Tuesday, September 29, 2009

New September fiction; banned books week, Sept. 26-Oct. 3

September is a busy month for publishers -- school's back in session, the holidays are nearing, and it's time to release a new season's worth of books hoping to catch the reader's fancy. Here are some new titles for young readers looking for a break from schoolwork -- look for these using the World Catalog / Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

The Dunderheads, by Paul Fleischman (Candlewick). Fiction. When mean and nasty Miss Breakbone--who is so sadistic that she keeps an electric chair in her classroom--confiscates one student's prized possession, the whole class launches a Mission: Impossible-style caper in retaliation. With Einstein's brains, Wheels' tricked-out bike, Pencil's drawing skills, Spider's agility, and the other students' unique abilities combined, the class becomes an unstoppable force. Anyone who enjoys dramatic action and dry humor should check out this quirkily illustrated and hilarious story.

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, by Jarrett Krosoczka (Alfred A. Knopf).Graphic Novel. As if slinging hash in the school cafeteria weren't exciting enough, Lunch Lady has a secret life as a crime-fighting superhero! And she's noticed that something about the new substitute teacher, Mr. Pasteur, just doesn't seem right. But while Lunch Lady is busy investigating Mr. Pasteur, students Hector, Terrence, and Dee are investigating her (the kids have always wondered what Lunch Lady does when she's not doling out her famous French toast sticks). If you like this wacky, action-packed comic, be sure not to miss Lunch Lady's further adventures in Lunch Lady and the League of Librarians.

Highway Robbery, by Kate Thomson (Greenwillow Books). Historical Fiction. On a cold day in 18th-century England, the poor young street urchin who narrates this story agrees to watch a stranger's magnificent horse for a golden guinea. Standing barefoot in an alley and dutifully holding the horse's reins, the boy is approached by many people who want the horse for themselves. Then a soldier in hot pursuit of the infamous robber Dick Turpin tells the boy that the horse he's guarding is actually Black Bess, Turpin's legendary steed. But who is telling the truth? This quick read is full of excitement, danger, and double-dealing and will thrill readers who like to be kept guessing.

Dragonbreath, by Ursula Vernon (Dial Books). Fiction. Danny Dragonbreath, a young dragon who hasn't yet mastered the art of breathing fire, dreams of adventure on the high seas. In reality, he gets picked on for being the only mythical creature at his school and has just received an "F" for his science paper on the ocean. With only one night to rewrite his paper, Danny convinces his best friend to come with him to the Sargasso Sea, where his cousin Edward the sea serpent lives...and where, like it or not, real adventure awaits them. With its generous amount of comic-book style art, Dragonbreath is a fun choice for fans of graphic novels like Babymouse or Sticky Burr.

The Locked Garden, by Gloria Whelan (HarperCollins). Historical Fiction. At the dawn of the 20th century, Verna and her younger sister Carlie move with their psychiatrist father and stern aunt Maude to a house on the grounds of an asylum for the mentally ill. The sisters are still mourning the loss of their mother, who died of typhoid fever two years earlier, when a young woman suffering from depression comes to live with them and serve as their maid. Verna is certain that mystery abounds at the asylum and is determined to have an adventure...but she'll have to get past Aunt Maude first. Readers who enjoy strong period details and family dramas will be enchanted by The Locked Garden.

Banned Books Week continues

From the Kansas State Collegian, Shelton Burch writes that Banned Books Week is a good way to introduce young readers to complex ideas. A careful discussion of books once banned can explore concepts that may seem unpopular or even inappropriate now. A broader topic with school-age children might be how to approach differences of opinion, or cultural and historical points of view. (The recent New York Times article about Tintin Au Congo in the previous post on BookBag is a good example.) For a list of books that have been banned, visit the American Library Association. Burch writes:

Students and faculty of the Department of English are reading America’s most debated books this week for American Library Association’s Banned Books Week.

Every year, starting on the last Monday of September, libraries and other literature-based organizations celebrate the right to express themselves, even if that expression is against what is popular or generally respected, according to the American Library Association’s Web site.

Naomi Wood, associate professor of English, said the list encompasses about every genre of literature available to the public.

“Chances are that if you’ve ever enjoyed a book, it’s probably on the list,” she said.

Wood said the idea behind Banned Books Week is that at some point or another, parents of a student in kindergarten through 12th grade saw their child reading a book and called the material within the book “inappropriate,” often asking the school to ban the book.

An example is the idea of Twain’s The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, which was banned for its portrayal of blacks in the early 1900s. Wood said she sees this as limiting students from viewing American culture in its completion.

“If your child is reading a book like that, present them with a book that shows a more modern example rather than banning it,” Wood said. “By just denying that part of history existed, you actually cause more problems.”

Saturday, September 26, 2009

September 26-October 3 is banned books week

September 26-October 3 is Banned Books Week. Banned Books Week was launched in 1982 in response to a sudden surge in the number of challenges to books in schools, bookstores and libraries, and since 1982 more than a thousand books (including many children's titles) have been challenged. The New York Times printed a story focusing on one recent challenge to a 79-year-old book, Tintin au Congo, by the French illustrator Hergé. Ruby Washington of The New York Times wrote about the Brooklyn Public Library's response to one patron's reaction to the book's illustrations. For a list of banned books visit the American Library Association.

The cartoonist Hergé is popular again, as is his adventurous reporter Tintin, who will be featured in a Steven Spielberg movie due out in 2011.But if you go to the Brooklyn Public Library seeking a copy of “Tintin au Congo,” Hergé’s second book in a series, prepare to make an appointment and wait days to see the book.

“It’s not for the public,” a librarian in the children’s room said this month when a patron asked to see it. The book, published 79 years ago, was moved in 2007 from the public area of the library to a back room where it is held under lock and key.

The move came after a patron objected, as others have, to the way Africans are depicted in the book. “The content is racially offensive to black people,’’ a librarian wrote on Form 286, also kmown as a Request for Reconsideration of Library Material.

In particular, the patron took issue with illustrations that she felt had the Africans “looking like monkeys,’’ but other elements of the book have also drawn criticism over the years — from the broken French that the natives speak to their general simple-mindedness.

Libraries often have policies that allow patrons to complain about content they find objectionable. New York City libraries have received almost two dozen written objections since 2005. But the book about Tintin (pronounced Tantan in his native Brussels) was the only challenged item to have been removed from the shelves, library officials said.

The objection was reviewed by a panel, in keeping with the library’s policy. It determined the book no longer belonged on the open stacks, but rather should be tucked away in the Hunt Collection, which are kept in a vault-like room accessible only to staff members.

“This is a special collection of historic children’s literature that is available for viewing by appointment only,” the library said in a letter explaining its decision.

The American Library Association said it knows of up to 700 formal book challenges a year in the United States, but it acknowledged that its tallies are incomplete. In general, librarians are trained to tackle any complaints about books with a polite demeanor. But they are also instructed to stand firm in defending the book’s presence in the library.

On the rare occasions when a formal objection is upheld by library officials, a book may be removed or put in a less accessible area; that way, the challenged item remains in the library’s collection, although it is harder to find.

“You do walk a fine line, making sure your materials are accessible, while being respectful of community standards,’’ said Alice Knapp, a former president of the Connecticut Library Association.

Public school libraries also face these quandaries. The American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Texas, for example, found 102 formal challenges in 43 school districts during the 2007-8 school year. Twenty-seven books were banned, including Kay Thompson’s “Eloise in Paris,’’ whose heroine visits a museum with nude artwork.

For fans of Hergé (a k a Georges Remi), who created Tintin in 1929 and died in 1983 with the last story unfinished, the tempest is nothing new. The Tintin stories, loved for the main character’s derring-do and the exotic locales, have also been criticized for material that offends racial, ethnic and religious groups. In response, Hergé revised many illustrations, though vestiges remain.

In Tintin’s Congo adventure, recent versions have revised panels in which the hero had lectured the natives on their colonial ties to Belgium. Now he teaches them arithmetic.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

New York Times: Best sellers for kids & young adults

Here are the best-selling chapter books and paperbacks for the week ending September 19, from the New York Times. Immortals, psychics, and time machines are hot topics, but so is the surprising and somber Thirteen Reasons Why. Locate copies of these titles using the World Catalog / Amazon.com links on BookBag.

Chapter books

1.Catching Fire, by Suzanne Collins. (Scholastic) The protagonist of "The Hunger Games" returns. (Ages 12 and up)

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

3. The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo and Yoko Tanaka. (Candlewick) An orphan in search of his sister follows a fortuneteller’s mysterious instructions. (Ages 7 and up)

4. Tricks, by Ellen Hopkins. (McElderry/Simon & Schuster) A novel in verse about five teenagers who become prostitutes. (Ages 14 and up)

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

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

7. Sent, by Margaret Peterson Haddix. (Simon & Schuster) Kids travel to the 15th century, when they were members of the British royal family. (Ages 8 to 12)

8. The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Dave McKean. (HarperCollins) To avoid a killer a boy takes up residence in a cemetery. (Ages 10 and up)

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

10. Along for the Ride, by Sarah Dessen. (Viking) A summer on two wheels for a girl ready to learn more about herself and her loved ones. (Ages 14 and up)


1. Dark Visions, by L. J. Smith. (Simon & Schuster) A school for psychic teens (not to mention vampires). (Ages 14 and up)

2. Alphas, by Lisi Harrison. (Poppy/Little, Brown) Competition among girls at an exclusive boarding school. (Ages 12 and up)

3. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak. (Knopf) A girl saves books from Nazi burning.(Ages 14 and up)

4. Blue Moon, by Alyson Noël. (St. Martin’s Griffin) An immortal finds time’s secret. (Ages 12 and up)

5. Evermore, by Alyson Noël. (St. Martin’s Griffin) Immortals in school. (Ages 12 and up)

6. Three Cups of Tea: Young Readers Edition, by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin. (Puffin) A former climber builds schools in Pakistani and Afghan villages. (Ages 9 to 12)

7. Thirst No. 1, by Christopher Pike. (Simon Pulse) A reissue of the three novels The Last Vampire (1994), Black Blood (1994), and Red Dice (1995). (Ages 14 and up)

8. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian, by Sherman Alexie. Illustrated by Ellen Forney. (Little, Brown, $8.99.) A young boy leaves his reservation for an all-white school. (Ages 12 and up)

9. Nick of Time, by Ted Bell. (Square Fish) A time machine, plus pirates and Nazis. (Ages 9 to 12)

10. Graceling, by Kristin Cashore. (Graphia) A fantasy novel about a girl endowed with special talents who also is valued for her attributes as a warrior. (Ages 14 and up)

Thursday, September 17, 2009

New fiction & fantasy for September (and poetry, too)

There's more to being a teenager than the latest movie tie-in novel might suggest about vampire crushes and rock-star dreams. Here is a quick look at some current books that go below the surface of their high-school settings and deal with the complexities of friendship, family, pain, and real life. There's some fantasy here, too, but fantasy with a real, emotional edge. You can find copies of these books using the World Catalog / Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

The Wandora Unit,
by Jessy Randall (Ghost Road Press). It's the Duran Duran 1980s: Wanda Lowell and Dora Nussbaum are two word-obsessive high-school girls, as well as being the two editors of the school's literary magazine, "Galaxy." Their friendship is surrounded on all sides by doubt, and not just the kind that questions the middle-class values of prom dates and getting into good colleges. Now as they near graduation, there's a growing acceptance of adult responsibilities and the realization that nothing can ever be perfect. Unfortunately for Dora this means watching her friendship with Wanda change until it shatters into a million pieces outward into the expanding universe. Even the "Galaxy" magazine they edit becomes a struggle, as they choose between poems from other students: many illuminate the loneliness and confusion of being almost-adult, poems with edges of loss and darkness among the metaphors. It's a clever story told in fractured fragments, with quotes from poets like Diane Wakowski and Gwendolyn Brooks acting as guideposts along the way (and if you blink you'll miss the explanation of how the staff's made-up game of Kapcki Mapcki got its name). The poems that make up the "Galaxy" magazine at book's end are real ones, from the real Brighton High literary magazine of the 1980s, and the authors are duly acknowledged; the poems are made of equal parts teen-age anxiety and aspiration, and they're good, too.

Falling Hard: 100 Love Poems by Teenagers, edited by Betsy Franco (Candlewick). Falling Hard was compiled mostly by email from teenagers from many different backgrounds, and
with different sexual orientations. Only their names and ages are given. The poems are written in free verse and are honest, sometimes explicit, and creative (there is an ode to a piano, and a "Pledge of Affection to a Nerd"). The teen poets in this lively anthology knock greeting-card clichés even as they celebrate their romance and their passion (“I want to wrap around you / I want to get inside you”) and vent their hurt, anger, and longing. Most poems were submitted to Franco by e-mail from the U.S., but some also came from abroad. Just the teens’ names and ages are given, but their writing reveals a wide diversity of race, sexual identity, maturity, and lifestyle. With a spacious open design, the poems are not arranged in any particular order, true to the way readers will dip in and browse. Some of the simplest lines say the most: “I want you less than I thought I did. / And I love you more than I ever knew.” From the pain of breakup and denial to affection and desire, the feelings in these poems will ring true to gay and straight teens alike.

Secret Keeper, by Mitali Perkins (Delacorte/Random House). When her father leaves India to look for work in America, Asha Gupta, her older sister, Reet, and their mother must wait with Baba’s family in Calcutta. Asha’s solace is her rooftop hideaway, where she pours her heart out in her diary, and begins a clandestine friendship with Jay Sen, the boy next door. Then news arrives about Baba ... and Asha must make a choice that will change their lives forever. As often as she can, Asha escapes to the rooftop to confide her woes to her secret keeper, a diary; breaking the rules of the house, she also befriends the son of the family next door, who gazes at herthrough a window. But their relationship changes irrevocably when tragedy prompts Asha to make a painful sacrifice for the sake of her mother and sister. Readers may not always agree with Ashas bold decisions, but they will admire her courage and selflessness as she puts her family's needs before her own. Besides offering insight into Indian culture, Perkins (author of Monsoon Summer) offers a moving portrait of a rebellious teen who relies on ingenuity rather than charm to prove her worth.

Gateway to DreamWorld, by Brenda Estacio (Eloquent Books). This intriguing fantasy shows the power of hope and the strength of love to overcome seemingly impossible odds. The Colby family is rocked by a series of events that threaten to pull the family apart, and after a horrible automobile accident that leaves Pete, the youngest, in a wheelchair, his brother Jason begins to dream of a mysterious stranger named Morpheus. Jason is shown the wonders of DreamWorld, and Morpheus is Jason's guide to this realm where everything can be perfect, if Jason has the will to believe. Is DreamWorld real, or only a trick? Jason must choose, and If he can convince his family to join him in DreamWorld he has only a short time in which to bring them safely across the Gateway. The novel is good at expressing those fears of the unknown that all children face on their way to adulthood, and there is a lesson to be learned here in confronting pain and uncertainty by taking risks. Younger readers will find the family drama opening a little slow, but the DreamWorld action is quick and fast-paced, and readers will find the challenges facing the brothers Pete and Jason exciting to follow.

Pretty Dead, by Francesca Lia Block (HarperTeen). When her twin brother, with whom she shared a magical bond, died of a fever, Charlotte Emerson wanted to die. She wanted to live forever. One wish came true. Generations later, when her best friend dies of an apparent suicide, Charlotte wishes only for death. But that option, she fears, is no longer open to her. Pretty Dead is an unusual slant on the "moody young vampire" subgenre that is sweeping the shelves and leaving countless young readers swooning in the aisles. For one thing, Francesca Lia Block is a more accomplished and talented writer than many of her peers in the field, so readers know going in that her prose will have a poetic touch that pulls you in and wraps you in words. Despite all the trappings of freedom and wealth in her big Los Angeles home, it's certain that Charlotte's life isn't as perfect as people around her believe. She can desire but never love. She can appreciate art, but not create it. And she can exist, but never truly live.We spend a little time in a high school classroom, but not so much that it dominates the setting. Charlotte is only there because she's bored, not because she wants to be a cheerleader or flirt with boys.This short, simple novel is lovely in its fragility. There is romance, but that's never its focus. It's wistful, and a little heartbreaking. It's beautiful and sad, steeped in melancholy and, perhaps, just a hint of hope. It's really quite different, and quite good. (review by Tom Knapp, Rambles.net).

The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic). Each year in the ruins of North America, 24 teenagers are forced to enter the Hunger Games. Only the winner survives. Every moment is televised. Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone watching you? Katniss is a 16-year-old girl living with her mother and younger sister in the poorest district of Panem, the remains of what used be the United States. Long ago the districts waged war on the Capitol and were defeated. As part of the surrender terms, each district agreed to send one boy and one girl to appear in an annual televised event called "The Hunger Games." The terrain, rules, and level of audience participation may change but one thing is constant: kill or be killed. When Katniss steps in to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, she knows it may be her death sentence. If she is to survive, she must weigh survival against humanity and life against love. Be sure to have time to read it in one sitting. Who hasn't heard that before, but make the time to do just that. Stephenie Meyer, the author of the Twilight series, took it to a dinner party so she could keep reading it under the table!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Fantasy for tween readers, September

Autumn is the perfect season for fantasy with its shorter days and cooler nights. The ghouls and goblins of Halloween seem to lurk just around the corner, too. September brings a new selection of fantasy for tweens ages 9-14 -- here's a small sample of books that are guaranteed to keep the pages turning! Look for these books using the World Catalog / Amazon links on BookBag.

Darkwood, by M.E. Breen (Bloomsbury). Fantasy. Thirteen-year-old Annie lives with her horrible aunt and uncle in Howland, a strange and foreboding place where no one has seen the moon for hundreds of years and where vicious, wolf-like kinderstalk prowl the forests in search of children to devour. Upon learning that her uncle plans to sell her as a slave, Annie runs away and embarks on a series of breathtaking adventures that ultimately lead her to the royal palace, where some long-held secrets are revealed. If you like slightly scary, action-packed fantasy novels with vividly imagined settings, you'll be entranced by Darkwood.

Kaleidoscope Eyes, by Jennifer Bryant (Alfred A. Knopf). Novel in Verse. In 1968 Willowbank, New Jersey, 13-year-old Lyza Bradley is cleaning out her deceased grandfather's attic when she finds an envelope marked "For Lyza Only." It contains several maps and a handful of clues, and upon investigating further, Lyza and her two best friends realize that the clues are meant to lead them to the long-lost pirate treasure of Captain William Kidd--somewhere near Willowbank! Lyza swears her friends to secrecy and they immediately start hunting for the treasure trove. With wonderful characters, a hint of mystery, and its vivid Vietnam War-era setting, Kaleidoscope Eyes will satisfy fans of both family dramas and historical fiction.

Dull Boy, by Sarah Cross (Dutton Books). Fiction. Too bad 15-year-old Avery Pirzwick's newly developed super-powers didn't come with an "off" button. Unable to control his extraordinary strength, he's suddenly become quite destructive ... but he hasn't yet told anyone that he can fly or why he keeps breaking things, so his exasperated parents send him to an alternative school. Meanwhile, a mysterious woman named Cherchette Morozov has guessed his secret and says that she wants to help him. But Avery's new school friends--all of whom have their own secret powers--suspect that Cherchette is up to no good. Snarkily (and hilariously) narrated by Avery, Dull Boy is a fun, wild read.

Moribito II: Guardian of Darkness, by Nahoko Uehashi (Arthur A. Levine Books). Fantasy. The orphan Balsa Spearwielder has wandered the kingdom of New Yogo as a bodyguard-for-hire ever since the death of her foster father and mentor, Jiguro. Journeying to her homeland of Kanbal, Balsa hopes to reconcile with her birth family. But as soon as she arrives, she is thrown into battle with an evil mountain spirit from whom she rescues two children. Branded as a fugitive, Balsa must untangle a political conspiracy--and its connection to the dark spirit world--if she hopes to survive. With its heroic action and imaginatively detailed setting (a world resembling medieval Japan), this exciting 2nd volume in the Moribito series will thrill both manga and historical fiction fans.

Tween a Devil and His Hard Place, by Sam Cheever (Cerridwen Press) Astra Q Phelps and her Royal Devil, Prince Dialle, must navigate a demon uprising that is rumored to have been instigated by the local Witches' coven. The demons are demanding to be released from service to the Royals so they can have a seat on the Dark Council. When Dialle's father, the king, disappears from his chambers and Astra recognizes the magic signature that's left behind as her parents', she realizes her family has more to do with the unsettling events than she would have hoped. Then a very powerful angel and lifelong friend of the Phelps family tells Astra that her father is under suspicion of being a dark angel and Astra is forced to spy on her own father to try to clear him. It's a whole mess of trouble for one little Tweener to sort through, but Astra Q Phelps is definitely up to the challenge.

Rampant, by Diana Peterfreund (HarperTeen). Forget everything you’ve heard about unicorns. They are not fluffy or cute, they do not grant wishes. They are vicious, man-eating beasts who can only be killed by virgin descendants of Alexander the Great. Astrid grew up hearing these stories from her lunatic mother. But when she is attacked by a zhi, her nightmares come to life and her mother’s obsession hasall the proof it needs to turn Astrid’s world upside down. She is sent off to Rome to meet up with other 21st Century would-be unicorn hunters. It may sound like a vacation, but danger is around every corner. Rampant is an absurd thrill-ride and a perfect escape from every other fantasy out there. Killer unicorns? Come on – there have been enough vampires, zombies, and werewolves to keep us sated for years to come. But Peterfreund’s YA debut is fresh, new, and ready to help you end your summer vacation with a bang. Or an “alicorn” to the chest, if you like.

Fade to Blue, by Sean Beaudoin (Little, Brown). Sophie Blue – or Gothika, as her not-so-friendly classmates call her – is haunted by visions of a mad popsicle truck driver, and thinks she hears a voice telling her to visit ‘the lab.’ Sophie’s best friend, Lake, an ex-cheerleader-turned-paraplegic, has little advice to offer. Her mother is too depressed and disconnected to help. The school counselor only makes her write essays, and her brother, O.S., is seemingly too caught up i
n his comic books to do anything but get fatter. But when Kenny Fade, basketball star, starts to question his perfect life, reality begins to unravel, and Sophie is forced to confront something she has been trying to put past her: the disappearance of her father. With its references to pop culture, snarky sense of humor, and a pleathora of bizarre characters, Fade to Blue will stick with you long after you’ve turned the last page.

Saturday, September 12, 2009

Recommended childrens' readers in Spanish

This recommended list of books for kids from WETA's Reading Rockets project includes favorites for Hispanic students and for those interested in learning a bit of Spanish. The books are written by today's most notable Hispanic and Latin American children's authors. The diverse sampling includes traditional songs, bilingual poetry, and much more. Some of the books are bilingual while others come in Spanish or in English editions peppered with Spanish words. Look for these books by using the World Catalog / Amazon.com search boxes on BookBag.

Esta lista de libros recomendados para niños de los cohetes de WETA Reading Rockets proyecto incluye los favoritos para los estudiantes hispanos y para aquellos interesados en aprender un poco de español. Los libros son escritos por los más notables hispanos y latinoamericanos de hoy los autores de los niños. La toma de muestras diversas, incluye canciones tradicionales, poesía bilingüe, y mucho más. Algunos de los libros son bilingües, mientras que otros vienen en español o en ediciones Inglés salpicado de palabras en español. Puedes buscar estos libros utilizando el Catálogo Mundial y los cuadros de búsqueda en Amazon.com.

Abuela, by Arthur Dorros (age level: 3-5; reading level: beginning reader). Rosalba imagines flying over New York City with her much loved abuela. The young girl uses a lovely mix of English and Spanish to describe their journey, moving from the busy streets of Manhattan to the Statue of Liberty. Brightly colored illustrations detail what Rosalba and her grandmother glimpse as they fly, and the rich tales of Abuela's memories. (Available in both English and Spanish).

Arroz con Leche, by Lulu Delacre (age level: 3-6; reading level: beginning reader). These traditional rhymes and songs from Latin America are presented in both English and Spanish. Gentle illustrations accompany the short verses, and show both cities and the countryside. Children and adults from Spanish-speaking backgrounds will recognize many of these fun songs and rhymes.

Barrio: José's Neighborhood (Barrio: El barrio de José) by George Ancona (age level: 6-9; reading level: independent reader). José lives in a diverse neighborhood where he's just as likely to hear Spanish, English, or Chinese. The appealing photographs in this book document José's life at home, at school, and on the streets of his barrio in San Francisco, a city that is a vibrant mosaic of different cultures. (Available in a Spanish edition and in an English edition with a Spanish glossary).

Chato's Kitchen (La cocina de Chato), by Gary Soto, illustrated by: Susan Guevara (Age level: 3-6; reading level: beginning reader). Chato, along with Novio Boy, are the coolest cats in their East Los Angeles barrio. When a family of mice moves next door to Chato, he invites them to dinner. He's going to eat them for dinner, but the mice bring a friend along – a dog – to surprise Chato and foil his plans. The text and pictures show the funny situation and the satisfying solution. (In English sprinkled with Spanish. Includes a glossary of Spanish words used in the text.)

De Colores and Other Latin-American Folk Songs for Children, by Jose-Luis Orozco, illustrated by Elisa Kleven (age level: 3-6; reading level: beginning reader). Bursting with color and spirit, this book is a bilingual collection of Latin-American folk songs. The songs were selected and translated by popular Mexican performer and songwriter Jose-Luis Orozco. The book includes traditional tunes, rhymes, and hand games. An accompanying music CD is also recommended.

From the Bellybutton of the Moon and other Summer Poems (Del ombligo de la luna y otros poemas de verano), by Francisco Alarcón, illustrated by Maya Christina Gonzalez. (Age level: 6-9; reading level: independent reader). The poet remembers summers growing up in Mexico in poems presented in both English and Spanish. Readers meet his family and join them in the everyday joys of the sunny season. Illustrations are as colorful and evocative as the words.

In My Family (En mi familia), by Carmen Garza (Age level: 6-9, reading level: independent reader). Kingsville, on the border of Mexico and Texas, comes to life in words and pictures in this book. Readers will share the simple joys of eating, dancing, and celebrating as the artist remembers her own childhood. Her stories, presented in both English and Spanish, are accompanied by her bright paintings.

Roadrunner's Dance (El baile del correcaminos) by Rudolfo Anaya, illustrated by: David Diaz (Age level: 6-9; reading level: independent reader). Snake terrifies children and their parents. He claims to be the "king of the road." But with gifts from the animals, Desert Woman fashions Roadrunner to defeat Snake. In the tradition of a folktale, this original story explains why rattlesnakes have their rattle and how cooperation can save the day.

The Most Beautiful Place in the World (El lugar más hermoso del mundo), by Ann Cameron, illustrated by Thomas Allen. (age level: 6-9, reading level: independent reader). Now that Juan's mother has left him with his grandmother, he shines shoes to earn a living. More than anything else, though, 7-year old Juan wants to learn to read and go to school. Guatemala comes alive through the daily lives of Juan and his grandmother and the detailed black/white illustrations.

The Rainbow Tulip, by Pat Mora, illustrated by Elizabeth Sayles (Age level: 6-9, reading level: independent reader). Stella and her brothers speak Spanish at home but English at school. Being different is both scary and exciting. Stella learns this when she prepares for the school's celebration of May Day. She finds a way to honor her Mexican background by wearing a special skirt that is both alike yet
different from the other girls'. Stella, like many children, can take pride in being part of two cultures. (In English sprinkled with Spanish).

Under the Royal Palms: A Childhood in Cuba (Bajo las palmas reales), by Alma Flor Ada (age level: 9-12, reading level: independent reader). In writing about her childhood growing up in Camaguey, Cuba, the author evokes all the senses. Readers will smell jasmine, coffee, and grandmother's perfume. They will see the bats flying overhead and hear adults talk. When parents and other adults read this memoir with children, they may start to share their own family stories.

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Football (and other sports) for kids

Looking for books on sports for kids can be frustrating during the fall months. Football takes center-stage in most schools (and stores) -- here are some other fiction and non-fiction sports books for young fans of tennis, wrestling, and soccer, as well as some new football fiction novels. Look for these titles using the World Catalog and Amazon.com search boxes here on BookBag.

National Geographic Extreme Sports Kids' Series: Bike! / Climb! / Dive! / Skate! / Skateboard! / Ski! / Snowboard! / Surf! These high-speed introductions to extreme sports showcase the skills and share the secrets of these sports. These are ideal books to have on hand for any youngster with an interest in sports. Showcasing safety tips and proper equipment, these books are informative and action-packed.

The Wrestling Drill Book, by Bill Welker (Human Kinetics).A wrestler’s ability to execute his moves quickly and instinctively is often the difference between winning and losing a match. Drills are the most effective practice activities to use to ingrain the instinctive actions and reactions essential for wrestling success. The Wrestling Drill Book includes match-tested drills, carefully chosen by coaches who are experts in the specific techniques and tactics they cover.

When No One Was Looking, by Rosemary Wells (Puffin) Kathy is a young tennis player
with enough drive, attitude, and talent to go right to the top. And it seems that everyone around her has a stake in her success. So, when Kathy is presented with an opponent she can't beat, and a tragedy occurs, everyone's motives are questioned. They all want victory badly-but would anyone really kill for it?

Venus and Serena Williams: Grand Slam Sisters, by Terry Morgan (LernerSports).Venus and Serena Williams are talented athletes who challenge the traditions of professional tennis. The Africa
n-American sisters turned pro at only fourteen years of age. With their braided hair, muscular physiques, and unapologetic attitudes, the two raised a racket in the world of women's tennis.

Football Genius, by Tim Green. (Harper Teen) Green takes the idea of football analysis as the science of patterns and grants the gift of “seeing” those patterns to 12-year-old Troy White. Although Troy has a unique talent and is usually a good kid, frustration and peer pressure force him to make some not-so-smart choices that land him in trouble but also exactly where he has always wanted to be --- on the sidelines of a National Football League team.

Raiders Night, by Robert Lipsyte (Harper Teen) The Nearmont High School football team and the adultswho support it see winning as the ultimate goal, e
ven if it means resorting to illegal steroids. The players are the toast of the town, enjoying wild parties, drugs and alcohol, and girls who offer casual sex. Matt Rydek, one of the team's popular stars and a cocaptain, is torn between two girls and deals with a pushy father who lives vicariously through him.

Deadline, by Chris Crutcher (Harper Teen). After being
diagnosed with an aggressive form of leukemia, 18-year-old Ben Wolf elects to forgo treatment and keep his illness secret from his family and friends in an attempt to have a "normal" senior year at his small Idaho high school. Free from long-term consequences, he connects with his crush, frustrates his biased U.S. Government teacher, and tries out for football.

Tennis Ace, by Matt Christopher. (Little, Brown) Steve wishes he had as much drive to win at tennis as his older sister, Ginny. He knows that nothing would please his father more. But the truth is, Ginny is the real tennis ace in the family. It's frustrating for both children that their father ignores Ginny's talents while pushing a reluctant Steve harder. Will brother and sister finally get up the courage to tell him how they feel?

Fairway Phenom, by Matt Christopher. (Little, Brown) Malik Edwards never had any intention of playing golf. In his mind, golf is a game played by old, flabby men wearing funny pants and hats. Then one day while channel surfing he sees a young black golfer being cheered on by a crowd of adoring fans. Suddenly golf's image changes for Malik. Yet, even if he wanted to play, where would he get the gear or the money? And where is a kid living in Brooklyn, New York, supposed to play golf? Malik's growing desire to learn the game of golf helps him overcome these obstacles-but the biggest obstacle, the ridicule of his friends, still sits in his path.

Tangerine, by Edward Bloor (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt). Living in surreal Tangerine County, Fla., a legally blind boy begins to uncover the ugly truth about his football-hero brother. Publishers Weekly praised Bloor for "wedding athletic heroics to American gothic with a fluid touch and flair for dialogue."

Everything Kids Soccer Book, by Deborah W. Crisfield (Adams). Soccer player and coach Deborah W. Crisfield gives you lots of advice on stretching, endurance building, and strength training. Along the way, she includes some amazing facts on the World Cup and American soccer stars, such as Landon Donovan and Mia Hamm, and offers dozens of puzzles and games.