OPEN BOOK: April 17, 2015

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

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Realistic Fiction

A Time to Dance by Padma Venkatraman

In India, a girl who excels at Bharatanatyam dance refuses to give up after losing a leg in an accident.

Read an excerpt

Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion & the Fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming

When Russia’s last tsar, Nicholas II, inherited the throne in 1894, he was unprepared to do so. With their four daughters (including Anastasia) and only son, a hemophiliac, Nicholas and his reclusive wife, Alexandra, buried their heads in the sand, living a life of opulence as World War I raged outside their door and political unrest grew into the Russian Revolution. Deftly maneuvering between the lives of the Romanovs and the plight of Russia’s peasants and urban workers–and their eventual uprising–Fleming offers up a fascinating portrait, complete with inserts featuring period photographs and compelling primary-source material that brings it all to life.

Read an excerpt
Watch the book trailer

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

The lives of four high school seniors intersect weeks before a meteor is set to pass through Earth’s orbit, with a 66.6% chance of striking and destroying all life on the planet.

Read an excerpt

Romance

Second Chance Summer by Morgan Matson

Taylor Edwards’ family might not be the closest-knit–everyone is a little too busy and overscheduled–but for the most part, they get along just fine. Then Taylor’s dad gets devastating news, and her parents decide that the family will spend one last summer all together at their old lake house in the Pocono Mountains. Crammed into a place much smaller and more rustic than they are used to, they begin to get to know each other again. And Taylor discovers that the people she thought she had left behind haven’t actually gone anywhere. Her former best friend is still around, as is her first boyfriend…and he’s much cuter at seventeen than he was at twelve. As the summer progresses and the Edwards become more of a family, they’re more aware than ever that they’re battling a ticking clock. Sometimes, though, there is just enough time to get a second chance–with family, with friends, and with love.

Read an excerpt

Watch the author talk about the book

Buzz: Middle School

Drums, Girls, & Dangerous Pie by Jordan Sonnenblick

When his younger brother is diagnosed with leukemia, thirteen-year-old Steven tries to deal with his complicated emotions, his school life, and his desire to support his family.

Read an excerpt

Buzz:  High School

Hunt for the Bamboo Rat by Graham Salisbury

Zenji Watanabe, seventeen, is sent from Hawaii to the Philippines to spy on the Japanese during World War II and, after he is captured and tortured, must find a way to survive months of being lost in the jungle behind enemy lines.

Read an excerpt

 

If you liked Wonder…

wonderWonder, by R.J. Polacio has been a very popular book over the last few years.

Wonder tells the story of Auggie, a fifth-grade boy going to school for the very first time.  Because of a frequent hospitalizations, and the reaction of people around him, Auggie has always been home schooled.  But now that his parents have given him a choice, he chooses to meet more people and be a “regular kid”. 

But the thing is, Auggie will always stand out.  He was born with severe facial abnormalities, which cause people to stare at him.  He’s hoping that his new classmates at the private school he’s about to attend will judge him on his actions, not his face.  But will they?

Told in alternating chapters by Auggie, his sister, his classmates and his parents, this is a powerful story about being different, friendship and courage.

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And if you liked Wonder, you might try:

 

CrossoverThe Crossover by Kwame Alexander
Josh Bell and his twin brother Jordan are awesome on the court. But Josh has more than basketball in his blood, he’s got mad beats, too, that tell his family’s story in verse.  In this fast and furious middle grade novel of family and brotherhood, Josh and Jordan must come to grips with growing up on and off the court to realize breaking the rules comes at a terrible price, as their story’s heart-stopping climax proves a game-changer for the entire family.

because of mr teruptBecause of Mr. Terupt by Rob Buyea
It’s the start of fifth grade for seven kids at Snow Hill School. There’s . . . Jessica, the new girl, smart and perceptive, who’s having a hard time fitting in; Alexia, a bully, your friend one second, your enemy the next; Peter, class prankster and troublemaker; Luke, the brain; Danielle, who never stands up for herself; shy Anna, whose home situation makes her an outcast; and Jeffrey, who hates school. Only Mr. Terupt, their new and energetic teacher, seems to know how to deal with them all. He makes the classroom a fun place, even if he doesn’t let them get away with much . . . until the snowy winter day when an accident changes everything—and everyone.

freaky fast frankie joeFreaky Fast Frankie Joe by Lutricia Clifton
Frankie Joe Huckaby, forced to live with the father he never knew, a stepmother, and four stepbrothers in Illinois is miserable. Trying to adjust to his blended family proves too much to bear, so Frankie Joe hatches a plot to escape on his bike back home to Texas. For that he needs money, and so Frankie Joe’s Freaky Fast Delivery Service is born. His deliveries win new friends, a place in the rural Illinois community, and a sense of achievement. But his planned escape is destroyed by a heartbreaking betrayal, and Frankie Joe needs all of his incredible resilience and the loving support of his new family to survive the devastating loss.

mighty miss maloneThe Mighty Miss Malone by Christopher Paul Curtis
Deza is the smartest girl in her class in Gary, Indiana, singled out by teachers for a special path in life. But the Great Depression hit Gary hard, and there are no jobs for black men. When her beloved father leaves to find work, Deza, Mother, and her older brother Jimmie go in search of him, and end up in a Hooverville outside Flint, Michigan. Jimmie’s beautiful voice inspires him to leave the camp to be a performer, while Deza and Mother find a new home, and cling to the hope that they will find Father.

lemonade_warThe Lemonade War by Jacqueline Davies
Evan Treski is people-smart. He’s good at talking with people, even grownups. His younger sister, Jessie, on the other hand, is math-smart, but not especially good with people. So when the siblings’ lemonade stand war begins, there really is no telling who will win—or even if their fight will ever end. Brimming with savvy marketing tips for making money at any business, definitions of business terms, charts, diagrams, and even math problems, this fresh, funny, emotionally charged novel subtly explores how arguments can escalate beyond anyone’s intent.

out of my mindOut of My Mind by Sharon Draper
Melody is not like most people. She cannot walk or talk, but she has a photographic memory; she can remember every detail of everything she has ever experienced. She is smarter than most of the adults who try to diagnose her and smarter than her classmates in her integrated classroom—the very same classmates who dismiss her as mentally challenged, because she cannot tell them otherwise. But Melody refuses to be defined by cerebral palsy. And she’s determined to let everyone know it…somehow.

better nate than everBetter Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle
Nate Foster has big dreams. His whole life, he’s wanted to star in a Broadway show. (Heck, he’d settle for *seeing* a Broadway show.) But how is Nate supposed to make his dreams come true when he’s stuck in Jankburg, Pennsylvania, where no one (except his best pal Libby) appreciates a good show tune? With Libby’s help, Nate plans a daring overnight escape to New York. There’s an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical, and Nate knows this could be the difference between small-town blues and big-time stardom.

absolutely almostAbsolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
Albie has never been the smartest kid in his class. He has never been the tallest. Or the best at gym. Or the greatest artist. Or the most musical. In fact, Albie has a long list of the things he’s not very good at. But then Albie gets a new babysitter, Calista, who helps him figure out all of the things he is good at and how he can take pride in himself.  An inspiring novel about figuring out who you are and doing what you love.

words with wingsWords with Wings by Nikki Grimes
Gaby daydreams to tune out her parents’ arguments, but when her parents divorce and she begins a new school, daydreaming gets her into trouble. Her mother scolds her for it, her teacher keeps telling her to pay attention, and the other kids tease her…until she finds a friend who also daydreams and her teacher decides to work a daydreaming-writing session into every school day. With a notebook “thick with daydreams,” Gaby grows more confident about herself.

same sun hereSame Sun Here by Silas House
Meena and River have a lot in common: fathers forced to work away from home to make ends meet, grandmothers who mean the world to them, and faithful dogs. But Meena is an Indian immigrant girl living in New York City’s Chinatown, while River is a Kentucky coal miner’s son. As Meena’s family studies for citizenship exams and River’s town faces devastating mountaintop removal, this unlikely pair become pen pals, sharing thoughts and discovering common ground in their disparate experiences.

one for the murphysOne for the Murphys by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Twelve-year-old Carley Connors can take a lot. Growing up in Las Vegas with her fun-loving mother, she’s learned to be tough. But she never expected a betrayal that would land her in a foster care. When she’s placed with the Murphys, a lively family with three boys, she’s blindsided. Do happy families really exist? Carley knows she could never belong in their world, so she keeps her distance.

lions of little rockThe Lions of Little Rock by Kristin Levine
Twelve-year-old Marlee doesn’t have many friends until she meets Liz, the new girl at school. Liz is bold and brave, and always knows the right thing to say, especially to Sally, the resident mean girl. Liz even helps Marlee overcome her greatest fear – speaking, which Marlee never does outside her family. But then Liz is gone, replaced by the rumor that she was a Negro girl passing as white. But Marlee decides that doesn’t matter. Liz is her best friend. And to stay friends, Marlee and Liz are willing to take on integration and the dangers their friendship could bring to both their families.

rulesRules by Cynthia Lord
Catherine just wants a normal life. Which is near impossible when you have a brother with autism and a family that revolves around his disability. She’s spent years trying to teach David the rules from “a peach is not a funny-looking apple” to “keep your pants on in public”—in order to head off David’s embarrassing behaviors.  But the summer Catherine meets Jason, a surprising, new sort-of friend, and Kristi, the next-door friend she’s always wished for, it’s her own shocking behavior that turns everything upside down and forces her to ask: What is normal?

gold threaded dressThe Gold-Threaded Dress by Carolyn Marsden
In Thailand she was named Oy, but here in America the teachers call her Olivia. Other things are not so easy to change, however. When Oy draws a portrait of herself with brown hair and eyes as round as coins, her classmate Frankie makes fun of her and calls her Chinese. And the popular girl Liliandra barely speaks to her, until she learns that Oy has something very special: a Thai dancing dress from her grandmother, shimmering with pink silk and golden threads, that makes her look like a princess. Will Oy risk shaming her family to win Liliandra’s approval – and be part of the club she has envied from afar?

rain reignRain Reign by Ann Martin
Rose Howard is obsessed with homonyms. She’s thrilled that her own name is a homonym, and she purposely gave her dog Rain a name with two homonyms (Reign, Rein), which, according to Rose’s rules of homonyms, is very special. Not everyone understands Rose’s obsessions, her rules, and the other things that make her different – not her teachers, not other kids, and not her single father.  When a storm hits their rural town, rivers overflow, the roads are flooded, and Rain goes missing. Rose’s father shouldn’t have let Rain out. Now Rose has to find her dog, even if it means leaving her routines and safe places to search.

summer of the gypsy mothsSummer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker
Stella loves living with Great-aunt Louise in her big old house near the water on Cape Cod for many reasons, but mostly because Louise likes routine as much as she does, something Stella appreciates since her mom is, well, kind of unreliable. So while Mom “finds herself,” Stella fantasizes that someday she’ll come back to the Cape and settle down. The only obstacle to her plan? Angel, the foster kid Louise has taken in. Angel couldn’t be less like her name—she’s tough and prickly, and the girls hardly speak to each other. But when tragedy unexpectedly strikes, Stella and Angel are forced to rely on each other to survive, and they learn that they are stronger together than they could have imagined.

glory beGlory Be by Augusta Scattergood
As much as Gloriana June Hemphill, or Glory as everyone knows her, wants to turn twelve, there are times when Glory wishes she could turn back the clock a year. Jesslyn, her sister and former confidante, no longer has the time of day for her now that she’ll be entering high school. Then there’s her best friend, Frankie. Things have always been so easy with Frankie, and now suddenly they aren’t. Maybe it’s the new girl from the North that’s got everyone out of sorts. Or maybe it’s the debate about whether or not the town should keep the segregated public pool open.

counting by 7sCounting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn’t kept her from leading a quietly happy life… until now. Suddenly Willow’s world is tragically changed when her parents both die in a car crash, leaving her alone in a baffling world. The triumph of this book is that it is not a tragedy. This extraordinarily odd, but extraordinarily endearing, girl manages to push through her grief. Her journey to find a fascinatingly diverse and fully believable surrogate family is a joy and a revelation to read.

stargirlStargirl by Jerry Spinelli
Stargirl. From the day she arrives at quiet Mica High in a burst of color and sound, the hallways hum with the murmur of “Stargirl, Stargirl.” She captures Leo Borlock’s heart with just one smile. She sparks a school-spirit revolution with just one cheer. The students of Mica High are enchanted. At first.  Then they turn on her. Stargirl is suddenly shunned for everything that makes her different, and Leo, panicked and desperate with love, urges her to become the very thing that can destroy her: normal.

liar & spyLiar & Spy by Rebecca Stead
When seventh grader Georges (the S is silent) moves into a Brooklyn apartment building, he meets Safer, a twelve-year-old coffee-drinking loner and self-appointed spy. Georges becomes Safer’s first spy recruit. His assignment? Tracking the mysterious Mr. X, who lives in the apartment upstairs. But as Safer becomes more demanding, Georges starts to wonder: how far is too far to go for your only friend?

center of everythingThe Center of Everything by Linda Urban
For Ruby Pepperdine, the “center of everything” is on the rooftop of Pepperdine Motors in her donut-obsessed town of Bunning, New Hampshire, stargazing from the circle of her grandmother Gigi’s hug. That’s how everything is supposed to be—until Ruby messes up and things spin out of control. But she has one last hope. It all depends on what happens on Bunning Day, when the entire town will hear Ruby read her winning essay. And it depends on her twelfth birthday wish—unless she messes that up too. Can Ruby’s wish set everything straight in her topsy-turvy world?

each kindnessEach Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson
Chloe and her friends won’t play with the new girl, Maya. Maya is different–she wears hand-me-downs and plays with old-fashioned toys. Every time Maya tries to join Chloe and her gang, they reject her. Eventually, Maya stops coming to school altogether. When Chloe’s teacher gives a lesson about how even small acts of kindness can change the world, Chloe is stung by the lost opportunity for friendship, how much better it could have been if she’d shown Maya a little kindness. This picture book is perfect for sharing with a class about differences and what makes a bully.

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And if you loved Wonder and can’t get enough, there is a another book by R.J. Palacio: 365 Days of Wonder: Mr. Brown’s Book of Precepts.  There are also three e-books, which can be borrowed through Minuteman’s Overdrive Catalog: The Julian Chapter: A Wonder Story, Pluto: A Wonder Story, and Shingaling: A Wonder Story (coming in May).

Happy Reading!

::Kelly::

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Old Favorite: Hangin’ Out with Cici

It’s the return of Old Favorites!  This time, with a book for teens.  Or mothers.  Or people who were teenagers in the 70s.  Or the 70s.  Or all of the above!

Do people say that you look–or act, or behave–just like your mother? Do you get tired of being compared to her?  Have you ever wished you could have met your mother as a kid and figure out if when she says “Well, when I was a kid, we did it THIS way!” it was actually true?   Told her that she should be easier on her kids when she has them? Seen what kind of parents your grandparents were?  Meet people you’ve heard of, but who were gone before you were born?

If you’ve ever felt that way, you’ll really like Hangin’ Out with Cici, by Francine Pascal.

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hanging out with cici 3It’s been a long time since Victoria got along with her mother. When she was twelve, things were mostly  fine.  But now that she’s in eighth grade, her mother seems to criticize everything about her, from her messy room to the clothes she wears to her choice in friends.  And she’s SO overprotective!  Victoria feels like she can’t do anything her classmates are allowed to do.   So to retaliate, she picks fights.  She complains.  She even gets caught smoking at school. She causes problems problems that make her mother despair at her behavior, and to ask Victoria if she actually hates her.

hangin out with cici 2Victoria’s grandmother often steps in and tells her that her mother has a difficult job, and that Victoria  should make it easier.  That Victoria’s mother caused her own share of troubles when she was young, so she does understand. That her mother loves her, even if Victoria thinks that all she does is pick at her.  Victoria thinks her grandmother is cool, and that she has to be exaggerating about her mother causing trouble.  Her mother, after all, must have been a perfect kid.  As if to prove her coolness, her grandmother even makes peace between them after the smoking incident, and convinces Victoria’s mother to relax her grounding long enough to let Victoria take the train into the city, where she had plans to go to her older cousin’s party.

Hanging out with cici 1But even that goes wrong, and after a big fight with her sister, Victoria’s mother is already pretty angry with her when she leaves on the train.  But at the party, Victoria gets caught doing something horrible (that she really didn’t do), and her aunt calls her mother.  Victoria’s mother is absolutely furious, after everything, this is the final straw.  Even though Victoria tries to explain, she is told to leave immediately and come home; her mother even mentions boarding school.  Thinking over all the events of the day and everything over the last couple years that led up to the fights with her mother and her bad behavior, Victoria is genuinely regretful.  All she wants is for her mother to like her again. Getting on the train to go home, she wishes she could fix what she did.  She wishes that she could go back in time and change all the things that put her in this place, to change all the behavior that put her at odds with her mother, to go back in time and…   There’s a sharp turn by the train, a pain in Victoria’s neck, and things go black.

hanging out with cic 4She opens her eyes, and she looks at the people around her, who seem to have a very bad sense of style.  The train seems noiser and more crowded.  The station looks cleaner.  When she gets off the train, the conductor calls her “Smiley” and tells her that things can’t be as bad as she thinks–just as he did when she got on the train.  But it can’t be the same man; he’s at least  fifty years younger than the conductor who greeted her when she got on the train.  Maybe they’re father and son?

Victoria soon has bigger problems though.  At first she thinks that everyone in the neighborhood is dressed funny for some big event, then she thinks that she’s in the middle of filming a movie, then she thinks that she’s going bananas.  She grabs on to the first person who looks familiar–a girl about her own age who says her name is Cici.  Cici invites her to join her  and Victoria accepts.  As they spend the afternoon getting into trouble around New York City, Victoria realizes that Cici is just as much a troublemaker as she is.  A kindred spirit!  But Victoria knows that she doesn’t know Cici.  So why does she look so strangely familiar..?  By the time Victoria meets Cici’s mother…a younger version of her own grandmother…it’s obvious that somehow, Victoria has gone back in time.  This new teenage mother is fun, but how can Victoria get back to her own time and her own mother to apologize?

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Hangin’ Out with Cici was published in 1977, and was a hugely popular book at the time.  (At least, in my school it was!)   Francine Pascal, the author, went on to great success as the author of the Sweet Valley High series, followed by Sweet Valley Kids, Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley University, the Francine Series and the Fearless trilogy.  Hangin’ Out with Cici was her first book, and it was followed by two other books about Victoria–My First Love & Other Disasters and Love & Betrayal & Hold the Mayo.  Neither sequel was quite as popular as the first book, but they would also rank up there as “old favorites” with many people.  Hangin’ Out with Cici was so popular, it was made into an Afterschool Special called My Mother was Never a Kid.

In Hangin’ Out with Cici, Victoria is 14 in 1977; Cici was 14 in 1944.  Going in back in time puts Victoria right in the middle of  World War II, hanging out with her teenage mother dealing with rationing, blackouts, friends and families with fathers and brothers and grandfathers away at war, relatives that are missing or overseas in the middle of the battles (or worse) and everything else that WWII entailed.  Victoria knew that her mother grew up in a time where life was difficult, but the difference between seeing something happen and hearing about something thirty years later is huge. Because of the things she observes and talks to Cici about, Victoria starts to understand more about where her mother is coming from–why she worries and where her strengths originate.  Even though her mother is also a bit of a troublemaker who worries her own mother, she doesn’t mean any harm.  Victoria starts to understand how she’s hurting her mother with her actions. She also has a couple heart-to-hearts with Cici, which reveal some surprising truths about both girls.

As a teenager, reading the book in the 70s, and knowing that my mother had grown up around the same time, it was a real eye opener.  Today’s teens might not have that same awareness, as they’d have to go back an extra generation (or maybe even two!) to find a teenage relative in the midst of World War II.  Still, reading this book might remind today’s teen that  your mother was a kid once, and is still that same kid underneath.  Just with several years of life experience since that time.

The book is out of print, and Weston Library is the only Minuteman Library that still owns a copy of Hangin’ Out with Cici.  (Even so, ours has a terrible binding, and is a little fragile.)   Our copy was in the Juvenile collection, but after re-reading it, I am moving it to the Teen collection.  Some of Victoria’s choices are rather troublesome, so it’s best for sixth through ninth graders.  It’s pretty short–only 152 pages–so it’s a quick read.  It’s a lot of fun though, and would be a perfect choice for a book discussion group for mothers and daughters.

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If you do read and enjoy Hangin’ Out with Cici, stop by and let me know what you thought!

::Kelly::

 

 

 

New Books, New Books, New Books!

And they just keep coming!  Here are some favorites from our latest batch…

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Picture Books:

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sweep up the sunSweep Up the Sun
By Helen Frost and Rick Lieder

Do you have a bird feeder?  Do you enjoy watching birds as they swoop and glide through the air?  Then this book is for you!

Beautiful photographs of birds in flight by RIck Lieder illustrate Helen Frost’s poem about the wonders of flight, soaring in the skies and home.  You can practically count every feather and hear the chirps and tweets.

An afterword provides information on the birds photographed, all of which could be seen in any Northeastern US backyard.  A stunning visual treat and companion book to Step Gently Out.  Nature lovers will love both of these books.

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winnie & waldorfWinnie & Waldorf
Written and illustrated by Kati Hites

Winnie and her dog Waldorf do everything together; Winnie takes care of Waldorf, and Waldorf takes care of Winnie.  And they agree on everything. Mostly.  But when the two of them get in trouble with big sister Sara, they have to be on their best behavior to prove that Waldorf can’t be replaced by a cat!

I loved the expressions on Waldorf’s face as he plays with Winnie.  Waldorf may not know exactly what is going on, but he definitely is focused on his best friend as she worries about his future.  Young readers will love the final solution and the chaos before that comes about.  Make sure you check out the endpapers for more of Winnie and Waldorf’s adventures!

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Janine

Janine.By Maryann Cocca-Leffler

Janine is one of a kind!  She marches to the beat of her own drummer, and enjoys it.  She listens to everybody, knows lots of facts, and she’ll even make up her own cheers, if they’re needed.  When one little girl challenges Janine to be COOL, Janine knows she already is.  And her classmates soon realize, she’s right!

A fun story about a little girl who unabashedly herself.  I love how her individuality is expressed in the illustrations and through her actions.  Everyone needs a Janine in their lives.

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bedtime at bessie and lilsBedtime at Bessie and Lil’s
By Julie Sternberg, Illustrated by Adam Gudeon

Big sister Bessie and little sister Lil are SUPPOSED to be listening to Mama Rabbit reading them a bedtime story.  But Bessie wants to stand on her head, and Lil wants to show Mama how she can skip, and both of them want to watch the moon and look for fireflies.  So Mama Rabbit has to read the story to herself.  And then the girls want to go and say goodnight to the baby.  Poor Mama Rabbit!  Will the girls wake the baby, or can they make it to bedtime?

Anyone who has tried to put two rambunctious bunnies…er, kids…to bed will see themselves in this story.  And any little bunny who has resisted going to bed will too.  Maybe not the best bedtime story, but one to share over and over with your bunnies.   While you’re reading, check out all the bunny details in the illustrations!

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GooseGoose
By Laura Wall

Sophie is a little girl who loves to play with her dolls, dress up and go to the park.  But it’s hard to play on the seesaw and swings alone.  She wishes for a friend.  Soon she finds Goose, who is the perfect playmate!  But mom says Goose can’t come home with them. What is a little girl to do?

This very simple story about friendship is a delightful read.  It’s short, sweet and will appeal to toddlers again and again.  I love the expressions on Sophie and Goose’s faces. A fun read-aloud for bedtime or anytime.

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Fiction:

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big gameBig Game
by Dan Smith

In Oskari’s part of Finland, boys go out into the wilderness to prove themselves in the Trial.  With only a knife, a fire kit and their wits, each boy faces a weekend on Mount Akka, starting at the Place of Skulls.  Oskari knows that he has a lot to live up to…when his father went through the Trial, he came back with a bear.  Oskari can’t pull back the bowstring to prove he’s fit for the trial, but he knows that he has other traits that will help him.  And he has a map, which his father has marked with a secret hunting ground.  If he can get there, he knows he can bring back a trophy that will prove him a man.

But just when Oskari has a deer in his sights, it’s frightened away by a helicopter.  Oskari curses at the helicopter, then realizes that its presence can only mean one thing…poachers.  And bringing back information on trespassers on the land might be even better than a deer.  He follows the helicopter in his ATV, only to find a crashed plane.  And inside…a man who claims to be the President of the United States.

Soon Oskari has the biggest prize of all…a President.  But with men hunting them, can he get the man safely back to his village and save the world from terrorists?  Up above the Arctic Circle, survival can depend on Oskari’s braveness, his wilderness skills, and his will to survive.

A thrilling adventure by a favorite author.

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lulu and the hamster in the nightLulu and the Hamster in the Night
by Hilary McKay

At her school, Lulu is famous for animals.  If anyone needs someone to care for their animals, or to learn what they need, they ask Lulu.  So when Emma Pond, one of the big girls tells Lulu that she has a hamster that she will either give to Lulu or release into the wild, Lulu knows just what she has to do.  She takes the hamster.  Her parents don’t mind…much…but they remind her that Nan, her grandmother, really doesn’t like hamsters.  Lulu doesn’t think it will be a problem, she’ll just make sure to keep Ratty (that’s the hamster) out of Nan’s sight.

But then Lulu’s parents go away with her cousin Mellie’s parents, and both girls are saying with Nan for the weekend. They can’t leave Ratty alone at home!  But they can’t let Nan see him, either.  Everything would have been fine, except that Mellie leaves the cage open and Ratty escapes into the walls of Nan’s house!  Can the girls get Ratty back and keep Nan out of it?  Maybe…maybe not!

This sixth book of Lulu and her animal adventures is delightful; a quick read with lots of adventure and love.  Try the other Lulu books too.

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The Penderwicks in SpringThe Penderwicks in Spring
by Jeanne Birdsall

Batty, the youngest of the four original Penderwick sisters is now almost eleven, and is now a big sister too.  Little brother Ben is seven, and baby sister Lydia is two.  With Rosalind in college and Skye and Jane both in high school, Batty, Ben and Lydia rely more on each other as the younger set of Penderwicks.  Batty finds it to be a big responsibility, but one she’s willing to take on.

With the arrival of spring on Gardam Street, things start  changing.  Some changes are good, some not so much.  When the Penderwick’s car breaks down, the girls all know that money is tight.  Skye and Jane are already tutoring and working, and Batty convinces Ben to help her with setting up PWTW, Penderwick Willing to Work, an odd-jobs business.  She’s willing to do almost anything!  But when “anything” turns out to be walking Duchess, the fat dachund next door, Batty isn’t so sure.  She’s still adjusting to the loss of her beloved Hound, and doesn’t think she’s up to the responsibility of caring for another dog. That chore doubles when Duchess finds a lost dog. Cilantro’s owners love him, but they don’t have a lot of extra time to walk him, so they hire Batty too.   Then Batty’s new music teacher hears her sing, and tells her her voice is spectacular.  It’s a good thing that Mr. Penderwick didn’t want Batty’s earnings for a car, now she can put them toward voice lessons.

Batty’s looking forward to Rosalind coming home from college for her birthday, the Penderwick’s favorite neighbor, Nick Geiger, coming home from fighting overseas for a visit, and Jeffrey, the honorary Penderwick coming to visit for her birthday.  She needs to ask them all for advice about different things.  But their visits don’t go quite as planned. Nick is wonderful, but seems worried about her.  Rosalind brings a detestable boyfriend with her and Jeffrey fights with Skye and leaves early, before Batty can talk to him about music.  Batty’s problems get bigger and bigger.  What’s a Penderwick to do?

I adore the Penderwick books.  No summary can give them justice–this one makes it sound like it’s all about Batty, but each Penderwick sister (and brother!) has their own story too.  And Lydia!  I think she might compete with Batty for adorableness! The Penderwicks in Spring will make you laugh, frown, giggle and even cry.  It’s perfect–definitely MY favorite book of 2015!

If you’ve read the other Penderwick titles, you’ll love this one too.  I didn’t think anything could top the first book, but The Penderwicks in Spring might be even better.  I only hope that there are more Penderwick stories coming.  With Ben and Lydia still having a lot of growing to do, there’s plenty of potential!

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Non-Fiction

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Two new Reference Books (that have to be used in the library), with circulating copies to be checked out too!  Not much to say about them, except that they’re good, and contain lots of information about women in the American Revolution.  If you’re a Weston fifth grader, doing the Wax Museum project on a little-known woman of the American Revolution, both of these books will be perfect for your researching.  And at least one copy of each will always be available to use in the Library.

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women heroes of the american revolutionWomen Heroes of the American Revolution: 20 Stories of Espionage, Sabotage, Defiance, and Rescue
by Susan Casey

Find out about a wide range of women who helped fight the American Revolution, from spies to resisters to soldiers to saboteurs!

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women of the revolutionWomen of the Revolution: Bravery and Sacrifice on the Southern Battlefields
by Robert M. Dunkerly

From the fields of Cowpens to Fishing Creek and Hanging Rock, these Carolina ladies helped win the battle for independence.

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All this and more…much, much more!  Visit the library and check out our new books section.  It’s chock-full of good new titles!  As always, if you need to find something specific or need reading suggestions, ask one of our librarians!

::Kelly::

Five Delightful Audio Books!

It’s a run of fun books on CD to listen to alone or to share with your family!

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half a chanceHalf a Chance
By Cynthia Lord, Narrated by Maria Cabezas
4.75 Hours; 4 CDs

Lucy has just moved–again–with her parents to New Hampshire.  This is the first time their new home has been on a lake, but other than that, it’s kind of the same.  At least it’s summer, and Lucy won’t be the “new kid” in the middle of a school year.  But since most of the time, summer vacations are spent with friends you meet at school, she’s not sure what she’s going to do all alone.

half a chance audioThen she meets Nate, the kid who’s spending the summer at the lake with his family.  He’s staying with his grandmother,  who practically adopts Lucy into the family.  When Lucy’s father, a professional photographer, leaves shortly after they’ve arrived, Lucy comes up with a different way to stay close to him.  He’s supposed to judge a photography contest when he returns, and Lucy is determined to get his attention by winning.  She doesn’t want him to know he’s looking at her photos though, so Nate agrees to help her.  She’ll do the photography, and he’ll help her find ways to interpret the themes.  They work well together.  But then Lucy realizes that something is up with Grandma Lilah, and her photographs reveal things that Nate would rather not see.  Can they still work together and be friends?

Half a Chance is a poignant story about life and friendship, beginnings and endings.  I really enjoyed the narrator, who made the story come to life.  Highly recommended for kids in grades four through seven.  If you vacation in New Hampshire, like loons, or are a photographer, you have to read or listen to this story!

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flushFlush
By Carl Hiaasen, Read by Michael Welch
5 Hours, 23 Minutes, 5 CDs

Noah always knew his father could be a little irrational about saving the environment, but there’s irrational and there’s just plain crazy!  When his father is arrested for sinking a casino boat, Noah is prepared to deal with the fallout of fines and a grumpy mother, which is usually what happens.  But this time, his father refuses to pay the fine, declaring he will stay in jail until the casino owner answers for his crimes–namely, dumping the raw sewage from the boat’s waste tanks every night into the Florida Keys.  And there are reporters from newpapers and TV talking to him about it in jail!

But there’s no proof, and soon the casino is up and running again.  Noah’s father is still in jail, and his mother is talking the D word…divorce.  Noah decides that he has to prove his father is right, and his little sister Abbey plans to help.  Together, they come up with a plan.  But when the guy who was going to tell the truth on the casino order vanishes, leaving behind a blood-stained car, Noah and Abbey realize that maybe they’ve bit off more than they can chew.  With the bad guys after the whole family, can they prove their father is right in time?

flush audioIt’s not perfect, but the audio recording of Flush is enjoyable. The narrator of this sound recording has a pleasant voice, but he does tend to swallow some of his words when he’s reading, and it’s sometimes a bit difficult to tell who is talking.  However, the story is compelling, the characters are quirky and fun, and the mystery will keep you guessing, so it’s easy to ignore a few flaws.

Flush is best for kids in fifth through eighth grades, and it’s good for a car trip too, especially if your final destination is Florida!

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fantastic family whippleThe Fantastic Family Whipple
By Matthew Ward, Narrated by Steven Crossley
10.25 Hours, 9 CDs

To the Whipple Family, the most important thing in the world is achieving World Records.  From the moment they’re born (on March 1st for Mr. and Mrs. Whipple, Henry, Simon, Cordelia, Penelope, Edward, Charlotte, Lenora, Franklin, Abigail, Beatrice, George and Ivy) –they’re breaking records for everything from holding heir breath to competitive eating.  The only exception is Arthur, who was born on February 29th and who, try as he might, can’t manage to break a record for anything.

But when his latest attempt at record breaking by hopping on one foot while cracking a bullwhip fails in front of the birthday party audience fails, Mr. Whipple makes a slip and reveals to Arthur that there might be a curse on the family.  Arthur manages to put a few random clues together and is soon tracking down an unusual pair of menacing clowns.  With the help of the family’s cook and butler, and Ruby, the daughter of Mr. Whipple’s nemesis, Arthur is soon tracking down the source of the curse.  But will he be in time to save the Whipple Family?

fantastic family whipple audioI loved the narrator of The Fantastic Family Whipple; Stephen Crossley did an excellent job creating many different voices, filling out a huge cast of characters with creativity.  I enjoyed the narration more than the story, in fact.  (But that may be that pesky problem I have with trying to read real-life logic into fantasy worlds.)   If you don’t mind not thinking about things like how a family of fifteen can spend all their time trying to break world records or how a four year old can be a competitive eater, then you’ll probably love The Fantastic Family Whipple.  If you Do have a problem with that, just sit back and listen to the voices and imagine the characters.  You’ll still enjoy it.   The book is for kids ages 8 to 12, and the recording is good for all ages.

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escape from mr lemoncello's libraryEscape From Mr. Lemoncello’s Library
By Chris Gravenstein, Read by Jesse Bernstein
6 Hours, 20 Minutes; 5 CDs

Kyle Keelly has spent all of his life competing with his two older brothers–one a jock, the other a brain–and the only time he wins, sometimes, is when it comes to the games they play created by Mr. Lemoncello.  Most of them are board games, but with dice and wacky rules and physical components that give anyone the opportunity to win!  So when Kyle learns that Mr. Lemoncello, the world-famous game maker and library enthusiast, is building a state-of-the-art library in his very own town, he’s intrigued.  And when he learns that there’s going to be a contest for all ten-year-olds to write an essay where the winners get the chance to be the first to stay overnight in the new library, he plans to win.  Too bad that he didn’t realize what the prize was until five minutes before the essay was due.

However, Kyle manages to be one of the kids spending the night.  And after an exciting night finding solving one mystery, when they wake up the next morning, they learn that there’s an even greater contest they can choose to participate in–the first kid to follow the clues hidden throughout the library and escape the building wins an unbelievable prize!  Kyle is determined to be that kid.  As the games get harder, Kyle figures out that working together may be the best chance to win.  But with the other kids go along with that?  See if you can figure out the clues as the story unfolds!

escape from mr lemoncello's library audioMaybe it’s the librarian in me, but I thoroughly enjoyed Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library, both the book and the sound recording.  It’s sort of a cross between Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, The Mysterious Benedict Society, The Kingdom Keepers series, and the Summer Reading Program!  If you read the book, the clues are pictured and slightly easier to put together.  The book on CD is good too, even if it’s a little harder to follow audio clues.  The narrator is wonderful, with distinctive voices for the kids and great voices for the adults.  Pure enjoyment all around!

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library is a thrilling puzzler–or a puzzling thriller—right to the very end.  For kids in fourth to seventh grade, this adventure would be a mystery for the whole family to enjoy!  (And I’m really looking forward to reading  The Island of Dr. Libris, Chris Grabenstein’s new book that just came out this week!)

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smek for president 2Smek for President!
By Adam Rex, Read by Bahni Turpin
6 Hours, 5 CDs

My absolute favorite of the bunch!  :)

This sequel to The True Meaning of Smekday (my favorite audio book EVER–see the original review here) is just as impressive as the first book.  My only complaint is that it ended–it’s just not long enough!

A year after all their adventures saving the world from the alien Gorg (and a bit from J.Lo’s people, the Boov) Tip and J.Lo are a little bored just staying close to home.  They need a vacation.  And also, they kind of have to escape town so that J.Lo won’t get into trouble for attacking and partially eating some college girl’s furry purple boots.  So they decide to take their hovercar Slushious out of mothballs and fly to New Boovworld, one of the moons of Saturn which has become the new home of the Boov.  Except that Tip’s mother isn’t in agreement with their plan.  Tip tricks J.Lo into going anyway, and soon the pair is on their way.

smek for president audioBut once they get there, things become complicated.  J.Lo had planned to wear his disguise helmet (which are sort of like sunglasses for humans) because he knows the Boov are still angry with him for being the reason the Gorg came to Earth.  But when Tip and J.Lo find out that they’ve reached New Boovworld just in time for the presidential elections, with J.Lo’s hero Smek running, J.Lo wants to explain what happened back on Earth.  Little does he know that the Boov call him The Squealer, and he’s considered Public Enemy Number One.  Even though Tip protests, that doesn’t stop J.Lo, he still convices her to come with him to meet Smek.  But right after that meeting, J.Lo and Tip are on the run from Smek, the entire planetful of Boov, a masked Boov assassin, and Dan Landry, the only adult human on New Boovworld, the man who took credit for their hard work saving Earth.  It’s a mess!  But this is Gratuity (Tip) Tucci, and J.Lo.  If anyone can handle it, they can.  Can’t they?

I love both Smek books, I love this author, I love this narrator, I love the whole package!  (Other people must have understood how good it is too, as The True Meaning of Smekday is hitting theaters this month, retitled as Home, a new animated movie from Dreamworks Pictures, starring Jim Parsons and Rihanna.  My only complaint is that they should have used Bahni Turpin as the voice of J.Lo, who was renamed Oh in the movie.)

Anyway, Bahni Turpin is the best, and the sound recording is excellent.  You’ll laugh out loud at the voices she creates, and probably forget that only one person is reading!  Make sure to check out the artwork, either in the book or on the PDF files on the CDs).

Smek for President is best for kids in grades four through seven, and it will be much better if you read The True Meaning of Smekday.  The sound recording for Smek for President is great for all ages, and it would definitely enhance a family car trip.  I highly recommend both books!  I hope that there’s a book three, continuing the adventures of Tip and J.Lo, coming out sometime soon!

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Try one of these books, or one of our many other enjoyable audio selections on your next trip.  Or just to listen to on your drive around town, because it will definitely make it pass faster.  If you need other suggestions, please ask a librarian any time for help!

::Kelly::

OPEN BOOK: February 27, 2015

OPEN BOOK: AN EMAIL NEWSLETTER FOR TEENS from the Weston Public Library

Open Book is an email newsletter of book recommendations for teens. It is sent once a month and includes book excerpts in six teen fiction categories (realistic fiction, historical fiction, action/ adventure/fantasy/science fiction, romance, the buzz: middle school, and the buzz: high school). If you wish to subscribe to Open Book, please email smitchill@minlib.net or sign up in person at the Youth Services desk at the Library. Open Book email newsletters are also archived here on our blog.

Here are the picks for this week…

Don’t forget to click on the title to be connected to our catalog where you can

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Read reviews of the book from multiple sources

 

1   2    3   4    6  5

 

Realistic Fiction

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki (graphic novel)

Rose and her parents have been going to Awago Beach since she was a little girl. It’s her summer getaway, her refuge. Her friend Windy is always there, too, like the little sister she never had, completing her summer family. But this summer is different. Rose’s mom and dad won’t stop fighting, and Rose and Windy have gotten tangled up in a tragedy-in-the-making in the small town of Awago Beach. It’s a summer of secrets and heartache, and it’s a good thing Rose and Windy have each other.

Read an excerpt from this Printz Honor and Caldecott Honor book

Historical Fiction / Nonfiction

Turning 15 on the Road to Freedom: My Story of the Selma Voting Rights March by Lynda Blackmon Lowery

As the youngest marcher in the 1965 voting rights march from Selma to Montgomery, Albama, Lynda Blackmon Lowery proved that young adults can be heroes. Jailed eleven times before her fifteenth birthday, Lowery fought alongside Martin Luther King, Jr. for the rights of African-Americans. In this memoir, she shows today’s young readers what it means to fight nonviolently (even when the police are using violence, as in the Bloody Sunday protest) and how it felt to be part of changing American history.

Read an excerpt

Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Insignia by S. J. Kincaid

Tom, a fourteen-year-old genius at virtual reality games, is recruited by the United States Military to begin training at the Pentagon Spire as a Combatant in World War III, controlling the mechanized drones that do the actual fighting off-planet.

Read an excerpt

Romance

The Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider

Star athlete and prom king Ezra Faulkner’s life is irreparably transformed by a tragic accident and the arrival of eccentric new girl Cassidy Thorpe.

Read an excerpt

Buzz: Middle School

The Crossover by Kwame Alexander

Fourteen-year-old twin basketball stars Josh and Jordan wrestle with highs and lows on and off the court as their father ignores his declining health.

Read an excerpt

Buzz:  High School

Poisoned Apples: Poems for You, My Pretty by Christine Heppermann

Every little girl goes through her princess phase, whether she wants to be Snow White or Cinderella, Belle or Ariel. But then we grow up. And life is not a fairy tale.Christine Heppermann’s collection of fifty poems puts the ideals of fairy tales right beside the life of the modern teenage girl. With piercing truths reminiscent of Laurie Halse Anderson and Ellen Hopkins, this is a powerful and provocative book for every young woman. E. Lockhart, author of We Were Liars, calls it “a bloody poetic attack on the beauty myth that’s caustic, funny, and heartbreaking.”Cruelties come not just from wicked stepmothers, but also from ourselves. There are expectations, pressures, judgment, and criticism. Self-doubt and self-confidence. But there are also friends, and sisters, and a whole hell of a lot of power there for the taking. In fifty poems, Christine Heppermann confronts society head on. Using fairy tale characters and tropes, Poisoned Apples explores how…

Read an excerpt