Friday, June 29, 2012


Strange.  That's the word that describes Emma-Jean Lazarus.  Good thing the dictionary defines strange as: extraordinary, remarkable, singular.  There is no one like Emma-Jean at William Gladstone Middle School.  Emma-Jean is logical and scientific, and would rather observe her fellow seventh graders than actually interact with them.  One day, though, Emma-Jean finds one of her classmates crying in the bathroom and her quiet, scientific, and ordered life is turned upsidedown as she tries to become the seventh grade problem solver.  Although she has good intentions, not everything goes to plan - especially when she finds herself falling out of a Magnolia Tree.

The first in a series of books, 5th - 8th graders will relate to Emma-Jean's life at school and home in Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012


Pacy loves dumplings and the thought of dumplings is what keeps her spirit up at the thought of spending a whole month in Tawain instead of having a regular summer like her friends in New Hartford.  She doesn't speak the language, so her parents enroll her and her two sisters in a sort of enrichment class for Taiwanese American kids like herself.  Uggh... school in the summer. 

Taiwan is a different world from New Hartford except for the dumplings.  She didn't realize there were so many different kinds.  Everyone in her family gets into the dumpling mood and introduces her to soup dumplings, pan fried dumplings, the night market, chicken feet and most of all she gets to know all that is Taiwan and family.  

Dumpling Days by Grace Lin is a great culture-filled, food-filled book for readers 4th-6th.  

Monday, June 25, 2012


A 2012 Newberry Winner

This is an odd but truly enjoyable story about a boy who is grounded for the entire summer during the 1960s in a dead end town named, Norvelt.  With nothing else to do, his mother lends him out to the next door neighbor with the arthritic hands.  Whenever someone in Norvelt dies, it's up to him to help write the obituaries/history trivia.  In exchange for the use of his hands, she teaches Jack how to drive and fixes his bloody nose problem (which seems to squirt blood every time he gets excited or stressed).

 The once model town seem to hosting a lot of funerals for their elderly residents over such a short period of time that it all becomes suspicious.  When a Hell’s Angel motorcycle member accidentally dies in Norvelt, a chain of events set off monumental changes for Jack, his parents and the entire town.

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos seems like an autobiography but it’s not, even though the author lived in Norvelt and the main character is named after him. It’s a very unusual tale for that special reader who has read everything! For readers in 6th-8th.

Friday, June 22, 2012


The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens 

There’s a reason this book is popular. The writing is pitch-perfect and sweeps readers in immediately. “The Emerald Atlas” is the first in Stephen’s trilogy, “Books of Beginning.” It follows three orphans whose parent’s mysterious disappearance lands them in a string of orphanages. Ten years later, the children are adopted by Dr. Pym and move to a spooky, childless town. After some exploring, they discover a magic book that allows travel through time. Ultimately, they discover how the book connects to a prophecy, an evil witch, and their parents.

Fantasy buffs will notice similarities to Harry Potter and Chronicles of Narnia. But they won’t mind – the pacing, plot, and humor will keep them eagerly turning pages. Don’t expect something wholly original but do expect to be satisfied. 

A solid Harry Potter read-alike. For grades 4 – 7.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


From Vivian, Children's Librarian at the Casa Verdugo Branch Library:

How To Be Friends with a Dragon by Valeri Gorbachev

A fun story about the many rules to follow when around a dragon.  Valeri Gorbachev’s illustrations are whimsical and the story is an absolute delight to share with young dragon fans with bright imaginations.  For ages 4 - 7.  

Monday, June 18, 2012


From Mr. B, Children's Librarian at the Grandview Branch Library

The Case of the Deadly Desperados
By Caroline Lawrence

In “The Case of the Deadly Desperados” [Western Mysteries, Book 1], Sid Fleishman-like charm meets modern sensibilities as 12 year-old half-breed P.K. Pinkerton tracks down his step-parents’ murderers and the silver mine deed they were trying to steal. Along the way, P.K. (who may or may not be the son or nephew of a more famous Pinkerton) hides-out in an opium den disguised as a Chinese boy (aka “a Celestial”); disguises himself as a girl to escape the murders only to run into reporter Samuel Clemens; and learns to read the body language of feet from a professional gambler. Confused? Exactly what author Caroline Lawrence hopes you will be. She lets P.K. fill in the details in his own words as he describes the danger, greed, and culture of Virginia City, silver mining, and the great Comstock Lode with warmth, humor, and a dash of innocence.

This historical tale is not for the faint-hearted, but should please many a 6-9th grade adventure fan whether or not assigned to read “historical fiction.”

Friday, June 15, 2012


In this version of young Sherlock Holmes, the boy is sent to stay with his uncle and aunt at the end of the school term instead of going home to be with his mother.  It's best since his father has been sent off to India with the Army and brother Mycroft is busy at work in London.  Here in the country, Mycrofts sets Sherlock up with an unusual tutor from America, who begins to mentor young Sherlock in tracking, thinking and observational skills.  

When two people die from an unkown cause the townspeople begin to worry.   Young Sherlock along with two friends begin investigating the mysterious black clouds that seem to hover whenever there’s a death.

A dark beginning for this young Sherlock in Death Cloud by Andrew Lane.  For mystery lovers in 6th-8th grades.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012


Lizzy Mortimer is hoping her English teacher will let her pass her English class, even though she has neglected to turn in her final project. In the world's longest letter, Lizzy explains the mysterious and exciting adventure that's prevented her from turning in her project, and adventure that harkens onto the days of Arthurian legend - include some creepy encounters with Vivienne le Mort and Morgan le Faye! Could it be that one of the town members has the mark of Arthur? What does that mean? Well, it's Lizzy's job to figure it out, and to prevent one very handsome boy from being killed!

THE DEATH CATCHERS by Jennifer Anne Kogler is an exciting story for magic and historical fiction fans alike! For 6th grade and up.

Monday, June 11, 2012


Beverly, Madison, and Eston Hemings are all brothers. They have a sister named Harriet and a mother named Sally. They all love the violin and learn how to be carpenters. They also live as slaves at Thomas Jefferson (the guy on the $20 bill's) plantation called Monticello. And, they have a secret. A secret that everyone knows but no one talks about. A secret of who their father is. Thomas Jefferson, writer of the Declaration of Independance, 3rd President of the United States, founder of the University of Virginia, and slave owner - is their father.

An honest look at race and slavery during the 1800s, Jefferson's Sons by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley takes you on a 20 year journey with the Hemings boys as they grow up as slaves on Monticello questioning everything around them and grow up into young free men, loose in a still young country founded by their father.

For lovers of historical fiction and family drama in grades 6-8.
Posted by Lessa

Friday, June 08, 2012


Strange mushrooms are growing in the woods behind their house.  Soon they are growing in everyone's yards and houses. Eric is afraid that this fungal growth will take over his small town in Maine and it may even be some sort of alien species described in a science fiction story from years ago. No one seems to know how to stop it from taking over everything.  It's up to Eric, his brother and runaway cohort to figure it all out. 

The Tanglewood Terror by Kurtis Scaletta is a wild sci-fi adventure for 6th -8th graders.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012


If your mom or dad suddenly died, do you think you would be able to see their ghost? Jay thinks he's seen his Dad's ghost, and is now a dedicated paranormal scientist. Well, as much as one can be when they are still in middle school. But he and his friends team up to form a paranormal detective agency. Their first job: find a missing artifact that will allow them to control the spirit world. Will this help Jay be able to talk to his Dad?

THE SEARCH FOR THE DOMINION GLASS by Justin Heimberg is the first book in the "Ghosts of Rockville" series that may reveal more than anyone knows about paranormal activity. Plus, it includes a special decoder glass to reveal many secret mysteries! For grades 5 and up.

Monday, June 04, 2012


J.J. Tully is the barnyard security dog. He's in charge of keeping the chicks in check and the creepy culprits on the run. One day, a sleek looking female canine moves in next door. She claims to want to help J.J. thwart a particularly pesky possum from sneaking into the hen house, but it seems like she's always messing things up. J.J. begins to wonder what's REALLY going on with this fancy dog that seems more city than country.

Read THE LEGEND OF DIAMOND LIL by Doreen Cronin to get the real scoop! For 2nd-5th grades.

Friday, June 01, 2012


Eva and her family prepare for her quinceaƱera, no one is paying attention to Lolo, her younger sister. She feels a little left out of all preparations for her sister's big celebration, but when Gobi, the perro, get outs of the laundry room and steals Eva's sash, her little sister comes to the rescue.

A delightful tale with swirling fancy dresses that every young girl will enjoy. A glossary in back of the book offers definitons of all the Spanish words. THE FIESTA DRESS: A QUINCEANERA TALE written by Caren McNelly Mccomarck and illustrated by Martha Aviles. For ages 4-8. Grades 2-3.