Childs, Tera Lynn. Oh my Gods. Dutton, 2008 [978-0-525-47942-0]
Phoebe's mom comes back from a Greek vacation with news that she's marrying someone from Greece and they will be moving there for. Phoebe will have to spend her senior year away from all her friends only to join them in college the following year. Once on the island Phoebe encounters the usual teenage girl problems, fitting in with her classmates at school, boy problems and of course, step-sister problems. This is all accented by the secret of the island. This is a hideaway for descendants of Greek Gods. Not only does Phoebe have have to deal with new friends but they also have supernatural powers. To top it all off, this is all a big secret so Phoebe can not tell her two best friends at home. Toppnig this all off, there is a GREAT surprise ending. This 254 page book would be a good story without the Greek God thing, but that bounces it up a notch. It would be a good book for girls who have read the Percy Jackson series.
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"I am a school librarian in a Middle School in who loves books. I read all the fiction books before I place them on the shelves."
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Childs, Tera Lynn. Oh my Gods. Dutton, 2008 [978-0-525-47942-0]
Selzer, Adam. How to get suspended and influence people. Delacorte, [978-0-385-73369-4]
Leon's eighth grade gifted and talented class (a bunch of smart wise-guys) are given an assignment to make health and safety films for the 6th and 7th graders. Of course Leon chooses the topic of sex education so he can make a dicey film. Suddenly he gets serious though, trying to pattern his film after a Fellini masterpiece. His which explains that going through puberty is tough, is not accepted well by the school and he is suspended. Now he and the school get embattled in a censorship war. This is a fun book about a bunch of smart rebels. Be careful that although the book is only 184 pages, it is not for elementary readers. There is discussion of masterbation. The book would be a great one for high-interest, low level readers.
Klein, Lisa. Ophelia. Bloomsbury, 2006 [1-58234-801-4 // 978-1-58234-804-8]
This is an novelized expansion of the story of Ophelia from Shakespeare's Hamlet. Ophelia falls in love with Hamlet but eventually must escape the castle, from the mess there. She devises a plan to sneak away with a secret known only to her. This is a tragic love story which follows Shakespeare's tale. I can not comment on how close it is to the original, not being familiar with it. Even without comparisons, this 328 page book is a very readable love story.
Shearer, Alex. Canned. Scholastic, 2008 [978-0-439-920309-7 // 0-439-90309-2]
Fergal is an unusual kid who one day decides to start collecting unlabeled cans. One day he finds a can that is light and has a light rattle so he decides to open it. Inside he finds a earring. Another day he finds a can with a strange sound so he opens that and inside was a cutoff finger. He meets another kid who collects cans who has also found strange things in them. They decide to figure out what is happening without telling anyone yet. Well this starts an adventure in which Fergal has to be rescued. This 237 page book is a fun story that gets a little strange at times. A good read.
Cooney, Caroline B. If the witness lied. Delacorte, 2009 [978-0-385-73448-6]
Jack and his family have been torn up by the tragic events of the last years. Their mother died of cancer and shortly thereafter there was a terrible accident which killed their father. Luckily their Aunt was able to come and take over the family. Not only were the events terrible, but the media attention made them worse. Now when the Aunt wants to stir up the media again, Jack and his siblings start to really think about the accident which killed their father. What if Aunt who was the only witness to the accident had lied about the facts? Why would she have done so.? In this 213 page book Cooney has once again written and thought-provoking mystery. She continues to write wonderful, non-formula books.
Pinkwater, Daniel. The Yggyssey: How Iggy wondered what happened to all the ghosts, found out where they went, and went there. Houghton Mifflin, 2009 [978-0-618-59445-0]
In this sequel to "The Neddiad", Iggy notices that all the ghosts in the old L.A. hotel where he lives are disappearing. He decides to take a collection of his friends (both human and spiritual) to go on an adventure to find them and discover whey they left. This 245 page book is another of Pinkwater's books with his strange humor. Although it is not as zaney as some of his others, either you like his books, or your don't. There is no middle road. I happen to like them but I have a hard time selling them to students.
Lupica, Mike. Million-Dollar throw. Philomel Books, 2009 [0-399-24626-5]
Nat loves football and has a good passing arm so when he wins a chance to win a million dollars by throwing a ball through a target on national TV, he is excited. Unfortunately troubles are also piling on him. His family is really feeling the strains of the troubled economy and to top it all off, his best friend is going blind. The problems begin to effect his throw. While one he thought is was a sure thing to win the million dollars, now things are looking bleak. Can he make the throw? What will he do with his million dollars if he does? This 244 page book is a another great sports story (with much more) by Lupica. I can not keep his books on my shelves.
Sanderson, Brandon. Alcatraz versus the Evil Librarians. Scholastic Press, 2007 [978-0439-92550-1 // 0-439-42550-9]
Alcatraz (his family members are named after prisons) receives a mysterious delivery of sand on his 13th birthday. Soon he meets his unusual grandfather who as a special talent and shows Alcatraz what his special talent. His grandfather takes Alcatraz on an adventure to save the world from the evil librarians who try to the world by controlling all information. This 308 page book is an interesting fantasy with strange creature and puts librarians in an evil light...I thought we were supposed to be forces for good.
Green, Tim. Football Hero. Harper Collins, 2008 [978-0-06-112275-0]
Before the book opens, Thane & Ty's parents are killed in a car crash. Thane is a big football star at college who is being courted by the NFL. Ty now lives with his seedy aunt and Uncle. His uncle forces Ty to work in his cleaning business. Ty, unwittingly gives insider information about his brother's games to his Uncle and this insider information gets them tangled up with a Mafia betting scheme. This 297 book is a sports book, a story of two orphans struggling to remain a family, and a suspense story all tied up in one.
Vande Velde, Vivian. Stolen. Marshall Cavenish, 2008
On the day the witch's house was burnt down, twelve-year-old Isabelle is found running through the woods with no memory. She does not know anything but her name. I was believed many years ago that Isabelle was stolen by a witch. Now her mother is overjoyed to have her back but her sister does not believe this girl is their Isabelle. This is a intriguing 158 page book. Once again Vande Velda has crafted a wonderful tale with a surprising ending.
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. The boy who dared. Scholastic, 2008 [978-0-439-68013-4 // 0-439-68013-1]
This is the fictionalized story of a seventeen-year-old young man who was executed in Germany in October 1942 for writing and distributing leaflets against the Nazi Government. The story in the 202 page book is told from his cell while he is waiting for his execution and is an interesting read. helmuth was a young man who was coming to age in Hitler's Germany, was a Hitler Youth and had a brother who had a brother who went off to war in the German army. Bertoletti, who wrote the award winning Hitler Youth book thoroughly researched this story. There are wonderful historical notes at the end of the book.
Pfeffer, Susan Beth. The world we live in. Harcourt, 2010 [978-0-547-24804-2]
This book follows both "Life as we knew it" and "The dead and the gone." I guess I will label "Life as we knew it" as Vol 1a and "The dead and the gone" as 1b because they are both happening at the same time and are not sequels and this one is truly a book 2, following both them. Here we are once again in western Pennsylvania surviving in a harsh world after the moon has shifted out of orbit. Because this whole thing could possibly happen, the first two books sent me into a depression after reading them. This 239 page one did not have such an effect... I guess because they (or at least some) are still surviving. In this story, the characters from the two books meet up. Unfortunately I really don't want to say much more to ruin the plot. Once again, it is a powerful book, dealing with the harsh realities of people trying to survive in a cruel world. These books are not for elementary students, but I would say every middle school and HS library should have them. As a side note. I have trouble keeping the books away from the teachers so that the kids can read them. If you have not, you have GOT to read these books!
Williams, Suzanne Morgan.Bull rider. Margaret McElderry Books, 2009 [1+4169-6130-5 / 978-1-4169-6130-7]
Cam lives for his skateboard and his older brother, Ben, is championship bull rider. Ben goes of to war in Iraq and comes back after being terrible wounded by an I.E.D. The family pulls together to try and help Ben. Although he is too young, Cam hatches a plan to secretly ride a nasty bull in a contest (while being underage) to help his brother. His mother will get very mad if she finds out he is riding bulls. This 241 page book is the story of a family sticking together to help one of its own. The reader learns what it is like to be a wounded war vet. I liked most of the the ending, all except one part, which I will let you read to find out. This is a good book.
Bauer, A.C.E. No castles here. Random House, 2007 [978-0-375-83921-4]
Augie is eleven years old and lives in rough, and run down Camden, NJ. There he daily has to face the harsh realities of drug dealers and s school with constant budget cuts and is falling appart. His life is not easy when his mom finds him a big brother. He likes Walter until he finds out that Walter has a male partner. He eventually gets around to accepting Walter for the nice person he is. (This is a VERY small part of the story but needs to be mentioned.) One day Augie travels to Philadelphia a finds a magical book. The story of this book is interwoven with the story of his life in Camden. During the winter, the pipes break in his school and there is much damage. Can Augie and Walter get the run-down community to care enough about the school to save it? This 210 page book is the story of a boy facing a harsh life in a tough city which is intermingled with a magical fairy story. It is a interesting read.
Cooney, Caroline B. Code orange. LaurelLeaf, 2007 [978-0-385-73260-4]
Ms. Cooney has done it again with the book of a current topic that grabs the reader. Mitty's class is doing reports on diseases and he chooses small pox. His mom is a decorator and she buys old books that people can display in the rooms she designs. Instead of going to the library one day Mitty decides to go through a pile of these old book and he finds one of. Not only does it have good information but it contains an old envelope with a handwritten label. "Scabs from 1905 outbreak." (I am not sure of the year.) He opens the envelope and removes some of the old dried scabs which crumble in his hand. Thinking he may have infected himself he goes on the Internet asking if old Small Pox scabs could infect you. Well.. two groups suddenly become interested in his postings: the Federal Government, and terrorist who may want to spread small pox. This 200 page book is a GREAT read. It also has a study guide at the end.
Henderson, J.A. Bunker 10. Harcourt, 2007 978-0-15-206240-8]
The book takes place in a secret military installation which the author states from the start that no one will get out alive. At this facility are a group of genius kids who are being watched by the military and aided by other scientists to work on whatever projects they wish. Obviously something goes terribly wrong since the author starts out saying that no one gets out alive. The reader is thrown into a volatile situation for which the author gives two different premises. One is.. that everyone in the installation is really just a character in a extremely advanced computer training installation. The other is that some people in the installation are involved in time travel. This 253 page book keeps the reader guessing (and confused) right to the end. There are some sophisticated concepts in the so I am not sure how elementary students will hand it. I did not like most of the book but I have to admit the ending was interesting.
Stead, Rebecca. When you reach me. Wendy Lamb/Random House, 2009 [978-0385-73742-5]
It is the 1970's and a twelve-year-old girl helps prepare her mom to appear on the show, $20,000 Pyramid. The girl starts getting mysterious notes from someone who appears to know what will happen in the future. Meanwhile her best childhood friend gets up by a strange neighborhood boy and suddenly they are no longer best of friends. Then there is a strange homeless man on the street which she tries to avoid every day on the way home from school. This 197 page book multi-dimensional book which actually centers around time travel. It is not your usual, "hop in a time machine" type book but a sophisticated discussion of time travel and its implications. I am not sure what the audience is for this book. I was not enthused while reading it but everything kind of wrapped up nicely at the end. Kids will read it because it won the Newbery Medal but will they like it? We will see.
Harvard Lampoon. Nightlight: a parody. Vintage Books, 2009 
This is a parody of the Twilight series. Once again Belle is the main character who falls for Edwart Mullen in Switchblade, Oregon. This 154 page book is at times clever and at other times stupid but I guess that is the way with parodies. There are all kinds of references within the book that I am sure most kids will not get but some of your smarter readers will enjoy it. While it is not inappropriate, younger readers will just not get the book and find it stupid... after all it was written by the Harvard Lampoon... college students trying to be clever. As a sideline, I have classified it with a spine of "FIC/MEY/LAM" so it sits next to the Twightlight series on the shelf. If I never did that, it would never be found or read. Right now I have a reserve list of 4 girls waiting for it with the first one still reading it. It will be interesting to see how they like it.
Lubar, David. True talents. Tom Doherty, 2007 [978-0765-30977-8 // 0-765-30977-7]
In this sequel to "Hidden Talents" the guys are out of their alternative school and trying to maintain somewhat normal lives with their families (and their Talents.) "Trash" gets kidnapped by a guy who does work for the government and now tries to harness his power of telekinesis for military purposes. Once again the guys from the first book get together to rescue "Trash" and defeat the madman wanting to experiment with them all. While initially the book can be confusing tracing the actions and thoughts of the gang individually before they get together again, this is a great roller coaster ride of suspect and the tale works out. This 312 page book is very different "Hidden Talents" which is much lighter. Here the boys are battling was a evil man; people get hurt and even die. It is unusual for a sequel to have such a different feel than the first book, but that being said, I found that liked this book much better than "Hidden Talents" which was much lighter and humorous.
Kinney, Jeff. Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Dog days [bk 4] Amulet Books, 2009 [978-0-8109-8391-5]
Well in book four, it is now summer. He has an argument with his best friend, Rowley and Greg wants to spend the summer inside playing video games...not if his mom can help it. This 218 page book continues along like the others.. very entertaining with its humor and cartoon strip type illustrations. No matter how many of these books I own, I can not keep them on the shelves!
Cockcroft, Jason. Counter clockwise. HarperCollins, 2009 [978-0-06-125554-0]
Nathan lives alone with his father, Henry after his mom passed away before the book started. They are not a happy family, not having much communication then one day after school Nathan runs into a Beefeater (story takes place in England) who tells him that his father is going to go back in time to prevent his mother from dying. If Henry successfully stopped his wife from dying, it would change the time progression in which they are living. This 202 page book can be interesting to a student interested in time and time travel.. otherwise, it could be very confusing. I kind of enjoyed it because the implications of time travel always have interested me.
Lupica, Mike. Long shot [Comeback kids]. Philomel, 2008 [978--0-399-24717-0]
Pedro is a great basketball player and loves playing for his 6h grade team. He is not a hotdog, but a real team player. Ned is the other star player on the team and they play well together. Ned not only is a good athelete but also the most popular kid in school and is expected to become class president. Pedro decides to run for class president also will this change their relationship at school and more importantly will it change how the interact with each other on the court? This 182 page book is a good piece of sports fiction. There is not only the story and action on the court, but also other plots going on in the story. Lupica has written a book for upper elementary...increasing his audience from his other great YA sports books.
Allison, Jennifer. Gilda Joyce: The dead drop. Dutton, 2009 [978-0-525-47980-2]
Fourtreen-year-old psychic investigator, Gilda, gets to spend the summer as an intern at the "Spy Museum" in Washington, D.C. Because someone older suddenly takes sick, Gilda gets to be a counselor at their week-long summer spy camp. Once again she gets involved in ghosts in try ing to solve a mystery. Since the story takes place in Washington, she also gets involved in international intrigue. This 300 page story is a fun and engaging tale but I have the same complaint that I have with her other books. The cover illustration looks more juvenile than the book so you have to explain the story to 7th and 8th graders to get them to pick it up. Otherwise they think it is a "kid's book."
Brooks, Kevin. Lucas. Chicken House, 2003 [978-1-905294-17-6]
WOW.. Can I say it again? WOW! Kevin Brooks is now my most favorite author from the last few years. Once again he writes a very powerful story. A loner (Lucas) wanders into town and Cait falls for him. He is mysterious and lives alone in the woods. The local group decided they don't like this "gypsy" even though he is not one and decides to frame him in a plot to get rid of him. This 361 page book is definitely not for elementary students. There are attempted rapes (not descriptive but you know what is happening) mob violence, mugging and more. In the middle of this Cait falls in love with this loner. This is a POWERFUL book. I can't tell anything about the ending.. but to give you a hint... I couldn't put it down and almost an accident! If you have Jr. High or High School students, Kevin Brooks books are a must!
Korman, Gordan. Pop. Baltzer & Bray, 2009 [978-0-06-174230-9]
Marcus and his mom move to a new town. He was the star quarterback in his previous town but when he shows up at his HS for tryouts at this town, he is faced with a championship team that is well-knitted together. He gets on JV. Meanwhile he start practicing at a local park where he runs into this strange middle aged guy who teaches him how to tackle and take hits. This guy is very unpredictable and eventually starts doing strange things which end up getting Marcus involved in the law. This 260 page book is such a multi-dimensional story. It great sports story that deals with moving to a new town, getting your first girlfriend, getting in trouble with the law, keeping secrets out of loyalty, and also the terrible degradation of Alzheimer's disease. The over-riding theme is serious but Korman deals with it using his wonderful sense of humor. This is a great book, right up there with his "A semester in the life of a garbage bag."
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