Wednesday, November 24, 2010

The Boys by Jeff Newman

Told entirely through picture, this is a poignant story of a boy who's left out of the other kids games. He finds it easier to fit in with three old men who sit on the bench and watch, rather than get involved. Eventually, the old men decide that just sitting and watching isn't enough. They revert to their childhood antics in order to include the left out child.

Beautifully illustrated in a retro style. The zany pictures would be enough to keep children entertained for viewing on their own. They would likely miss the overall arc of the story, so it's a great opportunity to engage a child in discussion about feeling left out.

[click here to see if it's available]

by Scott

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

For Octavia Boone seventh grade starts out well enough but when Octavia’s mother, a life-long seeker of faith, joins the Fellowship of the Redeemer church, her world rapidly changes. For her artist father, Henry David Thoreau seems to have had all the answers but her mother finds very different answers and wants Octavia to accept them as well. Then, when her parent’s disparate world views collide and Octavia is forced to live with her mother and a couple of fellow “Redeemers” Octavia’s anger overflows. Octavia must confront her own prejudices, explore her feelings about God, and discover a way to move forward without her ideal life in tact. Reader, Ellen Grafton, does an excellent job giving voice to Octavia’s emotional turmoil. Her pacing will keep readers engaged as will her variety in tone and pitch. Listeners will quickly connect with this engaging young character and will come away hoping for an encore.

[click here to see if it's available]

by Deanna

Monday, November 8, 2010

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud

Nathaniel is a 12 year old magician's apprentice, which means: he is being raised by a complete stranger, is forced to live in a small attic room and has the power to summon deadly demons of incredible power. Usually 12-year old magician's apprentices are content to summon small mites and minor imps- demons that are easily controlled. Nathaniel, however, is an ambitious one, so he summons the powerful and willful djinni, Bartimaeus. He then sends him on mission to steal an artifact from one of the most powerful magicians in England. What could go wrong? Oh did I mention that powerful magicians generally eat young apprentices for breakfast?

Nathaniel is a great character, but the real gem in this book is Bartimaeus the wise-cracking djinni. Bartimaeus is part shape-shifting action hero, part comedian and part celebrity insider for all of history (it's seems like he's met just about every important person who has ever lived). Combine Bartimaeus with an awesome magic filled adventure, conniving magicians and a deadly plot and you end up with one of the best fantasy stories that I've read in long time. Give this one to kids who love magic, adventure and good books grades 4+.

[Click here to see if it's available]

Also check out this interview with author Jonathan Stroud!

by Patrick