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Book of the Week Archive for 2003
2003 Archive
Brundibar
Ages 8 Up
BRUNDIBAR
retold by by Tony Kushner
Illustrated by Maurice Sendak

When Aninku and Pepicek discover one morning that their mother is sick, they rush to town for milk to make her better. Their attempt to earn money by singing is thwarted by a bullying, bellowing hurdy-gurdy grinder, Brundibar, who tyrannizes the town square and chases all other street musicians away.

Befriended by three intelligent talking animals and three hundred helpful school kids, brother and sister sing for the money, buy the milk, defeat the bully, and triumphantly return home.

This book is based on a Czech opera of the same name ("Brundibar" is Czech slang for "bumblebee"), with a libretto by Adolf Hoffmeister, set to music by Hans Krasa. Completed in 1938, the opera was performed fifty-five times by the children of Terezin, the Nazi concentration camp. Krasa, who was Jewish, was also imprisoned in Terezin. He was killed in Auschwitz in 1944.
--Hyperion Press 2003
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95 Pounds of Hope
Ages 10-14
95 POUNDS OF HOPE
by Anna Gavalda

Gregory has always hated school. Every minute he spends there is torture. Now he's thirteen, in sixth grade, and life has only gotten worse. The only place he seems to fit in is his grandfather's shed, among the tools and scraps he uses to build his inventions. There he's happy. But then his parents decide to send him to boarding school. At first Gregory hates the idea of being shipped off, but after awhile he begins to wonder if a fresh start-in school and life-might not be such a bad idea after all.

Gregory's problems will be familiar to anyone who's ever felt like a square peg in a round hole. But this frank and funny story proves there's hope for everyone…even Gregory.
--Viking Press 2003
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Redheaded Robbie's Christmas Story
Ages 4-8
REDHEADED ROBBIE'S CHRISTMAS STORY
by Bill Luttrell
Ages 4-8

One student from Mrs. Wallace's second grade class will be chosen to tell a special Christmas story at the school assembly. When Redheaded Robbie's name is pulled from the hat, the class groans. Poor Robbie! Whenever he is excited or nervous, his words come out all twisted and confused. How will he be able to tell his Chirstmas story at the assembly? Won't everyone laugh? With a little help from some friends, Robbie learns that it is not so much how a person speaks but what is said that matters the most.
--Sleeping Bear Press 2003
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A message for the entire year

Leon and the Spitting Image
Ages 8 Up
LEON AND THE SPITTING IMAGE
by Allen Kurzweil

Leon and the Spitting Image is about a hotel full of animals. It's about an evil ice maker. It's about glass eyeballs and human catapults. It's about really old panty hose and Possibly Fake Hair.

But mostly it's about Leon Zeisel and his epic quest to survive fourth grade. What's stopping him? Two things. First, there's Miss Hagmeyer. She's a supernaturally strict teacher with ears that resemble giant rotting mushrooms. And then there is Leon's archenemy, Lumpkin the Pumpkin, a human tank with a deadly dodgeball throw known to all as the sidewinder.

Luckily, Leon has two friends, Lily-Matisse and P.W., who will stand by him no matter what -- even if his magical, mysterious plans for rescue and revenge involve . . . SPIT!   READ MORE
--Greenwillow 2003

Will Moses Mother Goose
Ages Prek Up
WILL MOSES MOTHER GOOSE

The world of Mother Goose comes exuberantly to life as never before in Will Moses' original recreation of childhood's most celebrated book.

Young people will meet Jack Sprat and Little Bo-Peep, Hickory Dickory and its mice, the Old Woman Who Lived in a Shoe and so many more as they step into the enchanted worlds of this renowned American artist. The rhyme and character is the key, but the discovery is all their own as little people search for their favorite nursery characters among the cobbled streets, magic waterfalls and steepled cottages of the beloved Will Moses.

There are bountiful reasons to love this new Mother Goose every time it is shared.
--Philomel Books 2003
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Read this book.
It's bound to be a blockbuster movie!

Inkheart
by Cornelia Funke
Ages 10-13

INKHEART

Imagine it were possible to bring the characters from a book to life. Not like when someone reads a book with such enchantment that the characters seem to jump off the pages and into your bedroom… but for real. Imagine they could actually climb out of the pages and into our world.

Then imagine if those characters brought their world into ours.

One cruel night, young Meggie's father Mo, reads aloud from Inkheart and an evil ruler named Capricorn escapes the boundaries of fiction and lands in their living room. Suddenly Meggie is smack in the middle of the kind of adventure she has only read about in books.

Somehow Meggie and Mo must learn to harness the magic that conjured this nightmare. Somehow they must change the course of the story that has changed their lives forever.

This is Inkheart a timeless tale about books, about imagination, about life.
--The Chicken House - Scholastic 2003
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The Perfect Thanksgiving
All Ages
All
THE PERFECT THANKSGIVING by Eileen Spinelli

"Our smoke alarm is wailing.
Our turkey, burnt as toast.
Dad spills the gravy down his shirt-
a less-than-perfect host".

Enter two families who couldn't be more opposite. Family one seems just perfect-with a plump golden turkey, gorgeous whipped cream swirls atop their pie, and lace napkins on the table. Family two, on the other hand, seems far from it! The turkey burns, the Jell-O wiggles and jiggles right to the floor, and Dad's shirt serves as napkin. What could these two very different families possibly have in common?

Full of whimsy, good spirit, and certainly familial love, this laugh-aloud picture book is sure to add spice to any Thanksgiving feast.
--Henry Holt & Company, Inc. 2003
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The Beast
Young Adult
THE BEAST
by Walter Dean Myers

Anthony "Spoon" Witherspoon knows about the Beast. It roams the labyrinth streets of Harlem, preying on dreams. Spoon's new life at a Connecticut prep school feeds his dream of going to college. But Gabi, the beautiful poet he's left behind in Harlem, has no such sustenance. Gabi, Spoon's first true love, now sleeps with a needle by her bed.

Spoon's battle to save Gabi challenges his own feelings about the community-and the girl-that were once his whole world. In this hauntingly passionate story, acclaimed author Walter Dean Myers shows us that dreams and love, however fragile, mean everything when you are fighting the Beast.
Scholastic 2003
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Skippyjon Jones
Ages 4-8

SKIPPYJON JONES
by Judy Schachner

His ears are too big for his head.
His head is too big for his body

"I am not a Siamese cat…" says Skippyjon Jones, a rambunctious kitty boy with an overactive imagination. He would rather be El Skippito, his Zorro-like alter ego. Skippito, the great sword fighter, can do anything. He knows just how to save a roving band of Mexican Chihuahuas from a humongous bumble-beeto that is tormenting them. Skippito gets the job done-yes indeed-o.

You can join Skippyjon Jones on his great adventures. But be warned-he's a rascal who stops at nothing. And he is out to steal your heart!
--Dutton Children's Books 2003
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Milkweed: A Novel
Ages 9-12
MILKWEED: A Novel
by Jerry Spinelli

He’s a boy called Jew. Gypsy. Stopthief. Runt. Happy. Fast. Filthy son of Abraham.

He’s a boy who lives in the streets of Warsaw. He’s a boy who steals food for himself and the other orphans. He’s a boy who believes in bread, and mothers, and angels. He’s a boy who wants to be a Nazi some day, with tall shiny jackboots and a gleaming Eagle hat of his own. Until the day that suddenly makes him change his mind. And when the trains come to empty the Jews from the ghetto of the damned, he’s a boy who realizes it’s safest of all to be nobody.

Newbery Medalist Jerry Spinelli takes us to one of the most devastating settings imaginable—Nazi-occupied Warsaw of World War II—and tells a tale of heartbreak, hope, and survival through the bright eyes of a young orphan.
--Knopf 2003
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CREATION
I was before time.
I was everywhere.
There was nothing.
I was there.
My spirit moved over the deep.
I floated in darkness.
CREATION
by Gerald McDermott

Creation is a visually compelling and thought provoking meditation on the creation story. The stunning gesso and fabric paintings, inspired by Japanese handmade mulberry-bark paper, are a rich textured, powerful message of the awe and majesty of our universe.

"As in all of my work, says author-illustrator McDermott, Creation is an outer expression of the inner reality that connects every human soul."

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All Ages

Bill in a China Shop
Ages 4-8
BILL IN A CHINA SHOP
by Katie McAllaster Weaver

Bill is, you guessed it, a bull. Not just any bull, but a dashing, charming top hat and tails bull who loves china. He's in search of one more perfect cup for his collection. When he finally finds a shop without a "Bulls Keep Out" sign he is delighted. His "trip" into the shop is not without humor and calamity. The handsomely detailed pen and ink illustrations by Tim Raglin make this book a knock-out!
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The Case of the Cat with the Missing Ear
Ages 9-12
THE CASE OF THE CAT WITH THE MISSING EAR:
From the notebooks of Edward R. Smithfield, D.V.M.
by Scott Emerson

Samuel Blackthorne, a Yorkshire terrier, is a master of observation and a genius of deductive reasoning who earns his living by unraveling mysteries and solving crimes.

When Molly Kirkpatrick, a sleek greyhound, comes to Blackthorne for help in finding her missing brother Patrick, a quiet accountant, it seems like a simple enough case. But the trail leads Blackthorne and his colleague, Smithfield, to the docks, the dog track, casinos, and all kinds of roguish characters. They are caught up in an increasingly convoluted web of deceit that involves the highest-ranking officials in the city -- and a mysterious, possibly deadly, cat with just one ear.
--Simon & Schuster 2003
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Diary of a Wombat
Ages 5-7
DIARY OF A WOMBAT
by Jackie French

A wombat is an Australian animal that looks a little like a bear, but smaller. Its favorite pastimes are digging holes, eating, and sleeping.

In this book, a wombat tells its own story, about…guess what? Digging holes, eating, and sleeping. And, of course, training its new neighbors-humans!
--Clarion 2003

WARNING: This marsupial might give children the idea they can train their parents for treats on demand!
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The Picture of Morty & Ray
Ages 6-10
THE PICTURE OF MORTY & RAY
by Daniel Pinkwater

Best pals Morty and Ray stay up late one night watching a classic horror movie. Remember that really famous one about the evil handsome guy whose portrait gets uglier with every mean thing he does? Well, Morty and Ray think this is so neat that they decide to test it out themselves. The experiment works but the boys are having way too much fun to realize they're heading straight for trouble. Join Morty and Ray on this wild ride where friendships are tested but pickle juice always prevails!
--HarperCollins, August 2003

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The First Part Last
Young Adult
THE FIRST PART LAST
by Angela Johnson

Bobby is your classic urban teenaged boy-impulsive, eager, restless. On his sixteenth birthday he gets some news from his girlfriend, Nia, that changes his life forever. She's pregnant. Bobby's going to be a father. Suddenly things like school and house parties and hanging with friends no longer seem important as they're replaced by visits to Nia's obstetrician and a social worker who says that the only way for Nia and Bobby to lead a normal life is to put their baby up for adoption.

With powerful language and keen insight, Johnson looks at the male side of teen pregnancy as she delves into one young man's struggle to figure out what "the right thing" is and then to do it. No matter what the cost.
--Simon & Schuster 2003
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Fault Line
Young Adult
FAULT LINE
by Janet Tashjian

Set in San Francisco, the book features seventeen-year-old Becky Martin. She is smart and funny, and along with her best-friend Abby, aspires to be a successful stand-up comic. The only thing missing from her life is a boyfriend. So when she starts dating the handsome and talented Kip Costello, life seems perfect. But between the passion and intensity, problems arise. Kip criticizes Becky about her appearance, rewrites all of her comedy routines, and monopolizes her time. Becky is bothered by Kip's hovering, but dismisses her concerns. They're in love right? But as the novel progresses, Kip's nitpicking turns physical and Becky is forced to acknowledge the dysfunctional nature of their relationship.
--Henry Holt and Company 2003
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Panda Bear, Panda Bear, What Do You See?
Ages 4 Up
PANDA BEAR, PANDA BEAR, WHAT DO YOU SEE?
by Eric Carle and Bill Martin, Jr.

Learn about endangered animals: Giant Panda, Bald Eagle, Water Buffalo, Spider Monkey, Green Sea Turtle, Macaroni Penguin, Sea Lion, Red Wolf, Whooping Crane and Black Panther.


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The Whale Rider
Ages 9-12
THE WHALE RIDER

Eight-year-old Kahu craves her great-grandfather's love and attention. But he's focused on his duties as chief of the Maori in Whangara, New Zealand-a tribe that claims descent from the legendary "whale rider." In every generation since the whale rider, a male has inherited the title of chief. But now there is no male heir-there's only Kahua. She should be next in line for the title, but her great-grandfather is blinded by tradition and sees no use for a girl.

Kahu will not be ignored. And in her struggle she has a unique ally the whale rider himself, from whom she has inherited the ability to communicate with whales. Once that sacred gift is revealed, Kahu may be able to reestablish her people's ancestral connections, earn her great-grandfather's attention-and lead her tribe to a bold new future.
--Harcourt, Inc. 2003
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Necessary Noise: Stories About Our Families as They Really Are
YA
NECESSARY NOISE: Stories About Our Families as They Really Are
Michael Cart, Editor

Once upon a time that was not so very long ago, a family was described as a man, a woman, and their offspring. That was what families were. These ten stories talk about families the way they really are.

Siblings coping with their younger brother's overdose. A girl terrified of her older sister's dual personality. A boy trying to adjust to his life with two mothers. A father visiting his son on death row. These are stories of today's families -- fractured, blended, at risk, non-traditional, and some that are even still nuclear.

Noted anthologist Michael Cart asked celebrated young adult authors the question "What does 'family' mean today?" The ten stories in this anthology provide some illuminating -- and sometimes surprising -- answers. Here family is defined by the connections between all kinds of people -- and the necessary noise they make.
--HarperCollins June 2003
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Olivia Kidney
Ages 8-12
OLIVIA KIDNEY
by Ellen Potter

Olivia Kidney's new apartment building is crazy! Talking lizards crawling everywhere. A tropical rainforest growing in 7B. Even an apartment made entirely of glass! Maybe her father will get fired from his job as the building super, and they can leave. But Olivia is tired of moving from place to place, from school to school. What she wouldn't give for a little slice of sanity. And maybe a friend to share it with.
--Philomel Books June 2003
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On the Way to the Beach
Ages 4 Up
ON THE WAY TO THE BEACH
by Henry Cole

Find a place to sit and watch and listen ... on the beach or in the woods or in a salt marsh. What can you see and hear?
--Greenwillow 2003
A beautiful way to interact with your children, help them develop observation skills and soak up the beauty of nature.
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Ellsworth's Extraordinary Electric Ears
Ages 4-7
ELLSWORTH'S EXTRAORDINARY ELECTRIC EARS
by Valorie Fisher

Twenty-six letters of the alphabet become 26 amazing alphabet alliterative tales. "Fancy feathered fashions were favored by Floyd's farm friends." Every picture, cleverly created in miniatures, will be a seek and find for the reader.
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Begging for Change
YA
BEGGING FOR CHANGE
by Sharon G. Flake

Raspberry Hill can't get a break. It's been a year since her mother tossed Raspberry's hard-earned money out the window like trash, and some busybody neighbors prevented the two of them from moving into Section Eight housing in the beautiful Pecan Landings neighborhood.
Life should be getting better for Raspberry, with her relationship with Sato blossoming like wildflowers in August. But a wisecracking teenage neighbor attacks her mother, and the insecurity that brings out Raspberry's greed returns in full force. She ends up stealing from one of her best friends-even though she doesn't need the money. Worse yet, her father is back. He's homeless, on drugs, and desperate enough to steal, just like Raspberry.
But nothing good comes of bad money, and Raspberry has to confront the fear she's kept locked deep inside: is she really much different from her father, after all? Will stealing from her friend cost her the love and respect of those who mean the most to her?
--Jump at the Sun, Hyperion Books June 2003
@AMAZON
Franny B. Kranny, There's a Bird in Your Hair!
Ages 5 -8
FRANNY B. KRANNY, THERE'S A BIRD IN YOUR HAIR!
by Harriet Lerner, Author, Helen Oxenbury, Illustrator

Franny B. Kranny's long, frizzy hair is big trouble. It ties itself in knots on the buttons of her dress and gets stuck in the refrigerator door! But Franny B. Kranny loves her hair. She refuses to cut it and is furious when she has to get a fancy new hairdo for a family reunion. Then a bird decides to make Franny B. Kranny's hair its home, and suddenly Franny B. Kranny starts to like her new hairdo....
--HarperCollins 2003
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Whistling
Ages 4 Up (and Fathers)
WHISTLING
by Elizabeth Partridge
Anna Grossnickle Hines, Illustrator

"Jake," Daddy whispers. "It's almost time."

As the sky begins to lighten, Jake and his daddy, camping in the forest, awaken with a special plan for greeting the day.

Elizabeth Partridge's story about a father and son spending time together is illustrated with stunning hand-sewn quilts by Anna Grossnickle Hines.
--Greenwillow 2003
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The Journey o Oliver K. Woodman
Ages 5-8
THE JOURNEY OF OLIVER K. WOODMAN
by Darcy Pattison, Joe Cepeda, Illustrator

Have you seen Oliver K. Woodman? You'd know if you had--he's made of wood. And he's on a spectacular cross-country journey. Folks of all sorts guide Oliver along the way and report back in letters and postcards to his friend Uncle Ray. After all, there's a lot of road--and adventure!--between South Carolina and California. Oliver's been spotted truckin' in Texas, riding in a Utah parade, and scaring off bears in the California redwoods. Where will he show up next? Read the letters. Follow the map. And buckle up for a road trip you'll never forget!
--Harcourt 2003
Fun for the Whole Family. Great Vacation or School Project.
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BUILD YOUR OWN OLIVER
ACTIVITY GUIDE
Pick, Pull, Snap!
Budding Gardeners Ages 4 Up
PICK, PULL, SNAP!
Lola M. Schaefer
Lindsay Barrett George, Illustrator

In the orchard
a honey bee buzzes.
Its legs brush pollen
inside afragrant
pink flower:

A small green fruit
begins to grow
and grow and grow....

Peaches and peas
and even peanuts --
they all begin with
a single flower.
How? Open this book and find out!
--Greenwillow Books 2003
Everyday kids, gatefold flaps, detailed drawings, and glossary in back.
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After
YA
AFTER
by Francine Prose

The shootings in Pleasant Valley were fifty miles away, but at Central High a grief and crisis counselor is hired, security is increased, and privileges are being taken away. If you break the new rules, the punishment is severe. And the rules keep changing every day. It's for their protection, yet fifteen-year-old Tom Bishop and his friends learn that things are far more sinister than they seem. Students and teachers begin disappearing.

And there's no way to stop it.

From nationally best-selling and critically acclaimed author Francine Prose comes After -- a haunting novel about what happens when protection goes too far, and what it means to have freedom extinguished in the name of safety.
--Joanna Cotler Books, An Imprint of HarperColins Publisher 2003
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I, Freddy
Ages 8-11
I, FREDDY
by Dietlof Reiche, John Brownjohn (Translator), Joe Cepeda (Illustrator)

Freddy is no ordinary hamster. He's a Mesocricetus auratus, a golden hamster of the highest order. As part of such a superior breed, he'd sooner go into Eternal Hibernation than mindlessly waste his life in a pet shop. And so, with the passion of youth and the conviction of the brilliant, he sets out on a daring quest for freedom, literacy, and a more dignified existence.

But enemies both human and animal, his diminutive size, and a few technological challenges threaten to thwart his dream at every turn. Lo and behold, in the spirit of the most gifted writers, Freddy turns these obstacles into fodder for his witty and heartwarming autobiography.
--Scholastic 2003
Book One in the Golden Hamster Saga
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Green Angel
YA+
GREEN ANGEL
by Alice Hoffman

Left on her own when her family is lost in a terrible disaster, 15-yr-old Green is haunted by loss and by the past. Struggling to survive physically and emotionally in a place where nothing seems to grow and ashes are everywhere, Green retreats into the ruined realm of her garden. But in destroying her feelings, she also begins to destroy herself, erasing the girl she'd once been as she inks ravens into her skin. It is only through a series of mysterious encounters -- with a ghostly white dog and a mute boy -- that Green relearns the lessons of love and begins to heal as she tells her own story.
--Scholastic 2003
Eloquent, thought provoking and powerfully written.  READ MORE
Anna's Table
Ages 6-9
ANNA'S TABLE
by Eve Bunting, Taia Morley, Illustrator

"In my room against the wall I have a nature table filled with the wonders of the earth and sky and sea. Each one of them a miracle to me."

Anna's Table is a hands-on way to teach your child about the delicate balance of the cycles of life, and to understand and appreciate the awe of nature.
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Stone Soup
Ages 5-8
STONE SOUP
by Jon J. Muth

Three monks, Hok, Lok, and Siew, journey along a mountain road trying to understand what makes one happy. At once the monks encounter frightened villagers who lock their windows and darken their homes. The villagers have long been ravaged by harsh times, and their hearts have grown hard toward everyone they meet. But when the monks cleverly entice them to make soup from stones, the villagers discover how much they each have to give and how much more comes back in return.
With magnificent watercolors that invite reflection of deeper meaning, Jon J Muth combines his love of Zen Buddhism and Eastern culture with a favorite old trickster tale that celebrates the power of generosity.
--Scholastic Press 2003
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Silent Movie
Ages 4 Up

SILENT MOVIE
by Avi
C. B. Mordan, Illustrator

Silent Movie is a moving tale of a family who flees Sweden in search of a new life in America. Set in 1909, award-winning storyteller Avi and illustrator C. B. Mordan recreate a silent screen experience in picture book format from the opening credits to "The End." Frame by frame the reader is introduced to the obstacles, disillusionment and not-too-perfect life of an immigrant family's struggle to become an American family.

Sparse text and intriguing black and white illustrations reminiscent of period wood cuts are set against a glossy black background to vividly capture the melodrama of a family's difficult beginnings and survival in a big city.
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A Northern Light
Ages YA
A NORTHERN LIGHT
by Jennifer Donnelly

Mattie Gokey has a word for everything. She collects words, stores them up as a way of fending off the hard truths of her life, the truths that she can't write down in stories.

--Harcourt April 2003
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Jackalope
Ages 4-8
JACKALOPE
by Susan Stevens Crummel and Janet Stevens

Never seen a jackalope? Not even sure what one is? Well, you've come to the right place. You'll get the whole wild story right here in this book.
--Harcourt April 2003
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Trudi & Pia
Ages 4-9
TRUDI & PIA
by Ursula Hegi, Giselle Potter, Illustrator

Trudi & Pia is a moving story of a girl's search for acceptance and captures what it feels like to be different...and then what it feels like to realize that you're not.


March 2003
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George Washington's Teeth
All Ages
GEORGE WASHINGTON'S TEETH
by Deborah Chandra, Madeleine Comora, Brock Cole (Illustrator)

Contrary to popular belief, George Washington never had a set of wooden teeth. Starting at the age of twenty-four, he lost on average a tooth a year, and by the time he was elected President, he had only two left. Laugh while learning with this clever picture book tale based on Washington's letter, diaries and historical records.
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Talkin' About Bessie
Girl Wonder
Taking Liberty
The Daring Escape of Ellen Craft
Frederick Douglass
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