Saturday, December 5, 2009

Barbarians, Elephants ... and Delaware

Books can excite the imagination and challenge the reader to read more, whether it's the history of barbarians or conjuring the made-up worlds of fantasy. Here are a few books that are full of fascinating ideas for all kinds of readers -- use the search boxes here on BookBag to find a copy.

Barbarians! by Steven Kroll (Dutton Children's Books). Nonfiction. So, what makes a barbarian ... well, barbaric? Does anyone rude and crude make the cut? Or is barbarism simply in the eye of the beholder? Find out for yourself in this history of Goths, Huns (as in "Attila the"), Vikings, and Mongols (such as Genghis Khan)--nomadic peoples who attacked the empires of their times. Well-illustrated and covering everything from daily life to religious beliefs to each group's conquests, Barbarians will fascinate history buffs as well as anyone interested in the ways and reasons that humans make war.

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware, by M.T. Anderson (Beach Lane Books). Adventure. In what book can you read about staring competitions, monster squids, plagues of beetles, and the untamed mountainous realms of the forbidden state of Delaware (bet you didn't know that Delaware has mountains...)? None other than this 3rd volume of author M.T. Anderson's Thrilling Tales series, in which Boy Technonaut Jasper Dash and his cohorts Lily and Katie must unravel a knotty mystery and save the world from some dastardly villains. Like an over-the-top blending of a Hardy Boys mystery and the Indiana Jones movies with a healthy dose of complete absurdity, this fun and fast-reading story is perfect for those who enjoy ridiculous humor and plenty of action.

Wild Girl, by Patricia Reilly Giff (Wendy Lamb Books). Fiction. Ever since her mother died five years ago, 12-year-old Lidie has lived with her aunt and uncle in her native Brazil. Now she is moving to Queens, New York, to join her older brother, Rafael, and her father, Pai, who train race horses for a living. Attending a new school and learning a new language are big challenges, but worst of all, Pai and Rafael still treat Lidie like a baby. Maybe if she can ride Wild Girl, a spirited filly that her father has been hired to train, Lidie can show them how strong she's become. If you love horses, emotional stories, and characters who seem real, you'll gallop through Wild Girl.

The Magician's Elephant, by Kate DiCamillo (Candlewick Press). Fantasy. Young Peter lives with an addled and strict old soldier who has told the boy that his younger sister, Adele, is dead. Hoping for a miracle, Peter uses their meager grocery money to pay a fortune teller for any news of Adele. He is told that she is, in fact, alive -- and that an elephant will lead Peter to her. This is outrageous, of course...until a local stage magician accidentally conjures up an actual elephant (he only intended to materialize a bouquet of lilies). This mysterious and enchanting story about what might be possible is full of subtle humor, fabulous description, and memorable characters.

Medusa Jones, by Ross Collins (Arthur A. Levine Books). Fiction. Medusa Jones can top anyone's bad hair day--she's got snakes on her head instead of hair! Medusa and her friends (Mino the minotaur and Chiron the centaur) are known as The Freaks and get picked on at school by the perfect, popular students, who call themselves the Champions. Medusa's parents won't let her turn anyone to stone, so she can't fight back. But when the Freaks and the Champions are teamed up on a class trip to Mount

Olympus and disaster strikes, Medusa gets a chance to be the hero for a change. If you think it would be fun to imagine what gods and goddesses might be like as kids, you'll love this quick, funny read.

Walking With the Dead, by L.M. Falcone (Kids Can Press). Fantasy/Adventure. Twelve-year-old Alex has plenty to worry about; he can't get the time of day from the girl of his dreams, and he has to pay the local bully not to beat him up. But when Alex's dad brings home a mummy to add to his museum of "oddities" and a freak lightning strike resurrects the corpse, Alex and his friend Freddie find themselves journeying to the Underworld to clear the mummy of an ancient murder charge. Bullies are nothing compared to monsters from Greek mythology! Packed with action, humor, and suspense, Walking with the Dead is a must-read for fans of Jon Scieszka's Time Warp Trio series.

No comments:

Post a Comment