Monday, October 7, 2013

By You Byun (Nancy Paulsen / Penguin Books for Young Readers)

Melody has the best dream friend ever. When she sleeps, she and her enormous white cat-like friend can fly, dance and play hide-and-seek, they can do anything they imagine together. But during the day, Melody has trouble summoning her dream-friend to keep her company in her new school, where she has yet to make a friend.  Using the power of her imagination, she closes her eyes and practices a dance she learned from her dream friend. When a real voice chimes in “Is that a new game?,” she opens her eyes to see another little girl who’d like to learn the dance.  Supporting the idea that dreams are the inspiration for action, “Dream Friends” is a brilliantly illustrated window into the beautiful resource that is a child’s imagination.

Friday, October 4, 2013

By Kashmira Sheth, Illustrated by Jeffrey Ebbler (Peachtree)

When a young boy is left in the care of his teen sister, all he wants her to do is read his book about tigers with him. But she’s got her ear-buds in, groovin’ in her own world, and doesn’t want to take the time to read with him. After all she’s only supposed to make his lunch.  But when she puts his bowl of alphabet soup in front of him, he suddenly spies a tiger in his soup!  The tiger steams and swirls out of his bowl and his ordinary lunch quickly becomes a fight for his life (and lunch).  His battle with the tiger draws his sister help as spoons drop and soup gets cold.  Will this play for attention get him the book time he’s seeking with his sister? For the kids whose imagination roars for recognition, “Tiger in My Soup” is the recipe for required reading.

Thursday, October 3, 2013

By Patty Bowman (Philomel / Penguin)
Hamweenie is a cat…who is also a star, waiting to be born.  In his mind, he’s a famous magician-acrobat-entertainer who is destined for fame and the adulation of children world-wide. 
He imagines himself in the spotlight center-stage, under the big top and with his name writ large across the sky as “The Amazing Hamweenie”. But his dreams are hampered at every turn by his caregiver, a little girl who loves him with baths and costumes (balanced with treats and hugs).  Convinced he is being alternately drowned and poisoned, Hamweenie bides his time looking for every opportunity to escape and find his destiny. But readers will find that his imagination is his best vehicle for escape – because his real captivity is the best life ever. This is a delightful title both for its droll humor and highly detailed artwork!

Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Magic Under Glass by Jaclyn Dolamore

Fans of both teen fantasy and Victorian-flavored gothic romance will find a new treat in Magic Under Glass. The story is set in what feels almost like an alternative history reminiscent of the height of the British Empire - with its manners, entertainments and setting. But the presence of fairies and sorcery quickly lend a fantastic bent to the tale of Namira, a young performer plucked from a tawdry music hall by a wealthy widow. She is recruited to sing with his rare piano-playing automaton (a mechanical man) which seems to have frightened away previous singers. Namira finds herself living in luxury as she must suddenly navigate higher society and dangerous intrigue - when the automaton begins to communicate with her. A fresh story among rivals in the teen romance category, this title seems to indicate a sequel but not confirmation as yet (Bloomsbury)

The Magician's Elephant by Kate DiCamillo

How unlikely a story! A magician striving to impress his audience conjures an elephant that comes crashing from the heights of the theatre to land in audience, the animal crippling a wealthy patron as it lands. A fortuneteller predicts that Peter, an orphaned boy, will find his lost sister when an elephant leads him to her. Working her own magic to suspend disbelief, DiCamillo weaving simple words into a rich fabric of beautiful, poignant interaction among strangers and friends who are all seeking the most unlikely of outcomes. Hauntingly illustrated by Yoko Tanaka, The Magician's Elephant is both a wonderful read-aloud for elementary age kids and a charm-filled title for independent middle-grade and teen readers. Just beautiful. (Candlewick)

The Eyeball Collector by F. E. Higgins

Not usually one to turn to the back of a book for anwers, The Eyeball Collector opens quickly with an imbedded riddle that simply begged to be resolved before I could continue reading. The whole book offered such compelling questions that it was hard not to continue flipping to the back. Smart, macabre and mysterious, this title from F. E. Higgins features exceptionally bright, Hector Fitzbaudly, a young man who is raised in affluence and comfort. But Hector is quickly thrust into poverty and danger when his father is ruined (to death) by the scheme of a one-eyed con man. With an abiding thirst for revenge, Hector crafts the means to discover the criminal and upon finding him, follows the con man to his next victim. But the criminal's target is dangerous in her own right and may claim Hector's revenge first. The foreboding backdrop is filled with chilling imagery that will satisfy fans destined for Lovecraft, Poe and Dickens. Sprinkled with riddles, some of which are resolved in the afterword, and peopled with smart characters, I recommend this title for the eyeballs for teens and advanced middle-grade readers. (Feiwel & Friends - Macmillan)

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

The Knife of Never Letting Go - by Patrick Ness

Outstanding Epic Perfect for Teen Boys and Adult Sci-Fi Readers
Wow! I LOVE this story! The main character, Todd has grown up in a settlement where all the women have mysteriously died off and the men are plagued with the ability to hear each other's thoughts - or "noise". When Todd discovers a "hole" in the noise, the following events quickly propel him on a journey of discovery while at the same time plunging him into a world of horror. As he pieces together his own history with that of larger world, the sense of looming apocalypse swells. The frontier-like setting takes on surreal quality as the reader discovers more and more about where the book's characters are and how they got there. I'm reminded at times of "Lost" and Cormac McCarthy's The Road when reading this. The characters are flawed and evolving (a good thing) with the fast-paced, highly original story. Especially recommended for teen boys, though girls will like it, too, this title is the first in Ness' "Chaos Walking" series. Addictive, thought-provoking and rich with western-esque sci-fi drama, The Knife of Never Letting Go will leave readers scrambling to find the second book, The Ask and The Answer, in which things become even more chaotic...and compelling. Storytelling at its best - Highly recommended for Teen and Adult readers.