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Posts from July 2009

The Boy Book and The Treasure Map of Boys: E. Lockhart

Books: The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them and The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon--and me, Ruby Oliver
Author: E. Lockhart
Pages: 224 / 256
Age Range: 12 and up 

The Boy BookBackground: I loved E. Lockhart's first Ruby Oliver book (review here), The Boyfriend List. I bought the second one, The Boy Book awhile back, but found the title of the first chapter a bit offputting, and never started it. Then last week the third book, The Treasure Map of Boys, showed up in my mailbox. I'd been seeing good reviews of that one around, so this weekend I had a little Ruby Oliver mini-marathon. And I was glad that I had waited to read Book 2, because it was lovely to go straight on to Book 3, and simply immerse myself in Ruby Oliver's universe. I'm reviewing the two books together because I read them that way, and they feel like parts of a whole.

Review: The Boy Book begins at the start of Ruby Oliver's junior year at the small, progressive Tate Prep. Things are looking up a bit for Ruby, after the events of her horrific spring sophomore semester (see The Boyfriend List). She has a couple of friends who have stood by her, despite her general social leprosy, and she's even beginning to patch things up with her friend Nora. Kim, Ruby's former best friend and current nemesis, is spending the fall semester abroad, giving Ruby a bit of breathing room. Ruby also gets a new job at a local zoo, which she loves, and has a driver's license. Pretty quickly, however, Ruby finds herself back in a state of confusion regarding boys. There's her friend and lab partner, Noel, with whom she has an easy banter, and maybe more. There's also family friend Angelo, with whom she has an incident or two. And then Jackson, Ruby's former boyfriend (and Kim's current boyfriend), begins to pay attention to her again. Ruby finds herself struggling to understand what boys want, and trying to balance her own needs against the needs of her few, and thus precious, friends.

The Boy Book made me cringe at times, watching Ruby make mistakes. But it also made me laugh, nod my head, and smile sympathetically. The Boy Book, in which Ruby and her friends have recorded their observations about boys, is hilarious. [It's also utterly authentic, reminding me of something that my best friend and I wrote up in early college called The Challenge Theory: Or, Why Nice Guys Finish Last.] Here's a snippet:

"We know what you are thinking. It is not girls who need lessons in how to talk on the telephone.

We are experts at it.

Some of us could even medal in it.

The problem is the boys. And they need to shape up.

True, true, true.

However.

The boys are not going to shape up. They are not going to read magazines or informational textbooks such as this one that tell them how to talk to girls on the telephone. And they are not going to magically figure out how to converse either. It is a demonstrated fact that even bona fide boyfriends such as Finn and Jackson and Kaleb are hit with paralyzing stupidity and boringness on the telephone, and you, my girlfriends, you are the only ones who can do anything about it." (Page 91-92, The Boy Book)

See what I mean? Funny and true. I was also regularly entertained by Ruby's footnotes, like:

"A homework assignment from Doctor Z, which she shrinkily calls a list of affirmations, but which I prefer to term Nancy Drews, because Nancy Drew, girl detective, was good at everything, even horseback riding and water ballet, though there was no evidence she had ever practiced or even heard of either one until she miraculously turned out to be expert at them." (Page 185, The Boy Book)

But really, these books are all about the characters. Even as Ruby makes mistakes, you can't help but love her. She is completely three-dimensional, from her vintage clothes to her tendency to blurt things out that she shouldn't to her occasional panic attacks. I also found that I could picture Noel, and I completely understood his place in the high school social structure. (And, ok, I adore him as a character.)

"Noel looks at the Tate Universe as if he finds it all mildly amusing and sometimes a bit sickening, but he's willing to participate for purposes of research so that he can bring back interesting tidbits of information to the ironic, punk rock planet where he really lives.

People like him for this quality. They invite him to parties. He can sit at anyone's table. But he never really seems committed, if you know what I mean." (Page 7, paperback edition of The Boy Book)

Ruby's friend Meghan is also a surprisingly sympathetic character. She's one of those girls who wraps everything up in her boyfriend, but she's also oblivious to other people's judgement. As The Boy Book begins, Meghan is suffering the recent loss of her boyfriend, Bick, now at college 3000 miles away. I won't give any spoilers about Meghan, but just say that I was pleased with both her character development, and the way her central personality remained intact, throughout these two books.

The Treasure Map of BoysAlthough The Boy Book ends on a reasonably good mental health state for Ruby, I was glad that I had The Treasure Map of Boys to pick up immediately. Treasure Map picks up at the start of the winter semester of Ruby's junior year, and finds her struggling to maintain a sacrifice, in the romance department, for the sake of her friendship with Nora. Ruby also loses her beloved zoo job, defending the rights of a pygmy goat against a drunken, careless patron, and finds herself in charge of the school bake sale. But mostly, she tries to figure out what she wants from the various boys floating around in her world, especially Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, and Gideon, all of whom exist somewhere on the continuum between friend and boyfriend.

I really liked The Treasure Map of Boys. I found it less cringe-inducing than the previous two books (which I note, even though I enjoyed them). It's like Ruby is a kid sister, and I'm happy to see her starting to figure out what she wants out of life. Oh, she still makes some mistakes, and damages both her reputation and her friendships. But she's on a better track. She's growing up, little, realistic bits at a time. There's a great kissing scene, and a great scene in which a friend who is a boy calls upon Ruby to just be his friend. I thought that the book ended at a good place, although I'm happy to know from E. Lockhart's blog that at least one more Ruby Oliver book is in the works.

I highly recommend the entire Ruby Oliver series to teenage girls. There are quite a few references to making out and breasts ("upper-regioning") and sexual interest, though no actual sex takes place. There is a candor to the discussions that I think girls will appreciate (though I wouldn't bother recommending these books to boys), balanced against a youthful optimism. The three books together are like a romantic comedy in book form (this analogy helped along by Roo's frequent mentions of movies), complete with wacky physical comedy, errors in judgement, and misunderstandings. They are great fun! I very much look forward to seeing what happens with Ruby in Book 4.

Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 26, 2006 and July 28, 2009
Source of Book: Bought Book 2, received review copy of Book 3
Other Blog Reviews:  Eva's Book Addiction, A Chair, A Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy, Reading to Myself, Mrs. Magoo Reads, A True Reality
Author Interviews: Writer Musings, Cynsations

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


Children's Literacy Round-Up: July 13

Jpg_book008 This week’s children’s literacy and reading news round-up, brought to you by Jen Robinson’s Book Page and Scrub-a-Dub-Tub, a Reading Tub blog, is now available here. This week Terry Doherty and I have collected plenty of content for you about literacy & reading-related events; raising readers; literacy and reading programs and research; 21st century literacies; grants, sponsorships & donations; and other new resources. And in fact, since we skipped last weekend, this is an extra-large helping of news. We hope that you'll find some tidbits of interest.

Events

Youkhitsforkidslogo I love when my favorite things intersect. Saturday and Sunday this weekend, the Youk Hits for Kids foundation (established by Red Sox player Kevin Youkilis and his wife Enza Sambataro-Youkilis) held a book drive at Fenway Park. Fans were encouraged to bring new or gently used children's books to the park, for donation to Boston Public Schools. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt will be matching the fan donations. The goal of the project is to donate 100,000 books to schools. You can read a full press release about the event here.

BABF_logo Via a recent news release, "Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and Macy's have teamed up to launch Book A Brighter Future™, a national partnership to raise awareness and support of children's literacy. The Book A Brighter Future campaign is an annual promotion held at Macy's stores during the back-to-school season to help raise money for local RIF programs and to provide reading resources to the children who need them most. This campaign provides an opportunity for Macy's customers to join the effort and have an impact on literacy in their community. From July 1 through August 31, 2009, Macy’s customers can give $3 and receive a coupon for $10 off a $50 in-store purchase at any Macy’s nationwide. Macy’s will donate 100 percent of every $3 to RIF." RIF's Carol Rasco got to ring the closing bell for the NASDAQ, in honor of the launch of the Book A Brighter Future campaign. She says: " I would never have dreamed as I grew up in that small town in south Arkansas, reading in a corner of the basement of the public library on many hot, summer days that I would be at a big city stock exchange many summers later ringing the closing bell!" We say, go Carol!

RIFF_logo Speaking of RIF, their Reading with Kids challenge ended June 30th, and as a huge success. Carol Rasco announced at Rasco from RIF: "The results have been overwhelming as more than 7,000 participants logged 10 million minutes read to children, far surpassing the initial goal of 5 million minutes read!" That is fantastic to see, isn't it? All that reading to children. And, in even bigger news from Carol, "The House Labor-HHS-Education Appropriations Subcommittee approved their version of FY10 spending bill for programs under its purview which includes RIF at the level of funding the President requested."

Via a news release, we learned that "Continuing their efforts to promote reading and literacy, the New York Knicks and Cablevision's Power to Learn have kicked-off the third annual "Knicks Read to Achieve @powertolearn.com" 2009 Summer Reading Program presented by Kia Motors, Official Partner of the New York Knicks. Focused on children aged 6-12, the summer reading program is implemented through 12 participating libraries in Connecticut, New York and New Jersey. The literacy program encourages reading through the use of incentives, and will be highlighted by local book giveaways and "read-aloud" events with Knicks alumni at select locations. Additionally, each library will be giving away 60 tickets to a Knicks game to program participants and their families."

FB_logo During Book Expo America, First Book had 1,500 visitors at its booth! They are donating 1,500 books to readers in need ... one for every visitor. First Book decorated its booth with posters and T-shirts that said “A Book Today, A Friend Forever.” The staff got so many compliments that the organization is now selling products with the logo in their webstore. From an email: "From t-shirts to notebooks, water bottles to tote bags, these pieces make great gifts for family and friends. A designated portion of proceeds from each product benefits First Book. Visit www.firstbook.org/shop to browse all of our gift options and help children get their first new books."

Raising Readers

At Oh! Just One More Thing, Mel Mason shares thoughts on reaching reluctant readers. She says: "Teaching on a University campus is truly one of the great joys of my life. It has also brought me some surprising challenges. The one that I am continually looking to find the right answer to is how to help my students who HATE to read, particularly the male students." Right now she's looking for suggestions, particularly for the boys, saying: "Any theme is fair game, just needs to be children’s or YA. What could you suggest for my guys in these categories? Non-fiction, fiction, humor, and information".

In this interview with Charles Campbell, Erika K. McCarden tells us how the teacher-turned-author uses literature to inspire urban youth to become successful learners. “I decided to use fantasy as an educational tool to teach the basic tools of creative writing and encourage children in urban communities to step out of their comfort zones.”

At the Book Chook, Susan Stephenson shares some suggestions for encouraging young readers, including the very simple suggestion of sometimes letting the child hold the book. She also shares links to sites that have writing prompts for kids.

Parenting-n-Families has an article about the scholastic benefits of reading to children. The article includes this gem: "Whatever you do, don’t start thinking of reading as an exercise in your child’s development. First and foremost, reading aloud to your child is a fun, shared activity between you and your children. Pick books that you like to read and that your children like to hear and just have fun - because that’s when children learn their best."

We found a nice article by Seth Roy in the Newark Advocate about a community literacy program working to spread a simple message: "Parents should read to their children 20 minutes each day, starting at birth." Organizers view their work as "a marketing effort", and are working to spread the word across their county.

At The Children's Book Review, Bianca Schulze shares a post by Laura J. Colker with ideas from Reading Is Fundamental and other tips from The Coordinated Campaign for Learning Disabilities. I, of course, especially liked "Read the same book your child is reading and discuss it. This is a great way to use books as a bonding tool." Link found via @book_mommy.

At Moms Inspire Learning, Dawn Morris uses a learning to ride a bike metaphor to discuss kids and advanced reading. She asks: "Would you let your children ride their bikes on major streets when they were 10 years old? Would you let your children read teen books when they were 10 years old?" Dawn shares a variety of links on this topic (some from my own discussion of kids and reading levels at Booklights, some new to me). She concludes: "I like to think of the YA section of the local library kind of like a traffic jam. I wouldn't let my child venture off on his bike onto a major road, so I wouldn't let him head into the YA section of my local library without my assistance. Unless, of course, he had a librarian or a traffic cop to help him!"

And, of course, we once again find various articles about summer reading:

-- At Reading Rumpus, Tasses shares an idea for a summer literacy activity - a scavenger hunt for answers to questions like "how do fireflies glow?"
-- At The Longstockings, Kathryne B. Alfred shares her favorite tips for raising readers. She concludes with: "If you're going away on vacation this year, make picking out vacation books as important a part of the process as buying swimsuits and sunscreen." Sounds smart to me!
-- First Books hosted guest blogger Tina Chovanec, the director of Reading Rockets.org, who talked about nonfiction books for kids. "Great non-fiction books for kids are taking over bookstore displays and library shelves this summer. If children need rich and diverse background knowledge in order to make sense of our ever-expanding world, then this is very good news."
-- The Christian Science Monitor also chimes in with suggested tips on getting kids to crack a book this summer by Stacy Teicher Khadaroo. The article includes several tips from Tim Shanahan, and includes this recommendation: "Sending a child off alone to read is not necessary. Kids are motivated to read "because of the connections it gives them with other people," says Tim Shanahan. Link via @MySchoolToolz.
-- This summer Frontier College is marking its 110th year of helping Nova Scotians improve their literacy skills. The college's 2009 Summer Reading Program runs through July and August, and includes creative literacy ideas you can do in your house, too. Tutors set up reading tents so the kids can read outside; they play alphabet Twister and literacy beach ball; and have grocery-list races and a vocabulary scavenger hunt. Sounds like fun, no? Read all the details in Lindsey Jones' article for Halifax News Net.

Literacy & Reading Programs & Research

The Telegraph reported on an interesting study "Reading children bedtime stories may not be as effective in helping them to learn language as talking to them before they go to sleep, according to new research." Of course, it seems to me that one can talk about the bedtime stories... But conversation with young children has to be a good idea, too. Link via @LiteracyLaunch and @readingrockets.

At the Grampa Said So blog, Grampa Starling offers a personal story about his three kids and their reading interests. He also talks about what he learned about how you teach kids to read, and offers an interesting perspective on how illustrations can help, but also hurt, the reading process. "There is a body of published studies which suggests that during shared parent–child reading, the adult typically fails to draw the child’s attention to features of the print whilst the child most often will only concentrate on the illustrations, ignoring the print. Consequentially, shared book reading often fails to advance children’s early literacy development."

The National Literacy Trust (UK) recently published a new report (link goes directly to PDF) by Christina Clark about why fathers matter to their children's literacy. We found this via Tweet from @EverybodyWins and @JeanetteMcLeod.

GrowingYourBaby.com recently posted the results of a UK study that found "that almost two thirds of children want their parents to read to them more often. The study of 3 - 8 year olds found that it was boys aged 3 - 4 who would most like extra storytime sessions, with 76% saying they wished their mom or dad read them a story more frequently.... The research by Disney/Cars Storyteller’s Collection also revealed it could be in parents’ interests to read a bedtime story if they want a good night’s sleep. Eighty two per cent of children questioned said reading with mum or dad before bedtime helps them to sleep better." Thanks to Farida Dowler at Saints and Spinners for the link.

Literacy911 reports that "In New York and across the country, far more men have lost jobs during the current recession than have women, and that's reversing the roles of family breadwinner in some homes. Dr. Ira Wolfe ... says that more women are pursuing advanced degrees, which means more women will continue to become breadwinners in New York." Literacy affects employability, after all. Terry found this item via @Literacy911

According to a 2008 Scholastic Kids and Family Reading study, the Internet is helpful for promoting readers. In her article for the Bismarck (North Dakota) Tribune, Pamela Krueger pulls out the internet-related findings. Here are just three ...

-- children who use the Internet are more likely to read a book for fun.
-- two-thirds of children aged 9 to 17 go online in order to broaden their reading experience.
-- children who are low frequency readers prefer to read online rather than books.
(via @JeanetteMcLeod tweet)

NextinLearning.com has a nice article that pulls together literacy research about learning to read. It is interesting to see that findings from 1981 is still relevant today. Thanks to Dawn Little (@linkstoliteracy) and Jeanette McLeod (@JeanetteMcLeod) for the tweets.

Once More, With Feeling is an article on the Early Education Watch blog that outlines the four teaching practices that play a significant role in 4th graders' reading scores. It says that "by far the strongest predictor of the four was the extent to which teachers integrate readings from other content areas -- such as science, social studies, and the arts -- into their reading instruction."

21st Century Literacies

The Book Chook shares links for using YouTube to encourage reading. Susan has examples for using YouTube to remind kids of some of their old favorite books, and for introducing new books and learning rhymes and songs.

Sometimes going forward means looking back. In the July 4, 2009 edition of The Big Fresh (Choice Literacy Newsletter), editor Brenda Power selected some articles from July 2007. They are as "fresh" today as they were then, so we thought it might be nice to include them for a new audience. First, Franki Sibberson looks at when we become word learners to create the word study envelopes for her students. Looking ahead to school, Brenda linked to the Scholastic website for a collection of features and lesson plans to help educators "build a classroom community during the first days of school."

The lead article in the July 1 edition of Foreword This Week is about book publishers and the iPhone. In the article, Whitney Halberg explains that some content was digital long before the Kindle (think dictionaries!), but the emphasis of her article is "book publishers that have more creatively adapted their products for use on the iPhone and other devices." Although the article doesn't offer links, you can get a good idea of what they're providing and what it costs.

Grants and Donations

According to a report in the Laurinburg Exchange, "The Enterprise Rent-A-Car Foundation recently presented a check to the Scotland County Partnership for Children and Families in the amount of $1,000 to support the Scotland County Reading Is Fundamental program." Via @LiteracyCounts.

As reported by Ashley Smith on HeartlandConnection.com, "Pickler Memorial Library at Truman State University recently received a grant to help support the Children's Literature Festival. The grant is in the amount of $10,000 from the Missouri State Library Spotlight on Literacy Fund."

New Resources


Via The Joy of Children's Literature, we learned about a new portal for teachers from the Library of Congress. Denise Johnson says: "The Library’s K-12 mission has now taken another step forward: a web portal bringing together its resources for teacher in a single place at loc.gov/teachers. It’s a new, easy-to-find center just one click away from the Library’s homepage. An important feature of the free online site is a new build-it-yourself professional-development tool for teachers called TPS Direct. TPS Direct will offers any educator, at any time, the ability to customize professional-development activities for use at the school, district or state level for delivery in a face-to-face, online or blended format."

Thanks to Carol Rasco's Muse Briefs for sending us to VocabSushi, a website that makes building vocabulary fun and relevant. Carol learned about the site via a tweet from Andres Henriquez of The Carnegie Corporation.

And for a new real-world resource, "The Born Learning Trail is an interactive, playful and visible part of the Born Learning campaign, designed to help parents, caregivers, and communities support early learning. The Trail boosts children’s language and literacy skills, encourages families to get active, and elevates awareness of early childhood education." More details here.

And finally, a link to some useful links: Focus on Literacy: Top Ten Internet Websites

Booklights Terry will be back with the next literacy round-up next Monday at The Reading Tub. I also have a post up at Booklights today about series books featuring adventurous girls (for middle grade and tween readers). Thanks for reading! 

Find me at http://twitter.com/JensBookPage
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.


New ALAN Award Launched for Young Adult Fiction

I received this press release today, and thought that readers might be interested:

Inaugural Amelia Elizabeth Walden Award for Young Adult Fiction Launched

The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents (ALAN) of the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) is pleased and proud to announce the first annual Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award

Established in 2008 to honor the wishes of young adult author, Amelia Elizabeth Walden, the award allows for the sum of $5,000 to be presented annually to the author of a young adult title selected by the ALAN Amelia Elizabeth Walden Book Award Committee as demonstrating a positive approach to life, widespread teen appeal, and literary merit.

Amelia Elizabeth Walden was born in New York City on January 15, 1909. She graduated from Columbia University in 1934 and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts.  From 1935 to 1945, she taught English and Dramatics at Norwalk High School in Connecticut.  Walden wrote over 40 novels for young adults.  She passed away in 2002 in Westport, Connecticut.

***ANNOUNCEMENT OF THE FINALISTS FORTHCOMING***

Over the past year, the ALAN Award Committee members considered 232 young adult titles for this inaugural award. The finalists will be announced on Friday, July 17, 2009. The winning title will be revealed at the November 2009 ALAN Workshop in Philadelphia, PA. A reception will be held in honor of all finalists, each of whom will be invited to participate in a public reading. For more information about the award, please contact the 2009 AEW Award Committee Chair, Wendy Glenn, at wendy.glenn@uconn.edu.

Finalists will be announced a week from today.


Reviews that Made Me Want the Book: July 9

Welcome to the latest edition of my recurring Reviews that Made Me Want to Read the Book feature (not a catchy name, but sufficiently descriptive).

Tug of War Tanita Davis from Finding Wonderland caught my attention by reviewing a book I hadn't seen before in parallel with one of my favorite recent novels. After discussing Julie Bertagna's Exodus, Tanita observed: "Apparently, Glasgow is a good city in which to set a dystopian end-of-days kind of story. Catherine Forde's Tug of War is a MG title which hearkens back to WWII, when refugee children were sent away from large cities, often with only a label around their necks, identifying them by name." I skimmed the rest, because I didn't want any spoilers, but this one is now high on my list. And I love the new term that Tanita coined, Glaswegian Dystopia.

EnemyKaren / Euro Crime from Teenage Fiction for All Ages did the same thing that Tanita did - caught my attention through drawing a parallel between a book that I'd read and a book that I hadn't read. Specifically, she wrote about two dystopias in which people over the age of 14 are in trouble. The first is Michael Grant's Gone (reviewed here), and the second is Charlie Higson's The Enemy (due out in September). According to the publisher's description: The Enemy "is set in an eerie, modern-day London after a mystery illness attacks everyone over the age of fourteen. Those afflicted either die or become so crazed by disease they are little more than wild animals. Gangs of kids are left to fend for themselves, dodging the zombie adults who remain." Which sounds potentially intriguing. Plus, I like Higson's Young James Bond books (first one reviewed here).

Demon's LexiconOver at Kidliterate, Melissa reviewed The Demon's Lexicon by Sarah Rees Brennan. Honestly, it's a great title - that alone might be sufficient. But Melissa said: "... what I’m looking for is something different, something clever, something daring. This is why THE DEMON’S LEXICON works for me. It’s more of a family drama, where a mother driven mad keeps all the family secrets, and brothers Nick and Alan divide the meager scraps of her affection as they seek to protect her. They live in a darker reality than ours, where magicians use demons to work their magic, and these magicians have been pursuing their family since their father’s death." Intriguing... [Note: The Spectacle happens to be having a contest to win a copy of this book. Enter by July 20th.]

Hero.comMelissa also piqued my interest with her very short description of a book by Andy BriggsHero.com: Rise of the Heroes. She say: "It is about kids who figure out how to download superpowers on the internet." Melissa states that this description is all that's necessary "to make this book walk out of your store by the pile (or create a huge waiting list for it in your library)". And I believe her. But I do feel compelled to check it out for myself.

Hair of Zoe FI'm not generally much of a book cover person. However, I do find the cover of Laurie Halse Anderson's new picture book, The Hair of Zoe Fleefenbacher Goes to School, irresistible. Kristine reviewed it at Best Book I Have Not Read, saying "I think kids (especially kindergartners and first graders) will find The Hair of Zoe very funny. It would be a good first week of school book when some students are apprehensive about their teacher." I'd like to give it a look.

UninvitedShelf Elf drew me in from the very first words of this review: "Spooky and summer go so well together, don’t you think? If you’re in the mood for a thriller to sink into while lounging on the dock, I can’t think of a better recommendation than Tim Wynne Jones’ latest, The Uninvited. Sure to spook your socks off, the story captivates in true Tim Wynne Jones style." I agree about summer and spooky books, so this one is going on my list. I'm also embarrassed to admit that I haven't read any of Tim Wynne-Jones' books yet, so this would be a good place to start.

Find me at http://twitter.com/JensBookPage
© 2009 by Jennifer Robinson of Jen Robinson's Book Page. All rights reserved.


First Light: Rebecca Stead

Book: First Light
Author: Rebecca Stead 
Pages: 336 
Age Range: 10-14 

First LightI've wanted to read Rebecca Stead's First Light for quite some time. It has this enticing first line: "Most boys his age had never touched paper." Which, given my insatiable appetite for dystopian fiction, was pretty much sufficient to make me want to read the book. I bought First Light a while back. I finally sat down to read it this weekend, after hearing a universal chorus of acclaim for Stead's upcoming novel, When You Reach Me (due out July 14th).

First Light is told in alternating chapters from the perspectives of Peter and Thea. Peter lives in New York City, and is the son of a glaciologist and a microbiologist. As the story begins, Peter is thrilled to learn that his family will be going on a six week expedition to Greenland. His pleasure in the trip is a bit overshadowed, however, by his mysterious headaches, and his odd ability to sometimes see across great distances. Not to mention his mother's occasional retreats from reality.

Thea lives in a town called Gracehope, located deep beneath a glacier. Her ancestors retreated beneath the ice many generations earlier, and Thea has never seen the outside world. As her story begins, however, resources are running out, and Gracehope is overcrowded. Thea, a descendent of Gracehope's original architect, proposes an expedition to the surface to look for ways to expand. Although her ideas are mercilessly trampled by Gracehope's leader, her own grandmother, Thea perseveres in her explorations.

First Light bears obviously similarities to Jeanne DuPrau's The City of Ember (underground city, plucky girl determined to find a way out, and save her people), which I loved. I must admit, however, that it took me a while to get into First Light. I'm not sure why, exactly. Maybe the two disconnected threads. Or the fact that it took a while, in both storylines, for the real action to begin. Nevertheless, First Light picked up for me about 1/3 of the way through, and I found the last third of the book quite engrossing. I thought that the author did an excellent job of tying the threads of the story together, and explaining mysterious elements of both stories. Here are a couple of excerpts, to give you a feel for Stead's writing:

"He hated the way she was talking, as if she were pushing her words through layers and layers of something--cloth, or fog, or mud." (Page 133, paperback edition)

"Thea's body reacted to the sound of her mother's name. It was as if a school of tiny fish swam inside of her, everywhere at once. She squeezed her hands into fists and then flexed her fingers, wishing she had thought to bring her ambergris." (Page 226) [Note, Thea squeezes a ball of ambergris when she is stressed - she seems to have a touch of obsessive compulsive disorder, though this is never stated.]

I am always on the lookout for quality science fiction (as an alternative to fantasy) for middle grade readers, and First Light fits the bill. Some of the inventions that allow Gracehope to exist are ingenious, as are the special gifts displayed by Peter and Thea. Stead also sneaks in a bit of real-world knowledge about Greenland, global warming, and sled dogs, without the book feeling heavy-handed. I think that First Light would pair well with Julie Bertagna's Exodus and Zenith (though First Light is aimed at a slightly younger age range). 

One other aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the fact that Gracehope's society is strongly matrilineal. Kids aren't even supposed to know who their fathers (or "sires") are. Mating is heavily regulated, because the society is so small. This is all treated in a relatively matter-of-fact manner, and I think that middle school girls will find it interesting. First Light is quite boy-friendly, too, however, filled with exploration and danger.

All in all, I think that kids will find First Light a satisfying read. And I'll be looking forward to When You Reach Me (Rebecca Stead's next book, not a sequel).

Publisher: Wendy Lamb Books
Publication Date: June 26, 2007
Source of Book: Bought it
Other Blog Reviews: YAnnabe, A Fuse #8 Production, So Many Books
Author Interviews: Inkweaver Review

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


Tuesday Afternoon Visits: July 7

I know that I just published a Kidlitosphere news round-up on Sunday. But I have a few additional links to share with you today:

First up, congratulations to Guys Lit Wire. Their Book Fair for Boys was a huge success. Colleen Mondor reports: "I am thrilled to announce that to date we received 600 books for the boys in the LA County juvenile justice system. The response to the original Book Fair for Boys post has been huge - far greater than we anticipated - and will make a big difference in a lot of lives. So many books were sent to LA that InsideOut Writers is able to spread them over all three facilities where the boys are held, providing much greater access to the books." Very cool!

Also at Guys Lit Wire, an excellent post from Mr. Chompchomp suggesting some guy-friendly books that feature female protagonists. He says: "Fortunately, the world of literature is more varied than the world of Disney movies, and gives us many books with girls as the main characters, girls who are neither princesses nor fairies, nor, for that matter, the tormented little playthings of boy vampires. Here are some of those books, mostly fantasy and sci-fi, because that's what I know, but some non-fiction too, for good measure". There are some great suggestions, including Garth Nix's fabulous Sabriel (and sequels).

Mitali Perkins just published a great list of Take Me Away Fiction (books with a strong sense of place). She says: "f you can't afford a lavish vacation this summer, here's a list of books that make you forget where you are by creating a great sense of place. I haven't read all of these, so don't quote me as your travel agent -- they came in response to my call for YA/Kid novels that turn us into armchair travelers with their mastery of setting." The first three books I thought of were Sara Zarr's Story of a Girl, Mary Pearson's A Room on Lorelei Street, and Laini Taylor's Blackbringer. And of course there is Mitali's own Monsoon Summer. Do you have any other titles to suggest for Mitali's list?

In light of the many responses to the recent NY Times column by Nicholas Kristof's list of "the best kids' books ever" (one person's opinion, and not at all a diverse list, but at least he's got lots of people talking about children's books), Laurel Snyder has re-posted her own essay on "the very worst books for kids".

There seems to be a minor bout of blog reviewer burnout going around. This is different from blog focus angst, and tends to be caused by either writing many reviews in a short time, or by having a big stack of books that have been read, and not yet reviewed. Amy from My Friend Amy is the latest victim of this malaise (though she clearly has an excellent support network). In any event, for anyone suffering from this, I prescribe 7 Tips for Quitting a Book, from Kelly at YAnnabee. That and a big stack of books that you don't feel like you'll need to review - things outside of your usual focus, old favorites, etc.

OK, that's all for now. Back to our regularly scheduled programming.


Growing Bookworms Newsletter: July 6

Jpg_book007Tonight I will be sending out the new issue of the Growing Bookworms 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 826 subscribers. 

Newsletter Update: In this issue, I have six book reviews (3 middle grade and 3 young adult titles), two posts with Kidlitosphere news, and one children's literacy round-up. Not included in the newsletter, I have:

Reading Update: In the past two weeks, I was able to get quite a bit of reading done. I read:

  • Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner: Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth! Orchard Books. Completed June 29, 2009.
  • Jordan Sonnenblick: Dodger for President. Feiwel & Friends. Completed June 25, 2009. My review.
  • Eric Wight: Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom. Simon & Schuster. Completed June 27, 2009. My review.
  • Sarah Prineas (ill. Antonio Javier Caparo): The Magic Thief: Lost. HarperCollins. Completed June 27, 2009. My review.
  • Kate Messner: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Walker Books for Young Readers. Completed June 28, 2009. (Review forthcoming - I'm saving it until closer to publication)
  • Rebecca Stead: First Light. Wendy Lamb Books. Completed July 3, 2009. (Review coming out later this week)
  • Michael Grant: Hunger: A Gone Novel. HarperTeen. Completed June 23, 2009. My review.
  • Catherine Gilbert Murdock: Front and Center. Houghton Mifflin. Completed June 24, 2009. My review.
  • Maggie Stiefvater: Shiver. Scholastic. Completed July 1, 2009. My review.
  • E. Lockhart: The Boy Book: A Study of Habits and Behaviors, Plus Techniques for Taming Them. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed July 4, 2009.
  • E. Lockhart: The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch, Gideon--and me, Ruby Oliver. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed July 4, 2009. (Review of both E. Lockhart books forthcoming)
  • Charlaine Harris: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1). Ace. Completed June 24, 2009, on MP3. Oddly addictive, though I don't generally care for listening to books this explicit on audio. The southern accent really worked for me, though, in liking the character.

I'm currently taking a short break from reading books that I feel like I need to review (call it blogger's guilt -- it's impossible to read great books and not review them, but if you don't feel like writing reviews, then it's necessary to find other outlets for reading). So I'm reading Life Sentences by Laura Lippman, an adult mystery title. How about you? What have you been reading and enjoying? Thanks for reading, and for growing bookworms!


Sunday Afternoon Visits: July 5

Kidlitosphere_button Hope that you've been enjoying the July 4th weekend (for those in the US).The blogs have been pretty quiet this weekend. However, quite a few posts from around the Kidlitosphere have caught my eye over the past week or so. First up is Tanita Davis' public service announcement at Finding Wonderland about Kidlitosphere Central and the upcoming 3rd annual Kidlitosphere Conference. In other news:

Newlogorg200 The Readergirlz will be celebrating Cecil Castellucci's graphic novel The Plain Janes in July. They urge: "Join us all month right here on the blog for discussions and mark your calendars a LIVE chat with Cecil and Jim on Wednesday, July 22nd at 6pm PST/9pm EST."

Yankee Doodle GalSpeaking of gutsy women, President Obama just signed a bill to recognize female pilots who flew during World War II. The New York Times Caucus blog says: "During World War II, more than 1,000 female pilots became the first women to ever take the controls of American military planes. Now, more than six decades later, members of the Women Airforce Service Pilots will receive the Congressional Gold Medal, one of America’s highest civilian honors." There's also an NPR story about it. I found out about this from Amy Nathan, who wrote a children's book called Yankee Doodle Gals about the Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASPS) that's been getting some attention in light of the recent bill, and was on hand during the recent signing. I haven't read Yankee Doodle Gals, but it might be something that the Readergirlz postergirlz would be interested in, don't you think? Perhaps to pair with Mare's War?

Steampunk in young adult fiction also seems to be getting some play in the Kidlitosphere this week. Becky Levine wrote about this last week, quoting a definition by Jeff VanderMeer: ""Mad scientist inventor + [invention (steam x airship or metal man divided by baroque stylings) x (pseudo) Victorian setting] + progressive or reactionary politics x adventure plot = steampunk."". Becky also shared a lovely picture of her local bookmobile. Maureen Kearney also picked up on a recent piece about YA steampunk at Confessions of a Bibliovore, and suggests some omissions from a recent i09 story. Maureen also has a great snippet from a recent interview with new UK children's laureate Anthony Browne about not living pictures behind in appreciating books.

IMGP3383 Natasha Maw at Maw Books shared a post asking: why do I own books when I rarely reread? She concludes: "I’ve decided that the reason that I like to keep the books that I’ve read and enjoyed, even though it’s unlikely that I’ll read them again, is because I just like to look at them. I mean, is nothing better then perusing your own shelf and remembering a particular story or characters? I like to reminisce. Plus, this is what people see when they walk into my home". There are a whole slew of comments - so many that I chose not to comment there. Personally, I do reread books sometimes, but I also keep some books just because they are my friends, and I can't possibly part with them. That's one of my bookshelves, to the left.

Another interesting discussion can be found in the comments on a post at Laurel Snyder's blog about epic vs. episodic fantasy. The post was inspired by a post from Charlotte's Library, where Charlotte was seeking Edward Eager read-alikes, and mentioned their episodic nature. I'm more of an epic than episodic fan myself at this point, but many of my episodic childhood favorites are mentioned in the comments of Laurel's post.

Parker Peevyhouse has a post at The Spectacle about "how to get rid of the parents" in children's literature. She asks: "How is a young reader affected by reading a story in which all of the adults are missing, incompetent, or antagonistic?  It’s a question that’s been brought up before, but the answer still eludes me."

The BookKids blog (from BookPeople) has a four-part series by Emily Kristin Anderson: "Fab YA Authors on their Favorite Queer-Themed Books". Here's part 4. You can find the other links here.

At A Fuse #8 Production, Betsy Bird shares her thoughts on 10-year-olds reading Twilight. She says: "If you are a parent, I fear you are merely delaying the inevitable. Your child, if forbidden Twilight, will desire it all the more. There's nothing saying you can't suggest other books as well, though." And she includes some suggestions.

Nonfictionmonday Terry Doherty is ready early with this week's Nonfiction Monday round-up post at The Reading Tub. Contributors can use Mister Linky to enter their nonfiction posts tomorrow. 

Donalyn Miller (The Book Whisperer) calls upon people to celebrate their reading freedom. She says: "On this Independence Day, I am grateful for my freedom to read what I want. My fundamental right to write or read any book, blog, news article, or Twitter feed—no matter how controversial, thoughtful, or ridiculous—is not commonplace for all citizens around the world. When we choose our own reading material and encourage children to do the same—we exercise our rights as Americans. Celebrate your reading freedom today!" She also shares her recent reading list - she's trying for a book a day this summer.

Speaking of The Book Whisper, Sarah Mulhern from The Reading Zone shares her experience in implementing a survey recommended by Donalyn in her book. She asked her students which factors from their classroom helped them the most in their development as readers. The result is a list of seven non-negotiables, in order of importance. I think that all teachers looking to inspire a love of reading in their students should check out the results from Sarah's classroom. You might be surprised!

BooklightsI'll also be sharing links to a bunch of posts written in defense of fun summer reading at Booklights first thing tomorrow morning. Other recent posts at Booklights have included a post in defense of comic strips by Susan Kusel, and some recommended beach-themed books suggested by Pam Coughlan. Happy reading!


Shiver: Maggie Stiefvater

Book: Shiver
Author: Maggie Stiefvater (blog. See here for a trailer by the author and a giveaway)
Pages: 400
Age Range: 13 and up

ShiverBackground: I've been trying to hold off a bit on reviews, and release them closer to publication. However, Shiver (due out August 1st) has already been extensively reviewed around the blogosphere. And the author just released a book trailer and announced a contest to win copies of the book. So ... waiting didn't seem necessary. But I will post again on publication, to let you know that the book is available.

Review: Maggie Stiefvater's Shiver is, on the surface, a young adult fantasy novel about werewolves. But really, Shiver is a love story about two individuals longing for one another across a nearly impossible chasm. Grace is the only child of self-absorbed parents. As an 11-year-old, she is dragged out of her wooded backyard by wolves, miraculously saved in a manner that she doesn't later recall. After that she is fascinated by the wolves, especially one particular yellow-eyed wolf, with whom she has a special connection. She delights in the winter months, when "her wolf" is visible on the edges of the forest, and misses him when he vanishes during the summers. Six years later, in October, a boy named Sam turns up on Grace's doorstep. A boy with those same yellow eyes, and that same instinctual connection. A boy who is on the verge of turning back into a wolf.

Shiver is written in the alternating, first-person viewpoints of Grace and Sam. The readers is thus able to see their love evolve from both sides. Grace and Sam's time together is threatened various individuals, each with his or her own agenda. But the real suspense is driven by Sam's fight to hold on to his humanity, and hold on to Grace, for as long as possible.

Shiver is gorgeously written. Stiefvater's prose is filled with colors and scents and poetry. She makes the cold winter woods starkly beautiful, and makes Grace and Sam painfully vulnerable. Their love is a living, breathing thing. Grace is wryly humorous and introverted, a hyper-perfect child striving to please her absent parents. Someone who would choose watching a wolf out of the kitchen window over spending time with people. Sam has the soul of a poet and a desperate need NOT to be an animal, despite being literally and figuratively scarred by his life. They fit together like tree branches intertwined, impossible to separate.

I flagged passage after passage. Here are Sam and Grace:

"Behind the counter, I slouched on my stool in the sun and sucked in the summer as if I could hold every drop of it inside of me. As the hours crept by, the afternoon sunlight bleached all of the books on the shelves to pale, gilded versions of themselves and warmed the paper and ink inside the covers so that the smell of unread words hung in the air." (Chapter Four - Sam)

"I smiled at the stacks, inhaling again. Hundreds of thousands of pages that had never been turned, waiting for me. The shelves were a warm, blond wood, piled with spines of every color. Staff picks were arranged on tables, glossy covers reflecting the light back at me. Behind the little cubby where the cashier sat, ignoring us, stairs covered with rich burgundy carpet let up to worlds unknown. "I could just live here," I said. (Chapter Thirty-Two - Grace)

"It sounds stupid, but one of the things that I loved about Grace was how she didn't have to talk. Sometimes, I just wanted my silences to stay silent, full of thoughts, empty of words." (Chapter Forty-Four - Sam)

I also liked the character of Isabel, a spoiled rich girl who plays an increasingly important role in Sam and Grace's story throughout the book. Here's Isabel:

"Isabel's face was still wearing a pretty pout, but I saw storms destroying small villages in her eyes." (Chapter Twenty-Eight - Grace)

"Isabel made a noise that, if converted into a missile, had enough vitriol to obliterate a small country." (Chapter Forty-Two - Sam)

I must admit that I occasionally had trouble with the shifting viewpoints. This didn't happen often, but it sometimes took me out of the story, having to figure out if Sam or Grace was narrating. Still, I think that the enhanced understanding that I gained from the two perspectives far outweighed this as a negative. I do think that Shiver would make an excellent, two-narrator audiobook, though.

Despite being a "werewolf story", Shiver is much more a novel of atmosphere, characterization, and romance than of action. Like Stiefvater's first YA novel, Lament, Shiver captures love and longing perfectly. [Sarah Mulhern put this better than I did, saying: "Maggie Stiefvater may be one of the best writers I have ever read when it comes to creating chemistry between two characters. The love between Grace and Sam is palpable between the pages of the book." This is why I usually try not to read other people's reviews before publishing my own, because I can't top Sarah's assessment].

Fans of Twilight are sure to like Shiver - it has that same quality of romance against seemingly insurmountable odds, but with more nuanced characters. But really, anyone looking for a blend of romantic longing and supernatural chills will want to give Shiver a look. A sequel, Linger, is scheduled for fall of 2010. And that's a good thing, because Shiver (while resolved enough to stand alone) will leave readers wanting to read more about Grace and Sam. Highly recommended, and a must-purchase title for young adult library collections.

Publisher: Scholastic
Publication Date: August 1, 2009
Source of Book: Advanced review copy from the publisher. Quotes are from the ARC, and should be checked against the printed book.
Other Blog Reviews: The Book Vault, Book Reviews by Jess, Angieville, The Reading Zone (Sarah calls it "a romance for the ages"), The Well-Read Child, Karin's Book Nook, etc. 
Author Interviews: Wondrous Reads

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


Books Read in June

This is a list of the books that I read in June of 2009, broken up into Picture Books, Middle Grade Books, Young Adult Books, and Adult Fiction. As you can see, I went on a bit of a picture book binge earlier this month. I will be reviewing the ones that worked best for me out of these titles, spreading the reviews out over the next couple of months. I also have quite a few reviews of middle grade and young adult titles, with thanks to MotherReader's 48 Hour Book Challenge for getting me back on the reviewing track.

Picture Books

  1. Deborah Hopkinson (ill Stephen Alcorn): Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole. Peachtree. Completed June 19, 2009.
  2. Louise Yates: A Small Surprise. Knopf. Completed June 19, 2009.
  3. Joanna Harrison: Grizzly Dad: Why Dads are GREAT (even the grumpy ones!). David Fickling Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  4. Eileen Spinelli (ill. Tom Bowers): Princess Pig. Knopf. Completed June 19, 2009.
  5. Emily Jenkins (ill. Giselle Potter): Sugar Would Not Eat It. Schwartz & Wade. Completed June 19, 2009.
  6. Charise Mericle Harper: Milo's Special Words. Robin Corey Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  7. Stephanie Blake: I Don't Want to Go to School! Random House. Completed June 19, 2009.
  8. Alison McGhee (ill. Taeeun Yoo): Only a Witch Can Fly. Feiwel and Friends. Completed June 19, 2009.
  9. Dave Keane (ill. David Clark): Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain. Clarion Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  10. Mary Ann Rodman (ill. Tatjana Mai-Wyss): A Tree for Emmy. Peachtree. Completed June 19, 2009.
  11. Diane Adams (ill. Nancy Hayashi): I Can Do It Myself! Completed June 19, 2009.
  12. Kevin Luthardt: Flying! Peachtree. Completed June 19, 2009.
  13. Rohan Henry: Good Night, Baby Ruby. Abrams. Completed June 19, 2009.
  14. Caren McNelly McCormack (ill. Martha Aviles): The Fiesta Dress: A Quinceanera Tale. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  15. Beatrice Schenk de Regniers (ill. Margot Tomes): Little Sister and the Month Brothers. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  16. Phillis Gershator (ill. Katherine Potter). Old House, New House. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  17. Jonathan London (ill. Kristina Rodanas): Little Swan. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  18. Cynthia Rylant (ill. Nikki McClure): All In a Day. Abrams. Completed June 19, 2009.
  19. Maryann Cocca-Leffler. My Dance Recital. Robin Corey Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  20. Ellen Javernick (ill. Kevin O'Malley): The Birthday Pet. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  21. Mark Shulman (ill. Vincent Nguyen): Gorilla Garage. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  22. Kim Kennedy (ill Doug Kennedy): Hee-Haw-Dini and the Great Zambini. Abrams. Completed June 19, 2009.
  23. Erica S. Perl (ill. Henry Cole): Chicken Butt! Abrams. Completed June 19, 2009.
  24. Betsy Snyder: Have You Ever Tickled a Tiger? Random House. Completed June 19, 2009.
  25. Yumi Heo: Ten Days and Nine Nights: An Adoption Story. Schwartz and Wade. Completed June 19, 2009.
  26. Brie Spangler: The Grumpy Dump Truck. Knopf. Completed June 19, 2009.
  27. Nancy Davis: A Garden of Opposites. Schwartz and Wade. Completed June 19, 2009.
  28. Dick Bruna: Miffy the Artist. Tate. Completed June 19, 2009.
  29. Eileen Spinelli (ill. David Slonim): Silly Tilly. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  30. Deborah Heiligman (ill. Tim Bowers): Fun Dog, Sun Dog. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  31. Eric A. Kimmel (ill. Valeria Docampo): The Three Little Tamales. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  32. Gennadii Spirin and Gennady Spirin: Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  33. Phillis Gershator (ill. Santiago Cohen): Zoo Day Ole!: A Counting Book. Marshall Cavendish. Completed June 19, 2009.
  34. David Goodman and Zoe Miller: Shape. Tate Publishing. Completed June 19, 2009.
  35. Dan Yaccarino: The Fantastic Undersea Life of Jacques Cousteau. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed June 19, 2009.
  36. David Catrow: Dinosaur Hunt. Orchard Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  37. Jennifer Sattler: Sylvie. Random House. Completed June 19, 2009.
  38. John Stadler: Wilson and Miss Lovely. Robin Corey Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  39. Matthew Cordell: Trouble Gum. Feiwel & Friends. Completed June 19, 2009.
  40. Mini Grey: Egg Drop. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed June 19, 2009.
  41. Jean Van Leeuwen (ill David Gavril): Chicken Soup. Abrams Books for Young Readers. Completed June 19, 2009.
  42. Laura Purdie Salas (ill. Steven Salerno): Stampede!: Poems to Celebrate the Wild Side of School. Clarion Books. Completed June 19, 2009.
  43. Janet Stein: This Little Bunny Can Bake. Schwartz & Wade. Completed June 19, 2009.
  44. Jonah Winter (ill. Andre Carrilho): You Never Heard of Sandy Koufax?!. Schwartz & Wade. Completed June 19, 2009.
  45. Jacqueline Jules (ill. Jef Czekaj): Unite or Die: How Thirteen States Became a Nation. Charlesbridge. Completed June 19, 2009.
  46. Diane deGroat and Shelley Rotner: Dogs Don't Brush Their Teeth! Orchard Books. Completed June 29, 2009. (Review scheduled for publication date - August 1st)

Middle Grade Books

  1. Brenda Ferber: Jemma Hartman, Camper Extraordinaire. Farrar, Straus and Giroux. Completed June 6, 2009. My review.
  2. Zilpha Keatley Snyder: The Ghosts of Rathburn Park. Yearling. Completed June 6, 2009. My review.
  3. Laurel Snyder: Any Which Wall. Random House Books for Young Readers. Completed June 6, 2009. My review.
  4. Elise Broach: Masterpiece. Henry Holt and Co. Completed June 7, 2009. My review.
  5. Sarah Prineas (ill. Antonio Javier Caparo): The Magic Thief. HarperCollins. Completed June 18, 2009. My review.
  6. Jordan Sonnenblick: Dodger for President. Feiwel & Friends. Completed June 25, 2009. My review.
  7. Eric Wight: Frankie Pickle and the Closet of Doom. Simon & Schuster. Completed June 27, 2009. My review.
  8. Sarah Prineas (ill. Antonio Javier Caparo): The Magic Thief: Lost. HarperCollins. Completed June 27, 2009. My review.
  9. Kate Messner: The Brilliant Fall of Gianna Z. Walker Books for Young Readers. Completed June 28, 2009. (Holding review until closer to publication, but I do recommend this title, especially for girls just starting middle school.)

Young Adult Books

  1. Suzanne Collins: Catching Fire (sequel to The Hunger Games). Scholastic. Completed June 1, 2009. My early thoughts (not a full review).
  2. Jacqueline Kelly: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate. Henry Holt and Co. Completed June 5, 2009. My review.
  3. Caroline B. Cooney: If the Witness Lied. Delacorte Books for Young Readers. Completed June 5, 2009. My review.
  4. Anna Godbersen: Envy (Luxe #3). HarperCollins. Completed June 6, 2009. (No review, because this was an audio read)0
  5. Jennifer Bradbury: Shift. Atheneum. Completed June 6, 2009. My review.
  6. Marley Gibson: Ghost Huntress, Book 2: The Guidance. Graphia. Completed June 7, 2009. My review.
  7. Cassandra Clare: City of Glass. Simon & Schuster. Completed June 8, 2009. My review.
  8. Tanita S. Davis: Mare's War. Knopf Books for Young Readers. Completed June 10, 2009. My review.
  9. Michael Grant: Hunger: A Gone Novel. HarperTeen. Completed June 23, 2009. My review.
  10. Catherine Gilbert Murdock: Front and Center. Houghton Mifflin. Completed June 24, 2009. My review.

Adult Fiction

  1. Lisa Lutz: Revenge of the Spellmans. Simon & Schuster. Completed June 5, 2009. My review.
  2. Stephen King: The Stand. Signet. Completed June 17, 2009. (A re-read of an old favorite.)
  3. Charliane Harris: Dead Until Dark (Sookie Stackhouse #1). Ace. Completed June 24, 2009, on MP3. Oddly addictive, though I don't generally care for listening to books this explicit on audio. The southern accent really worked for me, though, in liking the character.

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