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.

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