Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Hidden treasure, family history, and a touch of magic

Discovering the world is bigger than you think is part of being a good reader! Here is a group of novels each having its own take on how complicated life can get. Look for them using the WorldCatalog and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag, and be sure to bring along your sense of adventure.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson,
by John Green and David Levithan (Dutton) Fiction. Two different guys
named Will Grayson narrate this sarcastic, hilariously profound novel that is, as supposedly secondary character Tiny Cooper might say, made of awesome. One Will Grayson is the long-suffering best friend of Tiny Cooper, "the world's largest person who is really, really gay and also the world's gayest person who is really, really large" (and, by the way, "large" refers not just to Tiny's size, but also his personality). The other will grayson -- he doesn't bother to use capital letters -- is cynical and depressed, and lives for his late-night chat sessions with a guy named Isaac. In a stunning coincidence, the two Will Graysons meet...and then things really get interesting. Want to know more? Check out co-author John Green's YouTube book trailer.

The Body Finder, by Kimberly Derting (Harper) Mystery. Sixteen-year-old Violet Ambrose has inherited a talent for detecting the "echoes" of colors, sounds, smells, and even tastes that connect murder victims to their killers. It's an unsettling ability that, until recently, only led her to the dead birds left behind by her cat -- but now a serial killer is on the rampage in her small town, and Violet may be the only one who can stop him. She enlists the help of Jay Heaton, her best friend since grade school ... who, to complicate matters, is suddenly causing her heart to flutter. Combining suspense, paranormal phenomena, and romance, this novel is a great pick for fans of Wendy Corsi Staub's Lily Dale mysteries or Rachel Vincent's Soul Screamers series.

Mercury, by Hope Larson (Atheneum Books) Graphic Novel. Cross-country runner Tara lives in Nova Scotia and hopes that she and her mom will be able to rebuild the old family farmhouse, which recently burned to the ground; meanwhile, she's staying with relatives and trying to readjust to high school after two years of homeschooling. In a separate but linked story line, Tara's ancestor Josey falls for an itinerant prospector who wants her father to mine for gold on their property. Eisner Award-winning graphic novelist Hope Larson weaves the past, the present, love, hidden treasure, family history, and a touch of magic together to create this leisurely paced yet enthralling story.

The Carbon Diaries 2017, by Saci Lloyd (Holiday House) Carbon rationing in the UK--London college student Laura Brown just wants to focus on her punk band's upcoming European tour and her relationship with her boyfriend, Adi. But the whole world is in crisis due to the effects of climate change, and Laura and her friends have no choice but to deal with the political unrest, riots, and government corruption that have become commonplace. This dark yet exciting story will thrill fans of frighteningly believable near-future dystopias (such as Cory Doctorow's Little Brother) as well as those who like contemporary environmentalist fiction (such as Jennifer Cowan's Earthgirl).

Vegan Virgin Valentine, by Carolyn Mackler (Candlewick Press) Fiction. Mara Valentine lives a strictly ordered and controlled life; she makes stellar grades, participates in all the right extra-
curricular activities, has received early acceptance to Yale, and is a vegan (albeit one who admits to herself, "I LUST after cheese. I DREAM about cheese."). When her niece, Vivian, a.k.a. V--who's only a year younger than Mara--temporarily moves in with the family, Mara's tidy, shipshape world gets seriously shaken up. Charged with sarcasm, angst, honesty, and hope this hilarious and somewhat racy story by the author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things is a quick and upbeat read.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

New books: silly, scary and funny stuff for kids

Schoolwork got you down? Do the holidays have you too distracted to concentrate? Here are some new books for kids that are funny or scary, silly or just plain incomprehensible! Look for these books here on BookBag with the Amazon or World Catalog search boxes, and be prepared to laugh ... or shiver!

Bink & Gollie, by Kate DiCamillo and Alison McGhee; illustrated by Tony Fucile (Candlewick Press) Fiction. Short, wild-haired Bink lives in a tiny cottage nestled in the roots of a big tree; tall, neat-as-a-pin Gollie lives in a sleek house in the big tree's branches. The two young neighbors are best friends despite their many differences, and this book tells three stories of their (somewhat fanciful) adventures in both pictures and words. Involving very bright socks, pancakes, a pet goldfish, and roller skates, these funny, lighthearted tales will tickle fans of Annie Barrows' Ivy and Bean books, Mo Willems' Elephant and Piggie stories, and the Clementine tales of Sara Pennypacker.

The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School, by Candace Fleming (Schwartz & Wade Books) Fiction. The infamous class that no one (except the extraordinary Mr. Jupiter) wanted to teach have all graduated to fifth grade...and, once again, none of the teachers wants to take them on. Fortunately, Mr. Jupiter is up to the task, and he's got all kinds of lessons in store for the kids from The Fabled Fourth Graders of Aesop Elementary School (including one that involves singing guinea pigs). If you enjoy silly, fantastical stories with a moral--such as those in the Mrs. Piggle-Wiggle books--or wacky school stories like those in the Wayside School series, you'll have fun with The Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary School.

The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall, by Mary Downing Hahn (Clarion Books) Ghost Story. Twelve-year-old Florence is overjoyed to be moving in with her newly discovered great-uncle and leaving Miss Medleycoate's orphanage behind. But soon after arriving at Great-Uncle Thomas' estate, Crutchfield Hall, Florence meets the ghost of one of its former residents...who is out for revenge. Set in Victorian England, The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall is a creepy, spine-tingling tale that will thrill fans of the author's Deep and Dark and Dangerous or of Betty Ren Wright's Crandall's Castle.

Framed, by Gordon Korman (Scholastic Press) Humorous Mystery. Griffin Bing, "The Man with the Plan," and his mystery-solving friends Savannah Drysdale and Ben Slovak have moved up to middle school, where the new principal, Dr. Egan, is anything but a pal. He's got his eye on Griffin, and when a valuable Super Bowl ring goes missing from its locked display case in the school, Dr. Egan accuses our hero of the theft and sends him away to JFK (jail for kids) ... Can Savannah and Ben clear Griffin's name and spring him from kid-prison? Packed with suspense, misadventures, and action, this third volume in the rip-roaring series (after Swindle and Zoobreak) is a wild, fun ride.

How to Grow Up and Rule the World, by Scott Seegert; illustrated by John Martin (Egmont USA) Humorous Fiction. Attention, all you puny, undeserving whelps! I, Vordak the Incomprehensible, deign to bestow my limitless knowledge of world domination techniques upon you! (You should know that, should you actually
one day rule the world, I will be your automatic and highly untrustworthy second-in-command...) Read this book and use my ingeniously diabolical plans, my advice on what to wear as a Supervillain, and my Inconceivably Evil Evil Name Generator as your first steps toward ultimate control of the planet. (Or, if you aren't quite evil enough, you can just laugh at my blowhard manner and many disgusting jokes ... at your own risk.)

Friday, November 26, 2010

Football stories for a long holiday weekend

Thanksgiving weekend seems like it's all about football games and turkey. Here's a group of stories about the game and a book about one of its greatest players, Jim Thorpe. Look for these on BookBag with the Amazon and World Catalog search boxes.

Football Champ, by Tim Green (HarperCollins) Fiction. Twelve-year-old Troy White's uncanny gift for predicting football plays is proving to be a powerful secret weapon for the Atlanta Falcons, who hired him as a consultant after he demonstrated his talent. But a seedy reporter with a vendetta suspects the Falcons of cheating and sets out to shred Troy's reputation. Meanwhile, the controversy over Troy's involvement with the pro team threatens not only his own job, but his mom's, too--she's a PR agent for the Falcons. If you like fast-paced sports stories with lots of action and surprises, you'll enjoy the Football Genius novels, of which this is the second.

Touchdown Trouble, by Fred Bowen (Peachtree) Realistic Fiction. It's the biggest game of the season and mere seconds are left on the clock when 12-year-old Sam makes a touchdown, securing victory for the Cowboys! Everything is great...until later, when the team watches a video of the game and Sam realizes that his winning touchdown was scored illegally. The Giants--his team's biggest rivals--should have won. Now what will the Cowboys do? Those who like plenty of play-by-play action mixed with a bit of drama will enjoy this entertaining read.

Jim Thorpe: Original All-American, by Joseph Bruchac (Dial Books/Walden Media) Fictionalized Biography. Jim Thorpe won Olympic gold medals for the 1912 pentathlon and decathlon, played collegiate and pro football, also played professional baseball and basketball, and is widely regarded as one of the greatest athletes in U.S. history. Focusing on Thorpe's years at Pennsylvania's Carlisle Indian School--Thorpe was a Sac and Fox, or Sauk, Indian--this novel brings his early athletic career, especially his college football days, to life. It also gives readers a clear picture of Jim Thorpe the man (not just the athlete) and movingly portrays what life was life for Native Americans at the turn of the 20th century.

Million-Dollar Throw, by Mike Lupica (Philomel Books) Fiction. Eighth-grader Nate Brodie is the star quarterback of his school's football team and is dating Abby McCall, his best friend in the world...but that's where the perfect-life stuff stops. Nate's parents are in financial trouble and might lose the family's home, and Abby is losing her eyesight due to a rare disease. Just when things seem hopeless, Nate wins the chance to throw a football through a target during a college game's halftime festivities--for a million-dollar prize. Can he keep his cool and make the pass? This quick and enjoyable read will keep you turning the pages to see what

15 Minutes, by Steve Young (HarperCollins) Fiction. Casey Little is almost always late. Figuring that a watch might help him, he digs his grandfather's old watch out of the attic...but it doesn't seem to work. It turns out that the watch is actually one of Grandpop's crazy inventions: a Go-Back, or a time machine that transports its wearer back 15 minutes into the past. Dizzy with possibilities, Casey uses the Go-Back to boost his test scores, improve his performance on the football field, look suave for the ladies, and avoid a bully. But what happens when the little changes that Casey makes to the past start affecting other people? This fast-moving and hilarious story is a great pick for football fans who want to read something a little out of the norm.

Monday, November 22, 2010

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, November 16, 2010

Books about life, love, and friendship for teens

The holidays can bring lots of new ideas about relationships, school, and family. Here are some recent books that look into life from a kaleidoscope of angles, from fantasy to poetry and points in-between. Find copies using the World Catalog and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag ...

A Match Made in High School, by Kristin Walker (Razorbill) Realistic Fiction. At the beginning of Fiona Sheehan's final year of high school, the principal announces a new requirement for graduation: every senior will participate in a mock marriage to a classmate for the entire year. Fiona is appalled when she's paired with Todd, who she sees as a dumb, jerky jock--and even worse, Todd's actual girlfriend is Amanda, a cheerleader who's had it in for Fiona since second grade. Amanda gets matched with Gabe, Fiona's long-time crush, and pranks, misunderstandings, and drama ensue. This laugh-out-loud funny story will make you think twice about stereotypes and is sure to please readers who enjoy great characters and a plot with plenty of twists and turns.

You Don't Even Know Me: Stories and Poems about Boys, by Sharon Flake (Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books) Poetry/Short Stories. Lots of books tell stories about the trials and tribulations of being a teenage girl; the poems and stories in this companion to the girl-focused collection Who Am I Without Him? are all about guys and their lives. From 17-year-old Tow-Kaye, who's both excited and scared about marrying his pregnant girlfriend, to James, who's contemplating taking his own life after the death of his twin, to Eric, who loves his North Philly 'hood, the African-American young men you'll meet in this book are realistic characters that you'll care about and remember.

The Wandora Unit, by Jessy Randall (Ghost Road Press) It's the Duran Duran 1980s: Wanda Lowell and Dora Nussbaum are two word-obsessive girls, as well as being the two editors of
Galaxy magazine, and between them there isn't an unexpressed thought about literature, love, and how it is definitely better to be weird than boring at Brighton High. 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. Call it the price of being self-aware. Unfortunately for Dora this means watching her friendship with Wanda change until it shatters into a million pieces outward into the expanding universe. 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. 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.

All Unquiet Things, by Anna Jarzab (Delacorte Press) Mystery. Jaded, sarcastic Neily Monroe, a senior at the exclusive Brighton Day School, is still haunted by the murder of his ex-girlfriend, Carly, whose lifeless body he found on a bridge one year ago. But Neily is determined to get through high school and move on--almost as determined as Carly's cousin Audrey, who believes that her father was falsely convicted of the murder, is to find out who really committed the crime. As Audrey and Neily attempt to untangle a web of secrets and lies at Brighton, the dark side of their privileged world is revealed. Those who enjoy deep psychological explorations of a story's characters and smart, tense whodunits will be enthralled by All Unquiet Things.

Before I Fall, by Lauren Oliver (The Bowen Press) Fiction. Samantha Kingston, one of the most popular girls in her high school, dies in a car accident after a wild party...but instead of seeing her whole life replayed before her eyes, she wakes up to live her last day over again. And again. And again. As Sam tries to change her destiny by altering small decisions and acts in the course of that one repeated day, she begins to realize how she has affected other people--and who she really wanted to be. This compelling debut novel is full of realistic characters, believable dialogue, and heartbreaking insights, and the suspense of wondering whether Sam will finally get it right (and what will happen if she does) will keep you turning the pages.

Num8ers, by Rachel Ward (Chicken House) Thriller. British 15-year-old Jem Marsh has got everyone's number. Whenever she makes eye contact with a person, a number--the date of that person's death--pops into Jem's head, making it hard for her to get close to people. But when gawky, troubled Spider doggedly pursues friendship (and more) with her, Jem finds that she can't resist him. When the two of them go to London on a date, Jem has the horrifying realization that many of the people in line to ride the London Eye Ferris wheel share the same death date -- that very day. Like an amusement park ride, this gritty, fast-paced thriller starts slowly, but once it takes off, you won't stop reading until you reach the firework ending.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Going green, arctic survival, and a dog mystery for kids

There's adventure, arctic survival at 40 degrees below zero, and even a canine mystery for kids who want to stay cool this summer and read. Look for these fiction and non-fiction titles on BookBag using the Amazon.com and World Catalog search boxes.

The Fast and the Furriest, by Andy Behrens (Alfred A. Knopf) Fiction. Twelve-year-old couch-potato Kevin Pugh is looking forward to a lazy summer of playing video games and watching TV, but his football-hero father wants him to go to sports camp. When Kevin stumbles across a broadcast of the Purina Incredible Dog Challenge while channel-surfing, he has a great idea: he'll enroll his portly beagle, Cromwell, in agility classes! But can he convince his dad that leading Cromwell through a doggie obstacle course counts as a sport? This hilarious, feel-good story has great characters and lots of family drama and is sure to be a winner with dog lovers.

The Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy, by Dori Hillestad Butler; illustrated by Jeremy Tugeau (Albert Whitman) Mystery. When King, a golden retriever, finds himself at the P-O-U-N-D, he can't believe that his family would leave him there. Are the good times that King had solving mysteries with his beloved human, Kayla, gone forever? Before King can figure out a way to escape, he's adopted by a boy named Connor and his mom, who re-name him Buddy. Buddy is still determined to locate his real family, but just when he's getting settled at his new home, Connor disappears -- and Buddy intends to find him! This very funny, suspenseful, and easy-to-read story is told in the dog's voice and is the first of three books (so far) in the Buddy Files series.

Survival at 40 Below, by Debbie S. Miller; illustrated by Jon Van Zyle (Walker & Company) Nonfiction Picture Book. Talk about extreme! Winter is rough and very, very cold in Alaska's Arctic National Park, but many different types of wildlife flourish there, and this follow-up to the award-winning Arctic Lights, Arctic Nights describes the brutal conditions that they endure. From hibernating ground squirrels to bears, foxes, musk oxen, and wood frogs that literally freeze and then thaw out in the spring, each tundra animal has a different survival strategy that Survival at 40 Below explains in fascinating detail.

Mallory Goes Green! by Laurie B. Friedman; illustrated by Jennifer Kalis (Carolrhoda Books) Realistic Fiction. Mallory has a new favorite color--green! Inspired by her school's new Environmental Committee, she's excited about doing whatever she can to save the Earth. But when Mallory is chosen to represent her class at the schoolwide Green Fair, she gets a little too excited. Before long, no one wants to hear her "expert" opinions about going green, and they really don't appreciate the tickets that she's started issuing to energy-wasters. Can Mallory find a way save the planet and her friendships? Fans of characters like Junie B. Jones and Judy Moody should also enjoy the Mallory McDonald series, of which this is the 13th book.

The Fizzy Whiz Kid, by Maiya Williams (Amulet Books) Fiction. It's tough enough to be the new kid at school, but when sixth-grader Mitch Mathis and his family move to Hollywood, Mitch finds himself surrounded by sophisticated, TV- and movie-obsessed classmates. Mitch doesn't even watch TV and is clueless about show biz. So, when he learns that there's a casting call for a Fizzy
hiz soda commercial, Mitch auditions in an attempt to fit in -- and gets the part! Suddenly he's famous. But is stardom all it's cracked up to be? Full of realistic details about the entertainment industry, The Fizzy Whiz Kid is a fun, goofy yet realistic read.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Mysteries (and other silly stories)

Mysterious and spooky stories can be scary -- or funny! Here's a group of recent mysteries that are fast, entertaining, and silly at times. Use the World Catalog and Amazon search boxes here on BookBag to find copies of these unusual books ....

The Case of the Stinky Socks, by Lewis B. Montgomery; illustrated by Amy Wummer (Kane Press) Mystery. Who wants a yucky pair of stinky socks? Up-and-coming detective Jazz's brother Dylan, that's who. Dylan pitches for his high school's baseball team, and the pair of socks that he's missing aren't just stinky--they're lucky, and Dylan needs them for the big game coming up. So when Jazz's neighbor Milo sees her reading Whodunnit magazine and suggests that they practice solving mysteries together, the two of them already have a case to solve! This easy-to-read book is the 1st in a fun new series that features detectives-in-training Milo and Jazz.

Masterpiece, by Elise Broach; illustrated by Kelly Murphy (Henry Holt) Mystery. Two families live in the Pompaday household: one consists of 11-year-old James Terik, his mother, and his stepfather, and the other is a family of beetles. James longs for attention from his family, while young Marvin the beetle longs for a little space from his overprotective clan. When James receives a pen-and-ink set for his birthday, Marvin tries it out in secret--and discovers that he has artistic talent! Marvin leaves his masterful drawing as a gift for James...and then things begin to get out of hand. Before long, Marvin and James are not only friends, but partners in an attempt to foil an art heist at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. If you liked either The Borrowers or Chasing Vermeer, don't miss the deliciously suspenseful Masterpiece.

What Really Happened to Humpty? (From the Files of a Hard-Boiled Detective), by Jeanie Franz Ransom; illustrated by Stephen Axelsen (Charlesbridge) Humorous Mystery. "Humpty Dumpty was pushed." At least, that's what his kid brother, Joe Dumpty--a "hard-boiled" detective complete with trench coat--believes and aims to prove. Tracking clues and snooping around the likes of Goldilocks, Miss Muffet, and the Big Bad Wolf, gumshoe Joe is sure to catch the culprit...and make you laugh! Written in the style of old-school private-eye movies, this book may be shelved with the easy-reader picture books, but it's full of groan-worthy jokes and puns that older kids and fans of fractured fairy tales will appreciate.

Hannah's Winter, by Kierin Meehan (Kane/Miller) Mystery. Hannah would really rather be home in Australia than living with the Maekawas in Kanazawa, Japan while her mother tours the country. But just as she is getting to know and enjoy the small, old-fashioned town and the Maekawa family, Hannah is swept up in a curious and creepy mystery involving a ghost-boy and an ancient message. Fast-paced and spooky but with well-timed comic relief, this unusual mystery has supernatural elements and yet gives readers a vivid and realistic picture of modern, small-town Japan as well as the country's culture and history.