Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Dragonsdale by Salamanda Drake

Drane was still scratching. "I think she likes me. She's purring."
"She's doing what?"
Cara shook her head. "Dragons don't purr . . . uh-oh." She eckoned to Drane. "I think you'd better come out of there."
"Why?" Drane's voice was dreamy. "She's enjoying it. Look she's smiling."
"Drane, I think it would be a really good idea if you came out of there right now."
[. . . ] The dragon gave a gigantic belch. A searing tongue of flame shot from her mouth across the stall and roared toward the open doorway, straight for Drane's unprotected head. (13)

Cara loves her life at Dragonsdale, even if it does involve mucking out dragon dung and washing the stuck up Hortense's dragon for her. That's because she can spend her free time with Skydancer, an "untrainable" dragon that Cara loves like her very own. However, due to her mother's death by falling off a dragon, Cara is forbidden to ride Skydancer, or anyother dragon. Cara is content to stay on the ground, until Skydancer's future at the Dragonsdale riding school is threatened. Will she take to the air to save Skydancer, even against her father's wishes? Written at the age of 16, Dragonsdale by Salamanda Drake is the exciting beginning to a brand new series about dragons.


Friday, May 22, 2009

The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau

Suddenly Doon spoke up. "But Ember is not prospering!" He cried. "Everything is getting worse and worse!"
"Silence!" cried the mayor.
"The blackouts!" cried Doon. He jumped from his seat. "The lights go out all the time now! And the shortages, there's shortages of everything! If no one does anything about it, something terrible is going to happen!" (13)

Lina Mayfleet and Doon Harrow live in the City of Ember, which was built over two hundred years ago. But supplies now are running low, the lights are flickering, and no one seems to know what to do. Lina, in her pursuit of answers, finds corruption at the highest levels of government. Doon and Lina set out on an adventure to find any alternatives to being plunged into the dark. The inspiration for the movie of the same name, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau is a must read.

Thursday, May 21, 2009

As if Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! by Donna Gephart

How did this happen? When Mom asked if I'd support her running for president, I said yes because I thought it would take her mind off things. I never imagined she actually had a shot at winning the party's nomination. I mean, Mom's got two things going against her--boobs! Didn't anyone bother to tell her she's a woman, and a woman has never been elected president of the United States, except on TV? I mean, she's a great governor. But president? She'll be so busy, I'll never see her! (37)

Vanessa Rothrock already has it pretty bad. Her gigantic feet cause her to trip over everything, she is LOUSY in gym class, and because her mother is governor of Florida, she has an oversized body guard follow her around school. She can't even lock the door when she goes to the bathroom, in case someone decides to threaten her life. When her mother starts campaigning to be president, Vanessa tries to be supportive as her mother's schedule forces her to miss Vanessa's spelling bees and Vanessa has to make an appointment to see her. But all that takes a back seat when Vanessa starts to get death threats unless her mother drops out of the running. For the jaw dropping finale that takes place at the National Convention, you'll have to read As if Being 12 3/4 Isn't Bad Enough, My Mother is Running for President! by Donna Gephart.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Please Write in This Book by Mary Amato

"Hello, Boys and Girls,
You have found this book! I hid it in the Writer's Corner, hoping you would.
During Center Time, you can chose to come to the Writer's Corner and write in this journal. Write about anything you want. Leave it for other students to find and write in, too. I want you to "talk" to one another in these pages." (1)

This is the message that the students of Ms. Wurtz's class finds left for them in a blank notebook hidden in the classroom. What starts off as a fun opportunity turns quickly into a war of the words. Classmates debate whose feet stink the worst, and Luke writes a mean about Lizzy and Yoshi being chased by worms. Accusations fly as classmates hog the book and argue over it's true purpose. When the book goes missing, did Ms. Wurtz take the book away?

*Although the title of Mary Amato's book is Please Write in This Book, those instructions are for the students in the story. We encourage you to find your own book to write in, and not the copy you check out of the library. Thanks! :)


Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Canned by Alex Shearer

"Now then. Moment of truth. Fergal reached forward, grasped the can and slowly lifted it up.
Something slide out onto the paper on the desk. Fergal had to study it for several seconds before he knew what it was. In truth, maybe he knew instantly, but it took time for his brain to believe his eyes. It was so improbable, so impossible, so not what he had expected. Of all the things he had thought to find in the can, he had never imagined anything like this." (49-50)

In Canned by Alex Shearer, Fergal Bamfield has a hobby. It's not collecting baseball cards though, or coins, but cans. Cans without labels that he finds in the bottom of the bargain bin at the supermarket. When his mother and father say no more cans, he becomes resigned to open the one can that's the most different from all the rest. What he finds inside however, leads him to uncover a sinster plot that results in putting Fergal's life at risk. The only person who knows what happened is a young girl just as eccentric as Fergal. When her evidence disappears and no one believes her, will she be able to save Fergal on her own?


Monday, May 18, 2009

All of the Above by Shelley Pearsall

"Starting on Monday, here's the contest we are going to have," Collins says to the class.
I don't even listen. Who cares about some dumb math contest?
"We are going to have a contest ot bild one of these." Collins smacks his palm on the chalkboard pyramid and chalk dust flies up in the air. "A tetrahedron. Nobody has ever made one larger than six levels before. That's the record. So, our school is going to build a bigger one." Collins looks around the classroom like he is expecting us to be excited about his crazy idea. "So what do you think? Who wants to give this a try?" (12)

Four inner-city seventh grade students in Cleveland, Ohio are encouraged by their fruastrated math teacher to build the world's largest tetrahedron. A tetrahedron is a triangular pyramid made completely of triangles. It's surprising who originally appears, and their reasons for continuing the project. However, disaster strikes, and the students are left wondering if they are really dedicated enough to finish the project. The fact that's it based on a true story definitely makes Shelley Pearsall's All of the Above a one of a kind story.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko

"Today I moved into a twelve-acre rock covered with cement, topped with bird turd and surrounded by water. Alcatraz sits smack in the middle of the bay--so close to the city of San Francisco, I can hear them call the score on a baseball game on Marina Green. Okay, not that close. But still." (3)

Twelve-year-old Moose Flanagan and his autistic older sister Natalie have just moved to Alcatraz, where his father is working two jobs. His life is as normal as life could be while living amongst some of the most nortorius criminals ever. But Piper Williams, the daughter of the warden, is set on making trouble and blaming other people. And Natalie's chances at getting the help she needs are becoming slim, forcing Moose to look after her and make sure she has some interaction with "people her own age." All Moose wants to do though is play baseball after school. Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko is an original book, casting light on the little known life of kids on Alcatraz.


Friday, May 15, 2009

Dragon Slippers by Jessica Day George

"It was my aunt who decided to give me to the dragon. Not that she was evil, or didn't care for me. It's just that we were very poor, and she was, as we said in those parts, dumber than two turnips in a rain barrel." (1)

Orphaned Creelisel Carlbrun is dropped off in front of a dragon's lair by her aunt, in the hopes a noble prince can be convinced to rescue her, marry her, and then sweep the family out of their poverty stricken life. Instead, Creelisel bargins with the dragon and leaves to make a life for herself as a seamstress with a pair of unusual blue boots. It's these boots however, that cause all sorts of problems when she gets to the city, where she gets noticed by the entire royal family and becomes entangled in a renewal of a centuries old war between the neighboring territories and the unwilling dragon residents. Jessica Day George admits to being influenced by Robin McKinley and Patricia C. Wrede, who you should also read if you like Dragon Slippers.


Thursday, May 14, 2009

Greetings from Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor

And now Aggie knew what she had to do. She took a piece of paper out of the drawer.
For Sale, she wrote, and felt a jab in her heart.
Sleepy Time Motel. Shawnee Gap, North Carolina.
Another jab.
Ten lovely rooms with moutain view. Swimming pool. Tomato garden.
Jab, jab.
For sale by owners, Harold and Agnes Duncan.
Then she felt a jab that nearly knocked her over. Her hand trembled so much she could hardly keep the pen on the paper as she scratched out Harold’s name. (8)

Agnes Duncan is the owner of the Sleepy Time Motel, which has seen better days since her husband passed away in the tomato garden. Willow Dover is a fifth grader whose mother has suddenly and recently left her with her father, who decides a new start is necessary and buys the motel. Fourth-grader Loretta receives a mysterious package from her birth mother who just died, which sends her adoptive parents and herself into the Great Smoky Mountains. And Kirby and his mother get stranded at the motel on their way to a boy’s reform school, where Kirby will hopefully learn to become more like his perfect brother. In Barbara O'Connor's Greetings from Nowhere All four find something new in a situation that was less than happy for most of them.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

How to Steal a Dog by Barbara O'Connor

"Listen, Toby," I said. "It's the only way we're ever gonna have us a real place to live instead of this car, you hear?"
He nodded.
"Don't you want a real place to live?"
He nodded again.
"Then we got to steal us a dog and get the reward," I said. "And if you tell anyone, and I mean anyone, you might as well just say your prayers and kiss this earth goodbye, you hear me?"
"Okay," he said. "But how do we steal a dog?"
"Don't worry," I said. "I'm working on it." (16)

Barbara O'Connor's How to Steal a Dog tells the story of Georgina Hayes, who lives with her little brother Toby and her mom. They don't live in a house or an apartment though; they live in their car, which they must move every couple days so the police don't tow them away. Georgina hates living in her car because it's embarrasing and she's left caring for her brother instead of participating in Girl Scouts or ballet while her mom works two jobs trying to save enough for an apartment. She has an idea though that will help get some money for her mom; steal a dog, wait for the missing signs to be posted, and then claim the reward. All goes according to plan in stealing the dog, but then things go horribly wrong in trying to claim the reward.


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw

My house: Gone. We’re moving away, and I probably won’t ever see it again. Good-bye room. Good-bye, bird tree. Good-bye, four-leaf clover patch. … Good-bye, basement. … Good-bye, playroom in the attic. … All these things make this MY house. We can’t move. We can’t abandon all these special things! But we are. Everything is for sale. My memories, my whole life–sold, to the highest bidder. (2-3)

Ellie “McDoodle” is moving two hours away. New school, new house, new room, and no friends. In fact, she finds classmates playing “new kid bingo” behind her back, the art teacher (of all people) doesn’t like her, and her older brother keeps playing practical jokes on her, like tying all her socks together and draping them around the house. However, when Ellie starts fighting for shorter lunch lines and better food, will it rocket her to popularity or backfire in her face? If you loved the first one, you'll love Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School by Ruth McNally Barshaw.

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone by Margie Palatini

"Before you give yourself a total ha-ha snickerfest, yes, I know, fairy godmothers are in that group with Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, Tooth Fairy, Wish Upon a Star, etc., etc., etc. . . . ... I am not giving up Santa Clause --EVER--and being halfway to eleven is when you really absolutely need a fairy godmother the most. I'm going to require major fairy dust intervention in the hair department alone. There are just so many days a person can wear a hat, if you know what I mean. (4-5)

In Geek Chic: The Zoey Zone by Margie Palatini, Zoey Zinevich, almost 11, is desperately trying to become popular before the sixth grade. Unfortunately, a fairy godmother does not seem to be magically appearing to help her out. Zoey is left to her own devices. These attempts however, find her wearing a bowling shirt and fedora to school and being laughed at repeatedly by the Bashleys (Brittany and Ashley). When a popular magazine photographer arrives at school to take pictures, Zoey's worried that her picture is going to end up in the what not to wear section.


Saturday, May 09, 2009

Piper Reed The Great Gypsy by Kimberly Willis Holt

"You need to ask if anyone is opposed," Nicole said.
"Opposed to what?" I asked.
"Starting the meeting," she said.
I shrugged my shoulders. "Any opposed?"
Nicole raised her finger. "I might be."
Hailey signed and leaned against the couch.
"Why?" Michael snapped. "Why are you opposed?"
Nicole blinked. "I didn't say I was opposed. I said I might be." (37)

This is just some of what Piper Reed has to deal with as she continues to make Pensacola, Florida her home. Her dad is away for six months on a Navy ship and her mother is serving as the art teacher at her school. She's trying to train her dog to do tricks for the upcoming pet show, but the only person the dog will listen to is Piper's three year old neighbor. Plus, she has to read eight books before the end of summer, and none of them sound interesting. This book though, does sound interesting, so read Piper Reed, The Great Gypsy by Kimberly Willis Holt.


Thursday, May 07, 2009

Piper Reed, Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt

It was our second day in the minivan. On the way to Florida we'd stop in Louisiana to visit our grandparents. Both Mom's and Chief's parents lived there.
Tori sat in the very back seat, the best seat. My parents let us take turns sitting there by ourselves. I couldn't wait until it was my turn. Then I could stretch out, instead of sitting next to Sam and being forced to listen to her read every single billboard. Tori stuffed wadded-up pieces of tissue in her ears so she didn't have to hear her. (24)

Fourth grader Piper Reed is moving with her five year old sister Sam and teenage sister Tori from California to Penacola, Florida. This will be the sixth home for Piper, whose father's job in the Navy forces them to move frequently. She gives up a room of her own, a tight group of friends, and a treehouse for a new home where she shares a room with Sam, the kids at school expect her to produce a real Gypsy, and there isn't a tree in sight. Add to that the fact that her father is going to be gone for the next nine months. Piper Reed, Navy Brat by Kimberly Willis Holt shows just how difficult it can be for the new kid at school to start over, no matter how many times she's done it before.


Wednesday, May 06, 2009

Lost and Found by Andrew Clements

Jay said, "They think there's only one of us. So only one of us has to go to school, and I've got it all planned out. It's going to be great. We have to do this Ray, we have to. Don't you see?"
Ray snorted. "All I see is a kid who's completely insane. I mean sure, it might be fun and everything but you know we'd get caught, then what?"

Jay and Ray Grayson are identical twins who are just starting the sixth grade in a new town. Ray however, has to stay home sick for the first day of school. Jay attends alone, only find out that a clerical error means the school is expecting only one new boy. After loving a day of not being mistaken for his twin, he convinces his brother to alternate days of attendance with him. While they might look alike, the twins have their own personalities, and they discover that maintaining one identity to avoid discovery is just as difficult as maintaining their own seperate identities. As a father of identical twin boys, well-known author Andrew Clements brings his personal experience to his newest book, Lost and Found.

Tuesday, May 05, 2009

Mascot to the Rescue! by Peter David

“I’m going to die . . . I’m going to die. . . .”
“Josh!” Kelsey was shaking him, trying to get his attention.”
“I’m going to fall off a bridge and die–”
“Josh, you’re not him! You’re not Mascot!”
“I know that!” Josh said. “But everything that happens to him happens to me, too! You can’t deny that!” (54)

Josh Miller identifies with the superhero sidekick Mascot in the comic strip that gets delivered to his house once a month. So when the most recent issue seems to spell the end for Mascot, Josh is intent on changing the course of events. Accompanied by the new girl at school Kelsey and a company mail clerk, they run away and set out on an adventure to find the creator Stan Kirby. When the police get involved, just like in the comics, does Josh meet Mascot’s untimely fate? Read Peter David's book Macot to the Rescue! and see just how real comics could be.


Monday, May 04, 2009

Diary of a Fairy Godmother by Esme Raji Codell

"You'll excuse me for saying so, but I never would have guessed you were a fairy godmother from your uniform."
"I am not a fairy godmother." I glowered, shaking my hands to get rid of the needles that seemed to be prickling from the inside. "I am a witch."
She shrugged. "Sorry." And went back to jostling the baby in her arms. ...
"I am a witch, I said to myself as I fled the hall. I am a witch. I am a witch. (32)

Hunky Dory has heard all her life from her mother that "You'll be the wickedest witch wherever the four winds blow." Hunky has been taking lessons for years, getting extra credit for talking back and learning how to turn princes into toads and other animals. But Hunky hasn't seemed to be very interested in witchcraft lately. Instead, she's turned to wishcraft, which gets her kicked out of school and her house. While she experiments with both wishcraft and witchcraft, trying to determine which one she likes best, she deals with her crush on Rumplestiltskin, a pint-sized Goldilocks who considers Hunky her sister, and a pesky pen-pal named Cinderella. Esme Raji Codell weaves her spell on readers with this fractured fairy-tale from the fairy's point of view in Diary of a Fairy Godmother. It's also available as a audiobook on CD, which is very-well narrated by Rachael Lillis.

Sunday, May 03, 2009

Who's Jim Hines by Jean Alicia Elster

"Doug knew them all, except one. His dad talked about him, but Doug never saw his truck. He never came with the other men in the morning. Doug heard his name often enough, so he knew he worked for his dad. But he never saw him. His name was Jim Hines." (3)

Douglas Ford Jr.'s dad owns the neighborhood wood company in Detroit in the 1930s. While Doug knows every other worker, he hears about Jim Hines but never sees him. His questions go unanswered, even after he begins to work for his dad to pay for some lost school books. What's the big secret? Read Who's Jim Hines by Jean Alicia Elster to find out.


Saturday, May 02, 2009

She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer

“By the time Laura Bridgman was twelve years old, she was … famous. Like all children, you would have loved an admired her. You would have named your favorite dool after her. . . . And then you would have poked out the doll’s eyes.” (xi)

Almost everyone has heard of Helen Keller, the deaf-blind child who finally understood words after her teacher placed her hand under running water. But this is the lesser known story of Laura Bridgman, who was born 50 years before Helen Keller. Laura, like Helen, was born with all her senses. At three years old, Helen and her two sisters contracted scarlett fever. While her sisters died from the disease, Helen survived but lost her vision and hearing, along with most of her senses of taste and smell. Left only with touch, Laura was patiently taught to navigate the world around her. Written by someone who is also considered a deaf-blind person, Sally Hobart Alexander provides a unique perspective of this little known trailblazer in She Touched the World: Laura Bridgman, Deaf-Blind Pioneer.