Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Librarians' Choices 2006

Librarians’ Choices 2006
Master List

1. Agee, Jon. 2006. WHY DID THE CHICKEN CROSS THE ROAD? New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730942 [Suggested Grade Levels 1 – 6]

2. Alegria, Malin. 2006. ESTRELLA’S QUINCEANERA. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 0689878095 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

3. Anderson, M.T. 2006. THE CLUE OF THE LINOLEUM LEDERHOSEN. Ill. by Kurt Cyrus. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152053522 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

4. Anderson, M. T. 2006. THE ASTONISHING LIFE OF OCTAVIAN NOTHING, TRAITOR TO THE NATION, Volume 1: THE POX PARTY. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763624020 [Suggested Grade Levels 9 – 12]

5. Aston, Dianna. 2006. AN EGG IS QUIET. Ill. by Sylvia Long. San Francisco: Chronicle. ISBN 0811844285 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

6. Balliett, Blue. 2006. THE WRIGHT 3. Ill. by Brett Helquist. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439693675 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

7. Bateman, Teresa. 2006. KEEPER OF SOLES. Ill. by Yayo. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 9780823417346, 0823417344 [Suggested Grade Levels 2 – 6]

8. Beaumont, Karen. 2006. MOVE OVER ROVER. Ill. by Jane Dyer. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152019790 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

9. Bledsoe, Lucy Jane. 2006. HOW TO SURVIVE IN ANTARCTICA. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823418901 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

10. Brown, Tricia. 2006. SALAM: A MUSLIM AMERICAN BOY’S STORY. Photos by Ken Cardwell. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805065385 [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

11. Brown, Calef. 2006. FLAMINGOS ON THE ROOF. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618562982 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

12. Budhos, Marina. 2006. ASK ME NO QUESTIONS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 1416903518 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-10]

13. Bulion, Lesley. 2006. HEY THERE, STINK BUG! Ill. by Leslie Evans. Watertown, MA: Charlesbridge. ISBN 158089304X [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

14. Bunting, Eve. 2006. ONE GREEN APPLE. Ill. by Ted Lewin. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618434771 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

15. Carter, Ally. 2006. I’D TELL YOU I LOVE YOU, BUT THEN I’D HAVE TO KILL YOU. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1423100034 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

16. Child, Lauren. 2006. BUT EXCUSE ME THAT IS MY BOOK. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730969 [Suggested Grade Levels K-1]

17. Cohn, Rachel, and David Levithan. 2006. NICK & NORAH’S INFINITE PLAYLIST. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375835318 [Suggested Grade Levels 10- 12]

18. Cunnane, Kelly. 2006. FOR YOU ARE A KENYAN CHILD. Ill. by Ana Juan. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 068986194X [Suggested Grade Levels 1-4]

19. de la Cruz, Melissa. 2006. BLUE BLOODS. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786838922 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

20. DiCamillo, Kate. 2006. THE MIRACULOUS JOURNEY OF EDWARD TULANE. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763625892 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

21. Draper, Sharon. 2006. COPPER SUN. New York: Athenaeum. ISBN 0689821816 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

22. Elya, Susan Middleton. 2006. BEBE GOES SHOPPING. Ill. by Steven Salerno. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 015205426X [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

23. Engle, Margarita. 2006. THE POET SLAVE OF CUBA: A BIOGRAPHY OF JUAN FRANCISCO MANZANO. Ill. by Sean Qualls. New York: Henry Holt. ISBN 0805077065 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

24. Fleischman, Sid. 2006. ESCAPE! THE STORY OF THE GREAT HOUDINI. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0060850949 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-9]

25. Frazee, Marla. 2006. WALK ON! A GUIDE FOR BABIES OF ALL AGES. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152055738. [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

26. Freedman, Russell. 2006. FREEDOM WALKERS: THE STORY OF THE MONTGOMERY BUS BOYCOTT. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823420310 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

27. Freedman, Russell. 2006. THE ADVENTURES OF MARCO POLO. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 043952394X. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-9]

28. Frost, Helen. 2006. THE BRAID. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374309620 [Suggested Grade Levels 6 – 10]

29. Gould, Robert. 2006. FATHER AND SON READ-ALOUD STORIES. Ill. by Lara Gurin. Carlsbad, CA: Big Guy Books. ISBN 1929945671 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

30. Govenar, Alan. 2006. EXTRAORDINARY ORDINARY PEOPLE: FIVE AMERICAN MASTERS OF TRADITIONAL ARTS. New York: Candlewick. ISBN 0763620475 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-12]

31. Gratz, Alan. 2006. SAMURAI SHORTSTOP. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730756 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

32. Gravett, Emily. 2006. WOLVES. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416914919 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

33. Grimes, Nikki. 2006. THE ROAD TO PARIS. New York: Putman. ISBN 0399245375. [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

34. Hardinge, Frances. 2006. FLY BY NIGHT. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060876271. (Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

35. Harris, Robie. 2006. IT’S NOT THE STORK!: A BOOK ABOUT GIRLS, BOYS, BABIES, BODIES, FAMILIES AND FRIENDS. Ill. by Michael Emberley. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763600474 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

36. Harvey, Gill. 2006.ORPHAN OF THE SUN. New York: Bloomsbury. ISBN 1582346852 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

37. Hatkoff, Isabella, Craig Hatkoff, and Paula Kahumbu. 2006. OWEN AND MZEE; The True Story Of A Remarkable Friendship. Ill. by Peter Greste. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439829739 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

38. Hautman, Pete. 2006. RASH. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 9780689868016 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

39. Headley, Justina Chan. 2006. NOTHING BUT THE TRUTH (AND A FEW WHITE LIES). New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316011282 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

40. Hopkinson, Deborah. 2006. UP BEFORE DAYBREAK: COTTON AND PEOPLE IN AMERICA. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439639018 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-12]

41. Ichikawa, Satomi. 2006. MY FATHER’S SHOP. La Jolla, CA: Kane/Miller. ISBN 1929132999 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

42. Jansen, Hanna. 2006. OVER A THOUSAND HILLS I WALK WITH YOU. Minneapolis, MN: Carolrhoda books. ISBN 1575059274 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

43. Jaramillo, Ann. 2006. LA LINEA. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook Press. ISBN 1596431547 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

44. Klages, Ellen. 2006. THE GREEN GLASS SEA. New York: Viking. ISBN 0670061344 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-6]

45. Knudsen, Michelle. 2006. LIBRARY LION. Ill. by Kevin Hawkes. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick. ISBN 0763622621 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

46. Kring, Sandra. 2006. THE BOOK OF BRIGHT IDEAS. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385338147 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

47. Kurlansky, Mark. 2006. THE STORY OF SALT. Ill. by S.D. Schindler. New York: Putnam. ISBN 0399239987 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

48. Larios, Julie. 2006. YELLOW ELEPHANT; A BRIGHT BESTIARY. Ill. by Julie Paschkis. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152054227 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

49. Liao, Jimmy. 2006. THE SOUND OF COLORS: A JOURNEY OF THE IMAGINATION. Trans. by Sarah L. Thomson. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316939927 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

50. Lin, Grace. 2006. THE YEAR OF THE DOG. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316060003 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

51. Lipsyte, Robert. 2006. Raiders Night. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060599464. [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

52. Look, Lenore. 2006. UNCLE PETER’S AMAZING CHINESE WEDDING. Ill. by Yumi Heo. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 9780689844584, 0689844581 [Suggested Grade Levels K – 5]

53. Lupica, Mike. 2006. HEAT. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0399243011 [Suggested Grade Levels 6- 9]

54. Lyga, Barry. 2006. THE ASTONISHING ADVENTURES OF FANBOY AND GOTH GIRL. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618723927 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

55. Markle, Susan. 2006. RESCUES! Minneapolis: Lerner. ISBN 0822534134 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

56. McCaughrean, Geraldine. 2006. PETER PAN IN SCARLET. Ill. by Scott M. Fischer. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416918086 [Selected Grade Levels 4-6]

57. McCormick, Patricia. 2006. SOLD. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786851716 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

58. McCully, Emily Arnold. 2006. MARVELOUS MATTIE: HOW MARGARET E. KNIGHT BECAME AN INVENTOR. New York: Farrar Straus & Giroux. ISBN 9780374348106, 0374348103 [Suggested Grade Levels 2 – 6]

59. McKissack, Patricia C. 2006. PORCH LIES: TALES OF SLICKSTERS, TRICKSTERS, AND OTHER WILY CHARACTERS. Ill. by Andre Carrilho. New York: Random House. ISBN 0375836195 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-10]

60. Meyer, Stephenie. 2006. NEW MOON. New York: Little, Brown. ISBN 0316160199 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-11]

61. Moriarity, Jaclyn. 2006. THE MURDER OF BINDY MACKENZIE. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439740517 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

62. Murdock, Catherine Gilbert. 2006. DAIRY QUEEN: A NOVEL. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 0618683070 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

63. Myers, Walter Dean. 2006. JAZZ. Ill. by Christopher Myers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823415457 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 6]

64. Nakagawa, Hirotaka. 2006. SUMO BOY. Ill. by Yoshifumi Hasegawa. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786836350 [Suggested Grade Levels K- 3]

65. Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. 2006. ROXIE AND HOOLIGANS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 1416902430 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

66. Nolan, Han. 2006. SUMMER OF KINGS. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152051082 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]


68. Owen, James. A. 2006. HERE THERE BE DRAGONS. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416912274 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

69. Paterson, Katherine. 2006. BREAD AND ROSES, TOO. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618654796 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

70. Pennypacker, Sara. 2006. CLEMENTINE. Ill. by Marla Frazee. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786838825 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

71. Pericoli, Matteo. 2006. THE TRUE STORY OF STELLINA. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375832734 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

72. Pffefer, Susan Beth. 2006. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152058265 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

73. Pinkney, Jerry. 2006. THE LITTLE RED HEN. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0803729359 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

74. Portman, Frank. 2006. King Dork: New York: Random House. ISBN 0385732910 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

75. Reinhardt, Dana. 2006. A BRIEF CHAPTER IN MY IMPOSSIBLE LIFE. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385746989 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

76. Rubin, Susan Goldman with Ela Weisberger. 2006. THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR: COMING OF AGE IN TEREZIN. New York: Holiday House ISBN 0823418316, 9780823418312 [Suggested Grade Levels 3 – 8]

77. Schaefer, Lola M. 2006. AN ISLAND GROWS. Ill. by Cathie Felstead. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0066239311, 9780066239316 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK – 2]

78. Schubert, Leda. 2006. BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS. Ill. by Robert Andrew Parker. New Milford, CT: Roaring Brook. ISBN 1596430753 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

79. Shafer, Audrey. 2006. THE MAILBOX. New York: Delacorte. ISBN 0385733445 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

80. Sidman, Joyce. 2006. BUTTERFLY EYES AND OTHER SECRETS OF THE MEADOW. Ill. by Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 061856313X [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

81. Siebert, Diane. 2006. TOUR AMERICA: A JOURNEY THROUGH POEMS AND ART. Ill. by Stephen T. Johnson. San Francisco: Chronicle. ISBN0811850560. [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]

82. Skelton, Matthew. 2006. ENDYMION SPRING. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385733801 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

83. Smith, Lane. 2006. JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1423101146 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

84. Sonnenblick, Jordan. 2006. NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439757797 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

85. Stanley, Diane. 2006. BELLA AT MIDNIGHT. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060775742, 9780060775742 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

86. Stone, Tanya Lee. 2006. A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385747020 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

87. Tchana, Katrin Hyman. 2006. CHANGING WOMAN AND HER SISTERS: STORIES OF GODDESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. Ill. by Trina Schart Hyman. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823419991 [Suggested Grade Levels 4- 8]

88. Tingle, Tim. CROSSING BOK CHITTO. Ill. by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. El Paso, TX: Cinco Puntos Press. ISBN 9780938317777, 0938317776 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

89. Vizzini, Ned. 2006. IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786851961 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

90. Vrettos, Adrienne. 2006. SKIN. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416906551 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

91. Weatherford, Carole Boston. DEAR MR. ROSENWALD, Ill. by R. Gregory Christie. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439495229 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

92. Werlin, Nancy. 2006. RULES OF SURVIVAL. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730012 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

93. Wiesner, David. 2006. FLOTSAM. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618194576 [Suggested Grade Level PreK-3]

94. Winter, Jonah. 2006. DIZZY. Ill. by Sean Quails. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439507375 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 6]

95. Wolf, Allan. 2006. IMMERSED IN VERSE: AN INFORMATIVE, SLIGHTLY IRREVERENT & TOTALLY TREMENDOUS GUIDE TO LIVING THE POET’S LIFE. Ill. by Tuesday Mourning. New York: Lark Books. ISBN 9781579906283 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

96. Wright, Betty Ren. 2006. PRINCESS FOR A WEEK. Ill. by Jacqueline Rogers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823419452 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

97. Wulf, Linda Press. 2006. THE NIGHT OF THE BURNING: DEVORAH’S STORY. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374364192 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]

98. Yang, Gene Luen. 2006. AMERICAN BORN CHINESE. Ill. by Gene Luen Yang. New York: First Second. ISBN 1596431520 [Suggested Grades Levels 7-12]

99. Yep, Laurence. 2006. THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060275243 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-5]

100. Zusak, Markus. 2006. THE BOOK THIEF. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375831002 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Monday, January 22, 2007

The Book Thief

Zusak, Markus. 2006. THE BOOK THIEF. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375831002 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

Death begins this first-person novel ruminating on the beauty of colors and how powerfully they affect his existence and ours: “At some point in time, I will be standing over you, as genially as possible. Your soul will be in my arms. A color will be perched on my shoulder. I will carry you gently away . . . The question is, what color will everything be at that moment when I come for you?” It is a gorgeous introduction with much teasing about the story to come: the book thief, a nine-year-old girl who cannot yet read. Liesel Meminger is traveling to Berlin with her mother and her brother who dies on the train. Her mother abandons her. In spite of her despair, she is fortunate to be placed with the Hubermamanns who provide her with love and teach her to read.

Zusak invents realistic characters that grow and change and break your heart. Each character is handled with love, insight, and Death’s foreboding. His world is filled with people who inspire hate, empathy, and dread. Knowing World War II Germany adds to the intimacy and impact of our read.

Zusak’s most amazing feat of all, however, is the way he manipulates language. He writes each sentence as if it carries the weight of the story itself. A novel made up of elegant sentences is the perfect vessel to explore the redemptive nature of literature and reading. Death reveals that he is haunted by humans, as we will be haunted by this astounding novel.

Invite teens to discuss whether Death’s narration helped or hindered the reading of the novel.

Connect with the classic Ray Bradbury novel about book burning, FAHRENHEIT 451.

By the same author:
Zusak, Markus. I AM THE MESSENGER. ISBN 0375830995.

By Cay Geisler

The Earth Dragon Awakes

Yep, Laurence. 2006. THE EARTH DRAGON AWAKES. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060275243 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-5]

Award winning author Laurence Yep captures the terror of the 1906 San Francisco earthquake through the eyes of two young boys. Told from the alternating perspectives of Henry Travis and his friend Chin (the son of the Travis’ houseboy Ah Sing), readers see the best and the worst of humanity during a crisis. While many struggle to help friends and neighbors during the fire that follows the early morning quake, others use what little they have for their own personal gain, price gouging on food and transportation.

“The south side is a giant wall of flame. Some of the skyscrapers are already just steel skeletons. Their collapsed walls burn at their base like a garden of red and yellow flowers. Others are ablaze. They look like giant torches. Chunks of flaming buildings crash to the sidewalk. Specks of soot and fiery sparks fill the air. They look like hordes of angry flies.” Yep’s vivid imagery provides the reader with a dramatic sense of what that day would have been like, but at the same time focuses on the human relationships that mattered more that bricks and mortar. Against this catastrophic background, readers see the friendship between two boys of different class and heritage, and the equalizing effect that a natural disaster has on everyone.

Discuss any natural disasters that readers have experienced first hand or heard about in the media. What types of things did everyday people do that made them heroes?

Other books for children about the San Francisco earthquake of 1906:
Hopkinson, Deborah. INTO THE FIRESTORM. ISBN 0375836527
Karwoski, Gail Langer. QUAKE: DISASTER IN SAN FRANCISCO. ISBN 1561453102

By Tammy Korns

American Born Chinese

Yang, Gene Luen. 2006. AMERICAN BORN CHINESE. New York: First Second. ISBN 1596431520 [Suggested Grades Levels 7-12]

What begins as three separate tales come together at the end of this remarkable graphic novel that becomes a modern fable. Jin Wang wants to fit in but as the only Chinese American in his school, he is constantly picked on, especially when he falls in love with a beautiful blonde all-American girl. The story of the Monkey King is one of the oldest and best known of the Chinese fables and the Monkey King is the most powerful monkey on earth. But he no longer wants to be monkey or a king—he wants to be a god. And Chin-Kee is the ultimate in negative stereotypes, a cartoon character at best. He’s also ruining his cousin Danny’s life with his yearly visits. Danny is a popular basketball player and has to change school every year after Chin-Kee visits. How these apparently unrelated tales come together in a climatic ending makes for a fascinating story and an exceptionally good read.

The full-color illustrations use muted colors to convey the story in this exceptionally well-drawn graphic novel. The book was one of the finalists for the National Book Award for Young Adult Literature.

Even those readers who are not especially fond of graphic novels will find this a pleasure to read. Unlike many of the other books in this genre, the content is suitable for the younger reader.

As an introduction to the graphic novel format or as a starting place for discussing prejudice, bullying, and stereotyping, this book is a winner.

Other novels about Chinese American immigration and adjustment:
Yep, Laurence. THE STARFISHER. ISBN 0140360034

Other autobiographical graphic novels:
Satrapi, Marjane. PERSEPOLIS. ISBN 037571457X
Siegel. Siena Cherson. TO DANCE: A BALLERINA'S GRAPHIC NOVEL. ISBN 0689867476

By Janet Hilbun

The Night of the Burning: Devorah's Story

Wulf, Linda Press. 2006. THE NIGHT OF THE BURNING: DEVORAH’S STORY. New York: Farrar, Straus & Giroux. ISBN 0374364192 [Suggested Grade Levels 6-10]

After the Great War in Europe, tension between Jews and non-Jews grew significantly and often resulted in damaging attacks led by Russian soldiers. One such event occurred in Domachevo, the town that was home to Devorah and her family. When the Night of the Burning ended, eleven-year-old Devorah and her younger sister Nechama were the only survivors in the community and were taken to a nearby orphanage for Jewish children. There, Devorah begins her new life of caring for and protecting her sister while living in a constant state of fear and reliving memories, both good and bad, from the past.

The girls’ future changes, however, when Isaac Ochberg chooses Devorah and Nechama to travel with him to South Africa. Though hesitant, Devorah agrees at the insistence of her younger sister and thus begins the journey to their new home and to the new families that await them there. The story is told through the eyes of Devorah which allows readers to grasp the past pains and memories as well as the future hopes and realizations of a young girl. A young girl who would eventually marry, have children, and become the inspiration for THE NIGHT OF THE BURNING. In her debut novel, Linda Press Wulf shares her mother-in-law’s story of the importance of remembering.

Have readers interview and collect stories from their own family members, such as parents and grandparents, and share the stories with the group. Also encourage children to record the gathered stories to promote the importance of remembering.

Other books about Jewish refugees:
Millman, Isaac. HIDDEN CHILD. ISBN 0374330719
Ruby, Lois. SHANGHAI SHADOWS. ISBN 0823419606

By Mary D. Buckalo

Princess for a Week

Wright, Betty Ren. 2006. PRINCESS FOR A WEEK. Ill. by Jacqueline Rogers. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823419452 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

Roddy is ecstatic to learn that “Princess” is coming for a visit. He assumes Princess is a dog sent for him by his father based overseas. Much to his chagrin, Princess turns out to be the daughter of one of his mom’s friends, and her name certainly fits. Typically reserved Roddy knows that Princess is mischievous and unruly, yet he gives in to her demands for fear of disappointing his mother. She even persuades him to enter the neighborhood haunted house in order to solve a mystery. Together, they both bite off more than they anticipated.

Wright develops Princess, Roddy, and friend Jacob so well that readers will think they know them. The sly and bossy girl, a shy and tentative boy, and the pal along for the adventure are all prevalent in children’s lives. Rogers’ frequent pencil drawings add to the familiar feel of these kids. Wright’s typical spooky mystery sense is perfectly appropriate for this age reader, and the plot develops quickly. This title is a wonderful addition to the chapter book collection.

Talk with readers about what they like and dislike about mysteries. Read other age-appropriate mysteries and determine the common elements. Read other books about haunted houses. Are the houses really haunted in these stories? Compare how authors resolve a haunted house mystery.

Chapter Book Mysteries:
Bauer, Marion Dane. BLUE GHOST. ISBN 0375831797
Cirrone, Dorian. LINDY BLUES: BIG SCOOP. ISBN 0761453237
Conford, Ellen. CASE FOR JENNY ARCHER. ISBN 0316014869

Haunted House Mysteries:
Hayes, Joe. GHOST FEVER / MAL DE FANTASMA. ISBN 0938317830

By Rebecca McKee

Immersed in Verse: An Informative, Slightly Irreverent & Totally Tremendous Guide to Living the Poet's Life

Wolf, Allan. 2006. IMMERSED IN VERSE: AN INFORMATIVE, SLIGHTLY IRREVERENT & TOTALLY TREMENDOUS GUIDE TO LIVING THE POET’S LIFE. Ill. by Tuesday Mourning. New York: Lark. ISBN 9781579906283 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

Encouraging teens to write poetry is not necessarily a daunting task, but persuading them to appreciate the poetry within is another story. Wolf’s book will be quite helpful in this endeavor. Easy text speaks directly to teens without being condescending, and provides specific illustrated examples of how to be a habitual, successful writer of verse. Much of what Wolf proposes about “plunging into words” and there’s “always something to write about,” will be motivating to writers in general. Yet, the majority of the text relates specifically to poetry – poetic devices, anatomy of a poem, reading poetry – in hopes of leading young writers to conclude that arranging their thoughts into poetic forms is important and worthy.

To further relieve any poetic anxiety, Mourning’s sophisticated cartoons enhance the text, and often provide some comic relief. The type setting, placement of text, and splashes of muted colors throughout make this book an enticing choice for teens who might otherwise be intimidated to select a book about poetry.

Throughout the reading of this book, readers will naturally be tempted to dabble (or delve) into writing their own poetry. As intended by the author, freedom to explore all aspects of poetry-- reading, writing, reciting -- should be encouraged. Readers may want to organize a theme-related poetry festival to spotlight their new-found talents.

Wooldridge, Susan Goldsmith. POEMCRAZY: FREEING YOUR LIFE WITH WORDS. ISBN 0609800981

By Rebecca McKee


Winter, Jonah. 2006. DIZZY. Ill. by Sean Quails. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439507375 [Suggested Grade Levels 1- 6]

Sharing the story of “one real cool cat,” Winter’s rich picture book biography celebrates the life and art of Jazz music icon, Dizzy Gillespie. From his life as a young boy growing up in South Carolina to his rise as a jazz great in New York, each detail works together to create a rich lyrical tribute. Winter’s use of rhyme and meter set the tone for the narrative, and readers are given an opportunity to watch Dizzy’s life and career unfold. Opening with his childhood where Dizzy was often the victim of abuse from his father and peers, readers learn how Dizzy finds salvation in his trumpet and once uplifted, his spirit soars. While his playfulness costs him many musical gigs, it is his willingness to be a risk taker so that “the very thing that had gotten him into trouble/so much-/being a clown, breaking all the rules-/had become the thing that made him great…” Reminiscent of a blast from Dizzy’s horn, Winter’s manipulation of his text is perfectly paired with Quails’ stunning mixed media art. Using a palette of blues, beiges, pinks, and grays, the illustrations on the pages evoke a musical splendor of their own. Images move from the abstract to representational, and each is visually stunning. Rounding out this fine work is an extensive author’s note which provides additional support for readers.

After reading Dizzy Gillespie’s biography, teens could write an “I Am” poem by analyzing information about his character from Winter’s account and then illustrate the poem.

Other books about jazz:
Myers, Walter Dean. BLUES JOURNEY. ISBN 0823416135
Myers, Walter Dean. JAZZ. ISBN 0823415457

By Rose Brock


Wiesner, David. 2006. FLOTSAM. New York: Clarion. ISBN 0618194576 [Suggested Grade Levels P-3]

The 2006 Caldecott winner, Wiesner’s wordless picture book depicts a fantastic marine world in near-photorealistic detail. The front flap of the book jacket gives this clue: “Flotsam. Something that floats. If it floats in the ocean it may end up on the beach, where someone may find it and be astonished, and share the discovery with someone else.” Both the story and the book itself fulfill this purpose, with astonishing images, including the underwater living room of a middle-class fish family (sunken moving van upside-down behind them), and islands that are actually giant starfish dwarfing the great whales they move among.

The brilliant use of color and imaginative juxtaposition of images are sure to capture the attention of every reader. The Booklist review says, in part, “When closely observed, . . . the masterful watercolors and ingeniously layered perspectives create a clear narrative, and viewers will eagerly fill in the story's wordless spaces with their own imagined story lines.”

Imagine a treasure washed up on a beach or buried in the ground. What would it look like? Where might it have come from? What stories could it tell? Children can write about and/or illustrate their own amazing finds.

Use one illustration to begin a “circle story,” where each teller adds a bit to the story before passing it on. Then children could choose an illustration and create a story about it individually.

Other books by David Wiesner:
Wiesner, David. JUNE 29, 1999. ISBN 0395727677
Wiesner, David. SECTOR 7. ISBN 0395746566
Wiesner, David. TUESDAY. ISBN 0395870828

By Julie Brinker

Rules of Survival

Werlin, Nancy. 2006. RULES OF SURVIVAL. New York: Dial. ISBN 0803730012 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

Werlin’s story of Matthew, a fifteen-year old who is trying to protect his sisters from their “unpredictable, vicious mother” is somewhat untraditional. Because Matthew’s loyalty to his sisters far exceeds any affection he may have for his mother, whom he calls Nikki, Matthew attempts to alter their situation by involving other adults. When Matthew meets Murdoch, the man who “wasn’t afraid, or – if he was – he took action anyway,” he concocts a plan to use Murdoch as his lifesaver.

Matthew’s determination to find normalcy for himself and especially Emmy, his younger sister, finally pays off. A letter to Emmy on the inside jacket, and another as an introduction to the story, let the reader know immediately that Matthew is clever, caring, and insightful. The story is written in first-person, as a reflection of the craziness they’ve all experienced. The fact that the adults in Matthew’s life consistently disappoint him is a heartbreaking commentary about the reality faced by many teenagers today. Nevertheless, basing the resolution upon a teenager who is not afraid to trust adults and whose persistence prompts adults into action helps the reader come away with some feeling of hope for children in such situations.

Schedule a time for a counselor to speak about the signs and symptoms of unstable families. Ask readers to find other characters with troubling home environments and compare how their problems were resolved.

Other books by Nancy Werlin:
Werlin, Nancy. BLACK MIRROR. ISBN 0803726058
Werlin, Nancy. DOUBLE HELIX. ISBN 0803726066
Werlin, Nancy. LOCKED INSIDE. ISBN 0385327005

Novels about dysfunctional families and mental illness:
Curtis, Christopher Paul. BUCKING THE SARGE. 0385323077
Hesser, Terry Spencer. KISSING DOORKNOBS. 0440413141
Mackler, Carolyn. LOVE AND OTHER FOUR-LETTER WORDS. 044022831X

By Rebecca McKee

Dear Mr. Rosenwald

Weatherford, Carole Boston. DEAR MR. ROSENWALD, Ill. by R. Gregory Christie. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439495229 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

Weatherford uses a series of poems to weave a story based on true events about how the President of Sears gave away millions of dollars to small, rural African American communities in the south to build their own schools in the 20's. The voice is that of a young child, and the cubist illustrations keep the story from veering into sentimentality. It begins: “1921: One-Room School/ My teacher, Miss Mays, said/ You can't judge a school/ by the building./ When the roof leaks/ she calls us vessels of learning.”

This lovely book accomplishes several things-- tells the story of a year in this young girl's life through her eyes, reveals details of life in African American communities in the 1920's south, and highlights the value of schools and learning. Her use of language is direct and descriptive and balances story-like narrative with stand alone poems. It's sincere, without being sentimental, and historical while still capturing glimpses of family love, of the physicality of work, of emotions like surprise or pride in a way that many children can relate to. Plus, the illustrations are so distinctive-- static and angular, with washes of unexpected colors, echoes of Jacob Lawrence.

Children may enjoy consulting more background information available on Weatherford's web site:

Another natural follow up activity is letter writing, since the book ends with a lovely “thank you” letter. Children may also enjoy researching the early history of their own school buildings or participating in fundraising efforts to support building schools in other struggling areas.

Other books about schools and hardship:
Howard, Elizabeth Fitzgerald. VIRGIE GOES TO SCHOOL. ISBN 978068980074
Stanley, Jerry. CHILDREN OF THE DUSTBOWL. ISBN 0517880946

By Sylvia M. Vardell


Vrettos, Adrienne. 2006. SKIN. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416906551 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]
With an in-your-face, gritty opening scene, Donnie, the story’s narrator, comes home to find his sixteen-year-old sister has “starved herself to death.” At this point Vrettos’ story moves back in time, and readers witness the events unfold that lead up to this horrific day. Watching Donnie’s journey is painful; after becoming more and more isolated from those around him, he turns to his older sister as a means of feeling connected. As Karen’s condition worsens, Donnie desperately tries to become invisible in hopes that his warring parents will declare peace and find his sister the help she urgently needs. Eventually, it is Karen’s death and the sharing of his story that sets him free; while painful, telling his story is cathartic, and by the book’s end, readers are left with a sense of hope as Donnie forges a new life for himself. While this story has elements which are often found in realistic fiction for teens, first-time-novelist Vrettos finds a fresh way to capture the emotional complexities of Donnie’s family. And though the illness may belong to his sister, it is Donnie’s voice and his experiences that drive the story, taking readers along on a wildly emotional roller coaster ride.
Readers could research anorexia to determine typical treatments used to combat this illness. After collecting the research, teens could share their finding with each other using a variety of multimedia types.

Other teen novels about dysfunctional families:
Frank, E.R. WRECKED. ISBN 0689873832
Jones, Patrick. NAILED. ISBN 0802780776

By Rose Brock

It's Kind of a Funny Story

Vizzini, Ned. 2006. IT’S KIND OF A FUNNY STORY. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786851961 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

After gaining admittance to Manhattan’s exclusive Executive Pre-Professional High School, Craig Gilner quickly learns that the pressure is simply too much; his grades aren’t up to par, and the constant stress causes him be restless, detached, and to be unable to keep any food down. Turning to drugs to fight his depression, he ultimately chooses to attempt suicide. After reaching out to a suicide hotline, Craig decides to check himself into a psychiatric hospital. During his five day stay, he comes to terms with his life, as well as his mental health and discovers what really matters to him.

While the topic of Vizzini’s semi-autobiographical story is quite serious, he allows his narrator to share the humor he finds in life. Using Craig’s interactions and the budding relationships he forms with the cast of potentially crazy secondary characters, Vizzini also allows his protagonist to draw on these experiences and relationships as a source for healing. The well-paced narrative offers a painful, yet poignant glimpse into a troubled teen’s life.

After reading the novel, teens could write in their journals about their struggles with pressure. After writing, participants could share their stories and collaborate to create a list of strategies to help deal with teen pressure.

Readers could research teen depression to determine typical treatments used to combat this illness. After collecting the research, teens could share their findings with each other using a variety of multimedia.

Other similar young adult novels:
Anderson, Laurie Halse. SPEAK. ISBN 014131088X
Chbosky, Stephen. THE PERKS OF BEING A WALLFLOWER. ISBN 0671027344
McCormick, Patricia. CUT. ISBN 0439324599

By Rose Brock

Crossing Bok Chitto

Tingle, Tim. 2006. CROSSING BOK CHITTO. Ill. by Jeanne Rorex Bridges. Cinco Puntos Press. ISBN 9780938317777 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-6]

Choctaw storyteller Tim Tingle spins this tale in what he calls a new format—a “book way of telling.” The quiet drama unfolds on both sides of the Bok Chitto River in antebellum Mississippi. Choctaw people live on one side, plantation owners and their slaves on the other. By law, slaves who make their way to the Choctaw side cannot be pursued by their owners.

A stone path just beneath the surface of the river facilitates a forbidden friendship between a Choctaw girl, Martha Tom and a slave boy, Little Mo. When Little Mo’s family learns that his mother has been sold and that she will leave them the next day, they are forced to flee. His friend Martha Tom, it turns out, paves the way for their almost magical escape.

Paintings by Jeanne Rorex Bridges, an artist of Cherokee ancestry, fill two pages at once with soft earth tones that mysteriously convey the drama of the story’s final night. This picture book, that celebrates friendship, faith and freedom, provides young readers a satisfying mix of literature, and history. Tingle includes a page on Choctaws today and a section on the tradition of Choctaw storytelling in general and the background for CROSSING BOK CHITTO.

While the events of the story may seem remote to children, the experience of finding a friend should strike a familiar chord. Prompt each reader to reflect on a time when a friend’s actions made a difference. Children can record their experiences in journals, letters, essays, poems or through art.

Another book for young readers in which runaway slaves find sanctuary with Native Americans:
Siegelson, Kim. ESCAPE SOUTH. 0307265048

By Suzy Parchman

Changing Woman and her Sisters: Stories of Goddesses from Around the World

Tchana, Katrin Hyman. 2006. CHANGING WOMAN AND HER SISTERS: STORIES OF GODDESSES FROM AROUND THE WORLD. Ill. by Trina Schart Hyman. New York: Holiday House. ISBN 0823419991 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

Featuring stories of ten distinct goddesses from around the world, daughter-mother team, Tchana and Schart Hyman, introduce readers to these dynamic cultural myths. Tchana retells stories from the folklore of the Navajo, Inuit, Maya, and Fon peoples; from ancient Ireland, Egypt, and Sumer, and also Shinto, Buddhist, and Hindu traditions. In each story, Tchana’s gift is in the retelling; each is rich in legend, allowing these powerful goddesses to illuminate the story through the author’s words. Offering the perfect complement to these dynamic and individualistic tales is Hyman’s exquisite full page color illustrations; ink and acrylic paintings are layered using a collage medium with a variety of found materials such as sheep’s wool, photographs, toilet paper, and cheesecloth--the visual effect of Hyman’s art is truly striking. Source material includes extensive notes by the author and illustrator, an afterword, and a bibliographic entry that details the specific research sources for each goddess.

After reading the novel, teens could select a featured goddess and conduct additional research about that deity. After completing the research, they could create original illustrations, selecting symbols that would be appropriate for their goddess.

Readers could take the story of one of the goddesses in the book and write a reader’s theatre script adaptation. After completing the script, a performance could be given for a small audience.

Muten, Burleigh. GODDESSES: A WORLD OF MYTH AND MAGIC. ISBN 1-841480754

By Rose Brock

A Bad Boy Can Be Good for a Girl

Stone, Tanya Lee. 2006. A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385747020 [Suggested Grade Levels 8-12]

A YA novel in verse, A BAD BOY CAN BE GOOD FOR A GIRL, covers three girls’ sequential relationships with the same (very popular) boy. Each has a different level of sexual experience and a different attitude toward sex, but they share the same romantic fantasy that T.L. might be “the one.” When each is heartbroken by him, they take refuge and revenge in writing warnings for other girls at the high school in the back of a library copy of Judy Blume’s FOREVER. These scribblings make up the end papers of the book and prove that T.L. must have been the most callous and promiscuous teenager to ever stalk high school halls.

Blank verse ensures a fast read, and many girls will be able to identify with the situations and attitudes depicted. There are fairly graphic anatomical descriptions and sexual activity, but Stone never lingers over them. Each protagonist learns and grows from her experience with T.L., but Nicolette perhaps puts is best: “I am too young/ to feel this used up.”

Children can try writing letters to “Dear Abby” in the character’s voice of their choice. Then they can trade letters with a friend and write back with their best advice.

Many of the poems could function as dramatic monologues. Choose one to perform.

Other books about teenage sexuality:
Blume, Judy. FOREVER. ISBN 0671695304
Cart, Michael. LOVE AND SEX: TEN STORIES OF TRUTH. ISBN 0689856687
Sones, Sonya. WHAT MY MOTHER DOESN’T KNOW. ISBN 0689855532

By Julie Brinker

Bella at Midnight

Stanley, Diane. 2006. BELLA AT MIDNIGHT. Ill. by Bagram Ibatoulline. New York: HarperCollins. ISBN 0060775742 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

Familiar fairy tale elements combine for a fresh and compelling plot in this middle grade novel. The almost three hundred page saga plays out in three books: The Thimble, The Ring, and The Slippers of Glass. In each, we learn more about the main characters. First we meet Bella, who enters a class-conscious world under tragic circumstances. Her mother dies in childbirth and her father, a hard-hearted knight, abandons her with a peasant wet nurse and her family. Blissfully ignorant of her noble birth, Bella blooms under the care of a loving family. Meanwhile, we meet Prince Julian, who shares a key experience with Bella. Often overlooked by his royal family, he was cared for by the same wet nurse for a time and maintains an ongoing relationship with Bella’s adopted family.

Add to the pot a long standing war, political intrigue, a benevolent aunt, a social climbing step family, and just the right touch of magic and you have Diane Stanley’s modern celebration of virtue and tenacity. Although her characters suffer along the way, readers will feel confident that a happy ending is in the works. They’ll have to keep turning the pages, however, to see how Stanley deftly ties things up.

Diane Stanley’s varied work makes a fun author study. Collect examples of her books that include biography, picture books and novels for comparing and contrasting. For an interesting extension, let kids browse her website (, particularly the section titled “About the author.”

Other novels by Diane Stanley:
A TIME APART. ISBN 0380810301

By Suzy Parchman

Notes From the Midnight Driver

Sonnenblick, Jordan. 2006. NOTES FROM THE MIDNIGHT DRIVER. New York: Scholastic. ISBN 0439757797 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

In a moment of rage brought on by his parents’ recent break-up, sixteen-year-old Alex gets drunk for the first time, steals his mom’s car and ends up decapitating a lawn gnome as he crashes onto a neighbor’s yard. Alex is arrested and sentenced to 100 hours of community service at a nursing home—a sentence that in Alex’s view is way to harsh. At the nursing home Alex gets assigned to Solomon Lewis, a lonely crotchety elderly man with emphysema. Although their first meeting is less than cordial, it is not long before the odd pair finds a common link through their love of music and guitar playing. As time passes, an honest deep friendship develops between Sol and Alex.

Sonnenblick has infused this first person narrative with humor, sarcasm and teenage angst. This is an enjoyable story with strong unique characters. Sonnenblick wisely balanced Sol’s character, crotchety and lonely, by making him a prankster. Although some readers may find the ending a little too neat, the growth that Alex experiences while serving his “sentence” is remarkable. Even the surprises that Sol slowly reveals about his own life will keep the pages turning. Alex’s very real teenage voice, family problems, and girlfriend issues will resonate with teenagers.

Locate and listen to some of the Jazz and Blues selections mentioned in the book. Invite readers to chose a favorite style of music and create a collage of singers, lyrics to popular songs, etc. Display these creations.

Other books for young adults about intergenerational friendship:
Greene, Patricia Baird. THE SABBATH GARDEN. ISBN 0525674306
Mikaelson, Ben. PETEY. ISBN 0786813369

By S. Zulema Silva Bewley

John, Paul, George & Ben

Smith, Lane. 2006. JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE & BEN. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 1423101146 [Suggested Grade Levels K-5]

With a tongue-in-cheek title reference to the Beatles that only adults will understand, Smith presents an entertaining, slightly irreverent, look at revolutionary history. Readers learn about the early childhood traits that later served these men well and made them famous. Their early antics are hilarious, with Paul Revere, who was a “noisy” lad, shouting across the store to a customer about her great, big, extra-large underwear. “Clever” Ben Franklin was always imparting bits of wisdom until he is begged to “please shut your big yap!” and John Hancock was a “bold” lad who signs his name so big it fills the blackboard. Smith uses a variety of illustration techniques to make the pages look weathered, as though they were painted on wood in the 1700’s. This book will serve as a refreshing bit of levity during a potentially boring history lesson.

Discuss each man’s childhood trait that later helped him make history. Challenge readers to think about their own “unique” traits that might come in handy later in life.

Other books about these revolutionary figures:
Barretta, Gene. NOW & BEN. ISBN 0805079173
Borden, Louise. SLEDS ON BOSTON COMMON. ISBN 0689828128
Longfellow, Henry Wadsworth. PAUL REVERE’S RIDE. ISBN 1563977990
Tripp, Suzanne. GEORGE DID IT. ISBN 0525475605

By Tammy Korns

Endymion Spring

Skelton, Matthew. 2006. ENDYMION SPRING. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385733801 [Suggested Grade Levels 5-9]

Blake Winters was “just an ordinary boy who wasn’t particularly good at reading” until one day his explorations at Oxford led him on an extraordinary adventure. Chosen by a magical book, Blake delves into the mystery of the past and present. This book is rumored to hold “an eye to the future and a tongue to the past” and has long been sought after by scholars and mystics alike. But the story does not unfold in the present alone; the past is integrally woven into the storyline. Telling this story is Endymion Spring, a young apprentice to Gutenberg. Endymion befriends another apprentice, Peter, whose master Fust is mysterious indeed. His precious treasure is the secret behind it all. As these two stories come together, the mystery unfolds and the magic begins. Can this book really hold secrets hidden since the beginning of time?

Skelton weaves historical, literary, and mythological elements into his book ENDYMION SPRING. For example, ‘Fust’ is a reference to Faust (or Faustus) of literary fame and Gutenberg was a sixteenth century inventor whose printing press revolutionized the world. Have readers conduct research on the Internet to find out more about the background story.

Have readers make origami dragons like the one sent to Blake in the book. Instructions can be found here:

Other fantasy novels:
Funke, Cornelia. INKHEART. ISBN 0439531640
Paolini, Christopher. ERAGON. ISBN 0375826688
Pullman, Philip. THE GOLDEN COMPASS. ISBN 0679879242

By Becky Laney

Tour America: A Journey Through Poems and Art

Siebert, Diane. 2006. TOUR AMERICA: A JOURNEY THROUGH POEMS AND ART. Ill. by Stephen T. Johnson. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. ISBN0811850560 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-7]

Siebert’s impressionistic poetry charges along through this tour of interesting places, some well-known and some nearly unknown, across America, and Johnson’s artwork, in many different styles and media, keeps pace beautifully. A box of text about each place extends the learning possibilities, and a simple map outline of the country, the state, and the place anchors each piece geographically. Except for a recurring motif of partial postal cancellations, each page is simply laid out, with the artwork juxtaposed with the poem, text, and map on a white background. Without a table of contents or index, navigation is a little more difficult than it should be, but the “journey” progresses roughly east to west across the northern part of the country, and then back again through the southern states. The book includes author’s note, artist’s note, map with labels and thumbnail illustrations, and a list of art and mediums.

Children may enjoy writing and illustrating a poem about their favorite landmarks or cities.

Divide the US map into sections. Have children work in groups with each searching a section of the map to find as many interesting, funny, or weird place names possible, marking each with a dot or pin. How many can the group find?

Other poetry books by Diane Siebert:
Siebert, Diane. TRAIN SONG. ISBN 0064433404
Siebert, Diane. SIERRA. ISBN 0064434419
Siebert, Diane. HEARTLAND. ISBN 0064432874

Other books about American geography and landmarks:
Sis, Peter. THE TRAIN OF STATES. ISBN 0060578386
Sabuda, Robert. AMERICA THE BEAUTIFUL. ISBN 0689847440

By Julie Brinker

Butterfly Eyes and Other Secrets of the Meadow

Sidman, Joyce. 2006. BUTTERFLY EYES AND OTHER SECRETS OF THE MEADOW. Ill. by Beth Krommes. Boston: Houghton Mifflin. ISBN 061856313X [Suggested Grade Levels 2-6]

Sidman’s BUTTERFLY EYES focuses on the ecosystem of the meadow with poems posed as riddles, followed by narrative explanations. Here she considers the grasshopper, rabbit, fox, spittlebug, butterfly, snake, toad, goldfinch, hawk, and deer, as well as the plant life of the meadow. Pairs of poem riddles are followed by the riddle answers on two pages of scientific facts in prose in this beautifully planned and executed poetry book. A variety of poem forms such as letter and apology poems, concrete or shape poems, and even a pantoum are included. Outstanding scratchboard illustrations perfectly complement the book’s exceptional format. A helpful glossary is provided.

Bring a bug in a jar (with air holes) for children to study and describe. They can create thumbprint insect characters or draw pictures to accompany their writing. If the local natural history museum has guest speakers available, invite them to visit and bring inspect specimens to show.

Check out Joyce Sidman’s web site for in-depth guides full of activities for using her books with children. She provides information, photographs, links, and even printable resources like a lovely bookmark with an original poem about books to share.

Other books of insect-related poetry:
Bulion, Leslie. HEY THERE, STINK BUG! ISBN 158089304X
Singer, Marilyn. TURTLE IN JULY. ISBN 0590443496
Singer, Marilyn. FIREFLIES AT MIDNIGHT. ISBN 0689824920

By Sylvia M. Vardell

The Mailbox

Shafer, Audrey. 2006. THE MAILBOX. New York: Delacorte Press. ISBN 0385733445 [Suggested Grade Levels 4-8]

After years in foster homes, 12-year-old Gabe is unsure of what to think about being sent to live with his uncle Vernon. Gabe soon realizes that in spite of the crusty old Vietnam veteran’s eccentric habits, life with him is vastly better than being in a foster home. When Gabe returns home from school one day and finds uncle Vernon dead, he is paralyzed with fear at the thought of returning to the foster system, so does nothing, tells no one. When Vernon’s body disappears the next day, Gabe is plunged into a suspenseful relationship with a mysterious letter writer who corresponds with him via letters left in the mailbox. Readers see how Gabe’s life changes as he becomes more connected to those around him and eventually learns the identity of the letter writer and his relationship with Gabe’s uncle. The story comes to a satisfying conclusion as Gabe learns more about his uncle’s experience in the war and realizes that support exists for him from other caring adults in his life.

Discuss what life would be like living in the foster care system. What does it take to make up a family – two people, more? Discuss what life would be like on a daily basis if one were suddenly left all alone.

Other books for children about boys in difficult situations coping with the lack of a parent:
Auch, M.J. WING NUT. ISBN 0805075313

By Tammy Korns

Ballet of the Elephants

Schubert, Leda. 2006. BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS. Ill. by Robert Andrew Parker. New Milford: Roaring Brook. ISBN 1596430753 [Suggested Grade Levels K-3]

Based on an actual incident, BALLET OF THE ELEPHANTS is the fascinating story of the Circus Polka, composed by Stravinsky, choreographed by Ballanchine, and performed by Ringling’s troupe of fifty ballerinas and fifty elephants which took place in New York City in 1942. Parker’s swirling watercolor illustrations heighten the surreal nature of the spectacle, and Schubert’s text is simple and delicate as she weaves biographical details about the participants, descriptions of the preparations including rehearsals, and the actual performance. Special attention is paid to Madoc, the largest of the Indian elephants and Vera Zorina, the featured dancer.

Extensive back matter gives further factual information about the event, including historical photographs, and includes a full bibliography. Booklist’s review concludes, “[T]his book offers much to talk about: the public circus and the issues of animal rights.”

The issue of animal rights is an important topic worthy of discussion, even for young readers. What do children know about animal rights? What do they think about this issue? Do they think the elephants in this incident were treated well?

Play Stravinsky’s “Circus Polka” ballet music and see how it moves the children. Alternately, they can draw to the music and let it influence their artwork.

Books about the star elephant in this circus:

By Julie Brinker

An Island Grows

Schaefer, Lola M. 2006. AN ISLAND GROWS. Ill. by Cathie Felstead. New York: Greenwillow. ISBN 0066239311 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-2]

In less than one hundred words, this special picture book beautifully conveys--for the youngest of readers--the process by which a volcanic island takes shape and begins supporting life. Lola Schaefer narrates the geologic event in the simplest of terms: “Deep, deep/ beneath the sea . . . / Stone breaks. / Water quakes. / Magma glows. / Volcano blows.”

A large typeface, short sentences, and rhyming format make the text accessible to emerging readers, but the Schaefer’s sparse poetic language will resonate with any audience. Cathie Felstead’s vivid collages, reminiscent of Leo Lionni yet entirely new, explode in a highly stylized riot of tropical color that demands attention. Readers see the island take shape step by step. Finally, the visual sequence culminates with a folk art glimpse at island life--just as the text reminds us that the process which formed this island will be repeated. Another volcanic island is about to be formed not far away.

The book’s final page supports its nonfiction content, providing additional information on how volcanic islands grow and suggesting further reading on the subject.

During an initial reading discuss unfamiliar words. Then ask children to participate in a second reading by repeating the rhyming text. Develop hand motions to engage children and cement their understanding of any new vocabulary. Invite readers to share the story as readers theater.

Other primary books on volcanic islands or volcanoes in general:
Lessac, Frane. MY LITTLE ISLAND. ISBN 0064431460
Lewis, Thomas P. HILL OF FIRE. ISBN 0064440400
Prager, Ellen J. VOLCANO: JUMP INTO SCIENCE. ISBN 0792282019

By Suzy Parchman

The Cat with the Yellow Star: Coming of Age in Terezin

Rubin, Susan Goldman with Ela Weisberger. 2006. THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR: COMING OF AGE IN TEREZIN. New York: Holiday House ISBN 0823418316 [Suggested Grade Levels 3-8]

During World War II, Hitler sent 10,632 children to Terezin, a Czech concentration camp. THE CAT WITH THE YELLOW STAR vividly recounts the experiences of a child who survived her stay.

Ela Stein, who entered Terezin at the age of eleven, shares her story with children in this haunting picture book. Starting with Kristallnacht, in 1938, the book outlines the events that led to Ela’s internment with her family in 1942, recalls her life there until liberation three and half years later and summarizes her life after the war. Arranged into ten chapters, the text is broken up by plentiful photographs from the period and examples of surviving artifacts like Ela’s registration card, a ghetto health record card, postcards, special ghetto money and an example of a Star of David patch labeled “Jude”. Even more revealing, perhaps, are Ela’s paintings and drawings from Terezin.

This unique memoir, which takes its name from Ela’s part in a children’s opera staged at Terezin, celebrates beauty in the bleakest of times. Thorough resources and an index will help connect young researchers with the information they seek.

Children can participate in a Holocaust memorial being organized by the Holocaust Museum in Houston (or elsewhere) by creating handmade butterflies. For more information, see

Other books about Terezin:
Auerbacher, Inge. I AM A STAR: CHILD OF THE HOLOCAUST. ISBN 0140364013,

By Suzy Parchman

A Brief Chapter in My Impossible Life

Reinhardt, Dana. 2006. A BRIEF CHAPTER IN MY IMPOSSIBLE LIFE. New York: Random House. ISBN 0385746989 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

Simone’s life is that of a typical teenager. She has a crush on a great guy who, of course, spends all of his time with a girl he claims is just a friend. Her best friend has a boyfriend that consumes all of her time and thoughts. Her younger brother, a freshman at the same school, is growing up and growing cooler than she is. But one difference between Simone’s life and other teenagers is the fact that she is adopted. Her parents never kept her adoption a secret, but it is not something Simone has ever dwelt on. Though she looks different than her parents and brother, they are her family and she is content in this family. However, a call from her birth mother Rivka forces Simone to address the issue of her adoption and whether or not she wants to meet the woman who gave her up sixteen years ago.

What follows is a period of Simone’s life in which she learns about love, trust, acceptance, and what it means to be a daughter; a time that causes her to question her atheistic views and ponder faith and the existence of God. Simone’s openness and honesty about everything from the mundane to life-changing decisions makes her accessible to readers. Dana Reinhardt beautifully captures the heart and essence of this teenage girl.

Simone’s birth mother Rivka is Jewish and throughout the book Simone learns more about Jewish customs and traditions. Encourage readers to pick a religion they are unfamiliar with and learn more about the religion.

Other novels about adoption:
Bongiorno, Patti. TANGLED HEARTS. ISBN 0971581916
Casselman, Grace. A WALK IN THE PARK. ISBN 1894917197

By Mary D. Buckalo

King Dork

Portman, Frank. 2006. KING DORK: New York: Random House. ISBN 0385732910 [Suggested Grade Levels 9-12]

Tom Henderson deconstructs his high school social structure with bold wit and exquisite sarcasm. Even though he is on the outside, Tom, self-named King Dork, retains all of the insights of being on the inside. He shares the painfully hilarious views of his microcosm to our vast enjoyment and enlightenment. KING DORK is a study in tone – pitch perfect.

Tom’s first person narrative is excruciatingly funny and forthright and compels the action in a random, twisted fashion. His father died in a car crash when he was eight, but he has always sensed there were complications not disclosed. Even though he has read CATCHER IN THE RYE several times and is not a cult follower of Holden Caulfield, he finds various clues in his father’s copy of the book that may lead to solving the mystery of his death and or the meaning of his life.

Frank Portman is a real-life rock musician and it shows. Tom often digresses about his potential band names, cover art, and song lyrics. He is vastly knowledgeable about rock music which adds a certain dorky reality to Tom’s character. The book contains a “bandography” of band names considered by Tom and Sam from August through December and a glossary containing vocabulary words from his English class with rankings of rock bands. Portman has also established a web site to attract teens with various band information and discographies.

Invite readers to compile their own discographies, design their own album cover, logo, and create stage names.

Check out the Web site created by the author about the novel:

Acito, Marc. 2005. HOW I PAID FOR COLLEGE. ISBN 076791841X

By Cay Geisler

The Little Red Hen

Pinkney, Jerry. 2006. THE LITTLE RED HEN. New York: Penguin. ISBN 0803729359 [Suggested Grade Levels PreK-3]

When the little red hen finds some strange seeds, she scoops them up and takes them home. Learning the seeds are wheat seeds, the little red hen plants them. Before she does this though, she asks the other animals, the short brown dog, the thin gray rat, the tall black goat, and the round pink pig, if they will help her. All of the animals decline to help with a “Not I.” The little red hen attends the seeds, harvests the wheat, and takes the grain to the mill, each time asking the animals for help and being rejected. “A very busy hen was she!”

In this classic telling of THE LITTLE RED HEN, the Golden Rule message rings as loudly as ever. What gives this story a freshness are the beautiful illustrations. Five-time Caldecott Honor winner Jerry Pinkney delivers another book with page after page of intricately detailed drawings that bring the story to life. With graphite, ink, and watercolor, THE LITTLE RED HEN is a “joy of joys.”

Find a recipe that has enough ingredients as there are children in the group. Have each child help by adding an ingredient. Use lines from the book such as “Who will help me…?” When the product is made, each helper will be rewarded for his/her willingness to help.

Other books illustrated by Jerry Pinkney:
Anderson, Hans Christian. THE UGLY DUCKLING. ISBN 068815932X
Flournoy, Valerie. THE PATCHWORK QUILT. ISBN 0803700970
Lester, Julius. JOHN HENRY. ISBN 0803716060

By Mary D. Buckalo

Life As We Knew It

Pffefer, Susan Beth. 2006. LIFE AS WE KNEW IT. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152058265 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

When an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it off its orbit, life for sixteen-year-old Miranda is turned upside down. Worldwide catastrophes ensue: earthquakes, tsunamis, erupting volcanoes, and drastic weather changes. Miranda and her family survive the tsunamis because they live in Pennsylvania away from the coastlines, but survival becomes increasingly more difficult as environmental conditions worsen. Priorities shift when Miranda must contend with food rationing, living with her family in one room, and doing without heat, electricity, computers, telephones, and even school. Hunger and cold are a constant threat. Because communication with the outside world is difficult, Miranda loses daily contact with her friends but through occasional visits learns of their personal struggles and internal coping mechanisms. Miranda suffers many privations, but through it all, her greatest struggle is holding on to hope in a seemingly hopeless world.

Told in the form of Miranda’s diary, this absorbing and thought-provoking novel will take the reader on a ten-month journey of despair sprinkled with small victories and moments of honest introspection. Miranda’s teenage voice and perspective are authentic. Readers will be inspired by the courage of the characters and the strength of familial bonds. Pfeffer has written a true page-turner that offers a glimmer of hope for a better life in its final pages.

Invite readers to put themselves in Miranda’s shoes after the asteroid hit. Encourage them to write about the one thing they would miss the most about their former lives.

Other books about young people surviving disasters:
Armstrong, Jennifer and Nancy Butcher. THE KINDLING. ISBN 0060294115
Weaver, Will. MEMORY BOY. ISBN 006440854X

By S. Zulema Silva Bewley

The True Story of Stellina

Pericoli, Matteo. 2006. THE TRUE STORY OF STELLINA. New York: Knopf. ISBN 0375832734 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

This true story about a baby finch discovered beneath a light on a busy New York street corner depicts the classic tale of a loyal pet and its owner. One day amongst the “ROOOOOOAAAAAARRRR!” of traffic, Pericoli’s wife, Holly, heard a “CHEEP.” After waiting hours for this grounded fledgling to be rescued by its mother, Holly took the bird home where they both sat looking at each other, and wondering, “And now?” Holly named the bird Stellina, and thus began an eight-year long friendship between woman and bird.

Pericoli recounts this unusual event with softness and wonderment. His muted watercolors of a diminutive Stellina in atypical surroundings are captivating against the white pages. The stretching of certain words to accentuate sound or depth or texture reflect the amazement and privilege he and his wife felt at having such a guest in their home for such a long time. Although the story ends with Stellina’s death, Pericoli implies that she is still shining down on his household, as her Italian name translates to “little star.”

What does it take to care for a wild bird? To better appreciate the rescue and long life of Stellina, readers can research about the care of birds as pets. Introduce other stories of unusual or note-worthy pets.

Books about caring for birds:
Blackaby, Susan. BIRD FOR YOU: CARING FOR YOUR BIRD. ISBN 1404801170
Bozzon, Linda. MY FIRST BIRD. ISBN 076602749X

True stories about loyal pets:
Collard, Sneed B. SHEP: OUR MOST LOYAL DOG. ISBN 158536259X
Hodgkins, Fran. THE CAT OF STRAWBERRY HILL. ISBN 0892726849

By Rebecca McKee


Pennypacker, Sara. 2006. CLEMENTINE. Ill. by Marla Frazee. New York: Hyperion. ISBN 0786838825 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-4]

Pennypacker’s charming chapter book for young readers is very much a contemporary, urban mining of Ramona Quimby ore. (In one scene, hoping to be kept home sick from school, Clementine tells her mother she’s suffering from “the heartbreak of sore irises.”) Booklist’s starred review concludes, “A delightful addition to any beginning chapter-book collection.”

Especially refreshing is the urban setting—Clementine’s father is the superintendent of a large apartment building with a pigeon problem—which presents Clementine with a variety of challenges to navigate each day. Frazee’s pen-and-ink sketches, like the one depicting Clementine balancing on the edge of her kitchen sink to look out the basement window to look at the shoes of the people passing by, are accurate and funny, and perfectly capture the energy and attitude of the spunky and independent protagonist.

The children can discuss whether there was ever a time when they did something with the best intentions (like Clementine cutting off Margaret’s hair), but it didn’t end up well. What happened? What did they do about it? How did they feel about it?

Children can draw an illustration of their favorite scene from the book using markers like the ones Clementine’s mom likes to use.

Other beginning chapter books with feisty heroines:
Cleary, Beverly. RAMONA THE PEST. ISBN 0688217214
McDonald, Megan. JUDY MOODY. ISBN 0763612316

Other beginning chapter books by Sara Pennypacker:
Pennypacker, Sara. STUART’S CAPE. ISBN 0439301815
Pennypacker, Sara. STUART GOES TO SCHOOL. ISBN 0439301831

By Julie Brinker

Bread and Roses, Too

Paterson, Katherine. 2006. BREAD AND ROSES, TOO. New York: Clarion. ISBN 9780618654796. [Suggested Grade Levels 5-8]

Based on a historical event of the “Bread and Roses” strike of 1912 in Lawrence, Massachusetts, BREAD AND ROSES, TOO, recounts the injustice of the industrial revolution regarding its workers and the need for the Union to support its members. Set in the streets and tenements, it is a powerful portrait of poverty and hunger. Jake Beale, a young a mill worker, participates in the strike and is subsequently forced to live in the streets and steal food and money in order to survive. Rosa Serutti’s mother and sister are mill workers who have chosen to strike even if it brings hardship. When concerned parents in the town send their children to cities in the region who support the Union, Jake, an orphan, sneaks aboard the train and convinces Rosa to let him be her “brother.” She takes pity on him, and the two join forces for the duration of the strike.

In the novel, Paterson’s character Rosa is the one who creates the sign that reads
“We Want Bread, And We Want Roses, Too,” the slogan that eventually gave the strike its name. Read the “Bread and Roses” protest song written by the Union and discuss the phrase’s significance.

Other books about the immigrant experience:
Freedman, Russell. IMMIGRANT KIDS. ISBN 0590465651
Hurwitz, Johanna. FARAWAY SUMMER. ISBN 0380732564
Sandler, Martin W. IMMIGRANTS. ISBN 0064467449

Other books about the labor unions:
Bartoletti, Susan Campbell. KIDS ON STRIKE. ISBN 0395888921
Meltzer, Milton. BREAD AND ROSES: THE STRUGGLE OF AMERICAN LABOR, 1865-1915. ISBN 0735102163

By Becky Laney

Here There Be Dragons

Owen, James. A. 2006. HERE THERE BE DRAGONS. New York: Simon & Schuster. ISBN 1416912274 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

When Professor Sigurdsson is murdered on the fifteenth of March 1917, it is up to three Oxfordians--John, Jack, and Charles--to complete the professor’s unfinished business. Their task is to assume responsibility of the world’s greatest literary treasure: the Imaginarium Geographica. Pursued by Sigurdsson’s murderers, the three are led by a mysterious guide, Bert, to his ship the Indigo Dragon. But the adventures are just beginning as they set sail for a land most would never dream of reaching: the Archipelago of Dreams which “all the lands that have ever existed in myth and legend, fable and fairy tale, can be found within.”

As our heroes find out, however, these imaginary realms are just as real and dangerous as their own. Their adventures sailing the seas, meeting dragons--along with plenty of other memorable characters--might just inspire each to pen their own unforgettable stories one day for these three are none other than J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams.

RELATED BOOKS Owen draws from a rich historical legacy of fantasy—Jules Verne, Lewis Carroll, William Shakespeare, H.G. Wells, etc., in addition to Tolkien, Lewis, and Williams. Discuss Owen’s use of literary allusions. Did his allusions detract from or enhance his novel?

The Inklings were a gathering of friends most of them teachers at Oxford University, many of them creative writers and lovers of imaginative literature who met regularly. The three key figures of the Inklings were J.R.R. Tolkien, C.S. Lewis, and Charles Williams. Use the Internet to research these literary legends.

Other parallel fantasy novels include:
Beddor, Frank. THE LOOKING GLASS WARS. ISBN 0803731531
Skelton, Matthew. ENDYMION SPRING. ISBN 0385733801

By Becky Laney

Dear Miss Breed: True Stories of the Japanese American Incarceration During World War II and a Librarian Who Made a Difference


In the days following Pearl Harbor, Miss Breed, a children’s librarian in San Diego, became concerned for her Japanese-American patrons. Having served the community for years, she knew what few would acknowledge: they were loyal to America. Their ethnicity did not make them the enemy. She began writing essays in support of their cause and opposing the national position of the time. But perhaps her greatest gift was that of continued friendship. As the Japanese-Americans in San Diego were being shipped to various internment camps, she said goodbye at the train station and gave each one a postcard. She corresponded with many on a regular basis. She sent books and other small treats as well. These acts of kindness may seem small, but they made a world of difference to her children.

After Pearl Harbor, it was acceptable to discriminate against Japanese Americans. Popular opinion held that they were the enemy and we tried to dehumanize them. Going against popular sentiment, Miss Breed took an openly defensive stand. What lessons can be learned from her attitude and actions?

In the introduction, a connection is made between Pearl Harbor and September 11, 2001. We boast as a nation that we have outgrown our prejudices, but have we? Discuss the dangers and implications of racial profiling. Can injustice in the name of patriotism ever be right?

Books about the Japanese-American experience during World War II:
Cooper, Michael. FIGHTING FOR HONOR. 0395913756
Stanley, Jerry. I AM AN AMERICAN. ISBN 0517885514
Tunnell, Michael. THE CHILDREN OF TOPAZ. ISBN 0823412393

By Becky Laney

Summer of Kings

Nolan, Han. 2006. SUMMER OF KINGS. San Diego: Harcourt. ISBN 0152051082 [Suggested Grade Levels 7-12]

The summer is 1963, and Martin Luther King, Jr. will make his “I have a dream” speech. King-Roy Johnson, in need of a home to escape trouble in Alabama, comes to live with the Youngs in New York. These are Esther’s’ “Kings.” In this coming of age story, Nolan beautifully depicts the awkward feelings of a fourteen-year-old girl who, with the help of her friend, King-Roy, a suspected murderer, comes to understand her world and her place in it.

King-Roy is bitter that he is in trouble with the law. He sees the white policeman who turned a fire hose on him and his younger brother and sister as the perpetrator of violence He reads Martin Luther King and Gandhi’s writings about non-violent rebellion. He also reads Malcolm X’s exhortations to make violent rebellion which he finds more compelling.

Esther connects with King-Roy immediately and considers him her special friend. She would like to think their relationship is a romantic one, but comes to realize how difficult such a relationship would be for him. Esther sees racial prejudice through King-Roy's eyes, and as readers, we experience her naiveté and his bitterness. He teaches her about Gandhi and Malcolm X and she is inspired by Gandhi’s words to be the change that you wish to see in the world. Her insight and growth are inspiring to witness. This is historical fiction at its best.

Invite readers to divide into two groups: one will research Martin Luther King’s ideas about Civil Rights and the other will research Malcolm X’s. Invite them to debate these views.

By the same author:
Nolan, Han. WHEN WE WERE SAINTS. ISBN 0152163719.

By Cay Geisler

Roxie and the Hooligans

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. 2006. ROXIE AND THE HOOLIGANS. New York: Atheneum. ISBN 1416902430 [Suggested Grade Levels 2-5]

Roxie Warbler is proud of her heritage. Niece to a great explorer, Uncle Dangerfoot, Roxie has listened to his daring escapades and that of his friend, Lord Thistlebottom. She has read Lord Thistlebottom’s survival guide, Book of Pitfalls and How to Survive Them, many times and relishes the idea of her own possible adventures. But in her real world, Roxie is not brave and daring. Afraid of thunder and lightening, she is also bullied by a group of hooligans who delight in teasing her about the size of her ears. She dreads school because of their torment.

Things change when the hooligans and Roxie accidentally fall into a full dumpster headed for the ocean. There the children are thrown into the sea and must swim to a nearby island inhabited by two bank robbers on the lam. Soon Roxie is calling on Lord Thistlebottom’s advice as she keeps the hooligans and herself out of range of the robbers. Lord Thistlebottom’s mantra “Don’t Panic” serves Roxie well, as she outwits the robbers and brings her new friends, the hooligans, to safety.

Phyllis Reynolds Naylor has written more than a hundred books for children and in this deft adventure story, she has created a sensible heroine who faces her fears and begins to understand true bravery. Roxie’s levelheaded thinking earns her the respect of the bullies and turns her tale from a simple book about bullies to a funny, first-rate adventure story.

Invite the children to make up another Roxie adventure -- this time with the hooligans as her friends.

Parallel book by the same author:
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. MAUDIE IN THE MIDDLE. ISBN 0689313950

By Cay Geisler