Children's Literacy Round-Up: May 21
The Second Annual Kidlitosphere Conference: Portland, OR

Reviews that Made Me Want the Book: May 21

Welcome to the latest installment of my "reviews that made me want to read the book" feature. My idea with these posts is to keep track of the books that catch my eye, while also giving props to the talented reviewers who draw my attention through their words.

Secret Society GirlLeila's reviews at Bookshelves of Doom often catch my eye. So when she said: "This book almost got me hit by a car", I paid attention. In her review of Diana Peterfreund's Secret Society Girl: An Ivy League Novel. Leila said "It isn't deep or particularly literary (you may have guessed that from the cover), but it's compulsively readable and completely entertaining. The characters are likable* and bright and I've already ordered the second book in the series." Good enough for me!

Circle of TruthLaura Salas drew me in with her brief review of Circle of Truth by Pat Schmatz. Although the book has fantasy elements, such as a magically appearing stairway, what Laura liked about it was the analysis of relationships in a blended family. She said: "This is not an action-packed book, but the tension increased notch by notch, tightening its grip on me. I couldn't wait to finish and see what happened. The ending was satisfying. I won't say anymore since I don't want to ruin it for anyone."

Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double LifeCindy Mitchell at Kiss the Book also intrigued me with a relatively short review, this one of Portia's Ultra Mysterious Double Life by Anna Hays. It sounds a bit like the Gilda Joyce books. A student reviewer said: "it had a great story of how a twelve year-old girl tries to deal with another earthquake catastrophe and having no father. I really liked this book and would gladly add it to my own collection."

The Sky InsideThis book was a personal recommendation to me by Becky Laney: Clare B. Dunkle's The Sky Inside. Becky also reviewed the book at Becky's Book Reviews, calling it a science fiction dystopian thriller with a premise that "screamed out "read me, read me, read me NOW!"" She also says "t would have been really easy--almost expected--for the characters to take a back seat to the premise, but that isn't the case in The Sky Inside. Yes, the premise had me at hello. But I really and truly came to believe in Martin."

Jumpy Jack & GoogilyEsme Raji Codell recently shared a "healthy dose of the funniest new picture books (she) could find" at Planet Esme. The one that I simply must have is Jumpy Jack & Googily by Meg Rosoff and Sophie Blackall. Honestly, aren't the title and the cover enough? OK, here's part of Esme's description: "Googily, with sharp teeth but a disarming smile and eyes that are, indeed, googly, very endearingly checks wading pools, closets, under tables and beds for any culprits, and children will enjoy the inside joke of a monster inserting himself into every place that Jumpy Jacks fears one might be."

Blue Like FridayAnother brief review by Stacy Church in Book Bits, the Westwood (MA) Public Library blog, pulls me in from the first lines of the review. Stacy says: "This may be my favorite children's book I've read all year. It's funny, really funny, and sad (my favorite combination), and the characters are great. On top of that, there's a mystery that the kids solve themselves. What could be better." What, indeed, Stacy? The book is Blue Like Friday by Siobhan Parkinson. Special bonus: I get a kick out of sitting in California getting book recommendations from the Westwood Library, hometown library of my lovely nieces.

Black SheepCourt from Once Upon a Bookshelf recently shared the news that Sourcebooks will be re-releasing a selection of Georgette Heyer's regency novels shortly. Her review of an advance copy of Black Sheep made me want the book now, but it won't be available until June 1st. In truth, for me, knowing that the book is going to be available, and is one that I haven't read, is good enough for me to decide to buy it. But Court's comments also helped: "The characters were wonderful, and the dialogue was witty and amusing. It was predictable, but that is what you would expect from this type of book. Of course the girl’s going to get the guy, everyone’s problems are going to work out wonderfully and all will live happily ever after. As my first foray into Heyer’s Regency romances, it was certainly successful. I finished the book feeling the complete satisfaction that only a good read can leave you with. I can see why Jane Austen fans really enjoy her books, and I will definitely be reading more of Heyer’s works." Yay! Another convert to one of my favorite authors.

The Diamond of DarkholdThis one is an announcement, not a review, but it's all I need. Monica Edinger reports at Educating Alice that Jeanne Duprau has a new (fourth) Ember book coming out: The Diamond of Darkhold. Monica says: "According to the flap copy, in Sparks Lina and Doon find a beat-up book missing most of its pages, but in it is mention of a device that may still be in Ember. So they go back to find it." Good enough for me! Cool cover, too.

Model SpyJennie from Biblio File intrigued me with her review of Model Spy (The Specialists), by Shannon Greenland. The premise is that a 16-year-old girl is tricked into becoming a spy. Jennie said: "This book was super-fun and exciting. I loved it. I'm sure all the techno babble was completely made up, but I don't care. I like the socially awkward smart, yet hot girl. The plot kept moving and I couldn't put it down. I can't wait for the rest of the books in the series."

And that's all for now. I don't have time to actually read any of these books any time soon, but the combination of review, author, and premise made me want to read them all. Thanks, Kidlitosphere friends!