Friday, May 31, 2013

Laugh with the Moon

Clare is still struggling with her mother's recent death when her father decides to take her to Malawi, Africa, where he will work as a doctor for nine weeks.  She can't believe he would do this to her!  The pain of her mother's death is bad enough, but now she will be separated from everyone and everything she knows.

It doesn't take long, however, for Clare to befriend a Malawi girl named Memory and her little brother Innocent.  Soon she starts to look beyond herself to see what like is like for her new friends.  In Malawi many people are too poor to send their children to school, buy clothes, or even enough food.  Even clear water and mosquito nets are beyond some people, and textbooks are precious!

Despite all of this, Clare's new friends are happy and loving, and Clare's heart begins to open again.  But when tragedy strikes once more, Clare and her friends will struggle to find meaning and happiness.

Read Shana Burg's new novel about friendship, loss, and strength.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The Revolution of Evelyn Serrano

It's 1969 in New York's El Barrio where the residents are mostly Puerto Rican, and Rosa Serrano has decided that if there's one more thing El Barrio doesn't need, it's one more Rosa.  That's why she decided to change her name to Evelyn on her fourteenth birthday.  That's not the only thing she wants to change.  She's always worked in the bodega with her mother and step father, but now she wants in a different store, one that is a little less Puerto Rican.

Evelyn hates the way her mother always uses a "beggy" tone and decorated the house with plastic roses and plastic slip covers on the furniture, as if a few plastic roses could make the apartment look better.

That summer of 1969 is also the summer Evelyn will meet her abuela for the first time.  Where Mami is all rounded shoulders and plain dresses, Abuela is died orange hair and crazy outfits.  Soon she takes over the whole apartment with clothes, shoes, makeup, and her loud presence.

As these three generations of women frustrate each other, there is also change coming to El Barrio.  Who are these college kids who show up and start cleaning the streets and asking for social programs?  Is Mami right; are these outsiders just stirring up trouble?  Or should Evelyn listen to Abuela and join the movement?

Sonia Manzano's new book is wonderful story about the conflicts between generations and learning to accept people for who they are, but it also the story of the poor immigrants of El Barrio and the beginnings of the civil rights movements for Latino communities.

On a side note, after finishing the book I read the author bio, and discovered that Sonia Manzano played Maria on Sesame Street!  What a wonderful surprise for me to find that someone who played a role in my childhood can now play a role in my professional career and in our library!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Temple Grandin: How the Girl Who Loved Cows Embraced Autism and Changed the World

Temple Grandin was different from the start.  She didn't act like other babies, and her father was convinced she should be institutionalized, but her mother believed in her daughter.  This is the story of Temple's life.  All through school and even her adult life people have discounted her because of her autism.

When Temple was in high school, she discovered cows, and these animals saved her life.  She has devoted her life to making living conditions better for the animals we use as food.  And she uses the gifts of her autism to do it.

This is a wonderful story about a woman who embraced the parts of her life that others saw as challenges and used them to her advantage.  Sy Montgomery's new book is a great read for anyone who has autism or anyone who knows someone with autism. 

Here is Temple Grandin's TED talk about autism:

Monday, May 20, 2013

Three Times Lucky

Mo's life has always been a bit of a mystery.  Ever since she and the Colonel washed up on the shore of the river in a hurricane, she's been trying to figure things out.  The Colonel was in an accident and has no memory of his former life.  The first thing he remembers is pulling Mo from the river. 

Now Mo lives with the Colonel and Miss Lana in the back of the Cafe they own and run in Tupelo Landing, Mississippi.  Life goes on as usual until the day Detective Joe Starr shows up investigating a murder.  Now there is a dangerous criminal on the loose, and people are disappearing. 

Mo and her best friend decide to investigate, but who can they trust in a tiny town where everyone knows everyone?  It will take all of Mo's wit and common sense, not to mention the help of friends and a few enemies, to figure this one out!

With a cast of zany characters and a truly twisted mystery, Sheila Turnage's new book is a great read!

One Came Home

Georgie Burkhart knows her sister Agatha can't be dead.  It doesn't matter that there is a body with auburn hair wearing Agatha's dress.  Georgie believes Agatha is alive.

No one wants to listen, so Georgie decides to conduct her own investigation into her sister's disappearance.  With little more than her savings and her beloved shotgun, Georgie makes a plan.  Of course, plans were made to be unraveled, and Georgie has to alter her plans along the way.

In the unsettled back country of 1871 Wisconsin will have to face criminals and deadly animals in her quest to find out the truth about Agatha and assuage her own conscience.  She's willing to do it because Georgie's keeping a secret of her own, and if Agatha really is dead, Georgie could be to blame.

Part mystery and part western, this is a great read and a thrilling adventure!  Read Amy Timberlake's newest book; you won't be sorry you did!

Friday, May 10, 2013

Who Could That Be at This Hour?

Fans of A Series of Unfortunate Events rejoice! Lemony Snicket is back with a new mystery series that is just as snarky and twisted as his first.

This series chronicles Snicket's beginnings as an investigator for a secret agency when he was only a child.  Snicket and his chaperone have been hired to find a priceless statue and return it to its rightful owner.  But is it really priceless?  And who is the rightful owner?  Who can Snicket trust in the mostly abandoned town of Stain'd by the Sea?

In this book you will meet imposters, villains, and even a helpful librarian.  But will you find the answer to the puzzle?  And is there more going on here than Snicket wants you to know?

Find the answers to these questions and more in Who Could That Be at This Hour?

The Hound of the Baskervilles

When Doctor Charles Mortimer arrives at 221B Baker Street, he has a tale for Sherlock Holmes that is strange and difficult to believe.  His friend and former owner of Baskerville Hall is dead from a heart attack.  His body was found on the moor, and Dr. Mortimer believes he died of fright.

Mortimer tells the story of a terrifying hellhound that haunts the Baskerville family.  It sounds difficult to believe, and Mortimer struggles to believe it himself, but it true that something happened at Baskerville Hall.

Now Holmes and Watson are on the case to discover the truth about the hound of the Baskervilles and to protect the life of the new heir. 

Holmes and Watson are both skeptical, but once they are confronted with strange events on the moor, will they be able to deny the evidence of their own eyes?  Will they be able to solve the case before the cursed hound claims another victim?

Read Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's classic mystery to find out!


Sunday Woodcutter is the youngest of seven daughters named for the days of the week.  Sunday loves to write, but she only writes about the past, never her own stories.  Strange things happen when she does.

One day she meets an enchanted frog in the forest, and the two strike up a conversation that quickly becomes a true friendship.  When Sunday returns to find him missing one day, she is heartbroken and confused.  What has happened to her friend, and can she really be in love with a frog?

Rumbold is a prince and a victim of an ongoing battle between enemy fairy godmothers.  He was transformed into a frog in retaliation for something his fairy godmother did, but she was able to soften the curse.  The enchantment would end with true love's kiss. 

This is only the beginning of a complex and well-written story that references every fairy tale you've ever heard (and probably a few you haven't)!  It's a little piece of heaven for a fairy tale nerd like me!  If you like romance, fantasy, and twisting plots involving evil rulers and family secrets, you'll love Alethea Kontis's new book!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Ghetto Cowboy

When Cole's mother learns that he has skipped so much school that he may have to repeat the seventh grade, she reaches the breaking point.  She packs up Cole, and drives straight from Detroit to Philadelphia where she leaves Cole at his father's house.

Cole can't believe she would actually do it.  He hasn't seen his father since he was a baby, and he feels hurt and abandoned.  His father is not exactly thrilled to see him and is not really prepared to take on a child.

Cole's dad lives in the worst part of Philly with crumbling buildings and run-down streets, but there is something different about this neighborhood.

They have horses.  Horses!  In the middle of the city!  Cole is skeptical at first, but he quickly bonds with one of the horses.  Things are not easy for these ghetto cowboys or their horses.  The city wants to shut them down, and Cole is caught in the middle of everything.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Flying the Dragon

Skye is not happy to learn that she will have to spend extra time in Japanese classes instead of at soccer practice.  She's never met her Japanese relatives who are moving to America, and she doesn't really consider herself Japanese.  Her father may have grown up there, but Japan isn't a part of her daily life.

Hiroshi loves his life in Japan making kites with his grandfather.  He can't wait for the upcoming kite fighting battle, but all his plans are changed when he learns his family will be moving to America.  He loves his life in Japan.

Skye and Hiroshi will have to figure out how to communicate with each and how to navigate this new world.  Things go wrong from the start, and at the center of their conflict is Grandfather.  Hiroshi is jealous of any time Grandfather devotes to Skye.  He wants things to be the same as they always have.  Skye thinks Hiroshi is being selfish.  He's had his whole life to get to know Grandfather, and she's only just met him.  But time may be running out for Grandfather who just wants his grandchildren to be friends.

This book alternates chapters between the two main characters highlighting Hiroshi's confusion and frustration with new food, customs, and language as well as Skye's embarrassment over her Japanese cousin who makes her seem different from the other kids at school and her anger at having to sacrifice something she loves for a family she's never met.

You will also get interesting information about kite construction and rokkaku battles.  Read Natalie Dias Lorenzi's tale of two kids in unfamiliar territory.

Watch the video below to see a rokkaku battle!