Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Good Long Way

March 27th is a day that starts at 2:34 in the morning for three kids.  Roelito was up late studying for an algebra test, so he's not happy to be awakened by noises in the hall so early on a test day.  When he realizes those noises are his older brother, Beto, and their father fighting, he starts to get nervous.  This fight is not like all the others.  There is so much intensity and anger between the two.  Roelito is horrified by what he sees especially when Beto doesn't just walk away; he runs away, and Roelito can tell he doesn't intend to return.

Beto may not be a star student, but he gets so angry with his father for not trusting him.  He may be out late playing pool with his friends, but he doesn't drink or smoke.  He just wants his dad to respect him, but it seems like that will never happen.  He's only a few months from high school graduation, but what's the point?  Now that he's out alone a night, he starts to feel a little panicky, so he turns to his best friend, Jessy, for encouragement.  He's sure she can tell him what to do.

When Beto shows up at Jessy's window, he's just another crisis in a stressful evening.  Of course, he doesn't know about the raging fight her parents had earlier or that she spent most of the evening locked inside her bathroom.  She's tried to run away so many times, but she keeps coming back; for what, she doesn't really now.  Like Beto, she's a senior, and no one messes with her at school, not even the teachers.  Everyone knows she's tough, maybe even a little scary.  Most people don't bother to look long enough to really see how smart she is or how much she loves art.

March 27th is a day that starts too early and too hard for these three, but by the end of the day all three will experience change, learn to see others in a way, and make decisions to that will affect the rest of their lives.

Read Rene Saldana's new book to find out what can happen in a day.

Inside Out and Back Again

Ha has always lived in Saigon with her mother and three older brothers.  Her father went off to war with the Navy so long ago that she can barely remember him, but the family hasn't given up hope yet.  Even though things are getting worse in Saigon and the communist army is getting closer, Ha doesn't want to leave her home.

When the time comes, Ha's family will flee Vietnam with more people than she can count headed for an uncertain future.  A series of spur of the moment decisions leads them Alabama.

Her new small American town is so different from Saigon, and it seems almost impossible to find a way to fit in especially when so many people don't even want to bother with their new Vietnamese neighbors.  And in the Alabama of 1975, the law may say segregation is other, but Ha feels lost somewhere in the middle.

This beautiful novel written in verse takes the reader through a child's journey, forced to immigrate by war and thrown into a new and confusing world.  Be sure to read the author's note at the end to learn how Thanhha Lai based many of the events on her own experiences.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The Summer Before Boys

Julia and Eliza have always been best friends, and this summer is no different.  They are both twelve, and Julia is spending the whole summer with Eliza because her mother has been deployed in Iraq, and her father is away working.

Everything starts out like normal, and the two girls can easily lose themselves in the world of make-believe they create.  They aren't walking to the lake; they are pioneer children crossing the plains.  They aren't two regular girls sweating away in tanks and shorts; they are Victorian ladies in white dresses with mothers looking for suitors.

Of course things are different this year because Julia is always worried about her mother, but something else has changed.  Almost immediately, Julia notices a boy.  For the first time, she's just as worried about getting him to notice her as she is about spending time with her cousin.  Maybe even a little more.  Will their friendship survive?

Nora Raleigh Baskin's newest book beautifully deals with the struggles of children of parents at war and the struggles between friends as they transition from children to teens.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Escape Under the Forever Sky

Lucy should be thrilled to be living in Ethiopia; her dream is to study African animals, but her mother keeps her locked within the walls of their small American community.  Besides that, her mother is the American ambassador to Ethiopia and is always busy.  It seems like Lucy only gets to see her when she is forced to attend boring events with other ambassadors.  To make matters worse, her father took a job in Indonesia, so Lucy rarely sees him.

Everything changes when Lucy and her best friend, Tana, sneak out to hear a band at their favorite cafe.  Now Lucy has been kidnapped!  She doesn't know where she is or what will happen.  Should she wait around to see if the kidnappers will release her, or should she risk an escape?

Lucky for Lucy she loves African animals!  At least she's spent most of her down time reading and studying.  Maybe that will give her some kind of advantage in this thrilling adventure.

I loved this book!  It's got danger, adventure, and the magic of Africa.  Even though Lucy is in mortal danger for most of the story, the reader never looses the sense of magic and mystery that is Africa.

Be sure to read the author's note at the end to learn how the Eve Yohalem based the most amazing part of the story on real life!

Monday, June 25, 2012


Wren Abbott was hiding in the back seat of her mother's minivan the day it was stolen from a gas station parking lot.

Darra Monson's father is the man who stole that minivan.

As eight year old girls, these two met without meeting in an experience that would change both of them forever.

Now it is six years later, and each girl has her own memory and interpretation of that time together.  Wren is headed off to summer camp like she does every year, but as she is reconnecting with old friends, she hears a voice, sees a face from the past that paralyzes her with an old long buried anxiety.

Darra doesn't want to go to some summer camp for rich kids with perfect lives.  She feels there stares and hears their whispers as she and her mom pull up in their rusted out car.  Then she sees someone she never thought she'd see again.  Wren looks the same, older, but the same.

Now these two girls are caught up in a web of emotions and secrets that may not allow them to see the truth about who they are now or about what happened all those year's ago.

Helen Frost's new novel is written in verse, so it is a quick but intense read.  Be sure to read the author's note at the end, so you can go back into the story for something extra!

Eight Keys

Elise is about to start middle school.  She's excited...and nervous.  Her worst fears seem confirmed on the first day when she's assigned to share a locker with Amanda, a girl who seems determined to make Elise's life miserable.  She still has her best friend, Franklin, but even before the problems with Amanda start, Elise is starting to feel a little embarrassed by the way Franklin wants to "play."  Kids in middle school don't play, right?  This is confirmed when her friendship with Franklin makes Amanda's taunting even worse.

When she tries to tell her teacher about Amanda, the teacher doesn't want to listen, and Elise doesn't want to bring thoughts of all her school problems home, so she doesn't tell Aunt Bessie and Uncle Hugh either.    Elise's mother died when she was born, and her father died of cancer three years ago.  All the changes in her life are making Elise feel like she doesn't belong anywhere, and she can't even bring herself to get on the bus some days.  To make matters worse, she's so behind on her homework, that it seems pointless to even try.

That's when she finds the first key, a key left by her father that unlocks one of eight rooms in the barn that she's never really thought about.  As she discovers each key and room, she finds messages, images, and ideas left by her father that slowly help her to see her life and herself in a different way.

Suzanne LaFleur's new book will make you think about the relationships in your life, too.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Camo Girl

Z isn't just Ella's best friend; he's her only friend.  Ella doesn't really know how it happened.  It seems like one day everything was fine, and the next everyone had turned against Ella and Z.  The kids call Ella Camo Face because her skin has patches of brown and black.  Ella knows she's ugly, but it still hurts to hear the taunts of other kids.

Ella is Z's protector, and partner in the fantasy he's created.  He calls her lady Eleanor and milady and talks like he's in a story about King Arthur and Camelot.  Ella knows the fantasy helps him deal with life since his daddy left and they lost the house, but sometimes she's ready for the fantasy to be over.  Everyone else teases Z and calls him a freak.

One day a new boy shows up at school.  His name is Bailey, and Ella thinks he's beautiful.  Plus, he's the only other black kid in school.  For the first time in a long time, Ella wants to break out the protective circle she's drawn around Z and herself.  But part of her knows it's pointless.  Bailey is cool and normal and good-looking.  Why would he want to be friends with Camo Face?

But things aren't always what they seem on the surface, and Bailey, Z, and Ella have more in common than she would've thought.  Maybe being "normal" isn't as hard as Ella thought, but Z may not be able to handle all these changes, and all three kids may not be able to keep their secrets for much longer.  

Camo Girl is the newest book by Kekla Magoon, who also wrote one of my favorite books, The Rock and the River, so read that one, too!

Friday, June 22, 2012

It's Raining Cupcakes

Isabel wants nothing more than to travel the world.  She spends her time reading travel books and dreaming about future adventures.  But for now she's never left her hometown of Willow, Oregon.

Her mother's latest great idea is to open a cupcake shop, so the whole family has moved out of the only home Isabel's ever known (next door to her best friend) and moved into the apartment above the laundromat her parents have purchased and plan to transform.

Isabel is trying to stay positive, but her mother is so easily discouraged despite all the work everyone is putting into the cupcake shop.

But something amazing is happening, too!  Her best friend Sophie has discovered a baking contest for kids, and the finalists will be flown to New York!  New York!  This could be Isabel's big chance to finally go somewhere.

Will Isabel's mom overcome her fears and insecurities to open an amazing cupcake shop?  Will Isabel finally get to leave Willow, Oregon?  Read the book to find out!

Forest Born

Rin grew up in the forest the youngest child and only girl in a family of boys.  She learned as a child that she could go to the trees to find peace and comfort, but she also learned as a child that she could use her words to get people to do her will no matter what they want.  She has only done this twice, the first time by accident, the second intentionally.  Now she feels the guilt of her actions every day.  To avoid making this mistake again, she has learned to be quiet, watchful, and helpful.  She knows that if her ma discovered the truth about her beloved daughter, she would hate her.

One day her favorite brother, Razo, returns from the city for a visit, and Rin decides to go back with him.  She is hoping that in the city she will escape the sadness and self-loathing she feels.  There she meets Razo's friends, including the queen of Bayern who tells Rin to call her Isi!  Rin can tell these new friends have special gifts, too, and she is drawn to them.  She is so good at being silent and watchful that everyone welcomes her as Razo's sister, and no one guesses her fearful secret.

But life is not perfect in the city, and soon there are rumors of war.  Before it is over, Isi will have to face an old and deadly enemy, and Rin will discover the terrible truth about what her "gift" can do.  Will she have the courage to defend the kingdom and resist the temptations of her gift?

Forest Born is the fourth book in Shannon Hale's Bayern series, but you can read and enjoy this book without having read the others.  But I highly recommend the other books:  Goose Girl, Enna Burning, and River Secrets!  (I just realized we don't have Enna Burning, but I will fix that ASAP!)

You should also read The Princess Academy which is one of my all time favorites because the sequel is coming out in August!  Can't wait!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

13 Gifts

It all started when Tara Brennan agreed to break into her school and steal the principal's prize goat.  Of course she gets caught, expelled, and utterly humiliated.  Her parents are angry and disappointed, so how can she tell them her real reason for going along with this crazy scheme was because of her mother's constant pressure for Tara to make friends.  That's hard to do when the whole family moves to a new town every year; Tara is used to being the girl on the sidelines, and she's comfortable there.

But thanks to the goat incident, Tara is on her way to Willow Falls, alone!  Willow Falls is her parents home town, but Tara's never been there, and she hasn't seen her Aunt Bethany, Uncle Roger, and cousin Emily in years.

Things go wrong before they can even get started, and Tara has no choice but work with this crazy old lady with a duck-shaped birthmark named Angelina.  Angelina is basically blackmailing Tara to find 13 crazy items on a list.  It seems impossible, but the kids in Willow Falls surprise Tara.  Not only do they want to be her friends, it seems like they can't wait to help her work through the list.

Along the way, Tara will learn some things about herself and how friendship can enrich her life.  She'll also learn some pretty shocking truths about her own family and maybe find a way to become a whole person.

This is the third book in the 11 Birthdays cycle, and judging by the ending, author Wendy Mass, and Willow Falls, aren't finished with us yet!

Monday, June 18, 2012

12 Finally

Rory Swenson can't wait to turn twelve.  Since she was seven, she's been keeping a list of all the things her parents promised she could have when she was twelve.  Now, that time has come, and she's starting with a cell phone.

At least with a phone Rory won't be so out of the loop.  It seems like everyone is texting and IMing, and Rory has to wait for a call on the land line.  If she's honest with herself, she really only talks to her best friend Annabelle.  Rory's main talent in life is being invisible.

No one even notices when she gets separated from her school group on a field trip to the reservoir and falls in a drainage pipe.  That's when she meets the strange old lady with the duck shaped birthmark who helps her out of the drainpipe and offers some cryptic advice about not getting what she wants until Rory knows what she needs.

But Rory is sure she knows what she needs:  a cell phone, a pet rabbit, coffee, permission to stay home alone and walk to school...Well, it's a long list.  She has a chart, in fact.  But as Rory starts to get all the things she's always wanted, nothing turns out as great as she planned, and having all her wishes come true is turning out to be a nightmare!

Finally is not a sequel to 11 Birthdays, but it is a companion novel, so if you enjoyed 11 Birthdays, give this one a try.  Even if you didn't read it, you can enjoy Finally anyway.  Wendy Mass is also the author of one of my favorite books, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, so read that, too!

The Underdogs

Sportswriter, Mike Lupica, is back with another great football story.  Will Tyler loves football; he's the fastest kid in Forbes, and running down a football field to make the winning play is the best feeling in the world.

The problem is that everything and everyone in Forbes, Pennsylvania, is running down and losing hope.  They can't even fund the city youth football teams this year, but will refuses to give up hope.  The neighboring town, Castle Rock, beat Will's team by a slim margin last year, and Will blames himself for the loss.

Now he's got a plan to find an unlikely financial backer for the team, but he still has to get enough players to field a team.  Can Will and his Underdogs inspire themselves and a town that's down on it's luck to believe again?

This is a great story with plenty of play by play football action!  If you enjoy this book, try one of Mike Lupica's other books.

Guys Read: Funny Business

This collection of short stories is the first in a new series edited by Jon Scieszka, author of The Stinky Cheese Man, The True Story of the Three Little Pigs, and other hilarious tales.  These ten stories are by some of our favorite authors, and the book even includes a brief bibliography for each author.

Some of the stories include:

  • a boy who will do anything for the chocolate adventure of a lifetime!
  • a series of letters between a seemingly unconcerned kid and a surprisingly snarky author.
  • a homicidal turkey!
  • a boy who's parents give his bedroom to a particularly disgusting biker.
  • and a really disgusting, but hilarious story about a boy who will do anything!
If you enjoy Funny Business, you should also try Guys Read:  Thriller and Guys Write for Guys Read.

Check out the Guys Read website for more info about the series, including upcoming publications, additional recommendations, and lots of other guy friendly stuff. 

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

How Lamar's Bad Prank Won a Bubba-Sized Trophy

Lamar Washington is the maddest, baddest bowler at Striker's Bowling Paradise.  But bowling isn't his only game; he and his best friend Sergio have spent their days pulling pranks on anyone and everyone, but it's all in good fun.

Outside of the bowling alley, Lamar is dealing with some pretty serious issues at home.  Since his mom died, he feels like no one really cares about him.  His dad is all wrapped up in Lamar's older brother, Xavier the basketball savior, and the brothers' relationship is worse than bad.

When Lamar tries to get some attention from this super fine soccer goddess at Strikers, he begins to realize that maybe all those pranks weren't as funny to everyone else as they were to him.

Things really take a turn for the worse when Lamar starts hanging out with Billy Jenks.  Lamar has always heard that Billy is a delinquent, but he seems so different now that they are spending more time together.  But time with Billy is causing problems with Sergio and making Lamar focus on all the negative parts of his family life.

At least he has something to look forward to; his bowling idol, Bubba Sanders is coming to town on the fourth of July.

But Lamar makes one colossally bad decision that jeopardizes everything.  Holy crackers and cream cheese!  Now he has to try to find a way to be a real man and earn the respect of his family and friends all over again.

This book will make you laugh out loud and make you think!  This is the first book from Corpus Christi author, Crystal Allen.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Relic Master: The Dark City

Anara is a world that is falling apart.  There are some Relic Masters, like Galen and his apprentice Raffi, who can perform magic and handle magical objects left behind by the Makers when they left Anara, but the Order of Masters is destroyed, and the remaining Masters are hunted by the Watch.

Carys is a young Watch Lord, sent out to capture Galen and Raffi.  Carys has been taught that the Masters' belief in the Makers and their power is foolishness and trickery, but when she lies her way into companionship with the Relic Master and his student, she sees things she can't explain.

Galen is haunted by an accident the wounded him physically and stripped him of his powers, so he must rely on the young and inexperienced Raffi to guide and protect the group as they seek a way to restore his powers.

Raffi is unprepared for the responsibility that has fallen on him since Galen's accident.  He is fiercely loyal to his master, but he also questions Galen's ability to care about his apprentice or anything other than his quest.

Their journey through this treacherous landscape will lead them to the heart of the fallen land, Tasceron, the Dark City.  In ancient times, it was glorious and peopled by the Makers, but now it broken and crumbling, fallen into a mysterious darkness and peopled with outlaws, dangerous watchmen, and strange murderous creatures from ancient myth.

The Dark City is the first book of four that will all be released this summer.  That's right friends, when you come back to school in the fall, we will have all four books in the library, so you can get lost in this dark fantasy world.

The Relic Master series is the newest offering from Incarceron author Catherine Fisher.

True (...sort of)

For Delly Pattison, every day is an adventure--make that a Dellyventure! Unfortunately, what sounds like fun to Delly, sounds like trouble to everyone else.  Delly never never sets out to be bad, but it seems like that's how she always ends up.  Lately she's started to realize that her horribadible mistakes hurt other people, but she really can't figure out how to keep from disappointing everyone around her.

RB is Delly's little brother who loves her more than anything, and he's desperate to keep Delly out of trouble and by his side.  He's always ready for a Dellyventure!

Ferris Boyd is new in town and different from anyone Delly's ever met.  Ferris doesn't speak but projects a quiet peacefulness that draws animals and wounded people in.

Brud Kenney wants to be a basketball star.  He thinks about basketball every waking moment and wants to do things no one has ever seen.

When these four characters interact, their live will be changed forever as they discover the power of questions, truth, and friendship.  Fans of Katherine Hannigan's Ida B will love this fantabulous new book!

Saturday, June 2, 2012


Zach Harriman's father is the man who saves the day.  He's always gone on some secret mission, but he always comes home again until the day when Zach gets a feeling that something terrible as happened.  Now his father is dead, and nothing will ever be the same.

Even as he grieves for his father, he notices strange things happening to him.  He has strangle energy and powers he's never had before, and he's losing his cool much faster than he once did.  Zach was always good at basketball, but now he's got amazing coordination and lightning fast reflexes.  Sometimes this is pretty cool, but he's mostly confused.

He meets a mysterious stranger who calls himself Mr. Herbert and seems to know a lot about Zach and his father, but Zach's own uncle doesn't trust him.  Zach has always trusted Uncle John, but now he's confused about him, too.

Who can Zach trust now that his world is turning upside down?  Everyone seems to know secrets about his father that Zach never imagined.  Something is coming; Zach can feel it.  Will he be ready to take his father's place as hero when the time comes?

Mike Lupica's new book has all the action of his sports stories with a superhero twist!

Friday, June 1, 2012


Money is tight for Wahoo and his father, Mickey Crane, but the animal wranglers have just landed a job worth a lot of cash working on the Everglades episode of Expedition Survival.   But the show's star, Derrick Badger, isn't the great survivalist he appears to be on TV.  He knows nothing about animals and outdoor survival, and he doesn't even camp out when he is supposed to be fighting for his life in the wild outdoors.

Right off the bat, Derrick is nearly drowned by an alligator, bitten by a snapping turtle, and squeezed by a python.  Just when Wahoo and Mickey think they will be rid of the temperamental star, he makes them a new offer to go with him into the real wild of the Everglades.  On the way, they pick up a girl named Tuna who is running from her abusive father.

Now Mickey, Wahoo, and Tuna will have to survive wild animals, raging weather, an irresponsible star, and Tuna's violent and drunken father.  Things will definitely get worse before they get better, especially when Derrick's trademark of eating creepy crawlies to survive rears it's ugly head!

Carl Hiaasen's latest book is an outdoor survival adventure with all the character and danger of the Florida Everglades plus Hiaasen's style, charm and humor.  It's a must read for adventure and animal fans, and it's perfect for all Campbell Gators.  Just make sure you don't get chomped!