OPEN BOOK: February 27, 2015


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 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

-Request the book

-Read reviews of the book from multiple sources


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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


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

February New Books!

We added lots of new books in February.  Here are a few of my favorites that I grabbed off the cart!

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naptime with Theo and BeauNaptime with Theo & Beau
by Jessica Shyba

Theo is the puppy, Beau is the little boy.  When Beau was about a year old, he and his brother and sister asked for a puppy for Christmas.  A few months later, Theo came into their lives, adopted from a shelter.

From the moment they met, Theo and Beau were best friends.  And like all friends, they like to do things together.  Like nap!  Every day, Theo waits for Beau to fall asleep.  When he does, Theo is sleepy too!  So Beau’s mom Hoists him up on the bed, Theo plops himself on top of Beau, and they nap together for a couple hours.  With simple, descriptive text, this book shows some of the best pictures of their naps together.

I have to admit, I fell in love with the pictures of Theo and Beau online, and I follow the author’s blog: Momma’s Gone City.  There’s something special between this boy and his dog, and I hope to see pictures of Theo and Beau continue.

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Dear mr washingtonDear Mr. Washington
by Lynn Cullen, Pictures by Nancy Carpenter

Charlotte and James  and their little brother, Baby John, have promised to be on their best behavior while President George Washington comes to sit for a portrait to be painted by their father, Gilbert Stuart.   But when he comes, Baby John chews his hair ribbon, James chases their cat  up Mr. Washington’s shoulder, and Charlotte is caught spying, because she just wanted to see if the president could smile.

After the disastrous first visit, Mr. Washington sends the Stuart children a copy of his book of manners, and Charlotte, being a very polite little girl,  writes her thanks and apologies in a series of letters.  The text of this book is those letters, with illustrations showing how things *really* went.

I love this book!  The expressions on both the children and the adults’ faces; the exuberance of Charlotte, James and Baby John as they try to impress and befriend the imposing Mr. Washington, the despair of the parents as everything goes completely wrong, the illustrations of children’s interpretation of Mr. Washington’s Rules for Good Behavior, (with guest appearances from Benjamin Franklin, Martha Washington and Thomas Jefferson).  Based on a true event, described in a brief afterword, this is a perfect way to meet George Washington for young readers.

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Little Red Riding HoodLittle Red Riding Hood
By the Brothers Grimm, Illustrated by Sybille Schenker, Translated by Anthea Bell

This beautiful new take on an old tale is a stunning read.

Based the tale from the Brothers Grimm, and translated from the German, the retelling of Little Red Riding Hood (called Little Red Cap in this version) is the older, traditional version of the tale.  Grandma does get eaten, as does Little Red, and the Huntsman shows up to kill the wolf in a rather gruesome way and save the day.

But the illustrations!  They are so beautifully done.  Cut-paper illustrations allow the reader to look through the woods to try to see what is happening on the next page.  And then, when you turn the page, looking back where you’ve been is almost better.  Black and red feature heavily in the color scheme, which is appropriate for Little Red and the Wolf.

I wouldn’t give this to a very young child, as the pages with the cuts are quite delicate.  But if you’re looking for a way to share Little Red Riding Hood with your child, this is a wonderful way to do it.

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classic bedtime storiesClassic Bedtime Stories
Illustrated by Scott Gustafson

Includes favorites like The Country Mouse and the City Mouse, The Tortoise and the Hair, The Three Billy Goats Gruff, The Story of Little Sambha and the Tigers, and Sleeping Beauty.

Wonderful re-tellings, with even more wonderful illustrations.  If you’re looking for a collection of tales to share with your child at bedtime, where they can pour over the pictures while you read the stories.

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Two New Series: National Geographic Kids Chapters and DK’s Eyewonder

Tiger in TroubleTiger in Trouble: And More True Stories of Amazing Animal Rescues
By Kelly Milner Halls

This series features special animals–but all of them have captured the attention of the public in one way or another!  Some are great escape artists, some have poignant stories of survival, some are strong rescuers.  All are unforgettable.  Each book features three animals and the people who care for them.

In Tiger in Trouble, you’ll meet Nitro, a tiger kept as a pet in a small cage who no one knew was blind, Etheral, a baby albino bat whose white fur made it impossible for her to catch food, and Suzie, Bob and Caleb, three Vervet monkeys each raised as a pet who had to come together to be a family.

This series is perfect for second and third grader readers who love animals.

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by Deborah Lock

Every fact you wanted to know about pirates for kids!

This series is similar to the Eyewitness books, but for a slightly younger audience.  Well researched, with great photographs and illustrations.  The Eyewonder series also features some fun activities and games, as well as a facts check-up, glossary and index at the end of the book.

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Smek for presidentSmek for President
By Adam Rex

I haven’t read it yet, but I can’t wait!  A sequel to one of my favorite books (and my favorite audio book of all time) The True Meaning of Smekday

Tip and J.Lo are apparently back for another hilarious intergalactic adventure, getting their former car/now spaceship Slushious out of mothballs and heading to New Boovworld to clear J.Lo’s name.  But with J.Lo dubbed Public Enemy Number One and Captain Smek out to capture him to prove his worth as the future president, it won’t be as easy as they thought.

The True Meaning of Smekday has been adapted into a film coming out this year called Home.  Read the book or listen to the audio book before you see the film though.  There’s no way it can be anywhere near as good!

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If you want more information on these books, or if you want a different new book to read, visit the library and ask a librarian for help.

As always, Happy Reading!



February Vacation at the Library!

We have two special programs this week:

baby signing 4




jeannie mack winter 15


Both programs are drop-ins, free and open to the public.  They’re best suited for preschoolers, but if you have early elementary age kids and are looking for something to do, you’re more than welcome to join us!

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And don’t forget, this is a VACATION CRAFT WEEK!

Come into the Library from opening until 30 minutes before closing, and make a Paper Rocket!  All ages, all skill levels.

Happy Vacation!


More Favorite New Books – January!

Another new cart of books…more new favorites!

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Gingerbread for Liberty: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution, by Mara Rockliff, Pictures by Vincent X. Kirsch
gingerbread for libertyOnce there was a baker who lived in Philadelphia.  He was a big man, with a booming laugh, and a recipe for delicious gingerbread.  He also loved his country.  So when the American Revolution started, this baker knew he had to help somehow.  And he did!

This is a short picture book  based on the life of Christopher Ludwick, a German baker who is an forgotten hero of the Revolution.  There is a brief author’s note in the back that gives a few details of his life, and what he did after the Revolution.  He was a very interesting person, and I wish there was more information about his life.

The illustrations are wonderful–they look like gingerbread cookies!  And the book also includes Christopher Ludwick’s recipe for gingerbread.

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When Otis Courted Mama, by Kathi Appelt, Illustrated by Jill McElmurry
when otis courted mamaBefore Otis, Cardell had a mostly wonderful life.  He had a perfectly good mama and a perfectly good daddy who adored him.  Also a perfectly nice stepmama, Lulu, and a perfectly cute stepbrother, Little Frankie, who also adored him.

The only problem is that his perfectly good daddy and perfectly nice stepmama and perfectly cute stepbrother live on the other side of the desert. And his perfectly good mama, who is wonderfully busy, is quite impressed when their new neighbor, Otis, comes visiting.  With flowers.

A perfectly adorable story about a growing family, with Cardell right in the middle of a lot of love.  And the illustrations are wonderful!

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Hot Dog! Eleanor Roosevelt Throws a Picnic, by Leslie Kimmelman, Illustrated by Victor Juhasz
Hot Dog!Eleanor Roosevelt loved hot dogs!  But as the wife of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt, her parties usually featured fancier dishes.

In 1939, the King and Queen of England were coming for a visit…the first British royalty to visit the United States since the American Revolution!  Eleanor promptly decided to host an all-American picnic…with hot dogs!

This story of two special couples and their memorable picnic is both enjoyable and true.  An afterword provides more details, along with the information on a 50th anniversary celebration that took place in 1989.

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Winnie: the True Story of the Bear Who Inspired Winnie-the-Pooh, By Sally M. Walker, Illustrated by Jonathan D. Voss
WinnieWhen Harry Colebourn looked out the train window and saw a baby bear on the station platform, he had to investigate!  He bought the bear for twenty dollars, named her Winnipeg, and took the baby bear with him to his military training camp at Valcartier, in Quebec.

Harry and Winnie had a wonderful time playing games at the camp with each other and the other soldiers in training while Harry took care of the horses. When the captain received orders that the troop was to go to England, Harry couldn’t leave Winnie behind, so she joined the regiment on their long trip to England.

But a bear couldn’t be brought on the front lines, and Winnie was left at the London Zoo, where she met a boy named Christopher Robin.  And a story was born…  With an afterword on the lives of Winnie and Harry, and photographs!

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A Million Ways Home, By Dianna Dorisi Winget
million ways homePoppy Parker was a perfectly ordinary girl living with her grandmother.  Then Grandma Beth ends up in the hospital after a stroke, and Poppy ends up in foster care.  Poppy has a plan to spring Grandma Beth from the nursing home, so the two of them can go home and stay in their apartment, where Poppy can take care of her.

But Poppy’s big escape ends in disaster when she’s in the wrong place at the wrong time.  Suddenly, the police have put her in protective custody, staying with Marti, the mother of Officer Brannigan, the policeman who helped her.  Living with Marti is much better than the foster facility.  Poppy meets a new friend, finds a dog in need of even more help than she is, and tries to come up with another plan to rescue Grandma Beth.

This is a quick read about a plucky girl.  There’s a lot going on, and the resolution, while not completely happy, is very hopeful.  A great middle-grade book for dog lovers and kids who like adventure and family stories.

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Other new books in this release that people will enjoy (but that I haven’t read…yet.)

lyla and mylaLila and Myla, the Twins Fairies, by Daisy Meadows

A Rainbow Magic Special edition.

Jack Frost has stolen Myla And Lila’s twin magic…and Kirsty and Rachel have to help them!


sleeping beauty dreams bigSleeping Beauty Dreams Big, by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams

Grimmtastic Girls #5

Daredevil Sleeping Beauty–or Rose, to her friends–knows that she has to avoid sharp objects after her 12th birthday.  But at Grimm Academy, that’s not as easy as it sounds!


big nates greatest hits Big Nate’s Greatest Hits, by Lincoln Peirce

Just what it says–Big Nate’s most popular episodes, collected together for the first time!



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As always, if you would like to find one of these books, click on the title for a link to the Minuteman Library Network Catalog, or stop by the library!  In the meantime, read, read, read!

On Monday, the American Library Association will be announcing the winners of the biggest book awards for kids and teens: the Caldecott, the Newbery and the Prinz Awards, along with the Coretta Scott King, the Schneider Family Book Award, the Seibert and several more.   We’re looking forward to it!



New Year, New Books!

We just added a cart of new books for January.  Here are a few of my favorites!

Picture Books

The Bear Ate Your Sandwich, by Julia Sarcone-Roach

bear ate your sandwich  “By now I think you know what happened to your sandwich.  But you may not know how it happened.  So let me tell you.

It all started with the bear.”

Read all about this bear and how it came into a neighborhood from the woods and just happened upon the beautiful and delicious sandwich, all alone.  Of course it ate it!

Or is that REALLY the way it happened..?

You may see the surprise ending coming, or you may not.  Either way, this is a great story to read aloud to kids of all ages.

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Sick Simon, by Dan Krall

sick simonSimon loves school!  He looks forward to going every day.  Even the day when he’s sneezing, coughing, his nose is dripping green goo.  He feeds the class chinchilla, shares his snacks with friends, and passes around his stuffed toy for show and tell.  But by Wednesday, his classmates are running away from him.  By Friday, he’s the only one on the bus.

And that’s when the germs show up, to tell him he’s their hero.  Simon may have to change his thinking about some things…

A funny look at why going out in public with a cold isn’t the best idea.  The illustrations may be a little hard to look at (the green goo made my stomach churn!) but the resolution will make everyone–kids, parents, teachers, librarians–happy.

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The Storm Whale, by Benji Davies

storm whaleNoi and his Dad live with their six cats by the sea.

One day, when Noi’s Dad goes out in his fishing boat, Noi finds a small whale washed up on the beach.

Can he save it?

I loved the illustrations in this deceptively simple story.  I think you’ll love it too.

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Earmuffs for Everyone!  How Chester Greenwood Became Known as the Inventor of Earmuffs, by Meghan McCarthy

Earmuffs for everyoneIt seems like such a simply idea…a cap to keep your ears warm in the winter.  And yet…the story is a lot more complicated than that.

Every year in Farmington Maine, there’s a parade commemorating Chester Greenwood, the inventor of earmuffs.  But did he really invent them?  Or did he perfect an idea that was floating around out there?

Read this book and find out!

I love Megan McCarthy’s books.  She finds something intriguing and investigates.  Whether it’s chewing gum (Pop!) or famous individuals (Seabiscuit, the Wonder Horse)  or earmuffs, her interesting facts and wonderfully funny pictures make for a great quick and interesting read.

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The Whale Who Won Hearts: and More True Stories of Adventures with Animals, by Brian Skerry

whale who won heartsBrian Skerry is a underwater photographer with National Geographic Magazine.  He grew up in Massachusetts, not far from here.  The Whale Who Won Hearts book is one of the new National Geographic Kids Chapters, a series designed for second and third grade readers interested in nature.

The book contains four different underwater stories involving leatherback turtles, harp seals, a beluga whale (on the cover) and coral reef sharks.  The stories are quick reads, and very interesting.  The photographs are wonderful.

If you have a budding naturalist, share this book with them.  And look up the other books in the series too!

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And, on a more serious note

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat, by Gail Jarrow

red madnessHave you ever heard of Pellagra?  I hadn’t.  Apparently, it was a disease that wiped out millions of people across the world.  No one really knew what caused it, and no one knew how to treat it.  Some people didn’t even know it existed…until someone they loved came down with the deadly illness.

When people across the American South started appearing in their local doctor’s offices with a red rash on their hands and feet, it was worrisome.  When it started spreading, and people started dying, doctors started calling it an epidemic.  No one knew what caused the rash, that started small and soon spread up extremities and across people’s faces.  No one could tell who would live and who would die. Nor could anyone decide why some people died and some seemed to get the disease every year, recover and come down with it again.

At first, doctors thought that corn somehow caused the disease, but through experimentation found that wasn’t true.  There was a link though, and health officials were determined to find out what was going on.

From the 1900 to the 1940s, Pellagra caused thousands of deaths, along with madness and debilitating health hazards each year.  Now, hardly anyone knows what it is, or even what cures it.  But every day, you eat something that will keep it at bay.  Find out what it is in this well-researched and intriguing book.  You will be fascinated.

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And a few I haven’t read yet, but I want to, as soon as I clear some space in my TBR (to be read) pile!

Chapter Books:

Heidi Heckelbeck is not a thiefHeidi Heckelbeck Is Not a Thief!  By Wanda Coven

Heidi Heckelbeck’s 13th adventure!  When her best friend’s special pen goes missing, what’s a little witch to do?  Look in her Magic Book of Spells, of course!


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owl diaries eva's treetopOwl Diaries: Eva’s Treetop Festival,  By Rebecca Elliot

The first book in a new chapter-book series about Eva Wingdale, a little owl with big ideas!


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wollstonecraft Detective AgencyThe Wollstonecraft Detective Agency, Book One: The Case of the Missing Moonstone,  By Jordan Stratford

Just look at that cover!  Detectives, two girls in a hot air balloon, a spyglass…what’s not to love?  A made up story about two real people: Ada Byron, the world’s first computer grogrammer and Mary Shelley, the word’s first science-fiction author.  This adventurous mystery looks to be a lot of fun to read!

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Story ThievesStory Thieves, by James Riley

Another great cover!  Owen’s a normal kid with normal problems, until he sees his classmate Bethany emerging from inside a book!  Turns out that Bethany is half fictional, and she’s looking for her missing father inside probable titles.  Owen promises not to tell…IF Bethany will take him inside his favorite series to meet his favorite character.  Of course, things don’t work out quite as planned, and soon Owen and Bethany are in trouble and on the run.

From the author of the wonderful Half Upon a Time, Twice Upon a Time and Once Upon the End, this is a book I’ve been waiting to read since I heard it was being written!

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So…if you’re looking for something new to read, try one of these titles.  I think you’ll be happy that you did!