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Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: For Adults Who Like...

On the 12th day of Christmas...we have reached the end! I hope that you have found some terrific suggestions for everyone on your gift list. And since you are cutting it VERY close, you might want to consider the Kindle/Nook versions of these titles.

Today we conclude with some of my favorites. For adults who are fans of the History Channel (or National Geographic...or even the Discovery Channel...maybe even PBS).

Code Name Verity—Wein (8th-adult)
One Summer—Bryson
Boxers/Saints—Yang (7th- adult)
Good Lord Bird—McBride
Nazi Hunters—Bascomb (6th –adult)
Signature of All Things—Gilbert
The President Has Been Shot/End of Days—Swanson (6th grade-adult) 

And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Monday, December 23, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: For Adults Who Like...

On the 11th day of Christmas...we are almost to the end! And you're kind of cutting it close to have something under the tree for them to open. So, maybe consider the Kindle/Nook version? Or a gift certificate for the book? Or hope 2 day shipping really comes through for you!

More books for adults today, this time for fans of all those cable TV channels/shows:

For fans of Food Network:
Relish—Knisley (HS-adult)
Yes, Chef—Samuelsson (HS-adult)

For fans of Hoarders:
Coming Clean: a memoir—Miller (HS-adult)

For fans of DIY:
Tao of Martha—Lancaster

For fans of Downton Abbey:
While We Were Watching Downton Abbey—Wax

And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: For Adults Who Like...

On the 10th day of Christmas...we continue with books for the adults on your list. There's still enough time to run down to your local bookstore and grab one of these. Or use two-day shipping from your favorite online retailer!

Today I wanted to highlight great books for adults who like a good love story and/or adults who like to read YA.

He’s Gone—Caletti (a YA author who wrote a terrific "crossover" adult title this year).
In the Bag—Klise (a tween author who wrote this perfect vacation/beach/love story...that would also work great for high schoolers. Or mothers/daughters that wanted to share the book).
Eleanor and Park--Rowell
Fault in our Stars--Green


And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Saturday, December 21, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books for Adults Who Like...

On the 9th day of Christmas...more books for adults.

Okay, I realize that most of these books aren't the first ones you might think about when giving a gift to a loved one or friend, but let's face it, some of us like all things dark and grim. So, for the Stephen King fan on your list (who has a new book out by the way, but I haven't read it yet so couldn't recommend it)...or the wannabe Crime Scene Investigator:

Midwinterblood—Sedgwick (9th grade-adult)
Lost Girls—Koelker (this is definitely for your CSI fans!)
Waking Dark—Wasserman (10th grade-adult)
I Hunt Killers; Game—Lyga (10th grade-adult) 

And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Friday, December 20, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books for Adults Who Like...

On the 8th day of Christmas, we continue with gift ideas for adults (and of course, teens, depending on their reading level/interests/age).

Today, I'm highlighting books for those who enjoy theater, TV, & movies. Sure you could just get them a gift card to Netflix, Fandango, or Hulu, but many of the great movies/TV shows/Broadway productions out there are originally based on books.

Here's some of my favorites from this year, or rather, from TV/movies that were released this year or announced this year that they were coming soon:

Little Bit Wicked—Chenowith
Book Thief—Zusak (7th-adult)
Divergent—Roth (7th-adult)
Secret Life of Walter Mitty—Thurber
Monuments of Men—Edsel
Orange is the New Black—Kerman  

And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: For Adults Who Like...

On the seventh day of Christmas...we've moved on to books for grown-ups (which might also work for teens/tweens of various ages, depending on their likes and reading level).

Today, I'm highlighting books for grown-ups who like some of my favorite "things": 
Adventure/Survival stories

I've been taking up a lot of space in each post with summaries and cover images. But let's be honest, you're in a time crunch. You can look up any of these covers on Amazon or your favorite online book retailer. You just need the basic information to start building your shopping cart.

For adults who are science geeks (like me), I recommend:
Gulp—Roach (or any of her titles)
Frankenstein’s Cat—Anthes
David and Goliath—Gladwell

For fans of Bear Grylls (Adventure/Survival junkies):
Frozen in Time--Zuckoff
Lost in Shangri-La—Zuckoff

For Sports fans:
Boys in the Boat—Brown
Running for My Life—Lomong
On These Courts—Drash

And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: High School

On the sixth day of Christmas...we move on to high school.

These are some of my favorite books of the year! I could gush, and gush, and gush about how much I love all of them, but I will just make a general statement about how much you must read them all! And that at least one of them is PERFECT for any high school reader (or adult who loves to read YA) on your list.

(1) Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell. MY FAVORITE BOOK this year to recommend to all my friends/neighbors/high school students that are fans of The Fault in Our Stars (John Green) and desperate for something else to read. I mentioned it here on the blog this summer.

From the publisher:
Set over the course of one school year in 1986, this is the story of two star-crossed misfits—smart enough to know that first love almost never lasts, but brave and desperate enough to try. When Eleanor meets Park, you'll remember your own first love—and just how hard it pulled you under.

(2) Winger by Andrew Smith. LOVE! And here's proof.

From the publisher:
Ryan Dean West is a fourteen-year-old junior at a boarding school for rich kids. He's living in Opportunity Hall, the dorm for troublemakers, and rooming with the biggest bully on the rugby team. And he's madly in love with his best friend Annie, who thinks of him as a little boy.

With the help of his sense of humor, rugby buddies, and his penchant for doodling comics, Ryan Dean manages to survive life's complications and even find some happiness along the way. But when the unthinkable happens, he has to figure out how to hold on to what's important, even when it feels like everything has fallen apart.

(3) Reality Boy by A.S. King. Quick, go read everything this author has written. Right now. 

From the publisher:

Gerald Faust started feeling angry even before his mother invited a reality TV crew into his five-year-old life. Twelve years later, he's still haunted by his rage-filled youth--which the entire world got to watch from every imaginable angle--and his anger issues have resulted in violent outbursts, zero friends, and clueless adults dumping him in the special education room at school. No one cares that Gerald has tried to learn to control himself; they're all just waiting for him to snap. And he's starting to feel dangerously close to doing just that...until he chooses to create possibilities for himself that he never knew he deserved.

(4)Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. This is the "companion" novel to one of my all-time favorites from last year, Code Name Verity. Are you a fan of historical fiction, survival, adventure, World War II, spies, or all of the above? You will want to read this, and get a copy for any high school/adult reader on your list that is.

From the publisher:

While flying an Allied fighter plane from Paris to England, American ATA pilot and amateur poet, Rose Justice, is captured by the Nazis and sent to Ravensbrück, the notorious women's concentration camp. Trapped in horrific circumstances, Rose finds hope in the impossible through the loyalty, bravery and friendship of her fellow prisoners. But will that be enough to endure the fate that's in store for her?

(5) Moon and More by Sarah Dessen. I have read and loved everything by Sarah Dessen and her latest was no exception. Another of the books that I was madly in love with this summer. Read here.

From the publisher:
Emaline wants the moon and more, but how can she balance where she comes from with where she's going?

(6) Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson. WOW! I don't even like sci-fi/super hero/super villian epic stories, but I really enjoyed this one!

From the publisher:
Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills. 

Nobody fights the Epics . . . nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants Steelheart—the Epic who is said to be invincible. The Epic who killed David's father. For years, like the Reckoners, David's been studying, and planning—and he has something they need. Not an object, but an experience. 

He's seen Steelheart bleed. And he wants revenge.

(7) Foul Trouble by John Feinstein. Sportswriter Feinstein is back with another gripping sports story, that is all about basketball...but also SO MUCH MORE. And as we head into basketball season, this one really scores (ha, ha, ha).

From the publisher:

Terrell Jamerson is the #1 high school basketball player in the country. His team is poised to win State, top colleges are lining up to give him scholarships, and everyone says he could play in the NBA tomorrow. But it only takes one false step to lose everything.

Danny Wilcox is Terrell's best friend and teammate, and a top prospect himself, but these days it seems like everyone wants to get close to Terrell: the sneaker guys, the money managers, the college boosters. They show up offering fast cars, hot girls, and cold, hard cash. They say they just want to help, but their kind of help could get Terrell disqualified.

Danny and Terrell better keep their eyes on the ball if they hope to last the season.

(8) Beginning of Everything by Robyn Schneider. This was also one of my favorite books this year. I think it will take just the right reader to find it (the cover and the publisher promotion of it isn't that strong), but even the amazing John Green himself recommends this one.

From the publisher:
Varsity Tennis captain Ezra Faulkner was supposed to be homecoming king, but that was before—before his girlfriend cheated on him, before a car accident shattered his leg, and before he fell in love with unpredictable new girl Cassidy Thorpe.

(9) This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith. Do you have a reader that's looking for a "nice" story? A little romance, a little mystery, a lot of fun? This is the book for you. I have also been recommending this one WIDELY, as you can probably already tell if you've read this post. 

From the publisher:
When teenage movie star Graham Larkin accidentally sends small town girl Ellie O'Neill an email about his pet pig, the two seventeen-year-olds strike up a witty and unforgettable correspondence, discussing everything under the sun, except for their names or backgrounds.

Then Graham finds out that Ellie's Maine hometown is the perfect location for his latest film, and he decides to take their relationship from online to in-person. But can a star as famous as Graham really start a relationship with an ordinary girl like Ellie? And why does Ellie want to avoid the media's spotlight at all costs?

(10) is a Two-For-One, because you really need to get the person both books. Just One Day/Just One Year by Gayle Forman. The woman who brought readers the amazing "If I Stay" and "Where She Went" is back with another "duo" of books guaranteed to please.

From the publisher:

 Just One Day:
Allyson Healey's life is exactly like her suitcase—packed, planned, ordered. Then on the last day of her three-week post-graduation European tour, she meets Willem. A free-spirited, roving actor, Willem is everything she's not, and when he invites her to abandon her plans and come to Paris with him, Allyson says yes. This uncharacteristic decision leads to a day of risk and romance, liberation and intimacy: 24 hours that will transform Allyson's life.

Just One Year:
When he opens his eyes, Willem doesn't know where in the world he is—Prague or Dubrovnik or back in Amsterdam. All he knows is that he is once again alone, and that he needs to find a girl named Lulu. They shared one magical day in Paris, and something about that day—that girl—makes Willem wonder if they aren't fated to be together. He travels all over the world, from Mexico to India, hoping to reconnect with her. But as months go by and Lulu remains elusive, Willem starts to question if the hand of fate is as strong as he'd thought.

And, if you're ever in a pinch and want to pick up a great paperback for a high school reader in your life, anything by Sarah Dessen, John Green, or Chris Crutcher will fit the bill!

And remember, if you want a link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: 6th-8th Grades

On the fifth day of Christmas...

We move on to great books for the middle school crowd. I could talk about these books for quite some time, so it was tough narrowing it down to just these titles. But I wanted to make sure to have a variety of options for every reader.

 (1) House of Secrets by Chris Columbus and Ned Vizzini.
I always tell the kids, "no, not that Columbus," but he is the genius behind MANY of your favorite movies (look him up, you'll agree!). And Vizzini is no slouch in his own right. Pair the two together and you have two creative geniuses working on a terrific new series for middle school. I highlighted it here earlier this year (briefly).

From the publisher:
Brendan, Eleanor, and Cordelia Walker once had everything: two loving parents, a beautiful house in San Francisco, and all the portable electronic devices they could want. But everything changed when Dr. Walker lost his job in the wake of a mysterious incident. Now in dire straits, the family must relocate to an old Victorian house that used to be the home of occult novelist Denver Kristoff—a house that feels simultaneously creepy and too good to be true.

(2) Better Nate than Ever by Tim Federle.
I've been gushing about this one all year. You can read about it here and here.

(3) Lincoln’s Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin (HS & adult also).
A true crime thriller -- the first book for teens to tell the nearly unknown tale of the brazen attempt to steal Abraham Lincoln's body! You can't make this stuff up!

(4) Star Wars: Jedi Academy by Jeff Brown.
This has been popular at my school since I started book talking it. I describe it as Wimpy Kid meets Star Wars meets middle school.

From the publisher:
Roan's one dream is to leave home and attend Pilot Academy like his older brother, father, and grandfather. But just as Roan is mysteriously denied entrance to Pilot School, he is invited to attend Jedi Academy--a school that he didn't apply to and only recruits children when they are just a few years old. That is, until now...

(5) 45 Pounds, More or Less by K. A. Barson.
I have talked about this one a lot this year also. I really love this one. SO MUCH. 

From the publisher:
Here are the numbers of Ann Galardi's life:
She is 16.
And a size 17.
Her perfect mother is a size 6.
Her Aunt Jackie is getting married in 2 months, and wants Ann to be a bridesmaid.
So Ann makes up her mind: Time to lose 45 pounds (more or less).

(6) Sure Signs of Crazy by Karen Harrington.
This is a quiet gem of a novel. I have talked about it a lot. I've forced it on teachers and students alike. Everyone that reads it comes back and says, "amazing!" I would love for this to be a classroom novel...or all school read...someday.

From the publisher:
You've never met anyone exactly like twelve-year-old Sarah Nelson. While most of her friends obsess over Harry Potter, she spends her time writing letters to Atticus Finch. She collects trouble words in her diary. Her best friend is a plant. And she's never known her mother, who left when Sarah was two.

Since then, Sarah and her dad have moved from one small Texas town to another, and not one has felt like home.

Everything changes when Sarah launches an investigation into her family's Big Secret. She makes unexpected new friends and has her first real crush, and instead of a "typical boring Sarah Nelson summer," this one might just turn out to be extraordinary.

(7) Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan.
Another quiet gem that needs just the right reader, but is AMAZING! I also highlighted it here.

From the publisher:
Willow Chance is a twelve-year-old genius, obsessed with nature and diagnosing medical conditions, who finds it comforting to count by 7s. It has never been easy for her to connect with anyone other than her adoptive parents, but that hasn't kept her from leading a quietly happy life . . . until now.

(8) Road Trip by Gary Paulsen.
Fans of Gary Paulsen are everywhere. This is a quick read, but a terrific book that works well for boys and girls. Another one I've been recommending a lot, as you can see here.

(9) Lost Kingdom by Matthew Kirby.
Terrific for fans of history, fantasy, science has a little bit of everything. And is really hard for me to explain. But I think that you will really enjoy the adventure.

From the publisher:
Billy Bartram, his father, and a secret society of philosophers and scientists venture into the American wilderness in search of the lost people of the Welsh Prince Madoc, seeking aid in the coming war against the French. Traveling in a flying airship, the members of the expedition find their lives frequently endangered in the untamed American West by terrifying creatures, a party of French soldiers hot on their trail, and the constant threat of traitors and spies. Billy will face hazards greater than he can ever imagine as, together with his father, he gets caught up in the fight for the biggest prize of all: America.

(10) Battling Boy by Paul Pope.
A great book! Starred reviews abound!

From the publisher:
Monsters roam through Arcopolis, swallowing children into the horrors of their shadowy underworld. Only one man is a match for them - the genius vigilante Haggard West.

Unfortunately, Haggard West is dead. Arcopolis is desperate, but when its salvation comes in the form of a twelve-year-old demigod, nobody is more surprised than Battling Boy himself.

(11) Revenge of the Girl with the Great Personality by Elizabeth Eulberg.
I highlighted this one earlier in the year here.  Really enjoyed this one!

And remember, if you want an immediate link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Monday, December 16, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: 3rd-5th Grades

On the fourth day of Christmas...

We've jumped up to 3rd-5th graders. Quite honestly, these are some of my personal favorites this year. I guess it's a good year to be an elementary student. Also, this is a time that I'd like to remind you that these books also make good gifts for the teachers on your list you know that teach these grade levels. Classroom libraries are always in need of books.

(1) Destiny, Rewritten by Kathryn Fitzmaurice.
4th grade me would have wanted and loved this book! I reviewed it here over the summer.

(2) Doll Bones by Holly Black.
I included this in my "good scary stories" post this fall. Don't be scared it's too scary to give as a gift book though. This is the perfect adventure/ghost story for the upper elementary crowd.

(3) Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo.
This book is on everyone's "top books" list of 2013. I am a fan of DiCamillo's books, and when you look up her list of titles, you will realize that you are a fan also.

From the publisher:
It begins, as the best superhero stories do, with a tragic accident that has unexpected consequences. The squirrel never saw the vacuum cleaner coming, but self-described cynic Flora Belle Buckman, who has read every issue of the comic book Terrible Things Can Happen to You!, is the just the right person to step in and save him. What neither can predict is that Ulysses (the squirrel) has been born anew, with powers of strength, flight, and misspelled poetry — and that Flora will be changed too, as she discovers the possibility of hope and the promise of a capacious heart.

(4) How to Catch a Bogle by Catherine Jinks.
I love Ms. Jinks' books for the middle school crowd. I was so excited to see this title for the upper elementary reader. 

From the publisher:

If ever a chill entered her soul, or the hope suddenly drained from her heart, she knew a bogle was to blame.

Birdie McAdam, a ten-year-old orphan, is tougher than she looks. She's proud of her job as apprentice to Alfred the Bogler, a man who catches monsters for a living. Birdie lures the bogles out of their lairs with her sweet songs, and Alfred kills them before they kill her. On the mean streets of Victorian England, hunting bogles is actually less dangerous work than mudlarking for scraps along the vile river Thames. Or so it seems—until the orphans of London start to disappear . . .

(5) Escape from Mr. Lemoncello's Library by Chris Grabenstein. 
I LOVED this book. I want to live in this library. I also reviewed this book here this summer. 

(6) Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman. 
I'm not going to say anything other than IT'S NEIL GAIMAN. Read it! Crazy, quirky fun.

From the publisher:
"I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."

"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."

And remember, if you want an immediate link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: Kindergarten-2nd Grade (Chapter Books)

On the third day of Christmas...

I thought I would offer some quick suggestions for the Kindergarten through 2nd grade crowd that thinks they are "more advanced" than picture books. Personally, I think that pictures appeal to ALL ages, but some kids really just want to read a "chapter book."

So, here are some early-chapter book series that are popular with the young elementary crowd...that all have new books out this year. But don't forget, it's always fine to start with book #1! And most are in paperback, so you might be able to get several titles.

Bink & Gollie—DiCamillo 




And remember, if you want an immediate link to the entire list, see this post.

Happy Reading! And Gifting!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: Kindergarten-2nd Grade (Picture Books, part 2)

On the second day of Christmas, we continued with picture books!

(5) How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers: a simple but brilliant plan in 24 easy steps by Mordicai Gerstein. 

This is one of my top selections from my Summer Reading list this year. I love that it inspires imagination.

From the publisher:

In this simple, step-by-step instructional picture book, learn how you too can visit the moon on your bicycle! All you need is a very long garden hose, a very large slingshot, a borrowed spacesuit, and a bicycle . . . and plenty of imagination. With tongue firmly in cheek, Caldecott Medal winner Mordicai Gerstein outlines the steps needed in glorious comic book-style panels and a deadpan voice, leaving nothing out: the food you'll eat, how to deal with loneliness in space, how to water those sunflower seeds once they're planted—even how to deal with the media attention back home after a successful trip. An inspired work of whimsy, How to Bicycle to the Moon to Plant Sunflowers is a spacefaring adventure for daydreamers and a starter kit for the imagination.

(6) Crankenstein by Samantha Berger.

We have all felt like a Crankenstein at some point, right? I love this kid...and this book.

From the publisher:


He may look like any ordinary boy, but when faced with a rainy day, a melting popsicle, or an early bedtime, one little boy transforms into a mumbling, grumbling Crankenstein. When Crankenstein meets his match in a fellow Crankenstein, the results could be catastrophic--or they could be just what he needs to brighten his day!

(7) Matchbox Diary by Paul Fleischman. 

I reviewed this one over the summer here. And I still love it! Get this one for family of all ages.

(8) The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Dewalt.

Who hasn't wondered what their box of crayons is thinking? I know that as I was lining up my 64-count box in color order, I wondered what they did when I wasn't using them.

From the publisher:
Poor Duncan just wants to color. But when he opens his box of crayons, he finds only letters, all saying the same thing: His crayons have had enough! They quit! Beige Crayon is tired of playing second fiddle to Brown Crayon. Black wants to be used for more than just outlining. Blue needs a break from coloring all those bodies of water. And Orange and Yellow are no longer speaking—each believes he is the true color of the sun.

What can Duncan possibly do to appease all of the crayons and get them back to doing what they do best?

Missed yesterday's suggestions (picture books #1-#4)? Click here.

And remember, if you want an immediate link to the entire list, see this post.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books: Kindergarten-2nd Grade (Picture Books, part 1)

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

I thought that I would just post my suggestions each day in "age order." So, we start it all off with Picture Books for the Kindergarten-2nd grade crowd (these would also be good for older preschoolers also).

In no particular order:

(1) Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka, Mac Barnett, and Alex. Illustrated by Matthew Myers, but mostly Alex.
Okay, I've been a fan of Scieszka's FOREVER, and am a recent fan of Mr. Barnett, and Mr. Myers is no slouch either. The fact that everyone has come together here to create a book which inspires creativity is just a bonus. 
This is a wildly imaginative book that will be appreciated by ALL!
From the publisher: 
Alex has been given a saccharine, sappy, silly-sweet picture book about Birthday Bunny that his grandma found at a garage sale. Alex isn't interested—until he decides to make the book something he'd actually like to read. So he takes out his pencil, sharpens his creativity, and totally transforms the story!

Birthday Bunny becomes Battle Bunny, and the rabbit's innocent journey through the forest morphs into a supersecret mission to unleash an evil plan—a plan that only Alex can stop.

(2) Ball by Mary Sullivan. 

I reviewed this book here over the summer. Dog lovers of any age (or wanna be dog owners) will rejoice with this one!

(3) Journey by Aaron Becker. 

I'm sure that I like this one because Harold and the Purple Crayon is one of my all-time favorites. But I'm not the only one who loved this book...starred reviews and "best books of 2013" awards abound for this wordless picture book.

From the publisher:
A lonely girl draws a magic door on her bedroom wall and through it escapes into a world where wonder, adventure, and danger abound. Red marker in hand, she creates a boat, a balloon, and a flying carpet that carry her on a spectacular journey toward an uncertain destiny. When she is captured by a sinister emperor, only an act of tremendous courage and kindness can set her free. Can it also lead her home and to her heart's desire? 

(4) Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner. 
I LOVE David Wiesner's books. All of them. And this one is no exception. Another wordless (almost) picture book that tells a story while allowing you you to create your own story at the same time (my favorite kind). Best of the Best lists for this one also.
From the publisher:
A cat named Mr. Wuffles doesn't care about toy mice or toy goldfish. He's much more interested in playing with a little spaceship full of actual aliens—but the ship wasn't designed for this kind of rough treatment. Between motion sickness and damaged equipment, the aliens are in deep trouble. When the space visitors dodge the cat and take shelter behind the radiator to repair the damage, they make a host of insect friends. The result? A humorous exploration of cooperation between aliens and insects, and of the universal nature of communication involving symbols, "cave" paintings, and gestures of friendship.

That should get you started! #5-#8 will be posted tomorrow. Happy Reading! And gifting!

And remember, if you want an immediate link to the entire list, see this post.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Twelve Days of Christmas: Gift Books!

The holiday season is upon us. Hopefully you've survived Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and any other creative and/or contrived shopping day that is out there. 

This is the time of year that I get asked, "What book should I get for my (insert family member of your choice here)?" Books make great gifts for everyone on your list, and for any gift-giving occasion. Whether it is a book for your own child, niece/nephew, friend, or dad, it can be difficult to pick the right book, but over the next 12 days, I will be highlighting my suggestions to help you find the perfect book (published this year) for your loved-one, regardless of who they are and what they like to read!

Stay tuned...we'll start on the 13th! If you are dying for all of the suggestions now, check out my library newsletter posted here.

Until then, I thought that I would post this picture I found on Facebook because I couldn't have said it better myself! #11 is my favorite!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Spotlight Book of the Week

Today's Spotlight book for Evergreen was "Boys in the Boat" by Daniel James Brown.

An incredible book for anyone that is a fan of sports, world history, Olympics, crew, even the University of Washington or Pacific NW stories. (Though if you are a Cougar or Duck or any other college alumni, please don't ignore this book because it is about a bunch of Huskies).

This is the true story of the 1936 8-oar crew team that represented the United States at the Berlin Olympics and their quest for gold. They also happened to be the UW crew team at the time and overcame so many odds to even get to the Olympics.

A terrific, true-life story that will make a good gift this holiday season for many readers. It has received comparisons to "Unbroken" and "Seabiscuit" (both by Laura Hillenbrand) and it deserves the comparisons.

On a side note: this is one example where I do NOT recommend the audiobook. Or at least, not to anyone that is from the Northwest. The narrator was not directed in the correct pronunciation of many NW cities and it can be quite annoying and distracting. 

Friday, November 22, 2013

Non-Fiction and Fiction Pairings

I presented a webinar for the American Library Association (YALSA) yesterday for librarians around the country. The topic was near and dear to my heart: the best non-fiction for teens (published recently) and perfect fiction titles to pair with each one. 

SO MANY GOOD TITLES, not nearly enough time to present them all. I had a 60 minute maximum and started with 68 non-fiction titles that I "had" to discuss. Add in the matching fiction title and that is entirely too many books to cover in an hour. But cutting titles from the list reminded me of the Neil Gaiman quote about how picking favorite books equals picking body parts that I could live without. Nearly impossible, but I managed to do it.

Final presentation ended up having 49 slides...whew! It was a fast-moving presentation. For those of you that weren't able to attend the presentation, you can find out more about it here and there are options to purchase access to the webinar. If you are a YALSA member, you should have free access to it in two months.

I will take some time over the next few weeks to share some of my favorite selections/pairing. There are so many good non-fiction titles published for teens (and tweens) in the last year or's my favorite genre and I love talking about them! Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Trailer Tuesday: Middle School Misery

Anyone who knows me is not surprised to find out that I am a fan of John Green...and everything that he does. Okay, "fan" might not be the right word, because I have a not-so-small crush on him...and his books...and his nerdfighter vlogs...and anything John Green.

This latest one is PERFECT and speaks to everyone in middle school. Loved the message and thought I would share with all of you. And it works perfect for Trailer Tuesday in my opinion.

Friday, November 15, 2013

Spotlight Book of the Week

Today's Evergreen Staff Spotlight title was a two-for-one:

Next week marks the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President Kennedy, and many books, movies, documentaries, television specials will be upcoming. I thought I would highlight two titles that do an excellent job of discussing the assassination and all the details necessary to understand what happened.

Both books are adapted versions of the authors' titles published for adults (which I would also recommend). However, these "teen" editions provide plenty of detail and with terrific amounts of archival photographs and illustrative materials.

The President Has Been Shot by James L. Swanson

Kennedy's Last Days by Bill O'Reilly

Top 10 Books at Evergreen This Week

The library catalog system "tracks" top titles for our library, and it is something that I enjoy looking at quite frequently to see what's "hot." Of course, I use the term "track" loosely, because I haven't quite figured out the formula it uses. For example, I think that it should take number of holds on the book into account, but it doesn't.

Regardless, I thought that I would share the Top 10 books in our Evergreen Library this week. Now, if you are a student and click on the "Top 10" in the library catalog, this list is for the past 30 days. I can actually pull up reports to change the time frame that it uses when calculating titles. It's actually interesting to note that this changes the titles quite a bit, and takes into account suddenly popular titles vs. titles that sustain popularity.

So, for the last 7 days, the top books at Evergreen were:

1. Jedi Academy by Jeffrey Brown. TOTALLY surprising, and completely due to the fact that I ordered two additional copies this week and I booktalked this to 6th grade classes a lot recently. It flew off the shelves.

2. Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary Pearson. Love this book and while it is always popular, the reason it hit number 2 is that it's a top choice for our 8th grade Sci-Fi unit which just started this week. All 9 copies FLEW off the shelves yesterday.

3. & 4. Catching Fire and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Not a shocker with the movie coming out next week.

5. House of Hades by Rick Riordan. Again, not a shocker. Riordan's books are always popular with my students, and the hold list continues to grow every day, even though we have multiple copies and students are reading it fast. If the system factored holds into the calculation, this book would be number one without any competition.

6. Insurgent by Veronica Roth. I actually can't figure out why this book is so much higher in the top ten than Divergent, because students are always asking me for Divergent and with all the movie buzz, I would have thought that all the recent recruits to the series would have pushed the first one into the lead.

7. Matched by Ally Condie. Again, not a surprise considering the Sci-Fi unit. This is always a popular series at Evergreen.

8. Wimpy Kid #8: Hard Luck. It's kind of fitting that this book is 8th on the list...but also surprising. The only reason that this is so low on the list in my opinion (I expected it to be 2 or 3) is that many of my kids must have purchased their own copies from their local bookstore.

9. Swim the Fly by Don Calame. Always popular at Evergreen, this is falling down the top 10 charts as the 8th grade Humor unit is ending.

10. Divergent by Veronica Roth. Barely made it into the top 10 this week. But long-term, this one is always in the top. And deservedly so!

So, what does this tell us? 
I'm sad that there's not a non-fiction title among the top 10. Something I will continue to work on.
Series are HOT at Evergreen. I often joke that if I call it a series, they will read it.
Dystopian is not dead yet, at least in my neck of the woods.

What are your top titles?

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Poll Results

During October and the first part of November, I was running some polls for my students to participate in. These were hosted on my school district internal website, and since they all revolved around The Hunger Games, I thought that I would post the results for those of you that don't have access to that website.

Poll #1:
How excited are you for the Catching Fire movie?

Response options ranged from "I'm counting down the days and will be there opening night for sure...I already have my tickets" to "What's Catching Fire?" Okay, I'm scared that there were 19 students that replied that they didn't know what Catching Fire was, because even if you didn't like the books or hadn't read the series, I think that you'd have to actually know about it with all the marketing that goes on. I'm hoping that these kids chose this answer as a joke to mess with me. Surprisingly, there were not many students that indicated they'd be there opening night either (seriously??? I'm going opening night and I don't even like to see movies on opening night). Somewhere around 40% of kids indicated that they wanted to go, and would, but they weren't in a big hurry to see it. This totally nonchalant attitude kind of surprised me.

Poll #2: Who is your favorite Hunger Games character?

This was a fun one to see how students answered, and even more entertaining to listen to students openly debate the "correct" answer. Katniss was the clear winner with 31% of the votes. Rue came in second with 19%, and Peeta and Haymitch tied for 3rd with 14% each.

Poll #3: Which movie are you most excited to see in theaters?

The three choices: Catching Fire, Book Thief, and Ender's Game.
Not surprisingly, Catching Fire garnered 73% of the votes. (Ender's Game received 15%, and Book Thief received 10%...and someday I'm going to figure out how the system did it's math...)

Just some interesting insight into what my students think. 

They love doing these polls by the way. I try and post a couple different ones each month. Ideas for poll questions? Comment here and let me know!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Soldier Stories

In honor of Veteran's Day, I thought that I would highlight my favorite books about soldiers that was published this year. To find some of my all-time favorite soldier stories, you can see the post that I wrote last here.

In no particular order, here are some terrific books published this year:

Code Name Verity and Rose Under Fire by Elizabeth Wein. Okay, in fairness, CNV should have been on last year's list, but I didn't finish it until after I wrote the post. Both of these books are INCREDIBLE and should be read by EVERYONE, especially anyone that is a fan of World War II, history, spies, women in war, survival stories...the list goes on. The audiobooks are also FIRST RATE. Seriously, both get 5 out of 5 stars from me. And when you finish these and are looking for something else, Code Name Pauline is the memoir of a real-life British Special Agent during WWII. (Grades 8 & up).

Invasion by Walter Dean Myers. Myers is back with a "prequel" of sorts to Fallen Angels and Sunrise over Fallujah. This is the story of the invasion of Normandy during WWII. Terrific sense of action, and nothing less than what you would expect from the author. (Grades 7-10).

Courage Has No Color by Tanya Lee Stone. This is the true account of the 555th airborne division, or the Triple Nickles as they were known. Excellent narrative non-fiction! (Grades 5-10).

Torn by David Massey. It is not often that stories of soldiers are the stories of women soldiers (who aren't spies). This is a book about a young woman, serving as a medic in present-day Afghanistan. This has all the details of fighting that you might want, action, mystery, and a hint of romance if you're looking for it. (Grades 8 & up).

Personal Effects by E M Kokie. What happens when a soldier doesn't come home? What becomes of his family? This book will put you right in the middle of a family torn apart by the death of their brother and son. Powerful. (Grades 9 & up).

Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson. Okay, technically this book won't be published until January of 2014, but I just finished reading it and it was one of the best books that I have read this year so I had to include it. Though this is the story of 17 year old Hayley, it is also about how she has learned to survive in her family of two. A family that is just her and her father, himself a veteran of the Gulf War and Iraq, having done a total of four tours overseas. WOW! This is such an amazing book about family, surviving, war, PTSD, forgetting vs. remembering, must read this when it comes out. (Grades 9 & up).


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