Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Take Me to the River

My adventure seekers will love Will Hobbs's latest book!  Dylan is headed to the Terlingua Ghost Town to meet his cousin Rio and his uncle for a river trip on the Rio Grande, but things seem headed in the wrong direction from the start when Rio wants Dylan to hitchhike the last eighty miles.

He'll also encounter scorpions, tarantulas, and black-hawk helicopters, and that's all before they even get on the river. Things get even crazier on this ultimate adventure when they come up against a violent kidnapper and a raging hurricane!

You'll feel like you're on this adventure with Dylan and Rio, and this book will keep you on the edge of your seat!

Saturday, May 26, 2012

A Dog's Purpose

A Dog's Purpose is W. Bruce Cameron's journey inside the mind of a dog as it tries to discover it's purpose.

Life starts for Toby as a feral dog.  He is inquisitive and finds fleeting affection, but death is not the end for this dog.  Each time he comes to the end of life, he awakens as a puppy with a new life and a new name.  As he travels through each life, he uses the lessons he has learned to help the people around him as he tries to discover his purpose for existence.

A Dog's Purpose is at times funny, sad, and touching.  Every animal lover should read it, but it is especially for dog lovers.  As a cat person, I enjoyed the book, and I loved the dog's observations about cats.  He generally thinks they have "no discernible purpose."

This book is a wonderful view of love from a dog's eyes.  The complexities of human life and relationships get boiled down to play, love, comfort, and eat.  Anyone who has ever loved an animal will understand and appreciate this dog's single-minded devotion to his master's comfort and happiness.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Warp Speed

This is the newest book by Lisa Yee, and all of the protagonists of her previous books make appearances, so be prepared to greet Millicent Min, Stanford Wong, and Emily Ebers again!

Marley Sandelski is the lowest kid on the scale of popularity at school.  His word for the year is "invisible" because no one notices him unless it is to bully him.  A normal day for Marley includes getting chased, spat on, slammed into his locker, and ignored.

The only place he feels safe is in AV club which meets during sixth period.  When he's there, he's free to be himself and flaunt his love and knowledge of Star Trek.  His best friend Ramen loves Star Wars, and the AV kids spend a lot of time arguing over which better.  When he gets nervous, Marley starts speaking in Klingon, which doesn't help anything.

He thinks this year will be the same as all the others, but there are a few important differences.  Some are not so bad, like the new kid in AV club, even if Max is a Bat fan.  There's also Emily Ebers who is beautiful and normal and nice which is good but also confusing.  Despite all these good things, the bullies are full force, and things just keep getting worse.  Marley is trying to move at Warp Speed to avoid everything, but maybe he just needs to slow down a little and try for more out of life than just survival.

I think the best aspect of the book is Yee's ability to make the reader feel Marley's pain and frustration at the hands of his bullies.  She also honestly portrays the inept ways many adults try to address bullying.  Marley's story is the story of the awkwardness we all feel in middle school from the geeks to the jocks.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Close to Famous

Joan Bauer is one of my favorite authors because her heroines are always strong individuals who are unabashedly unique.  If you enjoy Close to Famous, give some of her other books a try!  Some of my favorites are Squashed, Peeled, and Backwater.

Foster and her mother are leaving Memphis a hurry to get away from a bad Elvis who just happens to be Mama's no good finally ex-boyfriend.  They just keep driving until they get stuck in a fog bank and stop for the night.  The are rescued by a couple from Culpepper, West Virginia, who just happen to have a vacant trailer in their backyard.  Since Foster and her mama just happen to have no money and nowhere to go, it seems like a perfect match.

Foster has more problems than leaving Memphis.  She is still mourning her father who died in Iraq, and her problems in school are worse than she wants anyone to know, but Foster has big talent and big dreams.  She bakes cupcakes and muffins and brownies that can melt anyone's heart, and her goal is to be on the Food Network like her Idol, Sonny Krull, celebrity chef and former Marine.

Culpepper isn't doing so well either.  The new prison was supposed to bring jobs, but it seems to be making the economy worse, the church is for sale, and the main industry in town is closed down.  There's also a former Hollywood starlet living like a hermit because she doesn't want to face the world.

Foster and Culpepper are both struggling, but maybe if they work toether, things can turn around for this baker with big dreams and a town that has forgotten how to dream.

With her usual style, Joan Bauer has created a book that is funny, touching, and true.  You'll laugh at Foster's dry sense of humor and sympathize with her struggles at school.  This is another winner!

Visit Joan Bauer's website for recipes and other extras!

Here's a video of the author talking about writing in general and some of her other books:

Friday, May 18, 2012

Curveball: The Year I Lost My Grip

This is the newest book by Jordan Sonnenblick, author of Drums, Girls, and Dangerous Pie and other fabulous books.  Curveball has the same energy and tone as the others as Sonnenblick's characters face life's disasters with humor and sensitivity.

Peter Friedman loves baseball.  He and his best friend AJ have been pitching and catching on the same team since they were kids, but just as they are on the cusp of what they know will be their brilliant high school careers, Peter faces a devastating injury that will impact his ability to play baseball forever.

But he does have one more thing going for him, photography.  Peter's grandfather has been sharing his love of photography with him his whole life, and the two are close friends beyond the lens.  One day on a photography trip something strange happens to Gramps.  It's like he's just gone for a few minutes, and things get worse from there.

So instead of starting high school on a high Peter is beginning with the specter of his injury and his worries about Gramps hanging over him.

Even with all this, there is Angelika, the really cute girl who keeps flirting with him and the hope of something other than baseball to love.

Will Peter be able to handle life's curveball, or will completely lose his grip?  Read the book to find out!

Summer Reading Links

Here are the links for the info in Gator Tails Vol 3.  Maybe if I were cooler, I could figure out how to make the pic link to two different places at once. :)

James Patterson's Read Kiddo Read

Sync Free Audiobooks

Summer Reading Opportunities

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Mighty Miss Malone

This is the newest book from Christopher Paul Curtis, author of The Watsons Go to Birmingham and Bud, Not Buddy, and it is just as wonderful as those books!  Curtis's gift is his ability to create believable characters and situations.  The tone of the books is at times hilarious and at times heartbreaking.  (I'm a fan in case you couldn't tell.)

Deza and her family live in Gary, Indiana, in the 1930's, the heart of the Great Depression.  Money is tight, but the Malones are getting by.  Deza loves school and reading, and everyone believes she will do great things.  Her older brother Jimmy is a gifted singer, but he looks like a child because of an undiagnosed disorder.  Father likes to joke around and tell stories with his Darling Daughter Deza and Genuine Gentle Jumping Giant Jimmy.

But things take a turn for the worse when Father is involved in an accident, and the bad news seems to be coming in more than threes.  The Malones have always been a family on the Road to Wonderful, but now they've lost their way.  Deza wants to be hopeful, but it's hard waiting for things to look up again.  Read the book to find out how the Malone family gets back on that Road to Wonderful.

Monday, May 14, 2012

Sweet Venom

This is the latest book from Tera Lynn Childs, author of Forgive My Fins, Oh. My. Gods, and other books.  Sweet Venom goes back to the world of Greek mythology with the story of Gretchen, Grace, and Greer, three girls adopted into different families.  Though they are adopted and come from different backgrounds, they can't deny that they are physically identical.  The shock of finding long lost triplet sisters isn't the only thing they'll have to deal with!

Gretchen is the only one of the sisters who knows anything about who they really are, descendants of Medusa.  Forget everything you learned about the hideous gorgon who could turn men to stone with a single glance.  That's just a smear campaign from Athena who was jealous!  The truth is that Medusa was a guardian of the seal that separates the human world from the world of mythological creatures.  Regular humans can't see the truth about these creatures; the three sisters are the only ones who can.

Gretchen thought she had everything figured out, but now her mentor is gone, two new untrained sisters have appeared, and the beasties are popping up everywhere!  These sisters will have to discover the truth, protect the humans, and keep from getting killed themselves, but first they'll have to figure out how to keep from killing each other!

We have a signed copy of Sweet Venom and a signed ARC of Sweet Shadows, the not-yet-published sequel to give away at the Biggest Reader party!  Get your tickets ready!

No book trailer yet, but I'll add one when I find one.  Here is a video of the author talking about making character collages.  You can see some examples for this book at Tera Lynn Child's website.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

All Books Due MONDAY!

With the Might of Angels

There are three things Dawnie Rae Johnson really loves:  her pogo stick, baseball, and school.  Well, she loves learning and writing and the people at her school, but she doesn't love the school itself.  Mary McLeod Bethune is falling apart, the books are old and tattered, and even the pencils are beaten and eraserless, but change is coming.

Dawnie's father gave her an article from the New York Times about school integration to paste into her diary.  This diary will follow all the changes in Dawnie's life from the end of her 6th grade year through her first year at Prettyman Coburn, the white school in Hadley, Virginia.

People are excited about integration, but not everyone thinks it's such a great idea.  In fact, Dawnie is the only African American at her new school.  At first, that fact doesn't matter much because Dawnie has big dreams to become a doctor, and she knows she needs the better materials and supplies she will get at Prettyman, but every day is a new challenge for Dawnie, her family, and the rest of the community.  Prettyman may be beautiful and well supplied with learning materials, but Dawnie will struggle to find support there.  The Johnsons will face threats and intimidation on all sides, but they will also find strength and support when they most need it.  

Based on accounts of real students who bravely integrated all white schools and informed by Andrea Davis Pinkney's, the author's, own experiences as the only African American at her school as a child, With the Might of Angels is a portrait of a girl who learns that she will have to rely on her own determination to achieve her dreams.

Benjamin Franklinstein Lives!

Before his death, Benjamin Franklin and an the Promethean Society devised a plan to keep Franklin in suspended animation until some time in the future when he would be needed again.  Now, a stray bolt of lightning has awakened Franklin, but he can't find his caretakers anywhere.

He does find Victor, whose mother owns the house where Franklin has been "sleeping" in a secret subbasement for all these years.  Victor loves science,but he also loves perfection.  He can calculate odds and risk factors based on past experiments to create a science project with a 97% chance of winning the science fair, but this new friend will challenge all his assumptions.

With a mix of science, guesswork, humor, and happy accidents, Victor and Ben will make amazing discoveries, figure out a way to keep Franklin from turning into an starved electro-zombie, and learn that science is all about risk.

This books is filled with illustrations and charts that are part science and part science fiction.  It's a fun mix of monster movie, science fiction, and American history.  Check out the website here!

Benjamin Franklinstein Lives! is on the 2012-2013 Bluebonnet list and on the Campbell 6th grade reading list for next year.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Fake Mustache

This is the new book from Origami Yoda author, Tom Angleberger, and it's another winner!  The subtitle pretty much says it all:  or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind. Hilarity ensues.  One of you lucky gators will win an autographed copy of this book at the Biggest Reader party, too!  (We also have signed copies of Origami Yoda and Darth Paper.)

It all starts when Lenny Flem's best friend Casper buys a new man-about-town suit and the Heidelberg Handlebar Number Seven, a fake mustache with amazing powers of hypnotism and deception.  Soon a string of highly successful robberies begins.  Lenny suspects his friend Casper, but no one believes the robber is a kid.  He's just a sort of short man about town with a mustache, and Casper is too young to have a mustache.

But Casper's plans are bigger than just robbing banks.  He is hungry for power, and with the Heidelberg Handlebar, no one can stop him.  Even Lenny considers giving up until he come face to face with Jodie O'Rodeo, preteen cowgirl and star of her own (recently cancelled) TV show.  Can these two foil Casper's plans?  And perhaps more importantly, can a preteen cowgirl queen ever love a slightly nerdy, slightly short, regular seventh grader?  Read to find out!

No trailer yet, but I'll add one when I can find it. :)


OK, I am cheating a little with this one since it won't be published until September, but I liked it so much, I had to go ahead and write about it!  :)

This is a picture of the author, Tim Green, signing the book at TLA.  My friend and I were first in line (who wouldn't want to meet this guy) to meet him and get the books signed.  (One of you will win the very copy he is holding at the Biggest Reader party!)

We chatted with him for a few minutes, and he asked us to make sure we read the letter in the front cover of the book.  Green writes about his wife's battle with cancer and how cancer survivors, not athletes, are the real heroes.  What an inspiration!  Look for more news on Unstoppable next fall as it will figure prominently in our library activities.  (I won't tell you how just yet, but it is going to be awesome!)

Harrison has been in a string of foster homes for years.  He has a bad rap for being aggressive, but that is only because he is trying to protect the other kids.  Life on the Constable farm is one of the worst so far.  The Constables are cold and demanding, and Harrison's life is filled with hard work and anger.  He is starting to believe that nothing good will ever happen to him.

When a traumatic event strikes the farm, Harrison's life changes for the better.  He gets new foster parents who seem to really care about him, and his new foster father is the coach of the middle school football team.  Harrison loves football, but he's never been able to play.  Once he gets a shot on the field, everyone is amazed at his determination.  Harrison is unstoppable!

Now life seems too good to be true:  family, friends, football.  Harrison can't shake the nagging fear that everything is about to go wrong like it always does.  Will this new struggle be too much, or will Harrison remain unstoppable?

This book isn't out yet, so there isn't a trailer, but here is a video of Tim Green talking about writing, reading, and one of his other books.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Fourth Stall

Mac is a kid who can make things happen.  If you have a problem, he's the guy who can fix it...with the help of his best friend, Vince, of course.  Together they are the secret rulers of the school from their office in an unused, out of the way bathroom.  They use their profits to expand the business and to feed the Game Fund in hopes that maybe this year the Cubs will make it to the World Series.

Things are going great for Mac.  There's a line of kids outside his office everyday clamoring for his services.  If they can't pay with case, there is always the favor option, or for real hard luck cases, Mac might do the work pro bono.

Things are great, that is, until a third grader named Fred shows up with a story about gambling debts and the biggest bully in town, a bully so big that kids have been telling stories about him forever, so big that Mac always sort of believed he was just a story, a horror story, but no one to really worry about.  But Fred insists that Staples is real and that he is running an extensive gambling ring on Mac's turf.

Mac knows this case will be tough, but he has no idea how bad things will eventually get.  Maybe he's not as smart as he thought.  Maybe Staples really can take down his business and destroy his life.

What a great read!  This book is part mafia saga, part hard boiling private detective story, and part middle school; it has action, suspense, baseball, and humor.  You won't be able to put it down!

Don't forget to check out Chris Rylander's website.  It's also pretty entertaining. :)

2012-2013 Lone Star List

Watch this video from Chris Rylander.  It's AWESOME!


Fifteen-year-old Bee is a perfectionist.  She makes perfect grades and is president of her class at school.  She is even perfect in her devotion to her younger brother, Tommy, who suffers from cystic fibrosis, a disease that causes his lungs to fill with mucus and makes his breathing difficult, but Bee doesn't resent Tommy.  The siblings have a deep and loving relationship, and they understand and respect each other better than anyone else.

Tommy's interest in sharks has won a trip to dive with them from a foundation that grants wishes for children with terminal diseases, so Tommy, Bee, and their mother are headed from New Hampshire to California.  His cystic fibrosis will make everything about the trip a little more dangerous, but Bee is always by his side to make sure he has everything he needs from medication to breathing treatments to a special vest that vibrates the mucus in his lungs.

Before the plane even lands, things are not perfect.  Bee is frustrated by her mother's constant need to for male attention, and even this trip for Tommy is no different.  Her mother begins a flirtation on the plane that irritates perfectionist Bee.  The dive trip itself is not what Tommy had hoped, but he tries to keep a positive attitude.

It isn't until Bee and Tommy set off on an unscheduled adventure of their own that Tommy can really enjoy the trip.  Not only will he have a once in a lifetime experience, but they will both meet real friends who give them the kind of understanding and support they have been craving.

For Bee, this trip started as an experience for Tommy, something to make his wish come true, but she will discover some truths about herself including some wishes of her own.

I love this book!  It is a beautiful story about the sea and love.  You should read it!

Link to the author's website here.

2012-2013 Lone Star List

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Belly Up

Teddy Fitzroy spent his childhood in Africa with his mother, the gorilla expert, and his father, the wildlife photographer.  It was a life filled with adventure and animals, but now his parents have decided that he might need something a little more stable for teen years.

That's where FunJungle comes in.  FunJungle is the most amazing zoo in America with the best animal habitats and some of the best zoologists and zookeepers in the world.  It's not Africa, but Teddy does enjoy his days of freedom in zoological theme park.

Then, disaster strikes.  Henry the Hippo dies unexpectedly, and Teddy is suspicious.  Maybe someone took out Henry on purpose; maybe it was murder.

At first no one believes Teddy, so he investigates on his own, but this leaves him in some disgusting and dangerous situations.  By the time his mother starts to believe him, he is in danger of becoming the hippo killer's next victim!

This was a great mystery with humor and plenty of plot twists.  I also liked the relationship Teddy has with his parents.  It's great to see a kid in a YA book who has reliable, trustworthy, and trusting parents!

Click here to link to the author's website.

2012-2013 Lone Star List