Thursday, December 31, 2009

World War II Heroes

World War II Heroes is by Allan Zullo. Ten true stories of heroes from WWII. What a great book to read to not only learn more about WWII, but to celebrate the heroism of those who selflessly served our country. Boys will love this and it is a good way to introduce them to nonfiction reading.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane

Gregor and the Prophecy of Bane is by Suzanne Collins. The second book in the Underland Chronicles finds Gregor and Boots back in Underland. Gregor must find "The Bane", a white rat that prophecy says is evil and will bring down the Underland. The rats are trying to kill Boots to prevent Gregor from killing "The Bane". Gregor sets out on another action filled adventure with Ares, Luxa, and some new friends. Will he find the white rat? If he does will he kill it? What happens if he doesn't? This book is better than the first; I can't wait to read the third.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10 - V (violence).

The Night Dance: A Retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses"

The Night Dance: A Retelling of the "Twelve Dancing Princesses" is by Suzanne Weyn. Bedivere must return the magical sword Excalibur to the mystical Lady of the Lake who has been trapped in her lake by Morgan le Fey. The Lady has 12 daughters who she has been trying to reach with her powers so that they can find and release her. When Sir Ethan comes up with a contest to discover where his 12 daughters escape to every night, Bedivere discovers the chance to fulfill his quest and win his love, Rowena, at the same time. A magical tale, beautifully told.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Wolf is by Gillian Cross. Cassy is having nightmares and something very strange is going on at her home. Every time the mysterious knock sounds at the door, Cassy is sent from her grandmother's house to live with her flighty and eccentric mother until her grandmother comes to get her. Why? Why won't anyone tell her what's going on? What do wolves have do to with all of this? An interesting and intriguing tale. It's not at all what you think it might be; definitely worth a read.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever

The Best Christmas Pageant Ever is by Barbara Robinson. Beware the Herdman's! They are the worst kids in the history of kid kind. They are mean, they bully other kids, they lie, cheat, steal, commit arson, and smoke cigars. Wait until they take over the Christmas pageant and end up teaching everyone what Christmas is really all about. A tender and amusing tale.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

Double Fudge

Double Fudge is by Judy Blume. Fudge loves money; no, I mean he really LOVES money. He is driving his older brother and parents nuts. But when Peter and his family meet some long lost relatives on a trip to Washington, D.C., life really begins to spiral out of control. A spectacularly funny and endearing story.

Ratings: 5th grade - 10 out of 10.

Something Wicked This Way Comes

Something Wicked This Way Comes is by Ray Bradbury. A chilling, yet heartwarming tale, by the king of science fiction writers. Will and Jim are best friends. Jim's father has left and Will's is older than most fathers of boys his age. Life in Green Town, Illinois, is fairly peaceful until the carnival comes to town. The boys know right away this is no ordinary carnival. As lives of people they know begin to be touched by the evil of the autumn people the boys and Will's father must learn to trust each other. This is a creepy story that makes the things we all wish for in life seem to be the stuff of nightmares. A true horror classic.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - AC (some mature thematic content).

Because of Winn Dixie

Because of Winn Dixie is by Kate DiCamillo. This is the story of India whose father is a preacher. They move so her father can pastor a new church and she finds herself alone and still missing her mother who left the family years before. Then she finds a stray dog she names Winn Dixie and everything begins to change. Through Winn Dixie she meets new friends, gets a job, grows closer to her father, and becomes more accepting of her mother's abandonment. A wonderful heart warming tale of love and friendship.

Ratings: 4th grade - 10 out of 10.

A Long Way from Chicago

A Long Way from Chicago is by Richard Peck. A companion book to A Year Down Yonder, this is the story of Mary Alice and her brother Joe as they leave Chicago to visit their eccentric grandmother in the country. If you can read this book without laughing out loud, there is something wrong with you. Grandma is outlandish, loving, and more community oriented that she would have you believe. A wonderful book, by a witty and amusing author. This book gives you a look at family life in the early to mid 1900s.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

The Witch of Blackbird Pond

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is by Elizabeth George Speare. This is the classic tale of Kit Tyler, who leaves Barbados upon the death of her grandfather to live with her aunt and uncle in Connecticut. Coming from the Caribbean to New England is bad enough, but her relatives are Puritans and their lifestyle is very different from what Kit is used to. Things go poorly until she meets a mysterious woman known as the Witch of Blackbird Pond; Kit finds a friend and is then is accused of witchcraft herself. A wonderful book of friendship, family ties, and the difference between right and wrong.

Ratings: 5th grade - 9 out of 10.

The View from Saturday

The View from Saturday is by E.L. Konigsburg. When Mrs. Olinski tries to put together four students for the 6th grade Academic Bowl she is aware no 6th grade team has ever beat the 7th & 8th graders in the school, much less in the state. This is the hilarious story of four very different students who are bound together by family ties and friendship. The stories that bind these students are delightful and fun to read. This is a highly recommended book.

Ratings: 6th grade - 10 out of 10.

Tuesday, December 29, 2009

In the Stone Circle

In the Stone Circle is by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Cristyn, 14, is spending the summer in Wales while her professor father does research in medieval studies. Her mother, who died when she was three, was born in Wales. She finds she likes the centuries-old cottage they rent along with her father's colleague, Erica Dunham, and her two children, Miranda and Dennis. Miranda is angry and hurt over her parents' divorce. The children become involved in trying to make sense of strange happenings in the cottage. The ghost story is woven together with the issues and conflicts being worked out in both families.

Ratings: 6th grade - 8 out of 10.

Horns & Wrinkles

Horns & Wrinkles is by Joseph Helgerson. This is a delightful tale of a young girl and her cousin Duke. They live on the Mississippi River between Minnesota and Wisconsin. When Duke is placed under a spell by a fairy and sprouts a horn, Claire must rescue him from the river trolls who want to sell him to a fierce rock troll. Readers of all ages will enjoy this story of courage, friendship, and family. It is fast paced and funny.

Ratings: 6th grade - 9 out of 10.

Psyche in a Dress

Psyche in a Dress is by Francesca Lia Block. These contemporary retellings of Greek myths are poignant and moving; however, if you aren't familiar with Greek mythology they may be confusing. The tales are told in short prose pieces and free verse vignettes that work together to combine the myths into one fluid tale. The metaphors are complex and intellectual. They are also quite graphic, in typical Block style. If you are a fan of Greek mythology and/or Block you will enjoy this book very much.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - S (sexual content).

I, Coriander

I, Coriander is by Sally Gardner. This charming tale is set during the reign of Oliver Cromwell in England. Coriander and her family live a happy life, until the day the silver shoes arrive. Her mother doesn't want her to have them but Coriander finds them and puts them on. She finds herself transported to a magical world. When she returns her mother becomes ill and dies and her grief stricken father is talked into marrying an evil woman with a daughter of her own. When she finds herself locked in a chest waiting to die, Coriander's journey truly begins. This tale is Cinderella meets The Faerie Path. The one complaint is the evil light in which Puritans are painted, but then the poor Puritans often get the short end of the story stick.

Ratings: 9th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity).

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is by J.K. Rowling. The third installment in the Harry Potter series finds Harry and crew back at Hogwart's for another year. But this year isn't peaceful either, Sirius Black has escaped from Azkaban Prison. Black was the heir apparent to Lord Voldemort and he's now after Harry. Harry isn't even safe inside Hogwart's, where it appears a traitor seeks his downfall as well.

Ratings: 7th grade - 7 out of 10.


East is by Edith Pattou. A magnificent fairy tale based on East of the Sun, West of the Moon. Rose has always dreamed of a white bear, so when a huge white bear comes to take her away she readily agrees. The white bear takes her to a distant empty castle where she weaves and is visited nightly by a mysterious visitor. When she learns the identity of the visitor she loses her heart and finds her destiny. She travels to the top of the world to rescue her white bear from the beautiful Troll Queen. A wonderful tale told through a variety of voices.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.


Golden is by Jennifer Lynn Barnes. The women in Lissy's family have always had some kind of extra sensory powers. Lissy sees people's auras. When her family moves from California to Oklahoma Lissy finds herself at odds with the popular clique at school called the "Goldens". She begins to discover there is something more evil walking the halls of the high school than just the popular set. Can she figure things out before it's too late? If you liked Barnes' second book Tattoo, you will enjoy this book which is actually the first book she published when she was 19.

Ratings: 9th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity).

Wicked Lovely

Wicked Lovely is by Melissa Marr. The first installment in Marr's Faerie tales. Aislinn has always seen faeries. All the women in her family have. They have always lived by three rules: don't look at the faeries, don't speak to them, and never attract their attention. Now the faeries have noticed her and she doesn't know what to do. She confides in her new love, Seth, and together they discover the Summer King has chosen Aislinn to be his new queen. Now what does she do? A modern faerie tale full of mortal love, faerie intrigue, and ancient rules.

Ratings: 10th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - S (non graphic sexual content).

Strange Angels

Strange Angels is by Lili St. Crow. The first book in a new series of the same name. Wow! This book has a very bizarre premise. Dru Anderson and her father travel around the country hunting "things that go bump in the night". Dru thinks her life is pretty good, until her Dad is killed and brought back as a zombie. Now, the things they have always hunted are hunting her. Who can she trust? Graves, the newly bitten werewolf, or Christophe, the half human vampire hunter? Where can she go to learn what is really happening? Can she make it through the night? This series promises to be dark and violent; but it also promises to be quite good.

Ratings: 11th grade - 9 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence) - S (non graphic sexual content).

Eighth Grade Bites

Eighth Grade Bites is by Heather Brewer. The first book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series. Vlad is half human, half vampire; his parents were killed in a fire and he is living with his mother's best friend who does her best to help him integrate with regular human life. Vlad has typical 13-year-old problems: a pack of bullies at school, a principal who dislikes him, a girl he wants to ask out. When a substitute teacher's questions hit a little too close to home, Vlad begins to wonder if his parents' deaths were really an accident. A great new series for those who really enjoyed Cirque Du Freak.

Ratings: 8th grade - 9 out of 10 - MP (mild profanity) - V (violence).

Independence Hall: I, Q the Series

Independence Hall: I, Q the Series is by Roland Smith. This is the opening book in a new series by Smith. Those who love the Alex Rider series will enjoy this one as well. Girls will also enjoy this series due to the female character involved. Quest (Q) and Angela are now step-siblings. Their singer/songwriter parents are married and off on a cross country tour. Strange things begin to happen and Q finds out that Angela's real mother was a Secret Service agent killed by terrorists - or was she? Angela is being followed; is their new bus driver one of the good guys or bad guys? This promises to be a great series for middle school readers.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.


Dreamland is by Sarah Dessen. Caitlin's sister ran away on her 16th birthday. Her parents are so devastated they seem to forget Caitlin is still around. As Caitlin struggles to deal with her sister's disappearance she meets Rogerson Biscoe. He's handsome, magnetic, and different from anyone she has ever known. He makes her forget Cass is gone. But what happens when the cure is worse than the disease? If you like Dessen's work you will enjoy this novel of troubled teenage relationships. There is profanity, violence, and recreational drug and alcohol abuse, but none of it is gratuitous it is integral to the plot.

Ratings: 10th grade - 8 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content) - V (violence) - S (non graphic sexual content).

Lord of the Shadows

Lord of the Shadows is by Darren Shan. The 11th book in the Cirque Du Freak series. Darren, and the Cirque Du Freak, return to his home town. Steve is waiting for him there. As Darren attempts to destroy the Vampaneze Lord once and for all, he discovers a terrible truth. Yet another cliffhanger ending in a series where nothing is really as it seems. There is only one more book in the series and this tale makes you hunger for the ending.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10 - V (violence).

Tuesday, December 8, 2009


Tempted is by P.C. Cast & Kristin Cast. This is the 6th book in the House of Night series. Another exciting installment in a very cool series. Zoey and her "crew" have banished Kalona & Neferet from Tulsa. Now they must return to the House of Night and see what they can salvage from the ruins there. Aphrodite has another vision, Stevie Ray comes clean (almost), Zoey must deal with Erik/Heath/Stark/Kalona issues, and the school is in a shambles. This book has a surprising ending that makes you salivate for the next book.

Ratings: 10th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content).