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Archive for August, 2014

August 18, 2014

August: Last Days of Summer

by Pat Scales

August is a symbol of the end of summer to most school-age children and teens. Many actually begin their school year in the month of August; others start back to school after Labor Day. Almost all will spend the remaining days of summer soaking up last bits of fun before they have to focus on their studies once again. Summer reading programs may be ending in public libraries, but that doesn’t mean that reading should end. There are so many ways that libraries can celebrate the end of summer with patrons, even with those who haven’t participated in the summer reading program. Consider some of the following ideas?

  • Have older readers write an online essay for the library website called “How I Spent My Summer Vacation” from the point of view of the main character in a book that is set in the summer.  Suggestions from Random House include:

Chomp by Carl Hiaasen (middle grade)

Crow by Barbara Wright (middle grade)

How Tía Lola Saved the Summer by Julia Alvarez (middle grade)

Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool (middle grade)

Paperboy by Vince Vawter (middle grade)

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall (middle grade)

The Quilt by Gary Paulsen (middle grade)

Turtle in Paradise by Gary Paulsen (middle grade)

The Watsons Go to Birmingham–1963 by Christopher Paul Curtis (middle grade)

The Living by Matt de la Peña (young adult)

Mexican WhiteBoy by Matt de la Peña (young adult)

Orchards by Holly Thompson (young adult)

  • Encourage younger readers to share orally how main characters in books spent their summer vacation. Suggestions from Random House include:

The Berenstain Bears Go to Camp by Stan and Jan Berenstain (picture book)

Tar Beach by Faith Ringgold (picture book)

Tomás and the Library Lady by Pat Mora and illus. by Raul Colón (picture book)

Going, Going, Gone! With the Pain and the Great One by Judy Blume and illus. by James Stevenson (easy reader)

  • Ask readers to share a main character with whom they would most like to spend the last days of summer. Then play charades and have readers act the activity that they and the main character are likely to enjoy. Some readers may choose the following main characters:

The grandfather from Song and Dance Man (picture book) by Karen Ackerman and illus. by Stephen Gammell

Junie B. Jones from the series (beginning reader) by Barbara Park

Alvin Ho from the series (easy reader) by Lenore Look and illus. by LeUyen Pham

Calvin Coconut from the series (easy reader) by Graham Salisbury

Piper Reed from the series (middle grade) by Kimberly Willis Holt

Brian from Brian’s Return (middle grade) by Gary Paulsen

April or Melanie from The Gypsy Game (middle grade) by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

Ned from Jelly Belly (middle grade) by Robert Kimmel Smith

Stanley Yelnats from Holes (middle grade) by Louis Sachar

Georges or Safer from Liar & Spy (middle grade) by Rebecca Stead

Jack from Hokey Pokey (middle grade) by Jerry Spinelli

Amanda from Zero (young adult) by Tom Leveen

Mikey from Lord of the Deep (young adult) by Graham Salisbury

Sammy Keyes from the series (young adult) by Wendelin Van Draanen

Simone from A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life (young adult) by Dana Reinhardt

Zach from Road Rash (young adult) by Mark Huntley Parsons

  • Finally, because even the youngest school-age students have summer reading lists, the public library may have a summer reading night for readers and their parents or caregivers. Make it fun and suggest that readers share a summary of the book in rap.

August 18, 2014

Do you know someone with back-to-school butterflies? Start their year off right with these titles!

Picture Books

Drop It, Rocket!  (Step into Reading, Step 1) by Tad Hills  (Schwartz & Wade)
Get ready to learn with Rocket! #1 New York Times bestselling author Tad Hills creates a Level 1 Step into Reading story just in time for back to school.
Rocket, the beloved dog from the New York Times bestselling picture books How Rocket Learned to Read and Rocket Writes a Story, is back in a Step into Reading leveled reader. Rocket loves to collect words for his word tree with his teacher, the little yellow bird. Watch as the adorable pup finds new words like leafhatstarboot, and many more. With predictable patterns, simple words, lots of repetition, and bright colorful illustrations, young readers will love this new Rocket book, which they can read all by themselves!

My Pet Book by Bob Staake  (Random House)
Award-winning author-illustrator Bob Staake has created a rollicking picture book about a boy and his most unusual pet!
Most pets are cats and dogs, but what happens when a boy wants a different kind of pet, one that doesn’t meow or bark? Bob Staake’s exuberant tale of a little boy and the pet of his dreams will appeal to anyone whose best friends are . . . books! Books make the perfect pets, the boy decides, and chooses a bright red one. When it goes missing, a lively adventure is in store for readers who love a happy ending. Soon kids everywhere will wish for a pet book of their very own.

Miss Brooks’ Story Nook by Barbara Bottner  (Knopf)
A hilarious companion to the New York Times bestselling Miss Brooks Loves Books! (and I don’t) about the power of stories and storytelling.
When the lights go out and it’s too dark to read, the intrepid librarian Miss Brooks teaches her story hour group how to tell their own stories. She gets them going with great prompts about characters, plot, action, and the importance of a satisfying ending.
Missy, ever the contrarian, has other things on her mind–like Billy Toomey, the annoying bully who needs dealing with. But in a burst of inspiration, Missy realizes that her made-up tale could help solve her real-life problem. And Billy Toomey turns out to be the perfect audience for Missy’s very, very scary story…

Middle Grade

Gabriel Finley and The Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen  (Schwartz & Wade)
Impress your friends with some riddle knowledge!
A fast-paced, exciting–and emotionally rich–fantasy novel for middle graders that reads like a cross between Harry Potter and The Phantom Tollbooth.
How can 11-year-old Gabriel find his missing father, who seems to have vanished without a trace? With the help of Paladin–a young raven with whom he has a magical bond that enables them to become one creature–he flies to the foreboding land of Aviopolis, where he must face a series of difficult challenges and unanswerable riddles that could lead to his father… or to his death.

Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (50th Anniversary Edition) by Roald Dahl and Illustrated by Joseph Schindelman  (Knopf)
Celebrate fifty years of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory!
First published in 1964 with whimsical illustrations by Joseph Schindelman, Roald Dahl’s Charlie and the Chocolate Factory became an instant classic. Now this special commemorative edition brings back Schindelman’s beloved original illustrations. Perfect for old fans and new fans alike, it’s sure to become a treasured family favorite.

365 DAYS OF WONDER: Mr. Browne’s Book of Precepts by R.J. Palacio  (Knopf)
Inspired by the blockbuster bestseller Wonder, here are 365 precepts that will enlighten, engage, inspire, comfort, and challenge readers every day.
In the #1 New York Times bestselling novel Wonder, readers were introduced to memorable English teacher Mr. Browne and his love of precepts. Simply put, precepts are principles to live by, and Mr. Browne has compiled 365 of them–one for each day of the year–drawn from popular songs to children’s books to inscriptions on Egyptian tombstones to fortune cookies. His selections celebrate kindness, hopefulness, the goodness of human beings, the strength of people’s hearts, and the power of people’s wills. Interspersed with the precepts are letters and emails from characters who appeared inWonder. Readers hear from Summer, Jack, Charlotte, Julian, and Amos.

Fans of The Penderwicks and James Patterson’s Middle School series will embrace this seriously funny, anything but typical adventure about a Modern Family of two dads, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets.
TO: You (who else?)
FROM: The Fletchers–Sam, age 12: mostly interested in soccer, food, and his phone; Jax, age 10: psyched for fourth grade and wants to be as cool as his older brother; Eli, age 10 (but younger than Jax): delighted to be starting the Pinnacle School, where he finally won’t be the brainiest kid, Frog, age 6 (not his real name): wants everyone in kindergarten to save a seat for his imaginary cheetah. Also Dad and Papa.

Wonder by R.J. Palacio  (Knopf)
WONDERing what to read at your desk? August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid–but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. Wonder, now a #1 New York Times bestseller and included on the Texas Bluebonnet Award Master List, begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include that of his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

The Julian Chapter by R.J. Palacio  (Knopf)
Over 1 million people have read Wonder and have fallen in love with Auggie Pullman, an ordinary boy with an extraordinary face. Now readers will have a chance to hear from the book’s most controversial character–Julian.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library by Chris Grabenstein  (RHCB)
It’s the ultimate game! Locked in a library overnight, twelve kids need to solve brain-teasing puzzles in order to escape!
A cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and A Night in the Museum by Agatha Award-winner Chris Grabenstein.
Kyle Keeley is the class clown and a huge fan of all games–board games, word games, and particularly video games. His hero, Luigi Lemoncello, the most notorious and creative gamemaker in the world, just so happens to be the genius behind the construction of the new town library. Lucky Kyle wins a coveted spot as one of twelve kids invited for an overnight sleepover in the library, hosted by Mr. Lemoncello and riddled with lots and lots of games. But when morning comes, the doors stay locked. Kyle and the other kids must solve every clue and figure out every secret puzzle to find the hidden escape route!

Young Adult

Uncaged by John Sandford and Michele Cook  (Knopf)
Sure to put you on the edge of your desk chair… #1 New York Times bestselling Prey author John Sandford and Michele Cook debut a high-octane young adult thriller series.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart (Delacorte)
A gripping read perfect for a summer reading book club! Enter the world of the Sinclair family, a family who has every advantage. But all families have secrets–even the Sinclairs. Lives begin to unravel as those involved desperately try to hold on to the traditions that have defined their lives, even as their world falls apart.

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan (Wendy Lamb Books)
A riveting YA debut: an eco-thriller set in Hawaii full of unexpected twists, terrific action, and big ideas about a terrifying disaster that just might happen…
In this fast-paced survival story set in Hawaii, electronics fail worldwide, the islands become completely isolated, and a strange starscape fills the sky. Leilani and her father embark on a nightmare odyssey from Oahu to their home on the Big Island. Leilani’s epilepsy holds a clue to the disaster, if only they can survive as the islands revert to earlier ways.

August 18, 2014

Fall ‘14’s Hot New Middle Grade Titles

As the Middle Grade readers in your life return to school, it’s the perfect time to introduce them to these hot new books. Frostborn, Kate the Great, and Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle are brand new titles that will appeal to a wide range of readers. Whether in a mythical land of trolls, the halls of middle school, or a land of magical ravens, students will find themselves transported into stories of both the familiar and the fantastic that will leave them wanting more.

Kate the Great, Except When She’s Not
Suzy Becker
[HC: 978-0-385-38742-2
GLB: 978-0-385-38743-9]

In the tradition of Big Nate and Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Suzy Becker brings middle-school character Kate to life through her lively storytelling and quirky illustrations. Middle grade readers will relate to Kate as she overcomes frenemies, fifth grade and more.

“She’s funny. Quirky. Original. Kate’s the greatest.” -Lincoln Peirce, author of Big Nate

“Becker does an excellent job of channeling the behind-adults’-backs humor and friendship frustrations of the middle-school crowd…” -Publishers Weekly

Lou Anders
[HC: 978-0-385-38778-1
GLB: 978-0-385-38779-8
EL: 978-0-385-38780-4]

Inspired by Norse mythology, Lou Anders has created a richly imagined world of frost giants, dragons and heroes that is sure to entrance fantasy fans. In the first book of an epic new series, readers join young farmer Karn, and half-giant Thianna, as they set out on the adventure a lifetime across the land of Norrøngard.

★ ”A powerful, fast-paced tale… The setting is rich, the characters well-defined, and the danger ever-paramount.” -Publishers Weekly, Starred

“Future fans of Tolkien and George R.R. Martin can happily cut their serial-fantasy teeth on this first book of an eventual series.” -Kirkus Reviews

Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle
George Hagen
HC: 978-0-385-37103-2
GLB: 978-0-385-37104-9
EL: 978-0-385-37105-6
Audio: 978-0-553-39690-4

In this exciting new fantasy, twelve-year-old Gabriel Finley discovers that he is one of a mythical group of people who can bond with and speak to ravens. Now, he must use his new powers to journey beneath the streets of Manhattan to the land of Aviopolis, where his father is being held prisoner.

“Both startling and moving—a vivid, compelling fantasy that sends you off to a world you will not soon forget.” —Norton Juster, author of The Phantom Tollbooth

★  “Middle-graders looking for a soaring fantasy that’s not too hard, not too easy, will find this just right.” Booklist, Starred

August 18, 2014


“Grey brings her hilarious, cartoonish-yet-artful Traction Man sensibilities to this winsome story of the importance of transcending stereotypes, especially when it comes to mouse detectives.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred

★ “It’s a terrible thing for Hermelin to be so cruelly misjudged, especially when the mouse’s single aim is to help the hapless people of Offley Street.

Hermelin is a natural-born detective. So when he discovers the street’s notice board plastered with despairing announcements of lost this or possibly stolen that, he’s on the case. The mouse easily locates Mrs. Mattison’s handbag behind some lettuce in her fridge. He finds Bobo the teddy bear, too, dropped from an attic window into Capt. Potts’ cooling lemon-meringue pie. As he solves each mystery, he leaves an explanatory note signed ‘Hermelin.’ But who is Hermelin? The baffled villagers lure the mysterious hero with a thank-you party at Bosher’s sausage shop. When the little mouse shows up for his big moment, however, the terrified party-givers scream ‘MOUSE!’ How could such a benevolent mouse-detective be perceived as a disease-spreading pest? Hermelin spirals into a full-blown identity crisis, brilliantly captured in nightmarish, comic-book-style panels. All ends well when a girl named Emily sees Hermelin for who he really is. Comical visual details abound, and each stamp-sized window of the Offley Street townhomes is a story in miniature, evoking all the wonder and delight of an advent calendar.

Grey brings her hilarious, cartoonish-yet-artful Traction Man sensibilities to this winsome story of the importance of transcending stereotypes, especially when it comes to mouse detectives.” – Kirkus Reviews, Starred

★ “This winning picture book opens with a scene of a tiny community of attached houses on Offley Street, where the residents and their pets are engaged in all sorts of activities simultaneously. Next, the narrator introduces himself. Hermelin, a charming white mouse, lives in an attic and enjoys typing messages on an upright typewriter. After reading on a notice board that his neighbors have lost a number of items, he quickly solves each case and also saves a baby from an untimely end. The residents gather to thank their unknown benefactor, but when the mouse appears, panic ensues. Downcast, Hermelin prepares to leave Offley Street, but a friendly neighbor offers him a better option. In both the precisely written text and the richly detailed mixed-media illustrations, this title offers a treasure trove of narratives, large and small. The colorful artwork is full of drama and inventive details, and while the double-page spreads are sometimes crowded, they are also dynamic, well structured, and satisfying. Some children will enjoy the challenge of solving the mini-mysteries using clues found in the illustrations, while others will be content to follow the adventures of the amiable mouse as his tale unfolds. An absorbing picture book with a small but worthy hero.” – Booklist, Starred

★ “A double-page spread shows us Offley Street, a panorama of seven row houses, each revealing, in glimpses through windows and open doors, small mysteries and nascent stories that figure throughout the book. Our entrée into this world is a small white mouse detective, Hermelin, who tackles, one by one, the disappearances and crimes set up in that first spread and reports his findings to the Offley residents through letters he composes on his trusty typewriter. And one by one, the grateful residents, from Lady Chumley-Plumley to Bulbo Bosher to Imogen Splotts, wonder, ‘But who IS Hermelin?’ So far, so cozy, but things heat up when Baby McMumbo falls into the garbage can and is about to be scooped up by the ‘Garbage Gobbler.’ Fast but anonymous action on Hermelin’s part saves the baby and the day. However, when the residents discover that Hermelin is a mouse, they want nothing to do with him. Rejected, Hermelin prepares to leave Offley Street, but in best detective fashion, Grey pulls out a previously overlooked character to turn the tide and give Hermelin his due. As Grey’s Traction Man (rev. 3/05) is to the superhero trope, so Hermelin is to the observant, cerebral detective. Every page holds treats and surprises in this tribute to neighborhood life, good deeds, and journalism.” – The Horn Book, Starred