Monday, April 25, 2011

Poetry for Young People: Samuel Taylor Coleridge

Poetry for Young People: Samuel Taylor Coleridge is edited by James Engell. A wonderful introduction to Coleridge's poetry. A must read for poetry fans. A great way to introduce young readers to English romantic poetry.

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Wait Till Helen Comes

Wait Till Helen Comes is by Mary Downing Hahn. Molly (12) and her brother Michael (10) have never liked their young stepsister Heather. She keeps trying to break up their parents' marriage. When their parents move them to the country into an old house that used to be a church something changes. Heather begins hanging out in the old cemetery and talking to someone named Helen. Molly feels certain that Helen is a ghost and that they are all in danger, especially Heather. A really creepy ghost story.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10.

Pandora Gets Vain

Pandora Gets Vain is by Carolyn Hennesy. The second book in the Pandora series finds Pandy and her friends headed for Alexandria, Egypt in search of vanity. They are joined by their hunky boy bodyguard Homer. Hera sends a storm to delay them, they find themselves stuck in a run down tomb, meet a strange Chinese man who runs a circus, and must fight Cleopatra and her minions. A cute continuation of this series for girls.

Ratings: 6th grade - 7 out of 10.

Elizabeth Taylor: The Life of a Hollywood Legend

Elizabeth Taylor: The Life of a Hollywood Legend is by Katy Sprinkel. A wonderful photo biography of one of the last true Hollywood stars. The text is crisp and readable and the photos are beautiful. A wonderful introduction to Dame Elizabeth and her astounding career.

Ratings: 7th grade - 6 out of 10.

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumplestiltskin

The Crimson Thread: A Retelling of Rumplestiltskin is by Suzanne Weyn. Another volume of the marvelous Once Upon A Time series. This version of the beloved fairy tale is set in 1880's New York. Bertie and her family have just arrived from Ireland and are desperately looking for work. Her father tells his rich employer that Bertie is the best seamstress ever in an attempt to get her a job. She is given one day to create a beautiful evening dress. A mysterious young man from her tenement, Ray Stalls, offers to help in exchange for ... her first born child. Is he serious? Bertie decides to take the risk and the story is off and running. A fantastic retelling that also looks at the plight of American immigrants.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

101 Great American Poems

101 Great American Poems is by The American Poetry & Literacy Project. This is a great introduction to poetry in general, and American poetry in particular. Highly recommended read!

Ratings: 7th grade - 10 out of 10.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby is by F. Scott Fitzgerald. One of the novels you must read before you die! The classic tale of the lives of the rich in the 1920s, complete with ostentatious parties loaded with gin. Gatsby is in love with Daisy, but Daisy is married to Tom, and Tom is having an affair with Myrtle. This whole mess leads to an accidental death and then a murder. The story is told through the eyes of Nick Carraway who knows Tom and Daisy and is Gatsby's next door neighbor and finds himself pulled into their web. A wonderfully poignant tale of Americana in The Jazz Age.

Ratings: 11th grade - 10 out of 10 - P (profanity) - AC (mature thematic content). 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

End Game

End Game is by Damien Graves. This book is part of the Midnight Library series. This book contains three spooky tales kids will love. In "Game Over" Simon likes video games better than people until the game becomes reality. In "The Other Sister" Catherine is concerned about a young girl who keeps coming into the store where she works. Something seems very wrong with Susie. In "Is Anybody There?" Juliet is getting text messages from a phone number that doesn't exist. These tales don't have happy endings and they are creepy. Boys and girls will like them.

Ratings: 6th grade - 6 out of 10.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011


Graceling is by Kristin Cashore. This is the first book in a new series and an amazing debut novel. Gracelings are human beings with special powers, mind reading, sensing storms, excellent cooks or hunters. They can be recognized by their differently colored eyes. Katsa is King Randa's niece and she is a Graceling, one whose grace is the ability to kill. Her Uncle uses the teen aged Katsa to control his subjects, his own personal assassin. Then she meets Po a Prince from the kingdom of Lienid who is graced with combat skills. Together they embark on a dangerous journey to save a young girl and discover each other. A wonderful tale full of action and romance. Katsa is a wonderfully flawed heroine you can't help but care for and Po is magnificent. We highly recommend this book!

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

Monday, April 11, 2011


Leviathan is by Scott Westerfeld. The first book in Westerfeld's new trilogy. This is a wonderful historical rewrite of WWI. The Allies are Darwinists who have genetically engineered weaponry that is part animal, part machine. The Axis powers are the Clankers whose machinery is advanced but all machinery. Deryn is a young British girl who disguises herself as a boy to join the Air Service. Alek is the son of Archduke Franz Ferdinand who is forced to flee when his father and mother are assassinated. These two young people meet in a world on the verge of war where they are on opposing sides and yet are destined to be together. A wonderful trilogy for those who love science fiction and war stories, with a dash of romance thrown in.

Ratings: 8th grade - 8 out of 10 - AC (mature thematic content).

Red Moon Rising

Red Moon Rising is by Peter Moore. Set in an America where vampires and humans have rights, but werewolves are segregated and forced to register and report to "safe" compounds during full moons, this is a wonderfully tense tale. Danny is half vampire and half werewolf. His genetic therapy to destroy his werewolf genes has failed and he discovers that he is about to experience his first change. He doesn't want to register, but becoming a moonrunner (unregistered werewolf) is illegal and dangerous. Who will help him? Will his family keep his secret or turn him in? Will he be able to keep his human girlfriend? This story begs for a sequel. Boys will enjoy this story.

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


Stoneheart is by Charlie Fletcher. The first book in The Stoneheart Trilogy. When 12-year-old George breaks the head off a stone dragon in a fit of anger little does he realize that he will find himself running unseen through another London. A London in which statues come to life. He soon realizes that no one sees the living statues but Edie who is also trapped in this strange world. To repair the damage he has done and prevent a war between the statues of London he must find the Stone Heart and make a sacrifice. But he only has less than 24 hours to complete his journey. A wonderfully imaginative new series. Great for both boys and girls.

Ratings: 7th grade - 9 out of 10.