Thursday, July 30, 2009

The Pout-Pout Fish by Deborah Diesen

“I’m a pout-pout fish
With a pout-pout face,
So I spread the dreary-wearies
All over the place.”

Written by a first time Michigan author Deborah Diesen, The Pout-Pout Fish tells the story of the pout-pout fish, who just can’t be happy. All the other fish he runs across encourage him to be happy, but he always answers with the same response, quoted above, and a disheartened “Blub, blub, blub” always follows. Finally, a silver fish plants a kiss on the pout-pout fish, and his frown is turned upside down. The illustrations by Dan Hanna are precious, and the expressions are so detailed that even non-readers will delight.


Sunday, July 26, 2009

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

"I, Frankie Landau-Banks, hereby confess that I was the sole mastermind behind the mal-doings of the Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds. I take full responsibility for the disruptions caused by the Order-including the Library Lady, the Doggies in the Window, the Night of a Thousand Dogs, the Canned Beet Rebellion, and the abduction of the Guppy. (1)

Frankie Landau-Banks was a nobody her freshman year at a prestigious boarding school where her father and older sister graduated from. Sophomore year brings a whole new experience when she begins to date one of the most popular seniors and is invited into his inner circle. But Frankie soon comes to suspect that her boyfriend is hiding something not only from her, but from the rest of the school. Frankie is determined to find out and become involved in the secrecy. You can find out how successful she is at doing both by reading E. Lockheart's The Desreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks.


Friday, July 24, 2009

You Wish

Benjamin Bartholomew Piff lives in a horrible orphanage and is usually found scrubbing pots for talking back to the cook. That is, until Benjamin makes his birthday wish, and is granted unlimited wishes. He unknowingly begins a war between the Curseworks and the Wishworks factories, and is recruited by the Wishworks factory to take back his wish. In the daring battle that follows, Benjamin is tempted to try for just one more wish... the wish he wished he had wished to begin with. For the true secret of granting wishes, read You Wish, the first in the series by Jason Lethcoe.


Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Scat by Carl Hiaasen

"When Nick knelt to retrieve his shoe, he glanced back down the curving boardwalk just in time to see Mrs. Starch, in her straw hat and dragonfly glasses, marching alone into the smoky swamp.
He had no idea that she wouldn't be coming out." (36)

After a field trip to the Black Vine Swamp is cut short by a fire, hated biology teacher Mrs. Starch claims a "family emergency" and disappears from school. Friends Nick and Marta don't buy that excuse though, especially when Nick's video of what he thought was an endangered Florida panther turns out to be a man lurking in the woods. While the police think that their classmate delinquent Smoke is responsible for the fire, Marta and Nick question their evidence and mount their own investigation. The swamp however, is hiding more than just Mrs. Starch, as you'll find out when you read Scat, Carl Hiaasen's newest novel.


Monday, July 20, 2009

Project Sweet Life by Brent Hartinger

"How are we going to make seven thousand dollars?" Victor said. "You still haven't told us that. And I hope it goes without saying that whatever it is, it's got to be legal."
"It does go without saying," Curtis said. "Trust me, I have the perfect, and perfectly legal, idea for making the money we need."
"So?" Victor said. "What is it?" (18-19)

Dave, Curtis, and Victor are fifteen year old best friends who are looking forward to spending one last summer doing absolutely nothing. That changes however, when their dads start talking and decide that this summer is the perfect time to get a summer job. Needless to say, the boys don't agree, and figure out that as long as they can produce the money at summer's end, their dads' won't matter that they didn't actually get jobs. What's one little lie? The lies escalate however, and after one quick rich scheme after another fails, the boys realize that this might be harder than it first seemed. Find out if they finally succeed in Brent Hartinger's Project Sweet Life.


Sunday, July 19, 2009

Riding the Storm by Salamanda Drake

Drane turned even paler than usual and his mouth hung open. He even forgot his fear of Mistress Hildebrand far enough to voice a feeble protest. "Arena crew? But I might have to climb up the masts -- I'm scared of heights!"
"Heights aren't anything to worry about," the Chief Riding Instructor told him callously. "Height never killed anyone--hitting the ground, that's what does it. If you're scared of the ground, we'd better get you up high as soon as possible, hadn't we?" (21)

Salamanda Drake's Dragonsdale series about friendship and dragons continues with Riding the Storm. This is Breena's last shot at winning the Junior Championship and joining the guard flight at Dragonsdale, something she's dreamed of her entire life. But now that Cara's dad is finally letting her ride, she and her dragon Skydancer seem to be unstoppable. When an accident destroys the trust bond between Breena and her dragon, Breena becomes even more jealous of Cara's ability to win. Running away from the problem seems like a smart idea, but a storm is brewing, causing almost deadly consequences for the pair. In the midst of it all, Hortense's busy-body ways bring more trouble for Cara as she tries to save a new friend's way of life. And Drane, in all his patheticness, struggles to find his spot at his new home.


Friday, July 17, 2009

If the Witness Lied by Caroline Cooney

All the way back to the Emmers' on Thursday, Madison reminds herself that there was a witness to the accident. They know what happened: the witness told them.
Now, Friday morning, in the stuffy dark of the blanket, Madison allows the swollen though to come all the way out.
If Tris would not release the brake... but the brake was released... then somebody else released it.
The witness lied. (24-25)

Jack Fountain has essentially been abandoned by his two sisters after their parents die. Sixteen year old Madison has taken a friend's offer to stay with them for a while. Fourteen year old Smithy applied on her own to a boarding school she located online. So Jack is left alone to deal with his pseudo-"aunt" who is obsessed with being on television and his almost three year old brother Tristan. However, "Aunt" Cheryl's latest idea for fame involves exploiting the tragic circumstances of their parents' death and exposing Tristan to the world. Jack, Madison, and Smithy must come to terms with their own grief while protecting Tristan and learning the real truth of what happened almost a year ago. From the author of The Face on the Milk Carton, Caroline B. Cooney presents If the Witness Lied.


Thursday, July 16, 2009

The Things with Wings by Gregory J. Holch

Vanessa pushed the fast forward button.
"I don't think there's anything more," she said, and just then there was the high pitched burble of a voice from the tape player.
"Go back and play that at normal speed," said Newton.
Vanessa rewound the tape and pressed the play button.
A new voice spoke. Three words.
"It's happening again," said the voice. Then the line went dead. (16)

Vanessa Zephyr and Newton Bellnap are twelve year olds who live in Angel Falls, where the butterflies appear every year. Upon following the butterflies this year, they discover a fruit tree in a hidden garden. The fruit prompts changes in Vanessa and her classmates, which awakens in the town a secret that's been kept for decades. Will the butterflies be returning? Read this kid recommended book The Things with Wings by Gregory J. Holch.


Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones by Brandon Sanderson

"In the first book in the series, I made some sweeping generalizations about librarians, many of which are not completely true. [...]
You may therefore, have assumed that all librarians are evil cultists who want to take over the world, enslave humanity, and sacrifice people on their alters.
This is completely untrue. Not all librarians are evil cultists. Some librarians are instead vengeful undead who want to suck your soul.
I'm glad we cleared that up." (44-45)

Alcatraz Smedry is searching for his grandfather, who has gone in search of Alcatraz's father, who has gone in search of... well, no one is quite sure. In any case, Alcatraz's search leads him and his companions to the famed Library of Alexandria, which has not been destroyed as the librarians would lead the public to believe. Once inside, Alcatraz learns that you can only gain access to the information if you give up your soul, which Alcatraz would really prefer to keep to himself. (He's selfish like that.) In Alcatraz Versus the Scrivener's Bones Brandon Sanderson's exciting sequel, what real chance does Alcatraz have when fighting against an unstopable librarian with only glasses and a cousin who can make themself ugly? More than you might imagine (he is a Smedry after all), but he could really use the bazooka bunny mentioned in Chapter 11. That would really help him out.


Monday, July 13, 2009

The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

"Mother Claire married Father when she was fourteen and he was seventeen.
Mother Victoria married Father when she was thirteen and he was nineteen.
Mother Sarah married Father when she was thirteen and he was twenty-one.
And now me. Me. Marrying my uncle who must be sixty, at least." (26)

Almost fourteen-year-old Kyra Leigh Carlson lives with her father, 20 brothers and sisters, and three mothers on the compound of the Chosen Ones. While she disobeys the rules when she sneaks away to borrow forbidden books from the book mobile, she's fairly happy. She hopes that one day she will be Chosen by Joshua Johnson, whom she sneaks out at night to meet in the shadows. Instead, she receives word from the Prophet Childs that God has proclaimed she marry her uncle and become his seventh wife. Carol Lynch Williams spins a dramatic story of betrayal and escape in The Chosen One as Kyra realizes what her life could be outside the compound.


Saturday, July 11, 2009

North of Beautiful by Justina Chen Headley

Not to brag or anything, but if you saw me from behind, you'd probably think I was perfect. I'm tall, but not too tall, with a ballerina's long legs and longish nexk. My hair is naturally platinum blond, the kind that curls when I want it to and cascades behind my back in one sleek line when I don't. While my face couldn't launch a thousand ships, it has the power to make any stranger whip around for a second look. Trust me, this mixture of curiosity and revulsion is nothing Helen of Troy would ever have encountered. (1)

In Justina Chen Headley's North of Beautiful, high school senior Terra Rose Cooper has lived her entire life with facial port-wine stain covering her right cheek. That hasn't stopped her from snagging a boyfriend and a job at a local art studio. Terra however, feels the double pull of her housewife mother, who is intent on making her beautiful, and her emotionally abusive father who swears off spending any more money on the next miracle cure. Terra's plans for escape to an east cost art school are crushed by her father's insistence that he's not paying for it. But a chance collision with a Goth boy vacationing in her town prompts her to change course in the life that she had mapped out for herself.


Wednesday, July 08, 2009

To Dance by Siena Cherson Siegel

Siena Cherson Siegel tells her own story of becoming a ballerina in the graphic novel To Dance. Illustrated by her husband with touchingly detailed watercolor drawings, this book talks about her journey and the dedication it takes to become a dancer. Dancers will enjoy this story.


Tuesday, July 07, 2009

Peace, Locomotion by Jacqueline Woodson

There was a time when all of us were together. There was a time before the fire and before nobody wanted to be my foster mama until Miss Edna came along. There was a time before your foster mama came and said, "I'll take the little girl but I don't want no boys." You were the little girl, Lili. And you didn't want to go. It was rainging that day just like it's raining now. And you held on to me and cried and cried. You kept saying, I want to be with my brother. (7)

Lonnie "Locomotion" Motion lives with his foster mother and brother in New York. He lives apart from his biological sister Lili, who he gets to see about once a week. He's worried about his memories of his biological parents fading, so he's become the "rememberer" for their tiny family. Locomotion's connections with his foster family become stronger though, as they all worry about his foster brother's involvement with the army oversees. In the follow up to Locomotion, Jacqueline Woodson's Peace Locomotion asks the question of how many families can you love at one time.


The Hearts of Horses

In The Hearts of Horses, Martha Lessen, a loner, who travels to an Oregon valley to break horses, finds her heart opening up to the small community as they take to her and her gentle ways of training their horses. During her time there she helps save a German family’s horses after their wagon slides into a ravine and becomes like a daughter to a couple whose sons have gone off to war and their daughter has moved away. She also clashes with a hired man who mistreats horses, develops a friendship with the ranch manager of two elderly sisters whom she admires, and helps a family who husband has terminal cancer. The author, an award winner, writes with graceful sweetness about relationships, both human and animal and evokes a challenging way of life that people embraced or adapted to out of necessity in early 20th century Oregon . This is a sure winner.


Monday, July 06, 2009

Once Upon a Time in the North by Philip Pullman

Warned by the faces around him, the Captain stood up and half turned unsteadily, his face a dull red, his eyes glittering, and spread his hands; but the bartender raised his stick, and was about to bring it down when Lee moved.
He sprang between the two men, seized the Captain's wrists, and said, "Now, Mr. Bartender, you don't need to hit a man when he's drunk; there's a better way to deal with this kind of thing. Come on, Captain, there's fresh air outside. This place is bad for complexion."
"What the hell is this to do with you?" the bartender shouted.(11)

For fans of the His Dark Materials trilogy, Philip Pullman brings Once Upon a Time in the North. Lee Scoresby, the Texan balloonist, and his rabbit daemon essentially crash land in the mining town of Novy Odense. He immediately finds himself entangled in an upcoming election, where the main issue up for debate is what to do with the armored bears. A shady character from Lee's past contributes to a shoot out over some disputed property. With Iorek Byrnison supporting his efforts, will Lee get out alive?


Sunday, July 05, 2009

The Quest Begins by Erin Hunter

"Don't hurt her," Ujurak pleaded. "Look at her. She's half starved -- she's no threat to us. Let her go, Toklo."
The black bear stopped struggling. Toklo looked back down at her. She was staring at him with enormous eyes.
"You're Toklo?" she said.
"Y-yes." he said.
The black bear scrammbled out from underneath him and got to her paws. "I'm Lusa," she said. "I've been looking for you." (293)

Lusa is a baby black bear cub living in the complete comfort of a Canadian zoo, being fed every day by keepers. Toklo is a grizzly bear cub who lives a completely different life nearby out in the wildnerness. Kallik is a polar bear cub who is crossing the melting ice with her mother and brother trying to reach land in time. What do these three bears have to do with each other and the shape-shifting companion? Find out by reading The Quest Begins by Erin Hunter, the author who brought readers the Warriors series about cats.


Wednesday, July 01, 2009

Princess of the Midnight Ball by Jessica Day George

Why shouldn't she appear tired? She had eleven younger sisters all looking to her for guidance. She had taken her mother's place as the designated hostess for all social functions at the palace, and there had been a great many lately in the wake of the victory of Analousia. Just now there were three different foreign ambassadors at the palace, being wined and dined and hopefully signing lucrative trade agreements.
And almost every night there was the dancing.
There was always dancing after state dinners, and as the crown princess she was never "humiliated" by having to sit out a dance without a partner. King Gregor believed that an excess of revelry was unwholesome, however, so the dancing always ended promptly at eleven o'clock.
Which gave the twelve sisters just enough time to freshen up before they attended the Midnight Ball.(38)

Rose and her eleven younger sisters are cursed, and are not allowed to tell anyone about it. But every morning, the household discovers the girls tired from their nightly activities and all their dancing shoes worn out. The kingdom fears that the girls are cursed, especially after they all take ill and strange men come out of their mother's garden. After several princes fail to determine where the girls go, Galen the gardner's nephew vows to solve the mystery. In this reimagining of the fairytale of the Twelve Dancing Princesses, Jessica Day George weaves mystery and love into Princess of the Midnight Ball.