Friday, May 1, 2009

Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron

Lucky returns in this sequel to Newbery winner The Higher Power of Lucky. This time she has a new friend, Paloma, who comes visiting Hard Pan with her geologist uncle. While Lucky is still friends with Miles and Lincoln, she loves having a girlfriend who she can laugh with till their sides hurt. Of course, Lucky stays true to form from the first book and there is an adventure and a crisis to be overcome, and she has to deal with her relationship with Lincoln becoming different as they grow older. Lucky continues to grow, as does Lincoln, and their friendship faces the changes that come with impending adolescence. Patron's characterization is just as strong as in the first book, and Paloma and Lucky's newfound friendship is delightful to read about. A strong follow-up, and highly recommended for ages 9 to 12.

(And yes, there is another mention of poor Roy and his snake-bitten scrotum. I wonder if Patron put it in there just to make a point. I hope so.)

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Sutton interviews Gaiman for SLJ

Just found a great Roger Sutton interview of Neil Gaiman in the online version of School Library Journal.  They discuss Gaiman's profanity-laced tweet after he won the Newbery, which was apparently spun into a controversy by some people.  I hadn't heard that though.  Who tried to drum up controversy?  I thought it was kind of awesome.

Gaiman also compliments librarians, saying of the ALA awards banquet, "Librarians know how to wear gowns."  At least he's not bought in to the shushing librarian stereotype. 

Saturday, February 14, 2009

I must have this book

I need, need, need to read this book.

Tales for Little Rebels: a Collection of Radical Children's Literature by Julia Mickenberg and Philip Nel. I just read Betsy Bird's review on GoodReads and this has jumped to the top of my "must read" list. Just look at the section topics:

"R is for Rebel, Subversive Science and the Dramas of Ecology, Work Workers and Money, Organize, Imagine, History and Heroes, A Person's a Person, and Peace."

R is for Rebel - that sounds to me like a kids' t-shirt that is just screaming to be made.

What do you mean that wasn't Nellie's real hair?!

One thing you should know about me is that I LOVED the Little House on the Prairie series of books as a kid. I also loved the tv show (not having yet come into that purist tendency mentioned in my previous post). I used to secretly think that my mom had named me after Laura Ingalls Wilder (my name being Laura and all). But, she didn't.

Anyway, one of my favorite sites,, recently ran a little trivia post on the Little House tv series. My favorite tidbits were that those cute curls on evil Nellie were a wig, and that the woman who played Ma got so tired of "wrapping her hair into a bun and being subservient to Charles" that she co-wrote and starred in a gritty TV movie called Battered that dealt with domestic violence. Plus, the actress that played good girl Mary went on to star in a TV movie where she played a suburban gang-banger. Classic!

These tabs are mocking me.

A couple of quick tabs to close here, and I'll hopefully get some reviews up later today as well.

First up, the 2009 Cybils awards have been announced! Hooray for The Graveyard Book and The Hunger Games! I keep meaning to read Rapunzel's Revenge and The London Eye Mystery as well - maybe this will motivate me to actually go get them off of the shelf and add them to my stack of stuff waiting to be read.

Next, some not so good news, at least to me. I've been called a purist when it comes to movie adaptations of my favorite books. There are certain movies that I've stayed away from because I love the books so much (see: The Golden Compass). So, when I saw that there are plans to make a movie out of Beezus and Ramona my heart sunk. I love Ramona to pieces, and now my son is reading Ramona in his kindergarten class and he loves her, and I dread what this movie will do to her. My fears weren't allayed when I read this article and the young girl playing Ramona (who I'm sure is a lovely girl) described herself as wacky. There's so much more to the Ramona series than wackiness. *sigh* Thanks to Leila for the link.

Friday, February 6, 2009

Savvy - Ingrid Law

Mississippi Beaumont, or Mibs, isn't a typical twelve year old. She's got a brother who can make lightning strike, a brother who can cause hurricanes, a mom who's just perfect, and Mibs is about to turn thirteen and find out what her secret talent (or her Savvy) is. When her dad is in an awful car crash the day before her birthday she stows away on a big pink bus along with her storm-causing brother Fish, her silent brother Samson, and the local preacher's kids to try to get to her Poppa and save him. Along the way she and her band of mischief-makers learn a lot about themselves and their relationships with each other.

The most striking thing about this novel is the voice. Mibs and her brothers have to learn to "scumble their savvies" and Law describes Mibs' Grandpa as such: "When Grandpa wasn't a grandpa and was just instead a small-fry, hobbledehoy boy blowing out thirteen dripping candles on a lopsided cake, his savvy hit him hard and sudden...and the entire state of Idaho got made. At least, that's the way Grandpa Bomba always told the story." The relationships between Mibs and her brothers, as well as between the Beaumont siblings and their newfound friends are authentic and well-formed. Savvy is an extremely enjoyable read, and is a fine pick for a 2009 Newbery Honor. Highly recommended for ages 9 to 12.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Quick Thoughts on the ALA Awards

Newbery:  So happy that Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book won this.  I'm a big fan of his books, and I really enjoyed this one.  I so wish I could have been in the room when this one was announced.  Wondering if this will draw some of the readers of his adult titles over to his juvenile/YA titles now (and possibly further into the juvenile/YA sections)? I haven't read the others, but I have Savvy at home now and will be trying to get my hands on the rest as soon as I can to check them out.

Printz:  I need to get a hold of Jellicoe Road as soon as possible to read it.  
I'd heard good things about it but haven't gotten to it yet.  But, I am absolutely THRILLED to see Nation on the honor list.  It was my favorite book of 2008, and was my pick to win the Printz.  I've got Tender Morsels and Octavian Nothing vol. II here at home and need to move them to the top of my to-read pile now.

And as a side note, yay to my awesome friend Peter and his Arbuthnot committee for choosing K.T. Horning as the 2010 Arbuthnot lecturer!  They couldn't have made a better choice!

Wednesday, January 21, 2009

Horn Book bought by Media Source Inc.

The Horn Book has been "acquired" by Media Source Inc, owner of Junior Library Guild. Editor-in-chief Roger Sutton says “Our print and digital publications will be refreshed, redesigned, and rethought — but always in line with founder Bertha Mahony Miller’s directive to ‘blow the horn for fine books for boys and girls."

I wonder what kind of changes will be made to the print version. I really love the Horn Book the way it is now - the small size, the content, etc. Here's hoping that not too much changes.

Sunday, January 11, 2009

The Red Necklace

Paris, 1789. The populace is stewing and revolution against the king and aristocracy is brewing. Against this backdrop, we find the heroes and heroine of Sally Gardner's The Red Necklace. At the story's open, Yann Margoza is fourteen and has the remarkable ability to throw his voice and read minds. Even more amazing is the ability of Tetu, his adopted guardian, who can move items without ever touching them. When Yann, Tetu, and the magician they work with are called to the grand estate of a cruel marquis they are pulled into a terrifying race against an evil Count and the outbreak of revolutionary violence to try to save an innocent young girl.

This wonderful story is just itching to be made into a movie. With the follies of the aristocracy, the fantastic elements of Yann and Tetu's talents, the suspense of outrunning the Count (who may be the devil himself), and plenty of young love thrown in, this novel is highly entertaining. Highly recommended for fans of both fantasy and historical fiction. Grades 9 and up.

Thursday, January 8, 2009

Award announcements

Two award announcements to link to:

The 2009 Charlotte Zolotow Award goes to Bob Graham, for How to Heal a Broken Wing. This annual award honors outstanding writing in a picture book. Past winners include Kevin Henkes, Peter McCarty, Molly Bang and Uri Shulevitz. Thanks to The Joy of Children's Literature for the link!

And speaking of Kevin Henkes, he's won the 2009 Jeremiah Ludington Memorial Award from the Educational Paperback Association, for his "significant contribution to the educational paperback business." I'm excited to hear this - I met Mr. Henkes at the 2007 Arbuthnot Honor Lecture. He's a wonderful speaker and an all-around great guy.

Wednesday, January 7, 2009

The Cat Heads of Dr. Seuss

The Haverford College News Room has a really interesting article about Dr. Seuss in their online version.  Although Dr. Seuss wasn't connected to Haverford, his agent Herb Cheyette was a Haverford graduate.  There are a lot of good tidbits, but here's my favorite:

"He had also created a painting called 'Plethora of Cats' featuring nothing but cat heads, and often relaxed by adding another head to the menagerie."

Thanks to the power of Google, I've found that a print of 'Plethora of Cats' can be had for only $9,995 at  What a steal!  

Harry Potter in 10 easy steps

Kids blogger Wizards Wireless recently posted on basic plot outlines that seem to pop up in some popular fare.  She breaks Harry Potter down into 10 steps, but points out that Deathly Hallows broke the mold pretty effectively.   My favorite part of the post is Amelia Bedelia in 5 steps.  Why in the world doesn't Mrs. Rogers fire Amelia?  Pie is good and all, but it ain't that good. 

Time to close some tabs

Fuse 8 has posted her annual Golden Fuse awards in categories such as Best Cover, Most Misleading Cover, and Worst Mother of the Year.

The 2008 Cybils finalists have been posted.

Again from Fuse 8, a nice link to a site featuring spreadsheets in which to post links to Mock Newbery, Mock Caldecott, and Mock Printz lists.

Via, the 2008 Smithsonian Notable Books for Children.  A couple on here that I've been meaning to get to (A Curse as Dark As Gold; Steinbeck's Ghost) but this just expanded my to-read list a good bit.

Leila at bookshelves of doom is launching her own fiction chapbook, TBR Tallboy.  Submission guidelines here.  

Children's Choice Book Awards Voting has posted a long list of titles and a form to vote for favorite titles for the 2009 Teen Choice Book Award, which is part of the Children's Choice Book Awards. Head on over and vote for your favorites! The top 5 vote-getters will be the finalists for the final vote. The deadline is January 31.

Tuesday, January 6, 2009

My 2009 Reading Challenge

Since a 50 book reading challenge, or even a 100 book reading challenge, won't really work for me, I've decided to go a different route. Inspired by Leila at bookshelves of doom, I'm going to attempt the VC Andrews Movement Reading Challenge. The challenge is to read any 11 VC Andrews books during 2009. The only thing I've ever read by her is Flowers in the Attic, but since I discovered just a couple of months ago that Andrews was from Portsmouth, VA (just down the road from me), this one seemed fitting. I'm going to start by re-reading Flowers, and I have a copy on hold. Will my head will explode from the badness? Will I be tempted to lock my kids in our attic? Only time will tell.

Monday, January 5, 2009

What I Saw and How I Lied

I had a lot of things on my to-do list yesterday, and none of them happened. I blame this on Judy Blundell. I woke up with the kids, started reading What I Saw and How I Lied, and didn't stop reading until I finished the book last night.

When Evie's stepfather Joe Spooner returns from WWII, everything seems to be great. He owns three appliance stores in Queens, he and her mom Bev are happy together, and Evie can't wait to turn 16. Then one night, Joe packs the family up for an impromptu vacation to Palm Beach, Florida. While there, a handsome young ex-soldier named Peter appears and befriends the Spooner family. But friendship isn't all that Evie is interested in, and an undercurrent of tension runs between Joe and Peter. Soon everything Evie knows about her mother and Joe is called into question, and she must decide what is most important to her.

Part coming-of-age, part historical fiction, and part crime drama, this 2008 National Book Award winner for young people's literature has something for everyone. The pacing of this novel is superb from beginning to end, and the characterization is excellent, from main players to supporting members of the novel. Highly recommended for ages 14 and up.

Living Dead Girl

Fair warning - this book isn't for the faint of heart. Alice was abducted when she was 10 and has been held captive for the last five years. Now fifteen, she keeps waiting for Ray, her captor, to kill her and find a new victim. After all, that's what he did to the last Alice. But Ray has something far worse in mind. Dark and disturbing, this slim novel will grab you and not let go. Author Elizabeth Scott explores the mind of the victim and relentlessly details her harsh existence. Highly recommended for older teens.

Welcome to the Niche.

Welcome to the Book Niche!  I'll be using this blog to post short book reviews of kids and young adult books; news from the world of children's books; and other general stuff related to kids literature.  I hope you'll check back often!

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