Monday, March 31, 2008

The Boy Who Dared: A Novel Based on the True Story of a Hitler Youth

In October, 1942, seventeen-year-old Helmuth Hübener, imprisoned for distributing anti-Nazi leaflets, recalls his past life and how he came to dedicate himself to bring the truth about Hitler and the war to the German people. Excerpt pages 108-109: "Why are the Nazis so afraid of words? What don't they want him to know? Helmuth can't explain it, but reading that book feels necessary, as necessary as breath... "Do you know how much trouble you can get in? If the Gestapo catch you stealing books --"..."I didn't steal it, I borrowed it. Listen to this. Heinrich Mann says that revolutions are rare because people are too selfish. They think only of themselves"..."You want to start a revolution?"... Listen to a booktalk here.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys by Lois Lowry
In this tongue-in-cheek take on classic themes in children's literature, the four Willoughby children set about to become "deserving orphans" after their neglectful parents embark on a treacherous around-the-world adventure, leaving them in the care of an odious nanny.

The Butter Man

The Butter Man by Elizabeth Alalou and Ali Alalou
While Nora waits impatiently for dinner, her father stirs up a story from his childhood. During a famine Nora's grandfather must travel over the mountain to find work so he can provide food for his family. While young Ali waits for his father's return, he learns a lesson of patience, perseverance, and hope. This is a picture book, 32 pages.

Saturday, March 29, 2008

The Key to Rondo

The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda
There are three rules to the old painted, music box: Wind the box three times only. Never shut the box when the music is playing. Never move the box before the music stops. Leo wouldn't dream of breaking these rules, but does his stubborn cousin Mimi listen? She winds the box four times -- and suddenly the paintings on its side come to life and a powerful witch is released. Now its up to Leo and Mimi to stop the witch, if only they can find the key to the music box -- and the magical world it controls.

Friday, March 28, 2008

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball

We are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball by Kadir Nelson The story of Negro League baseball is the story of gifted athletes and determined owners; of racial discrimination and international sportsmanship; of fortunes won and lost; of triumphs and defeats on and off the field. It is a perfect mirror for the social and political history of black America in the first half of the twentieth century. But most of all, the story of the Negro Leagues is about hundreds of unsung heroes who overcame segregation, hatred, terrible conditions, and low pay to do the one thing they loved more than anything else in the world: play ball.

The GollyWhopper Games

The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
Gil is one of 5000 kids competing for fame and prizes in a fantastic event sponsored by the Golly Toy and Game Company. By solving a series of word games and puzzles, and passing physical challenges, he reaches the finals, where he must outshine four others, including an ex-classmate who may be cheating. Gil has further motivation to win - his father was wrongly accused of embezzling from the company.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Simon Bloom:The Gravity Keeper

Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper by Michael Reisman
Sixth-grader Simon Bloom can’t believe his luck when he finds a book that enables him to control the laws of physics. By simply reciting the formulas it contains, he can cancel gravity to fly around his bedroom, or decrease friction so he can slide down the street as if he were on Rollerblades. When two thugs with evil intentions come after Simon, he must use the formulas to save himself and the book from falling into their hands.
Here's a quote from "Simon Bloom: The Gravity Keeper"
"You see, everything around you--everything in the entire universe--has rules. Laws. And the Books contain the laws. Explain them. Control them. In ways that even I don't fully understand, the Books make sure the Universe doesn't fall apart."

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Go Big or Go Home

Go Big or Go Home by Will Hobbs
Brady Steele watches in awe as a fireball comes crashing through the roof of his house. Brady immediately calls up his cousin, Quinn. They both love all things extreme, and this is the most extreme thing ever! Fred, as Brady names his space rock, turns out to be one of the rarest meteorites ever found. Professor Rip Ripley from the museum in Hill City wants to study a sliver of it in search of extraterrestrial bacteria. He's hoping to discover the first proof of life beyond Earth, a momentous breakthrough for the new science of astrobiology. During a wild week of extreme bicycling, fishing, and caving, Brady and Quinn battle their rivals, the notorious Carver boys, for possession of the meteorite. With each new day, Brady is discovering he's able to do strange and wonderful feats that shouldn't be possible. At the same time, he's developing some frightening symptoms. Could he be infected with long-dormant microbes from space? Is Fred a prize or a menace?

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Keeping Score

Keeping Score by Linda Sue Park
Maggie doesn't play baseball—but at almost ten years old, she is a dyed-in-the-wool fan of the Brooklyn Dodgers. Maggie can recite all the players' statistics and understands the subtleties of the game. Jim Maine is a Giants fan, but it's Jim who teaches Maggie the fine art of scoring a baseball game. Not only can she revisit every play of every inning, but by keeping score she feels she's more than just a fan: she's helping her team.Jim is drafted into the army and sent to Korea, and although Maggie writes to him often, his silence is just one of a string of disappointments—being a Brooklyn Dodgers fan in the early 1950s meant season after season of near misses and year after year of dashed hopes. But Maggie goes on trying to help the Dodgers, and when she finds out that Jim needs help, too, she's determined to provide it. Against a background of major league baseball and the Korean War on the home front, Maggie looks for, and finds, a way to make a difference.

Friday, March 21, 2008

The Bronze Pen

The Bronze Pen by Zilpha Keatley Snyder
With her father's failing health and the family's shaky finances, twelve-year-old Audrey's dreams of becoming a writer seem very impractical until she is give a peculiar bronze pen that appears to have unusual powers.

Thursday, March 20, 2008


Game by Walter Dean Myers
Drew Lawson knows basketball is taking him places. It has to, because his grades certainly aren't. But lately his plan has run squarely into a pick. Coach's new offense has made another player a star, and Drew won't let anyone disrespect his game. Just as his team makes the playoffs, Drew must come up with something big to save his fading college prospects. It's all up to Drew to find out just how deep his game really is.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

The Attack of the Frozen Woodchucks

The Attack of the Frozen Woodchucks by Dan Elish
The giant woodchuck makes his first appearance before Saturday night dinner, just as ten-year-old Jimmy Weathers is setting the table. Jimmy’s father and sister have just returned from a walk in New York City’s Central Park, and they are very excited about their discovery. Jimmy and his mother look at each other with agreeing eyes. Their father is at it again with his overactive imagination. After all, Jimmy’s father is a lawyer by day and an unsuccessful children’s author by night. Who could believe this latest tale? It is all a joke, until Jimmy’s father is kidnapped in the middle of the night. It is up to Jimmy and his best pal, William H. Taft, to find his dad and the kidnapping frozen woodchucks.

Monday, March 17, 2008

Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love

Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love by Patricia Martin
Lulu Atlantis has a big problem: her new baby brother, Sam. With him in the picture, Mother certainly doesn’t need her around. Luckily, she has her best friend, Harry, a top-hat-wearing daddy longlegs spider to turn to. Over the course of four enchanting parts, the two friends rescue a skunk stuck in a yogurt pot, encounter gangster bakers, seek out the Secret Ingredient to make Sam’s oatmeal edible, and contend with a monster (not to mention an evil cat named Princess Fancy). Through it all, Harry stands by Lulu Atlantis, his one and only True Blue Love, as she searches–quests!–for some True Blue Love of her own.

After Tupac & D Foster

After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson
The day D Foster enters Neeka and her best friend's lives, the world opens up for them. D comes from a world vastly different from their safe Queens neighborhood, and through her, the girls see another side of life that includes loss, foster families and an amount of freedom that makes the girls envious. Although all of them are crazy about Tupac Shakur's rap music, D is the one who truly understands the place where he's coming from, and through knowing D, Tupac's lyrics become more personal for all of them. The girls are thirteen when D's mom swoops in to reclaim D-and as magically as she appeared, she now disappears from their lives. Tupac is gone, too, after another shooting; this time fatal. As the narrator looks back, she sees lives suspended in time, and realizes that even all-too-brief connections can touch deeply.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

The Buddha's Diamonds

The Buddha's Diamonds by Carolyn Marsden & Thay Thap Niem
As a storm sweeps in, Tinh's father tells him to tie up their fishing boat but the storm scares him and he runs away, but when the damage to the boat is discovered, Tinh realizes what he must do.

Night Running: How James Escaped with the Help of His Faithful Dog

Night Running: How James Escaped with the Help of His Faithful Dog by Elisa Carbone
It's 1838, and James has made a secret plan to escape Master Graham’s farm–and slavery. James tells his dog Zeus he has to stay behind: he’s simply too noisy to bring along on a dangerous nighttime journey. But when two white men capture James soon after he runs, he’s grateful his faithful hunting dog didn’t obey. Zeus has followed behind, and the scrappy hound rescues James from his captors. An author’s note describes the real life inspiration behind the book: James Smith, a slave who escaped with the help of his dog and went on to become a farmer and Baptist minister. This is a picture book, 32 pages.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House

Kaline Klattermaster's Tree House by Haven Kimmel
Third-grader Kaline's father has gone somewhere and his mother can't seem to keep everything straight, but the two brothers and one hundred dogs that live in his imaginary tree house--and his strange neighbor Mr. Osiris Putnaminski--help him cope with his father's absence, his mother's forgetfulness, and the bullies that torment him in school. Here's a quote, page 132, "Here's all I can say, small buddy," Steve said, patting Kaline on the back. "Be kind to everyone you can be, and be patient. Everyone is doing the best they can. And remember that not one single day has ever been like the day before it, so there's not a chance in this world tomorrow is going to look like today."

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

The Winter War

The Winter War by William Durbin
In 1939 Finland, Marko serves proudly as a sky watcher, a junior member of the Civil Guard. On November 30, when Russian bombers attack his village, his best friend is killed, and his younger sister and brother must evacuate to Sweden. A chance encounter with a former teacher, now an army lieutenant, propels Marko, who still limps as a result of a bout with polio, to the front lines. His familiarity with the area around Savolahti and his orienteering skills make him an ideal clandestine messenger, carrying information back and forth between the small companies of soldiers hidden in the hills. The Winter War, a little-known campaign of World War II, comes to life as Marko relates his experiences during the bone-chilling months of 1939 and 1940.

Sunday, March 9, 2008

Redheaded Princess

Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi
For all her royal blood, Elizabeth's life is fraught with danger and uncertainty. Sometimes she is welcome in the royal court; other times she is cast out into the countryside. With her position constantly changing, the Princess must navigate a sea of shifting loyalties and dangerous affections. At stake is her life - for beheading is not uncommon among the factions that war for the crown.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Waiting for Normal

Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor
Twelve-year-old Addie tries to cope with her mother's erratic behavior and being separated from her beloved stepfather and half-sisters when she and her mother go to live in a small trailer by the railroad tracks on the outskirts of Schenectady, New York. Centered around themes of loss, heartbreak, abandonment, and new beginnings, this story portrays a resilient and resourceful girl, a positive father figure and strong relationships. The serious topics are presented in a straightforward and believable daily incidents. Addie is a memorable character, a heroine with spunk and spirit.

Sunday, March 2, 2008


Eleven by Patricia Reilly Giff
Sam is almost 11 when he discovers a locked box in the attic above his grandfather Mack’s room, and a piece of paper that says he was kidnapped. There are lots of other words, but Sam has always had trouble reading. He’s desperate to find out who he is, and if his beloved Mack is really his grandfather. At night he’s haunted by dreams of a big castle and a terrifying escape on a boat. Who can he trust to help him read the documents that could unravel the mystery? Then he and the new girl, Caroline, are paired up to work on a school project, building a castle in Mack’s woodworking shop. Caroline loves to read, and she can help. But she’s moving soon, and the two must hurry to discover the truth about Sam.

Donavan's Double Trouble

Donavan's Double Trouble by Monalisa DeGross
Fourth-grader Donavan is sensitive about the problems he has understanding math, and then when his favorite uncle, a former high school basketball star,returns from National Guard duty an amputee, Donavan's problems get even worse as he struggles to accept this "new" Uncle Vic.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Hope Chest

Hope Chest by Karen Schwabach
When eleven-year-old Violet runs away from home in 1920 and takes the train to New York City to find her older sister who is a suffragist, she falls in with people her parents would call "the wrong Sort" and ends up in Nashville, Tennessee, where the "Suffs" and the Antis" are gathered, awaiting the crucial vote on the nineteenth amendment. Mr. Martin, one the the main characters says, "You can never know what seeds your words and actions might plant...Even when you don't win, you don't always lost. Remember that."

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy

The Mysterious Case of the Allbright Academy by Diane Stanley
Eighth-grader Franny and her friends investigate why most of the students at their exclusive boarding school are brilliant, beautiful, and perfectly behaved. Meet Horace Gallow, Linnaeus Planck, Katrina Bodempfedder, Prescott Bottomy III, Evelyn Lollyheart, Brooklyn Offloffalof, Calpurnia Fiorello and Martha Evergood in this story about some students and what they discovered about their school...