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Book of the Week Archive for 2011
2011 Archive

Dead End in Norvelt
by Jack Gantos
Ages 10 and up

Melding the entirely true and the wildly fictional, Dead End in Norvelt is a novel about an incredible two months for a kid named Jack Gantos, whose plans for vacation excitement are shot down when he is "grounded for life" by his feuding parents, and whose nose spews bad blood at every little shock he gets. But plenty of excitement (and shocks) are coming Jack's way once his mom loans him out to help a fiesty old neighbor with a most unusual chore—typewriting obituaries filled with stories about the people who founded his utopian town. As one obituary leads to another, Jack is launced on a strange adventure involving molten wax, Eleanor Roosevelt, twisted promises, a homemade airplane, Girl Scout cookies, a man on a trike, a dancing plague, voices from the past, Hells Angels . . . and possibly murder. Endlessly surprising, this sly, sharp-edged narrative is the author at his very best, making readers laugh out loud at the most unexpected things in a dead-funny depiction of growing up in a slightly off-kilter place where the past is present, the present is confusing, and the future is completely up in the air.
--Farrar, Straus and Giroux 2011
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The Really Awful Musicians by John Manders
Ages 4-8

It looks like the end of music forever!

A wacky tall tale about how musicians first learned to play together. All the musicians in the kingdom are so awful that the king sends his men-at-arms to round up musicians and feed them to the royal crocodiles. Pipe and drum player Piffaro heads for the border, collecting other refugee musicians on the way. Their jam session on the road is so bad that the horse pulling the wagon figures out a way to make them all play the same music at the same time—a system of lines and hoofprints. (In fact, there was a time before musical notation was devised, but that’s the only part of this story that is true!)
--Clarion Books 2011
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The Flint Heart
by Katherine Paterson and John Paterson
John Rocco, Illustrator
Ages 7-11

A robust and wildly entertaining fairy tale, freely abridged from Eden Phillpotts’s 1910 fantasy and wryly retold by Katherine and John Paterson.

An ambitious Stone Age man demands a talisman that will harden his heart, allowing him to take control of his tribe. Against his better judgment, the tribe’s magic man creates the Flint Heart, but the cruelty of it causes the destruction of the tribe. Thousands of years later, the talisman reemerges to corrupt a kindly farmer, an innocent fairy creature, and a familial badger. Can Charles and his sister Unity, who have consulted with fairies such as the mysterious Zagabog, wisest creature in the universe, find a way to rescue humans, fairies, and animals alike from the dark influence of the Flint Heart? This humorous, hearty, utterly delightful fairy tale is the sort for an entire family to savor together or an adventurous youngster to devour.
--Candlewick Press 2011
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The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale
by Carmen Agra Deedy and Randall Wright
Barry Moser, Illustrator
Ages 8-12
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Skilley, an alley cat with an embarrassing secret, longs to escape his hard life dodging fishwives brooms and carriage wheels and trade his damp alley for the warmth of the Cheshire Cheese Inn. When he learns that the innkeeper is looking for a new mouser, Skilley comes up with an audacious scheme to install himself in the famous tavern. Once established in the inn, Skilley strikes a bargain with Pip, the intelligent mouse-resident, and his fellow mice. Skilley protects the mice and the mice in turn give to Skilley the delectable Cheshire cheese of the inn. Thus begins a most unlikely alliance and friendship. The cat and mouse design a plan to restore Maldwyn wounded raven and faithful guard in the service of Queen Victoria to his rightful place in The Tower, but first they must contend with a tyrannical cook, a mouse-despising barmaid, and an evil tomcat named Pinch.


BookSpeak!: Poems About Books
by Laura Purdie Salas
Illustrated by Josee Bisaillon
Ages 8-11
--Clarion Books 2011
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A collection of wacky, whimsical poems about books and all the treasures they contain.

In BookSpeak!, each poem gives voice to a group that seldom gets a voice . . . the books themselves! Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff, and we get a sneak peek at the raucous parties in the aisles when all the lights go out at the bookstore!Illustrator Josée Bisaillon’s mixture of collage, drawings, and digital montage presents page after page of richly colored spreads filled with action and charm. Together, Salas and Bisaillon deliver a unique collection brimming with ideas as much about spines and dust jackets as they are about adventure and imagination.

I'll tell you a story.
I'll spin you a rhyme.
I'll spill some ideas -
and we'll travel through time.

Put down the controller.
Switch off the TV.
Abandon the mouse and
just hang out with me.

I promise adventure.
Come on, take a look!
On a day like today,?
there's no friend like a book.


Just a Second: A Different Way to Look at Time
by Steve Jenkins
Ages 5-9

What can happen in just a second, a minute, or an hour?

How can we measure time?
The flap of a vulture’s wing.
A crocodile’s heartbeat.
The weight of a baby blue whale.
The life of a mayfly.
These increments of time may sound a bit strange, but they are all fascinating ways in which we can think about time.
But what exactly is time?

In Just a Second, award-winning author-illustrator Steve Jenkins brings forth unique ways to think about time beyond the hands we see every day on a ticking clock.

This non-fiction picture book explores time and how we think about it in a different way - as a series of events in the natural world (some of them directly observable, others not) that take place in a given unit of time. Steve Jenkins' extraordinary illustrations will accompany this engaging look at time.

This book works on so many levels: Concepts / Counting & Numbers, Animals/ Science and Nature
--Houghton Mifflin 2011
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Wonderstruck
by Brian Selznick
Ages 9-12

The Invention of Hugo Cabret, Brian Selznick once again sails into uncharted territory and takes readers on an awe-inspiring journey.

Ben and Rose secretly wish their lives were different. Ben longs for the father he has never known. Rose dreams of a mysterious actress whose life she chronicles in a scrapbook. When Ben discovers a puzzling clue in his mother's room and Rose reads an enticing headline in the newspaper, both children set out alone on desperate quests to find what they are missing.

Set fifty years apart, these two independent stories—Ben's told in words, Rose's in pictures—weave back and forth with mesmerizing symmetry. How they unfold and ultimately intertwine will surprise you, challenge you, and leave you breathless with wonder. Rich, complex, affecting, and beautiful—with over 460 pages of original artwork—Wonderstruck is a stunning achievement from a uniquely gifted artist and visionary.
--Scholastic, Inc. 2011
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Franklin and Winston: A Christmas That Changed the World
by Douglas Wood
Illustrated by Barry Moser
Ages 7-10

A compelling look at two leaders who held the world’s fate in their hands— and the holiday visit that sealed a friendship and steered the course of World War II.

At the height of World War II, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and Prime Minister Winston Churchill held an extraordinary month-long visit, during which they planned the success of the Allied powers and strategized a continuing peace for when the war ended. Moving from witty banter to gravely serious discussions— amid a traditional public celebration of the Christmas holiday— the two cemented a unique bond as they decided how to confront a menace that threatened all of civilization. Now, on the seventieth anniversary of this event, thanks to the skillful work of author Douglas Wood and illustrator Barry Moser, the story of this remarkable time can be shared with a whole new generation.
--Candlewick Press 2011
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Ghosts in the Fog: The Untold Story of Alaska's WWII Invasion
by Samantha Seiple
Young Adult

Who Knew?!

Ths is the first narrative nonfiction book for young adults to tell the riveting story of how the Japanese invaded and occupied the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during World War II. This fascinating little-known piece of American history is told from the point of view of the American civilians who were captured and taken prisoner, along with the American and Japanese soldiers who fought in one of the bloodiest battles of hand-to-hand combat during the war. Complete with more than 80 photographs throughout and first person accounts of this extraordinary event.
--Scholastic, Inc. 2011
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The Man in the Moon
A masterpiece by William Joyce
Ages 4-8 (All ages)

Up there in the sky.

Don’t you see him?

No, not the moon.

The Man in the Moon.

He wasn’t always a man.

Nor was he always on the moon.

He was once a child.

Like you.

Meet the very first guardian of childhood, MiM, the Man in the Moon.

--Atheneum Books for Young Readers 2011
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Ten Little Caterpillars
by Bill Martin Jr., Lois Ehlert, Illustrator
Ages 3-6

Ten little caterpillars are out and about in our big wild world—come join them! You never know what you might find....A butterfly, perhaps?

Readers of all ages have celebrated the work of Bill Martin Jr and Lois Ehlert ever since their first collaboration on Chicka Chicka Boom Boom more than twenty-five years ago. Now these two picture-book geniuses are together again in this dynamic and visually stunning counting-and-natural-history picture book that’s just perfect for reading aloud—and that comes complete with a glossary filled with intriguing information about all ten of the caterpillar stars.
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Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants
Louise the Big Cheese and the Back-to-School Smarty-Pants
by Elise Primavera
Ages 5-7

Not to be outdone by her older sister, Louise vows to get straight As in school: "If she could get straight As, everybody would want to be her friend.... She would probably be promoted to college!" But her new teacher, Mrs. Pearl, is not very accommodating ("You can do better, Miss Cheese," she says in response to Louise's efforts). When a substitute teacher, Mrs. Sprinkles, takes Mrs. Pearl's place, Louise is delighted--until she discovers that getting an A from Mrs. Sprinkles doesn't mean as much as getting a B+ from Mrs. Pearl. Louise's lovable imperfections are sweetly matched by her ambitions, as she learns how to live up to her potential.
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CLEAN by Amy Reed
Young Adult

You’re probably wondering how I ended up here. I’m still wondering the same thing.

Olivia, Kelly, Christopher, Jason, and Eva have one thing in common: They're addicts. Addicts who have hit rock bottom and been stuck together in rehab to face their problems, face sobriety, and face themselves. None of them wants to be there. None of them wants to confront the truths about their pasts. And they certainly don’t want to share their darkest secrets and most desperate fears with a room of strangers. But they'll all have to deal with themselves and one another if they want to learn how to live. Because when you get that high, there's nowhere to go but down, down, down.
--Simon Pulse 2011
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The Crows of Pearblossom
by Aldous Huxley, Sophie Blackall, Illustrator
Ages 4-8

Written in 1944 by Aldous Huxley as a Christmas gift for his niece, The Crows of Pearblossom tells the story of Mr. and Mrs. Crow, who live in a cottonwood tree. The hungry Rattlesnake that lives at the bottom of the tree has a nasty habit of stealing Mrs. Crow's eggs before they can hatch, so Mr. Crow and his wise friend, Old Man Owl, devise a sneaky plan to trick him.

This funny story of cleverness triumphing over greed, similar in tone and wit to the work of A. A. Milne, shows a new side of a great writer. Paired with stunning illustrations by Sophie Blackall, this timeless tale is sure to grab the attention of many readers—adults and children alike.
--Harry N. Abrams Books 2011
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A Butterfly is Patient
by Dianna Hutts Aston
Sylvia Long, Illustrator
Ages 4-8

The creators of the award-winning An Egg Is Quiet and A Seed Is Sleepy have teamed up again to create this gorgeous and informative introduction to the world of butterflies. From iridescent blue swallowtails and brilliant orange monarchs to the world s tiniest butterfly (Western Pygmy Blue) and the largest (Queen Alexandra's Birdwing), an incredible variety of butterflies are celebrated here in all of their beauty and wonder.

Perfect for a child's bedroom bookshelf or for a classroom reading circle! Adults will appreciate this beauty as well!
--Chronicle Books LLC 2011
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No One But You by Douglas Wood
No One But You by Douglas Wood
Ages 6-8

Feel the rain kiss your skin or the wind ruffle your hair. Hear the hum of a bumblebee; watch a water strider march across a pond; taste a red, ripe strawberry; whistle with a blade of grass.

From Christopher Medal-winning author Douglas Wood and celebrated illustrator P.J. Lynch comes a moving look at the experiences that belong only to us, marking a place on Earth that is ours alone. After all, who but you can remember your own memories?

Wonderfully evocative of nature’s sensory treasures, here is a perfect gift to share with a child - or to inspire loved ones of any age as they set out to create their special place in the world.
--Candlewick Press 2011
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Your Mommy Was Just Like You
Your Mommy Was Just Like You
by Kelly Bennett
David Walker, Illustrator
Ages PreSchool to Ages 7

Can you believe your mommy used to dress up in kooky costumes? Build forts that were TOP SECRET? And even get sent to time-out? Well, she did! According to Grandma, Mommy loved getting messy, wearing kooky costumes, and dragging out bedtime with just one more story. She collected bottle caps and dandelion fluff, and didn't know how to tie her shoes. Sometimes she was a terror, but most of the time she was a sweet potato. Just like her own little girl today.

Kids love to hear about what their parents were like as children, and this celebration of moms and the little girls they were will inspire lots of laughter and memories.

--Penguin Group 2011
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Ten Birds by Cybele Young
Ten Birds
by Cybčle Young
Ages 5-7

A clever counting book and fable unlike any other. Ten birds are trying to figure out how to get to the other side of the river. The bird they call "Brilliant" devises a pair of stilts. The bird they call "Highly Satisfactory" engineers a raft. One by one, nine resourceful birds make the crossing until a single bird is left behind—the one they call "Needs Improvement." This bird's solution proves surprising—and absurdly simple. More than a counting book, Ten Birds is a witty story that highlights ingenuity, common sense and the inadequacies of labels.

Cybčle Young's intricate chiaroscuro pen-and-ink drawings depict a rich alternative world that both children and adults will marvel over.
--Kids Can Press 2011
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How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous
by Georgia Bragg
Illustrated by Kevin O'Malley
Ages 11 and up

Over the course of history men and women have lived and died. In fact, getting sick and dying can be a big, ugly mess-especially before the modern medical care that we all enjoy today. How They Croaked relays all the gory details of how nineteen world figures gave up the ghost. For example:

It is believed that Henry VIII's remains exploded within his coffin while lying in state.
Doctors "treated" George Washington by draining almost 80 ounces of blood before he finally kicked the bucket.
Right before Beethoven wrote his last notes, doctors drilled a hole in his stomach without any pain medication.

Readers will be interested well past the final curtain, and feel lucky to live in a world with painkillers, X-rays, soap, and 911.
--Walker Books 2011

BEWARE Awfuls of the 21st Century!
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This Child, Every Child: A Book about the World's Children
This Child, Every Child: A Book about the World's Children
by David J. Smith
Ages 8-12

A groundbreaking book of statistics and stories that compare the lives of children around the world today. Every second of every day, four more children are added to the world's population of over 2.2 billion children. Some of these 2.2 billion children will be cared for and have enough to eat and a place to call home. Many others will not be so fortunate. The bestselling author-illustrator team behind the phenomenal If the World Were a Village and If America Where a Village return with a revealing and beautifully illustrated glimpse into the lives of children around the world.

This Child, Every Child uses statistics and stories to draw kids into the world beyond their own borders and provide a window into the lives of their fellow children. As young readers will discover, there are striking disparities in the way children live. Some children lack opportunities that others take for granted. What is it like to be a girl in Niger? How are some children forced into war? How do children around the world differ in their home and school lives? This Child, Every Child answers such questions and sets children's lives against the rights they are guaranteed under the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child.
--Kids Can Press 2011
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The Year We Were Famous
The Year We Were Famous by Carole Estby Dagg
Young Adult

With their family home facing foreclosure, seventeen-year-old Clara Estby and her mother, Helga, need to raise a lot of money fast—no easy feat for two women in 1896. Helga wants to tackle the problem with her usual loud and flashy style, while Clara favors a less showy approach. Together they come up with a plan to walk the 4,600 miles from Mica Creek, Washington, to New York City—and if they can do it in only seven months, a publisher has agreed to give them $10,000. Based on the true story of the author’s great-aunt and great-grandmother, this is a fast-paced historical adventure that sets the drama of Around the World in Eighty Days against an American backdrop during the time of the suffragist movement, the 1896 presidential campaign, and the changing perception of “a woman’s place” in society. Author's notes.
--Houghton Mifflin Harcourt 2011
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My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream
My Name Is Not Isabella: Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream
by Jennifer Fosberry
Ages 4-8

Just How Big Can a Little Girl Dream?
Ask Isabella...
She takes a wild ride-and discovers the sky's the limit!

Isabella turns an ordinary day into an extraordinary adventure. Through her imagination, Isabella exposes the young and the young-at-heart to some of the amazing women who changed history. Isabella learns about strength and science, history and honor, determination and discovery, and of course, unconditional love. Find out how these remarkable women teach her the importance of being her remarkable self.
--Sourcebooks 2010
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Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
Wheels of Change: How Women Rode the Bicycle to Freedom (With a Few Flat Tires Along the Way)
by Sue Macy
Ages 12 and up

Take a lively look at women's history from aboard a bicycle, which granted females the freedom of mobility and helped empower women's liberation. Through vintage photographs, advertisements, cartoons, and songs, Wheels of Change transports young readers to bygone eras to see how women used the bicycle to improve their lives. Witty in tone and scrapbook-like in presentation, the book deftly covers early (and comical) objections, influence on fashion, and impact on social change inspired by the bicycle, which, according to Susan B. Anthony, "has done more to emancipate women than anything else in the world."
--National Geographic Society 2011
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Night Flight
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic
by Robert Burleigh
Ages 6-8

Robert Burleigh has captured Amelia Earhart's first solo flight across the Atlantic in 1928. She was only the second person to do this – and the first woman. Rich in detail, feeling and incident this is nonfiction with edge and action, a you-are-there experience made more dramatic and real by Wendell Minor's vivid paintings.
--Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2011
Night Flight: Amelia Earhart Crosses the Atlantic

Eliza's Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary
Eliza's Freedom Road: An Underground Railroad Diary
by Jerdine Nolen
Ages 9-12

It is 1852 in Alexandria, Virginia. Eliza’s mother has been sent away and it is Abbey, the cook, who looks after Eliza, when Eliza isn’t taking care of the Mistress. Eliza has the quilt her mother left her and the memory of the stories she told to keep her close. When her Mistress’s health begins to fail and Eliza overhears the Master talk of Eliza being traded, Eliza takes to the night. She follows the path and the words of the farmhand Old Joe, “ … travel the night … sleep the day. Go East. Your back to the set of the sun until you come to the safe house where the candlelight lights the window.” All the while, Eliza recites the stories her mother taught her along her Freedom Road from Maryland to St. Catherine’s, Canada.
--Simon & Schuster/Paula Wiseman Books 2011
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These Hands by Margaret H. Mason
These Hands by Margaret H. Mason
Ages 4-8

Joseph’s grandpa could do almost anything with his hands. He could play the piano, throw a curveball, and tie a triple bowline knot in three seconds flat. But in the 1950s and 60s, he could not bake bread at the Wonder Bread factory. Factory bosses said white people would not want to eat bread touched by the hands of the African Americans who worked there.

In this powerful intergenerational story, Joseph learns that people joined their hands together to fight discrimination so that one day, their hands—Joseph’s hands—could do anything at all in this whole wide world.
--Houghton Mifflin 2011
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Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy and His Hor
Play, Louis, Play!: The True Story of a Boy and His Horn by Muriel Harris Weinstein
Ages 7-10

The childhood of Louis Armstrong was as fascinating as the great musician himself—and this chapter book biography tells it like never before. Play, Louis, Play! is written from the point of view of Louis' closest companion throughout his youth—his horn! In a jazz-inflected, exuberant voice, this unusual narrator tells it all, starting with the small New Orleans hock shop where little Louis bought his first trumpet for five hard-earned dollars.

As Louis goes from a street quartet to the marching band of the Colored Waif 's Home to the big sounds of New Orleans jazz clubs, author Muriel Harris Weinstein creates a moving portrait of the jazz legend. Includes a detailed author's note, glossary of jazz terms, and bibliography.
Bloomsbury USA Children's Books 2010
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Roots and Blues: A Celebration
Roots and Blues: A Celebration by Arnold Adoff
Ages 9-12

Through poems and poetic prose pieces, Adoff celebrates that uniquely American form of music called the blues. In his signature “shaped speech” style, he creates a narrative of moments and joyous music, from the drums of the ancestors, the red dirt of the plantations, the current of the mighty Mississippi, and the shackles, blood, and tears of slavery. Each chop of the ax is a beat, each lash of the whip fashions another line on the musical staff. But each sound also creates the chords and harmonies that preserve the ancestors and their stories, and sustain life, faith, and hope into our own times.
--Clarion 2011
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