Sunday, August 22, 2010

New books for young readers

Have you spent the summer re-reading books you've memorized by heart? Here are some great new books that will become fall favorites! Look for them on BookBag using the Amazon and World Catalog search boxes and get ready to make new fictional friends ....

Seaglass Summer, by Anjali Banerjee (Wendy Lamb Books) Realistic Fiction. Poppy Ray wants to be a veterinarian just like her Uncle Sanjay, who runs the Furry Friends Animal Clinic in Washington state. This summer, Poppy's parents are traveling to India to visit relatives--and Poppy gets to stay with Uncle Sanjay! She's thrilled that she'll get to help out in her uncle's clinic...but the actual experience is something of a wake-up call (for one thing, taking care of animals can be really gross). But Poppy's no whiner, and so, determined to do a good job, she braves grumpy clinic employees, kooky pet owners, and more than a little heartbreak in the line of duty. Looking for another story about kids helping animals? Check out Laurie Halse Anderson's Fight for Life.

House of Dolls, by Francesca Lia Block; illustrated by Barbara McClintock (Harper) Fiction. Dolls Wildflower, Rockstar, and Miss Selene live in a lavishly gorgeous antique dollhouse that once belonged to Madison Blackberry's grandmother and now belongs to Madison. Odd as it may seem, Madison is a bit jealous of the dolls; they, after all, seem to enjoy one another's company (unlike Madison's family) and even have boyfriends. In fact, Madison is a bit sick of watching the dolls live their perfect lives. This book isn't what you might expect -- and we don't want to give too much away -- but if you're looking for a dark and surprising story with marvelously elaborate drawings and more than a hint of fantasy, you'll want to peek inside House of Dolls.

Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm (Random House) Historical Fiction. Eleven-year-old Turtle is wise about the way things are. She's skeptical about her mother's belief in Hollywood-style happy endings, and despite grown-ups' belief that children are sweet, Turtle has "lived long enough to know the truth: kids are rotten." So, when Turtle's
mom takes a job as a live-in housekeeper for someone who hates kids, Turtle almost understands why she has to go to Florida and live with relatives she's never met. But that doesn't make her happy about it. Set in 1935 and packed with quirky characters, laugh-out-loud adventures, family drama, and references to '30s pop culture (Turtle likes Little Orphan Annie but can't stand sticky-sweet Shirley Temple), Turtle in Paradise is a great August read.

Spaceheadz, by Jon Scieszka and Francesco Sedita; illustrated by Shane Prigmore (Books for Young Readers) Humorous Science Fiction. As if starting fifth grade at a new school wasn't enough of a challenge, Michael K.'s new friends Bob and Jennifer aren't just oddballs who talk like commercials--they're aliens from outer space, and the class hamster, Major Fluffy, is their leader. Worse, the three extra-terrestrials (yes, the hamster can talk) inform Michael that, unless he helps them recruit millions of kids to be SPHDZ (Spaceheadz), planet Earth is in big, big trouble. There's a lot of wacky fun in this book, and it extends online: Bob has a Facebook page, Jennifer has a YouTube channel, Major Fluffy blogs and tweets, and you can track's Michael's recruitment progress (or become a SPHDZ yourself!) at

Hawksmaid: The Untold Story of Robin Hood and Maid Marian, by Kathryn Lasky (Harper) Fantasy. You may already know legends about Robin Hood and Maid Marian, but have you ever wondered what they were like as kids? Author Kathryn Lasky weaves a brand new tale of Nottingham's heroes in this suspenseful adventure. After Prince John murders her mother and steals her father's fortune, young Matty assumes the responsibility of training her father's hawks--without their help hunting, she and her father won't survive. Years later, Matty takes the name Marian, and together with her friend Fynn (aka Robin Hood) and their merry band of friends, she helps fight against Prince John's rule. Fans of the author's Guardians of Ga'Hoole series (or Nancy Yi Fan's Swordbird) are sure to enjoy Hawksmaid, in which Matty's birds are fully-drawn characters.

Gator on the Loose! by Sue Stauffacher; illustrated by Priscilla Lamont (Alfred A. Knopf) Fiction. Keisha Carter is planning to practice her cannonball at the city swimming pool on the day that her family's wildlife rescue business gets a call from the pool manager. A young alligator has taken up residence in the pool! Luckily, Keisha and her dad know a lot about reptiles, and they head out with Keisha's fashion-obsessed grandmother and her bratty five-year-old brother to capture the 'gator and find it a better home. But as you might guess catching an alligator is no easy task. Animal lovers are sure to enjoy this first book in a funny and informative new series and should keep an eye out for volume two, Special Delivery.

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