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Posts from December 2008

Wednesday Afternoon Visits: New Year's Eve Edition

_IGP0749W Happy New Year to all! (Photo by Paul Anderson, shared at MorgueFile, and technically from July 4th, but relevant to today) It's been another great year of blogging, one during which many new authors and parents and teachers and librarians and book fans joined the Kidlitosphere. I'm back from a densely-packed nine-day trip to Boston (spending Christmas with the families), and have been slowly catching up on the doings of the Kidlitosphere. Thank goodness this is a relatively slow time on the blogs! Still, I have a few things to share with you.

Over at the NCFL Literacy Now blog, Meg Ivey is collecting family literacy resolutions. She says: "It’s that time of the year when everyone is making positive changes in their lives. But instead of resolving to eat fewer desserts or exercise more, how about making a family literacy resolution? ...Whatever your resolution is, please let me know!". Meanwhile, at The Tiger's Bookshelf, Janet asks that people remember to give the gift of reading for the New Year. She says: "Please think of how different would be without the joy of reading, and think of how you can be sure that somewhere, somehow, a child will learn to experience that same joy." I, naturally, agree with them both.

Another post that I enjoyed was by Susan from Wizard's Wireless, about "how to write a book by your favorite author in ten steps or less." She outlines, for example, the structure found in most of the Harry Potter books (with a few admitted deviations), concluding with "Harry deep in thought about whatever happened during the climax, takes the train home and dreads another summer with the Dursleys." Then she moves on to other favorite authors who have relatively predictable story structures.

My friend Cory emailed me the other day about a New York Times story by David Streitfeld on the changes in the book publishing industry caused by people buying deeply discounted used books on the Internet. Walter Minkel comments on the same article, and on what he sees as the future of book publishing, at The Monkey Speaks. For example, he thinks that in the future "We’re much more likely to be reading books from a mobile phone than from specialized e-book-reader devices like the “Readius”. Interesting stuff all around. I'm a die-hard fan of the printed book, but I do agree that a higher percentage of electronic reading is coming, whether we like it or not...

Tons of people are publishing their end of the year reading lists, "best of 2008" lists, and/or reading resolutions for 2009. There are far too many to link to (though a few books have been popping up enough to convince me to read them, like The Knife of Never Letting Go). But do check out this post at Fuse #8 for a link to a site that Jim Averbeck set up for tracking people's mock Newbery, Caldecott, and Printz lists. I also especially enjoyed Sarah Miller's "completely subjective, unordered, and unorthodox mish-mash of my various favorites from 2008", featuring categories like "Book I would feel remiss if I didn't mention" and "Book that prompted the most sniggering". Fun stuff!I also found that Jackie Parker's list, for Readergirlz, of ten "best girl-power books that we read this year, regardless of copyright date" really resonated with me. Speaking of Readergirlz, congratulations to the newest postergirl, Shelf Elf. 

Another year-end post that I enjoyed was Just One More Book's 500th podcast, in which Andrea and Mark talk with their daughters, Lucy (9) and Bayla (7) about their thoughts on favorite chapter books read during 2008. It's a true pleasure to hear from two young girls who so clearly love and appreciate books, including remarks like "Eva Ibbotson usually writes about orphans, that is something I've noticed" and "I would really really love to read it" on the prospect for a third Penderwick title. Great stuff! Here's wishing JOMB 500 more posts.

Congratulations, also to Esme Raji Codell for her 200th post at Planet Esme. She shares her personal appreciation for the book A Tree Grows in Brooklyn (which I have to admit I don't think I've ever read, though clearly I should). And, congratulations to Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery. Their book Two Bobbies was recently featured on NPR's All Things Considered. Also, happy one year blogaversary to Trevor Cairney for Literacy, families and learning.

In sadder news, the Disco Mermaids are signing off. Oh, they'll each have their own blogs, but it won't be quite the same... Do check out their final post, though.

Award_butterfly And finally, I received a couple of nice compliments for my blog this week (in addition to the many wonderful comments from the recent carnival/birthday post). First, Nadine Warner from Kiddos and Books gave me a Butterfly Award, for having a "cool" blog. She did accuse me of being a robot, but trust me, it was a compliment. I actually passed along this award a while back, so I won't do it again, but it definitely brightened my Christmas weekend. And then Donalyn Miller, the Book Whisperer, named my blog as one of her Reading Rabbit Holes, saying: "I have some gems in the rabbit hole—Websites that make my eyes glaze over with reading bliss, and surprisingly, enhance my classroom instruction and my conversations with students about books." It's an honor to be one of Donalyn's rabbit holes.

And that's it for today. I look forward to reading many more of your posts in 2009. Happy New Year to all!! And stay tuned for the Cybils short lists announcements tomorrow!

Books Read in 2008

This is a list of all of the books that I've read in 2008, broken up into Picture Books, Middle Grade Books, Young Adult Books, Adult Fiction, and Adult Nonfiction. The grand total is 211 books read, but 50 of them were picture books, so I ended well short of my goal of reading 200 books not counting picture books. (Did I really only read 5 books in December? I find that very sad!) Still, I managed to review a pretty good percentage of the books that I read this year (123 to date, or nearly 60%, with a few additional picture book reviews pending), so that's a happy thing. Here's hoping for more reading and reviewing time in 2009!

Picture Books

  1. Alice B. McGinty (ill. Nancy Speir): Eliza's Kindergarten Surprise. Marshall Cavendish. Completed January 12, 2008. My review.
  2. Charles Santore: The Silk Princess. Random House. Completed January 20, 2008. My review.
  3. Karen Katz: Princess Baby. Schwartz & Wade. Completed January 20, 2008. My review.
  4. Timothy Knapman (ill. Gwen Millward): Guess What I Found in Dragon Wood?. Bloomsbury. Completed January 23, 2008. My review.
  5. Kate Bernheimer (ill. Nicoletta Ceccoli): The Girl in the Castle Inside the Museum. Schwartz & Wade. Completed January 24, 2008. My review.
  6. Michael Sandler: Manny Ramirez and the Boston Red Sox. Bearport Publishing. Completed January 24, 2008. My review.
  7. Michael Sandler: Pararescuemen. Bearport Publishing. Completed January 24, 2008. (A picture book, but more suitable for older kids). My review.
  8. Meish Goldish: Smelly Stink Bugs. Bearport Publishing. Completed January 24, 2008.
  9. Jon Scieszka (ill. David Shannon, Loren Long, and David Gordon): Smash! Crash! (Trucktown): Simon & Schuster. Completed January 25, 2008. My review.
  10. Barbara Park (ill Viviana Garofoli): Ma! There's Nothing to Do Here! A Word from Your Baby-in-Waiting. Random House. Completed January 26, 2008.
  11. Andrea Beaty (ill. Pascal Lemaitre): Doctor Ted. Margaret K. McElderry. Completed January 30, 2008. My review.
  12. Jack Lechner (ill. Bob Staake): Mary Had a Little Lamp. Bloomsbury. Completed January 30, 2008. My review.
  13. Sallie Wolf (ill. Andy Robert Davies): Truck Stuck. Charlesbridge. Completed January 30, 2008. My review.
  14. Dianna Hutts Aston (ill. Frank W. Dormer): Not So Tall for Six. Charlesbridge. Completed January 30, 2008. My review.
  15. Jay Lynch and Frank Cammuso: Otto's Orange Day. Toon Books. Completed January 31, 2008. This is a graphic novel for younger kids, not technically a picture book, but aimed at the same audience.
  16. Felice Arena: Sally and Dave, a Slug Story. Kane/Miller. Completed February 1, 2008. My review.
  17. Melanie Watt: Scaredy Squirrel at the Beach. Kids Can Press. Completed February 23, 2008.
  18. Chris Monroe: Monkey with a Tool Belt. Carolrhoda Books. Completed March 1, 2008. My review.
  19. Tomie dePaola: Strega Nona. Editorial Everest. Completed March 7, 2008.
  20. Arlene Mosel: Tikki Tikki Tembo. Square Fish. Completed March 7, 2008.
  21. Heather Amery: The Naughty Sheep. Usborne. Completed March 7, 2008.
  22. Bonny Becker (ill. Kady Macdonald Denton): A Visitor for Bear. Candlewick. Completed April 16, 2008.
  23. Barbara Lehman: Trainstop. Houghton Mifflin. Completed May 10, 2008. My review.
  24. Tim Myers (ill. Ariel Ya-Wen Pang): The Outfoxed Fox. Marshall Cavendish. Completed May 10, 2008.
  25. Daniel Pinkwater (ill. Jill Pinkwater): Sleepeover Larry. Marshall Cavendish. Completed May 10, 2008.
  26. Eugene W. Field (ill. Giselle Potter): Wynken, Blynken, and Nod. Schwartz & Wade. Completed May 10, 2008. My review.
  27. Caroline Lazo (ill. Krysten Brooker): Someday When My Cat Can Talk. Schwartz & Wade. Completed May 10, 2008.
  28. Kirby Larson and Mary Nethery (ill. Jean Cassels): Two Bobbies: A True Story of Hurricann Katrina, Friendship, and Survival. Walker. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  29. Jon Ritchie (ill. Alex Ritchie): Babies are Boring. Purple Possum Publishing. Completed August 23, 2008.
  30. Anji Yamamura: Hannah Duck. Kane/Miller. Completed August 23, 2008.
  31. Jennifer Fosberry (ill. Mike Litwin): My Name Is Not Isabella. Monkey Barrel Press. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  32. Gene Barretta: Jack the Tripper. Harcourt. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  33. Lane Smith: Madam President. Hyperion. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  34. Melanie Watt: Chester's Back. Kids Can Press. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  35. Kyle Mewburn (ill. Ali Teo & John O'Reilly): Kiss! Kiss! Yuck! Yuck! Peachtree Publishers. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  36. Judy Sierra (ill. Marc Brown): Born to Read. Knopf. Completed August 23, 2008. My review.
  37. Tim Egan: Dodsworth in Paris. Houghton Mifflin. Completed September 27, 2008. My review.
  38. Amy Hest (ill. Amy Bates): The Dog Who Belonged to No One. Abrams Books for Young Readers. Completed November 2, 2008.
  39. Kashmira Sheth (ill. Yoshiko Jaeggi): Monsoon Afternoon. Peachtree Publishers. Completed November 2, 2008.
  40. Tera Johnson (ill. Tania Howells): Berkeley's Barn Owl Dance. Kids Can Press. Completed November 2, 2008.
  41. Brian Lies: Bats at the Library. Houghton Mifflin. Completed November 2, 2008.
  42. Vincent X. Kirsch: Natalie & Naughtily. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Completed November 2, 2008.
  43. Deb Lund (ill. Robert Neubecker): Monsters on Machines. Harcourt Children's Books. Completed November 2, 2008.
  44. Marjorie Priceman: How to Make a Cherry Pie and See the U.S.A. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed November 2, 2008. My review.
  45. Bob Staake: The Donut Chef. Golden Books (Random House). Completed November 2, 2008.
  46. Alison Randall (ill. Bill Farnsworth): The Wheat Doll. Peachtree Publishers. Completed November 2, 2008.
  47. Elizabeth Van Steenwyk (ill. Michael Montgomery): First Dog Fala. Peachtree Publishers. Completed November 2, 2008. My review.
  48. Ferida Wolff and Harriet May Savitz (ill. Elena Odriozola): The Story Blanket. Peachtree Publishers. Completed November 2, 2008.
  49. Vivian French (ill. Jackie Morris): Singing to the Sun: A Fairy Tale. Kane/Miller Book Publishers. Completed November 2, 2008.
  50. Helen Lester (ill. Lynn M. Munsinger): Tacky the Penguin. Houghton Mifflin. Completed November 2, 2008. My review.

Middle Grade Books

  1. P.J. Haarsma: The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1. Candlewick. Completed January 10, 2008.
  2. John Christopher: The Prince in Waiting. Macmillan. Completed January 10, 2008. My review.
  3. Michelle Edwards: Pa Lia's First Day: A Jackson Friends Book. Harcourt. Completed January 12, 2008. My review.
  4. Alexander McCall Smith (ill. Laura Rankin): The Five Lost Aunts of Harriet Bean. Bloomsbury USA. Completed January 13, 2008. My review.
  5. Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm: Babymouse: Puppy Love. Random House. Completed January 20, 2008. My review.
  6. John Christopher: Beyond the Burning Lands. Simon Pulse. Completed January 25, 2008. My review.
  7. John Christopher: Sword of the Spirits. Simon Pulse. Completed January 25, 2008. My review.
  8. P. G. Kain: The Social Experiments of Dorie Dilts: The School for Cool. Aladdin. Completed January 28, 2008. My review.
  9. N. D. Wilson: Leepike Ridge. Random House. Completed January 30, 2008. My review.
  10. Linda Buckley Archer: The Time Thief (Book 2 in the Gideon Trilogy). Completed February 3, 2008. My review.
  11. Emma Young: STORM: The Infinity Code. Dial. Completed February 8, 2008. My review.
  12. Kerry Madden: Gentle's Holler. Viking Juvenile. Completed February 24, 2008.
  13. Kerry Madden: Louisiana's Song. Viking Juvenile. Completed February 29, 2008.
  14. Nancy Springer: The Case of the Left-Handed Lady (Enola Holmes). Philomel. Completed March 19, 2008.
  15. Kerry Madden: Jessie's Mountain. Viking Juvenile. Completed April 4, 2008. See my review of all three Maggie Valley books.
  16. Jeanne Birdsall: The Penderwicks on Gardam Street. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed April 29, 2008. My review.
  17. Trenton Lee Stewart (ill. Diana Sudyka): The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Perilous Journey. Little, Brown Young Readers. Completed May 15, 2008. My review.
  18. Rick Riordan: The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4, Percy Jackson and the Olympians). Hyperion. Completed May 25, 2008. My review.
  19. Sara Pennypacker (ill. Marla Frazee): Clementine's Letter. Hyperion. Completed May 28, 2008. My review.
  20. John Hulme and Michael Wexler: The Seems: The Glitch in Sleep. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Completed June 2, 2008 (audio edition).
  21. Margaret Peterson Haddix: Running Out of Time. Aladdin. Completed June 6, 2008. My review.
  22. Elizabeth Cody Kimmel: Suddenly Supernatural: School Spirit. Little, Brown. Completed June 6, 2008. My review.
  23. Hilary McKay: Saffy's Angel. Aladdin. Completed June 6, 2008. My review.
  24. Bonnie Dobkin: Neptune's Children. Walker Books for Young Readers. Completed June 6, 2008. My review.
  25. Andrea Beaty: Cicada Summer. Amulet. Completed June 7, 2008. My review.
  26. Lois Lowry: The Willoughbys. Houghton Mifflin. Completed June 7, 2008. My review.
  27. N. D. Wilson: 100 Cupboards. Random House. Completed June 7, 2008. My review.
  28. Patricia Martin: Lulu Atlantis and the Quest for True Blue Love. Schwartz & Wade. Completed June 7, 2008. My review.
  29. Patricia Reilly Giff: Eleven. Wendy Lamb Books. Completed June 8, 2008. My review.
  30. Mary Downing Hahn: All the Lovely Bad Ones. Clarion Books. Completed June 8, 2008. My review.
  31. Debbie Levy: Underwater. Darby Creek Publishing. Completed June 8, 2008. My review.
  32. Gail Gauthier: A Girl, A Boy, and Three Robbers. Putnam. Completed June 13, 2008. My review.
  33. Charise Mericle Harper: Just Grace. Hougton Mifflin. Completed June 15, 2008. My review.
  34. Ruth McNally Barshaw: Ellie McDoodle: New Kid in School. Bloomsbury. Completed June 15, 2008. My review.
  35. Margaret Peterson Haddix: Found (the Missing). Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. Completed June 16, 2008. My review.
  36. MAC: Anna Smudge: Professional Shrink. Toasted Coconut Media. Completed July 2, 2008. My review.
  37. Jill Santopolo: The Nina, the Pinta, and the Vanishing Treasure (Alec Flint, Super Sleuth). Orchard Books. Completed July 3, 2008. My review.
  38. Cornelia Funke: Inkdeath. Chicken House (Scholastic). Completed July 13, 2008. My review.
  39. Kathi Appelt: The Underneath. Atheneum. Completed July 14, 2008. My review.
  40. Karen Day: No Cream Puffs. Wendy Lamb Books. Completed July 16, 2008. My review.
  41. Jeanne DuPrau: The Diamond of Darkhold (The Fourth Book of Ember). Random House. Completed July 20, 2008. My review.
  42. P. J. Hoover: The Emerald Tablet. Blooming Tree Press. Completed July 31, 2008. My review.
  43. Judy Blume: Soupy Saturday with the Pain and the Great One. Completed August 4, 2008.
  44. Judy Blume: Cool Zone with the Pain and the Great One. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed August 4, 2008.
  45. Scott Mebus: Gods of Manhattan. Dutton. Completed August 8, 2008. My review.
  46. Terence Blacker: The Angel Factory. Aladdin. Completed August 18, 2008 (on MP3).
  47. Ellen Klages. White Sands, Red Menace. Viking Juvenile. Completed August 19, 2008. My review.
  48. Karen Hesse: Brooklyn Bridge. Feiwel & Friends. Completed August 31, 2008. My review.
  49. Chris Grabenstein: The Crossroads. Random House. Completed September 5, 2008. My review.
  50. Michael Scott: The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed September 11, 2008. My review.
  51. Terry Trueman: Hurricane. HarperCollins. Completed September 11, 2008. My review.
  52. Roald Dahl: Matilda. Viking. Completed September 13, 2008.
  53. Alexander Key: The Forgotten Door. Scholastic. Completed September 17, 2008. My review.
  54. Michael Scott: The Magician: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel. Delacorte. Completed September 19, 2008. My review.
  55. Jordan Sonnenblick: Dodger and Me. Feiwel & Friends. Completed September 20, 2008. My review.
  56. Danette Haworth: Violet Raines Almost Got Struck by Lightning. Walker. Completed September 20, 2008. My review.
  57. Neal Layton: The Mammoth Academy. Henry Holt. Completed September 20, 2008. My review.
  58. Peggy Gifford (ill. Valorie Fisher). Moxy Maxwell Does Not Love Writing Thank-You Notes. Schwartz & Wade. Completed September 20, 2008. My review.
  59. Kimberly Willis Holt (ill. Christine Davenier): Piper Reed: The Great Gypsy. Henry Holt. Completed September 20, 2008. My review.
  60. Rick Riordan: The 39 Clues (The Maze of Bones, Book 1). Scholastic Press. Completed September 25, 2008.
  61. Alexander Key: Escape to Witch Mountain. Pocket Books. Completed October 11, 2008.
  62. R. L. LaFevers: Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris. Houghton Mifflin. Completed October 15, 2008. My review.
  63. Neil Gaiman: The Graveyard Book. HarperCollins. Completed October 23, 2008.
  64. Laurie Halse Anderson: Chains. Simon & Schuster. Completed October 31, 2008. My review.
  65. Lesley M. M. Blume: Tennyson. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed November 5, 2008. My review.
  66. Ingrid Law: Savvy. Dial. Completed November 7, 2008. My review.
  67. Ann Clare LeZotte: T4: A Novel. Houghton Mifflin. Completed November 9, 2008. My review.
  68. Elizabeth Enright: Then There Were Five. Henry Holt. Completed November 15, 2008.
  69. Penny Colman: Thanksgiving: The True Story. Henry Holt. Completed November 23, 2008. My review.
  70. Brian Anderson (ill. Doug Holgate): The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Red Giant. Aladdin. Completed November 24, 2008. Reviewed here (all three books together)
  71. Brian Anderson (ill. Doug Holgate): The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Warlords of Nibblecheese. Aladdin. Completed November 25, 2008.
  72. Brian Anderson (ill. Doug Holgate): The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Wrong Planet. Aladdin. Completed November 25, 2008.
  73. Eva Ibbotson: The Dragonfly Pool. Dutton Juvenile. Completed December 16, 2008.
  74. David Ward: Escape the Mask. Amulet. Completed December 30, 2008. My review.

Young Adult Books

  1. Ellen Emerson White: Long May She Reign. Feiwel & Friends. Completed January 1, 2008. My review.
  2. Julie Bertagna: Exodus. Walker Books for Young Readers. Completed January 4, 2008. My review.
  3. Carrie Jones: Tips on Having a Gay (ex) Boyfriend. Flux. Completed January 13, 2008.
  4. Nancy Crocker: Billie Standish Was Here. Simon & Schuster. Completed January 14, 2008.
  5. Sherman Alexie: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Little, Brown Young Readers. Completed January 15, 2008.
  6. Laura Resau: Red Glass. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed January 19, 2008.
  7. Charlie Higson: Blood Fever (The Young James Bond, Book 2). Miramax. Completed February 6, 2008.
  8. Malcolm Rose: Blood Brother (Traces). Kingfisher. Completed February 9, 2008. My review.
  9. Gary Schmidt: The Wednesday Wars. Clarion. Completed February 12, 2008.
  10. Carrie Jones: Love and Other Uses for Duct Tape. Flux. Completed February 20, 2008.
  11. Susan Vaught: Big Fat Manifesto. Bloomsbury. Completed March 19, 2008.
  12. Libba Bray: A Great and Terrible Beauty. Completed April 9, 2008. (On MP3)
  13. S. A. Bodeen: The Compound. Feiwel & Friends. Completed April 21, 2008. My review.
  14. Robin Benway: Audrey, Wait! Razorbill. Completed April 28, 2008. My review.
  15. Jennifer Ziegler: How Not To Be Popular. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed June 1, 2008. My review.
  16. Marsha Forchuk Skrypuch: Daughter of War. Fitzhenry and Whiteside. Completed June 5, 2008. My review.
  17. Ridley Pearson: Steel Trapp: The Challenge. Disney. Completed June 11, 2008. My review.
  18. Mary E. Pearson: The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Henry Holt. Completed June 12, 2008. My review.
  19. Tanita S. Davis. A La Carte. Knopf. Completed June 16, 2008.
  20. Cory Doctorow: Little Brother. Tor Teen. Completed June 22, 2008. My review.
  21. Allegra Goodman: The Other Side of the Island. Razorbill. Completed June 23, 2008. My review.
  22. Cylin Busby and John Busby: The Year We Disappeared. Bloomsbury USA. Completed June 23, 2008. My review.
  23. F. Paul Wilson: Jack: Secret Histories. Tor Teen. Completed July 12, 2008. My review.
  24. Suzanne Collins: The Hunger Games. Scholastic. Completely July 25, 2008. My review.
  25. E. L. Young: STORM: The Ghost Machine. Completed July 28, 2008. (not on Amazon yet)
  26. Gemma Malley: The Resistance. Bloomsbury. Completed July 31, 2008. My review.
  27. Catherine Banner: The Eyes of a King. Random House. Completed August 11, 2008. My review.
  28. Stephenie Meyer: Breaking Dawn. Little Brown. Completed August 14, 2008. My review.
  29. Robin Wasserman: Skinned. Simon Pulse. Completed August 24, 2008. My review.
  30. John Green: Paper Towns. Dutton Juvenile. Completed August 27, 2008. My review.
  31. Linda Singleton: Dead Girl Walking. Flux. Completed September 1, 2008. My review.
  32. Brian James: Zombie Blondes. Feiwel & Friends. Completed September 2, 2008. My review.
  33. Michael Grant: Gone. HarperTeen. Completed September 7, 2008. My review.
  34. Cecilia Galante: The Patron Saint of Butterflies. Bloomsbury USA. Completed September 14, 2008. My review.
  35. Linda Gerber: Death by Bikini. Sleuth. Completed September 28, 2008.
  36. Clare B. Dunkle: The Sky Inside. Ginee Seo Books. Completed September 28, 2008.
  37. Neal Shusterman: The Dark Side of Nowhere. Starscape. Completed October 4, 2008.
  38. Barbara Shoup: Everything You Want. Flux. Completed October 5, 2008. My review.
  39. Lynn Weingarten: Wherever Nina Lies. Point. Completed October 7, 2008.
  40. A. S. King: The Dust of 100 Dogs. Flux. Completed October 12, 2008. My review.
  41. Jennifer Lynn Barnes: The Squad: Perfect Cover. Laurel Leaf. Completed October 24, 2008. My review.
  42. Jennifer Lynn Barnes: The Squad: Killer Spirit. Laurel Leaf. Completed October 25, 2008. My review
  43. Janette Rallison: Just One Wish. Putnam Juvenile. Completed October 27, 2008. My review.
  44. Lisa McMann: Wake. Simon Pulse. Completed October 28, 2008. My review.
  45. Lisa McMann: Fade. Simon Pulse. Completed October 28, 2008. My review.
  46. Maggie Stiefvater: Lament: The Faerie Queen's Deception. Flux. Completed October 30, 2008. My review.
  47. April Lurie: The Latent Powers of Dylan Fontaine. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed November 6, 2008.
  48. Christine Fletcher: Tallulah Falls. Bloomsbury USA Children's Books. Completed November 12, 2008. My review.
  49. Terry Pratchett: Nation. HarperCollins. Completed November 15, 2008.
  50. Anna Godbersen: The Luxe. HarperCollins. Completed November 20, 2008. My review.
  51. E. Lockhart: The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks. Hyperion. Completed November 20, 2008.
  52. Dana Reinhardt: How to Build a House. Wendy Lamb Books. Completed November 21, 2008. My review.
  53. Cecil Castellucci: Beige. Candlewick. Completed November 22, 2008. My review.
  54. Kristin Cashore: Graceling. Harcourt. Completed December 8, 2008. My review.

Adult Fiction

  1. Laura Lippman: What the Dead Know. William Morrow. Completed January 23, 2008.
  2. Mameve Medwed: How Elizabeth Barrett Browning Saved My Life. Avon. Completed February 6, 2008.
  3. Georgette Heyer: Cotillion. Casablanca Press. Completed February 10, 2008.
  4. Georgette Heyer: Venetia. HQN Books. Completed February 11, 2008.
  5. Deborah Crombie: Water Like A Stone. William Morrow. Completed March 8, 2008.
  6. Louise Penny. A Fatal Grace. St. Martins Minotaur. Completed March 9, 2008.
  7. Shirley Tallman: The Cliff House Strangler. St. Martin's Minotaur. Completed March 11, 2008.
  8. Max Brooks: World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War. Three Rivers Press. Completed April 21, 2008.
  9. Nelson DeMille: Wild Fire. Vision. Completed May 3, 2008.
  10. Julia Spencer-Fleming: I Shall Not Want. St. Martins Minotaur. Completed May 20, 2008. My review.
  11. Tana French: In the Woods. Penguin. Completed July 1, 2008. (Listened on MP3)
  12. James Rollins: The Judas Strain. Harper Collins. Completed July 1, 2008.
  13. Victoria Thompson: Murder in Chinatown. Berkley. Completed July 17, 2008, on MP3. I really like this series (historical mystery set in New York City in the early 1900s). However, I had a bit of trouble with this one because I figured out the solution by half-way through the book, and then was frustrated while the characters struggled to find the solution.
  14. Janet Evanovich: Fearless Fourteen. St. Martin's Press. Completed July 25, 2008 (on MP3).
  15. Harlan Coben: The Woods. Signet. Completed July 27, 2008.
  16. Lisa Lutz: The Spellman Files. Completed August 1, 2008.
  17. Jo Dereske: Index to Murder. Avon. Completed August 4, 2008.
  18. Cornelia Read: A Field of Darkness. Grand Central Publishing. Completed August 6, 2008.
  19. Andrea Camilleri. The Paper Moon (Inspector Montalbano). Penguin. Completed August 7, 2008.
  20. Georgette Heyer: The Black Sheep. Sourcebook. Completed August 8, 2008.
  21. Jane Austen: Persuasion. Penguin Classics. Completed August 15, 2008.
  22. Deborah Crombie: Where Memories Lie. William Morrow. Completed August 17, 2008.
  23. Lee Child: Nothing to Lose. Delacorte Press. Completed August 19, 2008.
  24. D. E. Stevenson. Listening Valley. Holt, Rinehart and Winston. Completed August 21, 2008. My review.
  25. Nancy Atherton: Aunt Dimity: Vampire Hunter. Viking Adult. Completed August 26, 2008.
  26. Linwood Barclay: No Time for Goodbye. Bantam. Completed August 27, 2008
  27. Rick Riordan: Rebel Island. Bantam. Completed September 7, 2008 (on MP3).
  28. Katherine Neville: The Eight. Ballantine Books. Completed October 18, 2008. This is one of my favorite books - I just re-read it for the third time, prior to reading the long-awaited sequel, The Fire.
  29. Katherine Neville: The Fire. Ballantine Books. Completed October 22, 2008.
  30. Mary Doria Russell: The Sparrow. Ballantine. Completed October 22, 2008.
  31. Orson Scott Card: Ender in Exile. Tor. Completed December 15, 2008, on MP3.
  32. Barry Maitland: Spider Trap. St. Martin's Minotaur. Completed December 28, 2008.

Adult Nonfiction

  1. Laurie Helgoe: Introvert Power. Sourcebooks, Inc. Completed September 8, 2008. My review.

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

Graceling: Kristin Cashore

Book: Graceling
Author: Kristin Cashore (blog)
Pages: 480
Age Range: 14 and up 

GracelingBackground: Graceling, by Kristin Cashore, is one of my three favorite young adult fiction reads of 2008 (with The Hunger Games and The Adoration of Jenna Fox). I actually hesitated to read it at first, because I wasn't sure about starting another fantasy series. But positive reviews of Graceling were everywhere, and I found that I couldn't resist. Honestly, if you trust my judgment, you'll just take my word for it that Graceling is completely worth your time, and you won't need a review at all. And if that's not enough, Graceling is on the shortlist for the Morris Award, a new ALA award "honoring a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens and celebrating impressive new voices in young adult literature." But if you need more, I'll attempt a brief review.

Review: Graceling is a young adult fantasy novel, the first of a series, set in a world in which a small percentage of people have special skills, called Graces. Unlike in other books that I've read recently (Ingrid Law's Savvy comes to mind), the Graced are easily identified, because they all have eyes of different colors (e.g. one blue eye and one brown eye). Some of the Graces revealed are minor (like talking backwards), while others are quite dangerous. As explained in Chapter Four, "in most of the kingdoms, Gracelings were given up to the king's use, by law."

The heroine of Graceling is Katsa, a teenage orphan, cursed with the ability to kill and maim people, almost without effort. Since childhood, Katsa has worked as an enforcer for her uncle, King Randa, used to kill his enemies, and send deadly messages to those who displease him. Katsa hates her job, however, and she secretly undertakes, with a few trusted advisors, missions to help people. Early in the story, she meets a young prince from another country, one also Graced as a warrior. Katsa and Po become, despite her understandable difficulty with intimacy, friends and co-adventurers. They set out on a dangerous quest, and uncover secrets about themselves and others along the way.

Graceling is an action-packed adventure, with fully realized, varied settings, and intriguing mysteries. What makes it stand out, however, are the complex characters. Katsa is a product of her isolated childhood, her terrible Grace, and her misuse by Randa. She protects herself, and lets very few people inside her circle. She is self-critical, without being perceptive of the way that others see her. She is determined never to marry or have children. Yet she is utterly loyal to her few friends, including the cousin who is like a brother to her. She grows tremendously as a character throughout the book, in large part due to her friendship with Po. She is strong and physically fearless, but also emotionally vulnerable. In short, Katsa is the ultimate cool girl of young adult literature.

Here is a passage that reveals Katsa's opinion of herself:

"She knew her nature. She wold recognize it if she came face-to-face with it. It would be a blue-eyed, green-eyed monster, wolflike and snarling. A vicious beat that struck out at friends in uncontrollable anger, a killer that offered itself as the vessel of the king's fury.

But then, it was a strange monster, for beneath its exterior it was frightened and sickened by its own violence. It chastised itself for its own savagery. And sometimes it had no heart for violence and rebelled against it utterly.

A monster that refused, sometimes, to behave like a monster. When a monster stopped behaving like a monster, did it stop being a monster? Did it become something else?

Perhaps she wouldn't recognize her own nature after all." (Page 137)

The other characters are interesting and well-rounded also, particularly Po, Katsa's cousin, and a brave young girl. There is also a truly terrifying villain, revealed mid-way through the book.

Graceling has it all: an interesting premise, an action-packed, conflict-filled plot, characters and settings that feel real, and fluid, descriptive prose. I can't wait for the second book! Highly, highly recommended for older teens and adults. I don't necessarily recommend it for middle schoolers, without a parent reading the book first, because there is quite a bit of violence, and because (albeit tastefully conveyed) Katsa does have a sexual relationship. But for those mature enough to handle these aspects of the story, Graceling is well worth reading. Don't miss it!

Publisher: Harcourt
Publication Date: October 1, 2008
Source of Book: Bought it
Other Blog Reviews: Too many to list, including The LiteraBuss, BookEnvyBookshelves of Doom, Sara's Hold Shelf, Beyond Booksemilyreads. You can find several links to other reviews at librarian by day
Author Interviews: Shelf Elf, Omnivoracious

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

The Zack Proton Books: Brian Anderson

Books: The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Red Giant, The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Warlords of Nibblecheese, and The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Wrong Planet.
Author: Brian Anderson
Illustrator Doug Holgate
Pages: ~120 each
Age Range: 7 to 10

Zack Proton and the Wrong PlanetLeapin' leptons, these books are fun! I think that the Zack Proton books are perfect for early elementary school boys (and girls, too, but I think that they'll especially resonate for boys). Written by Brian Anderson and Illustrated by Doug Holgate, these are heavily illustrated chapter books, complete with entertaining chapter titles, occasional comic strips, lists, schematics, quizzes, and even the odd recipe. The format is sure to appeal to the reluctant and/or relatively new reader. As is the premise.

Zack Proton is a young, intergalactic starship commander. Despite his lofty position, Zack is, well, a bit of an idiot. As the first book (The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Red Giant) begins, Zack, in need of a "potty stop" accidentally opens the wrong door (despite a considerable array of warning signs), and finds himself floating around helplessly in space. Fortunately, Zack is rescued by another spaceship, this one captained by a chimpanzee called Omega Chimp. Part of the ongoing humor of the series lies in the fact that Omega Chimp is much brighter than Zack. Omega Chimp wants nothing more than to get Zack off of his ship, and out of his life. Zack, however, proceeds to wreak havoc on Omega Chimp's ship, and leads them both into various adventures.

Zack Proton andthe Warlords of NibblecheeseIn the first book Zack and Omega Chimp rescue a slightly defective robot called Effie, save a planet, and encounter a red giant called Big Large. There are quantum torpedoes, attempts to run away, and a defective banana generator. In the second book (The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Warlords of Nibblecheese), our space heroes set out to rescue a second grade teacher from a band of warrior space mice. In the third book (The Adventures of Commander Zack Proton and the Wrong Planet), they encounter a disappearing and reappearing planet (called Bounceback), and sixteen million smelly pigs (you see what I mean about this being a boy-friendly series?).

The plots are, of course, ridiculous. How can a machine on a spaceship make bananas? Who ever heard of warrior space mice? How could a whole planet fit through a wormhole? Why can Zack survive in outer space without a spacesuit, and what are the odds of another spaceship just happening along and bumping into him? But none of that matters in the slightest. What makes the Zack Proton books work is the humor. I flagged tons of pages that tickled my funnybone:

"Step 2 (of a recipe for banana pancakes) - peel the bananas and mash them with a fork if your mom is there, or with your hands if she's not. It won't look very tasty when you're done, but don't worry -- you used to love this stuff when you were a baby." (Page 59, Red Giant)

(In the midst of a FAQ) "Gratuitous educational content obliterated" (Page 94, Red Giant)

"You watched an educational show?" Omega Chimp asked.
"I had to," Zack answered. "I couldn't find the remote control." (Page 16, Nibblecheese)

"What are you doing?" he (Omega Chimp) screamed over the noise.
"We're being heroic," Zack called back.
"It only looks foolish," Effie added.
Then the whole ship started to shake. (Page 95, Wrong Planet)

I also like the way Zack speaks in threes, with alliteration and a somewhat advanced, but ever entertaining, vocabulary. For example: 

"We're on our way right now to battle that big bully, conquer that crimson cream puff, vanquish that vermilion villain!" (Page 73, Red Giant)

You get the idea. The chapter titles are also usually fun ("Out of the Flying Pan", "The Best Laid Plans of Mice and Mousemen"). And on one numbered list in Wrong Planet, instead of a 3, there's a Pi symbol between items 2 and 4, with a footnote "close enough". Readers will find irreverent fun on every page.

Zack Proton and the Wrong PlanetI highly recommend the three Zack Proton books. I think that they are a perfect choice for second and third graders, especially boys. And, since they are small, inexpensive paperbacks, there's no reason in space not to add them to your classroom or home library. Perhaps the publisher will decide to add more books to the series in the future...  

Publisher: Aladdin
Publication Date: 2006-2007
Source of Book: Review copies from the author (who I met outside of a middle school in Austin, TX)
Other Blog Reviews: Three Silly Chicks, Book Moot, Boys Rule Boys Read!, BookKids Recommends, Armchair Interviews, GregLSBlog
Author Interviews:  Cynsations

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

Escape the Mask: David Ward

Book: Escape the Mask: The Grassland Trilogy, Book 1
Author: David Ward
Pages: 224
Age Range: 9-14

Escape the MaskI read Escape the Mask, the first book in David Ward's Grassland Trilogy, in one sitting, because I simply could NOT put it down. Escape the Mask is an action-filled survival story aimed at middle grade readers (though I think it would also be an excellent pick for reluctant teen readers). It's a very quick read, a lovely small-format hardcover that feels a bit like a journal.  

The first-person narrator, 12-year-old Coriko, has spent most of his life working as a slave in Grassland. He can't remember any other life. He spends his days in a field, gathering metallic shards, and his nights in a cell beneath a mountain. His every movement is watched over by the Shields, cruel masked guards who never speak, but who dole out beatings and other punishments. The only bright spot in Coriko's life is his friendship with his cellmate and work partner, Pippa, the only other slave who speaks his home language. As the book begins, however, change is coming to Grassland. Outsiders attack, and the child slaves find themselves in danger from all sides, seeking to escape.

Escape the Mask reminded me a little bit of The City of Ember, in that you have two kids living a very circumscribed life, only dimly aware of the larger world. However, Coriko and Pippa's world is considerably more bleak than Doon and Lina's. Theirs is a world where children may be killed if they don't collect enough shards, or if they allow other kids to steal shards from them. A world where the weak children are weeded out, cruelly, on arrival to Grassland. A world where cellmates are everything to one another. I found it fascinating. And I thought that David Ward managed to keep the story accessible for younger kids, by adding humor, and by refraining from graphic detail. (In this latter sense, the book reminds me a bit of the later books in Suzanne Collins' Underland Chronicles series).

Escape the Mask explores complex ideas about identify, loyalty, and motivation. Coriko and Pippa balance the quest for survival (Coriko's strength) against doing what is right (Pippa's wish). This is a book that will inspire reflection and discussion, even as readers rapidly turn the pages to find out what happens next. I recommend it highly, especially for science fiction and dystopian fiction fans (think John Christopher's White Mountains trilogy), and fans of realistic survival stories. As the first book in a trilogy, Escape the Mask does leave quite a few questions unanswered. There's enough resolution to satisfy readers - the ending is not a cliffhanger - but it certainly left me wanting to get my hands on the second book: Beneath the Mask.

Publisher: Amulet Books
Publication Date: April 1, 2008
Source of Book: Review copy from the publisher
Other Blog Reviews: Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs, Thumbs Up 2009, Flamingnet Young Adult Book Blog, ALAN Online

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

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: Holiday Tidings

Jpg_book007This afternoon I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms weekly email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's books and raising readers. There are currently 494 subscribers.

This week's newsletter will be the last of the year - I'm taking a short break for the holidays. This issue contains no book reviews, I'm afraid, but I do have an enormous Carnival of Children's Literature (with links contributed by many other bloggers), an edition of my Reviews that Made Me Want the Book feature, a children's literacy round-up, and a couple of Kidlitosphere news posts. All of my recent posts are included in this newsletter.

I do owe you some book reviews, but I'm not sure when I'll find the mental energy to write them. Let me just say this for now: if you're looking for fun, illustrated chapter books for an early elementary school boy, definitely check out the Zack Proton series (3 books, available in paperback) by Brian Anderson. Kristin Cashore's Graceling is one of my top 3 young adult picks from 2008 (with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins and The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson). And Eva Ibbotson's The Dragonfly Pool is lovely, and highly recommended for fans of The Star of Kazan. Also, fans of the Ender books (either series) by Orson Scott Card should definitely pick up Ender in Exile. It's a bit of an odd book, in that it's set around and between the other books of both series. But it fills in lots of cracks, and is surprisingly suspenseful for a book in which we know how the major things are going to turn out. I hope to get more reading done over the holidays.

Wishing you and your a Merry Christmas, or Happy Hanukkah, or joy in whatever it is that you celebrate this time of year. I hope that we'll read and discuss many wonderful books together in the New Year. As always, thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms. Happy Holidays!

Friday Afternoon Visits: Pre-Holiday Edition

This might be redundant after the enormous Birthday Carnival of Children's Literature from Wednesday, but I've saved up a few Kidlitosphere links from this week that I'd like to share with you all. Besides which, sitting at my kitchen table, listening to Christmas music, and visiting a few blogs seems like a nice way to spend some time, after an expectedly stressful work week.

Kidsheartauthorlogo First up, kudos to author Mitali Perkins for launching Kids Heart Authors Day, a celebration of authors and independent booksellers scheduled for Valentine's Day. As announced on the project website:

"Bookstores, authors, and illustrators are teaming up to make V-Day 2009 an unforgettable one for New England families. Bundle up your brood and head to your community bookstore on Saturday, February 14th, where local authors and illustrators will gather from 10 to 12 a.m. to sign books for kids and teens. Bookstores will provide bunches of books, and authors and illustrators will personalize them and answer any and all questions about writing and drawing."

It's almost enough to make me wish I still lived in New England. And this time of year (I am NOT a snow person), that's really saying something.

And speaking of taking kids to bookstores, author Sara Lewis Holmes recently announced plans for going on a Reading Date with her daughter. She says: "Don't you want to make a Reading Date with someone you love?" I'm going to see if I can work one in over the holidays.

Imbuyingbooks_button You can find book recommendations everywhere this time of year, of course, especially on the Books for the Holidays blog. (For the record, I bought a TON of books this year, and I purchased most of them by going through the Cybils blog). I'm particularly taken with the book lists on BookKids Recommends (the Book People children's book blog). They've been offering first recommendations for "dudes" of various age ranges, and more recently for "girlie-girls", from picture books through teen books. These are fun, up-to-date lists, and are a perfect example of the specialized services offered by independent booksellers. I also liked this list of 10 great gifts for dads that read to their kids (and don't you wish that category included all dads?) from BookDads.

See also this anecdotal piece by Janet Brown at The Tiger's Bookshelf (the PaperTigers blog) about the pleasure of giving a book. Janet says: "Snuggling with your father, hearing his voice directed especially toward you, seeing the glow of colors and the excitement of new shapes as the pages turn, what could be better than that? Nothing, except perhaps for the delight of choosing a book that can help this experience be as good as it can be–and then hearing about it later from a happy parent." I certainly agree!

Jama Rattigan has two posts about literary cookbooks for kids (and short grown-ups). Very fun! They are here and here. She has lots of delicious posts about things like Christmas cookies, too.  

As linked by many people, this past week was Girl Week at Reviewer X, featuring guest posts about girls and book reviews of girl-friendly titles. Another good place to look for gift ideas, I'd hazard.

I've pretty much had my fill of children's book controversy by this point in the year (who knew there would be so much, honestly?). But if you're still interested in discussions, the Washington Post has jumped on the Newbery Award criticism bandwagon (actually going so far as to imply that recent Newbery award selections have been hurting reading enjoyment among kids). Lots of people have written about this article, including Mitali Perkins (who writes more generally on the impact of adult recommendations on kids), and Donalyn Miller at the Book Whisperer.

CybilsLogoSmall I tend to agree with Donalyn that "The limited allure of recent winners doesn’t marginalize reading, it marginalizes the award and reveals a missed opportunity by the Newbery committee to celebrate books that are not only well-written, but also attractive to readers." I know that kid appeal isn't part of the criteria of the Newbery, but I do think that there are plenty of books that have kid-appeal and are well-written. Happily, the Cybils short lists will be out on January 1st!!

And, discussing one more publishing controversy that I think is going to pick up steam in 2009, 100 Scope Notes talks about PDFs and eBooks being sent to reviewers. There's some discussion in the comments. Personally, I am NOT up for more time in front of my computer. So eBook review copies would mean either getting a Kindle-type decide, or just not accepting review copies at all. I'll be interested to see how things shake out.

And I'm not even going to comment on the recent New Yorker article that dissed young adult fiction even while reviewing a particular YA title in a positive light ("I tend to think of young-adult fiction as sort of facile—a straightforward style, uncomplicated themes and morals—but this had a complexity, an ambiguity, that surprised me"). See the comments there, or this post by Brian from the Flux Blog.

On a lighter note, Lisa Chellman has a fun post about Fictional Parents with Interesting Jobs. Click through to see which character's father is a funeral director, a punk rocker, or a mathematician.

And for lots of fun tidbits about the past year in children's literature, check out this very fun post at 100 Scope Notes. Travis is predicting a trend of "tiny characters" in 2009. What do you think? See also his Best Confirmation That a Character is Indeed Awesome in the post. Can you guess?

Mary Pope Osborne (of Magic Treehouse book fame) has just completed a blog tour at The Well-Read Child. Jill has direct links to the four previous stops. For a different type of interview, author James Preller recently interviewed Karen and Bill from Literate Lives (source for many book recommendations that catch my eye). It's more of a conversation than an interview, and definitely a fun read.

Libby shares some children's literature love at Lessons from the Tortoise, quoting a couple of recent articles in which authors recalled and rediscovered their appreciation for children's books. Tricia also posted a response to one of the articles at The Miss Rumphius Effect.

Kudos to Andrea and Mark from Just One More Book for helping to get a favorite book re-printed. They'll also have a blurb on the reprinted book: Sleeping Dragons. See here and here. It's nice to see tangible evidence that book advocacy can make a difference.

Mary and Robin at Shrinking Violet Promotions are doing a lovely 12 Days of Christmas - Introvert Style series. The gifts that they recommend introverts seek out this time of year include earplugs, soothing drinks, and "a nice quiet place to be." They're also giving out a gift each day, to previous commenters. I find that their blog is a nice quiet space that I want to visit.

Speaking of blogs that I want to visit, would you like to know about a blog I that actively seek out, and am disappointed when there are no posts? Not Always Right: Funny & Stupid Customer Quotes. Some of the posts are hilarious. I forget where I discovered this site (Finding Wonderland? Bookshelves of Doom?), but I love it. If you need a little humor, it's definitely worth checking out.

And that's it for Kidlitosphere links until after the holidays. Happy reading!

Two Quick Announcements

I'm passing along a couple of announcements. The first is from Anna Jarzab of The Book Report Network. She says:

" is collaborating with the Children's Book Council offering teens an opportunity to share their five favorite books of 2008. The five titles that receive the most “votes” will serve as the finalists for the CBC’s 2009 Teen Choice Book Award.

A list of nominees can be found at, where readers also may find information on how to nominate other titles published in 2008. The deadline for nominating books is January 31, 2009."

The second announcement is from Matt Ferraguto of the Reach Out and Read program. Matt sent me a link to a list of Doctor-Recommended Children’s Books (link goes to a PDF) to give as holiday gifts!

I hope that you find these resources useful.

December Carnival of Children's Literature: 3rd Blogiversary Edition

20050626-004 Today is the third anniversary of the day that I started my blog. I decided to throw a carnival to celebrate. The photo to the left is from morgueFile, by artist Gary Houston. It's called Carnival Birthday Cake, so it seemed fitting to use.

In the theme of anniversary, I asked Carnival participants to share their best or favorite post of the year relating to children's literature. What I've received is an outpouring of links to amazing posts from the past 12 months.

Please note that certain submissions completely unrelated to the carnival theme, or that seemed to be more about promoting a particular, outside agenda than about children's literature, have been excluded. But don't worry. There is still enough reading material here to last the rest of the year. Enjoy!

Encouraging Young Readers

MILI_LEYENDO__9_ In this section, we start with another morgueFile photo, this one by Virginia Coccaro from Argentina (I really like this site). Isn't that little reader beautiful? We then move on to some lovely articles about raising readers.

Tony Chen presents Literary tykes posted at Savvy Daddy, saying, "Some tips from a dad for dads about making book time more memorable for your kids."

Fin Keegan presents No Second Carnegie posted at Fin Keegan, about "the paucity of books in over 10% of Irish homes" and the importance of reading to children.

TZT presents How to Read a Book without Words (Out Loud) posted at Children's Books: What, When & How to Read Them, saying, "Picture books without words are often beautifully illustrated stories that prove difficult to read out loud to kids. Here are a few great wordless books and ideas on how to get the most out of reading them - out loud!"

Jill at The Well-Read Child presents Reaching Out to Reluctant Readers with Nonfiction posted at The Well-Read Child.

My own favorite post of the year also falls into this category. It's the one from January about helping kids learn to enjoy reading. This post contributed directly to my involvement in the upcoming PBS Parents Children's Book Blog, and I think that it's a useful resource in its own right. Like many of the posts mentioned above, this one was the result of a joint effort, with contributions from many other bloggers.

Book Reviews:ALALoot005

This picture shows a few of my many review books from ALA Anaheim. Here are a few book reviews from other bloggers.

Megan Germano presents Greetings From Nowhere by Barbara O'Connor posted at Read, Read, Read.

Nancy Arruda presents Boogers posted at Bees Knees Reads, a review of a book from the My Body Science series.

Rani presents My Little Golden Book about God posted at Christ's Bridge.

Aline Pereira reviews The Brighter Side of the Road posted at PaperTigers Blog.

Mommy's Favorite Children's Books presents Color Surprises - a pop-up book posted at Mommy's Favorite Children's Books, saying, "pop up books are so special I had to share!"

Becky Laney presents The Composer Is Dead posted at Young Readers.

Ali presents Zorgamazoo--Robert Paul Weston (Book review) posted at worducopia.

Anastasia Suen presents Nonfiction Monday: Real Life Situations posted at Kid Lit Kit, saying, "I love to find books that can help kids cope with real life - and this first book has fictional middle school situations illustrated in graphic novel style followed by practical advice from an advisor and real teens. Dynamite!"

cloudscome presents Review: The Three Little Wolves posted at a wrung sponge.

Z-Dad from Bookie Wookie submitted a review of Wave, by Suzy Lee, consisting of a discussion with his children Gracie (8), Isaac (10), and Lily (5).

Melissa Wiley shares Picture Book Spotlight: Jumpy Jack & Googily at Here in the Bonny Glen.

Book Lists:

BetsyJenJayGreg This section features book lists of all sorts, as well as a photo of a few kidlit bloggers (Betsy Bird, me, Jay Asher, and Greg Pincus) at ALA Anaheim.

Elizabeth Bird presents Most Shameful Non-Reads posted at A Fuse #8 Production.

Susan Thomsen presents Multicultural Fantasy: A List of Books posted at Chicken Spaghetti, saying, "Some of my favorite posts have been those created in collaboration with other children's literature enthusiasts. This one, a list of multicultural fantasy books, was compiled by Craig Svonkin, a literature professor."

Amy Smith presents Favorite Christmas Books posted at Kids Love Learning.

Sarah presents 2007-2008 Class Book Lists posted at The Reading Zone.

Sheila Ruth from Wands and Worlds submitted Books with Bite: Teen Read Week booklists, saying "Teen Read Week is over, but I still think they're great booklists for teens."

Charlotte suggests that readers Give the gift of a very different New York at Charlotte's Library, suggesting several titles that look at the city in different ways.

Other Reactions to Books:

JenRobinsonEarlyReader There are, of course, a wide range of personal reactions to books, starting with an early Christmas photo of me reacting the way I usually do to books - completely engrossed.

Joan presents Saving Santa posted at Mothers on the Brink, saying, "We love the Betsy-Tacy series by Maud Hart Lovelace. Little did my young children and I know that the fourth book in the series spills the beans on Santa ..."

Eva Mitnick presents Eva's Book Addiction: Forever Rose by Hilary McKay - and some musings on Capital Letters posted at Book Addiction.

Jennifer Schultz presents Dogs in Space posted at The Kiddosphere @ Fauquier, saying, "I never expected Laika to affect me as much as it did. Out of all the books I read this year, it was my most (emotionally) surprising read."

Corinne Robson presents Books at Bedtime: Silly Mammo - an Ethiopian folktale posted at PaperTigers Blog.

caribookscoops presents Rapunzel?s Revenge (all Hale breaks loose) by Shannon and Dean Hale illustrated by Nathan Hale posted at Book Scoops.

Jenny Schwartzberg presents A Childhood Treasure Expanded and the Trail of Three Interesting Women posted at Jenny's Wonderland of Books, a detailed post about the history behind a reissue of a childhood favorite, and the women involved with the book's publication.

Farida Dowler presents Our family's letters from Father Christmas posted at Saints and Spinners, saying, "My favorite book related post of the year wasn't even written by me! This link leads you to the three letters my mother wrote for my brothers and me based on J.R.R. Tolkein's Letters from Father Christmas. That book was an integral part of our family's Christmas stories. I suppose the letters my mom wrote could be filed under "fan fiction.""

Sarah presents Observing Personality with Magic Tree House at In Need of Chocolate (one of my favorite blog names).

Marietta from The Bookworm's Booklist submitted A is for Art ~ An Abstract Alphabet by Stephen T. Johnson, complete with gift-giving ideas.

Author Interviews and Experiences:JenwithJonScieszka

I've had lots of great experiences meeting authors in person this year. To the left, me with Jon Scieszka at Hicklebee's. Now, some meetings and discussions by other bloggers:

Lynn E. Hazen presents Imaginary Blog: Looking "Underneath" the Imagination Process of Kathi Appelt, Author of THE UNDERNEATH posted at Imaginary Blog, saying, "One of my favorite things to blog about involves interviewing authors & illustrators I admire about their imagination process, as well as creative and craft techniques for writing."

Children's book illustrator Elizabeth O. Dulemba presents My First Virtual School Visit! posted at

Tarie presents Book Review and Author Interview: Courage in Patience by Beth Fehlbaum posted at Into the Wardrobe.

Jama Rattigan presents SOUP'S ON: Grace Lin in the Kitchen Interview! posted at jama rattigan's alphabet soup.

Shelly Burns presents You Think It’s Easy Being the Tooth Fairy? - Review and Interview posted at Write for a Reader.

Sarah (a. fortis) and Tanita (TadMack) presents Guest Blogger: Sherri L. Smith!! posted at Finding Wonderland: The WritingYA Weblog, saying, "We thought we'd submit one of our jointly written posts--we loved working on this one!"

Sara Lewis Holmes shares her experience of meeting Leonard Marcus, who changed her life, at Read Write Believe.

Fun Blog Features:

48hbc There's no post about it, but MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge was certainly a highlight of the year for many people. Some other fun new blog features are highlighted here.

Pam Coughlan presents ABC Storytime posted at MotherReader, saying, "I wanted to highlight my one new feature this year, ABC Storytime, where I share storytime programs based on the letters of the alphabet."

Mary Lee and Franki from A Year of Reading submitted Trading (our favorite) Spaces Round-Up of "great spaces that people create in their classrooms and libraries".

Kneon presents Music of the Spheres | a fantasy webcomic, saying, "Author Ben Avery has started a new webcomic with illustrator Kneon Transitt."

Other Interesting Discussions:

JGS_mF_CurrentEvents This section begins with a morgueFile photo by Gracey from Ontario, of a child keeping up with current events. The bloggers certainly keep up with current events, and discuss a wide array of topics related to children and books.  

Libby Gruner presents Again with the literacy debates! posted at Lessons from the Tortoise, a response to debates about teaching the "canon" of literature in high school.

Janet Brown presents Children and Books in Times of War and Conflict posted at PaperTigers Blog.

Becky Laney presents The Sunday Salon: Finding Yourself in Books posted at Becky's Book Reviews.

Wendy Betts presents through the eyes of a child posted at Blog from the Windowsill, about the "connections between voting and children's books".

Susan Kusel presents Context is everything posted at Wizards Wireless, about the ways that the context in which a book is read can affect the reader's perception of the book.  

Lee Wind presents Donating Gay (&LBTQ) books to a Junior High School Library? How to Honor the Memory of Larry (Lawrence) King. A Negotiated Solution... posted at I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell do I read?, saying, "I really liked this post on how I tried to donate books with gay characters and content to the junior high school library where a student had been murdered for being effeminate and gay."

Terry Doherty writes about National Adoption Month at Scrub-a-Dub-Tub: The Reading Tub blog, in a post that includes statistics about the shortage of adoption-related children's books in community libraries.

Christine Burt from The Book Bench contributes Reading T-shirts, a post about the lack of children's books with information about breast cancer, and the education to be found in reading t-shirts at a race for the cure.

Clare Bell writes about a book, idealism, and a children's book-related charitable auction in The 6th Ratha Tale and Brightspirit at The Scratching Log.

Laurel Snyder shares Further ranting on the snobs who diss kidlit at bewilderblog.

Gregory K. from GottaBook shares his detailed recap of the 2008 Kidlitosphere Conference.

Speaking of the Kidlitosphere Conference, Jone Rush MacCulloch from Check It Out shares A Poem Regarding My Absence at a Book Challenge Hearing (in the spirit of National Poetry Month and in the interest of supporting a colleague and a challenged book).

Sheila from Greenridge Chronicles discusses the sharing of story in the context of Taking the kids to the movies.


CybilsLogoSmall And last, in a category by itself, we have Anne Levy's thank you post at the Cybils blog: A big, fat shout-out with pom-poms and megaphone to our panelists. In case you didn't find enough links in this Carnival, Anne has some others.

That concludes this edition. Submit your blog article to the next edition of carnival of children's literature using our carnival submission form. Past posts and future hosts can be found on our blog carnival index page.

Happy reading, and thanks for another great year of blogging!

UPDATE:  The January Carnival will be hosted by Lisa Chellman of Under the Covers. Submissions are due on Jan 28th and the carnival will go up on the 30th. As always, the BlogCarnival submission form is the best link to use:

Children's Literacy Round-Up: December 15

Welcome to this week's literacy and reading news round-up. The round-ups are brought to you as a joint effort between myself and Terry Doherty from The Reading Tub. We normally alternate weeks, but we're planning to give ourselves a small vacation over the holidays. The next round-up will be at Terry's blog, TubTalk, on January 5th. But not to worry - I have enough news for you today to hold you over. As Terry noted last week, the holidays have inspired a wonderful focus on encouraging the love of reading.

Literacy and Reading Programs and Research

The Irish Times reports, in an article by Jason Michael and Mary Minihan, that "Irish children do more physical activity, have high levels of reading literacy and are more likely to be happy when compared to children in most other European countries, according to ... The State of the Nation’s Children Report 2008." Do you think that they're happier because they have high levels of reading literacy? Thanks to the International Reading Association blog for the link.

Tulsa World has an article by Shannon Muchmore about a literacy tutoring program that helps both teachers and participants. The Northeastern State University reading clinic works with both children and parents. "The tutors are NSU graduate and undergraduate students who receive required credit and training for their participation... Working in the program allows NSU's students a hands-on opportunity that adds to their resumes and prepares them for their career." We found this link at the NCFL's December 12th Literacy Voices Roundup, by Meg Ivey. The NCFL post also linked to this article (PDF) "from The Council Chronicle about the role technology plays in teaching and learning."

John Micklos at the International Reading Association blog announced: ""Improving Adolescent Literacy: Bridging the Gap Between Research and Practice" is the theme of a day-long forum being conducted January 14, 2009, in Piscataway, New Jersey, by the Mid-Atlantic Regional Educational Laboratory." Registration for the forum is limited to 100 people.

According to an article in the Latrobe Valley Express (AU), "BABIES as young as four months will be targeted by a government literacy program. Parents who take their baby for a four month-old check-up will be presented with a gift certificate from their maternal and child health nurse. The certificate is redeemable at local libraries for a Young Readers Program bag containing a book and DVD as well as information about local programs promoting early and adult literacy." Another program targeting babies is described in this Buffalo News article by Charity Vogel.

The Minneapolis Star-Tribune reports, in an article by Jean Hopfensperger, that "The Minnesota Reading Corps, an experimental reading program for kids ages 3 to 8, has seen swift improvement and could soon reach as many as 15,000 disadvantaged children."

An article by Ryan Brinks in the Jackson County Pilot describes the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program in Jackson County. "The new program, launched in November, offers book bags, bookmarks, stamps, stickers, free books and more for preschoolers between birth and 5 years old who reach multiples of 20 books read to them and milestones of 500 and 1,000. The climax of the ongoing project for those who reach 1,000 books is a certificate award and graduation ceremony during Children’s Book Week every November." 

Enjoyment of Reading

Inspired by 9-year-old Alec Greven from Castle Rock, Colo., who has written a book How to Talk to Girls, Carol Rasco, the CEO of Reading is Fundamental, asks: "What is your take on the issue of choice in motivating children to read and to write?" I agree with Carol that "Choosing a book to own from an array of titles that are age- and reading-level appropriate is highly motivating."

In other RIF news, "Rachael Flatt, 2008 World Junior Figure Skating Champion, has teamed up with Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) ... to encourage kids to gear up for a year of reading fun through a special feature on the RIF Reading Planet."

This week's reading-related rant comes from Carlie Webber at Librarilly Blonde. Carlie takes offense with a Washington Post article that talks about how "one "graduates" from children's and YA literature to adult novels." Carlie says:" I don't think readers should read only children's and YA books all their lives... I do think, however, that children's and YA literature is not to be dismissed by any reader, especially those who think enough of their own maturity to call themselves grownups." As is generally the case on these sorts of issues, I agree with Carlie.

Nadine C. Warner at Kiddos and Books sings the praises of reading aloud to children. She actually has a poem about how Barack Obama is returning to basics by encouraging parents to read aloud with their children. She also offers tips and references.

There seems to be some disagreement over the role of fathers in encouraging reading. I mentioned this School Library Journal article by Gail Giles last week, which said that "if (a boy) doesn’t see a man reading, he won’t read". In contrast, we ran across a Sydney Morning Herald article by Adele Horin that agreed that "Fathers can raise boys' interest in reading simply by setting a good example and reading more themselves." However, the article also said that "In lone-mother families, boys and girls are equally influenced by their mothers' love of reading", according to a "study by Killian Mullan, a research associate at the Social Policy Research Centre at UNSW." Thanks to Rose's Reading Round-Up at the First Book Blog for the latter link.

Realmen Meanwhile, Spring Park High School in Minnesota has what I think is a neat program to show kids that Real Men Read. According to an article by Debra Lau Whelan for School Library Journal, "It’s hard to miss this slogan while walking through the school’s hallways. There you’ll find 35 large posters of men enjoying a good read. And these role models aren’t celebrities or authors—they’re real men who the students encounter every day." The results have reportedly been quite positive.

Grants, Sponsorships, and Donations

Literacy and Reading News reports that "Super Stars Literacy (SSL) has been awarded a $15,000 grant from the East Bay Community Foundation (EBCF). EBCF selected the award-winning after-school program to receive the funds, in part, because its early literacy and social development programming speaks directly to one of the greatest needs EBCF identified in local communities: ensuring very young children are successful in the education system."

Also via Literacy and Reading News, "The Detroit Free Press is providing a new forum for student journalists at 14 Detroit high schools to house their works. It's called The Web site for the program, sponsored by the Free Press and Ford Motor Co., soon will offer photo galleries, videos and polls. Readers also can access the site from cell phones."

Lori Calabrese suggests several ways to share the gift of reading this year. As Lori says: "It's the stories at this time of year of fundraisers, donations, and giving that remind us all about the true meaning of Christmas."

Speaking of donations, I received an email this week from a representative of the Toys for Tots Literacy Program. She said, for readers who might be interesting in donating to an educational cause: "What’s great about this program is that as little as $1 really makes a difference. A $1 donation will put a book into the hands of a child in need, right in your own community. Your readers can donate via the donation page on the Web site, or by visiting any participating The UPS Store nationwide."

According to an article by Megan Crawford in the Maryville (MO) Daily Forum, "A new grant will be helping the special services team at the Maryville Middle School provide interesting materials for their students who have trouble reading or who are reluctant readers. Virginia Neff, the eighth grade special education teacher at MMS, said the new books that will be purchased with the $500 Maryville R-II Foundation classroom grant will be instrumental in helping struggling readers."

An article by Joshua Melvin in the Palo Alto (CA) Daily News says that "A Los Altos-based nonprofit will be giving the gift of reading to 4,900 children this holiday season. Hoopoe Books Literacy Program will be handing out the books to organizations in East Palo Alto, Palo Alto, San Jose and Sunnyvale. The donations come as part of a $90,000 grant the organization recently received from Kaiser Permanente... (All 11 books) distributed through the literacy program are folk tales from Afghanistan, the Middle East and Central Asia."

New Web Resources

Terry discovered a new video children's book recommendation series on YouTube and TeacherTube called Reading Rooster Recommends. The series is sponsored by the South Carolina Center for Children's Books and Literacy, the USC School of Library and Information Science, and the South Carolina State Library. We learned about Reading Rooster Recommends at the Libraries & Life blog.

As linked above, Carol Rasco, the CEO of RIF, is new to blogging, and I've added her fun and informative blog, Rasco from RIF, to my regular blog reading.

Kansas has a new state resource called Kansas Book Connect. The website calls it: "a web-based book-searching tool ... which allows students, parents, and teachers to use the personalized reading range to search for interesting and appropriate books. Whether doing a quick search or an advanced search, you can always refine your list based on reading and maturity levels—helping you put the right book in the right hands at the right time to promote effective reading practice. " Kansas Book Connect is part of a larger state initiative. We learned about Kansas Book Connect from a post by Louise Ash at Reading Today Daily, the IRA blog.


Brian Scott at Literacy and Reading News reports that "The International Children's Digital Library (ICDL), which is the world's largest collection of children's literature available freely on the Internet, has signed an agreement with Google to augment its vast collection of public domain children's literature with public domain titles digitized using Google's state-of-the-art scanning technology. The result will be the addition of potentially thousands of scanned, searchable children's books to the ICDL."

Terry discovered a fun event announcement at CultureMob: "The much-loved Mr. Potato Head character will lead young visitors and parents on a number of fun and educational adventures. From trips to outer space to jungle safaris and archeological digs, each activity will provide children with engaging learning experiences.The exotic and fanciful exhibit is designed to develop school readiness and academic skills for young children, focusing on literacy, problem solving, mathematics, science and social studies." As Terry said to me, the neat thing about this is the way that it engages kids in learning without their "knowledge", by making it fun.

And that's all for this week. The next literacy and reading round-up will be on January 5th, at TubTalk. Thanks for reading!

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

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.

Growing Bookworms Newsletter: December 9

Jpg_book007Tonight I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms weekly email newsletter. (If you would like to subscribe, you can find a sign-up form here.) The Growing Bookworms newsletter contains content from my blog focused on children's books and raising readers. There are currently 476 subscribers.

This week's newsletter contains two young adult book reviews, a link to this week's Children's Literacy and Reading Round-Up at TubTalk, and a post with Kidlitosphere news. Ialso have a link to my fourth and final post at ForeWord Magazine's Shelf Space blog, and an exciting announcement about a new PBS Parents Children's Book blog (to which I'll be contributing, but also still blogging here). Finally, I am fortunate to share an interview with children's book icon Judy Blume. The only post not included in the newsletter this week is one about a blog award that I received and passed along (thanks again, Becky!).

My reading is still off this week, but I did finish Kristin Cashore's fabulous YA novel Graceling. Definitely one of my favorites of the year. I've just started The Dragonfly Pool by Eva Ibbotson. Mheir and I have been continuing our holiday movie-watching with The Santa Clause 2, The Polar Express, How the Grinch Stole Christmas (original animated version), and a second viewing of Elf (we had a guest who hadn't seen it). I also watched Yours, Mine and Ours (not quite a Christmas movie, but I bonded with it for the holidays) and Samantha: An American Girl Holiday (which I really need to get on DVD), while addressing Christmas cards. What are you reading and watching?

Thanks for reading the newsletter, and for growing bookworms.