Title: Hold Fast
Author: Blue Balliett

This book is a mystery and a work of art.  The Pearl family experiences a huge upheaval and Early, the young protagonist, feels the urgency to not only solve the mystery of where her father has disappeared to, but hold her family (mom and brother) together in the Chicago homeless shelter scene.  Readers will get a pretty realistic look at the lives of those having to live in such shelters.  I'm interested now in checking out some Langston Hughes poetry.  Lots to talk about after reading this book.

Originally posted in: APL Picks for Kids

The Princess Plot

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.

Author: Laban Carrick Hill

In this book YOU decide what happends to YOU. You have 3 pen pals and one of them wants to come over for a visit, but is that such a good idea? Don't forget you control your fate just read and follow the numbers on the bottom of the page. So what are you waiting for grab the book today and CHOOSE YOUROWN NIGHTMARE. In this one book you can have many choices and read it many times, you can get eight storys out of one book. Billy one of your pen pals from Florida is funny and likes the same stuff you do. You cant wait for him to come untill your brother has a letter that says DONT LET BILLY COME TO YOUR HOUSE... EVER!! But you don't care you feel like you really know him... don't you? Make the right decision before it's to late. So now its your time to choose from 8 different endings and CHOOSE YOUR OWN NIGHTMARE! In one of the nightmares you think that there's something fishey about Billy but you think its ok and let him come. Then one night your reading a book and the doorbell rings and you answer it but some thing grabs your arm and starts to chew, at first you think its the guy from your book but its BILLY. Then all of a sudden your parents come in your room, you show them the bites but there not there, even though it was just a dream you decide not to let Billy come. That time your safe but not always. I rate this book 4/5 stars.

Author: Laura Amy Schlitz

Eleven year old Maud doesn't expect to get adopted out of the orphanage where she lives in 1909. She's too plain, naughty, and old for adoption. No one is more surprised than Maud when she is adopted by three spinster sisters who immediately spoil her with fine clothes. There is a price to be paid for her adoption though. Maud can't leave the house or gardens around it and must stay hidden from the public. Her adoptive "aunts" are sporadic in their kindness and they have many secrets. What is the price Maud has to pay to be out of the orphanage? Is it worth it? Young readers will enjoy this suspenseful mystery.

Author: Wendy Mass

Mystery and adventure fans will be intrigued by the story of Jeremy Fink, who prior to his birthday receives a locked box from his deceased father with the inscription: "The Meaning of Life; for Jeremy Fink on his 13th birthday."  Problem is, there are four keyholes, and no keys.  Jeremy and his best friend Lizzy embark on the quest to find the keys and solve the questions we all face about life.  I think this would be a good book discussion selection because of the many open-ended questions.  This book is about to be released as a feature film to hit theaters in January 2011. Read other Wendy Mass books, too..... I also enjoyed Every Soul a Star and 11 Birthdays.


Title: Canned
Author: Alex Shearer

Just finished Canned by British author Alex Shearer. Heard a great book talk from a school librarian friend. She took some cans without labels to the students and told them about Fergal, the main character in this book, who was obsessed with collecting cans without labels. He loved the mystery of it all. His parents say, "Enough is enough!" and order him to stop collecting. He must dispose of a can if he gets a new one. As he opens one before he disposes of it, he finds something that is not a food item. The adventure and suspense begins. A little gruesome at times, but I think middle readers will love it!

Great Series

Author: Pierdomenico Baccalario

If you like adventure, mystery, and solving secret codes, you will enjoy this series.  The story revolves around 3 kids who have just moved into Argo Manor, the former home of Ulysses Moore. They stumble upon a secret code, when solved it leads them to another clue.  Were these clues left here by Ulysses on purpose? Is there something that Ulysses wants someone to finish for him? Where will all the clues lead?

Author: Rebecca Stead

This book had so many threads--I really liked that. It also challenged the brain. You may have to reread parts to follow what is happening. There is a mystery in the story, a mom who is training to be on a game show, a sub shop where three 6th graders work on their lunch hour, a funky neighborhood in New York, and time travel! That is just to name a few things. It is amazing how the book culminates and brings everything together. Miranda is the 6th grader who is trying to figure out the puzzle besides dealing with a changing family and evolving friendships. The author adores Madeleine L’Engle and the reader can see that influence.

Author: Ron Roy

Good chapter book about student detectives Marshall and K. C. (Katherine Christine) who live close to the President of the US (and know him) and help him to solve a mystery in the Smithsonian. Good, fast paced, part of the Capital Mysteries series.