Monday, January 26, 2015

Stop! Thief!

Stories of thievery are very exciting.  Whether a character who has to steal an object for survival or kids trying to stop a theft from taking place, these stories are thrilling.  Here are some great chapter books featuring thieves . . .

The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner
Gen flaunts his ingenuity as a thief and relishes the adventure which takes him to a remote temple of the gods where he will attempt to steal a precious stone.

Peter Nimble and His Fantastic Eyes by Jonathan Auxier
Raised to be a thief, blind orphan Peter Nimble, age ten, steals from a mysterious stranger three pairs of magical eyes, that lead him to a hidden island where he must decide to become a hero or resume his life of crime.

Clueless McGee by Jeff Mack
Through a series of letters to his father, a private investigator, fifth-grader PJ "Clueless" McGee tells of his efforts to discover who stole macaroni and cheese from the school cafeteria.

More Books About Thievery --
Atlantis Rising by T.A. Barron
Code of Silence by Tim Shoemaker
Framed by Gordon Korman
Highway Robbery by Kate Thompson
Madhattan Mystery by John J. Bonk
The Map to Everywhere by Carrie Ryan
Museum of Thieves by Lian Tanner
Ottoline and the Yellow Cat by Chris Riddell
Sammy Keyes and the Hotel Thief by Wendelin Van Draanen
The Thief Lord by Cornelia Funke
Tracking Daddy Down by Marbeth Kelsey
The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey

Thursday, January 22, 2015

Fortune Cookies by Albert Bitterman

A little girl receives a box in the mail with seven fortune cookies inside of it.  She eats one cookie a a day and read the fortune.  Amazingly, each day's fortune comes true in some way.

I usually do not care for novelty books -- the books that have lift-the-flaps, spinning wheels, or pull tabs.  However, this book is very well done.  The novelty of pulling out the fortune cookie is a pivotal part of the plot.  And the construction of the pull tabs is sturdy and holds up well for many repeat readings.  This is definitely a book worth checking out.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Best Picture Books of 2014

There were a lot of picture books published in 2014.  Here are my picks for the best . . .

Amy's Top Ten

Brother Hugo and the Bear by Katy Beebe
Brother Hugo has to protect his previous replacement copy of a library book from a hungry bear.

Go! Go! Go! Stop! by Charise Mericle Harper
Little Green only knows one word -- Go!  Which is great to get things moving, but how do they stop?

Here Comes the Easter Cat by Deborah Underwood
Cat wants to replace the Easter Bunny -- until he learns it wouldn't allow him to take naps.

Love Monster by Rachel Bright
A googily-eyed misfit tries to find someone to love him just the way he is.

Mix It Up! by Herve Tullet
A continuation of Press Here, this book teaches kids how to mix colors following simple directions and interactions with pages.

Naked! by Michael Ian Black
A child discovers that the only thing more fun than being naked is wearing nothing but a cape.  My favorite book of the year is by one of my all-time favorite authors -- Michael Ian Black.

The Nuts: Bedtime at the Nut House by Eric Litwin
Mama Nut says it's bedtime, but Hazel Nut and Wally Nut just aren't quite ready to stop the fun and go to bed.  The new series from original Pete the Cat writer Eric Litwin.

The Queen & Mr. Brown: A Day for Dinosaurs by James Francis Wilkins
The Queen is excited to spend the day at the museum with her dog.

This Is a Moose by Richard T. Morris
A director tries to film a moose in its natural habitat but keeps getting interrupted by the moose who has a different dream for his life.

Weasels by Elys Dolan
What is better than a book filled with weasels?  A book filled with weasels bent on complete world domination.

More Favorites --
Alone Together by Suzanne Bloom
As an Oak Tree Grow by G. Brian Karas
Big Bug by Henry Cole
Buddy and the Bunnies in Don't Play with Your Food by Bob Shea
Count on the Subway by Paul Dubois Jacobs
Dragon's Extraordinary Egg by Debi Gliori
Flashlight by Liz Boyd
The Flat Rabbit by Barour Oskarsson
Here Comes Destructosaurus! by Aaron Reynolds
How to Lose a Lemur by Frann Preston-Gannon
I'm Brave! by Kate McMullan
The Midnight Library by Kazuno Kohara
My Bus by Barton Byron
My Grandfather's Coat by Jim Aylesworth
Ninja! by Arree Chung
Number One Sam by Greg Pizzoli
Penguin in Peril by Helen Hancocks
The Scraps Book by  Lois Ehlert
Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton
Some Bugs by Angela DiTerlizzi
Sparky by Jenny Offill
Telephone by Mac Barnett
Those Magnificent Sheep in Their Flying Machine by Peter Bently
Wazdot? by Michael Slack
The Whispering Town by Jennifer Elvgren


These books and more picture book favorites from 2014 are currently on display at the Arnold Branch through February 6, 2015.

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Let Freedom Sing by Vanessa Newton

Music played a huge role in the Civil Rights movement of the 1950's and 1960's.  Songs motivated the activists during marches, meetings, and demonstrations.  They expressed the desire of freedom and equality for all.

Many of the protest songs were African-American spirituals.  The lyrics were changed to speak about the hardships of the day.

One of those songs was "This Little Light of Mine".  It became an anthem for the movement thanks to the efforts of civil rights activities.

This book adapts the words of the song "This Little Light of Mine" to explain the Civil Rights movement to children.  Interspersed with the familiar lyrics are new lyrics talking about segregation, Rosa Parks, Martin Luther King Jr., the Little Rock Nine, and many more pivotal moments and people during the Civil Rights movement up through President Barack Obama.

This is a great book to introduce young children to the history, hope, and courage of the Civil Rights Movement.  Complex historical figures and events are explained with just a few simple lines for each.  The accompanying illustrations capture the events in pictures that the youngest children can understand.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Best Teen Books of 2014

The year 2014 was a good year for teen books.  There was a variety of books published for teens.  Here are my top books for the year . . .

Amy's Top Three
Firebug by Lish McBride
Ava, a contracted hit man who can start fires with her mind, hits the road with her friends, desperately trying to escape the Coterie, a magical mafia, while keeping the murder to a minimum after she is asked to kill a family friend by Venus, who killed Ava's mother.  This book takes place in the same world as the author's Hold Me Closer, Necromancer.

The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith
Sparks fly when Lucy and Owen meet on an elevator rendered useless by a New York City blackout. Soon after, the two teenagers leave the city, but as they travel farther away from each other geographically, they stay connected emotionally, in this story set over the course of one year.  This was probably my favorite teen book of the year.

Wayfarer: A Tale of Beauty and Madness by Lili St. Crow
In this retelling of Cinderella, Ellen Sinder's violent stepmother terrifies her, her plan for surviving and getting through high school quietly begins to unravel, and Auntie, an odd old woman who takes her in, may not be as kindly as she appears.  I waited and waited for this book as the publication was pushed back a couple times.


More Best Teen Books --
100 Sideways Miles by Andrew Smith
Egg & Spoon by Gregory Maguire
Glory O'Brien's History of the Future by A.S. King
Going Over by Beth Kephart
Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith
Heap House by Edward Carey
The Hit by Melvin Burgess
How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon
The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson
The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan
Kate Walden Directs: Night of the Zombie Chickens by Julie Mata
The Last Forever by Deb Caletti
Nil by Lynne Matson
Noggin by John Corey Whaley
She Is Not Invisible by Marcus Sedgwick
Skink No Surrender by Carl Hiaasen
We Were Liars by E. Lockhart
Why We Took the Car by Wolfgang Herndorf
The Young Elites by Marie Lu
Zac & Mia by A.J. Betts


The Best Teen Books of 2014 will be on display at the Arnold Branch through January 30, 2015.

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Somebody on This Bus is Going to be Famous by J.B. Cheaney

Nine kids get picked up every morning at the Hidden Acres Subdivision.  They ride the bus for over an hour going to and from school each day.

Shelly - determined to be a singing star
Bender - the bully with a problematic homelife
Miranda - the girl who will do anything for a friend
Kaitlynn - the girl who wants to be Mother Teresa
Spencer - the genius who isn't sure he's a genius
Jay - the football player whose grandfather has dementia
Matthew - the friendless boy who is secretly smart
Igor - the boy whose father can never find him
Alice - the girl who never talks

Nine kids who have a mystery to solve . . .

Who is the kid at Farm Road 152 that never rides the bus?  Each morning they go down the road to the bus shelter . . . and no one every gets on.  Mrs. B, the bus driver, won't say who the kid is.

So Bender sets out to find out about the kid and the mystery of Farm Road 152.  But it will take all nine kids to discover the truth.  For each one has a part of the secret.


This book works best as a character study of nine diverse kids.  While they are all very distinct characters, they are also similar in their goals, desires, and fears.  The mystery of the unknown kid is supposed to be a mystery until nearly the end of the book, but the clues are fairly obvious as to who the kids is from the beginning of the book.  The real mystery is to how the kids will survive a huge bus accident that is told about in the first chapter before going back nine months to tell how they get to that point.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015

Best Books for Kids 2014

My picks for the best chapter books for kids is a diverse group.  Here are my favorites . . . .

Amy's Top Five
The Castle Behind Thorns by Merrie Haskell
When Sand, a blacksmith's apprentice, wakes up in a broken castle, he must find a way to put it back together.  This book combines fantasy, fairy tale, and politics into one book for kids who like a thought-provoking read.

Lost in Bermooda by Mike Litwin
Young calf Chuck discovers a shipwrecked boy on the beach and struggles to hide him from the island's other residents who regard humans as monsters.  This was my favorite easy chapter book that came out this year.  It's also the first in a series.

The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Levy
Relates the adventures of a family with two fathers, four adopted boys, and a variety of pets as they make their way through a school year, Kindergarten through sixth grade, and deal with a grumpy new neighbor.

A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd
The Pickles are new to Midnight Gulch, Tennessee, a town which legend says was once magic--but Felicity is convinced the magic is still there, and with the help of her new friend Jonah the Beedle she hopes to bring the magic back.

The Witch's Boy by Kelly Barnhill
When a Bandit King comes to take the magic that Ned's mother, a witch, is meant to protect, the stuttering, weak boy villagers think should have drowned rather than his twin summons the strength to protect his family and community, while in the woods, the bandit's daughter puzzles over a mystery that ties her to Ned.  This book was so good it caused me to find all the other books written by this author and immediately read them.


More Favorites --
Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff
The Angel Tree by Daphne Benedis-Grab
Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch
The Blood of Olympus by Rick Riordan
The Boundless by Kenneth Oppel
Fleabrain Loves Franny by Joanne Rocklin
Fly Away by Patricia MacLachlan
Greenglass House by Kate Milford
Meet the Bigfeet by Kevin Sherry
The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier
Nuts to You by Lynne Rae Perkins
Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
Rain Reign by Ann M. Martin
The Thickety: A Path Begins by J.A. White
West of the Moon by Margi Preus


The Best Books of 2014 are on display at the Arnold Branch through January 23, 2015.