Archive | January, 2014

Enchanted by Alethea Kontis

29 Jan

EnchantedEnchanted by Alethea Kontis

Publisher Harcourt Children’s Books
Copyright: 2012

The cover of the paperback version I read of this book had an author’s quote saying roughly that if Neil Gaiman and the Grimm Brothers had a child who was a writer, it would be Ms. Kontis.  Such a combination advertisement was irresistible.

Sunday is the seventh daughter of a seventh daughter.  Her father is a seventh son.  With that genetic makeup, you can be assured that an adventure is at hand.

Sunday is the youngest, overlooked daughter.  Her only comfort is her writing, but her stories have an unfortunate effect of coming true.  So Sunday tries to write only her history, so nothing will change.  She befriends a frog, who is, of course, a magicked prince.  Then her aunt arrives from Faire, her frog friend disappears and things get interesting.

Enchanted is one of those books that throw as many fairy tales as possible in one situation.  You can have a fun time with a classroom discussion seeing how many references you get in just one chapter.  It’s a fun read and the subtitle (Woodcutter Sisters book #1) did not scare me away.  It shouldn’t scare you either.  Enjoy the book!

Recommended: Grades 5 & up

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Throne of Glass by Sarah Maas

20 Jan

Throne of GlassThrone of Glass by Sarah J. Maas
Publisher: Bloomsbury Books for Young Readers
Copyright: 2012

To start at the end, I am planning to purchase the three e-book prequel novellas.  Just saying.

18 year old Celaena Sardothien, a renown assassin,  is plucked from the death camp by the Crown Prince.  She is to fight for the position of King’s Champion.  The same king that sent her to the death camp in the first place.  The Captain of the Guard doesn’t trust her but is sworn to protect her.  Magic is gone from the world, but magic seems to be killing the Champions.

A mystical queen from the long distant past tells Celaena to win the position of Champion and clear the menacing evil from the palace.  Who should she trust?  Why does everyone not appear as they are?  Celaena must win through, but at what cost to herself?  And what choice does she have?

The story runs fast-paced and twists and turns quite unexpectedly.  Early on, its evident that there will be more books.  No matter.  I still enjoyed this one tremendously.  I just have to pick up Book 2:  Crown of Glass (released in Fall 2013).

Highly Recommended:  Grades 6 & up

Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leer

4 Jan

Between the Lines

Between the Lines

By Jodi Picoult and Samantha Van Leeren the Lines

Publisher: First Simon Pulse
Copyright 2012

Continuing to pull out books from the YALSA Top Ten Teen Nominees (2013), I know when I see a Jodi Picoult book I need to read it.  Especially to find out if the book is appropriate for my middle school library.  I’ve read several Picoult books.  I won’t say I love them.  I will say that they effect me tremendously.  I rarely reread one simply because the emotional content is so huge, I can barely contain it.  She is an incredible author.

This book, written by Ms. Picoult and her daughter, is not a standard Picoult book.  Instead, we have a fairy tale.  15 year old Delilah is a loner.  She reads, especially fairy tales, plays chess and sits at the geek lunch table.  16 year old Prince Oliver is charming, handsome, witty, intelligent and a character in a fairy tale book.  And somehow the real Delilah and the character Prince Oliver find themselves able to talk and discover things.  Oliver wants out of the story.  Delilah needs a friend.  This is a lovely story of “what if” with books and characters.

The things that aren’t great in the book are numerous.  First, Delilah is in high school, but feels very middle-school(ish).  I don’t think the character works well.  The ending is simplified.  The story is cute and the pages in the printed book change color.  Really.  Every chapter is a different color and the colors don’t appear to connect to whether it’s real world or fairy tale world.  After the first 50 pages, it tends to be annoying.

Still, I think a number of kids will enjoy the story.  Part of my problem is probably being a Jodi Picoult fan.  This really isn’t one of her books.

Recommended:  Grades 5 & up

Sidekicked by John David Anderson

1 Jan

ImageSidekicked by John David Anderson

HarperCollins Publishers
Copyright 2013

One of the responsibilities I have as a middle school librarian, and winner of the YALSA Top Ten Teen Book Giveaway, is to make sure that all of the books are appropriate for our particular library.   It’s a tough job to read them all, but I can handle it.  If not, I will ship them off to our closest high school.  The sad reality is that not every library can hold every book and not every book is appropriate in every library.  That said, I always encourage students to read what they want to read – and if need be, I’ll borrow from the high school for them.

The reality is that I’ve read a number of the books already.  So I started off with a few books that looked interesting.  Sidekicked caught my eye because of the completely different book Sidekicks by Jack D. Ferraiolo (copyright 2011).  Drew is part of a secret organization for training future superheroes – sidekicks – at the local middle school.  The organization is the Highview Environmental Revitalization Organization (H.E.R.O.) uses a secret passageway in the teachers’ lounge.  (I always knew there was something special hidden in the teachers’ lounge.)  Drew doesn’t seem to have the coolest super power ever.  He’s got a supersensitive nose  and ears.  He can’t fight well, or life heavy things or turn into a stone person like Gavin.   And his superhero is ignoring him.  Even if he gets into trouble by a supervillain, the superhero doesn’t show up.  It’s a little frustrating.  Drew’s best friend, and fellow sidekick, is Jenna.  Her superhero is the Fox.  She’s wonderful, supportive, and a true hero.

When an old supervillain reemerges, the superheroes start disappearing.  Drew’s relationship with Jenna is changing and nothing is right.  Drew has to solve the problem and find the right solution.

“Sometimes I don’t think there really is a good and bad… At least not the way we were always taught. Sometimes I just think there are choices and consequences.”

HIGHLY Recommended: Grades 5 & up.

YALSA Top Ten Teen Book Giveaway WINNER!!

1 Jan

ImageThanks to the Dollar General Foundation and YALSA, Woodland Middle School was one of fifty schools in the country to win the YALSA Top Ten Teen Giveaway.  

We heard we won in the end of October, received the top ten books along with the other 18 nominees (!!) in December and we’re finally announcing to the world.  Truly excited students who got first dibs on the books.