Archive for July, 2010

The Popularity Papers by Amy Ignatow

The Popularity PapersKnow a girl who likes Amelia’s Notebooks or Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Introduce them to The Popularity Papers, a new highly illustrated story (not _quite_ a paneled graphic novel) about the tribulations of best friends Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang as they try to learn how to be popular by infiltrating the various cliques in their 5th grade class. Their secret observations are to be written down (or drawn) and shared in their Learn/Improve notebook, shown to nobody but themselves.

Their first experiments are an unmitigated failure–Lydia almost bleaches herself bald, neither girl can figure out how to knit and their get-a-cellphone plan backfires dramatically. The worm soon turns, however. Musical Lydia rocks at the talent show, bookish Julie finds unexpected success at field hockey. They both make friends with different popular girls, and find themselves on the opposite sides of a campaign for class president–but will a single mistake/betrayal of trust ruin their friendship forever?

Posted by: Sarah

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The Billionaire’s Curse by Richard Newsome

Would you consider inheriting a fortune to be a curse? For thirteen year old Gerald Wilkins inheriting his great-aunt’s estate appears to be. He had to miss his school holiday trip, his relatives all hate him, except for his parents who have abandoned him to go sail on his yacht, he’s trapped in his mansion by the paparazzi, a villain who smells of bleach is trying to get information from him and then kill him, he has his great-aunt’s possible murder to solve, and a missing diamond to try to find. The Billionaire’s Curse, the first in the Archer Legacy trilogy, starts out with the theft of a priceless diamond from a museum in a classic locked-room mystery. It goes on to follow Gerald’s adventures, which he embarks on with the assistance of two new friends Sam and Ruby, whom he meets when they rescue him from the bleach-smelling villain. Their adventures take them to secret passages under the museum, sneaking into exclusive clubs and elegant country estates, climbing walls in crumbling towers and entering creepy crypts. Gerald Wilkins is part Indiana Jones, part billionaire boy detective, and the story is a page-turning mystery adventure that will interest pre-teen and teenage boys and girls. This excellent debut mystery has won Richard Newsome Australia’s inaugural Text Publishing Young Adult Writing Prize. Fans of the 39 Clues series or anyone who enjoys a good mystery will want to read The Billionaire’s Curse and its sequels.

Posted by: Julie

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Emma Dilemma and the New Nanny by Patricia Hermes

Emma Dilemma and the New NannyEmma really loves her pet ferret, Marmaduke, but unfortunately her mother does not. When Marmaduke escapes from his cage, yet again, and is discovered in Mom’s mattress, that is just about the final straw! Mom has threatened that the ferret will be taken back to the pet store if there is one more incident! Emma promises that she can be responsible. Meanwhile, the new nanny, Annie, has arrived and she is not like any of the previous nannies much to the children’s delight. But with a family of five children, along with a dog and a ferret, trouble seems to always be brewing! Will Annie O’Reilly prove that she can be the nanny that will finally last?

Posted by: Wendy

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The Patterson Puppies and the Rainy Day by Leslie Patricelli

Patterson Puppies and the Rainy DayWell if you were worried that kids would stop using their imaginations with all the gadgets and computers and TV’s in the world, rest assured that IMAGINATION LIVES! This fun and lively story shows how kids, well puppies, can make a rainy day into a day full of fun. Since the puppies could not go out in the rain, they first tried all sorts of things to keep themselves busy – Andy read his favorite dinosaur book for the fifty-first time; Penelope sorted her hair clips into neat little rows; Zack tried on every superhero costume he had (he even put his underwear on his head!); and Petra told all her stuffed animals their favorite stories and put them to bed. NOW WHAT?? After wishing it was sunny, someone came up with the idea that they could pretend to be at the beach and even pretend to be on a pirate ship in the ocean in their own living room (one small problem . . . they flooded the room, but they mopped it up and fans did the rest to blow the carpet dry). With all that wind from the fans, it was a little cold, and so they decided to bundle up in their sweaters and hats and when mom brought in the popcorn and the bowl tipped over, the fans blew the popcorn and . . . instant SNOW! Of course, new snowy adventures await! Never a dull moment in the Patterson house. Just goes to show that if you just use your imagination, a rainy day turns into whatever kind of day you want it to be.

Posted by: Mary

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Shake, Rattle and Turn That Noise Down: How Elvis shook up music, me and Mom by Mark Alan Stamaty

Shake, Rattle and Turn That Noise DownI remember well the evening that Elvis first waggled his pelvis across the television screens of America. We were having dinner at my aunt’s house and my older cousin was fidgeting and clock watching through the entire meal. She was pretty disruptive. With 12 kids between both our families, things could get fairly chaotic. Generally, only blood could bring dinner to a halt. For one tween to upset our unusually placid parents was pretty amazing.

Elvis Presley could do that to a kid. He did it to my cousin and he did to Mark Stamaty. Not to mention Marks’ mother who like so many other parents of her time saw Elvis and his ilk leading our nation’s youth down the road to perdition.

Stamaty’s slim, graphic book about his transformation from “good boy” to Elvis impersonator is funny, nostalgic and a very basic primer about the birth of rock ‘n roll. Ah, to be bad in the day when Elvis Presley was the biggest menace threatening our sons and daughters.
Being a political cartoonist by trade, his illustrations are first rate. He has a knack for capturing facial nuance. The graphic format lends itself well to telling a longish story in just.

Posted by: Eileen

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Emma Jean Lazarus Fell in Love by Lauren Tarshis

Emma-Jean Lazarus  Fell in LoveEmma Jean is in 7th grade and up until recently she only observed the behavior of her classmates. She didn’t actually interact with them. Emma Jean is an unusual girl. She is very intelligent and logical and she is a problem solver. She became friends with a group of girls when she decided to help Colleen who she found crying in the bathroom at school one day. Her solution to Colleen’s problem did not turn out exactly as planned (read Emma Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree) but the friendships have blossomed. Now, spring fever is in the air and the friends decide they will go to the Spring Fling dance. Her friend Colleen gets an anonymous note in her locker and asks Emma Jean to find out which boy likes her. Complicating Emma Jean’s life is the fact that she too has succumbed to spring fever. Much to her surprise, she seems to have a crush on a 7th grade basketball player, a very nice boy but not a very logical match. On the home front, she innocently overhears her mother’s boyfriend making plans to move to California to teach. She thinks that this is a very bad decision because he is madly in love with her mother. Emma Jean is a doer and a problem solver so she steps right up to the challenges.

This is a good book about friends, friendship and relationships and the joys and angst of 7th grade. Recommended for Gr. 5-8.

Posted by: Fran

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Polly’s Pink Pajamas by Vivian French

Polly's Pink PajamasReminiscent of Hannah and the Seven Dresses, Polly is the star of a new picture book. Polly loves her pink pajamas and could wear them all the time. But when she gets invited to a party, she must find something to wear. She decides to borrow clothes from some friends, but none of them fit quite right. She almost skips the party because of the lack of something to wear. However, she learns it is a special kind of party and has the perfect thing to wear after all!

Posted by: Liz

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Guardians of Ga’Hoole: The Capture by Kathryn Lasky

Guardians of Ga'Hoole: The CaptureThis book reminded me a lot of the Erin Hunter Warrior’s series, except about owls not cats. Soren is a barn owl who is kidnapped from his home and forced to work in an orphanage. He soon realizes that they are being forced to behave in ways no owl should. Soon, the other owls are all brainwashed into behaving unlike any owls Soren has ever met. He is determined to find out what is really going on and with some help from other owls, who have not been brainwashed, manages to do so. He and some friends manage to escape. Together they decide to find the Guardians of Ga’Hoole, who they hope can help them. This was merely the introduction of the story, but Lasky is a fabulous storyteller and sets the stage nicely for what I am sure will be subsequent action paced adventures. And stay tuned for the movie based on the book that is coming out in September 2010.

Posted by: Kate

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Finally by Wendy Mass

FinallyIn this companion novel to 11 Birthdays, we find out what happens when Rory Swenson turns 12. She has been keeping a list of all the things her parents told her she could do once she finally hit that magical age like getting her ears pierced, drinking coffee, staying home alone, babysitting and so much more! But things do not go as she planned and soon Rory learns that maybe all those things she thought she was missing out on aren’t so great. With a tinge of magic, Finally charts what happens when you finally turn 12 and all the things that can go oh so wrong, and so right!

Posted by: Kate

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