2012 Reviews by Library: appleton

bookcover
Author: James Patterson

This is really a unique book for James Patterson. It's not a graphic novel, by definition, but it is full of sketches and doodles that add a graphic novel quality to the book. This is a story about a boy named Rafe who is starting middle school and seems to only be noticed by the school bully, "Miller the Killer." After the first school assembly, Rafe makes a promise to break all the rules in the student handbook (without hurting anyone) by the end of the school year. While the story deals with some heavy issues, it does it with great humor and fun drawings along the way.

I highly recommend this book to students from grade 6-8. It's a great pick for reluctant readers too.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

The Princess Plot

bookcover
Author: Kirsten Boie

In The Princess Plot, a German bestseller, Jenna is recruited to play the role of Princess Malena of Scandia in a new movie. She becomes suspicious when she finds herself impersonating the princess at a public event. What has happened to the real princess? A subplot involving rebels looking for equal rights in Scandia adds to the excitement.

Recommended for 5th grade and up.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Maze of Bones

bookcover
Author: Rick Riordan

Orphans Amy and Dan Cahill are shocked when their jet-setting grandmother Grace Cahill passes away, but even more shocked during the Will reading when they are offered either a million dollars or one of thirty-nine clues. The clue hunt will take them all over the world in search of a secret that will make its finder the most powerful person in the world. The Maze of Bones is only the first of eleven books in the 39 Clues series. The audiobook is fantastically read by David Pittu. A great series to start for long car rides.

5th - 7th grade

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Crow Call

bookcover
Title: Crow Call
Author: Lois Lowry

Young Liz is excited to be on her first hunting adventure with her dad who has just returned home from war; but she is also uneasy: her father has been gone so long that he and she are practically strangers. There are other things to get used to also: her new, too-large plaid flannel shirt from the dry goods store, the unfamiliarity of the breakfast fare on the menu at the diner, and the chilling changes that November brings to the woods Liz walks with her father, who, with gun in hand, is intent on killing the crows who have been eating the farm crops. Liz has been put in charge of luring the crows with a crow call whistle. It makes her sad to think that the crows will have to die, and she confides this and other feelings to her father as they make their way through to a hillside clearing. When the time comes for calling the crows, Liz is so delighted interacting with the birds that have gathered that her father holds his fire to share in her delight.

Read more»
Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

The Burning Bridge

bookcover
Author: John Flanagan

Book 2 of the Ranger’s Apprentice series

This sequel is packed with exciting adventures. Will, his friend Horace, and the Ranger Gilan, travel to Celtica, a neighboring country to Arluen, to ask for their help in the battle against the rebel warlord Morgarath. When they arrive in Celtica they find all the people gone. They encounter a girl, Evanlyn, hiding from the Wargals. She describes how the Celts were either killed or enslaved by these creatures. Gilan rides to tell the king of the news and Will, Horace, and Evanlyn are left to find out what the Wargals want with the Celts.

Read more»
bookcover
Author: Sandra Boynton

Boynton begins her newest board book asking little readers how they are that day. "Are you as happy as a hippo? Or angry as a duck? Maybe sad as a chicken? (Can you sadly say cluck cluck?)." Children will delight in Boynton's signature illustrations while enjoyably learning that our moods change every day. Unless you are the duck of course, because he is always that way!

Ages 1 to 3

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Lotta on Troublemaker Street

bookcover
Author: Astrid Lindgren

5 year old Lotta becomes angry with her mother when assigned to wear a scratchy sweater. She cuts the sweater up and runs away to find a new home. Her next door neighbor lets her set up a little house in the backyard, and Lotta decides she will live there forever. Lotta ends up going home in the end, of course! I like this short chapter book by the author of Pippi Longstocking, because I think so many children can relate to Lotta's anger.

Recommended for 1st to 3rd grade students, younger for reading aloud.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Chains

bookcover
Title: Chains
Author: Laurie Halse Anderson

Whose side do you fight for if you're a slave during the American Revolution? While our country is fighting for freedom from Britain, who will fight for the slaves' freedom? The truth is that sometimes the slaves would fight for whoever promised them their freedom after the war. This book of incredibly well researched historical fiction takes the reader through the harrowing times of a slave girl named Isabel, her little sister Ruth, and a slave boy named Curzon as they fight for their freedom.

This award winning book is a favorite for avid middle school readers. Don't miss book 2, "Forge" and not yet published, book 3 titled "Ashes" (recommended for grades 6-8, young adults and adults).

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Small As An Elephant

bookcover
Author: Jennifer Jacobson

A touching story of self-reliance and survival. Eleven year old Jack Martel is abandoned by his mom, who is close to him but suffers from episodes of mental illness. He is left alone at their camping site in Acadia National Park in Maine. Jack must find food in any way he can—digging through trash for lobster leftovers, eating carrots from an older lady’s garden, dining on employees’ lunches while spending the night in an L. L. Bean store. He avoids authorities for fear they will permanently separate him from his mom. His passion for elephants sustains him as he steals a small elephant figurine for comfort, ponders elephant words of wisdom, and seeks to view a very special elephant.

Read more»
Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Gregor the Overlander

bookcover
Author: Suzanne Collins

Book 1 of the Underland Chronicles

In this fantasy, eleven-year-old Gregor and his two-year-old sister, Boots, fall into an amazing underground world underneath New York City. This Underland is populated with humans and various giant-sized talking creatures. These creatures include bats called “fliers”, cockroaches called “crawlers”, spiders called “spinners”, and rats called “gnawers.” They have all lived in harmony but “The Prophecy of Gray” has changed that existence. The prophecy states that Gregor may be the “overlander” destined to save the humans from the warlike rats. Gregor is more interested in finding his way home, until he discovers that fulfilling the prophecy might also mean finding his father. Thus there are two quests unfolding in this story. One is that the Underlanders must fulfill the Prophecy of Gray and prevent being annihilated by the rats. The other is Gregor’s quest to find his father and bring him home.

Read more»
Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Betty Bunny Loves Chocolate Cake

bookcover
Author: Michael B. Kaplan

When little Betty Bunny has chocolate cake for the first time, it’s love at first taste. “I want to marry chocolate cake!” she says to her family. Betty Bunny longs for more. But, being "a handful," as her mother puts it, she has trouble behaving and being patient enough to earn her next serving.

The cute illustrations of Betty, her bunny family, her animal teacher and classmates by Stéphane Jorisch are full of fun details for all to enjoy, especially chocolate lovers and kids ages 4-8.

bookcover
Author: Amy Ignatow

Lydia lives with her mom and one weird sister, is a really good singer, has to wear glasses and wishes she had more style. Julie lives with Dad & Papa Dad, and Bad Cat, she is good at drawing and wishes she could fly. Lydia and Julie have one year before Junior High starts. They devise a plan to observe the girls that are already popular and record their observations in a book. By the end of the year they will use the same tactics to become popular so that more people will like them, they will stop getting teased, they will get invited to cool parties, other people will be jealous of them, and they will get better parts in the school play.

Read more»
Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Gooney Bird Greene

bookcover
Author: Lois Lowry

Gooney Bird Greene loves to be the center of attention (just like most second graders) and only tells absolutely true stories. Gooney Bird is an excellent storyteller and tells a new story to her classroom every day. What's interesting is how Gooney Bird shows that words can mean different things than you might expect, for example, how Gooney Bird moved to her new home from China in a minivan.

A good book for second grade students who are ready for short chapter books.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

How To Steal A Dog

bookcover
Author: Barbara O'Connor

Georgina and her family suddenly find themselves homeless. Living out of a car with her mother and little brother while her mother works two jobs makes Georgina think about what she can do to help the situation. She comes up with a wild idea to steal a dog and claim reward money after the owner posts reward signs for the lost dog. As the story unfolds, Georgina and the reader grow fond of a mysterious man named Mookie, an old woman named Carmella, and a little dog named Willy. Sometimes, the best lessons happen in the worst of times. Although the topic is sad, the story is told in a loving way that keeps the reader engaged throughout.

I recommend it for both boys and girls, grades 5-7.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

A First Visit to the Beach

bookcover
Title: Wave
Author: Suzy Lee

This wordless story captures a little girl's endearing first visit to the beach. Although the girl is hesitant about the water at first, some splashing around and picking through shells cause her to grow quite fond of the beach. Drawn with flowing watercolors that portray the swelling waves of the ocean, this is a beautiful story that will captivate children and parents alike. Recommended for children 2 and up as the wordless pages require the reader to unravel the message behind the pictures.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Zero to Hero

bookcover
Author: Henry Winkler

This first book in the new Ghost Buddy series by authors Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver will capture readers with its genuine, good guy, but clumsy, protagonist Billy Broccoli. Moving into a new house, Billy finds teenage ghost Hoove in his room and learns to accept him and his suggestions. Hoove is determined to help Billy gain confidence and become cool. When Billy is totally embarrassed by the school bully, Hoove conspires with Billy to get even, yet Billy manages to maintain his ethics while coming out ahead.

Read more»
Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

Christmas Farm

bookcover
Author: Mary Lyn Ray

Perhaps it is because I love the outdoors, planting and gardening that this was among my favorite holiday books recommended by Cooperative Children's Book Center (CCBC) in Madison, Wisconsin.

Wilma had gardened for years, but she wants to plant something new on her land. During the winter months, she decides to start a Christmas tree farm in the spring and begins planning. She will need some help with all the planting and she knows that Parker, the little boy next door, will help her. Readers will enjoy the seasonal changes as years pass by and delight in watching Parker grow as the trees grow from year to year. A note from the author in the back of the book tells readers how many years it takes to grow a Christmas tree.

I recommend this book for ages 4-7.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

It's a Miracle! A Hanukkah Storybook

bookcover
Author: Stephanie Spinner

This charming and cheerful holiday book, published in 2003, is recommended by the Cooperative Children's Book Center in Madison, Wisconsin. Little Owen Block is finally old enough to be the "Official Candle Lighter" during the nights of Hanukkah. After lighting each candle, his Grandma Karen tells him a funny and heartwarming bedtime story. Many of the stories seem to be about the family members who later come to dinner on the eighth night of Hanukkah. Of course by then, readers will feel familiar with the whole family and understand the family's inside jokes told at the dinner table. At the end of the book, the author adds educational material about "The Hanukkah Legend", "Hanukah Blessing" and a glossary of terms.

I recommend this book for ages 5-9.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

A Christmas Tree for Pyn

bookcover
Author: Olivier Dunrea

Oother is a big, gruff, widowed mountain man who lives with his small, gentle, pigtailed daughter, Pyn. While he loves Pyn, Oother is not the kind to soften for anyone; when Pyn calls him “Papa,” he responds with a grunt, “My name is Oother.” Patient, uncomplaining Pyn cooks and keeps house while Oother works all day in the woods. As Christmas draws near, Pyn longs for a tree to decorate, to help bring cheer into their humble cottage. When Pyn asks, Oother’s immediate grunt of an answer is, “No Christmas Tree.” But Pyn does not give up, and finally sets off alone in the snow to find the perfect tree.

Popular author and artist Olivier Dunrea uses his distinctive, clean lines and intricate shadings to illustrate this sweet (not sappy) story. This would make a great holiday bedtime story, especially for ages 5-8.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

A Very Babymouse Christmas

bookcover
Author: Jennifer L. Holm

In A Very Babymouse Christmas, the latest in the graphic novel series by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, Babymouse is absolutely obsessed with the idea of receiving a Whiz Bang from Santa Claus. A few literary vignettes including The Night Before Christmas and A Christmas Carol are referenced with a few changes. Will Babymouse receive her Whiz Bang for Christmas? Will she learn any lessons in this installment of the series? Will the series continue past this book? All these questions are answered in A Very Babymouse Christmas.

Recommended for grades 1 to 4.