Monday, June 06, 2011

Hot Reads For Summer

Oh, wow. I just sent my June/end of the fiscal year order. Folks, we have a ton of awesome books coming our way. Beat the summer heat (our second heat wave already, and it's just the first week of June...uh oh) by visiting your local Fauquier County branch, signing up for the summer reading program, and checking out some fantastic reads (before or after attending one of our many terrific summer programs).

First Garden: The White House Garden and How It Grew

While its main focus is on the creation of Mrs. Obama's garden, First Garden also takes a look at how previous Presidents, First Ladies, and their children have used the outdoor space at the White House. Readers will also learn basic gardening and healthy eating tips.

The Absolute Value of Mike

Fourteen year old Mike is sent to live with relatives while his father works abroad in Romania. Mike's father, a math professor, demands that he work on an engineering project in order to increase his chances at being accepted into a magnet school, despite the fact that Mike has learning problems related to math. Although Mike will never be a math whiz, important lessons learned during his stay will linger long after the summer is over. Publishers Weekly, although not an outright rave, praises its "...wacky cast, rewarding character growth, and ample humor" that makes Charlottesville author Kathryn Erskine's latest novel "an effortless read."

Anya's Ghost

When Neil Gaiman's calls something "a masterpiece," people pay attention (and if you're a publisher, you put that smack dab on the cover so that no one misses it). Anya is routinely embarrassed by her Russian immigrant parents. She feels awkward about her body, and doesn't feel like she fits in at school. To top it all off, she falls down a well. And ends up making friends with the ghost who lives at the bottom of the well....what? This graphic novel has already received a starred review from The Horn Book Magazine.

Are You Awake?

Young Edward is wide-eyed and bushy tailed before the crack of dawn. Naturally, Mom isn't quite there yet. Why? Because it's still nighttime. Regardless, Edward is still full of questions, through which we learn that his favorite color is yellow and that his dad is a pilot. Finally, just as the sun is rising and Edward's father is returning, Edward falls asleep. Kirkus Reviews calls it "sweet" and School Library Journal calls it "small in size and big in tenderness," I call it a must-order. Nice to have a book that shows a parent working nontraditional hours, too.

Astronaut Academy 1: Zero Gravity

Hakata Soy is only a new student at Astronaut Academy, but he already has a robot lookalike out to kill him. Don't you hate it when that happens? Kirkus Review says, "'s hard not to like a book where Wearing Cute Hats is on the lesson plan." Can't really argue with that.

Bad Kitty Meets the Baby

Whoo hoo! A new Bad Kitty book. Bad Kitty has made her peace with Puppy, but then the humans bring home a stinky, drooling thing that always wants to play. Kitty's sure it must be a dog. Her friends are convinced that it's another Kitty (not good). Will Bad Kitty be a good kitty with the baby? We'll have to find out. And keep your eye out for a Bad Kitty Christmas book later in the fall!

The Berlin Boxing Club

After a gang of Nazi bullies beat him up, a friend of Karl's father offers to give him boxing lessons. Karl is the Jewish son of atheist/agnostic parents, his friend's father is the boxing champion Max Schmeling, and it is the dawn of the Third Reich in Germany. School Library Journal calls this "an unusual story with well-drawn, complex characters, gripping history, and intense emotion."

Big Brothers Don't Take Naps

I'm picky about the "new baby" books that I like and recommend. I dislike the ones that are persistently negative and bratty. Yes, it's absolutely normal for a young child to be apprehensive, nervous, or bewildered about a new sibling, and it's important to acknowledge those feelings. However, I've read too many new baby books that are just negative, negative, negative until the very end. Many new baby books just feature a family growing from one child to two children; very rarely is there an older sibling in the picture. Big Brothers Don't Take Naps seems to be a welcome addition to the "new baby" field. Like most little brothers, Nicholas hero-worships big brother James. Not hard to see why; James is a patient and loving older brother. Nicholas isn't sure what to make of the news that a baby sister (!) is on the way, but big brother James is ready to tell him all the great stuff that happens once you become a big brother. Awesome. Reviews have been very positive.

The Crossing

Donna Jo Napoli doesn't normally write picture books, so I'm eager to read The Crossing. It tells the tale of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, through the eyes of Sacagawea's infant son, Jean Baptiste.

The Daily Comet: Boy Saves Earth From Giant Octopus!

Not many picture books about the son of a tabloid journalist, are there? I guess Bat Boy doesn't make an appearance, though. School Library Journal warns us to "[M]ake room for this on your shelves, but it won't stay there long." All right, then!

Department 19

Oh, look, another vampire book! This draws on the legend of that most famous vampire, Count Dracula (who did not sparkle and was not really tortured about being a vampire. From what I remember, he was pretty cool with the whole deal.). 16 year old Jamie is inducted into Department 19, created by the men who conquered Dracula. "What follows is plenty of high-octane action, groovy specialized vampire-fighting equipment, buckets of gore, intriguing historical side trips and even a little romance between Jamie and a sexy teen vampire" says Kirkus Reviews. (Vampires. The ultimate bad boyfriend/girlfriend.) There's also nods to other famous literary and cinematic monsters and allusions to Star Wars. Sounds like a Darran Shan fan's dream come true!

Eliza's Cherry Trees: Japan's Gift to America

Wish I had known about this in time for the blooming of the cherry trees this spring, but no matter. This is the biography of Eliza Scidmore, who was instrumental in bringing the Japanese cherry trees to Washington.

EllRay Jakes is Not a Chicken

Very excited about Ellray. Male African-American characters in children's books other than historical fiction are hard to find.

I think that's a good stopping point. I'll continue this post later this week. Enjoy!

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