Monday, December 17, 2007

Questors by Joan Lennon - ESSENTIAL

Lennon, Joan Questors, 359 p. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2007. 


Three children are taken from the lives they know, thrown together in a strange place and then told that not only are they siblings, but that their destiny is to save all three of their worlds. Thus begins the journey of Madlen, Bryn and Cam, three teens sent across the dimensions to find "something", not even their mentors know what. 

Tight and action-packed, this novel is a perfect piece of fantasy fiction (except for four swear words). Instead of spreading the story out through a trilogy, all three worlds and all three problems are very neatly wrapped up within one fascinating book. The good is just good enough and the bad is just bad and just crazy enough to satisfy the readers. 


Saturday, December 15, 2007

Not a Box by Antoinette Portis - ESSENTIAL

Portis, Antoinette Not A Box
 PICTURE BOOK HarperCollins, 2006. 


A young bunny is repeatedly asked why he is sitting on, standing in or otherwise engaged with a box and each time the bunny patiently replies that it is NOT a box., showing the reader what he sees from his perspective. 

This highly creative and super-imaginative book is a gem among picture books. Not only will you want one for your library, but probably also for each of your children, grandchildren, nephews and nieces. 


Wednesday, December 12, 2007

The Hour of the Cobra by Maiya Williams - ADVISABLE

Williams, Maiya The Hour of the Cobra, 290 p. Amulet (Harry Abrams), 2006. 


Xanthe, Xavier, Rowan and Nina are back for further adventures. They are going back in time with Aunt Agatha on a special mission to Ancient Egypt. The conflict between Xanthe and Xavier, however, escalate to a point where the twins cause a split in the time stream and they find themselves in an alternate reality. Only they can figure out how to repair the damage and save everyone from their original home. 

This novel is quite a fitting sequel to the original Golden Hour. It is a fine piece of adventure fantasy with some good lessons on sibling warfare thrown in. 


Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Do Unto Otters: A Book About Matters by Laurie Keller - ESSENTIAL

Keller, Laurie Do Unto Otters: A Book about Manners PICTURE BOOK Henry Holt, 2007.
Mr. Rabbit is very worried about his new neighbors. Wise Mr. Owl talks Mr. Rabbit through his anxiety and give him good advice to make nice with the neighbors.
This fun, amazing, joyful book is great for almost every age, especially older classes with Advisory.
EL, MS, HS - ESSENTIALDo Unto Otters
Do Unto Otters: A Book About Matters by Laurie Keller. PICTURE BOOK.


When otters move in next door, Mr. Rabbit is upset.  He goes to his friend Mr. Owl who gives him very wise advise indeed.

Really everyone should read this book, no matter the age.  Very fun, very sage advice about get along with people.  This would be a great way to start every year. 


I Want a Hug by John A. Rowe - ESSENTIAL

Rowe, John A. I Want a Hug PICTURE BOOK Penguin, 2007. 


Little Elvis Hedgehog so badly wants a hug, but everyone he meets says that he is way too prickly. Rejection after rejection hurts his feelings, until he finds someone who is willing to take a chance. 

Irresistably adorable. Elvis will melt your heart with just one glance at his darling little face. I feel a stuffed animal being born! As a bonus, the idea can be used as a ready-made Advisory lesson for an older class, too. 


Monday, December 3, 2007

Grace Above All - Jane St. Anthony - ESSENTIAL

St. Anthony, Jane Grace Above All, 166 p. Farrar, Strauss, Giroux, 2007.  

Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G


Grace, her siblings, and her mother are vacationing at their cabin for the summer. Her mom, who is a chain smoker leaves almost all responsibilities in Grace's hands and she struggles to keep everything under control. Her only refuge is Frankie, the handsome kid in the cabin next door. 

 She is a determined heroine who discovers how to rise above it all. I was frustrated at the beginning because it was slow moving and a little depressing, but I got into it and soon I was cheering for Grace and Frankie ! It is about love and hope and very enjoyable. 

Student Reviewer: MW

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Mr. Gauguin's Heart by Marie-Danielle Croteau - ADVISABLE

Croteau, Marie-Danielle Mr. Gauguin's Heart, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault; translated by Susan Ouriou. PICTURE BOOK Tundra, 2007.


Paul Gauguin's father died during the family's journey from Denmark to Peru. In explanation his mother tells young Paul that it was his heart that took him away. In Peru, an older man teaches Paul the skills he needs to express his feelings on canvas, where he makes his first great painting of what may look like a big read ball, but is really his father's heart.

This evocative book is a wonderful look at the power of art to express emotion and to heal. It is certainly well worth adding to any library collection. Make sure you share this with both your art teachers and your English teachers. There are so many good picture biographies with which to pair it.


Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Into the Wild by Sarah Durst - ESSENTIAL

Durst, Sarah Beth Into the Wild, 261 p. Razorbill ( Penguin), 2007.


Julie has always known that her mother and her mother's friends fought a great battle and escaped from The Wild, a relentless force which forced them to replay their roles in fairytales, not matter how disastrous, day after continual day. Now someone has made a wish in the Wishing Well and the Wild not only is trying to reclaim all of the escapees, but also Julie's hometown and the surrounding countryside. Julie may be the only one capable of defeating the Wild, but even that is no sure thing.

Once a student has had their fill of Disney movies and classic fairytales, point them straight at this fine story.


Monday, August 20, 2007

HIVE by Mark Walden - ESSENTIAL

Walden, Mark H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education, 309 p. Simon and Schuster, 2007. 

One day Otto is saving his orphanage home from eminent closure - the next he finds himself in a helicopter, headed towards a secret school for nascent villains. Already placed at the top of the class, an Alpha Villain, Otto is determined to gather a team of liked minded Alphas, find his way out off of the island and back to his life. 

 I was surprised to find a villain book that can buck the trend and create a villain (maybe) worth rooting for. 


Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Yellowbelly and Plum by Nathan Hale - ESSENTIAL

Hale, Nathan Yellowbelly and Plum go to School PICTURE BOOK. Putnam (Penguin), 2007.


Yellowbelly can't go off to school without his best stuffed friend, Plum. The duo has a great time, until Plum wanders off to "visit" some other children. Yellowbelly is worried, until Plum is back in his arms. Then the two embark on new adventures with their new friends.

I love the mixture of human characters interacting with "alien" figures in a bright, busy atmosphere. Yellowbelly is adorable and really needs to be made into a toy! A great book for younger students.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Standard Hero Behavior by John David Anderson - ADVISABLE

Anderson, John David Standard Hero Behavior
, 273 p. Clarion, 2007.


Mason has discovered that the only hero left in his town has actually been bribing the monsters to stay away. Now the monsters want more money than anyone has and it is up to Mason and his friend Cowel to find a hero to save the day. With the help of a book Mason's father wrote, the two set off and encounter a series of incredible characters.

Awfully cute and a load of fun to read.


Saturday, July 14, 2007

Out of the Egg by Tina Martin - ADVISABLE

Matthews, Tina Out of the Egg PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin


Every thinks they know the story of the Little Red Hen – but do you know what happened next? The Red Hen learns an important lesson from her own chick in this artfully done continuation of the classic. 

The Japanese wood block prints work just right to illustrate this story. Any elementary school and other schools with Teacher Advisory programs need to add this to their collections. 


Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rainstorm by Barbara Lehman - ADVISABLE

Lehman, Barbara Rainstorm PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin


Trapped in the house during a rainy day, a young boy finds a key that leads him to a different place and new friends. 

Told without words, the watercolor, gouache and ink illustrations lead you on a marvelous journey to friendship. Wordless books are a wonderful tool for prediction and narration for younger and older students. This particular title will be well loved. 


Wednesday, July 11, 2007

When I Met the Wolf Girls by Deborah Noyes and August Hall - ADVISABLE

Noyes, Deborah When I Met the Wolf Girls, illustrated by August Hall PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin


One day, a missionary brings two feral little girls to his orphanage in the jungles of India. Seen through the eyes of one of the other charges, the adults attempt to “domesticate” the girls with love and kindness. 

The haunting story will be loved by elementary students; the illustrations, done in acrylic by a master of Disney, Pixar and ILM, delight the eye. 


Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Skelly the Skeleton Girl by Jimmy Pickering - ESSENTIAL

Pickering, Jimmy Skelly the Skeleton Girl, PICTURE BOOK Simon and Schuster

Pre- K, EL (K-3) – ESSENTIAL

A little skeleton girl finds a mysterious bone and sets off to find its owner. 

My macabre predilections may be showing through, but this quick read with its funky, mixed media illustrations is the kind of book my own children and I would read through many times. This is definitely a book to buy and one that will be reread during Halloween time or any time at all. 


Thursday, July 5, 2007

True Talents by David Lubar - ESSENTIAL

Lubar, David True Talents, 320 p. TOR


As Trash starts to wake, he finds himself in the midst of a nightmare – kidnapped and held prisoner as someone experiments with his power to moves objects telekinetically. A narrow escape only leads him into more danger. Somehow he needs the help of the rest of his group of friends from Edgeview Alternative – Cheater, Lucky, Flinch, Torch and Martin. And they will need his help too, as the evil which captured Trash discovers their potential also. 

In plot, in dialogue. in writing and in sheer genius, this sequel to Hidden Talents far outstrips the original. Which is saying a lot, because the original is SOOO AWESOME! I am so glad that Lubar waited for the exact perfect inspiration before he wrote a sequel (unlike Sachar and the disappointing Small Steps), because I just can’t say enough good things about this book. Thank you for another masterpiece! 


Wednesday, July 4, 2007

The Lacemaker and the Princess by Kimberly Bradley - ADVISABLE

Bradley, Kimberly Brubaker The Lacemaker and the Princess, 196 p. Simon and Schuster


On an errand for her grandmother, a lacemaker, Isabelle catches the eye of Marie Anoinette, the Queen of France, and finds herself becoming the playmate of the queen’s daughter. Together, with Ernestine, Therese’s other companion, she learns the life of a royal and sometimes has difficulty going back to the hard life she comes from – the demands that her mother and grandmother make on her are the ordinary demands of life for a peasant of the time, but its some much easier to pretend to be a princess. Her brother George, who works in the palace stable, warns her that changes are coming, but Isabelle doesn’t want to see. 

Set in the few months leading up to the French Revolution, it is a wonder to see the events through Isabelle’s and George’s eyes. Bradley is just as skilled as Carolyn Meyer in her weaving of historical fiction. This would be a great read aloud if a teacher spends any time at all looking at these events. 


Tuesday, June 12, 2007

Icebound Land by John Flanagan - ESSENTIAL

Flanagan, John Icebound Land 272 p. Penguin


Will and Evanlyn have been captured by the wolfshipmen and are being forcibly taken to Skandia as slaves. Halt and Tug are determined to follow and rescue the pair. Before the adventure can begin, however, both groups have seemingly insurmountable obstacles to surmount. 

While the action, tension and excitement are palpable in this third of the series, it is also one very long setup for the next book, as the action cuts off midway, making the book feel unfinished. I would rather have a 400-500 page book that tells the whole story, but I will be content with what I got and I know that the students who have started the series will be very happy with this installment.


Tuesday, February 6, 2007

Larger Than Life Laura by Dandi Mackall - ESSENTIAL

Mackall, Dandi Daley Larger-Than-Life Lara 151 p. Penguin – 


Laney’s fourth grade class is stunned the day that Lara, the fattest girl they have ever seen, walks into their classroom. This girl is so fat, that she needs a special desk. Lara’s parents have instilled her with a healthy sense of self-esteem, but she is hard pressed to keep her chin up against the unreasonable prejudice of her fellow students. 

This book will make you cry and it should be read to every child every single year. 


Monday, February 5, 2007

Christmas in the Trenches by John McCutcheon - ESSENTIAL

McCutcheon John Christmas in the Trenches PICTURE BOOK Peachtree


Christmas Day 1914, the two armies of World War I exit their trenches and meet in the middle to celebrate the day during a spontaneous truce. Although these actions did not stop the war, it left a feeling of hope in the hearts of each soldier who participated. Also included is a CD of the original song that McCutcheon also wrote. Having been to Flanders Fields myself, I call tell you that this is an important part of the WWI story. This subject should be fit into the curriculum anywhere it can – English, Geography, Music, Art – wherever. 


Monday, January 15, 2007

Beds, Bedrooms and Pajamas by Patricia Lauber - ESSENTIAL

Lauber, Patricia What You Never Knew About Beds, Bedrooms and Pajamas PICTURE BOOK Simon and Schuster - 


A new addition to the Around the House series. Bright and fun illustrations compliment a quirky fact-filled picture book about sleeping and its accessories through the ages and around the globe. Teachers of any age of student could use this book in their classroom.


Sunday, January 14, 2007

Bringing Ezra Back by Cynthia DeFelice - OPTIONAL

DeFelice, Cynthia Bringing Ezra Back 148 p. FSG -


The Fowler family has recovered from the vicious attacks by "Weasel", though their mother passed away from a fever later. Now, a traveling peddler brings along a flyer that proclaims "See the White Injun, A man with no name and no tongue! Deaf and Dumb," and Nathan is sure that this "injun" is their old friend Ezra, who helped rescue them from Weasel. Nathan is determined to seek out this traveling show and rescue his friend, even if he has to learn to trust the world again.

After the tense danger of "Weasel", this sequel comes off as a milder entry. Though it does answer questions about Ezra, it only raises more at the end. I would prefer to have "Weasel" in hardcover and this one in paperback.


Disney Dossiers by Jeff Kurti - ADVISABLE

Kurti, Jeff Disney Dossiers 159 p. Disney Editions -


An awesome full-color soft cover book with details and gossip and behind scene information on the entire cast of Disney animated characters up through 2004's Home on the Range. I revisited original friends that I hadn't thought about in years and met new characters from movies I haven't seen. The author's honesty is fresh and fun. I am a little worried about putting this book on the shelves, because I am sure it will be loved to death.

Thursday, January 11, 2007

My Life Starring Mum by Chloe Rayban - OPTIONAL

Rayban, Chloe My Life Starring Mum 279 p. Bloomsbury -


Holly's mum is the famous British singer Khandi. When a threat against Holly shows up, she is whisked away from her school and her friends to a high-security hotel where her mother alternately ignores her or tries to turn Holly into a younger version of herself.

 The story moves very quickly, keeping the reader's interest, until the very end, where it abruptly sputters and dies mid-stream. This has happened in so many books that I have read that I wonder if authors have lost the art of the denouement. There is absolutely no resolution, only a short, unsatisfying reunion scene, with a flippant end. Despite that, I think younger readers will enjoy Holly's life and adventure and are probably not knowledgeable enough to be frustrated by the ending. There are five clunky, unnecessary uses of swear words, though.


That Girl Lucy Moon by Amy Timberlake - ESSENTIAL

Timberlake, Amy That Girl Lucy Moon 294 p. Hyperion -


As Lucy starts her sixth grade year at the local middle school, her photographer mother takes off on an extended trip in search of clouds. Her friends start growing and changing and Lucy feels left behind and out of the loop - especially when she receives unwarranted discipline after organizing a protest against the fencing of the town's favorite sledding spot. Winter causes Lucy's light to dim and she ceases to care whether her mother ever returns.

 A beautiful book in the tradition of Stargirl, with a new heroine who doesn't seem to think she needs to lie down and take it. And after reading snippets of Lucy's antics in elementary school, I kind of wish the author would also write a prequel.


Welcome to Kiss the Book Jr.!

Welcome! Kiss the Book Jr. is for board books, picture books, early readers, and chapter books.  Also, any novels and non-fiction that we ag...