Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Banned Book Week: Celebrating our Freedom to Read

Banned Book Week is coming soon. The American Library Association sets aside one week a year to celebrate our freedom to read whatever book we like and to freely express our opinions.
From Sept. 27th to Oct. 4th, why not select a book that has been challenged in libraries throughout the United States and see what all the fuss is about. I think you'll find that some of your favorite books are on the challenged list. Yes, "Where the Wild Things Are" by Maurice Sendak is there! "Because of Winn-Dixie" by Kate DiCamillo, "Charlotte's Web" by E.B. White,
even "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory" by Roald Dahl all have been challenged at one time or another. Take a look at this list of frequently challenged books and celebrate your freedom to read!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Good Books Come in Threes!

I guess good books come in threes. Let's start with "Julia Gillian (And the Art of Knowing)" by Alison McGhee. Julia Gillian is an only child whose busy parents are both working on their degrees. Julia Gillian has started reading a green book about a dog but, with her "art of knowing" skills tingling, suspects something sad happens to the dog. With her parents too busy to notice her distress, Julia Gillian pulls on her favorite raccoon mask (it makes her feel strong) and relies on her network of protective friends to help her through her fear. Third through fifth graders will enjoy this book.
All you ghost lovers will enjoy "School Spirit", first in the Suddenly Supernatural series by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel. Kat's mom is a medium who helps others with their ghostly problems. Kat is freaking out because her psychic skills have suddenly appeared. How she and her best friend Jac, a wunderkind celloist, deal with the mean girls at middle school, the school ghost and the mysterious dark shadow in the library will have you laughing and wishing for a sequel. Fourth through sixth graders, line up for this one!
Another fantasy novel, "Puddlejumpers" by Mark Jean and Christopher C. Carlson, deals with the mystery of an orphan that no one wants. Ernie Banks was found on the doorstep of an orphanage as a baby, a baseball card and an acorn crystal the only clues to his identity. Now a thirteen-year-old, Ernie has become a troublemaker. Unfortunately, his latest pranks have brought him in front of a judge and he declares that Ernie must join a three week work program on a Farmer Russ's farm. Farmer Russ is kind and hardworking but hides a terrible truth--his only son was kidnapped as a baby. Ernie is determined to find out what happened to the baby and enlists the aid of Joey, a girl from a neighboring farm. With the help of the Puddlejumpers,
Ernie and Joey will have to face the most frightening creatures of the underworld to save the world as they know it. Adventure and ecology combine to create a story that will have you cheering the good guys and booing the bad guys! Anyone from fourth thru eighth grade will enjoy this adventuresome book.

Friday, September 5, 2008

The Girl Who Could Fly

Piper McCloud is the daughter of Betty and Joe McCloud, quiet farmers whose families have lived and worked in the same farming community for centuries. When Betty realizes her daughter has the ability to fly, she secludes the girl on the farm for her own safety. But word gets out and soon the farmer is deluged by reporters. The government arrives in the form of the beautiful Dr. Hellion, head of an institute devoted to children with unusual talents. When Piper finds out there are others like herself, she can't wait to get to her new school to finally make friends and gladly hops into the waiting helicopter. Once there, she meets her schoolmates and is amazed at their abilities. A bullying genius, twins who can control the weather, the world's fastest runner, a girl who can shrink herself to a minuscule size and others are all in her classroom. Good-hearted Piper finds her place and is amazed at how relaxed she feels. Once she finds out that she is being doped to forget her powers, however, Piper realizes they must all leave the institute before they are permanently changed. But with 8 levels of security guards and the evil Dr. Hellion, how will they ever succeed? Victoria Forester, author of The Girl Who Could Fly, has created a unique book that will keep you on the end of your seat. Fourth through sixth graders will love this marvelous story of chutzpah!

Monday, September 1, 2008

Billy Bones

Hey, parents, looking for a book for that 3rd-5th reluctant reader? Well, just clatter on over to the library and check out "Billy Bones: Tales from the Secrets Closet" by Christopher Lincoln. When poor Millicent's parents die, she is taken to live with her evil, social climbing Uncle Bigham. When investigating her new surroundings in the attic, she happens upon the family's Secrets Closet, inhabited by friendly Billy Bones and his parents. Pirate ghosts, monstrous beings, and Uncle Grim (the Grim Reaper) combine for an adventurous, amusing read. Be assured that, while the story deals with skeletons and ghosts, it will not send your youngsters hiding under the covers. Instead, you'll find them cheering Millicent and Billy's friendship and booing the politics of the underworld. (Yes, they have politics there, too!) From the way the book ends, I think it would be fair to say we are seeing the beginning of another "haunting" series.