Friday, January 29, 2010

Books for the winter blahs

Looking for something new to take your mind off the winter blahs? Here's a group of books ranging from fact to fiction that will keep readers turning the pages! Look for them using the WorldCat and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

The Year of the Dog: A Novel, by Grace Lin (Little, Brown) Fiction. Pacy's mom is Taiwanese and her dad is Chinese. So what does that make her--Taiwanese-Chinese-American? Not completely sure who she is or what she wants to be, Pacy is determined that the Year of the Dog, meant to be a year of finding one's self and making friends, will be lucky for her. If you enjoy The Year of the Dog, be sure to check out the next book about Pacy and her family, The Year of the Rat.

100-Year-Old Secret, by Tracy Barrett (Henry Holt) Mystery. Soon after Xena Holmes and her brother Xander arrive in London, where they'll be living with their parents for the next year, a strange man on the street slips a note into Xena's hand. It's a message inviting Xena and Xander to a meeting of the Society for the Preservation of Famous Detectives...where the siblings find out that they are direct descendants of none other than the great Sherlock Holmes, and they've inherited the files from all of his unsolved cases. So of course they're going to try to crack one of them! This first volume in the fast-paced Sherlock Files series (followed by The Beast of Blackslope) is a great pick for kids who liked Ron Roy's A to Z Mysteries.

Keep Your Eye on the Kid: The Early Years of Buster Keaton,
by Catherine Brighton (Roaring Brook Press) Picture-Book Biography. Joe "Buster" Keaton -- nicknamed for tumbling down a flight of stairs by none other than Harry Houdini -- was famous for being able to take a fall. A "backstage baby" whose parents had a vaudeville act, Keaton eventually went on to make silent movies in Hollywood and became famous for his deadpan physical comedy. This story, written as if Keaton himself were telling it, stretches the truth a bit in places (as he might have) but is the mostly true tale of his younger years and his start in show biz.

The Porcupine Year, by Louise Erdrich (HarperCollins) Historical Fiction. In 1852, forced by the United States government to leave their beloved island home, 12-year-old Omakayas and her Ojibwe family (whom readers met in The Birchbark House and The Game of Silence) travel in search of a place to live. Heading north in hopes of joining Omakayas' aunt in a new settlement, the family faces violent raids, freezing weather, and near-starvation--but they never lose hope. This sad, beautiful, and at times even funny story explains pieces of American history that you may not know about and is a must-read for Little House on the Prairie fans.

The Year the Swallows Came Early, by Kathryn Fitzmaurice (Bowen Press) Realistic Fiction. On a day when Eleanor ("Groovy") Robinson's horoscope tells her to "expect the unexpected," she gets it: her father is arrested as Groovy is walking with him to his job. It turns out that he's stolen money that was supposed to put Groovy, who wants to be a chef, through culinary school--and Groovy's mom is the one who called the police! Groovy isn't sure she'll ever forgive either of her parents, and now that her dream seems impossible, she doesn't know what the future holds. With great, true-to-life characters and lots of interesting details about cooking, The Year the Swallows Came Early is a good choice for fans of family dramas.

Fooled You! Fakes and Hoaxes through the Years, by Elaine Pascoe; illustrated by Laurie Keller (Henry Holt) Nonfiction. People like to believe that extraordinary things can happen, so it's easier than you might think to convince them that outright falsehoods are gospel truth. This fascinating book explores various hoaxes that people have bought hook, line, and sinker during the 19th and 20th centuries--including "alien" crop circles, fairies on film, and circus master P.T. Barnum's infamous "mermaid." How were people duped? Fooled You! goes beyond mere lists of lies to explain how hucksters, charlatans, and quacks through the years have managed to pull the wool over people's eyes.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Just for fun: some new books for young readers

It can be great reading just for fun! Here are some new books that are fast, funny, and full of exciting adventures for young readers. Find copies here at BookBag by typing in the titles on the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes.

The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Adam Rex (Simon & Schuster) Humorous Mystery. Steve Brixton's second through fifty-ninth favorite books are the entire Bailey Brothers series of detective novels (which bear a striking resemblance to the real-life Hardy Boys Mysteries). His first favorite book is The Bailey Brothers' Detective Handbook, as he wants to be a detective someday. Little does he know that, very soon, he'll have to solve a mystery in order to save his own hide! Featuring secret-agent librarians, a missing encoded quilt, smart-alecky humor, and action and adventure galore, this 1st volume of the new Brixton Brothers series pays tribute to mystery classics like Encyclopedia Brown and the Hardy Boys while also poking (hilarious) fun at them.

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine & a Miracle, by Brian Dennis, Kirby Larson, and Mary Nethery (Little, Brown) Nonfiction. Major Brian Dennis didn't intend to adopt a dog while serving in Iraq--actually, it would be more precise to say that a dog adopted him. Brian's team was met by a pack of wild dogs when they reached their desert post, and Brian and the pack's leader "clicked right away." Naming the dog "Nubs" because of his clipped ears, Brian gave his new pal belly rubs and shared his dinners and his guard duty with him. But Marines aren't allowed to have pets. This amazing true story (with lots of photos) tells how Nubs got around that rule, following Brian on foot, while injured, to his next post more than 70 miles away. Warning: animal lovers should have tissues nearby when reading this book!

Operation Yes, by Sara Lewis Holmes (Arthur A. Levine Books) Fiction. The kids in Miss Loupe's class (on a North Carolina military base) can tell right away that she is unusual. Honestly, have you ever had a teacher bring a big, ugly couch into a classroom...and start talking to it?!? But once they get to know her and learn a little bit about improvisational theater in the process, they can't imagine having any other sixth-grade teacher. When Miss Loupe's brother, a soldier serving in Afghanistan, goes missing, she breaks down--and the class bands together to do something big to show their support. If you like realistic stories with lots of great characters, say yes to Operation Yes.

Flight of the Phoenix, by R. L. LaFevers; illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Houghton Mifflin) Fantasy. Ten-year-old Nathaniel Fludd's parents, who are beastologists, have been off studying supposedly mythical creatures for several years when they are declared lost at sea in 1928. Sent to live with a relative, Nate--who really doesn't care much for adventure--soon finds himself tagging along to attend the birth of a phoenix, an exceedingly rare event. When his "Aunt" Phil is abducted, it's up to Nate to protect the phoenix and rescue his guardian. Packed with exciting adventure, talking gremlins, family secrets, and even a bit of history, this 1st book in the Nathaniel Fludd, Beastologist series is a fast, fun read.

The Small Adventure of Popeye and Elvis, by Barbara O'Connor (Farrar, Straus and Giroux) Fiction. Henry--a.k.a. Popeye, ever since his Uncle Dooley accidentally shot him in the eye with a BB gun--is pretty sure that every day in his home of Fayette, South Carolina, is always going to be the same as the last boring day. But when a motor home containing young Elvis Jewell and his family gets stranded in the mud near Popeye's house, there's finally something to do (besides listening to his grandmother, Velma, recite all of the kings and queens of England in order to avoid "cracking up"). No adventure is too small for Popeye, and his brief but memorable friendship with Elvis opens up a whole new world. Fans of unusual characters and country settings will be in hog heaven reading this book.

Kit Feeny: On the Move, by Michael Townsend (Alfred A. Knopf) Graphic Novel. Kit Feeny's family is moving -- but how will Kit find another best friend like his buddy Arnold? When Kit's plan to find a replacement friend fails miserably (nobody in his new town likes comics, ninja fishing, and making things out of cheeseballs like Arnold did), he decides that he'll have to become a lonesome hobo. This fast-paced story packed with goofy humor, "stupid-awesome" shenanigans, and crazy schemes will make you want to read the next book in the series, Kit Feeny: The Ugly Necklace.

Some series books for teen readers

Fans of series books like getting to know the people, places, and situations that authors create over the course of many books. Check out one or more of the series-starters listed below, and you'll have plenty of reading to keep you busy for a while. Look for these books and other series here on BookBag using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes.

The Robe of Skulls, by Vivian French (Candlewick Press) Fantasy. When she realizes that she has no treasure left with which to purchase a stunning new gown decorated with skulls, evil sorceress Lady Lamorna lets loose with a blood-curdling scream heard by everyone in the village of Fracture...everyone, that is, but young Gracie Gillypot. Locked in her stepfather's cellar "for being cheerful," Gracie barely hears a peep--but it won't be long before she's called on to help rescue the kingdom's princes, whom Lady Lamorna has turned into frogs. At once silly and exciting, this suspenseful, slap-dash adventure is the 1st in the Tales from the Five Kingdoms series; The Bag of Bones is next.

The Diamond of Drury Lane: A Cat Royal Adventure, by Julia Golding (Roaring Brook Press) Historical Adventure. Abandoned at the Drury Lane Theatre as a baby and taken in by its owner, Mr. Sheridan, young Catherine (aka Cat) has literally grown up backstage. When she learns that Mr. Sheridan has a diamond hidden somewhere in the theater, Cat determines to do everything she can--which may not be enough--to protect it. Vividly set in late-18th-century London, this thrilling and colorful tale is the 1st of four stories that feature Cat, followed by Cat Among the Pigeons and Den of Thieves.

Mister Monday, by Garth Nix (Scholastic). Fantasy. After nearly dying from an asthma attack on his first day at his new school, Arthur Penhaligon comes to with a strange key that looks like the minute-hand of a clock in his hand. It isn't long before minions of the mysterious Mister Monday come after him to retrieve the key, and people in the town are struck by a bizarre sleeping sickness. When Arthur notices a strange new house in his neighborhood that no one else seems able to see, he realizes that he must venture inside to stop the weird--and dangerous--things that are happening. Mister Monday is the 1st of six novels (so far) in the magical, complex, and exciting Keys to the Kingdom series; watch for the conclusion, Lord Sunday, this spring.

Adam Canfield of the Slash, by Michael Winerip (Candlewick Press) Fiction. Adam Canfield is already sorry that he agreed to be co-editor of his school's newspaper, The Slash. He's made for courting danger while digging up the truth--not for supervising over-eager third-grade cub reporters. But there is something strange going on at Harris Elementary/Middle School, and it's up to Adam, his co-editor Jennifer, and the rest of the newspaper's staff to bring the story to light. Packed with suspense and tongue-in-cheek humor, this 1st of three books about Adam and company will please fans of detective stories and thrillers (as well as those interested in the pursuit of truth and justice!).

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Teen books by Australian writers

Australia is a beautiful land with a long history and its own share of wonderful writers. Here is a brief look at some books for teens written by authors from Down Under, from fantasy to non-fiction, that may open a whole new world of excitement and excitement for young readers. Use the WorldCatalog and search boxes here on BookBag to find a copy.

Mahtab's Story, by Libby Gleeson (Allen and Unwin) Non-fiction. Mahtab and her family are forced to leave their home in Herat and journey secretly through the rocky mountains to Pakistan and from there to faraway Australia. Months go by, months of waiting, months of dread, with only memories and hopes to sustain them. Will they ever be reunited with their father or find a home? This compelling novel is based on the true story of one girl's voyage from Afghanistan to Australia with her family.

The Naming, by Alison Croggon (Candlewick Press) Epic Fantasy. Sixteen-year-old Maerad, an orphan and slave in the mountain village of Gilman's Cot, does not realize that she is gifted in the magic and power of the Bards. But when the Bard Cadavan passes through and meets Maerad, he believes that she is the One who is prophesied to save all magic from the Nameless dark power rising in the world. Fans of the elaborate fantasy worlds of Ursula K. LeGuin and J.R.R. Tolkien will blaze through The Naming and be eager for the next volume in the Pellinor series, The Riddle.

Thunderwith, by Elizabeth Hathorn (Little, Brown) When her mother dies, Lara Ritchie must live with a father she barely remembers and his new family in the Australian outback. Lara is greeted with open hostility from her stepmother and young siblings. Only her father loves her, and
when he is called away on business, the girl must find comfort for her constant grief. As if in answer to her prayer, a handsome dog appears out of a storm, and immediately Lara senses a bond between them. Hathorn deftly injects a sense of wonderment into this intense, very real story by weaving together colorful Koori legends and the strange beauty of the Australian wilderness into Lara's struggle.

The Word Snoop, by Ursula Dubosarsky; illustrated by Tohby Riddle (Dial Books) Nonfiction. The English language has a long and strange history--and the Word Snoop (aka Australian author Ursula Dubosarsky) has unearthed its secrets and shares them in this playful and fascinating book. Packed with puzzles, anagrams, palindromes, codes, and more, this feast for word-lovers also takes a look at clichés, euphemisms (words and phrases that people use to avoid saying unpleasant things directly), nicknames, and even relatively new developments in language, such as text messaging.

Wildwood Dancing, by Juliet Marillier (Knopf) Fantasy. Jena and her four sisters, who live with their merchant father in Transylvania, use a hidden portal in their home to cross over
into the Other Kingdom every time the moon is full. For the past nine years, they've joined dwarves, trolls, and other fairy folk in the Dancing Glade for all-night revels. Jena found her best friend--a talking pet frog--there, and eldest sister Tati has fallen in love with one of the Night People. But now the sisters' cousin Cezar, who loathes and fears the Other Kingdom, threatens to raze the Wildwood where the kingdom lies. This fast-paced, suspenseful, and romantic tale will keep readers enchanted through the very last page.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Celebrating Martin Luther King Day

Today is the holiday celebrating the life of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Many holidays are seen as a "day off" -- instead, King Day is a day of service, a "day on," to think about working toward Dr. King's goals of equality and justice for all Americans. Here is a suggested group of books for children interested in reading about King's life and work.

The list comes from the website, where there is much more to explore -- reading for all ages, websites, and other information. (Resources from the National School & Community Corps and the Free Library of Philadelphia).

A Picture Book of Martin Luther King, Jr., by David A. Adler. (Holiday House, New York)

Dear Dr. King: Letters from Today's Children to Martin Luther King, Jr., by Jan Colbert (Editor), et al. (Hyperion Books for Children)

Meet Martin Luther King, Jr., by James DeKay. (Random House)

The Life and Death of Martin Luther King, Jr. by James Haskins. (Beech Tree Books)

Martin Luther King, Jr. (Black Americans of Achievement series), by Robert E. Jakoubek, edited by Nathan I. Huggins. (Chelsea House)

Martin Luther King, Jr.: Civil Rights Leader, by Kathy K. Lambert. (Chelsea Juniors)

If You Lived at the Time of Martin Luther King, by Ellen Levine, Illustrated by Anna Rich (Scholastic)

King: A Biography, by David L. Lewis. (University of Illinois Press)

Happy Birthday Martin Luther King, Jr., by Jean Marzollo. (Scholastic, Inc.).

My Dream of Martin Luther King, Jr., Illustrated by Faith Ringgold. (Crown).

I Have A Dream, by Martin Luther King, Jr. and Coretta Scott King. (Scholastic).

The Martin Luther King, Jr. Companion, selected by Coretta Scott King. (St. Martin's Press).

I Have A Dream: Writings and Speeches that Changed the World, edited by James Melvin Washington. (Harper).

Friday, January 15, 2010

Books for the long winter month of January

Let's face it, January is a slow month -- it's cold, Christmas was last year, and it seems like a long way until Spring. Here are some books to keep you turning the pages during what feels like the longest month of the year. Find these books using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President, by Josh Lieb (Razorbill) Fiction. Seventh-grader Oliver Watson, billionaire super-genius and by his own account "unceasingly, unreservedly, unspeakably evil," has managed to pass himself off as the dumbest boy in his class in order to keep his wealth and power a secret. And now he's running for class president...if he can oust foreign dictators, what's one little school election? Fans of books like Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney and Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks will get a kick out of this diabolically funny book.

Hannah, by Kathryn Lasky (Scholastic Press) Historical Fantasy. In 1899, after being stricken with an illness that only improves when she is near the ocean, 15-year-old orphan Hannah finds work as a servant in the home of one of Boston's wealthiest families. When a well-known artist arrives to paint portraits of her employers' three daughters, he seems to know things about Hannah that even she cannot fathom. Rich with details about 19th-century daily life, this first entry in the Daughters of the Sea series will keep readers mesmerized as Hannah's destiny is gradually revealed.

Outlaw: The Legend of Robin Hood, by Tony Lee (Candlewick Press) Graphic Novel. In Crusades-era England, the Sheriff of Nottingham rules with an iron fist. But in the haunted heart of Sherwood Forest, a defiant rogue disguises himself to become an outlaw--a hero known as Robin Hood. Sure, it's a familiar story; but whether you have heard once or many times about the man who stole from the rich and gave to the poor, you'll still want to check out this thrilling comic-book interpretation of the tale. Its breathtaking artwork and exciting action are sure to make it a hit with fans of adventure books like the Ranger's Apprentice series.

The Doom Machine: A Novel, by Mark Teague (Blue Sky Press) Science Fiction. Jack Creedle's "no-account" Uncle Bud, an inventor, has been tinkering with something in the barn again...and a spaceship full of spidery aliens has arrived to steal it. The aliens, called skreeps, kidnap Jack, Uncle Bud, and a pair of stranded motorists and whisk them away to Planet Skreepia, where the fate of Earth rests in the captives' hands. Illustrated with plenty of drawings of various alien creatures and full of pell-mell adventure, this humorous sci-fi yarn set in the 1950s will be a hit with anyone who liked Adam Rex's The True Meaning of Smekday or Michael Simmons' Alien Feast.

Sunny Side Up, by Marion Roberts (Wendy Lamb Books) Realistic Fiction. It's summertime in Australia, which means that Christmas is near. Happy to be an only child living with her mother on a picturesque beach, 11-year-old Sunny is not pleased when her mum invites her boyfriend, Carl, and his two kids to spend the holiday with them. Sunny doesn't much like change of any kind, and this is just the first of several changes to come. Told in the form of Sunny's diary, this funny novel about family, friends, jealousy, and first crushes will be a hit with readers who like their characters to have plenty of personality.

Monday, January 11, 2010

"Bridge to Teribithia" author becomes literary ambassador

On Tuesday, the author of
Bridge to Terabithia becomes a national ambassador for young people's literature. In an article appearing in The New York Times, writer Motoko Rich reports that Katherine Paterson's advice to children is simple: read more. Here is an except from the article:

... Ms. Paterson, who is perhaps best known for the novel Bridge to Terabithia, said it was reading that informed her future writing self. As the daughter of missionary parents in China, she read her way through her parents’ library of children’s classics by A. A. Milne, Beatrix Potter, Robert Louis Stevenson, Rudyard Kipling, Kenneth Grahame and Frances Hodgson Burnett. “That is where the friends were,” she said, evoking her lonely childhood.

Now, as ambassador — a joint appointment by the Library of Congress’s Center for the Book and Every Child a Reader, a nonprofit group affiliated with the Children’s Book Council, a trade association for children’s book publishers — Ms. Paterson hopes to share the unfettered pleasure that reading can deliver. The main advice she’ll be giving adults: Read aloud to your children. “You can read out loud, and if you’re exhausted or crying so hard because you know that Charlotte is going to die in the next chapter,” she said, “you can turn it over to the kid to read the next part.” (That’s Charlotte’s Web she’s talking about, of course.)

Ms. Paterson, 77, succeeds Jon Scieszka, the author of subversive picture books like The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales, who was the first writer to hold the ambassador’s post. James H. Billington, the librarian of Congress who will officially appoint Ms. Paterson on Tuesday, said that he was pleased with Mr. Scieszka’s reign and that he looked forward to Ms. Paterson’s putting her own spin on the job.

Sunday, January 10, 2010

New York Times: Best sellers for kids & young adults

From the New York Times of Sunday, January 10, here are the ten best-selling chapter books for kids. It may be a new year on the calendar, but there are lots of familiar supernatural characters and author names on the list. Find copies using the WorldCat and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

1 Witch and Wizard, by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet. (Little, Brown) One of each, brother and sister, flex their newfound powers. (Ages 12 and up)

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

3 Fallen, by Lauren Kate. (Delacorte) Thwarted love among misfits at a boarding school in Savannah, Ga. (Ages 12 and up)

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

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

6 Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick. (Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers) A love storywith ancient battles and immortals. (Ages 14 and up)

7 Beautiful Creatures, by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl. (Little, Brown) A secret wrapped in a Southern Gothic novel. (Ages 12 and up)

8 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)

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

10 Dork Diaries, written and illustrated by Rachel Renée Russell. (Aladdin
) Reflections of a junior Samuel Pepys of the female variety. (Ages 9 to 13)

Thursday, January 7, 2010

New fiction & fantasy for the new year

New fiction and fantasy books are a way to chase away those winter blues that January weather may bring. Here are some titles that may keep you turning the pages! Find them by using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag.

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner (Delacorte Press) Science Fiction. Thomas wakes up in a metal box that's lurching upward, and the only thing he can remember about himself is his first name. Deposited in the central courtyard of an enormous maze, he meets the boys who were delivered there before him. They've developed a society based on two goals: survival--the maze is populated by deadly mechanical monsters--and escape. But soon after Thomas' arrival, things change, and the need to find a way out of the maze takes on new urgency. This suspenseful novel establishes a fascinating and enigmatic world that's suffused with a creeping sense of doom. Fans of dystopian stories will be riveted--and desperate to learn what happens next.

Hush, Hush, by Becca Fitzpatrick (Simon & Schuster) Paranormal Romance. Smart, responsible Nora Grey is irritated by mysterious transfer-student Patch when they first meet, but it isn't long before she finds herself irresistibly attracted to him (despite her persistent doubts about his character.)
After extremely frightening things begin happening to Nora, she decides to investigate Patch...and discovers that he is one of the Nephilim, a fallen angel. And he wants very badly to be human. Hush, Hush is a haunting and tantalizingly sexy read that will have you on the edge of your seat--and hoping for a sequel.

Goth Girl Rising, by Barry Lyga (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt) Fiction. Kyra, the titular goth girl from The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl, has spent the last six months in a mental institution, and Fanboy didn't visit or contact her once. Maybe he was too busy managing his sudden popularity--the result of publishing his comic in the school's literary magazine while Kyra was away--but whatever the reason, Kyra is angry, and she's going to get revenge. If you like believable characters and stories filled with raw emotion, don't miss Goth Girl Rising.

We Were Here, by Matt de la Peña (Delacorte Press) Fiction. Miguel Casteñeda has been sentenced to a year in a group home for a crime that he won't talk about--and honestly, he figures it's better than living at home, where his mother won't even look him in the eye anymore. Then Miguel runs away from the group home with two other residents, Mong and Rondell, with a half-
baked plan to go to Mexico. Still keeping the journal that he was required to start in juvie, Miguel relates the hardships, adventures, and epiphanies that the trio have along the way. Part survival tale and part friendship story, We Were Here is a gripping, suspenseful read.

Everwild, by Neal Shusterman (Simon & Schuster) Fantasy. Sometimes, children lose their way to the afterlife and end up--at least temporarily--in the bizarre in-between world of Everlost. In this 2nd volume of the Skinjacker Trilogy (after Everlost), deceased teens Allie and Nick are waging a sort of war against Mary Hightower, who wants to keep all of the childr
en of Everlost with her forever. Packed with twists and turns, startling revelations, and even some laughs and a bit of romance, Everwild is a mesmerizing story set in a uniquely creative imaginary world.

How to Say Goodbye in Robot, by Natalie Standiford (Scholastic) Fiction. Beatrice Szabo, forced to start her senior year in a new place because of her father's job, is the new girl at a Baltimore, Maryland private school where everyone else has known each other since kindergarten. She's so emotionally deadened that her mother declares her a robot...but something tugs at her wiry heartstrings when she meets tortured, antisocial Jonah, aka Ghost Boy. Witty, emotionally intense, and at times startlingly funny, How to Say Goodbye in Robot is the perfect novel for proud misfits; fans of quirky, character-driven stories; and anyone looking for an unconventional love story.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Great first lines

A book's opening lines should hook the reader into wanting to read more. Here are some recent books for teens with some terrific first lines that should make you want to ask, "what happens next?" Find copies here on BookBag using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes.

Absolutely, Positively Not, by David LaRochelle (Arthur A. Levine Books) Fiction. "Everybody has at least one ugly secret, and mine is as ugly as they come. I square dance. With my mother." Not only does 16-year-old Steven DeNarski square dance, he likes it. He also likes looking at the International Male catalog that he's kept secreted under his mattress for more than a year, but despite this fact, he has decided to prove to himself and the world that he is absolutely, positively not gay. This hilarious story is a fun read for anyone, of any persuasion, who likes comic misadventures and characters who struggle to be true to themselves.

The White Darkness: A Novel, by Geraldine McCaughrean (HarperTempest) Adventure. "I have been in love with Titus Oates for quite a while now--which is ridiculous, since he's been dead for ninety years." Titus Oates was an Antarctic explorer, and Symone has always been fascinated by Antarctica--so she's thrilled when her "Uncle" Victor asks her to accompany him on a trip there. When members of their expedition group begin falling ill and the plane meant to fly them home explodes, it becomes clear that something has gone seriously wrong. As the situation deteriorates, Sym's Antarctic adventure becomes a nightmarish struggle to survive in some of the harshest terrain on the planet, and she begins to question Victor's trustworthiness.

The Knife of Never Letting Go, by Patrick Ness (Candlewick Press) Science Fiction. "The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don't got nothing much to say. About anything." Todd Hewitt is the very last boy in Prentisstown, a dismal human settlement on an alien planet where the thoughts of men and animals are constantly audible (no one, in fact, can keep from hearing them). Todd does his best to stay out of trouble and tune out the maddening, ever-present Noise, but after he makes a startling discovery, he's forced to flee with only his loyal but none-too-bright dog, Manchee. Featuring a fascinating world, breathless suspense, and touches of horror, this 1st book in the Chaos Walking trilogy will keep you riveted and leave you desperate to read the next installment, The Ask and the Answer.

The Death Collector, by Justin Richards (Bloomsbury) Horror/Mystery. "Four days after his own funeral, Albert Wilkes came home for tea." This unexpected reappearance is but one symptom of the monstrous evil that a madman has unleashed on the streets of Victorian London, and three courageous teens--Eddie, a street urchin; George, a clockmaker; and Elizabeth, a budding actress--are determined to thwart his sinister plan. With a scrap from a secret diary, they hope to solve the mystery of some missing dinosaur eggs, a reanimated corpse, and the fire-breathing creature that's roaming Londontown at night. If you like author Justin Richards' Invisible Detective mystery series and don't mind a bit of gore, you'll love this twisty ride.

Haters, by Alisa Valdes-Rodriguez (Little, Brown) Fiction. "You know it's bad news when your dad comes back to Taos from a two-week business trip to Los Angeles wearing designer sunglasses and a velour Juicy men's tracksuit." When Pasquala Rumalda Quintana de Archuleta (Paski)'s geeky-but-loveable single dad sells the film rights for one of his cartoons, the two of them move from New Mexico to L.A. Money and looks are all that seem to matter at Paski's new school, and while Paski is beautiful, in comparison to her wealthy classmates she's underprivileged. But she has some special talents to help her deal with her version of the movie Mean Girls: she's a skilled mountain-biker and has inherited her family's gift of visions. If you like your realistic fiction with a hint of magic and your female characters sassy, don't miss Haters.

The Kayla Chronicles: A Novel, by Sherri Winston (Little, Brown) Fiction. "Stankalicious!" Kayla Dean, 14-year-old feminist, shy girl, budding investigative reporter, and word-coiner (see the previous sentence for an example) is being pressured by her best friend, Rosalie, into auditioning for Royal Palm Academy's Lady Lions dance team. Rosalie's politics are toward the strident end of the feminism scale, and she's out to prove that the ultra-hot Lady Lions only choose dancers who are more generously endowed than A-cup Kayla is. But what if Kayla actually makes the team and likes being a booty-shaking Lady Lion? Can she be empowered even if she wants to wear really cute shoes? This smart, funny story about friendship and girl power is chock-full o' funktaciousness (defined in the book's "Lexicon of Kayla-isms").

Friday, January 1, 2010

Tips on reading with a toddler or infant

Happy New Year! Another year is here, with all of its promise and challenges. Here are some timely tips from Reading Rockets on how to read to your toddler or infant and make the experience fun and rewarding for both of you. Simple counting and picture books are available at your local library, free of charge -- just use the World Catalog search box here on BookBag to locate books at your nearest library.

Reading daily to your child is one easy resolution you can afford to keep in 2010 -- enjoy reading with your kids, and have a happy and healthy new year!

How to Read With a Squiggly Baby (or Toddler)

Parents know they should read with their child every day. But reading together requires that your baby or toddler will actually sit still long enough for a book! If you’ve got a squiggler in your house, see if these tips help your reading time go a little more smoothly:

1. Read before bed, but don’t wait too long!

Really tired little ones have a harder time focusing their attention. It may help to pull out your books before the bath, or right after dinnertime. If your child is too tired to read, don’t force it. Keep book times happy times.

2. Choose fun, brightly colored books

The most engaging books for little ones have lots of bright, big pictures. Board books, the ones with stiff cardboard pages, are great for little hands to hold.

3. Sing along, or have some rhyme time

Books meant to be sung, or books written in rhyme, mean that you and your child get to clap along, sing along, and bounce up and down to the rhythm of the language. The fun physical involvement will keep your child interested in reading.

4. Be expressive!

Don’t worry, no one but your child is listening! As you read the book, change your voice for each character. Say loud words

LOUDLY and soft words softly. Add hand gestures and foot stomping to go along with the story.

5. Keep your favorites by your side

Your child will begin to develop favorite storytime books. You know how the story turns out -- but plan to read those books until the pages fall apart! The repeated, enjoyable experience of reading favorite books goes a long way toward developing good reading habits. And the last tip ...

6. Help your child develop a reading habit

Every child develops reading habits differently! It’s important to recognize that reading with a really young child looks and sounds different than reading with an older child. It’s louder, with more action and movement. That’s okay! The simple interaction with you, your child, and a book sends a powerful message about reading.

Be sure to visit the Reading Rockets Read Aloud section for more articles, printables, and video.