Monday, August 12, 2013

Patrick Eats His Peas and Other Stories

New comics for beginning readers from Geisel Award-winning author Geoffrey Hayes and Toon Books. 


Patrick's adventures capture the funny, sweet, and naughty moments that may be found in any household on a daily basis. Geoffrey Hayes distills these moments, his clean dialogue and clear emotional indicators making Patrick's adventures easy to read for even the youngest readers. The expressive characters and soft illustrations capture the warmth and humor of everyday adventures, ones children will recognize from their own lives. A fine addition to a strong early reader series.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Creston Books

Creston Books is a new publisher of children's books, begun by author Marissa Moss. I was lucky enough to meet Marissa at Book Expo America and I must admit it was hard to contain my excitement. I grew up reading Amelia's Notebook and even had the doll. Talking with Marissa about her own books and her new publishing venture I was inspired. Marissa is passionate about children's books and her passion is infectious. I'm looking forward to watching her list grow. 

Two upcoming Creston Books: 
Rotten Pumpkin: A Rotten Tale in 15 Voices by David M. Schwartz, Photos by Dwight Kuhn 
Follow the life cycle of a Jack o'lantern as it is eaten by animals, molds, bugs, and worms. Stunning photographs detail mold growth and the intricacies of rot. The clear photos will have students peering at their own classroom experiments and their Jack o'lantern in a new light. With a comprehensive glossary, this book would be a fascinating addition to classroom libraries.

Cozy Light, Cozy Night by Elisa Kleven 
In winter, pajamas are cozy. In the summer, a special rock might be cozy in your pocked. Elisa Kleven encourages readers to consider the small treasure each season brings. Her colorful illustrations are layered with patterns and textures reminiscent of cozy quilts. This would make a lovely gift for any family. I encourage you to curl up under a quilt and read it together!

Monday, July 29, 2013

Quarkbeasts (and Jennifer Strange) return! Hip, hip, hooray!

The Song of the Quarkbeast: The Chronicles of Kazam Book 2 by Jasper Fforde 
Harcourt, September 3, 2013

Book two of The Chronicles of Kazam is finally here! Jennifer Strange is back and King Snodd is back to causing trouble for her. This time, there are more Quarkbeasts, trolls, political shenanigans, and even a contest versus imagic. Jasper Fforde's books are the perfect blend of smart and funny. Even adults who like the Thursday Next Series should check out Kazam! 

The first book in this series was the tightest book I've read in a long while. The second volume isn't quite as good, but still enjoyable. Jasper Fforde is definitely on my list of "authors whose books I will always buy".  In this case, I picked up a paperback copy when I was in London because galleys weren't yet ready in the United States...

Friday, July 26, 2013

A strange and surreal novel from Patrick Ness

More Than This by Patrick Ness 
Candlewick Press, September 2013

When Seth kills himself, he's surprised to wake up in his family's old house in England. How is this possible? And why is no one else there? And why does he have vivid memories when he dreams? A chilling story of death, life, catastrophe, and connection, More Than This asks questions of what life means and if we can ever have more than what we experience. Like the cold sea, this book pulled me in and wouldn't let me go.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

New from David Almond

The Boy Who Swam with Piranhas by David Almond, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers
Candlewick Press, August 20139

When Stanley's uncle becomes obsessed with canning fish-even Stanley's beautiful birthday goldfish- Stanley runs away with a carnival. But can Stanley become the Boy who swam with Piranhas and completely leave his home behind? Peculiar and surreal, with interesting characters and surprising truths, this book will appeal to readers who enjoyed the Mysterious Benedict society.

Monday, July 22, 2013

Three-Ring Rascals: The Show Must Go On!

By Kate Klise, illustrated by M. Sarah Klise
September 10, 2013, Algonquin Books for Young Readers 

When Sir Sidney realizes it's time to retire, he must find a new Ringmaster for his circus. But the animals aren't happy with Barnabas Brambles. Can Barnabas change? Or will the circus fall apart without Sir Sidney? Kate and M. Sarah Klise are a great team and their newest book with have young readers laughing aloud and maybe even cheering.

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Another slim, emotional novel from Patricia MacLachlan

The Truth of Me by Patricia MacLachlan
Robbie's grandma Maddie has her own special truth, animals trust her. Staying with Maddie, Robbie learns he has to find his own truth, his own special understanding of himself. The special truth about Patricia MacLachlan's books are that they are simple, poetic, and emotionally true; each one will leave you changed.

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Holly Black's new YA series

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
A vampire story like none you've ever read. Gritty, dark, and dangerous, Coldtowns are the quarantined areas where predators and prey live. There's a air of glamor about them, but also hunger, fear, and sickness. Tana wants nothing to do with Coldtowns, but after a party gone terribly wrong, she finds it's the only place left for her to go. I could not put this book down! Even if you dislike vampires, give this book a chance- you won't be disappointed!

Sunday, July 14, 2013

The brilliant, sweet, and quirky adult debut everyone will be reading this fall

The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion

Simply brilliant. When a genetics professor on the Asperger's spectrum launches the Wife Project, he creates a test to find the perfect wife. But what he finds is not what he expected. This is a quirky, sweet, and utterly enjoyable novel of a truly contemporary romance.

Saturday, July 6, 2013

Madeline and the Old House in Paris

by John Bemelmans Marciano 
The first book I ever “read” was Madeline. Now, when I say “read,” I really mean “recited while turning the pages at the correct moment.” It is this sort of Madeline fan that Madeline and the Old House in Paris is for, a child who knows the lines from all the old books. Though a new Madeline story, the beginning of this book remixes lines from the originals, empowering the reader who can't quite read.

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

The sequel to Raven Boys!

The Dream Thieves: Book II of the Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater 
I couldn't wait to read this book, and now I'm eagerly awaiting the next installment. In The Dream Thieves, Maggie Stiefvater continues the story she began in The Raven Boys. Blue, Gansey, and the boys are still looking for the sleeping king Glendower. But the stakes are rising as others realize the powers of the wakened lay lines, powers that are affected by Ronan's terrifying dreams. Ronan may be sulky and he may always tell the truth, but he also has a secret: he can take things from his dreams. Fans of The Raven Boys will seize The Dream Thieves and it will leave them hungering for more. 

* I'd like to point out that this is a great example of a YA book cover. It's illustrated, gender-neutral, and reads well from a distance. Not a huge fan of the type, but the illustration is fabulous. Scholastic, I would pay up to $35 for this book if it came with black and white interior illustrations by the same illustrator. 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Trains Galore!

Train by Elisha Cooper
Scholastic, September 2013
With Farm, Elisha Cooper recorded the feeling of a farm, from tiny visual details to sweeping vistas. With Train, he explores five different types of trains, recording the sounds, smells, movement, and even the animals surrounding each. The result is a sensory journey across the country. Be warned, young vehicle enthusiasts may wish to travel the pages multiple times before going to bed!

Thursday, June 27, 2013

Two new books from Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka

Daisy Gets Lost by Chris Raschka
Random House, October 2013
In the sequel to Raschka's Caldecott Medal-winning A Ball for Daisy, Daisy chases after a squirrel and into the forest where she becomes lost! Whatever will Daisy and her owner do? With only two words, luscious colors, expressive brushstrokes, and masterful framing, Raschka tells an emotional story of loss and joy. I can't wait to share this beautiful book with readers of all ages!

When Lions Roar by Robie H. Harris, illustrated by Chris Raschka 
Scholastic, September 2013
Sometimes sounds can be overwhelming, building until it is all too much. But the young protagonist in When Lions Roar knows what to do when this happens, he takes a moment for himself and tells the world to go away. While the world doesn't just disappear, it is easier to handle. Caldecott Medalist Chris Raschka paints fluid, expressive illustrations. Like Harris' text, they deliver emotions with bold yet simple clarity.

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Simply delectable

I grabbed a galley at a BEA galley grab. This is not something I normally do, but simply had to read this. I finished it on the bus home and my mom read it that night. Yes, it's that enjoyable! 


Curtsies & Conspiracies: Finishing School Book the Second by Gail Carriger
Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, November 2013
Sophronia is back in the second finishing school book. In a school of espionage, there's always something afoot (and afloat). New technology is being stolen, the girls are snubbing Sophronia, someone is trying to kidnap Dimity, and the entire school is headed to London for scientific experiments- and a ball! Somehow, it's all related, and it's up to Sophronia to discover the conspiracy. As if this isn't enough, there's also the flirtations of a Lord to deal with. The Finishing School Books are a delectable mix of frippery, fun, deviousness, and danger.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Cynthia Voigt!

Mister Max: The Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt 
Random House, September 2013
Max's parents are actors, so he's grown up playing many roles. When his parents disappear, Max draws on these roles (and their costumes) as he attempts to solve the mystery of their disappearance. While he discovers little of his parents, Max manages to solve a number of other problems that wander into his life, proving he may be more capable than he thinks. Newbery Medalist Cynthia Voigt has written a sweet mystery perfect for family reading.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Comics and Kate DiCamillo

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo, Candlewick Press, September 2013
Some books you open and immediately start to read aloud, needing to share with someone- anyone; Flora and Ulysses is one of these books. A run-in with a vacuum cleaner grants Ulysses the squirrel the powers of super-strength, flight, and poetry. Flora witnesses Ulysses' transformation and vows to help him fight evil, using knowledge acquired from her favorite comics. But every superhero has an arch-nemesis, and Ulysses' is Flora's mother. Add a host of quirky characters, the never-ending search for love, and illuminations by K.G. Campbell and you've got a surprising, romping adventure certain to wow readers of all ages. Acclaimed writer Kate DiCamillo manages to show the value inherent in all people, and all genres of literature, with one quirky book.

Sunday, June 16, 2013

For Father's Day...a new novel by Neil Gaiman

Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Skottie Young
Disaster strikes one morning when there isn't any milk with each to eat cereal. Bravely, the narrator's father sets off to buy some, and is gone a long, long time. The father returns with the milk and a long excuse involving a professorial stegosaurus, time-travel, balloons, volcanos, aliens, wumpires, and pirates. But is the father's hilarious adventure made-up? Or did he really brave life, death, and confusion to bring his children milk? Gaiman's story is a ridiculous breakfast time read-aloud. Your dad may even find it more interesting than the paper.

Thursday, June 13, 2013

My Favorite Middle Grade Novel This Year

(at least thus far this year)
The Time Fetch by Amy Herrick,  Algonquin Young Readers
As the winter solstice nears, the days get shorter. But what if the days were literally getting shorter as time was lost, forever? Edward doesn't believe in his aunt's new agey Solstice nonsense until the unthinkable happens. Annoying classmate Feenix disappears and no one seems to notice. Pumpkins decay in the course of a single class. And time has started disappearing. Though Edward would rather do the easy thing than the right thing, he and three classmates will have to venture into the snow if the world is to be put back into balance. Take the dimensional characters and realistic relationships from Rebecca Stead's books and mix with the strange magic of The Peculiar; the result is Amy Herrick's stunning middle grade debut. 

I think it has Newbery potential. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Algonquin Young Readers: Somebody Up There Hates You

Somebody Up There Hates You by Hollis Seamon 
Richard Casey is in hospice, in a place people only go when they're going to die. Down the hall is Sylvie, another teen whose bulletin board shows her in her pre-sickness life, beautiful, surrounded by friends...completely different from Richard, pre-sickness. Sylvia is still beautiful in Richard's eyes and romance blossoms. But how can two sick teens, overseen by nurses and families 24-7, ever really be together? Well, with death literally next door, drastic measures can't hurt. Throw in a crazy uncle and already bereft parents for the full range of drama and comedy. Though Richard knows he's going to die, he's going to do a bit of living first. This debut novel made me laugh and cry. Readers who enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars should pick this up. While the premise may be similar, Richard's voice is engaging and wholly original.

Friday, May 24, 2013

Make way for the third Invisible Inkling book!


Invisible Inkling: The Whoopie Pie War by Emily Jenkins Illustrations by Harry Bliss
Hank and his invisible bandapat, Inkling, are back in their third adventure. Hank's mother is forcing him to take swim lessons, which is hard when you're the oldest kid in the most basic level. Meanwhile, Hank's dad is trying (and continually failing) to make pumpkin ice cream in an attempt to win back business stolen by a whoopie pie truck. Luckily, Hank has Inkling to help and just maybe a friend or two. Emily Jenkins writes honestly about the trials of being a fourth grader, adding a sprinkling of humor to the top. Even if you've never read an Invisible Inkling book, pick this up! Oh, and maybe an ice cream cone (with sprinkles) to enjoy it with.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Another great graphic novel from First Second!

Battling Boy by Paul Pope
Humanity is plagued by monsters. Some snatch children and others eat metal. When the hero Haggard West dies trying to fight the monsters, the hero world on high sends down Battling Boy for his rambling (test), giving him only a place to stay and twelve t-shirts, each with a different trait. Battling Boy may be superhuman, but he's still just a kid. Quickly paced, readers will be pulled into the story only to linger over Pope's stunning drawings and original monsters. While I've already started to reread, the sequel can't come soon enough.

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

This Fall: A New Graphic Novel from Matt Phelan

Bluffton: My Summers with Buster by Matt Phelan
As with his two previous books, Phelan bases Bluffton on actual events. In this case, the childhood summers of actor, filmmaker, and comedian Buster Keaton. Keaton and his family summered by a lake in Michigan, where he and his fellow vaudevillians pulled pranks, told rousing stories, and played lots of baseball. Through the eyes of Henry, a normal turn-of-the-century boy, readers are introduced to Buster's early life and the magic of summers in which the circus came right to one's door. Phelan's sprightly line and fluid watercolor captures the exuberant movements of his characters and the glowing light of summer. Those who enjoy Phelan's past work or historical fiction and teachers shifting to the Common Core will want to snag a copy! 

*Unfortunatelythe digital review copy was in black and white and the final print version will be in full-color. I'll have to pick up a copy when it pubs! 

Sunday, May 5, 2013

I procrastinated by reading Rainbow Rowell's Fangirl...

 * And yes, the cover is illustrated by the creator of "Nimona," Noelle Stevenson. If you don't know Nimona, go check it out!
Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
Cather's completely different from her twin sister Wren. While Wren parties and tries new things at college, Cather doesn't want to leave her dorm room and her comfort zone. Besides, she needs to stay in and write the latest chapter of her Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) Fanfic as thousands of fans are waiting for her post. But Cather's upperclassman roommate and her ex-boyfriend both fall for Cather's nerdy quiet, pushing her to try something (anything) new. Meanwhile, Wren's lifestyle is catching up with her, Cather's mother, who's been absent 10 years, is trying to establish contact and her dad isn't adjusting to an empty nest. With empathy and balance Rainbow Rowell writes of the realistic problems, revelations, and sweet moments of a college freshman in a novel that will hook anyone who grew up with Harry Potter mid-night release parties.

Friday, May 3, 2013

Remember Nursery Rhyme Comics?

Fairy Tale Comics edited by Chris Duffy
From familiar tales with a new twist to old tales you've never discovered, Fairy Tale Comics gathers new interpretations of fairy tales from around the world. The list of contributors is studded with stars from both adult and children's comics. Highlights include Luke Pearson's “The Boy Who Drew Cats,” and Jillian Tamaki's “Baba Yaga.” I also love the palette of Emily Carroll's "Twelve Dancing Princesses"! Editor Chis Duffy has done a magnificent job of selecting illustrators with a range of styles, making each new story a delightfully fresh surprise. Pick this up to read the illustrator you love, and stay to discover someone new. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

A Fabulous Illustrated Book for All Ages

Mouse Bird Snake Wolf by David Almond and Dave McKean
In a new world a bit like ours lives Ben, Harry, and Sue. One day, while they're playing, they look into themselves and find new, interesting animals. Using sticks and grass and clay, they make their creatures and give them life, much as the gods do above them. A small mouse, a beautiful bird, and a slithering snake have now come to the world. But instead of stopping to rest like the gods, Harry and Sue find within themselves a large, hairy, wolfish thing. A growling, howling, wolfy wolf. Despite Ben's protestations, they make it and as soon a it's begun to run and howl, they are gobbled up. 

Almond's story feels like a classic creation tale, with all the light and darkness, innocence and experience you might expect. The tale is timeless and McKean's illustrations capture the full range and scope of the story. A dark and timeless tale at once cautionary and inspiring. Perfect for recent graduates of all ages!

If you're a bookseller, put this on your graduation table! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

A graphic novel for those who like Faith Erin Hicks

If you like Faith Erin Hicks (and who doesn't) or The Plain Janes, The Cute Girl Network by MK Reed and Greg Means may be just what you're looking for.

When Jane, a cute skater girl new to the city, falls off her skateboard in front of Jack's soup stand, Jack helps her up, and asks her out. Jane and Jack have a few fun dates and while it quickly become clear that Jack is clumsy and forgetful, Jane likes being around him. When Jane's roommate hears about Jack, she puts out a call on the Cute Girls' Network, a phone tree of young women in the city who warn others about "undateable" guys. She brings Jane to talk ot a few of Jack's exes. Some of the stories they tell are horrifying. Despite pressure from her roommate to dump Jack, it's ulimately up to Jane to decide what to do. In the end, Jane and Jack make a reasonable, and very adult decision one would be happy to put into any teenager's hands. 

Though I love the illustrations and find the message of the book to be wonderful, I found myself asking a few questions about the Cute Girls Network. What about girls who date girls? What are the qualifications for the network, especially as there are references to "cute" and "quality" girls? Though there are a few holes in this book, it's ultimately a fun, fast read. 

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Crossover Gem

The Summer Prince

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnson
June Costa lives in a pyramid in Palmares Tres. Her society is a matriarchy and has been since most of the Earth was ravaged. While a Queen rules, each year their is a Summer King, a young man chose to co-rule for one year. After this year of power, the Summer King is killed. But June falls in love with the Summer King as does her best friend. Their relationships over turn the way June views the world and her art-- and June lives for her art. This book has it all: romance, art, science-fiction, coming-of-age, and Johnson has created something truly original in her story. Let me just say, there are no bad guys in this book, only people who see the world in a different (yet still justified way). Forget about the dystopian vs. utopian; this book will steal your heart.

Monday, March 4, 2013

New from Patricia MacLachlan

White Fur Flying

White Fur Flying by Patricia MacLachlan
Zoe's mother rescues Great Pyrenees dogs, caring for them until a new home can be found. Across the street, Philip is moving in with his aunt and uncle. Philip is doesn't speak and no one knows why. Up until now, Zoe's family has been rescuing dogs. This time, it may be the dogs who do the rescuing. This simple, poetic story of trust and friendship will steal your heart. A line from the book perfectly describes Patricia's writing: "[she] always tells the truth...even if it is fiction."

Friday, March 1, 2013

From Sarah Stewart & David Small

The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
We all remember our first refrigerator box. The one that become a space ship, house, or train. In The Quiet Place, Isabel uses the boxes left over from birthday presents to build a quiet place all her own, one that provides security and a way to capture her old home in Mexico. The text is comprised of Isabel's letters to her Aunt Lupita back in Mexico. She uses these letters to practice her English and share the interesting new words she collects. David Small's illustrations add much to the text and his colors and energetic lines capture movement and emotion. As Isabel learns English and gains friends, growing more secure in her new environment, her quiet place mirrors the change, accepting friends and neighbors and their joyous singing. Young children will recognize Isabel's need to create her own space while older children will glimpse the larger implications of being a new immigrant in the 1950s. Like many of Sarah Stewart & David Small's books, The Quiet Place is sure to garner attention and awards.

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Beginning Reader Branches Book

The Notebook of Doom #1: Rise of the Balloon Goons by Troy CummingsWhen Alexander moves to a new town, he's certain something is wrong. He's right to be frightened. Tires deflate, balloons appear to launch menacing attacks...and he's found a notebook containing, well, creatures that bring certain DOOM! Troy Cummings' new series strikes a perfect balance of silly and scary. Recent readers will feel assured by the balance of text and illustration in Branches books and excited when they're able to read an entire series of chapter books alone.

Fact-paced, exciting, and humorous, The Notebook of Doom will have even reluctant readers excited for the next installment.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Another stellar picturebook

Jemmy Button

Jemmy Button by Jennifer Uman & Valerio Vidali
Jemmy Button is based on the actual life of a man of the same name who was taken from his home to be educated in Western culture and society. A collaboration between Uman and Vidali, the book provides the chance to observe the world through someone else's eyes. The book's stunning illustrations are colorful and graphic, and the collaborators turn what could be a history lesson into a compelling story for children and adults.

Friday, February 22, 2013

Matilda & Hans by Yokococo

Matilda and Hans 
Matilda is a perfectly good child. Hans is a total terror. These two couldn't be more different. When Hans releases all the animals from the zoo, Matilda does what any good citizen would and turns him in. How did Matilda know who did this deed? When Hans pulls off his mask, all will be revealed! Delightful fun from beginning to surprising end, kids will be clamoring for you to "read it again!"

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

More Bink & Gollie!

Bink & Gollie: Best Friends Forever

Bink & Gollie Best Friends Forever
Before you open this book you must find someone to read it aloud to, or find a young reader to read it to you. Why? As Bink & Gollie know, laughter is better with a friend. Bink and Gollie are back in their third book. Though they may not always see things eye to eye (I mean, Bink is a great deal shorter than Gollie) they always realize being friends is the most important thing in the world-- even more important than pancakes or princesses. Tony Fucile's lively illustrations expand upon the text, adding humor and energy. I hope DiCamillo, McGhee, and Fucile continue the series; every book has been pitch-perfect!

Saturday, February 16, 2013

FArTHER by Grahame Baker-Smith


This moving picture book spans three generations of men, all visited by the the dream of flight. Each generation is joined by their common dream and the emotional release that flight brings. FArTHER is about fathers, but it's also about going farther geographically, emotionally, and intellectually. Sorrowful yet joyful, FArTHER will have readers soaring on changing currents of emotion until they land, uplifted and inspired. (You may wish to take a handkerchief along for the flight.)

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

More beautiful illustrations from Stephen Savage

Polar Bear Morning

Polar Bear Morning by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Stephen Savage
The companion to Polar Bear Night, Polar Bear Morning finds the little cub out exploring her world. The day holds much in store: other creatures, activities, and even a new friend. Savage's illustrations feature bold shapes and surprising palettes that set an immediate mood for each spread. Even infants will be drawn to the simple forms and playful colors. Simple text and illustrations combine to create a beautiful book that would make a great baby shower gift.

Monday, February 11, 2013

Great! Fun!

Exclamation Mark

Exclamation Mark Amy Krouse Rosenthal, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Exclamation Mark is not like the periods. But what will happen when a question mark comes along? It turns out, sometimes, you to need to exclaim things. Like "This is an amazing book!" Or "Teachers will love Exclamation Mark!" Silly, smart, and even educational, it's sure to have people exclaiming, "Wow! Read this!"

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Good Fun

The Adventures of Superhero Girl 
Adventures of Superhero Girl by Faith Erin Hicks
Remember when you had a terrible day at school and you'd spent the hours before dinner reading Calvin and Hobbes to feel a bit better? (What do I mean remember, this totally still happens.) Anyway, now that the time between work and dinner is much shorter, just a few pages of the Adventures of Superhero Girl are what you need. It's good, smart, fun and watching Faith's interpretation of a 20-something superhero with money and dating issues makes your own issues look a bit more manageable. Added bonus? Readers who've loved Zita the Spacegirl will have Superhero Girl waiting when they become teenagers!

Monday, February 4, 2013

A Wrinkle in Time: Graphic Novel

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel

Translating a book to another medium is always difficult, but Hope Larson's graphic novelization of A Wrinkle in Time retains most of the scenes and dialog. While I wouldn't recommend it to anyone who hasn't read the book (everybody needs a chance to visualize the book on their own), Hope's adaptation will make the text more approachable to visual learners and L'Engle fans. Black and white illustrations are given added depth with the use of a pale blue. I was intrigued by the way Faith highlights Meg's emotional arc in her adaptation. But no matter who you are, you're sure to find a plot, character or mood detail interpreted in a way you'd never considered and it is this that makes the adaptation worth reading.

Saturday, February 2, 2013


Eleanor & Park

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell
It's evident that Eleanor doesn't fit in from the moment she steps on the school bus and while Park know it's social suicide to share his seat with her, he does anyway. This small gesture grows to sharing music, comic books, and kisses. Park is Eleanor's escape from her home, from the struggle that is living in a poor, abused family. Park's life isn't perfect, but seen through Eleanor's eyes, it's more than anyone could hope for. These realistic details rocket Rainbow Rowell's book from a beautiful story of love to one that considers heartbreaking realities; the result is stunning. Rainbow Rowell's novel will have readers sobbing as they press the book into their best friend's hands. Remember when we told you you'd love The Fault in Our Stars? This is what you need to read next.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner

Maggot Moon

Standish Treadwell is not like everyone else. Luckily he's always been able to get by without attracting too much attention. But when a teacher beats a boy, Standish intervenes and is noticed by those working for the Motherland. The Motherland culls those who are different, unwanted, or independent. Standish is different and his grandfather has secrets hidden in the basement-- secrets the Motherland will kill to protect. But once the Motherland notices you, there's nothing you can do to avoid becoming maggot meat except, perhaps, make one last stand. Both chilling and stunning, Maggot Moon is reminiscent of both 1984 and The Handmaid's Tale. Author Sally Gardner has created a haunting tale that deserves applause.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Ignore the text, buy the book for the illustrations

The Beginner's Guide to Running Away from Home

If you're thinking about running away from home, this is the perfect manual. The protagonist instructs readers on the reasons one should run away, just what to pack, where to go...and why you might change your mind once you're there. Red Nose Studio, whose illustrations for Here Comes the Garbage Barge were given the award of Best Illustrated from the New York Times, brings humorous details and vivid life to the book. Sculptural illustrations leap from the page in photographs that capture all their depth, color, and detail. You're bound to get lost in these stunning illustrations. In fact, if you're running away, bring one book with you, The Beginners Guide to Running Away From Home.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong if you read this book

Really. Except that you might miss an appointment as you rush to finish it...and then read it all over again.

Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong
Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong written by Prudence Shen & illustrated by Faith Erin Hicks
Conniving cheerleaders intent on buying new uniforms face off against the robotics club in a story full of drama and humor. Both teams have been told their funding is at the discretion of the Student Council and both teams decide to take matters into their own hands, pitting next-door neighbors against one another in the race to be student council president. But when campaign tactics turn unspeakably nasty, the principal pulls all funding from both teams. Now, there's only one thing that can save both the robotics club and the cheerleaders: a robot rumble with a hefty monetary prize. That's right, robots fighting to the death... what could possibly go wrong?  Shen and Hicks are an incredible duo. Their quirky, dimensional characters could walk off the page and into high school halls. When it comes to humor, action, and drama, it doesn't get better than this.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Another Dystopian (and it's pretty good!)

The Testing

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau
Dystopian books have been coming thick and fast the past few years, so it takes something original to stand out. A few twists and turns in The Testing bring it into new territory. Cia lives in what was once the Great Lakes region of the United States, a region that is being revitalized over a century after chemical, biological, and nuclear warfare. After graduating, Cia is chosen to participate in the Testing, which selects candidates to study at the University and become society's next leaders. The Testing is an honor one can't refuse, and though there are academic tests, later stages prove to be fatal. High stakes survival is woven with science and romance in this thrilling dystopian that shows life is rarely full of black and white choices.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Remember how great Grave Mercy was?

Dark Triumph by Robin LaFevers
I devoured Gravy Mercy, the first in Robin LaFever's His Fair Assassin Series. Dark Triumph is even better and you don't have to read Grave Mercy to plunge in. At the convent for the daughters of Death, Sybella not only learned an assassin's skills, but healed from her life. When her training was complete, the nuns sent Sybella back to the house she grew up in-- back to her terrifying father and conniving brothers. At home, there's no one she can trust and her only enjoyment comes from delivering justice-- that is until her fate is changed by the only good person in her father's house, his most prized prisoner. Sybella's story is dark and thrilling and fans of Tamora Pierce or Melina Marchetta's Finnikin of the Rock will not be disappointed.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Beautiful Fantasy

The Girl Who Fell Beneath Fairyland and Led the Revels There by Catherynne M. Valente
In this sequel to The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, September finds herself falling back into fairyland. This time her mission is to save fairyland from her own Shadow, who is draining fairyland of its magic for frivolous reasons. Valente's delicious language and inventive settings are to be savored while her knowledge of fairy folklore will entice adult fantasy readers. An added bonus: each chapter stands alone, making for perfect bedtime reading.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Eve & Adam

by Michael Grant & Katherine Applegate
When Eve is hit by a car, suffering horrible injuries, her mother pulls her from the hospital as quickly as she can, transferring Eve to her research facility, Spiker Biopharmaceuticals. While recovering, Eve's mother has Eve test a new computer program. Her project? Create the perfect boy. But nothing at Spiker is what it seems, and a strange boy seems to know more secrets than anyone else. Grant & Applegate have written a fast-paced thriller sure to appeal to those who enjoyed The Adoration of Jenna Fox.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

Funny Journal-Style Middle Grade


Timmy Failure: Mistakes Were Made by Stephan Pastis
Timmy Failure and his sidekick --ahem, business partner-- are like Calvin & Hobbes if Calvin was dense and Hobbes was a seal-obsessed polar bear. Together, Timmy and Total form Total Failure, Inc, a detective agency Timmy is sure will soon be an international corporation making billions-- or at least enough to pay his mom's bills. The only thing standing in Timmy's way is the CCIA or Corrina Corrina Intelligence Agency run by the evilest girl in Timmy's class. Oh, and his grade obsessed best friend (possible traitor) and an infatuated classmate (international thief). Stephan Pastis' hilarious novel is perfect for kids obsessed with Diary of a Wimpy Kid or Calvin & Hobbes. Okay, adults will laugh, too.

Under the humor are serious situations faced by many kids.
(spoilers as to what these issues are below)

Timmy's mom is finding it difficult to pay the bills and she and Timmy end up moving into an apartment. Timmy immediately dislikes his mom's boyfriend (ultimately, his mom realizes the boyfriend does not care as much about Timmy as his car and ends it). Timmy's grades are low but with the right teacher (who sees Timmy as an individual)Timmy begins to do very well. These underlying issues elevate the book to more than just another journal-style middle grade series.

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Very Early Graphic Novel

Odd Duck

Odd Duck by Cecil Castellucci & Sara Varon
Theodora is a tidy duck who always follows her daily routine. While her choices may be strange for most ducks (she quilts and swims with a tea cup on her head), everything in her life fits perfectly in its' place...that is until a neighbor comes along. Chad is bizarre. He dyes his feathers and makes strange sculptures in the yard. Theodora is certain the two will never be friends but as it often happens in books for young readers, she's quickly proven wrong. Though a common story, Castellucci and Varon bring their own fun flavor. Odd Duck is filled with sweet and quirky characters children are sure to love. Perfect for an early reader audience, Odd Duck is also a great read-aloud selection for non-readers who can sit through a long story but still want lots of pictures. Hopefully we'll see more books from this quirky duo.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

A top graphic novel of 2012

The Secret of the Stone Frog by David Nytra
When Alan and his sister Leah wake, they find themselves in a magical forest. To find their way home, they must follow the path of the stone frogs. Of course, they have a few adventures along the way. Though reminiscent of both Alice in Wonderland and Little Nemo, David Nytra crafts a unique fantasy. Detailed black and white pen and ink drawings invite readers to become lost along with Leah and Alan. David Nytra keeps his text to a minimum and new new readers will be astonished that they can read a book with so many pages. All in all, The Secret of the Stone Frog is a masterpiece.