Growing Bookworms Newsletter: December 9
Children's Literacy Round-Up: December 15

Reviews that Made Me Want the Book: December 10

 Welcome to the latest edition of my recurring reviews that made me want to read the book feature.

The Lost Island of TamarindHere's a good lead-in for a review, from Your Neighborhood Librarian at Pink Me: "Oh, boy! Oh boy oh boy oh boy! For kids who like their adventure with a little adventure thrown in, with a shot of adventure in a test tube shoved down in the middle to add in later after the adventure gets diluted by the melting ice!" She also adds: "I have been pressing The Lost Island of Tamarind into the hands of every eager reader who has come my way recently." Count me in as one of those eager readers, looking for Nadia Aguiar's The Lost Island of Tamarind.

Ottoline and the Yellow CatI'm always on the lookout for great books for the kids that I know. Charlotte's review of Chris Riddell's Ottoline and the Yellow Cat at Charlotte's Library caught my eye, and made it onto my list of Christmas purchases. This is the part that hooked: "The reading level is about the same as the Eloise books. It is perfect for the accomplished five-year-old girl (me as a child). And it works really, really well as an independent reading book for an eight-year-old boy with an iffy attention span (all the bits of writing in the drawings are perfect), who can read long words just fine, but who has not yet become comfortable reading longer, more chaptery, books to himself, and who needs reassurance that yes, he is a reader".

I'm not sure how I missed this review before, but Charlotte wrote last year about Hill's End, by Ivan Southall (1962). She said: "One of the best books in the "children surviving great personal hardship in the face of catastrophe with no grownup to help" genre is Hill's End, by Ivan Southall. In a small and incredibly isolated Australian logging town, a group of children and their school teacher set off into the hills to look for rock paintings. All the town's other residents, except for the logging foreman, leave town for the annual regional picnic, miles away. A storm like no other they have seen strikes..." And you have a book that's in my target genre.

WintergirlsIt's not quite a review, but Julie Prince wrote an open letter to Laurie Halse Anderson in response to Laurie's upcoming book wintergirls. Here's the beginning: "This book, wintergirls, is so amazing that it makes me want to go out and do something amazing. It's so great that it kept me up late into the night, even though I knew I'd have to get up in the morning and drag myself from place to place all day long. It is so awesome that it makes other great books bow down to it in its awesomeness. It's so fantastic that I want to share it with everyone I meet."

Alvin HoI've had Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things, by Lenore Look, on my radar for a while. But Chris Barton convinced me to add it to my list. His two boys loved it, and Chris adds: "And the book is a hoot. And it's got a glossary that's as much pleasure to read as the rest of the book. And it's set in Concord, Massachusetts, where my boys picnicked earlier this year within view of the Old North Bridge, thus giving the book that much more appeal."

LucretiaShelf Elf reviewed The Mystery of the Third Lucretia by Susan Runholt. She said: "There is something in the honesty and directness of the main character’s voice, combined with the twisty, one-adventure-after-the-next plotting that makes this a wholly satisfying mystery, absolutely right for the Middle Grade crowd. Not heavy. Not too complicated. Full of suspense. Toss in a little art crime, some snazzy European settings and I think we’ve got a winner." Since I'm always on the lookout for good mysteries, I decided to give this one a look.

Tell Me WhoI also favor great books for tweens, which made Kidliterate's review of Tell Me Who by Jessica Wollman appealing. She said: "Oh, aimed-at-tweens books featuring tween characters doing tweeny-age-appropriate things, how I do love you... I could hand this book to anyone. There are never enough books like this. I enjoyed Wollman’s previous book Switched but I hope she sticks to tweens now because tweens need her. There are some serious issues in this book but it never becomes depressing; there’s a lot of lighthearted moments in this book but it never becomes fluff. I know my former bookstore is going to sell this like mad."

Who Made This Cake?Who Made this Cake? by Chihiro Nakagawa is a Horn Book Fanfare title, a picture book about tiny workers who use tiny trucks to make a cake. But Travis from 100 Scope Notes made me want to read it with his Toon Review. It's tricky to quote from a comic strip, though, so you'll have to click through to see it.

Fact of Life 31Becky from Becky's Book Reviews made me want to read a book that's already on my shelf: Fact of Life #31, by Denise Vega. She said: "In a way, this one reminds me of Dairy Queen and The Off Season though I'm not sure why my brain has made this leap. I suppose it is because of the depth of the characters--it's rare to fully explore family dynamics with such heart and soul and authenticity."

You Had Me at HaloKelsey of Reading Keeps You Sane caught my attention with her review of Amanda Ashby's You Had Me at Halo. Part of the book takes place in heaven, and the characters are in their early 20's, two things that intrigue me. Then Kelsey said: "Ashby brought something original and her writing has the potential to bring it big. I can't wait to read more of her works, check out her new book Zombie Queen of Newbury High out March 5, 2009. Anybody still not sure, think of Gabrielle Zevin's Elsewhere with a huge twist on earth."

Invisible TouchAnother recommendation from Kelsey, one that she REALLY likes, is Kelly Parra's Invisible Touch. It's about a girl with a paranormal gift who puts together clues to try to prevent disasters. Kelsey says: "Wow--Just wow. This book was fantastic. I started it last night and almost got yelled at by the teacher because I couldn't stop reading during school... Parra's writing was distinctive and literal. I just couldn't stop! "

Diamond of Drury LaneSherry from Semicolon made me want to read Julia Golding's The Diamond of Drury Lane when she said: "The book gives a great picture of the 1790’s for children, including cameo appearances by important personages, a look at the political issues of the time, and a vivid depiction of the cultural milieu of both the back alleys and the drawing rooms of late eighteenth century London." But she clinched it for me when she added: "Cat would be a new and winsome addition to Jen’s Cool Girls of Children’s Literature list, and her friends and enemies in Drury Lane are a delight to get to know." Also, this book won the Nestle Children's Book Prize in the UK in 2006.

Shades of GreyI really should just figure out a way to import all of Lenore's Waiting on Wednesday posts directly into my want lists, because we have a LOT of overlap in our preferences. So when she said: "This week I am extremely excited about Jasper Fforde's new book which also happens to be a dystopia - how exciting is that?!" I was able to stop reading immediately, and add Shades of Grey to my list. Sadly, it won't be available until June. But here's the fun part - Lenore reports that she was thinking of me when she wrote that sentence. Isn't it neat how we can build knowledge of each other's preferences over time? Never mind that Lenore lives in Germany, and we're unlikely to actually meet any time soon.

And that's all for today. Hope that some of these amazing review will pique your interest.

© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.