Books for Younguns, Young Adults and the Young-at-Heart

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Grannie Annie, Volume 7: Selections from The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration

The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration is a nonprofit organization that invites children ages 9 to 14 to interview a family member from an older generation and document a portion of their family's history from before they were born.  A selection of those stories are gathered into the Grannie Annie collection annually.

Grannie Annie, Volume 7: Selections from The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration written and illustrated by Young People is the latest installment of Grannie Annie.

The stories in this collection take place anywhere from over 100 years ago to the 1990s; from small villages in China to the city of St. Louis.  Some are funny anecdotes that you can imagine being told around the dinner table at every family gathering.  Others deal with hardships and may not have been shared at all, if not for this project.  The voices of the young scribes vary from the straightforward journalistic writers to those whose personalities come bubbling through the pages.  What is clear is that each storyteller values the history behind his or her tale and the connection it holds to the larger family story.  This volume is sure to be treasured by those whose families are represented within and serves as a great discussion point for other families who might want to start their own story celebration.

Grannie Annie, Volume 7: Selections from The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration is published by The Grannie Annie and retails for $14.95 (paperback).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Join us at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, at Left Bank Books--Downtown for The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration, featuring readings and signings by the young contributors to Grannie Annie, Volume 7 from the St. Louis area.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address

After the Battle of Gettysburg, the nation honored those who had fallen in battle, including President Lincoln in a speech that is still remembered today.

Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address by Jean Fritz, illustrated by Charles Robinson, is my Memorial Day pick.

This leveled reader for fluent readers gives a great overview of the Civil War and the place the Battle of Gettysburg held.  No punches are pulled regarding the loss of life and while there isn't anything too graphic, hardships of war are depicted, so this may not be right for the sensitive readers out there.  Still, this is an engaging personalized account of the tribute Lincoln made to the Union soldiers.  Anecdotes about his connection to the citizens of the United States as well as his close relationship with his son add a human dimension to the story of a man struggling to properly memorialize the heroes of a nation.  Kids will also love the humorous asides, such as Lincoln being given a horse that was too short for his long legs.  All in all, this is a fitting introduction to an important event in American history that kids will want to read.

Just a Few Words, Mr. Lincoln: The Story of the Gettysburg Address is published by Penguin Young Readers and retails for $3.99 (paperback).  I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes.   You can get yours at Left Bank today!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

This week, I finished Ninth Grade Slays, the second book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod by Heather Brewer, in preparation for my publisher's dinner with her.  I then moved to Little Brother by Cory Doctorow in preparation for the May meeting of Teen Reads reading group.  Next I read Grannie Annie Volume 7 by Young People in preparation for their author event.  Then I started Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman, in preparation for BookExop America events.

I also read some picture books from the upcoming HarperCollins catalog:
Penny and Her Doll by Kevin Henkes
Hello! Hello! by Matthew Cordell
My Brave Year of Firsts: Tries, Sighs, and High Fives by Jamie Lee Curtis and Laura Cornell
Seed by Seed: The Legend and Legacy of John "Appleseed" Chapman by Esme Raji Codell, illustrated by Lynne Rae Perkins
A Perfect Day by Carin Berger
Cat Tale by Michael Hall
Snowman Magic by Katherine Tegen, illustrated by Brandon Dorman
Santa on the Loose!: A Seek and Solve Mystery! by Bruce Hale, illustrated by Dave Garbot
Nothing Ever Happens at the South Pole by Stan and Jan Berenstain
Nelson Mandela by Kadir Nelson
Little Sweet Potato by Amy Beth Bloom
In the Land of Milk and Honey by Joyce Carol Thomas, illustrated by Floyd Cooper
Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems
Bang! Boom! Roar!: A Busy Crew of Dinosaurs by Nate Evans and Stephanie Gwyn Brown, illustrated by Christopher Santoro
Helen's Big World: The Life of Helen Keller by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Matt Tavares

Next week I will be finishing Why We Broke Up, then moving on to Going Bovine by Libba Bray, also for BookExpo America.

What are you reading?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Little Brother

In the near future, another terrorists attack U.S. soil by blowing up San Francisco's Bay Bridge.  Marcus and his friends are in the wrong place at the wrong time, resulting in days of merciless interrogation.  When they are released, they find the city turned into a police state with a constant watch on every citizens movements.  They realize that in order to live in freedom again, they'll have to take advantage of the system to defeat it.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow is the first young adult novel from the technology blogger.

While this book is perfect for anyone with an interest in surveillance technology and government control, it should also appeal to those who love spy thrillers and rooting for the underdog.  Marcus and friends carry out a number of daring deeds under the noses of law enforcement, from creating an unmonitored internet to staging a vampire mob.  The technological aspects of their plans and the government's methods are clearly explained for the layperson on a mostly need-to-know basis.  There are enough personal motivations and entanglements between characters to keep the action moving and compelling for those less interested in the nitty-gritty.  While some of the immediacy of War on Terror surveillance has waned since the book's initial publication, the social issues covered within are always relevant and worth considering.

Little Brother is published by Tor Teen and retails for $9.99 (paperback).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank today!

Join us at 7:30 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30, at Left Bank Books--Central West End for the May meeting of Teen Reads, a reading group for ages 12 to 18, where we will be discussing Little Brother.  As always, reading group selections are 20% at both Left Bank Books locations and online.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Kate and Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story

When a baby deer is abandoned by her mother, she finds a surrogate mother and friend in Kate the Great Dane.

Kate and Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story by Martin Springett with photographs by Isobel Springett is my Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2012 selection for May.

Stories of unlikely animal friendships are gaining in popularity, frequently popping up online, in the news, and on the adult bestseller list.  This entry into the category for younger folks is sure to please just as much.  It's delightful to see Pippin become an adult while maintaining her relationship with Kate and even making new friends, like Henry the cat.  The writing keeps things simple, while the photographs catch candid moments that truly illustrate the connection between these animals.  This is a cute little addition to any animal lovers library.

Kate and Pippin: An Unlikely Love Story is published by Henry Holt and Co. and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by taking it off the shelf for a few minutes.  You can get yours at Left Bank today!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

This week I finished Venom, the first book in the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series by Fiona Paul.  I then moved on to Eight Grade Bites, the first book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series by Heather Brewer.  Next came Elemental, the first of a trilogy by Antony John.  I finished by starting Ninth Grade Slays, the second in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod.  This all leads up to a local-young-adult-author dinner held by Penguin later this week.

I also got to witness Miss Jonesey's storytime for some of our River City Readers, which included Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa by Gerald McDermott and Say Hello to Zorro! and Zorro Gets an Outfit by Carter Goodrich.

Next week I'll be finishing Ninth Grade Slays, then moving on to the next in the series, Tenth Grade Bleeds.

What are you reading?

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:
--Tuesday, May 15th, the River City Readers from Ms. Hendley and Ms. Smith's classes at Washington Montessori Elementary School visited our Central West End location on a field trip.  While there, they had a storytime with Miss Jonesey, did some literary activities, and took home their latest River City Readers book:  The Great Cake Mystery: Precious Ramotswe's Very First Case by Alexander McCall Smith, illustrated by Iain McIntosh (previously reviewed).

--Join us at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 19th, at Left Bank Books--Downtown for the May meeting of Writers Read reading group, which will be discussing Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt (previously reviewed).

News from the publishing world:
--Jean Craighead George, the author of My Side of the Mountain and Julie of the Wolves among many others, passed away at the age of 92.

--Harry Potter ebooks are now available on Kobo devices.

--The real-life House at Pooh Corner has gone up for sale for the first time in over 40 years.

--CW has picked up the pilot for a series based on The Carrie Diaries by Candice Bushnell.

--Winners were announced for the Eric Hoffer Book Awards.  They include:
Grand Prize
Too Shy for Show-and-Tell by Beth Bracken, illustrated by Jennifer Bell
Children's
Winner
Bonyo Bonyo: The True Story of a Brave Boy from Kenya by Vanita Oelschlager, illustrated by Kristin Blackwood and Mike Blanc
First Runner-Up
Abe's Lucky Day by Jill Warren, illustrated by Kalpart
Honorable Mentions
Cheery: The True Adventures of a Chiricahua Leopard Frog by Elizabeth W. Davidson, illustrated by Michael Hagelberg
Piggy Nation: A Day at Work with Dad by Richard Rosser, illustrated by Shane Sowell
Ten for Me by Barbara Mariconda, illustrated by Sherry Rogers
A Quest for Good Manners by Karin Lefranc, illustrated by Hannah Neale
Young Adult
Winner
Revealing Eden: Save the Pearls Part One by Victoria Foyt
First Runner-Up
The Survivors by Amanda Havard
Honorable Mentions
Nonna's Book of Mysteries by Mary Osborne
Cottonwood Spring by Gary Slaughter
Caves, Cannons, and Crinolines by Beverly Stowe McClure
Intensity: The 10th Anniversary Anthology from WriteGirl
Tilamook Passage: Far Side of the Pacific by Brian D. Ratty
A Blind Raccoon in the Family by Ann K. Anderson

via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Okay for Now

Doug's life couldn't get much worse.  His abusive father has uprooted the family to a small town to take a job at the local paper mill, one of his brothers can't stay out of trouble while the other is fighting in Vietnam and the few possessions he has either get stolen or vindictively destroyed.  But slowly he starts to open himself up; first to a job at the grocery store, then to a passion for drawing, finally to the people around him.  Maybe small-town life won't be so bad after all.  But as Doug says, "When things start to go pretty good, something usually happens to turn everything bad."

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt is a companion novel to The Wednesday Wars.

I have so much love for this book that I simply can't give it a measured response.  This reading experience defies description, as so much of it is simply in the way things are said.  Despite his circumstances, Doug is a beautifully observant and empathic narrator.  His words radiate the pain and longing that makes up his life.  Everything he tells you, he tells you for a reason, and if he doesn't tell you something...well, there's an even better reason for that.  This is a finely nuanced, timeless book.  Definitely a must-read.

Okay for Now is published by Clarion Books and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Join us at 4:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 19, at Left Bank Books--Downtown for the May meeting of the Writers Read reading group, which will be discussing Okay for Now.  As always, reading group selections are 20% at both Left Bank Books locations and online.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Magritte's Marvelous Hat

Magritte needs a hat, but the hat he finds is very unusual indeed.  Instead of sitting on his head, it floats above it.  Soon his hat is helping him see things in all sorts of new and innovative ways.  But a special hat needs special attention...

Magritte's Marvelous Hat by D.B. Johnson is my current children's fine art favorite.

Explaining modern art concepts such as surrealism to young children can be a difficult task.  With this book, rather than attempt to delve into the historical and autobiographical realities of Magritte's life and work, Johnson fictionalizes his entire account, inserting the painter's iconic works into the world he inhabits.  This extends the concept from simply a series of funny pictures to a way of looking at the world.  The transparent pages found throughout the story reinforce this by making minor changes to the panels on either side of them, making for a creative and fun journey into the mind of an artist.

Magritte's Marvelous Hat is published by Houghton Mifflin Books for Children and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I got my advance readers copy from the publisher (although this review was not solicited or otherwise compensated.  You can get yours at Left Bank today!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

This week I finished Disney at Dawn, the second book in the Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson, just in time to not read the other three books before his author event.  In light of that, I moved on to Venom, the first book in the Secrets of the Eternal Rose series by Fiona Paul, a new Central West End author I'll be meeting with at the end of the month.

In picture book land, I read some random titles:
Bedtime for Monsters by Ed Vere
Zomo the Rabbit: A Trickster Tale from West Africa by Gerald McDermott
Mommy Hugs by Karen Katz
Is Your Mamma a Llama? by Deborah Guarino, illustrated by Steven Kellogg
Mommy, Mama, and Me by Leslea Newman, illustrated by Carol Thompson

And some order prep for MPS:
Lenore Finds a Friend: A True Story from Bedlam Farm by Jon Katz
Seahorses by Jennifer Keats Curtis, illustrated by Chad Wallace
If You Spent a Day with Henry David Thoreau at Walden Pond by Robert Burleigh, illustrated by Wendell Minor
Snowboy 1, 2, 3 by Joe Wahman, illustrated by Wendy Wahman
Who Has This Tail? by Laura Hulbert, illustrated by Erik Brooks
Bear Has a Story to Tell by Philip C. Stead, illustrated by Erin E. Stead
Monsieur Marceau: Actor without Words by Leda Schubert, illustrated by Gerard Dubois
From the Good Mountain: How Gutenberg Changed the World by James Rumford
Island: A Story of the Galapagos by Jason Chin
A Is for Musk Ox by Erin Cabatingan, illustrated by Matthew Myers
Little Tug by Stephen Savage
The Ant and the Grasshopper by Rebecca Emberley and Ed Emberley
Castle: How It Works by David Macaulay
I Need My Own Country! by Rick Walton, illustrated by Wes Hargis
Oh, Nuts! by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Krall
You Are a Star! by Michael Parker, illustrated by Judith Rossell
Penguin and Pinecone: A Friendship Story by Salina Yoon
Ava and the Real Lucille by Cari Best, illustrated by Madeline Valentine
The Quiet Place by Sarah Stewart, illustrated by David Small
The Bear in the Book by Kate Banks, illustrated by Georg Hallensleben
Sweet Baby Feet by Margaret O'Hair, illustrated by Tracy Dockray
Moby Dick: Chasing the Great White Whale by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Andrew Glass
As the Crow Flies by Sheila Keenan, illustrated by Kevin Duggan
Tumford's Rude Noises by Nancy Tillman
Miss Lina's Ballerinas and the Wicked Wish by Grace Maccarone, illustrated by Christine Davenier
Kate and Nate Are Running Late! by Kate Egan, illustrated by Dan Yaccarino
The Forgiveness Garden by Lauren Thompson, illustrated by Christy Hale

Next week, I will be finishing Venom, then moving on to Elemental by Antony John, because he'll be at that meeting too.

What are you reading?

Friday, May 11, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:
--New City School's book fair is Wednesday, May 16.  The fair itself is a private event, but if you follow this link and click on New City's logo, not only can you select a book to donate to the school's library, but 20% of your online purchase will be donated to the school.

News from the publishing world:
--Maurice Sendak, author of Where the Wild Things Are and many other children's favorites, passed away on Tuesday at the age of 83.

--Francis Lawrence, director of Water for Elephants and I Am Legend, has been announced to helm Catching Fire, the second movie of the Hunger Games series, based on the book of the same name by Suzanne Collins.

--Children's Book Week was kicked off with a gala awards ceremony sponsored by the Children's Book Council Foundation and Every Child a Reader.  Winners were:
Author of the Year
Jeff Kinney for Cabin Fever
Illustrator of the Year
Brian Selznick for Wonderstruck
Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year
Three Hens and a Peacock by Lester L. Laminack, illustrated by Henry Cole
Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year
Bad Kitty Meets the Baby by Nick Bruel
Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year
Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt
Teen Book of the Year
Clockwork Prince by Cassandra Clare

--Jarrett J. Krosoczka, author of the Lunch Lady series, among others--has launched The Book Report with JJK, a new Sirious XM Radio show featuring interviews with children's book authors and news from the children's book world.

--Theme park attraction The Wizarding World of Harry Potter will open a second location in Osaka, Japan, which is scheduled to open in late 2014.

via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Disney After Dark

Five kids have been chosen to be holographic guides at the Magic Kingdom.  It's just a simple modeling gig...until they start going to sleep and waking up in the park as their holograms.  Disney's greatest villains are gaining power, and only someone half-human/half-character can stop them.

Disney After Dark by Ridley Pearson is the first book in the Kingdom Keepers series.

A must-read for hardcore Disney fans, Pearson has done his research and provides a unique look at the behind-the-scenes workings of the parks.  Kids will enjoy seeing familiar characters acting outside of their established stories, and most will find someone among the six protagonists to identify with.  The action is well-paced and clear and provides plenty of heart-pounding moments and creatively nightmarish situations (although nothing grusome).  Between the magical operations and mysterious puzzles, fantasy and adventure fans should find plenty to like here.

Disney After Dark is published by Hyperion and retails for $8.99 (paperback).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank today!

Join us at 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, May 9, at St. Louis County Library--Daniel Boone Branch for a reading and signing of Shell Game, the fifth book in the Kingdom Keepers series, with Ridley Pearson for Children's Book Week!  If you can't join us, call the store at 314-367-6731 x. 1 to reserve your signed copy of any of the books in the series.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Because Your Mommy Loves You

Your mommy could do everything for you, but instead she helps you learn to do it yourself.  Because she loves you.

Because Your Mommy Loves You by Andrew Clements, illustrated by R.W. Alley, is my Mother's Day pick.

This book presents one overall scenario (a camping trip) with lots of components (shopping for supplies, putting up the tent, etc.) that offers lots of new challenges for kids.  At each step, when Mommy is asked for help, instead of taking over, she acts as instructor and guides the young boy to self-sufficiency.  This is perfect for kids who are getting more and more responsibilities of their own, but wonder why Mom can't just do it for them.  The reasoning is presented in a gentle, and, yes, loving way and emphasizes that the mother-child relationship will remain strong even if you don't depend on Mom for everything anymore.

Because Your Mommy Loves You is published by Clarion Books and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read an advance readers copy provided by the publisher (although this review was not solicited).  You can get yours at Left Bank today!

It's Monday! What Are You Reading?

It's Monday! What Are You Reading? is a meme hosted by Book Journey with a children's version at Teach Mentor Texts.

This week, I finished Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt in preparation for the Writers Read reading group's May meeting.  Then I moved on to Insurgent, the second book in the Divergent trilogy by Veronica Roth because I needed to know what happened, like, six months ago.  Then I started Disney at Dawn, the second book in the Kingdom Keepers series by Ridley Pearson in preparation for his author event.

Next week, I plan on finishing Disney at Dawn then launching into Disney in Shadow, the third book in the series.

What are you reading?

Friday, May 4, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:
--Join us at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8, at St. Louis County Library--Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh, for a reading and signing of Summer of the Gypsy Moths (previously reviewed) with Sara Pennypacker for Children's Book Week.  Ten percent of sales that night will benefit Foster & Adoptive Care Solution, who will have representatives on-hand.

--Join us at 7:00 p.m on Wednesday, May 9, at St. Louis County Library--Daniel Boone Branch, 300 Clarkson Road, for a reading and discussion of Shell Game, the fifth book in the Kingdom Keepers series, with Ridley Pearson for Children's Book Week.

--Conway Elementary School's book fair is May 8-9!  The fair itself is a private event, but you can shop online by following this link and clicking on their logo.  Shop as usual from there, and 20% of your purchase will benefit Conway!


News from the publishing world:
--Steve Kloves, Harry Potter screenwriter, has been tapped to adapt, direct and produce The Jungle Book by Rudyard Kipling as live-action film for Warner Brothers.

--Disney has signed a deal to produce Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book, which the studio is reportedly making a priority.

--Winners of the Society of Children's Book Writers & Illustrators' 2012 Crystal Kite Member Choice Awards were announced in 15 regional categories:
Africa
Finding Aunt Joan by Jenny Hatton, illustrated by Joan Rankin
Australia/New Zealand
The Last Viking by Norman Jorgensen
California/Hawaii
Won Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw, illustrated by Eugene Yelchin
Southeast
Cleopatra's Moon by Vicky Alvear Shecter
Mid-South
Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys
Mid-East/India/Asia
Orchards by Holly Thompson
Midwest
Bluefish by Pat Schmatz
Southwest
Black and White: The Confrontation Between Reverend Fred L. Shuttlesworth and Eugene "Bull" Connor by Larry Brimner
New England
Pearl by Jo Knowles
New York
Thelonious Mouse by Orel Protopopescu
Atlantic
The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine
Texas/Oklahoma
Mine! by Shutta Crum, illustrated by Patrice Barton
Americas
Witchlanders by Lena Coakley
U.K./Europe
Dark Parties by Sara Grant
West
The Friendship Doll by Kirby Larson

--The winners of the Christian Book Awards were announced by the Evangelical Christian Publishers Association, including the winner in the Childrens category, The Story for Children: A Storybook Bible by Max Lucado, Randy Frazee and Karen Davis Hill.

via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Summer of the Gypsy Moths

Stella's mother has always been restless, but this time she went too far.  Now Stella's living with her great-aunt Louise, who has taken in a foster child, Angel, to keep her company.  The only problem is that Stella and Angel don't exactly get along.  At least that's the only problem until a sudden tragedy means the girls must rely on all their wits--and each other--to survive.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths by Sara Pennypacker is our next River City Readers book.

This is a deep and moving exploration of the emotions and connections between families, especially if those families are deeply troubled.  Stella and Angel have spent so much time without stable supportive environments that both are affected in opposite ways; Stella desperately grasping at any connection she can find and Angel pushing everyone away until they can no longer hurt her.  As they navigate their own relationship and responsibilities, they learn a lot about what family really means.  But don't think this is a sappy feel-good tale.  There's a lot of heartbreak and suffering in the process.  These girls are put through a lot, and the reader is right there with them, pulled into their rich emotional landscapes.

Summer of the Gypsy Moths is published by Balzer & Bray/Harperteen and retails for $15.99 (hardcover).  I got my advance readers copy complimentary from the publisher (although this review was not solicited or otherwise compensated).  You can get yours at Left Bank Books today!

Join us at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, May 8th, at St. Louis County Library--Headquarters, 1640 S. Lindbergh, for a reading and signing of Summer of the Gypsy Moths with Sara Pennypacker for Children's Book Week!  Left Bank Books will donate 10% of event book sales to Foster & Adoptive Care Solution, who will have staff on-hand.  If you can't join us, call the store at 314-367-6731 x. 1 to reserve a signed copy.