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

Friday, June 29, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:
--All through July, both locations of Left Bank Books will be headquarters for neighborhood scavenger hunts featuring everyone's favorite hider, Waldo, during our Find Waldo in St. Louis promotion.  Discover great locally-owned business and earn prizes in the process!

News from the world:
--The shortlists were announced for the 2012 Sunburst Awards for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic, including the Young Adult shortlist:
Ultraviolet by R.J. Anderson
All Good Children by Catherine Austen
The Summer of Permanent Wants by Jamieson Findlay
The Dead Kid Detective Agency by Evan Munday
Blood Red Road: Dustlands: 1 by Moira Young

via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Insignia

Tom lives on the road, supporting himself and his gambler father on his winnings from the virtual reality parlors, until he's asked to join a government program training teenagers to fight remote wars in space.  Once he's there, he finds out it's not enough to just be good at video games.  You also have to play the politics.

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid is the first book in the Insignia series.

This book should be the next stop for readers who enjoyed Ender's Game and/or Ready Player One.  A true science fiction concept (no dystopia here!) combines with a sophisticated political landscape where most of the control is in the hands of major corporations to paint a picture of an all-too-believable future.  Tom is a likable underdog we love to root for while still having enough shortcomings and weaknesses to be a fully fleshed-out character.  The supporting cast is equally impressive, ranging from his hodge-podge group of fellow plebes to the morally-compromised military higher-ups to the Russo-Chinese combatants (who may not actually be his greatest enemy).  The plot is filled with action and political subterfuge, and while one particular devious scenario played out a bit too long for my tastes, it was well worth it in the end.  This is a must-read for science fiction fans or for anyone interested in a book that's heavy on playing the game with a side of truly compelling characterization.

Insignia is published by Katherine Tegen Books and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I read an advance readers copy provided by 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. Monday, July 9, at Ethical Society of St. Louis (9001 Clayton Rd., 63124) for Dark Days Tour, featuring Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Dan Wells and S.J. Kincaid.  All four authors will be reading from and signing their latest books.  If you can't make it to the event, call the store at 314-367-6731 x. 1 to reserve a signed copy of any of the books.

Monday, June 25, 2012

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs

When seventh-generation circus performer Luciano Anastasini fell from a high wire and ended his acrobatic career he didn't want to leave the circus.  Instead, he started a dog act.  Rather than casting his performers from breeders, he chose problem dogs from shelters, creating a diverse and hilarious act.

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs by Micheala Muntean with photographs by K.C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski is my April book for the Nonfiction Picture Book Challenge 2012.

This tale of a man and his dogs finding a second chance in each other is told in simple, easy to understand terms without glossing over the difficulties in the lives of both.  The dogs were rescued from everything from families without enough attention to give them to a life of starvation on the streets.  In addition to the inspiring story of their salvation, there is a valuable lesson about allowing each dog to demonstrate their own strengths rather than trying to force them into a mold.  The story is illustrated with colorful photographs showing both full performances and behind-the-scenes shots of training and life on the road.  Luciano's Pound Puppies recently performed at St. Louis' own Circus Flora, making this a great read for kids who were delighted by their act and want more.

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs is published by Scholastic Press and retails for $16.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by picking it up from the shelves for a few minutes.  You can get yours at Left Bank Books 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 Tenth Grade Bleeds, the third book in The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series by Heather Brewer in preparation for her guest appearance at River City Readers' Trivia Night Fundraiser.  Then I read Partials, the first book of the Partials series by Dan Wells (previously reviewed) in preparation for the Dark Days Tour.  Finally, I started Insignia, the first book of the Insignia series by S.J. Kincaid, also for the Dark Days Tour.  In picture book land, I read Fifty Cents and a Dream: Young Booker T. Washington by Jabari Asim, illustrated by Bryan Collier.

Next week I'll be finishing Insignia, then starting Wings, the first book of the Wings series by Aprilynne Pike, also for the Dark Days Tour.

What are you reading?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:
--If you're between the ages of 12 and 18, join us at 7:30 p.m. for Teen Reads reading group's June meeting at Left Bank Books--Central West End.  We'll be discussing Divergent by Veronica Roth (previously reviewed) in the lead up to her appearance with The Dark Days Tour.  As always, reading group picks are 20% off at both Left Bank Books locations and online.

News from the publishing world:
--Finalists were announced for Midwest Independent Booksellers Association's Midwest Booksellers Choice Awards, including:
Children's Literature
Sparrow Road by Sheila O'Connor
Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick
Spellbound:  The Books of Elsewhere #2 by Jacqueline West
Children's Picture Books
Utterly Otterly Night by Mary Casanova, illustrated by Ard Hoyt
Otis and the Tornado by Loren Long
Loon by Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Karen Reczuch
Cock-A-Doodle-Doo, Creak, Pop-Pop, Moo by Jim Aylesworth, illustrated by Brad Sneed

--A new teaser trailer was released for The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn--Part 2, the film based on Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer.

via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Partials

America won the war with China by deploying genetically engineered soldiers known as Partials.  After the war, the Partials turned on their creators in a conflict that culminated in the release of a virus called RM.  RM has killed all but a small portion of the world's human population and claims each new baby born within days.  While scientists perform endless redundant tests on newborns, a medic named Kira decides the answer might lie not within the human body, but that of the Partials.

Partials by Dan Wells is the first book in his debut young adult series.

This book truly excels in its world-building.  It's easy to envision the scrapped together hospital, the abandoned homes populated by adopted families, and indeed the entire devastated Eastern seaboard.  As Kira and her compatriots travel on salvage runs and secret missions, the feeling of being stalked--whether by the rebels, the Partials or their own military--is palpable.  The plot, too, is full of twists and turns that will keep you guessing and changing your mind as to who, exactly, the good guys are.  There is plenty of home for discussion about issues such as the line between responsibility to society and personal freedom.  Unfortunately, the character development did not quite live up to the rest of the book, relying too much on pre-existing relationships, but there is definitely home for it to improve in the future books of the series, where the stakes are sure to be risen.

Partials is published by Balzer + Bray and retails for $17.99 (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 Books today!

Join us at 7:00 p.m. Monday, July 9, at Ethical Society of St. Louis (9001 Clayton Rd., 63124) for Dark Days Tour, featuring Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Dan Wells and S.J. Kincaid.  All four authors will be reading from and signing their latest books.  If you can't make it to the event, call the store at 314-367-6731 x. 1 to reserve a signed copy of any of the books.

Monday, June 18, 2012

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves

If you had the opportunity to send him or her one message, what would you want your teenage self to know?

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon with contributing editor James Lecesne is my pick for Pride Month.

This might seem a somewhat strange review as I'm not going to recommend this book directly to teenagers.  I'm going to recommend it to their teachers.  This collection asks 64 authors and illustrators from across all genres what they would like to be able to tell their teenage selves.  Since all the contributors have had roughly the same professional fate, their letters can become monotonous when read sequentially.  However, as individual essays, they are perfect to pair with works that are being read in and out of the classroom.  After reading Wicked, read Gregory Maguire's message not to give up the things you love as a child just because you get older.  If you have a student who loves Bruce Coville, hand him or her his missive on the advantages of not being normal.  Regardless of the sexual or gender orientation of the reader, this volume can teach enormous amounts of empathy when paired with an existing love and respect for the authors' works.  

Authors represented are: LaShonda Katrice Barnett, Marion Dane Bauer, Lucy Jane Bledsoe, Amy Bloom, Paige Braddock, Melanie Braverman, Nick Burd, Jennifer Camper, Bill Clegg, Howard Cruse, Michael Cunningham, Stacey D'Erasmo, Michael DiMotta, Mayra Lazara Dole, Coleman Domingo, Paula Gilovich, Jewelle Gomez, Brent Hartinger, Lucy Knisley, David Leavitt, James Lecesne, Arthur Levine, David Levithan, Ali Liebegott, Malinda Lo, Gregory Maguire, Armistead Maupin, Richard McCann, Terrence McNally, Erika Moen, Sarah Moon, Martin Moran, Eileen Myles, Michael Nava, Jasika Nicole, Eric Orner, Erik Orrantia, Julie Anne Peters, Christopher Rice, Paul Rudnick, Rakesh Satyal, Brian Selznick, Susan Stinson, Lucy Thurber, Tony Valenzuela, Linda Villarosa, Marc Wolf, Jacqueline Woodson and Doug Wright.

The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves is published by Arthur A. Levine Books and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I got my advance readers copy through the publisher (although this review was not solicited or otherwise compensated).  You can get yours at Left Bank Books 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 The Diviners by Libba Bray, read The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon with contributing editor James Lecesne, and started Tenth Grade Bleeds: The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #3 by Heather Brewer.

I also went through a passel of picture books from Perseus:
Doctor Kiss Says Yes by Teddy Jam, illustrated by Joanne Fitzgerald
Nocturne: Dream Recipes by Isol
I Have the Right to Be a Child by Alain Serres, illustrated by Aurelia Fronty
Guacamole: Un poema para cocinar/A Cooking Poem by Jorge Argueta, illustrated by Margarita Sada
Frank'n'Stan by M. P. Robertson
Hang Glider and Mud Mask by Brian McMullen and Jason Jagel
Really and Truly by Emilie Rivard, illustrated by Anne-Claire Delisle
Up Above and Down Below by Paloma Valdivia
Jimmy the Greatest! by Jairo Buitrago, illustrated by Rafael Yockteng, translated by Elisa Amado
Out of the Way! Out of the Way! by Uma Krishnaswami, illustrated by Uma Krishnaswamy
Wait and See by Tony Bradman and Eileen Brown
In a Minute by Tony Bradman and Eileen Brown
The Turtle and the Island: A Folk Tale from Papua New Guinea retold by Barbara Ker Wilson, illustrated by Frane Lessac
Going to Mecca by Na'ima B. Robert, illustrated by Valentina Cavallini
Over the Moon: The Broadway Lullaby Project to Benefit Breast Cancer Research conceived and created by Kate Dawson and Jodi Glucksman
Counting on Fall by Lizann Flatt, illustrated by Ashley Barron
Woodrow for President: A Tail of Voting, Campaigns and Elections by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes
Liberty Lee's Tail of Independence by Peter W. Barnes and Cheryl Shaw Barnes
Sweet Land of Liberty by Callista Gingrich, illustrated by Susan Arciero
You Are Stardust by Elin Kelsey, illustrated by Soyeon Kim
Alphabet Everywhere by Elliott Kaufman
Who Ate Auntie Iris? by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Hannah Shaw
Snappy Little Farm by Dugald Steer, illustrated by Derek Matthews
Pop-Up Creatures: Eye to Eye by Frans Lanting
I Like to Learn Numbers: Hungry Chameleon by Alex A. Lluch
Animal Alphabet: Slide and Seek the ABC's by Alex Lluch
A Color Game for Chester Raccoon by Audrey Penn, illustrated by Barbara L. Gibson
Let's Leap Ahead Alphabet by Alex A. Lluch
Learn to Draw with Circles by Mark Bergin
Flip-O-Saurus by Sara Ball
Snaptivity Ocean illustrated by Derek Matthews

Next week I will be finishing Tenth Grade Bleeds, then launching into Partials by Dan Wells in preparation for his author visit.

What are you reading?

Friday, June 15, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the publishing world:
--Science fiction author Ray Bradbury passed away on June 5th at the age of 91.  While primarily known for his adult works, he was also the author of the picture books Switch on the Night (illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon) and The Halloween Tree (illustrated by Joseph Mugnaini).

--Winners were announced for the Ruth and Sylvia Schwartz Children's Book Awards.  The winner of the 2012 Children's Picture Book Award is Loon by Susan Vande Griek, illustrated by Karen Reczuch.  The winner of the 2012 Young Adult/Middle Reader Award is The Whole Truth by Kit Pearson.

--Winners were announced for Crime Writers of Canada's Arthur Ellis Awards, including the winner of the Best Juvenile or Young Adult Crime Book, Blink and Caution by Tim Wynne-Jones.

--Winners were announced for AudioFile's Audie Awards, including:
Children's Titles Ages 8-12
Winner:
Heart and Soul: The Story of America and African Americans by Kadir Nelson, read by Debbie Allen (book previously reviewed)
Finalists:
Countdown by Deborah Wiles, read by Emma Galvin
The Hidden Gallery: The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place #2 by Maryrose Wood, read by Katherine Kellgren
A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz, read by Johnny Heller
The Flint Heart by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson, read by Ralph Lister
Children's Titles Ages Up to 8
Winner:
Django: World's Greatest Guitarist by Bonnie Christensen, read by George Guidall
Finalists:
When I Grow Up by Al Yankovic, read by Al Yankovic
Wolf Pie by Brenda Seabrooke, read by Andrew Watts
Black Jack: The Ballad of Jack Johnson by Charles R. Smith, Jr., read by Dion Graham
Looking Like Me by Walter Dean Myers, read by Dion Graham and Quincy Tyler Bernstine
Stone Soup by Jon J. Muth, read by B.D. Wong

--Winners were announced for the Independent Book Publishers Association's Benjamin Franklin Awards, including:
Children's Picture Book
Winner:
My Grama's Garden
Finalists:
Chippy Chipmunk: Babies in the Garden by Kathy M. Miller
Tea with Lady Sapphire: Sharing the Love of Birds by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
Young Reader: Fiction (8 to 12 Years)
Winner:
Butterflies in Autumn by Charles Strong
Finalists:
The Dragon, the Blade and the Thread by Donald Samson
Raja: Story of a Racehorse by Anne Hambleton, illustrated by Margaret Kauffman
Young Reader: Nonfiction (8 to 12 Years)
Winner:
The Case of the Vanishing Golden Frogs: A Scientific Mystery
Finalists:
Arizona Way Out West and Wacky: Awesome Activities, Humorous History, and Fun Facts! by Conrad J. Storad and Lynda Exley, illustrated by Michael Hagelberg
The Wild Life of Elk by Donna Love, illustrated by Christina Wald
Teen: Fiction (13 to 18 Years)
Winner:
The Forgotten Locket by Lisa Mangum
Finalists:
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs
Speaking Out: LGBTQ Youth Stand Up edited by Steve Berman
Teen: Nonfiction (13 to 18 Years)
Winner:
Triassic Hall: Building the Triassic Exhibit from the Ground Up by Jaenet Guggenheim and Dr. Spencer G. Lucas
Finalists:
Just 2 Choices...It's That Simple
Wolves in Blue: Stories of the North Brothers and Their Pawnee Scouts by Jean A. Lukesh
Cover Design-Children's/Young Adult
Winner:
Rex Riders by J. P. Carlson, illustrated by Jim Calafiore
Finalists:
Chippy Chipmunk: Babies in the Garden by Kathy M. Miller
The Wizard Who Saved the World by Jeffrey Bennett, illustrated by Roberta Collier-Morales
Interior Design-Children's/Young Adult
Winner:
Harry Potter: Page to Screen by Bob McCabe
Finalists:
Natural Hawai'i: An Inquisitive Kid's Guide by Dana Rozier
The Santa Club by Kelly Moss, illustrated by Jim Keserich
The Bill Fisher Award for Best First Book (Children's/Young Adult)
Winner:
Curious Critters by David Fitzsimmons
Finalists:
Everything Butt Art at the Zoo by Brian Snyder and Alexis Moniello
My Grama's Garden


--Winners were announced for the Mountains and Plains Independent Booksellers Association's Reading the West Awards, including the winner in the children's category, Missing on Superstition Mountain by Elise Broach and Antonio Javier Caparo.

--A trailer was released for The Perks of Being a Wallflower, the upcoming film based on the novel of the same name by Stephen Chbosky.

--New photos were revealed from The Twilight Saga: Breakind Dawn--Part 2, the film based on Breaking Dawn by Stephanie Meyer.

--The CILIP Carnegie Medal was awarded to Patrick Ness for A Monster Calls: Inspired from an Idea by Siobhan Dowd, while the CILIP Kate Greenaway Medal went to the book's illustrator, Jim Kay, marking the first time one book has won both awards

via Shelf Awareness.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Insurgent

SPOILER ALERT:  This is the sequel to Divergent (previously reviewed).  If you have not read Divergent, this review might contain information you don't want.

In the aftermath of Erudite's attack on Abnegation, Tris and her friends and family attempt to preserve what is left of their lives while taking on Jeanine and the Dauntless traitors.

Insurgent by Veronica Roth is the second book in the Divergent trilogy.

I've said all along that the truly compelling thing about Divergent is the relationships between characters and how they change with each new circumstance.  Roth manages to keep her characters' actions realistic while still occasionally surprising; a difficult line to walk.  This second installment of the series maintains this theme, delving further into Tris's relationships with Four/Tobias and Christina, among many others.  The action keeps moving as well, offering several heart-pounding scenes of infiltration and all-out battle.  While in many ways this is a classic middle-of-a-trilogy novel (tasked with expanding the worldview and raising the stakes, but delivering a full payout for either one), I am definitely left eagerly awaiting the third and final book.

Insurgent is published by Katherine Tegen Books and retails for $17.99 (hardcover).  I bought my copy with my very own money.  You can get yours at Left Bank today!

Join us at 7:00 p.m. Monday, July 9, at Ethical Society of St. Louis (9001 Clayton Rd., 63124) for Dark Days Tour, featuring Veronica Roth, Aprilynne Pike, Dan Wells and S.J. Kincaid.  All four authors will be reading from and signing their latest books.  If you can't make it to the event, call the store at 314-367-6731 x. 1 to reserve a signed copy of any of the books.

Monday, June 11, 2012

My Dad, My Hero

Dads might not have real super powers, but they're still heroes to the kids who love them.

My Dad, My Hero by Ethan Long is my pick for Father's Day.

This book is honest about Dad's limitations.  There are a lot of things he can't do, like see through walls and lift trains over his head (even model ones).  But he does the important things really well, like playing games, hanging out and just generally being there for his son, and that makes him a hero.  The first-person narrative hits a subtle comic note while the bold graphic illustrations and old-style comic book coloration depict an adorably bumbling dad and the obvious love his family has for him.  This is a perfect gift for each kid to give their not-so-super hero.

My Dad, My Hero is published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky and retails for $12.99 (hardcover).  I read my copy by taking it 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.

I've been at BookExpo America for the past week, which accounts for the lack of posting.  So today I'll be covering two weeks worth of reading.

First, I finished Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler, illustrated by Maira Kalman.  Next, I read Beauty Queens and started The Diviners, both by Libba Bray.  All three of those were in preparation for BEA.

This week I aim to finish The Diviners, then move on to The Letter Q: Queer Writers' Notes to Their Younger Selves edited by Sarah Moon with contributing editor James Lecesne for Pride Month.

What are you reading?

Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday News Round-Up

News from the store:
--Join us at 2:00 p.m. on Saturday, June 2, at Left Bank Books--Downtown for The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration, featuring young contributors to Grannie Annie, Volume Seven: Selections from The Grannie Annie Family Story Celebration (previously reviewed).

News from the publishing world:
--Nominees were named for the Canadian Booksellers Association's Libris Awards.  They include:
Young Reader
I Am Canada: Deadly Voyage by Hugh Brewster
This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel
The Dragon Turn by Shane Peacock
Picture Books
I Want My Hat Back by Jon Klassen (previously reviewed)
Picture a Tree by Barbara Reid
Ten Birds by Cybele Young

--Some interesting study results regarding children and ebooks were released.

--Leo Dillon--who together with his wife, Diane, created a vast array of illustrations for children's books and book covers--passed away on Saturday, May 26, at the age of 79.  (See previous review of Never Forgotten by Patricia C. McKissack, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon.)

--NPR is focusing on teen reads for the summer, including their centerpiece series, PG-13: Risky Reads, which focuses on favorite authors' key formative reading experiences.

--Random House has launched an anti-bullying initiative, Choose Kind, inspired by Wonder by R.J. Palacio (previously reviewed).

--The seventh book in the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney has been announced.  The Third Wheel will come out on November 13.

via Shelf Awareness.