"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Thursday, January 29, 2009

Chick-a-biddy* stories

Chicken Storytime:

  • Hurry! Hurry! by Eve Bunting
  • Big Chickens by Leslie Helakoski
  • Big Chickens Fly the Coop by Leslie Helakoski
  • The Wolf's Chicken Stew by Keiko Kasza
  • My Life as a Chicken by Ellen A. Kelley
  • Chicky Chicky Chook Chook by Cathy MacLennan
  • Cock-A-Doodle-Moo by Bernard Most
  • The Secret Chicken Club by George Shannon
  • A Friend for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke
  • A Hat for Minerva Louise by Janet Morgan Stoeke

We will also try this action rhyme:

Here's a Little Egg

Here's a little egg, so smooth and white.

Peck, peck, peck, there's something inside!

Peck, peck, peck, here comes a little beak.

Peck, peck, peck, here comes two little feet.

Peck, peck, peck and pick, pick, pick.

And crack, crack, CRACK!

Out pops the baby chick!

A chicken, so called to and by little children.
Definition taken from The 1811 Dictionary of the Vulgar Tongue, originally by Francis Grose.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Best Books for Young Adults 2009

The ALA's BBYA list has been released!Here are the top fiction choices. For the nonfiction picks click here

All info is from the ALA YALSA site. The titles I have read are in red, BBYA top ten (nine actually, the other is nonfiction) in blue:

Almond, David. The Savage. Candlewick. 2008. 978-0-7636-3932-7 $17.99
Blue Baker is writing a story about a wild savage living in the woods…at least he thinks it’s a story. When realities shift, the reader must discern what really happened.

Anderson, Laurie Halse. Chains. Simon & Schuster. 2008. 978-1-4169-0585-1 $16.99
Slaves Isabel and younger sister Ruthie are sold to harsh Loyalists at the beginning of the Revolutionary War. Isabel must decide to be loyal or spy for the American patriots.

Anderson, M.T. The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Vol. II: The Kingdom on the Waves. Candlewick. 2008. 978-0-7636-2950-2 $22.99 Having escaped from his captors, Octavian joins the Royal Ethiopian Regiment of the British Army in 1775 Boston when they promise freedom to any slave who fights the rebel forces.

Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. The Boy Who Dared. Scholastic. 2008. 978-0-439-68013-4 $16.99
Told through flashbacks, this is a fictionalized biography of German teenager Helmuth Hubener, who was imprisoned and executed in 1942 for openly resisting the Nazis.

Bell, Hilari. The Last Knight. HarperCollins. 2007. 978-0-06-082503-4 $16.99
An anachronistic knight errant takes a criminal as squire, mistakenly frees a woman charged with murdering her husband (brother to his father's liege), and becomes captive in her keep.

Benway, Robin. Audrey, Wait! Penguin/Razorbill. 2008. 978-1-59514-191-0 $16.99
Audrey's ex-boyfriend records a hit song about their breakup, and suddenly all eyes (and cameras) are on Audrey. Fans, Facebook, and tabloids - it's all too much for Audrey.

Blundell, Judy. What I Saw and How I Lied. Scholastic. 2008. 978-0-439-90346-2 $16.99
When Evie’s father returns from the war, she expects life to return to normal but a mysterious trip to Florida, secrets, deceptions, and a first forbidden love complicates things.

Booth, Coe. Kendra. Scholastic/Push. 2008. 978-0-439-92536-5 $16.99
Kendra is thrilled her mom, Renee, has completed her Ph.D. program—now they can finally be a real family. But is Renee excited for their future together, too?

Bradbury, Jennifer. Shift. Simon & Schuster/Atheneum. 2008. 978-1-4169-4732-5 $16.99
Chris and Win take a bicycle trip across America after graduation, but only one returns and that person is pressured to reveal what happened.

Brothers, Meagan. Debby Harry Sings in French. Henry Holt. 2008. 978-0-8050-8080-3 $16.95
After Johnny’s dad dies in a car accident and an unintentional drug overdose lands him in the hospital, he moves in with an uncle, gets a girlfriend, and starts to explore his interest in cross-dressing.

Bunce, Elizabeth. A Curse Dark as Gold. Scholastic. 2008. 978-0-439-89576-7 $17.99
When young Charlotte Miller takes over the family's woolen mill after her father's death, she is faced with unexpected debts, catastrophes, and a hidden curse that threatens her family's future.

Caletti, Deb. The Fortunes of Indigo Skye. Simon & Schuster. 2008. 978-1-1469-1007-7
At 18, Indigo wants no more out of life than to be a waitress and give people food, until a customer gives her $2,500,000. Can she stand the changes?

Cashore, Kristin. Graceling. Harcourt. 2008. 978-0-15-206396-2 $17.00
Katsa was born with ability to kill men with her bare hands but can she find moral courage to stand up to evil rulers and fight for what is right?

Colfer, Eoin. Airman. Hyperion. 2008. 978-1-4231-0750-7 $17.99
Conor Broekhart spends his days dreaming of flying hot air balloons and inventing flying machines until murder and court intrigue sends him to prison and labor in the diamond mines.

Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. Scholastic. 2008. 978-0-439-02348-1 $17.99
Katniss has been providing for her family since her father died, but is she strong enough to win the Hunger Games, a deadly competition that can have only one winner?

Conner, Leslie. Waiting for Normal. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-089088-9 $16.99
Left to live in an old trailer under the overhead train track with Mommers, Addie is the child that has to learn to take care of herself. She almost succeeds.

de la Pena, Matt. Mexican WhiteBoy. Delacorte. 2008. 978-0-385-73310-6 $15.00
Half white, half Mexican and 100% confused, Danny struggles with baseball, his absent father and first love while spending the summer with his familia in San Diego.

Doctorow, Cory. Little Brother. Tom Doherty. 2008. 978-0-7653-1985-2 $17.95
There's been another major terrorist attack and the Department of Homeland Security has clamped down big time. It's up to Marcus, computer geek, to save everyone from this police state.

Dowd, Siobhan. Bog Child. Random House/David Fickling Books. 2008. 978-0-385-75169-8
When Fergus and his uncle find the body of a girl buried in the peat bog near their home, all sorts of troubles comes to light.

Dowd, Siobhan. The London Eye Mystery. David Fickling/Random House. 2008. 978-0-375-84976-3 $15.99
When their cousin Salim disappears into thin air during a ride on the London Eye ferris wheel, Ted and his sister Kat try to solve.

Fleischman, Sid. The Entertainer and the Dybbuk. HarperCollins. 2007. 978-0-06-134445-9 $16.99
The Great Freddie, a second-rate ventriloquist, is inhabited by the spirit of a 12-year-old Jewish boy killed in the Holocaust.

Fletcher, Christine. Ten Cents a Dance. Bloomsbury. 2008. 978-1-59990-164-0 $16.95
Ruby wants to support her family, but when her taxi dancing causes problems she could not have anticipated, it will take all of her strength to come out on top.

Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-053092-1 $17.99
This often chilling story describes the life of a boy growing up in a graveyard as he is looked after by ghosts and a mysterious guardian.

Gardner, Sally. The Red Necklace: A Story of the French Revolution. Penguin/Dial. 2008. 978-0-8037-3100-4 $16.99
During the French Revolution, Yann a 14-year-old magician's assistant, witnesses the death of his employer and the evil that ensues.

Geerling, Marjetta. Fancy White Trash. Penguin/Viking. 2008. 978-0-670-01082-0 $16.99
Abby Savage is determined not to be like her mother and sisters-each became pregnant as teens-but her only confidant is Cody who has his own sexual issues.

George, Jessica Day. Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. Bloomsbury. 2008. 978-1-59990-109-1 $16.95
A woodcutter's daughter agrees to live with a great white bear after he promises her impoverished family fabulous wealth. When he disappears, she begins an arduous quest for him.

George, Madeleine. Looks. Viking. 2008. 978-0-670-06167-9 $16.99
Meghan, the invisible fat girl, and Aimee, overlooked and anorexic, form an uneasy alliance to get revenge on a mutual enemy.

Green, John. Paper Towns. Penguin/Dutton. 2008. 978-0-25-47818-8 $17.99
Quentin idolizes next door neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman. When she includes him in a wild night of revenge and then disappears, Q must follow the clues to find her.

Harmon, Michael. The Last Exit to Normal. Alfred A. Knopf. 2008. 978-0-375-94098-9 $18.99
To get him on the right track, Ben Campbell's dad and stepdad accompany him to Montana, where he encounters small town life, homophobia, an abused boy, and a special girl.

Hernandez, David. Suckerpunch. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-117330-1 $16.99
The guilt that Marcus feels because he couldn't keep his father from beating his brother Enrique compels him to go along when Enrique seeks answers - and maybe revenge.

Hijuelos, Oscar. Dark Dude. Simon & Schuster. 2008. 978-1-4169-4804-9 $16.99
Tired of taking abuse for being a light-skinned Cuban in his drug-infested Harlem neighborhood, Rico follows a friend to rural Wisconsin, where he struggles with his Latino identity.

Jenkins, A.M. Night Road. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-054604-5 $16.99
Eighteen-year-old Gordon, a heme or blood feeder, must learn the rules of his new life while on a road trip with Cole and Sandor.

Johnson, Maureen. Suite Scarlett. Scholastic/Point. 2008. 978-0-439-89927-7 $16.99
The keys to a hotel suite and the responsibility to care for the room and its occupant—the wealthy and eccentric Amy Amberson—turn Scarlett's summer into a major challenge.

Juby, Susan. Another Kind of Cowboy. HarperCollins. 2007. 978-0-06-076518-7 $16.99
When horse-crazy Alex finally gets a chance to switch from western pleasure to dressage, he feels more in tune with both his riding and his overall identity.

Katcher, Brian. Playing With Matches. Random House/Delacorte. 2008. 978-0-385-73544-5 $15.99
Leon Sanders is a loser until an extremely disfigured girl makes him feel special. Should he stay with her or be lured away by the girl of his dreams?

Kibuishi, Kazu. Amulet: Book 1: The Stone Keeper. Scholastic/Graphix. 2008. 978-0-439-84680-6 $21.99 Emily and her brother Navin descend into a dark and dangerous world below their great grandfather's mansion hoping to save their mother, who's been kidnapped by a large creature with tentacles.

Lanagan, Margo. Tender Morsels. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 2008.
978-0-375-84811-7 $16.99
Liga has suffered unspeakable assaults and creates a magic, safe haven for herself and her two daughters, but the real world intrudes and they cope with beauty mixed with brutality.

Lester, Julius. Guardian. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2008. 978-0-06-155890-0 $16.99
Ansel’s world set in the 1946 deep South disintegrates from the hatred and injustice consuming his family and community following a brutal murder and an innocent man being lynched.

Link, Kelly. Pretty Monsters. Viking. 2008. 978-0-670-01090-5 $19.99
From straight fantasy to magic realism to horror, this collection includes tales of magic libraries, wizards,and dead girls getting tattoos.

Lockhart, E. The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Hyperion. 2008.
978-0-7868-3818-9 $16.99
Frankie Landau-Banks has a chip on her shoulder and is determined to bring down the all-male Loyal Order of the Basset Hounds of Alabaster Preparatory Academy.

Marchetta, Melina. Jellicoe Road. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-143183-8 $17.99
Taylor Markham was abandoned by her mother when she was eleven and is finally ready to discover the reason why.

Marillier, Juliet. Cybele's Secret. Random House/Alfred A. Knopf. 2008. 978-0-375-83365-6
Paula travels with her merchant father to Istanbul and discovers a world filled with eunuchs, pirates, dervishes, and an entrance into the Other Kingdom.

Mazer, Norma Fox. The Missing Girl. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-623777-0 $16.99
The five Herbert sisters find their innocent lives exploding in emotional turmoil when one of the sisters is abducted and held captive by a truly creepy child predator.

McMullan, Margaret. When I Crossed No-Bob. Houghton Mifflin. 2007. 978-0-618-71715-6 $16.00
Twelve-year-old Addy McDonnell struggles to come to terms with her family's unpleasant legacy and the events happening around her in post-Civil War Mississippi.

McNamee, Graham. Bonechiller. Wendy Lamb/Random House. 2008. 978-0-385-74658-8 $15.99
An ancient demon, intent on satisfying its hunger for human flesh, stalks Danny and his three friends in the brutal cold of backwoods Canada.

Meldrum, Christina. Madapple. Random House Children's Books / Alfred A. Knopf. 2008. 978-0-375-95176-3 $16.99
After growing up in almost total isolation believing she is was immaculately conceived, 15-year-old Aslaug's world begins to crumble when her mother dies.

Meyer, Stephenie. The Host. Little, Brown. 2008. 978-0-316-06804-8 $25.99
Set in a believable futuristic time when Earth and other worlds have been taken over by the "souls”, this is a story of love, betrayal and compassion.

Monninger, Joseph. Baby. Front Street/Boyd Mills Press. 2007. 978-1-59078-502-7 $16.95
Fifteen-year-old Baby leaves the middle-aged Potters, her last chance at foster care, to be with her old boyfriend while she figures out her own needs and wants.

Murphy, Pat. The Wild Girls. Viking/Penguin. 2007. 978-0-670-06226-3 $16.99
Twelve year old Joan hates her new life in California until she meets the Queen of the Foxes and becomes one of the Wild Girls.

Napoli, Donna Jo. Hush: An Irish Princess' Tale. Simon Pulse. 2007. 978-0-689-86176-5 $16.99
Melkorka, a 10th century Irish princess, must adapt to a harsh new life after she is stolen from her home by Russian slavers.

Ness, Patrick. The Knife of Never Letting Go. Chaos Walking. Book One. Candlewick. 2008. $18.99
Todd Hewitt is the last boy in a town of all men. In a town where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts what kind of secrets can be kept?

Padian, Maria. Brett McCarthy: Work in Progress. Alfred A. Knopf. 2008.
978-0-375-94675-2 $15.99
Eighth-grader Brett McCarthy--once good student and best-friend-to-Diane, now suspended and friendless--faces school and family troubles as she grapples with her redefined life.

Pearson, Mary E. The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Henry Holt. 2008. 978-0-8050-7668-4 $16.95
Jenna Fox wakes from a year-long coma. As her memory begins to return, she has more questions than answers about who she was, and who she is now.

Pratchett, Terry. Nation. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-143302-3 $17.89
Mau is caught in the tidal wave that destroyed his island and Daphne is the only survivor from her ship. Together on the devastated island they form a new Nation.

Reeve, Philip. Here Lies Arthur. Scholastic. 2008. 978-0-545-09334-1 $17.99
A fresh look at the Arthur legend told through the eyes of a young girl who pretends to be a boy to survive.

Reinhardt, Dana. How to Build a House. Random House/Wendy Lamb. 2008. 978-0-375-84453-9 $15.99
Devastated by her parent's divorce Harper Evans spends the summer with 11 other students building a house for a family in Tennessee and finds herself healing while making new friends.

Schmidt, Gary D. Trouble. Clarion. 2008. 978-0-618-92766-1 $16.00
Henry’s father said Trouble would not find this family. But it did one horrific night, setting off tensions in Blythbury-by-the-Sea. Maybe it had it been there always, just waiting.

Schumacher, Julie. Black Box. Random House / Delacorte. 2008. 978-0-385-73542-1 $15.99
Fourteen-year-old Elena struggles to hold steady ground and help her sister Dora, who has been admitted to a psychiatric ward after swallowing an entire bottle of antidepressants.

Scott, Elizabeth. Living Dead Girl. Simon and Schuster/Simon Pulse. 2008.
978-1-4169-6059-1 $16.99
Abducted at the age of ten, Alice has lived as a sex partner for Ray for 5 years until he informs her that she’s "too old" for his love.

Scott, Elizabeth. Stealing Heaven. HarperCollins. 2008. 978-0-06-112280-4 $16.99
Living by burglarizing expensive homes with her mother, Dani’s friendship with another girl stalls when it becomes clear she lives in the house they are planning to rob next.

Sheth, Kashmira. Keeping Corner. Hyperion. 2007. 978-0-7868-3859-2 $15.99
In India during World War I, twelve-year-old Leela's husband dies, and she is forced to shave her head and keep corner, staying inside her family's house for a year.

Shusterman, Neal. Antsy Does Time. Penguin/Dutton. 2008. 978-0-525-47825-6 $16.99
One simple act – offering dying classmate Gunnar Umlaut a month of his life – takes hold with the entire student body and turns Anthony “Antsy” Bonano’s life upside down.

Smith, Andrew. Ghost Medicine. Feiwel & Friends. 2008. 978-0-312-37557-7 $17.95
The summer that cowboy Troy Stotts turns 17, he and his two best friends band together to fight the trouble that surrounds them by creating a medicine all their own.

Smith, Roland. Elephant Run. Hyperion. 2007. 978-1-4231-0402-5 $15.99
Thirteen-year-old Nick is trapped on his father's teak plantation during the Japanese invasion of Burma during 1941 and must find a way to save his father as well as himself.

Stein, Garth. The Art of Racing in the Rain. Harper. 2008. 978-0-06-153793-6 $23.95
Puppy Enzo is chosen as racecar driver Denny's special friend and remains faithful as Denny marries, becomes a father, loses his wife, and has to fight to keep his daughter.

Tamaki, Mariko. Skim. House of Anansi Press / Groundwood Books. 2008. 978-0-88899-753-1 $18.95
Friendship, love, identity, and a general feeling of isolation in an all-girls private school contribute to Kim Cameron (Skim)'s growing depression.

Tharp, Tim. The Spectacular Now. Random House / Alfred A. Knopf. 2008. 978-0-375-95179-4 $16.99
Sutter Keely glides through his senior year’s final days soaked with heavy amounts of booze but his joy ride is detracted by love issues and an unclear future.

Valentine, Jenny. Me, the Missing, and the Dead. HarperCollins/HarperTeen. 2008. 978-0-06-085068-5 $16.99
Five years after his dad’s disappearance, Lucas senses that a dead woman is trying to communicate with him and he is driven to listen and respond.

Venkatraman, Padma. Climbing the Stairs. Penguin. 2008. 978-0-399-24746-0 $16.99
When Vidya’s father is seriously injured, her family moves from their progressive home to the household of her conservative relatives, where she must adjust to a new set of expectations.

Voorhees, Coert. The Brothers Torres. Hyperion. 2008. 978-1-4231-0304-2 $16.99
Frankie Torres (or Towers depending which side his heritage is viewed) narrates his coming-of-age story of falling for a girl as his idolized brother runs with a group of cholos.

Werlin, Nancy. Impossible. Penguin/Dial. 2008. 978-0-8037-3002-1 $17.99
Lucy, 17, discovers the women of her family have been cursed with madness unless they complete three impossible tasks. All have failed. Will Zach's help and her resolve save her?

Wood, Don. Into the Volcano. Scholastic. 2008. 978-0-439-72671-9 $18.99
Duffy and Sumo set off on an adventure into the belly of an ancient volcano without knowing exactly what they’re looking for. Their discoveries shock and then nearly kill them.

Woodson, Jacqueline. After Tupac and D Foster. G.P. Putnam’s Sons. 2008.
978-0-399-24654-8 $15.99
The friendship of three girls from very different families fills the emptiness of uncertainty as they struggle with Tupac Shakur's troubles as well as their own.

Zarr, Sara. Sweethearts. Little, Brown. 2008. 978-0-316-01455-7 $16.99
High school senior Jenna has successfully remade her life, but has to confront long-suppressed memories of a traumatic childhood when her only friend from childhood, Cameron, suddenly reappears.

Monday, January 26, 2009

I loved the Newbery winner

The only book that I've read out of the new award winners is The Graveyard Book. I was lucky enough to get an advanced reader's copy from Harpercollins some months back. Here is my tiny little review:

"Reminiscent of classic Ray Bradbury, Gaiman’s wondrous tale is by turns creepy, touching and suspenseful. Bod’s memorable extended family and enemies (from the amusingly bad to the truly wicked),coupled with his adventures in and out of the graveyard make for a fantastic read."

More Book Award Winners!

Coretta Scott King Awards:

Author Award
Kadir Nelson
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group

Author Honor Books
Hope Anita Smith
Keeping the Night Watch
published by Henry Holt and Company

Joyce Carol Thomas
The Blacker the Berry
published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Carole Boston Weatherford
Becoming Billie Holiday
published by Wordsong, an imprint of Boyds Mills Press, Inc

Illustrator Award
Floyd Cooper
The Blacker the Berry
published by Amistad, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Illustrator Honor Books
Kadir Nelson
We Are the Ship: The Story of Negro League Baseball
published by Jump at the Sun/Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group

Jerry Pinkney
The Moon Over Star
published by Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group

Sean Qualls
Before John Was a Jazz Giant
published by Henry Holt and Company

John Steptoe New Talent Award - Illustrator
Shadra Strickland
published by Lee & Low Books

New Award Winners!

Hooray! The winners were: (titles and descriptions taken from the ALA site):

Printz Award

2009 Award Winner
Jellicoe Road
by Melina Marchetta
published by HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers

Haunted by the past, Taylor Markham reluctantly leads the students of the Jellicoe School in their secret territory wars against the Townies and the Cadets. Marchetta’s lyrical writing evokes the Australian landscape in a suspenseful tale of raw emotion, romance, humor and tragedy.

Melina Marchetta lives in Sydney, Australia, and is the award-winning author of two previous novels. A former high school teacher, she is recognized for the authenticity of her teen characters’ voices.

“This roller coaster ride of a novel grabs you from the first sentence and doesn’t let go. You may not be sure where the ride will take you, but every detail—from the complexities of the dual narrative to the pangs of first love—is pitch perfect,” said Printz Award Committee Chair Mary Arnold.

2009 Printz Honor Books

The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Volume II, The Kingdom on the Waves, by M.T. Anderson, published by Candlewick Press.

Caught in the crossfire of the American Revolution, escaped slave Octavian joins the British army in hopes of finally securing his own freedom.

The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks, by E. Lockhart, published by Hyperion Books for Children, an imprint of Disney Book Group.

Can the old-boy network at her elite boarding school survive the mal-doings of Frankie Landau-Banks?

Nation, by Terry Pratchett, published by HarperCollins Children’s Books, a division of HarperCollins Publishers.

Pratchett’s trademark humor leavens this epic tale of ravaged islands, shipwrecked nobles and survival.

Tender Morsels, by Margo Lanagan, published by Alfred A. Knopf, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House, Inc., New York.

In utterly original language, Lanagan re-imagines “Snow White and Rose Red” and explores the brutality and beauty of life.

Newbery Award:

2009 Medal Winner
The 2009 Newbery Medal winner is The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by Dave McKean, and published by HarperCollins Children's Books.

A delicious mix of murder, fantasy, humor and human longing, the tale of Nobody Owens is told in magical, haunting prose. A child marked for death by an ancient league of assassins escapes into an abandoned graveyard, where he is reared and protected by its spirit denizens.

"A child named Nobody, an assassin, a graveyard and the dead are the perfect combination in this deliciously creepy tale, which is sometimes humorous, sometimes haunting and sometimes surprising," said Newbery Committee Chair Rose V. TreviƱo.

2009 Honor Books

The Underneath by Kathi Appelt, illustrated by David Small (Atheneum Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing)

Underneath the canopy of the loblolly pines, amid the pulsating sounds of the swamp, there lies a tale. Intertwining stories of an embittered man, a loyal hound, an abandoned cat and a vengeful lamia sing of love, loss, loneliness and hope. Appelt's lyrical storytelling heightens the distinguished characteristics of this work.

The Surrender Tree: Poems of Cuba's Struggle for Freedom by Margarita Engle (Henry Holt & Comapny)

The Surrender Tree utilizes compelling free verse in alternating voices to lyrically tell the story of Cuba's three wars for independence from Spain. Combining real-life characters (such as legendary healer Rosa La Bayamesa) with imagined individuals, Engle focuses on Rosa's struggle to save everyone--black, white, Cuban, Spanish, friend or enemy.

Savvy by Ingrid Law (Dial Books for Young Readers, a division of Penguin Young Readers Group in partnership with Walden Media, LLC

This rich first-person narrative draws readers into a wild bus ride, winding through the countryside on a journey of self-discovery for Mibs Beaumont and her companions. Newcomer Law weaves a magical tall tale, using vivid language and lively personalities, all bouncing their way to a warm, satisfying conclusion.

After Tupac & D Foster by Jacqueline Woodson (G.P. Putnam's Sons, a division of Penguin Books for Young Readers)

This tightly woven novel looks back on two years in a New York City neighborhood, where life changes for two 11-year-olds when a new girl joins their game of double Dutch. Bonded by Tupac's music, the three girls explore the lure of freedom and build a friendship that redefines their own identities.

Caldecott Award:

2009 Medal Winner
The 2009 Caldecott Medal winner is The House in the Night, illustrated by Beth Krommes, written by Susan Marie Swanson (Houghton Mifflin Company)

Richly detailed black-and-white scratchboard illustrations expand this timeless bedtime verse, offering reassurance to young children that there is always light in the darkness. Krommes' elegant line, illuminated with touches of golden watercolor, evoke the warmth and comfort of home and family, as well as the joys of exploring the wider world.

2009 Honor Books

A Couple of Boys Have the Best Week Ever, written and illustrated by Marla Frazee (Harcourt, Inc.)

In lively, detailed, subtly retro cartoons, Frazee gently pokes fun at adult expectations and captures the unbounded joy of two friends experiencing a parent-free summer adventure.

How I Learned Geography, written and illustrated by Uri Shulevitz (Farrar Straus Giroux)

Recounting memories of his family's flight from the Warsaw Blitz and his years as a refugee during World War II, Shulevitz employs watercolor and ink to depict a boy liberated from his dreary existence through flights of fancy inspired by the map his father buys in the village market.

A River of Words: The Story of William Carlos Williams, illustrated by Melissa Sweet, written by Jen Bryant (Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, an imprint of Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.)

Sweet's mixed-media collage and primitive watercolors flow seamlessly with Bryant's prose to reveal the important bits and pieces of Williams' ordinary, yet extraordinary, life as a doctor and poet.

Monday, January 12, 2009

Ghost of Spirit Bear

I've finished listening to the audio book of Ghost of Spirit Bear by Ben Mikaelsen. It is the sequel to the much lauded 2001 book Touching Spirit Bear.

Here is a review of Touching Spirit Bear:

From School Library Journal

Grade 7 Up-

Cole Matthews is a violent teen offender convicted of viciously beating a classmate, Peter, causing neurological and psychological problems. Cole elects to participate in Circle Justice, an alternative sentencing program based on traditional Native American practices that results in his being banished to a remote Alaskan Island where he is left to survive for a year. Cynical and street smart, he expects to fake his way through the preliminaries, escape by swimming off the island, and beat the system, again. But his encounter with the Spirit Bear of the title leaves him desperately wounded and gives him six months of hospitalization to reconsider his options. Mikaelsen's portrayal of this angry, manipulative, damaged teen is dead on. Cole's gradual transformation into a human kind of being happens in fits and starts. He realizes he must accept responsibility for what he has done, but his pride, pain, and conditioning continue to interfere. He learns that his anger may never be gone, but that he can learn to control it. The author concedes in a note that the culminating plot element, in which Peter joins Cole on the island so that both can learn to heal, is unlikely. But it sure works well as an adventure story with strong moral underpinnings. Gross details about Cole eating raw worms, a mouse, and worse will appeal to fans of the outdoor adventure/survival genre, while the truth of the Japanese proverb cited in the frontispiece, "Fall seven times, stand up eight" is fully and effectively realized.

Joel Shoemaker, Southeast Junior High School, Iowa City, IA

Copyright 2001 Reed Business Information, Inc.

I personally thought that the first Spirit Bear book was unusual and fascinating. As a librarian, I've met many middle grade kids who love it. It has won numerous state book awards. But, before I talk about the current book, I need to be fair and mention objections to the book raised by Native Americans. This is troubling to me. Educator Debbie Reese, who teaches at UIUC's American Indian Studies program writes about them in her blog. You can read about them here and draw your own conclusions.

Ghost of Spirit Bear has Cole and Peter returning from the island, and facing new challenges at their Minneapolis High School. Can they apply what they learned when put back into their own routines? Can they fight bullies without resorting to blackmail and threats? Can they make a difference in a school filled with gangs, drugs and general disrespect and apathy?

I have read that some think that teens will be turned off by the book's earnestness and didacticism. I think that even if that is true, there's no harm in presenting teens with a different way to think about a difficult situation. As an adult reader and keeping the cautions over the presentation of the Tlingit people and their culture in mind, I feel this book still has much to offer. What do you think?