages 10 and up)

7. Vampire Diaries, by L. J. Smith. (HarperTeen, hardcover and paper) Vampires in school, with a love triangle. (Ages 12 and up)

8.The Mortal Instruments, by Cassandra Clare. (McElderry / Simon & Schuster, hardcover and paper) A world of demons and warriors. (Ages 14 and up)

9. Ranger's Apprentice, by John Flanagan. (Philomel, hardcover and paper) A boy warrior battles evil. (Ages 9 to 12)

10. Magic Tree House, by Mary Pope Osborne. Illustrated by Sal Murdocca. (Stepping Stone/Random House, hardcover and paper) Winged children try to save the world. (Ages 6 to 9)

Monday, August 24, 2009

After Harry Potter

Readers of Harry Potter who want to find other magical worlds to explore might try these books. Familiar authors such as Neil Gaiman and Ursula K. LeGuin have series old and new, and some have been made into movies, like The Golden Compass, part of Philip Pullman's His Dark Materials trilogy. This list was selected from a longer list at Infosoup. Find library copies by using the World Catalog search box, or purchase copies using the link here on BookBag.

Artemis Fowl, by Eoin Colfer, Book 1: When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.

So You Want to be a Wizard, by Diane Duane (Book 1, Young Wizards). Thirteen-year-old Nita, tormented by a gang of bullies because she won't fight back, finds the help she needs in a library book on wizardry which guides her into another dimension.

The Ruins of Gorlan, by John Flanagan, (Book 1, Ranger's Apprentice). When fifteen-year-old Will is rejected by battleschool, he becomes the reluctant apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt, and winds up protecting the kingdom from danger.

Inkheart by Cornelia Caroline Funke (Book 1, Inkheart Trilogy). Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father, who repairs and binds books for a living, can "read" fictional characters to life when one of those characters abducts them and tries to force him into service.

The Books of Magic, by Neil Gaiman. A twelve year old boy, Timothy Hunter, is given an extensive tour of the magical universe before being able to decide if he should embrace or reject his destiny as the world's greatest magician.

Midnight, by Erin Hunter, (Book 1, Warriors: The New Prophecy). Called by StarClan to fulfill a new prophecy, a group of young cats sets out on a long and dangerous journey, knowing only that trouble threatens the forest, as the adventures of the warrior clans continue.

Moonrise, by Erin Hunter (Book 2, Warriors: The New Prophecy). As they journey home to warn their clans of the coming destruction, the six cats, guided by StarClan's prophecy, meet an unfamilar tribe of cats with their own set of beliefs--and their own mysterious prophecy.

A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. LeGuin (Book 1, Earthsea). A boy grows to manhood while attempting to subdue the evil he unleashed on the world as an apprentice to the Master Wizard. The Tombs of Atuan by Ursula K. LeGuin (Book 2, Earthsea). Arha's isolated existence as high priestess in the tombs of Atuan is jarred by a thief who seeks a special treasure.

The Farthest Shore by Ursula K. LeGuin (Book 3, Earthsea). A young prince joins forces with a master wizard on a journey to discover a cause and remedy for the loss of magic in Earthsea.

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman (Book 1, His Dark Materials). Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

The Amulet of Samarkand, by Jonathan Stroud (Book 1, Bartimaeus Trilogy). Nathaniel, a magician's apprentice, summons up the djinni Bartimaeus and instructs him to steal the Amulet of Samarkand from the powerful magician Simon Lovelace.

Friday, August 21, 2009

New reads for teens, August

Summer's last, long days and lazy weekends mean there's lots of time for fun reading. Here are some brand-new fiction and non-fiction reads for teens, as well as a short selection of books about music and movies. Search for library copies in the World Catalog box, or buy them through BookBag's link.

Reality Check
, Peter Abrahams (HarperTeen) Football was NFL-hopeful Cody's only reason for staying in high school, so when a serious injury dashed his dreams of going pro, he dropped out. Now working in a lumber yard in his rural Colorado town, Cody takes off for Vermont when he gets news of his girlfriend Clea's disappearance from her boarding school there. Not long after beginning his amateur investigation, Cody finds himself in real danger. With steadily building suspense, a plot filled with twists and turns, and a satisfying love story, Reality Check will appeal to both romance and thriller fans.

The Demon's Lexicon, Sarah Rees Brennan (Simon & Schuster) Ever since their father was murdered, brothers Nick and Alan Ryves have been on the run from evil, power-crazed magicians who conjure demons to do their bidding. According to Alan, the magicians are after the protective charm that the boys' mother stole. But brooding, cold-hearted Nick is starting to suspect that his older brother, the only person he's ever trusted, is lying to him about...well, everything. Full of action, surprises, and vividly rendered characters, The Demon's Lexicon will bewitch fans of Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments trilogy (which begins with City of Bones).

Carter Finally Gets It, Brent Crawford (Disney/Hyperion) Will Carter, aka "Carter," is about to start high school--and between his ADD, the stuttering problem he develops around girls, and his lack of a cool nickname, he's just not ready. But ready or not, he's barreling into his freshman year gung-ho, trying his hand at football, dating, baseball, flirting, drama club, dating, avoiding humiliation and pummeling, and (oh yeah) dating. Will he ever find his niche? Will he ever get lucky? Will he even survive freshman year? Read this hilariously awkward story and find out.

Peace, Love & Baby Ducks, Lauren Myracle (Dutton Books) Back in her ritzy Atlanta neighborhood after a crunchy-granola summer of roughing it in the woods, 15-year-old Carly is having a tough time. First of all, her little sister morphed into a hottie during the six weeks that Carly was gone, and Carly is trying hard not to be jealous. Second, Carly is beginning to realize that she cares about different things than her image-obsessed family and friends do. But sister-love conquers all, right? If there's a long list of people waiting to check out this sisterhood drama, try I Am the Wallpaper by Mark Peter Hughes or Dancing in Red Shoes Will Kill You by Dorian Cirrone while you wait.

Silver Phoenix: Beyond the Kingdom of Xia,
Cindy Pon (Harper Collins) With her father missing and a lecherous merchant attempting to blackmail her into marriage, 17-year-old Ai Ling sets out for the emperor's palace, the last place where her father was seen. On her journey, she meets and joins forces with Chen Yong and his younger brother Li Rong, who are on a quest of their own. When evil forces threaten to keep the trio from their destination--and to destroy all of Xia, their homeland--Ai Ling uses her newly discovered powers to fight back. If you're looking for a grand, exciting martial-arts adventure with a kick-butt heroine, look no further than Silver Phoenix.

Ghosts of War: The True Story of a 19-Year-Old G.I. Ryan Smithson (HarperCollins) Ryan Smithson, who describes sitting in his high school history class and watching the collapse of the Twin Towers on 9/11 as the "atypical, unpredictable kind of real that you never see coming," enlisted in the Army as soon as he graduated. In this harrowing and powerful memoir, Smithson brings readers inside his tour of duty in Iraq, from basic training through combat and his return home. If you want to know what life is really like on the battlefield, Smithson's story provides a soldier's unflinching viewpoint; for an Iraqi civilian's account of the early days of the war, check out Thura's Diary by Thura Al-Windawi.

I want my MTV

When it debuted on August 1, 1981, MTV was the first television network to broadcast music videos--and only music videos--24/7. Since then, of course, MTV has expanded its programming to include a variety of reality shows, cartoons, movies, and more. Celebrate the network's 28th birthday by reading one of the books below about the music industry, video production, or both.

Pop Princess, Rachel Cohn (Simon & Schuster) Fifteen-year-old Wonder Blake is wearing headphones, mopping the floor at Dairy Queen and belting out "Smells Like Teen Spirit" when talent manager Gerald Tiggs discovers her. Before long, Wonder is on the fast track to fame and fortune--the same trajectory that her sister Lucky had been on when she was killed by a drunk driver two years before--hoping to put her problems behind her and start a new life. Despite dealing with some serious issues, Pop Princess is a fun and frothy read that anyone fascinated with teen stardom will enjoy. For a rise-to-stardom story more in the vein of punk than pop, check out Gillian Cross' Chartbreaker.

Notes from the Teenage Underground: A Novel,
Simmone Howell (Bloomsbury U.S.A.) Gem and her best friends Lo and Mira have nothing but disdain for their "sucker peers," whom they call "barcodes." When film-fanatic Gem, inspired by Andy Warhol, decides the three of them should make an underground movie, creative disputes lead to betrayals and serious testing of their friendship. Movie buffs and fans of edgy humor will enjoy Australian author Simmone Howell's über-geek "Heathers-meets-I Shot Andy Warhol" style drama.

Rock On: An Office Power Ballad, Dan Kennedy (Algonquin) In this darkly comic memoir that Time Out New York calls "snort-audibly-on-the-subway funny," McSweeney's and GQ contributor Dan Kennedy chronicles his rock-'n'-roll a marketing executive for Atlantic Records. Finding the industry to be not exactly what he expected, Kennedy skewers clueless managers, aging stars, his coworkers, and even himself in this expose of the floundering music biz. Random lists (such as "Inappropriate Greetings and Salutations for Middle-Aged White Record Executives to Exchange: #1. Hello, Dawg") ratchet Rock On's humor dial up to 11.

Birdland, Tracy Mack (Scholastic) Still deeply wounded by his older brother Zeke's recent death, Jed is making a video of Manhattan's Lower East Side over winter break, filming the "cacophony of color and sound" that Zeke wrote about in his poetry. While documenting the everyday lives and tragedies in his neighborhood, Jed meets a homeless girl who may have known his brother--and may know the secret behind his death. With rich characterizations, rhythmic and poetic language, and grittily real emotion, Birdland paints a vivid picture of both the NY setting and Jed's disintegrating family.

Play Me, Laura Ruby (Harper Teen) Aspiring filmmaker Eddy has a hit online video series called Riot Grrl 16--and, if he and his friends win the contest they've entered, soon his show will be on MTV! Meanwhile, Eddy, usually somewhat of a playboy, is unwittingly getting hooked on fiercely free-spirited Lucinda Dulko, one of the few girls who isn't completely charmed by him. With great characters, morbidly hilarious moments (such as when Eddy's younger brother Meatball repeatedly fakes his own death), and tons of movie references, Play Me is one highly entertaining read.

Saturday, August 15, 2009

"Shelf Discovery": Classics that really get read

A recent post by Levi Asher in the Literary Kicks blog reveals that classics are for everyone, regardless of gender. And a cautionary note for teachers: if you want to get kids reading, give them the good stuff! A high school senior has enough problems without being tortured by second-shelf Shakespeare. Check for these books using the World Catalog (library copies) / (purchase) search boxes above.

Some kind words ...

Here are the teenage classics covered in Lizzie Skurnick's delightful new reading memoir Shelf Discovery that I've also read:

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankwieler by E. L. Konigsburg
Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh
Are You There, God? It's Me, Margaret by Judy Blume
Blubber by Judy Blume The Long Secret by Louise Fitzhugh
Then Again, Maybe I Won't by Judy Blume
The Pigman by Paul Zindel
Deenie by Judy Blume
Go Ask Alice by Anonymous
My Darling, My Hamburger by Paul Zindel
Cheaper By The Dozen by Frank B. Gilbreth Jr.
All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor

Lizzie Skurnick writes best about the books that excite her most, like From the Mixed-up Files, which she illuminates in surprising ways (I never actually thought about it, but the Michelangelo statue does seem to symbolize Claudia herself) and the two great Louise Fitzhugh novels, Harriet the Spy and The Long Secret. Skurnick gets extra points for recongnizing that The Long Secret is every bit as good as Harriet the Spy, though very different (it also occurs to me, thinking of these books today, that a good friend of mine recently went through an experience very much like the climactic scene in Harriet the Spy). Lizzie also gets big points from me for paying attention to the wonderful but lesser-known All-of-a-Kind Family, the first book in a series about a family of Jews living in old-time New York City's Lower East Side that meant a lot to me as a kid (her treatment of the book, though, is cursory). My biggest problem with Shelf Discovery involves its unnecessary gender focus, which Michael Orthofer also recently wrote about. (In a witty post on her website Skurnick replies to Orthofer: Men! I did not neglect the male perspective. I just wasn’t thinking of you at all. So, so different.) Teenage boys read books too. Why leave half the world out?

I've also never heard of many of these titles. Hangin' Out With Cici by Francine Pascal? Okay ... I'll have to take her word for it. And where is Lisa Bright and Dark by John Neufeld, and Dinky Hocker Shoots Smack by M. E. Kerr, and I Never Loved Your Mind, Paul Zindel's lesser-known best book? And where on earth is S. E. Hinton? Still, this is a fun book and I predict it will sell very well (among other things, it's a good book to give as a gift). And there's one more nice touch: Shelf Discovery is a paperback original printed on thick creamy paper that looks and feels exactly like many of the teenage-era books described within. Nice, nice.

... and some complaints

Speaking of children's literature, I have complaints about some recent High School syllabi. My daughter Abby has to read The King Must Die by Mary Renault for her upcoming 10th grade English class. She hates the book and asked me my opinion; I tried to read it and I hate it too. Can't they find a book more relevant to the lives of teenagers, and more enjoyable to read?
Meanwhile, a Long Island high school senior recently told me his class studied Shakespeare's Titus Andronicus last year. Titus Andronicus? There are 37 better Shakespeare plays to read. I asked him if he'd read Hamlet. "No." Enough said. Get your act together, teachers.

Kids Are Authors competition, from Scholastic Books

Kids Are Authors is an annual competition open to Grades K–8 and is designed to encourage students to use their reading, writing, and artistic skills to create their own books.

Under the guidance of a project coordinator, children work in teams of three or more students to write and illustrate their own book. The creative process of working in teams helps provide a natural environment to practice editing, teamwork, and the communication skills necessary for future success. All students involved get a sense of pride and accomplishment from submitting the team project.

Two Grand Prize winning books will be published in each category, fiction and nonfiction. The winning books will be published by Scholastic and sold at Book Fairs throughout the country.

Visit Scholastic Books for more information.

Thursday, August 13, 2009

New & recent reads for tweens

A little romance and a whole lot of fantasy dominate the tween titles coming out of publishing houses, big and small, this summer. Here are just a few of the books that have been keeping readers coming back to the library during the hot summer months. You can find a library copy of any book mentioned on BookBag by typing the title in the World Catalog search box above on the left. You can also purchase any book by using the box at the top.

The Amaranth Enchantment, Julie Berry. Bloomsbury U.S.A. Lucinda was orphaned at the age of five, and in the ten years since then, she's been a servant in the home of her cruel aunt and uncle. But after a mysterious lady comes into her uncle's goldsmith shop to have a precious stone reset, Lucinda's life changes dramatically. Filled with romance and its fair share of peril, The Amaranth Enchantment draws a handsome prince, a skilled thief, a highly unusual fairy godmother, and a goat named Dog into its exciting and often surprising tale.

Young Samurai: The Way of the Warrior, by Chris Bradford. Disney/Hyperion Books. After his father's ship is attacked by ninjas who kill everyone aboard but him, 12-year-old Jack Fletcher is rescued and adopted by the powerful samurai Masamoto Takeshi. Soon Jack begins to train as a warrior at Masamoto's school, where many of his classmates see him merely as a barbaric gaijin, or foreigner. Fans of Japanese culture and martial arts will be fascinated by the details of Jack's studies and the plentiful and action-packed fight scenes in Young Samurai, which "earns the literary equivalent of a black belt" (Publishers Weekly).

Soldier's Secret: The Story of Deborah Sampson, by Sheila Solomon Klass. Christy Ottaviano Books. In the 18th century, women were expected to keep house and cook meals -- not to fight in wars. But brave, patriotic Deborah Sampson disregarded those expectations, disguised herself as a man, and enlisted as a soldier in the American Revolution. Few things are known for certain about the real-life Deborah Sampson, but author Sheila Klass has written a believable and mesmerizing story about Sampson's difficult childhood, her dangerous deception, and the life she led as soldier Robert Shurtliff. If you'd like to learn more about women who disguised themselves in order to go to war, check out the nonfiction book I'll Pass for Your Comrade, by Anita Silvey.

Toby Alone, by Timothee De Fombelle. Candlewick Press. There's a whole
civilization of tiny people living in the world of Tree, and Toby Lolness is 13 years old when his family is exiled from it. Toby's father, a scientist, has made an amazing and unpopular discovery: the Tree itself is alive--and the people who inhabit it are killing it. After fleeing to the Tree's lower branches, Toby and his family are caught by their enemies, and only Toby gets away from them. Now it's up to him to save his parents...and all of Tree. Full of thrilling adventures, narrow escapes, natural disasters, and despicable villains, Toby Alone is a fun and thought-provoking read.

Jolted: Newton Starker's Rules for Survival
, Arthur G. Slade.
Wendy Lamb Books. Newton Starker is a very nervous 14-year-old who's unusually preoccupied with
the weather--which isn't surprising, considering that, for many centuries, nearly every member of his mother's family has been killed by lightning. Determined to beat the odds, Newton enrolls in the Jerry Potts Academy of Higher Learning and Survival, where the curriculum includes courses designed to help students "stare down disaster." Clever, funny, and featuring not only a brainy, truffle-hunting pig but also recipes (Newton is a budding chef) and tips from the Jerry Potts survival handbook, Jolted will be a hit with fans of odd characters and boarding-school adventures.

The Twilight Prisoner, Katherine Marsh. Disney/Hyperion Books. Having survived his adventures in the ghostly world beneath New York City (which are related in The Night Tourist), 15-year-old Jack Perdu is back among the living and has a wicked crush on his classmate Cora Flores. When he finally works up the nerve to ask her on a date, Jack tries to impress Cora by giving her a tour of the underworld...where they find themselves trapped by the realm's new security chief, with only three days to escape before they become ghosts themselves. This retelling of the Greek myth of Persephone is a great choice for fans of The Lightning Thief who also like a little romance in their adventures.

Girls' stories about friendship

Snail Mail No More, Paula Danziger. Scholastic Press. Quiet, orderly Elizabeth and vivacious, unpredictable Tara*Starr, the long-distance best friends from P.S. Longer Letter Later, are still keeping in touch, but now they do so via email and instant messaging. Although things have changed in each of their lives--Elizabeth's father has left her family, and Tara's mother is pregnant--the girls can still count on each other for support (and laughs). But can their friendship withstand all the drama that goes along with turning 13? Read their emails, which make up this novel, and find out! And for more stories told in letters or emails, check out The Sorta Sisters by Adrian Fogelin or ChaseR by Michael J. Rosen.

White Magic: Spells to Hold You: A Novel, by Kelly Easton. Wendy Lamb Books. What teena
ge girl wouldn't want to move to glitzy Los Angeles, California, right by the beach? Chrissie, that's who. She misses her family's old farmhouse in Vermont, her best friend Jason, and even the cold weather. She feels completely out of place in L.A. until she notices a handwritten sign advertising psychic services (from palm reading to raising the dead) and meets the sign's maker, Yvonne. Yvonne invites Chrissie to join her coven of "good witches," and suddenly Chrissie has a life again. More about friendship and family than the nitty-gritty of spells and potions, White Magic will enchant fans of great characters and realistic fiction.

The Girls,
Amy Goldman Koss.
Dial Books. Friendships between girls aren't always sugar and spice and everything nice; sometimes they
're downright cruel. Maya doesn't know why Candace--the unquestioned leader of the small clique of popular girls at her school--picked her to be one of the group, and now that Candace has decided to reject Maya, no one knows the reason for that, either. But do any of them have the guts to go against Candace's decision, effectively committing social suicide? Each girl in the clique gets a chapter in this fast-paced, drama-packed story that will ring true for anyone who's encountered a real-life mean girl.

Chicks with Sticks: It's a Purl Thing, Elizabeth Lenhard. Dutton Books. Fifteen-year-old Scotti
e is still grieving over the death of her favorite aunt when she discovers a great little yarn shop called KnitWit. At first, knitting is just a distraction to keep her from missing Aunt Roz, but when Scottie joins a class at KnitWit, she's hooked--and she makes a couple of unlikely new friends. Crafty girls who enjoy friendship stories like the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series will tear through this 1st book in the Chicks with Sticks series and be eager for the next one (Knit Two Together). Knitters will especially love these books for the patterns they include -- It's a Purl Thing has four different projects to tackle.

My Cup Runneth Over: The Life of Angelica Cookson Potts, Cherry Whytock.Simon Pulse Publishing. Angelica Cookson Potts -- aka "Angel"--has a bubbly personality, great friends, and a career plan (she wants to be a chef), but she's afraid she'll never have a boyfriend. Her ex-model mother and her three best friends are all twig-thin, which makes Angel, who can't seem to keep her "wobbly bits" under control, feel all the more like "a walloping whale." After an all-cabbage diet and kick-boxing lessons fail to help her lose weight, big, beautiful Angel is conned into participating in the school fashion show...and gets a big, romantic surprise. This tasty morsel of British chick lit is the first of three books (so far!) that feature Angel and her pals, each of which includes recipes from Angel's culinary repertoire.

After Tupac & D Foster, Jacqueline Woodson. G.P. Putnam's Sons. In the New York City borough of Queens in 1996, three girls--the anonymous narrator, her friend Neeka, and foster child D--bond over their shared l
ove of Tupac Shakur's music. Unlike Neeka and the narrator, D has seen serious hard times in foster homes and has lived the truth in Tupac's songs. For two years, D's foster mother lets her "roam," and the three girls grow to be as close as sisters...but after D's real mama takes her away for good, the friends left behind wonder how much they really knew about D. Award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson brings her characters' Queens neighborhood to life in this touching story of friendship.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Suggested children's classics from

As summer vacations draw to a close and school-age children begin the mad scramble to fulfill their summer reading obligations, author Lesley Blume (author of Tennyson, Cornelia, and Rusty Nail) recommends a few timeless books that may not be on the required book lists. Blume, the author of several books for young adults, says that parents owe it to their kids to introduce them to the classics.

"It is our responsibility to introduce classics to the next generation, because there's such a flood of new titles on the book market right now, especially in young adult literature, and we have to make sure that the books that we love go into the hands of our own children," Blume tells Linda Wertheimer.

Her book list includes a fair number of books about orphans, because, as Blume says, kids seem naturally drawn to stories in which the parents are absent: "Any child can relate to the fantasy of creating a kids-only utopia from scratch in the woods... This is something you see over and over again in classic literature and films. No rules, no baths, no schoolwork."

Lesley Blume's Recommended List of Classic Children's Literature:

The Boxcar Children by Gertrude Chandler Warner, paperback, 154 pages, Albert Whitman & Company, List Price: $4.99

The Witches by Roald Dahl, paperback, 208 pages, Puffin, List Price: $6.99

The Devil's Storybook by Natalie Babbitt, paperback, 112 pages, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, List Price: $7.95

Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster, paperback, 116 pages, Aegypan, List Price: $9.95

Freaky Friday by Mary Rodgers, paperback, 176 pages, HarperTeen, List Price: $5.99

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster and Jules Feiffer, hardcover, 256 pages, Random House. List Price $19.95

The Twenty-One Balloons by William Pene du Bois, paperback, 192 pages, Puffin, List Price: $6.99

From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler, by E.L. Konigsburg, paperback, 176 pages, Aladdin, List Price: $9.99

Watership Down by Richard Adams, paperback, 476 pages, Scribner, List Price: $16

The House with the Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs, illustrated by Edward Gorey, paperback, 192 pages, Puffin, List Price: $5.99

Monday, August 10, 2009

Recommended English/Spanish books for young readers

The following books present English and Spanish on the same page or have many Spanish words and phrases woven into the English text. Such books are important for English language learners, especially for those who are already literate in their first language.

The titles are listed alphabet
ically and are loosely grouped by grade level ranges. Keep in mind that a book recommended for the intermediate grades may also be appropriate as a read-aloud in the primary grades.

Los libros siguie
ntes inglés presentes y español en la misma página o tiene muchas palabras españolas y expresa tejido en el texto inglés. Tales libros son importantes para estudiantes ingleses de idioma, especialmente para los que son ya letrados en sus títulos de lengua materna.el son listados son agrupados flojamente y alfabéticamente por grado gamas planas. Tenga presente que un libro recomendado para los grados intermedios también puede ser apropiado como un leyó en voz alta en los grados primarios.

This list was prepared by Regie Routman and is selected from her website. Her most recent book (2008) is Teaching Essentials: Expecting the Most and Getting the Best from Every Learner, K-8.

Grades K–2

Freight Train/Tren de Carga
by Donald Crews. Translated from the English by M. J. Infante. Greenwillow Books, 2003.

Goodnight Moon: A Counting Book/Buenas noches, Luna: Un libro para contar. Based on the book by Margaret Wise Brown. Pictures by Clement Hurd. Harper Collins, 1975.

I Love Saturdays y domingos. By Alma Flor Ada. Illustrated by Elivia Savadier. Aladdin Paperbacks, 2002.

The Harvest Birds/Los pájaros de la cosecha, by Blanca López de Mariscal. Illustrated by Enrique Flores. Children’s Book Press, 1995.

Isabel and the Hungry Coyote/Isabel y el coyote hambriento. Written by Keith Polette. Illustrated by Esther Szegedy, 2004.

My Grandma/Mi Abuelita. Written by Ginger Foglesong. Illustrated by Viví Escrivá. Harper Collins, 2007.

Radio Man: A Story in English and Spanish/Don Radio: Un Cuento en Inglés y Español. Written by Arthur Dorros. Spanish translation by Sandra Marulanda Dorros. Harper Collins, 1993.

Grades 3-5

Adelita: A Mexican Cinderella Story. Written by Tomie dePaola. Puffin Books, 2002.

Antonio’s Card/La Tarjeta de Antonio. Written by Rigoberto González. Illustrated by
Cecilia Concepción Álvarez. Children’s Book Press, 2006.

Calling the Doves/El Canto de las palomas. Written by Juan Felipe Herrera. Illus t r at ed by Elly Simmons. Children’s Book Press, 1995.

Family Pictures/Cuadros de familia. Written by Carmen Lomas Garza. Children’s Book Press, 1990.

In My Family/En mi Familia. Written by Carmen Lomas Garza. Children’s Book Press, 1996.

My Name is Celia: The Life of Celia Cruz/Me llamo Celia: La vida de Celia Cruz. Written by Monica Brown. Illustrated by Rafael López.

My Very Own Room/Mi propio cuartito. Written by Amade Irma Pérez. Illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. Children’s Book Press, 2000.

Fairy Tales for all grades

The following fairy tales, a series published by Chronicle Books in San Francisco (1998–2005) are retold in both Spanish and English on each page:

Cinderella/Cenicienta • Goldilocks and the Three Bears/Ricitos de Oro y los tres osos • Jack and the Beanstalk/Juan y los frijoles mágicos • Hansel and Gretel/Hansel y Gretel • The Little Mermaid/La sirenita • Little Red Riding Hood/Caperucita Roja • The Musicians of Bremen/Los músicos de Bremen • The Princess and the Pea/La princesa y el guisante • Puss in Boots/El gato con botas • Rapunzel/Rapunzel • The Sleeping Beauty/La bella durmiente • The Three Little Pigs/Los tres cerditos • Thumbelina/Pulgarcita • The Ugly Duckling/El patito feo

(You can find a library copy of any book mentioned on BookBag by typing in the name or author in the World Catalog search box above on the left. You can also purchase a copy directly from by using the link on this page.)