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Rebecca Caudill Awards
2014
Wonder
Click to search this book in our catalog   by R. J. Palacio

Book list *Starred Review* Kids' books about befriending somebody different could fill a library. But this debut novel rises to the top through its subtle shifting of focus to those who are normal, thereby throwing into doubt presumptions readers may have about any of the characters. Nominally, the story is about 10-year-old August, a homeschooled boy who is about to take the plunge into a private middle school. Even 27 operations later, Auggie's face has what doctors call anomolies; Auggie himself calls it my tiny, mushed-up face. He is gentle and smart, but his mere physical presence sends the lives of a dozen people into a tailspin: his sister, his old friends, the new kids he meets, their parents, the school administrators the list goes on and on. Palacio's bold move is to leave Auggie's first-person story to follow these increasingly tangential characters. This storytelling strategy is always fraught with peril because of how readers must refresh their interest level with each new section. However, much like Ilene Cooper's similarly structured Angel in My Pocket (2011), Palacio's novel feels not only effortless but downright graceful, and by the stand-up-and-cheer conclusion, readers will be doing just that, and feeling as if they are part of this troubled but ultimately warm-hearted community.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7-Due to a rare genetic disorder, Auggie Pullman's head is malformed, his facial features are misshapen, and he has scars from corrective surgery. After much discussion and waffling, he and his parents decide it's time for him to go to a regular school for the fifth grade instead of being homeschooled. All his life Auggie has seen the shocked expressions and heard the whispers his appearance generates, and he has his coping strategies. He knows that except for how he looks, he's a normal kid. What he experiences is typical middle school-the good and the bad. Meanwhile, his beautiful sister is starting high school and having her own problems. She's finding that friendships change and, though it makes her feel guilty, she likes not being labeled as Auggie's sister. Multiple people tell this story, including Auggie, two of his new school friends, his sister, and his sister's former best friend. Palacio has an exceptional knack for writing realistic conversation and describing the thoughts and emotions of the characters. Everyone grows and develops as the story progresses, especially the middle school students. This is a fast read and would be a great discussion starter about love, support, and judging people on their appearance. A well-written, thought-provoking book.-Nancy P. Reeder, Heathwood Hall Episcopal School, Columbia, SC (c) Copyright 2012. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2013
Smile
Click to search this book in our catalog   Raina Telgemeier

School Library Journal Gr 5 Up-A powerful graphic memoir with a light touch, this is the story of how sixth-grader Raina falls and loses her two front teeth. It follows her orthodontic odyssey through high school as she negotiates friendships, meanness, and boys. Full-color comic illustrations portray her journey with an emotionally honest rawness. (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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2012
Powerless
Click to search this book in our catalog   Matthew Cody

Publishers Weekly In a wholly satisfying debut, Cody tackles themes of heroism, sacrifice and coming-of-age, as played out in a comic book-inspired good vs. evil scenario. Soon after arriving in the small town of Noble's Green, Pa., where his family has moved to take care of his ailing grandmother, 12-year-old Daniel Corrigan discovers the existence of real-life superheroes. In this town, certain kids develop superpowers, which they use in secret to perform good deeds (for the most part). One catch: as soon as they turn 13, their powers and all related memories vanish. As Daniel forges a friendship with these extraordinary youths, he uses good old-fashioned investigative skills rather than superhuman abilities to uncover the secret of their powers' origins and the dark force that has been preying on the town's children for decades. What do comic books from the 1940s, a pulp hero, a burned-down orphanage and a pair of superhuman bullies have to do with the mystery? It all comes together in a tightly woven narrative characterized by a persuasive premise, memorable characters, a bit of intrigue and a sense of wonder. Ages 10-up. (Oct.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2011
The Hunger Games
 Suzanne Collins

Library Journal In a far-future United States, a cruel Capitol keeps order by demanding an annual tribute for its Hunger Games, in which two contestants, a boy and a girl, are chosen by lottery from each of 12 districts to fight to the death in an event televised from an arena. Katniss Everdeen lives in what used to be Appalachia and is now called the Seam-a dirt-poor district without much hope of success in the games. Katniss volunteers in her sister's place and may just have the smarts to win. Then Peeta, the soft baker's son chosen from her same district, does something surprising. He declares his undying affection for Katniss just before they enter the arena. Is there room for friendship, loyalty, or even love when survival is on the line? Why It Is a Best: Collins's prose is merely serviceable, but she writes compelling characters and spins one terrific yarn. The premise is good to begin with, and the surprises keep coming. Why It Is for Us: In this fight to the death, the book's violence is cringe-worthy by even the most jaded standards. The exploitation of the desperate and impoverished for the entertainment of the wealthy and powerful is a theme reminiscent of Stephen King's The Long Walk or The Running Man. King himself makes the comparison in his Entertainment Weekly review of the book, saying "I couldn't stop reading."-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up--In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like "Survivor" and "American Gladiator." Book one of a planned trilogy.--Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* This is a grand-opening salvo in a new series by the author of the Underland Chronicles. Sixteen-year-old Katniss poaches food for her widowed mother and little sister from the forest outside the legal perimeter of District 12, the poorest of the dozen districts constituting Panem, the North American dystopic state that has replaced the U.S. in the not-too-distant future. Her hunting and tracking skills serve her well when she is then cast into the nation's annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death where contestants must battle harsh terrain, artificially concocted weather conditions, and two teenaged contestants from each of Panem's districts. District 12's second tribute is Peeta, the baker's son, who has been in love with Katniss since he was five. Each new plot twist ratchets up the tension, moving the story forward and keeping the reader on edge.†Although Katniss may be skilled with a bow and arrow and adept at analyzing her opponents' next moves, she has much to learn about personal sentiments, especially her own. Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly If there really are only seven original plots in the world, it's odd that "boy meets girl" is always mentioned, and "society goes bad and attacks the good guy" never is. Yet we have Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion-and now, following a long tradition of Brave New Worlds, The Hunger Games. Collins hasn't tied her future to a specific date, or weighted it down with too much finger wagging. Rather less 1984 and rather more Death Race 2000, hers is a gripping story set in a postapocalyptic world where a replacement for the United States demands a tribute from each of its territories: two children to be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death. Katniss, from what was once Appalachia, offers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, but after this ultimate sacrifice, she is entirely focused on survival at any cost. It is her teammate, Peeta, who recognizes the importance of holding on to one's humanity in such inhuman circumstances. It's a credit to Collins's skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable. She has the attributes to be a winner, where Peeta has the grace to be a good loser. It's no accident that these games are presented as pop culture. Every generation projects its fear: runaway science, communism, overpopulation, nuclear wars and, now, reality TV. The State of Panem-which needs to keep its tributaries subdued and its citizens complacent-may have created the Games, but mindless television is the real danger, the means by which society pacifies its citizens and punishes those who fail to conform. Will its connection to reality TV, ubiquitous today, date the book? It might, but for now, it makes this the right book at the right time. What happens if we choose entertainment over humanity? In Collins's world, we'll be obsessed with grooming, we'll talk funny, and all our sentences will end with the same rise as questions. When Katniss is sent to stylists to be made more telegenic before she competes, she stands naked in front of them, strangely unembarrassed. "They're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet," she thinks. In order not to hate these creatures who are sending her to her death, she imagines them as pets. It isn't just the contestants who risk the loss of their humanity. It is all who watch. Katniss struggles to win not only the Games but the inherent contest for audience approval. Because this is the first book in a series, not everything is resolved, and what is left unanswered is the central question. Has she sacrificed too much? We know what she has given up to survive, but not whether the price was too high. Readers will wait eagerly to learn more. Megan Whalen Turner is the author of the Newbery Honor book The Thief and its sequels, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. The next book in the series will be published by Greenwillow in 2010. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal In a far-future United States, a cruel Capitol keeps order by demanding an annual tribute for its Hunger Games, in which two contestants, a boy and a girl, are chosen by lottery from each of 12 districts to fight to the death in an event televised from an arena. Katniss Everdeen lives in what used to be Appalachia and is now called the Seam-a dirt-poor district without much hope of success in the games. Katniss volunteers in her sister's place and may just have the smarts to win. Then Peeta, the soft baker's son chosen from her same district, does something surprising. He declares his undying affection for Katniss just before they enter the arena. Is there room for friendship, loyalty, or even love when survival is on the line? Why It Is a Best: Collins's prose is merely serviceable, but she writes compelling characters and spins one terrific yarn. The premise is good to begin with, and the surprises keep coming. Why It Is for Us: In this fight to the death, the book's violence is cringe-worthy by even the most jaded standards. The exploitation of the desperate and impoverished for the entertainment of the wealthy and powerful is a theme reminiscent of Stephen King's The Long Walk or The Running Man. King himself makes the comparison in his Entertainment Weekly review of the book, saying "I couldn't stop reading."-Angelina Benedetti, King Cty. Lib. Syst., WA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 7 Up--In a not-too-distant future, the United States of America has collapsed, weakened by drought, fire, famine, and war, to be replaced by Panem, a country divided into the Capitol and 12 districts. Each year, two young representatives from each district are selected by lottery to participate in The Hunger Games. Part entertainment, part brutal intimidation of the subjugated districts, the televised games are broadcasted throughout Panem as the 24 participants are forced to eliminate their competitors, literally, with all citizens required to watch. When 16-year-old Katniss's young sister, Prim, is selected as the mining district's female representative, Katniss volunteers to take her place. She and her male counterpart, Peeta, the son of the town baker who seems to have all the fighting skills of a lump of bread dough, will be pitted against bigger, stronger representatives who have trained for this their whole lives. Collins's characters are completely realistic and sympathetic as they form alliances and friendships in the face of overwhelming odds; the plot is tense, dramatic, and engrossing. This book will definitely resonate with the generation raised on reality shows like "Survivor" and "American Gladiator." Book one of a planned trilogy.--Jane Henriksen Baird, Anchorage Public Library, AK (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Book list *Starred Review* This is a grand-opening salvo in a new series by the author of the Underland Chronicles. Sixteen-year-old Katniss poaches food for her widowed mother and little sister from the forest outside the legal perimeter of District 12, the poorest of the dozen districts constituting Panem, the North American dystopic state that has replaced the U.S. in the not-too-distant future. Her hunting and tracking skills serve her well when she is then cast into the nation's annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death where contestants must battle harsh terrain, artificially concocted weather conditions, and two teenaged contestants from each of Panem's districts. District 12's second tribute is Peeta, the baker's son, who has been in love with Katniss since he was five. Each new plot twist ratchets up the tension, moving the story forward and keeping the reader on edge.†Although Katniss may be skilled with a bow and arrow and adept at analyzing her opponents' next moves, she has much to learn about personal sentiments, especially her own. Populated by three-dimensional characters, this is a superb tale of physical adventure, political suspense, and romance.--Goldsmith, Francisca Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly If there really are only seven original plots in the world, it's odd that "boy meets girl" is always mentioned, and "society goes bad and attacks the good guy" never is. Yet we have Fahrenheit 451, The Giver, The House of the Scorpion-and now, following a long tradition of Brave New Worlds, The Hunger Games. Collins hasn't tied her future to a specific date, or weighted it down with too much finger wagging. Rather less 1984 and rather more Death Race 2000, hers is a gripping story set in a postapocalyptic world where a replacement for the United States demands a tribute from each of its territories: two children to be used as gladiators in a televised fight to the death. Katniss, from what was once Appalachia, offers to take the place of her sister in the Hunger Games, but after this ultimate sacrifice, she is entirely focused on survival at any cost. It is her teammate, Peeta, who recognizes the importance of holding on to one's humanity in such inhuman circumstances. It's a credit to Collins's skill at characterization that Katniss, like a new Theseus, is cold, calculating and still likable. She has the attributes to be a winner, where Peeta has the grace to be a good loser. It's no accident that these games are presented as pop culture. Every generation projects its fear: runaway science, communism, overpopulation, nuclear wars and, now, reality TV. The State of Panem-which needs to keep its tributaries subdued and its citizens complacent-may have created the Games, but mindless television is the real danger, the means by which society pacifies its citizens and punishes those who fail to conform. Will its connection to reality TV, ubiquitous today, date the book? It might, but for now, it makes this the right book at the right time. What happens if we choose entertainment over humanity? In Collins's world, we'll be obsessed with grooming, we'll talk funny, and all our sentences will end with the same rise as questions. When Katniss is sent to stylists to be made more telegenic before she competes, she stands naked in front of them, strangely unembarrassed. "They're so unlike people that I'm no more self-conscious than if a trio of oddly colored birds were pecking around my feet," she thinks. In order not to hate these creatures who are sending her to her death, she imagines them as pets. It isn't just the contestants who risk the loss of their humanity. It is all who watch. Katniss struggles to win not only the Games but the inherent contest for audience approval. Because this is the first book in a series, not everything is resolved, and what is left unanswered is the central question. Has she sacrificed too much? We know what she has given up to survive, but not whether the price was too high. Readers will wait eagerly to learn more. Megan Whalen Turner is the author of the Newbery Honor book The Thief and its sequels, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia. The next book in the series will be published by Greenwillow in 2010. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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2010
All the Lovely Bad Ones
 Mary Downing Hahn
  Click to search this book in our catalog
2009
The lightning thief
 Rick Riordan.

School Library Journal Gr 5-9-An adventure-quest with a hip edge. At first glance, Perseus Jackson seems like a loser (readers meet him at a boarding school for troubled youth), but he's really the son of Poseidon and a mortal woman. As he discovers his heritage, he also loses that mother and falls into mortal danger. The gods (still very active in the 21st-century world) are about to go to war over a lost thunderbolt, so Percy and sidekicks Grover (a young satyr) and Annabeth (daughter of Athena) set out to retrieve it. Many close calls and monster-attacks later, they enter Hades's realm (via L.A.). A virtuoso description of the Underworld is matched by a later account of Olympus (hovering 600 floors above Manhattan). There's lots of zippy review of Greek myth and legend, and characters like Medusa, Procrustes, Charon, and the Eumenides get updates. Some of the Labors of Heracles or Odysseus's adventures are recycled, but nothing seems stale, and the breakneck pace keeps the action from being too predictable. Percy is an ADHD, wise-cracking, first-person narrator. Naturally, his real quest is for his own identity. Along the way, such topics as family, trust, war, the environment, dreams, and perceptions are raised. There is subtle social critique for sophisticated readers who can see it. Although the novel ends with a satisfying conclusion (and at least one surprise), it is clear that the story isn't over. The 12-year-old has matured and is ready for another quest, and the villain is at large. Readers will be eager to follow the young protagonist's next move.-Patricia D. Lothrop, St. George's School, Newport, RI Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 6-9. The escapades of the Greek gods and heroes get a fresh spin in the first book in the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, about a contemporary 12-year-old New Yorker who learns he's a demigod. Perseus, aka Percy Jackson, thinks he has big problems. His father left before he was born, he's been kicked out of six schools in six years, he's dyslexic, and he has ADHD. What a surprise when he finds out that that's only the tip of the iceberg: he vaporizes his pre-algebra teacher, learns his best friend is a satyr, and is almost killed by a minotaur before his mother manages to get him to the safety of Camp Half-Blood--where he discovers that Poseidon is his father. But that's a problem, too. Poseidon has been accused of stealing Zeus' lightning bolt, and unless Percy can return the bolt, humankind is doomed. Riordan's fast-paced adventure is fresh, dangerous, and funny. Percy is an appealing, but reluctant hero, the modernized gods are hilarious, and the parallels to Harry Potter are frequent and obvious. Because Riordan is faithful to the original myths, librarians should be prepared for a rush of readers wanting the classic stories. --Chris Sherman Copyright 2005 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly A clever concept drives Riordan's highly charged children's book debut (the first in a series): the Greek Gods still rule, though now from a Mt. Olympus on the 600th floor of the Empire State Building, and their offspring, demigods, live among human beings. Narrator Percy Jackson thinks he's just another troubled 12-year-old, until he vaporizes his math teacher, learns his best friend, Grover, is a satyr and narrowly escapes a minotaur to arrive at Camp Half-Blood. After a humorous stint at camp, Percy learns he's the son of Poseidon and embarks on a quest to the Underworld with Grover and Annabeth (a daughter of Athena) to resolve a battle between Zeus and Poseidon over Zeus's stolen "master" lightning bolt. Without sacrificing plot or pacing, Riordan integrates a great deal of mythology into the tale and believably places mythical characters into modern times, often with hilarious results (such as Hades ranting about the problem of "sprawl," or population explosion). However, on emotional notes the novel proves less strong (for example, Percy's grief for his mother rings hollow; readers will likely spot the "friend" who betrays the hero, as foretold by the Oracle of Delphi, before Percy does) and their ultimate confrontation proves a bit anticlimactic. Still, this swift and humorous adventure will leave many readers eager for the next installment. Ages 10-up. (July) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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2008
Drums, Girls and Dangerous Pie
Click to search this book in our catalog   Jordan Sonnenblick

Publishers Weekly "This insightful debut novel charts the way a talented 13-year-old drummer's life changes when his five-year-old brother, Jeffrey, is diagnosed with leukemia," according to PW. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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2007
So B. It
Click to search this book in our catalog   Sarah Weeks
2006
Eragon
Click to search this book in our catalog   Christopher Paolini

Publishers Weekly Makeovers with Mass Appeal New editions spruce up popular titles and bestselling series. Christopher Paolini's Eragon is now available in a deluxe edition, which includes an extensive language/pronunciation guide, a foldout map of Alaga?sia in blue ink (penned by Paolini) and new artwork by the author. (Aug.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly In the first volume in Paolini's planned Inheritance trilogy, 15-year-old Eragon discovers an odd blue gemstone while exploring an infamous stretch of forest. It is a dragon egg, fated to hatch in his care. Eragon quickly develops a psychic connection with the female dragon that emerges, whom he names Saphira ("His emotions were completely open to her mind, and she understood him better than anyone else"). Eragon narrowly escapes doom with Saphira's help, but the uncle who raised him is killed, setting up a robust revenge/adventure tale. The scope quickly expands: Eragon turns out to be the first of a new generation of Riders, a lodge of legendary dragon-riding warriors killed by the evil King Galbatorix. As a result, he becomes the focal point in a war between Galbatorix's forces and the resistance efforts of the Varden. Paolini, who was 15 years old himself when he began this book, takes the near-archetypes of fantasy fiction and makes them fresh and enjoyable, chiefly through a crisp narrative and a likable hero. He carries a substantial Tolkien influence-fanciful spellings of geographical names, the use of landscape as character, as well as the scale and structure of the story itself. But his use of language dispenses with the floral, pastoral touch in favor of more direct prose. The likeness does not end there: the volume opens with a detailed map of Paolini's world, and ends with a glossary and pronunciation guide for his invented language. An auspicious beginning to both career and series. Ages 12-up. (Aug.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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2005
Hoot
 Carl Hiaasen

Publishers Weekly With a Florida setting and proenvironment, antidevelopment message, Hiaasen (Sick Puppy) returns to familiar turf for his first novel for young readers. Characteristically quirky characters and comic twists will surely gain the author new fans, though their attention may wander during his narrative's intermittently protracted focus on several adults, among them a policeman and the manager of a construction site for a new franchise of a pancake restaurant chain. Both men are on a quest to discover who is sabotaging the site at night, including such pranks as uprooting survey stakes, spray-painting the police cruiser's windows while the officer sleeps within and filling the portable potties with alligators. The story's most intriguing character is the boy behind the mischief, a runaway on a mission to protect the miniature owls that live in burrows underneath the site. Roy, who has recently moved to Florida from Montana, befriends the homeless boy (nicknamed Mullet Fingers) and takes up his cause, as does the runaway's stepsister. Though readers will have few doubts about the success of the kids' campaign, several suspenseful scenes build to the denouement involving the sitcom-like unraveling of a muckity-muck at the pancake house. These, along with dollops of humor, help make the novel quite a hoot indeed. Ages 10-up. (Sept.) Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5^-8. It seems unlikely that the master of noir-tinged, surrealistic black humor would write a novel for young readers. And, yet, there has always been something delightfully juvenile about Hiaasen's imagination; beneath the bent cynicism lurks a distinctly 12-year-old cackle. In this thoroughly engaging tale of how middle-schooler Roy Eberhardt, new kid in Coconut Cove, learns to love South Florida, Hiaasen lets his inner kid run rampant, both the subversive side that loves to see grown-ups make fools of themselves and the righteously indignant side, appalled at the mess being made of our planet. When Roy teams up with some classic children's lit outsiders to save the home of some tiny burrowing owls, the stage is set for a confrontation between right-thinking kids and slow-witted, wrongheaded civic boosters. But Hiaasen never lets the formula get in his way; the story is full of offbeat humor, buffoonish yet charming supporting characters, and genuinely touching scenes of children enjoying the wildness of nature. He deserves a warm welcome into children's publishing. --Bill Ott

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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2004
Stormbreaker
 Anthony Horowitz

Publishers Weekly Readers will cheer for Alex Rider, the 14-year-old hero of British author Horowitz's spy thriller (the first in a projected series). When his guardian and uncle, Ian, is mysteriously killed, Alex discovers that his uncle was not the bank vice-president he purported to be, but rather a spy for the British government. Now the government wants Alex to take over his uncle's mission: investigating Sayle Enterprises, the makers of a revolutionary computer called Stormbreaker. The company's head plans to donate one to every secondary school in England, but his dealings with unfriendly countries and Ian Rider's murder have brought him under suspicion. Posing as a teenage computer whiz who's won a Stormbreaker promotional contest, Alex enters the factory and immediately finds clues from his uncle. Satirical names abound (e.g., Mr. Grin, Mr. Sayle's brutish butler, is so named for the scars he received from a circus knife-throwing act gone wrong) and the hard-boiled language is equally outrageous ("It was a soft gray night with a half-moon forming a perfect D in the sky. D for what, Alex wondered. Danger? Discovery? Or disaster?"). These exaggerations only add to the fun, as do the creative gadgets that Alex uses, including a metal-munching cream described as "Zit-Clean. For Healthier Skin." The ultimate mystery may be a bit of a letdown, but that won't stop readers from racing through Alex's adventures, from a high-speed bike chase to a death-defying dance with a Portuguese man-of-war. The audience will stay tuned for his next assignment, Point Blanc, due out spring 2002. Ages 10-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 6-9. When his uncle and legal guardian are mysteriously killed in a car crash, 14-year-old Alex sees his prep-school world overturned in an instant. Police explain in funeral voices that Ian Rider's death was the result of not wearing his seat belt, but that doesn't explain the fresh spray of bullet holes across the car's battered windshield. Finding out what really killed his uncle "and saving England" become young Alex's new life mission. Inspired by James Bond and his own opulent but lonely boarding school upbringing, Horowitz thoughtfully balances Alex's super-spy finesse with typical teen insecurities to create a likable hero living a fantasy come true. An entertaining, nicely layered novel, especially for boys who may not like to read but have a soft spot for good-verses-evil adventure. --Kelly Milner Halls

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-9-Alex Rider's world is turned upside down when he discovers that his uncle and guardian has been murdered. The 14-year-old makes one discovery after another until he is sucked into his uncle's undercover world. The Special Operations Division of M16, his uncle's real employer, blackmails the teen into serving England. After two short weeks of training, Alex is equipped with several special toys like a Game Boy with unique cartridges that allow it to scan, fax, and emit smoke bombs. Alex's mission is to complete his uncle's last assignment, to discover the secret that Herod Sayle is hiding behind his generous donation of one of his supercomputers to every school in the country. When Alex enters Sayle's compound in Port Tallon, he discovers a strange world of secrets and villains including Mr. Grin, an ex-circus knife catcher, and Yassen Gregorovich, professional hit man. The novel provides bang after bang as Alex experiences and survives unbelievably dangerous episodes and eventually crashes through the roof of the Science Museum to save the day. Alex is a strong, smart hero. If readers consider luck the ruling factor in his universe, they will love this James Bond-style adventure. With short cliff-hanger chapters and its breathless pace, it is an excellent choice for reluctant readers. Warning: Suspend reality.-Lynn Bryant, formerly at Navarre High School, FL Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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2003
Fever 1793
 Laurie Halse Anderson
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2002
Holes
Click to search this book in our catalog   Louis Sachar

Book list Gr. 6^-9. Middle-schooler Stanley Yelnats is only the latest in a long line of Yelnats to encounter bad luck, but Stanley's serving of the family curse is a doozie. Wrongfully convicted of stealing a baseball star's sneakers, Stanley is sentenced to six months in a juvenile-detention center, Camp Green Lake. "There is no lake at Camp Green Lake," where Stanley and his fellow campers (imagine the cast from your favorite prison movie, kid version) must dig one five-by-five hole in the dry lake bed every day, ostensibly building character but actually aiding the sicko warden in her search for buried treasure. Sachar's novel mixes comedy, hard-hitting realistic drama, and outrageous fable in a combination that is, at best, unsettling. The comic elements, especially the banter between the boys (part scared teens, part Cool Hand Luke wanna-bes) work well, and the adventure story surrounding Stanley's rescue of his black friend Zero, who attempts to escape, provides both high drama and moving human emotion. But the ending, in which realism gives way to fable, while undeniably clever, seems to belong in another book entirely, dulling the impact of all that has gone before. These mismatched parts don't add up to a coherent whole, but they do deliver a fair share of entertaining and sometimes compelling moments. --Bill Ott

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-Stanley Yelnats IV has been wrongly accused of stealing a famous baseball player's valued sneakers and is sent to Camp Green Lake, a juvenile detention home where the boys dig holes, five feet deep by five feet across, in the miserable Texas heat. It's just one more piece of bad luck that's befallen Stanley's family for generations as a result of the infamous curse of Madame Zeroni. Overweight Stanley, his hands bloodied from digging, figures that at the end of his sentence, he'll "...either be in great physical condition or else dead." Overcome by the useless work and his own feelings of futility, fellow inmate Zero runs away into the arid, desolate surroundings and Stanley, acting on impulse, embarks on a risky mission to save him. He unwittingly lays Madame Zeroni's curse to rest, finds buried treasure, survives yellow-spotted lizards, and gains wisdom and inner strength from the quirky turns of fate. In the almost mystical progress of their ascent of the rock edifice known as "Big Thumb," they discover their own invaluable worth and unwavering friendship. Each of the boys is painted as a distinct individual through Sachar's deftly chosen words. The author's ability to knit Stanley and Zero's compelling story in and out of a history of intriguing ancestors is captivating. Stanley's wit, integrity, faith, and wistful innocence will charm readers. A multitude of colorful characters coupled with the skillful braiding of ethnic folklore, American legend, and contemporary issues is a brilliant achievement. There is no question, kids will love Holes.-Alison Follos, North Country School, Lake Placid, NY

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Publishers Weekly This wry and loopy novel about a camp for juvenile delinquents in a dry Texas desert (once the largest lake in the state) by the author of There's a Boy in the Girls' Bathroom and the Wayside School series has some serious undercurrents. Stanley Yelnats (appropriately enough for a story about reversals, the protagonist's name is a palindrome) gets sent to Camp Green Lake to do penance, "a camp for bad boys." Never mind that Stanley didn't commit the crime he has been convicted of?he blames his bad luck on his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather." He digs five-foot-deep holes with all the other "bad" boys under the baleful direction of the Warden, perhaps the most terrifying female since Big Nurse. Just when it seems as though this is going to be a weird YA cross between One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest and Cool Hand Luke, the story takes off?along with Stanley, who flees camp after his buddy Zero?in a wholly unexpected direction to become a dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magic realism. Readers (especially boys) will likely delight in the larger-than-life (truly Texas-style) manner in which Sachar fills in all the holes, as he ties together seemingly disparate story threads to dispel ghosts from the past and give everyone their just deserts. Ages 12-up. (Sept.)

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2001
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Click to search this book in our catalog   J.K. Rowling
2000
Ella Enchanted
Click to search this book in our catalog   Gail Carson Levine

Book list Gr. 5^-8. A superbly plotted, witty, thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Cinderella story that neatly incorporates elements of the original and mightily expands them. A Booklist Editors' Choice '97.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8¬?The "Cinderella" story is the jumping-off point for an original novel that nevertheless remains grounded in the traditional fairy tale. The plot turns upon a most unwelcome gift, bestowed on Ella at birth by the foolish fairy Lucinda: Ella must always be obedient no matter what the command. When her mother dies, Ella's life takes a definite turn for the worse. She soon meets Dame Olga and her two disagreeable daughters, who will obviously become the wicked stepsisters. There is much of this story to unfold before that happens, however. Ella becomes a good friend of Prince Char, heir apparent to the throne; is sent off to finishing school; and goes on a journey among ogres and giants in search of Lucinda in the hope of having her gift rescinded. When Ella and Prince Char are about to declare their love for one another, she realizes that she could endanger the entire kingdom and she renounces her feelings for him. How these difficulties resolve themselves into a "happily ever after" ending makes for absorbing reading. Ella is a delightful young woman, bright, witty, and resourceful. Prince Char is everything a good prince should be yet comes off as a credible character. The stepmother and sisters are appropriately avaricious, mean-spirited, and selfish. Like Robin McKinley's Beauty (HarperCollins, 1978) and Donna Jo Napoli's Zel (Dutton, 1996), this is a rich and creative retelling of a fairy tale. It is lighter in tone than those novels, however, having more in common with the fractured fairy tales of William Brooke. A thoroughly enchanting novel that deepens and enriches the original tale.¬?Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5^-8. A superbly plotted and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Cinderella story that neatly incorporates elements of the original and mightily expands them. A 1997 Booklist Editors' Choice and a 1998 Newbery Honor Book.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Levine's artful debut novel features a spunky heroine whose trials, all faced with admirable steadiness, give new twists to the classic Cinderella story. Ella is burdened with a curse (she cannot disobey a command), bestowed at birth as a gift from an addled fairy and this¬?plus the loss of her beloved mother¬?causes all sorts of troubles. Before her death, Ella's mother commands her daughter to keep the curse a secret¬?only the cook, Mandy, who is also a fairy, knows the truth. Although Mandy won't use what she calls "big magic," she does give Ella a magical book that, through glimpses of other people's correspondence, lets her see what is going on in the lives of her new friend, Prince Charmont, her soon-to-be stepsisters and her greedy father. Levine ably creates tension between the good and evil characters, throwing in an assortment of ogres, elves and gnomes. Young readers will be charmed by the budding romance between Ella and her prince and touched by her crippling fear of hurting the prince via the curse. After a humorous and inventive re-enactment of Cinderella's three appearances at the royal ball, the action concludes with a slightly skewed but happy ending. Although the pace of the story flags in spots, and the author never wholly engages a suspension of disbelief (Ella's escapes often come too easily¬?for example, when she tames ogres who want to make a meal of her), Levine provides a winning combination of memorable characters and an alluring fantasy realm that will leave readers with hopes of future tales of Ella and Prince Char. Ages 8-12. (May)

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Book list Gr. 5^-8. The canon of retold fairy tales encompasses some distinguished titles, among them, Robin McKinley's Beauty (1978) and Donna J. Napoli's Zel (1996). Now room must be made for Levine's superbly plotted and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Cinderella story. Ella is blessed by a fairy at birth with the gift of obedience. But the blessing is a horror for Ella, who must literally do what everyone tells her, from sweeping the floor to giving up a beloved heirloom necklace. After her mother dies, and her covetous, caustic father leaves on a trading trip, Ella's world is turned upside down. She battles both ogres and wicked stepsisters, makes friends and loses them, and must deny her love for her prince, Charmant, to save his life and his realm. In making this ultimate sacrifice, she breaks the curse. As a beloved friend tells her, "You rescued yourself when you rescued the prince." As finely designed as a tapestry, Ella's story both neatly incorporates elements of the original tale and mightily expands them, not only with the myriad consequences of the curse but also with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers' hearts. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8¬?Cinderella meets Goody Two-shoes in this tale about a girl cursed by the "gift" of obedience. Ella is, nonetheless, a take-charge, intuitive heroine who, despite her love for Prince Char, learns how to just say, "no." (Apr.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5^-8. A superbly plotted, witty, thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Cinderella story that neatly incorporates elements of the original and mightily expands them. A Booklist Editors' Choice '97.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8?The "Cinderella" story is the jumping-off point for an original novel that nevertheless remains grounded in the traditional fairy tale. The plot turns upon a most unwelcome gift, bestowed on Ella at birth by the foolish fairy Lucinda: Ella must always be obedient no matter what the command. When her mother dies, Ella's life takes a definite turn for the worse. She soon meets Dame Olga and her two disagreeable daughters, who will obviously become the wicked stepsisters. There is much of this story to unfold before that happens, however. Ella becomes a good friend of Prince Char, heir apparent to the throne; is sent off to finishing school; and goes on a journey among ogres and giants in search of Lucinda in the hope of having her gift rescinded. When Ella and Prince Char are about to declare their love for one another, she realizes that she could endanger the entire kingdom and she renounces her feelings for him. How these difficulties resolve themselves into a "happily ever after" ending makes for absorbing reading. Ella is a delightful young woman, bright, witty, and resourceful. Prince Char is everything a good prince should be yet comes off as a credible character. The stepmother and sisters are appropriately avaricious, mean-spirited, and selfish. Like Robin McKinley's Beauty (HarperCollins, 1978) and Donna Jo Napoli's Zel (Dutton, 1996), this is a rich and creative retelling of a fairy tale. It is lighter in tone than those novels, however, having more in common with the fractured fairy tales of William Brooke. A thoroughly enchanting novel that deepens and enriches the original tale.?Bruce Anne Shook, Mendenhall Middle School, Greensboro, NC

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5^-8. A superbly plotted and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Cinderella story that neatly incorporates elements of the original and mightily expands them. A 1997 Booklist Editors' Choice and a 1998 Newbery Honor Book.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Levine's artful debut novel features a spunky heroine whose trials, all faced with admirable steadiness, give new twists to the classic Cinderella story. Ella is burdened with a curse (she cannot disobey a command), bestowed at birth as a gift from an addled fairy and this?plus the loss of her beloved mother?causes all sorts of troubles. Before her death, Ella's mother commands her daughter to keep the curse a secret?only the cook, Mandy, who is also a fairy, knows the truth. Although Mandy won't use what she calls "big magic," she does give Ella a magical book that, through glimpses of other people's correspondence, lets her see what is going on in the lives of her new friend, Prince Charmont, her soon-to-be stepsisters and her greedy father. Levine ably creates tension between the good and evil characters, throwing in an assortment of ogres, elves and gnomes. Young readers will be charmed by the budding romance between Ella and her prince and touched by her crippling fear of hurting the prince via the curse. After a humorous and inventive re-enactment of Cinderella's three appearances at the royal ball, the action concludes with a slightly skewed but happy ending. Although the pace of the story flags in spots, and the author never wholly engages a suspension of disbelief (Ella's escapes often come too easily?for example, when she tames ogres who want to make a meal of her), Levine provides a winning combination of memorable characters and an alluring fantasy realm that will leave readers with hopes of future tales of Ella and Prince Char. Ages 8-12. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5^-8. The canon of retold fairy tales encompasses some distinguished titles, among them, Robin McKinley's Beauty (1978) and Donna J. Napoli's Zel (1996). Now room must be made for Levine's superbly plotted and thoroughly enjoyable retelling of the Cinderella story. Ella is blessed by a fairy at birth with the gift of obedience. But the blessing is a horror for Ella, who must literally do what everyone tells her, from sweeping the floor to giving up a beloved heirloom necklace. After her mother dies, and her covetous, caustic father leaves on a trading trip, Ella's world is turned upside down. She battles both ogres and wicked stepsisters, makes friends and loses them, and must deny her love for her prince, Charmant, to save his life and his realm. In making this ultimate sacrifice, she breaks the curse. As a beloved friend tells her, "You rescued yourself when you rescued the prince." As finely designed as a tapestry, Ella's story both neatly incorporates elements of the original tale and mightily expands them, not only with the myriad consequences of the curse but also with a heroine so spirited that she wins readers' hearts. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 5-8?Cinderella meets Goody Two-shoes in this tale about a girl cursed by the "gift" of obedience. Ella is, nonetheless, a take-charge, intuitive heroine who, despite her love for Prince Char, learns how to just say, "no." (Apr.)

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1999
Frindle
 Andrew Clements

School Library Journal Gr 4-6?Nicholas Allen, a sharp, creative, independent thinker starts fifth grade looking for a way to sabotage his Language Arts class. The teacher, Mrs. Granger, is a legend, and he believes her when she states that it is the people who decide what words go into the dictionary. Picking up a dropped pen triggers a brilliant idea. He coins a new word for pen-frindle. It's all for fun, but frindle catches on and Nick finds himself on the "Late Show" and "Good Morning America" explaining his new word. Readers will chuckle from beginning to end as they recognize themselves and their classrooms in the cast of characters. A remarkable teacher's belief in the power of words shines through the entire story, as does a young man's tenacity in proving his point. Outstanding and witty.?Pamela K. Bomboy, Chesterfield County Public Schools, VA

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Publishers Weekly Always one step ahead of his teachers, Nick not only can "feel a homework assignment coming the way a farmer can feel a rainstorm" but can dream up a distraction to prevent the assignment from being given. In fifth grade, however, he meets his match in tough language-arts teacher Mrs. Granger. Just to get under her skin?and despite her loud protests?he invents the word "frindle" and convinces the whole school to use it instead of the word "pen." The word spreads to the city, nation and world, and Clements (Big Al) fast-forwards the story by 10 years to show that "frindle" has made it into the dictionary. With this coup Nick gets a big surprise: the proof that Mrs. Granger was rooting for "frindle" all along. Like the Velveteen Rabbit, his well-worn word has become real. Dictionary lovers will cotton to this mild classroom fantasy, while readers who have a hard time believing that one person could invent a word out of thin air will be surprised to learn that the word "quiz" was invented the same way. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

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1998
Mick Harte Was Here
 Barbara Park

School Library Journal Gr 4-6?Park's latest offering is a short, yet surprisingly deep and powerful look at the death of a sibling. Phoebe Harte, 13, recounts the days immediately following the death of her 12-year-old brother, Mick, in a bicycle accident. The author is adept at portraying the stages of grief and the effects of this sudden tragedy on the family. The book's tone of sadness is mitigated by humor, reassurance, and hope. Mick is fondly remembered through his funny escapades as Phoebe comes to realize that, even though he is dead, he will never be lost to her. The ending has real punch?Phoebe is finally able to admit that Mick was not wearing a helmet. A great discussion-starter.?Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly "I don't want to make you cry. I just want to tell you about Mick. But I thought you should know right up front that he's not here anymore. I just thought that would be fair." Phoebe, the eighth-grade narrator of Park's (Buddies; Don't Make Me Smile) heart-wrenching novel, weaves together diverting anecdotes about her endearingly eccentric brother with her reactions, and those of her parents, to his death in a bicycle accident at the age of 12. The genius of this novel is Park's ability to make the events excruciatingly real while entirely avoiding the mawkish; likable Phoebe's frank, at times even funny narration will leave readers feeling as though they've known the girl-and Mick-for a very long time. Park's ability to convey so affectingly both the individual and collective pain of this family's members is remarkable. She focuses on small moments-the father closing the door to Mick's room upon returning from the hospital; the mother covering her ears because she cannot bear Phoebe's talk about her brother. But the novel has another crucial dimension in that it stresses the importance of wearing bike helmets. Midway through the story, in response to Phoebe's misplaced sense of guilt, Phoebe's father introduces the subject: "He heaved a God-awful sigh and whispered, `If only I had made him wear his helmet.'" The message is skillfully reprised toward the conclusion, in a powerful scene in which Phoebe overcomes her own pain and anger to participate in a school assembly on bicycle safety. An author's note at the end reinforces the message. To Park's great credit, the lesson never dominates-the story reads not as a cautionary tale, but as a full-fledged and fully convincing drama. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

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Book list Gr. 5-7. Park turns her wry eye on a serious subject, the death of a sibling. With love, wit, and anger, 13-year-old Phoebe Harte describes her brother, Mick, and the effect his death has on the family. It is a bike accident that kills Mick, and Park does an excellent job of capturing the shock and dissociation that a sudden death can cause in survivors. There's so much here that rings true: what friends can (and cannot) do, the inevitable rantings against God, and the seesaw emotions experienced by the whole family. Where Park goes a bit over the top is in her description of Mick, a real wiseacre, who puts a ceramic eye in a defrosted chicken and goes trick-or-treating as Thomas Crapper, inventor of the toilet. Not that this isn't funny stuff, but Park's inflation of Mick oddly diminishes him. Still, there is a sea of real emotions here, and readers, whether they've been touched by death or not, will find themselves touched by this book. Park's author's-note plea for kids to wear bike helmets (such a helmet could have saved Mick) may now fall on responsive ears. --Ilene Cooper

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Thirteen-year-old Phoebe works through raw grief and depression after her younger brother, Mick, is killed in a bicycle accident. A loving family, a sense of humor, and memories of mischievous Mick give Phoebe the strength she needs to speak about her brother at a school assembly. Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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1997
The Best School Year Ever
 Barbara Robinson

Book list Gr. 3-5. Although neither quite as hilarious nor as unexpectedly moving as The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (1972), this sequel will still have children laughing out loud at the Herdmans' antics and believing that even such remarkably bad kids have some good qualities. The school year provides the framework for the story, narrated by Beth, who has Imogene Herdman in her class. As soon as the teacher announces that the yearlong class project will be "Compliments for Classmates," which involves writing down the other children's good qualities, it's inevitable that Beth will draw Imogene's name. And what do you say about a girl who swipes a classmate's baby brother, draws pictures on his head with markers, and charges folks a quarter for a look at the Amazing Tattooed Baby? Yet Robinson doesn't just play the Herdmans for laughs. Beth's identification of Imogene's strengths gives the book a level of humanity that makes the novel more than a series of humorous anecdotes. Readers can only hope that the Herdmans will not reform--at least not until after a few more sequels. Few characters in children's fiction are so unredeemed, so uncivilized, and so out-and-out funny. ~--Carolyn Phelan

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly The many readers who have laughed out loud at Robinson's uproarious 1972 novel, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever , will enthusiastically welcome the return of the six cigar-smoking Herdman kids. These six waste no time bending rules: they break them outright. While the original story centered on the church Christmas pageant, the sequel has a broader focus, paving the way for more varied misadventures, virtually all of which the Herdmans craftily orchestrate. Among the dastardly deeds are the siblings' kidnapping of a bald baby, whose head they ``tattoo'' and show to other kids for a fee; their attempt to wash their cat (which is ``missing one eye and part of an ear and most of its tail and all of whatever good nature it ever had'') in a laundromat machine; and their ingenious sabotage of the school's Fire Safety Day observance. In one of the funniest scenes, cunning Imogene Herdman comes to the rescue of a boy whose head (thanks to Imogene's brother) is stuck in a bike rack: she flattens his prominent ears with Scotch tape and slathers his head with margarine so it slides through the bars. If this novel doesn't have quite the consistently razor-sharp repartee of its predecessor, it comes very, very close. Ages 8-up. 50,000 first printing. (Sept.)

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School Library Journal Gr 3-6-The long-awaited sequel to the popular The Best Christmas Pageant Ever (HarperCollins, 1972). A dangerous, shifty, fearless, cigar-smoking family of thieves and fight-instigators, the horrible Herdmans are distributed one per grade at Woodrow Wilson Elementary School, and it is unclear whether junior high or jail will be their next step. Sixth-grader Beth Bradley, the narrator, has the misfortune of drawing Imogene Herdman's name for a class project in which students must think of ``Compliments for Classmates'' at the end of the year. How will she find something good to say about Imogene? Just as the Herdmans discover something about the meaning of Christmas in the first book, Beth and her classmates realize that there is good in everyone-even in Imogene Herdman. While Beth's vignettes of the school year are hilarious, this story lacks the tension of the earlier novel, created by the build-up to the climactic event of the pageant. Nevertheless, this book is certain to be a hit with fans old and new.-Connie Tyrrell Burns, Mahoney Middle School, South Portland, ME

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1996
The Giver
Click to search this book in our catalog   Lois Lowry

School Library Journal Gr 6-9-- In a complete departure from her other novels, Lowry has written an intriguing story set in a society that is uniformly run by a Committee of Elders. Twelve-year-old Jonas's confidence in his comfortable ``normal'' existence as a member of this well-ordered community is shaken when he is assigned his life's work as the Receiver. The Giver, who passes on to Jonas the burden of being the holder for the community of all memory ``back and back and back,'' teaches him the cost of living in an environment that is ``without color, pain, or past.'' The tension leading up to the Ceremony, in which children are promoted not to another grade but to another stage in their life, and the drama and responsibility of the sessions with The Giver are gripping. The final flight for survival is as riveting as it is inevitable. The author makes real abstract concepts, such as the meaning of a life in which there are virtually no choices to be made and no experiences with deep feelings. This tightly plotted story and its believable characters will stay with readers for a long time. --Amy Kellman, The Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh

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Book list Gr. 7^-9. Lowry's simple, powerful prose creates an anti-utopian world where the lack of hardship, war, and poverty only covers the citizens' deeper lack of freedom. A Booklist Editors' Choice and Newbery Medal Winner.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In the ``ideal'' world into which Jonas was born, everybody has sensibly agreed that well-matched married couples will raise exactly two offspring, one boy and one girl. These children's adolescent sexual impulses will be stifled with specially prescribed drugs; at age 12 they will receive an appropriate career assignment, sensibly chosen by the community's Elders. This is a world in which the old live in group homes and are ``released''--to great celebration--at the proper time; the few infants who do not develop according to schedule are also ``released,'' but with no fanfare. Lowry's development of this civilization is so deft that her readers, like the community's citizens, will be easily seduced by the chimera of this ordered, pain-free society. Until the time that Jonah begins training for his job assignment--the rigorous and prestigious position of Receiver of Memory--he, too, is a complacent model citizen. But as his near-mystical training progresses, and he is weighed down and enriched with society's collective memories of a world as stimulating as it was flawed, Jonas grows increasingly aware of the hypocrisy that rules his world. With a storyline that hints at Christian allegory and an eerie futuristic setting, this intriguing novel calls to mind John Christopher's Tripods trilogy and Hans Christian Andersen's The Little Match Girl. Lowry is once again in top form--raising many questions while answering few, and unwinding a tale fit for the most adventurous readers. Ages 12-14. (Apr.)

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1995
Flight #116 is Down
Click to search this book in our catalog   Caroline Cooney

School Library Journal Gr 7-10-- Patrick, 17, finds it ironic that he needs to request hall passes to go to the library, while as an emergency medical technician he can deliver babies and save lives without such childish restrictions. Wealthy Heidi longs to feel competent at something and close to someone. Daniel, 15, must escort his younger brother to a wedding he desperately hopes won't take place. Spoiled Darienne can only focus on the small, insignificant negatives of life. All of these disparate personalities and more are thrown together by the cataclysmic crash of a 747 on Heidi's rural estate. Don't expect the unity or finely brushed characterization of Cooney's Don't Blame the Music (Putnam, 1986). This time, her third-person narration and rapidly shifting viewpoints have awkward results, much like a shooting sequence for an action-packed TV movie. However, it is these very qualities that may engage the attention of unsophisticated or reluctant readers. The author has done her research on emergency rescue; the crash scene and its evolving confusion are vividly detailed, and a great deal of information is conveyed. Human frailty and strengths are counterpoised. For every overdone character flaw (even the dogs don't like Darienne), there are rewarding bits and the importance of being loved and contributing to the welfare of others is reaffirmed. Sure to be popular.-- Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY

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Book list Gr. 7-10. Be prepared for swarms of teens requesting this page-turner. Bill Dodge's exciting dust-jacket illustration will capture their attention, and Cooney's engrossing plot about rescue operations for a downed 747 will ensure that they'll keep reading. Although the action spans only eight hours, readers will experience a roller coaster of emotions as rescuers battle flames and harsh conditions to free 400 trapped passengers. They'll feel the sights and sounds of the crash, the terror and pain of the passengers, and the exhilaration, fatigue, and frustrations of the rescuers. The story focuses primarily on 16-year-old Heidi Landseth, who reports the crash, and on 17-year-old Patrick Farquhar, the first trained emergency medical technician to respond to the emergency. Cooney dedicated the book to her daughter Louisa, a trained EMT at age 16, and the detail and clarity of her descriptions of the rescue operations reflect her interest, knowledge, and respect for emergency medical and rescue teams. A great choice for a booktalk or for use with reluctant readers. ~--Chris Sherman

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Publishers Weekly Using her trademark lightning pace, Cooney depicts the drama and human interest inherent in disaster. A full 747 jetliner crashes late one Saturday night in the tiny upstate New York town of Nearing Falls. The rescue crew, including teen ambulance drivers and paramedics, must battle prejudice, resentment and fear to discover their own brand of bravery. Cooney ( Don't Blame the Music ) captures the lives of both rescuers and passengers with a facile but not unpleasant touch. Her cast includes several conventionally troubled youths, including two brothers en route to their father's second wedding, a spoiled and glamorous rich kid and a runaway on her way home. The author's fluid command of action and suspense, however, redeems these stylistic shortcomings. Like The Poseidon Adventure and Airport , this story will keep even the least bookish readers glued to their seats. Ages 12-up. (Mar.)

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1994
Shiloh
Click to search this book in our catalog   Phyllis Naylor Reynolds

Publishers Weekly In the tradition of Sounder and Where the Red Fern Grows comes this boy-and-his-dog story set in rural West Virginia. When he finds a mistreated beagle pup, 11-year-old Marty knows that the animal should be returned to its rightful owner. But he also realizes that the dog will only be further abused. So he doesn't tell his parents about his discovery, sneaks food for the dog and gets himself into a moral dilemma in trying to do the right thing. Without breaking new ground, Marty's tale is well told, with a strong emphasis on family and religious values. This heartwarming novel should win new fans for the popular Naylor. Ages 8-12. (Sept.)

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Book list Gr. 4-8. In the West Virginia hill country, folks mind each other's privacy and personal rights, a principle that is respected in 11-year-old Marty Preston's family and reinforced by a strict code of honor--no lying, cheating, or taking what isn't yours. When a beagle he names Shiloh follows him home, Marty painfully learns that right and wrong are not always black and white. Marty's dad realizes that the beagle is Judd Travers' new hunting dog and insists they return Shiloh to his rightful owner, even though they both know that Judd keeps his dogs chained and hungry to make them more eager hunters. Sure enough, Judd claims the dog and greets him with a hard kick to his scrawny sides. Marty worries about Shiloh being abused and makes plans to buy the dog . . . if Judd will sell him. Then Shiloh runs away again, and Marty secretly shelters the dog, beginning a chain of lies as he takes food and covers his tracks. Though troubled about deceiving his family, Marty reasons, "a lie don't seem a lie anymore when it's meant to save a dog." The West Virginia dialect richly seasons the true-to-life dialogue. Even when the Prestons care for Shiloh after he is nearly killed by another dog, Mr. Preston insists Shiloh be returned to Judd if he recovers; however, Marty makes a deal with the malicious Judd to earn Shiloh for his own. Not until the final paragraph can readers relax--every turn of the plot confronts them with questions. Like Marty, readers gain understanding, though not acceptance, of Judd's tarnished character. Fueled by the love and trust of Shiloh, Marty displays a wisdom and strength beyond his years. Naylor offers a moving and powerful look at the best and the worst of human nature as well as the shades of gray that color most of life's dilemmas. ~--Ellen Mandel

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-6-- Marty Preston, 11, is a country boy who learns that things are often not what they seem, and that adults are not always ``fair'' in their dealings with other people. Marty finds a stray dog that seems to be abused and is determined to keep it at all costs. Because his family is very poor, without money to feed another mouth, his parents don't want any pets. Subsequently, there is a lot of conflict over the animal within the family and between Marty and Judd Travers, the dog's owner. Honesty and personal relations are both mixed into the story. Naylor has again written a warm, appealing book. However, readers may have difficulty understanding some of the first-person narration as it is written in rural West Virginian dialect. Marty's father is a postman--usually one of the better paying positions in rural areas--yet the family is extremely poor. There seems to be an inconsistency here. This title is not up to Naylor's usual high quality. --Kenneth E. Kowen, Atascocita Middle School Library, Humble, TX

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1993
Maniac Magee
 Jerry Spinelli

School Library Journal Gr 6-10-- Warning: this interesting book is a mythical story about racism. It should not be read as reality. Legend springs up about Jeffrey ``Maniac'' Magee, a white boy who runs faster and hits balls farther than anyone, who lives on his own with amazing grace, and is innocent as to racial affairs. After running away from a loveless home, he encounters several families, in and around Two Mills, a town sharply divided into the black East End and the white West End. Black, feisty Amanda Beale and her family lovingly open their home to Maniac, and tough, smart-talking ``Mars Bar'' Thompson and other characters are all, to varying degrees, full of prejudices and unaware of their own racism. Racial epithets are sprinkled throught the book; Mars Bar calls Maniac ``fishbelly,'' and blacks are described by a white character as being ``today's Indians.'' In the final, disjointed section of the book, Maniac confronts the hatred that perpetuates ignorance by bringing Mars Bar to meet the Pickwells--``the best the West End had to offer.'' In the feel-good ending, Mars and Maniac resolve their differences; Maniac gets a home and there is hope for at least improved racial relations. Unreal? Yes. It's a cop-out for Spinelli to have framed this story as a legend--it frees him from having to make it real, or even possible. Nevertheless, the book will stimulate thinking about racism, and it might help educate those readers who, like so many students, have no first-hand knowledge of people of other races. Pathos and compassion inform a short, relatively easy-to-read story with broad appeal, which suggests that to solve problems of racism, people must first know each other as individuals. --Joel Shoemaker, Tilford Middle School, Vinton, IA

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly In this modern-day tall tale, Spinelli ( Dump Days ; Jason and Marceline ) presents a humorous yet poignant look at the issue of race relations, a rare topic for a work aimed at middle readers. Orphaned as an infant, Jerry Magee is reared by his feuding aunt and uncle until he runs away at age eight. He finds his way to Two Mills, Pa., where the legend of ``Maniac'' Magee begins after he scores major upsets against Brian Denehy, the star high school football player, and Little League tough guy, John McNab. In racially divided Two Mills, the Beales, a black family, take Maniac in, but despite his local fame, community pressure forces him out and he returns to living at the zoo. Park groundskeeper Grayson next cares for the boy, but the old man dies and Maniac moves into the squalid home of the McNabs, who are convinced a race war is imminent. After a showdown with his nemesis, Mars Bar, Maniac bridges the gap between the two sides of town and finally finds a home. Full of snappy street-talk cadences, this off-the-wall yarn will give readers of all colors plenty of food for thought. Ages 8-12. (Apr.)

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1992
Number the Stars
 Lois Lowry

School Library Journal Gr 3-7?The gripping story of a ten-year-old Danish girl and her family's courageous efforts to smuggle Jews out of their Nazi-occupied homeland to safety in Sweden. Readers are taken to the very heart of Annemarie's experience, and, through her eyes, come to understand the true meaning of bravery. (Mar. 1989)

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1991
Matilda
 Roald Dahl

Publishers Weekly Matilda is an extraordinarily gifted four-year-old whose parentsa crass, dishonest used-car dealer and a self-centered, blowsy bingo addictregard her as ``nothing more than a scab.'' Life with her beastly parents is bearable only because Matilda teaches herself to read, finds the public library, and discovers literature. Also, Matilda loves using her lively intelligence to perpetrate daring acts of revenge on her father. This pastime she further develops when she enrolls in Crunchem Hall Primary School, whose headmistress, Miss Trunchbull, is ``a fierce tyrannical monster . . . .'' Adults may cringe at Dahl's excesses in describing the cruel Miss Trunchbull, as well as his reliance on overextended characterization at the expense of plot development. Children, however, with their keenly developed sense of justice, will relish the absolutes of stupidity, greed, evil and might versus intelligence, courage and goodness. They also will sail happily through the contrived, implausible ending. Dahl's phenomenal popularity among children speaks for his breathless storytelling charms; his fans won't be disappointed by Matilda. Blake's droll pen-and-ink sketches extend the exaggerated humor. Ages 9-11. (Oct.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

School Library Journal Gr 4-6 Dahl's latest piece of madcap mayhem is a story filled with the elements that his fans cravesardonic humor, the evilest of villians, the most virtuous of heroines, and children who eventually defeat those big bad grown-ups. In this book, Matilda isn't just smart, she is ``extra-ordinary. . .sensitive and brilliant,'' reading Great Expectations as a four year old. Unfortunately, her TV-addict parents neither recognize nor appreciate their daughter's genius. Neglected Matilda finds mentors in librarian Mrs. Phelps and teacher Miss Honey, a woman as sweet as her name implies. Miss Honey, Matilda, and other students are tormented by the child-hating headmistress Trunchbull. Trunchbull has also cheated orphaned niece Miss Honey out of her rightful inheritance, leaving the teacher in extreme poverty. Having practiced revenge techniques on her father, Matilda now applies her untapped mental powers to rid the school of Trunchbull and restore Miss Honey's financial security. If the conclusion is a bit too rapid, the transitions between Matilda's home and school life a bit choppy, and the writing style not as even as in some of Dahl's earlier titles, young readers won't mind. Dahl has written another fun and funny book with a child's perspective on an adult world. As usual, Blake's comical sketches are the perfect complement to the satirical humor. This may not be a teacher's or principal's first choice as a classroom read-aloud, but children will be waiting in line to read it. Heide Piehler, Shorewood Public Lib . , Wis.

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1990
Wait Till Helen Comes Home
Click to search this book in our catalog   Mary Downing Hahn

Book list Gr. 5-6. A ghost story extraordinaire is one way to bring on the chills and tingles of Halloween. Another choice, more closely tied to the holiday, is Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree, where some children travel through time to learn the origins of the festivities.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-7. Molly and Michael dislike their new stepsister but realize they must try to save her when a ghost beckons the child to certain doom.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-7. A ghost story par excellence in which a difficult seven-year-old is drawn into a frightening relationship with the ghost of a dead child. (S 1 86)

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7 Ghost story fans have a spooky treat in store with Hahn's eerie new novel. Molly, the 12-year-old narrator, and her brother Michael dislike their bratty 5-year-old stepsister Heather and resent the family move to an isolated converted church in the country. The adjourning graveyard frightens Molly, but Heather seems drawn to it. Molly discovers that the ghost of a child (Helen) who died in a fire a century ago wants to lure Heather to her doom. Molly determines to save her stepsister. In so doing, she learns that Heather's strange behavior stems from her feelings of guilt at having accidentally caused her mother's death by playing near a stove and starting a fire. Eventually, Molly wrests Heather from Helen's arms as the ghost attempts to drown them. The girls discover the skeletons of Helen's parents, and their burial finally puts to rest Helen's spirit. This is a powerful, convincing, and frightening tale. The details of everyday life quickly give way to terror. The pace never slackens. Characterization is strong, and descriptive passages set a mood of suspense. There should be a heavy demand from readers who are not ``faint at heart.'' Judy Greenfield, Rye Free Reading Room, N.Y.

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Book list Gr. 5-7. Hahn gives readers a ghost story par excellence. Molly and Michael's newly blended family isn't working very well. Their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather, hates sharing her father, but he, as well as Molly and Michael's mother, keeps reminding them to be nice to the odd child. Heather's mother died in a mysterious fire when the girl was three, and she has never really gotten over it. Things take a turn for the worse when the family moves to a renovated church far out in the country. Heather's lying, unpleasantness, and attempts at dissension reach new heights. Then, she finds a tomb in the church graveyard with her initials H.E.H. on it. Before long Heather is drawn into a frightening relationship with Helen, the ghost of a dead child whose mother also died in a fire. Hahn builds her plot in the best horror story tradition. Her vivid descriptions add to the creepiness, and more than once readers may find themselves putting down the book and looking over their shoulders; the malevolence is that palpable. Intertwined with the ghost story is the question of Molly's moral imperative to save a child she truly dislikes. Though the emotional turnaround may be a bit quick for some, this still scores as a first-rate thriller. IC. Ghosts Fiction / Stepchildren Fiction [CIP] 86-2648

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-6. A ghost story extraordinaire is one way to bring on the chills and tingles of Halloween. Another choice, more closely tied to the holiday, is Ray Bradbury's Halloween Tree, where some children travel through time to learn the origins of the festivities.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-7. Molly and Michael dislike their new stepsister but realize they must try to save her when a ghost beckons the child to certain doom.

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

Book list Gr. 5-7. A ghost story par excellence in which a difficult seven-year-old is drawn into a frightening relationship with the ghost of a dead child. (S 1 86)

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 4-7 Ghost story fans have a spooky treat in store with Hahn's eerie new novel. Molly, the 12-year-old narrator, and her brother Michael dislike their bratty 5-year-old stepsister Heather and resent the family move to an isolated converted church in the country. The adjourning graveyard frightens Molly, but Heather seems drawn to it. Molly discovers that the ghost of a child (Helen) who died in a fire a century ago wants to lure Heather to her doom. Molly determines to save her stepsister. In so doing, she learns that Heather's strange behavior stems from her feelings of guilt at having accidentally caused her mother's death by playing near a stove and starting a fire. Eventually, Molly wrests Heather from Helen's arms as the ghost attempts to drown them. The girls discover the skeletons of Helen's parents, and their burial finally puts to rest Helen's spirit. This is a powerful, convincing, and frightening tale. The details of everyday life quickly give way to terror. The pace never slackens. Characterization is strong, and descriptive passages set a mood of suspense. There should be a heavy demand from readers who are not ``faint at heart.'' Judy Greenfield, Rye Free Reading Room, N.Y.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Book list Gr. 5-7. Hahn gives readers a ghost story par excellence. Molly and Michael's newly blended family isn't working very well. Their seven-year-old stepsister, Heather, hates sharing her father, but he, as well as Molly and Michael's mother, keeps reminding them to be nice to the odd child. Heather's mother died in a mysterious fire when the girl was three, and she has never really gotten over it. Things take a turn for the worse when the family moves to a renovated church far out in the country. Heather's lying, unpleasantness, and attempts at dissension reach new heights. Then, she finds a tomb in the church graveyard with her initials H.E.H. on it. Before long Heather is drawn into a frightening relationship with Helen, the ghost of a dead child whose mother also died in a fire. Hahn builds her plot in the best horror story tradition. Her vivid descriptions add to the creepiness, and more than once readers may find themselves putting down the book and looking over their shoulders; the malevolence is that palpable. Intertwined with the ghost story is the question of Molly's moral imperative to save a child she truly dislikes. Though the emotional turnaround may be a bit quick for some, this still scores as a first-rate thriller. IC. Ghosts Fiction / Stepchildren Fiction [CIP] 86-2648

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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1989
The Dollhouse Murders
Click to search this book in our catalog   Betty Ren Wright
1988
Indian in the Cupboard
Click to search this book in our catalog   Lynne Banks
 

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