Tuesday, November 29, 2011


Annotation: This first installment launches The Wildwood Chronicles as Prue and her pal Curtis embark on a rescue mission to the forbidden "Impassable Wilderness of Portland, Oregon after her baby brother Mac is carried off by crows. Along the way the pair find themselves caught in the middle of an epic conflict among the divided human, talking animal and magical creatures who inhabit the wood.

Book Talk:
Prue had been warned about the Impassable Wilderness since as far back as she could remember. No matter how cool or laid back the artsy hipster parents of Portland were, they all forbid their children from ever setting foot near the I.P. Prue had never given the woods a second thought, and besides, you’d have to cross the Industrial Wastes to get there, and who would want to do that? She was content to cruise around Portland with her baby brother Mac’s wagon hitched to the back of her bicycle. Until the day the murder of crows stole him, that is! Right from the back of the wagon, in the middle of the safe old park! They just swooped right down, lifted him up in his blanket and flew him away into the Impassable Wilderness!

Determined to rescue Mac, Prue ignores the echoes of the warnings from her quirky, yet sensible parents and sets off on an adventure with very little clues to guide her journey. And to make matters worse, Curtis, a kid from the neighborhood, has followed her out of Portland and he’s not exactly coming in handy as an adventure buddy; more like an adventure liability!

Just crossing into the woods is risky enough, but what awaits Prue and Curtis is far more treacherous. The magical woodland creatures are at war! Prue and Curtis find themselves smack in the middle of an epic political struggle for control of the wood. From the coyote soldiers and the Dowager Governess to the mystics, the bandits and their king and the privileged bourgeoisie human and animal town folk, it isn’t easy to discern just who or what Prue and Curtis should trust and align with. It will take all the courage, smarts and luck they have to rescue Mac and battle their way out of the Wildwood.

Awards: None yet

Get started reading Wildwood right away! Click here to download a free preview except of the book!

Check out a book trailer with illustrations from the book!
"Wildwood by Colin Meloy, Illustrated by Carson Ellis" Online Posting. YouTube, 28 July 2011. Web. 29 November 2011.

Enjoy a video clip of the author and illustrator talking more about creating Wildwood!
"Colin Meloy and Carson Ellis Discuss Wildwood" Online Posting. YouTube, 15 June 2011. Web. 29 November 2011.

Meloy, Colin. Wildwood. Illus. Carson Ellis. New York: Balzer-Harper, 2011. 

Image courtesy of http://www.wildwoodchronicles.com/

Real teens speak! Olivia & Sofia, 11

Friends Olivia and Sofia, both 11, are major fantasy fans and visit the library constantly to check out the latest fantasy titles! 

Olivia thinks "fantasy books are very exciting and they just seem more interesting than real life because real life can get really boring!"

Sofia likes to read fantasy books "because they're always adventurous and very different from what you do in real life, and so this is different, and it's cool that people write books about things we might not experience because we get to open ourselves up to new worlds!"

Sunday, November 27, 2011

The Frenzy

Annotation: Teenage Liv struggles to understand changes within her body and a connection to a pack of werewolves living in the nearby woods. 

Awards: None yet

Digital avatar created with http://www.voki.com/

Block, Francesca Lia. The Frenzy. New York: Harper, 2010. Print.

Image courtesy of http://www.juliakriley.com/

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Real teens speak! Serena, 13

I talked to thirteen year old Serena, to learn more about the kinds of fantasy books she likes the most. She told me "I like when fantasy and reality are entwined because I don't like just a fantasy world. I like when it's kind of my world too! I like a blend of stuff because if it's one certain type it gets boring. And I don't like reading things about unicorns and fairies!"

Serena just started reading Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs because she saw the book trailer on the author's Youtube Channel. See if it piques your curiosity! 

"Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Director's Cut!" Online Posting. YouTube, 7 June 2011. Web. 29 November 2011.

The Magician's Nephew and Real Teens Speak! Olivia, 13

Annotation: A prequel installment of The Chronicles of Narnia series explores the origins of the fantasy world Narnia, when a set of magical rings launches two young children from London on an adventure exploring fantastical worlds, waking an evil witch and fighting to protect the new world and return home.

Book Talk:
You might have thought the Chronicles of Narnia began when Lucy Pevensie stumbled through the wardrobe during the game of hide and seek in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But the truth is that the story began much earlier, when Professor Kirke, owner of the wardrobe, was just a boy. While playing in his London neighborhood, young Digory and his new pal Polly accidentally stumble upon Uncle Andrew dabbling secretly in magic! Uncle Andrew produces a yellow ring and when Polly touches it she disappears! Digory follows after her by touching a second yellow ring, but not before receiving two additional green rings from Uncle Andrew, with the promise they can be used to return from other worlds!

In the first new world, Digory and Polly learn they can explore even more worlds still, travelling among connected pools of water. But such travel is not without risks! Unable to resist the temptation to ring a bell bearing a curious riddle, Digory awakens Jadis, an evil witch! Frightened by the witch and her ruined world, the children try to escape using the power of the rings, but Jadis latches on to them and the trio set off on an adventure through worlds that sets in motion the creation of Narnia by Aslan and the transformation of Jadis into a witch even more treacherous who will threaten Narnia for years to come.

But when challenged with one final temptation, can Digory find the strength to resist it? And will he and Polly get the chance to find out if the green rings will really transport them home to London? Plus, learn how the old lamppost came to stand in Narnia and where the legendary magical wardrobe really came from!

Olivia is 13 and she read The Chronicles of Narnia a few years ago. She also acted in a play inspired by The Chronicles at summer camp. Olivia “liked reading all the Chronicles of Narnia because they're adventurous; they're just fun! And I liked the interesting characters because their names are cool. I like how imagined it all is!”

ALA Notable Children’s Book

Lewis, C.S. The Magician’s Nephew. New York: Scholastic, 1955. Print.

Image courtesy of http://www.cenacle.com.au/

Friday, November 18, 2011

Real teens speak! Caroline, 13

Thirteen year 8th grader Caroline's favorite literary genres are Sci-Fi and Fantasy. With Sci-Fi she likes that "you always have to understand what you're reading and it's scholarly and you can also learn things, but it's also fun because it has mutated creatures with superpowers and stuff!" When she's reading Fantasy, Caroline likes "the escape from the real world because I'm always busy, I'm always studying, but then when you read Fantasy books it's so out of this world, so completely different; it's a total escape!"

Thursday, November 17, 2011

The Hunger Games and Real teens speak! Brittany, 13

Annotation: A teenage girl in a dystopian fantasy world struggles with the inhumanity of being forced to fight other teens to the death in an annual battle to commemorate the dominance of the Capitol city over the districts she and the other competitors represent.

Book Talk:
The reaping has begun. Every year you’ve gathered here alongside everyone else from District 12, waiting to hear the names of the two children selected. You don’t bother hoping for an outcome because there can be no acceptable outcome. If your name isn’t called, then it will be the names of two of your friends, or worse, your brother or sister. And then the unlucky pair will be off to the Capitol, thrust into the arena to battle your way through a rigged fight to the death against the tributes from all the other districts. It doesn’t matter that this has happened every year of your life, as a reminder from the Capitol that the communities in the Districts like yours must always suffer and never again rebel; it will never feel anything less than sickening.

For Katniss Everdeen, the worst possible name is reaped. And in a shocking twist, she boldly volunteers herself as tribute, to protect those she loves most. But now she has to leave her friends, family and home behind and be transported immediately to The Capitol where a team awaits to transform and train her for the battle ahead. Katniss’s experience hunting illegally in the woods around District 12 has prepared her well and her archery skills make her a fierce opponent. But in the arena things are much more complicated that she expected and some tributes are harder to view as enemies and targets than others.

“Only I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show the Capitol they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their Games.”

Can Katniss stay safe from the tributes who would kill her without a second thought? Can she find the nerve to turn off her conscience and ignore her humanity to kill other weaker tributes who stand in her way? Or will she choose the most risky course of all and undertake an unprecedented strategy for survival that could challenge the very core of The Hunger Games?

Brittany, age 13 loves Fantasy. She likes all genres of literature, but fantasy is her absolute favorite, so it’s no surprise that she’s a huge fan of The Hunger Games Trilogy! Brittany loves this trilogy because “It just never stops! And there’s a little bit of everything for everyone, from action to romance!” Brittany also likes the setting of the Hunger Games and “the whole idea of another world, or the future.”

Britney is eagerly awaiting the forthcoming Hunger Games movie and after you read the book, you probably will be too! Check out the new trailer!

"The Hunger Games HD Theatrical Trailer" Online Posting. Youtube, 14 November 2011. Web. 29 November 2011.

  • ALA Amelia Bloomer Project List 2009
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book
  • ALA Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults
  • Amazon Best Books Top 100 Editors’ Pick 2008
  • Amazon Best Books Top 10 Books: Teens 2008
  • Barnes and Noble Best Books for Teens and Kids 2008
  • Borders Best Books for Teens 2008
  • Booklist Editors’ Choice 2008
  • California Young Reader Medal 2011
  • CCBC Choices 2009
  • Children’s Indie Next List #1 Pick 2008/2009
  • Cybil Winner for fantasy and science-fiction 2008
  • Golden Duck Award for Young Adult Fiction 2009
  • Horn Book Fanfare
  • Indies Choice Best Indie Young Adult Buzz Book Honor
  • Kirkus Best Book of 2008
  • LA Times Favorite Children’s Books 2008
  • New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice
  • New York Times Notable Children’s Book of the Year 2008
  • Publishers Weekly Best Books of the Year 2008
  • School Library Journal’s Best Books 2008
  • YALSA Teen’s Top Ten 2009
Collins, Suzanne. The Hunger Games. New York: Scholastic, 2008. Print.

Image courtesy of http://bookobsessiongpl.blogspot.com/

Real teens speak! Zach, 13

Thirteen year old Zack can't get enough fantasy books! When asked why fantasy is his favorite genre, Zack replied "I like how it's on the outside different than our world, but the characters are essentially the same."

Zack is so right! Even though fantasy books can take us to other worlds, the characters face challenges that lots of teens face everyday too!

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs

Annotation: A young girl uncovers a dark and troubling secret and struggles to escape a disturbing genetic curse.

Book Talk:
Can your future actions be genetically programmed? Your deepest desires, predetermined? And if you learned about your destiny, what chance might you have to change it?

Ivy had known Ab and Dolph Rumbaugh her entire life. Their family had lived in her small Pennsylvania town for generations. Of course they were a bit odd, but harmless, really…or so she had always thought. Her beloved single mother had worked in their neighborhood pharmacy and so Ivy often found herself under the care of the elderly identical twins. Their taxidermy hobby was a bit eccentric, but just as harmless as the twins themselves…or was it?

Everything changes for Ivy when she stumbles upon a shocking secret, hidden in the Rumbaugh’s basement. And her troubles only grow, the more she uncovers about the history of the horrible secret and its implications for her future.

"This is the moment when I stop being afraid of the unknown in my childhood and start to be afraid of the unknown in my adult life."

Facing deeply disturbing discoveries that lead to questions about her very own nature, can Ivy fight for her future or will she succumb to The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs?

Enjoy a Book Trailer for The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, if you dare! 

"The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs.wmv" Online Posting. YouTube, 19 May 2010. Web. 29 November 2011.

  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2007
  • Cooperative Children’s Book Center Choices 2007

Gantos, Jack. The Love Curse of the Rumbaughs. New York: Square Fish-Macmillan, 2006. Print.

Image courtesy of http://us.macmillan.com/

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

The Graveyard Book

Annotation: The story of an orphaned toddler raised by ghosts in a graveyard and his adventures dodging threats from both the world of the living and of the dead.

Book Talk:
Bod, a boy very much alive, was raised by ghosts in a graveyard. And that is the least scary thing in this book.

People want to forget the impossible. It makes their world safer.”

As a toddler, Bod narrowly escaped when the man Jack murdered the rest of his family. When he toddled helplessly into their midst, the ghost community decided to grant Bod “The Freedom of the Graveyard.” Between his ghost foster parents, a teacher, a tutor and the sinister, yet reliable, graveyard caretaker, Bod’s basic human needs are surprisingly well taken care of and he even begins to learn skills usually reserved exclusively for the dead. But that doesn’t mean his safety is assured; there is no shortage of danger to beware in the graveyard, like portals, ghouls and a restless old witch! And the world of the living isn’t much safer for Bod, filled as it is with potential enemies, like schoolyard bullies and greedy old men who have no objections at all to harming children!

Living among ghosts in the graveyard also makes it difficult to find friends, but when Bod meets Scarlett, they get on very well. Unfortunately, her mother disapproves of their friendship and, convincing Scarlett that Bod is in fact an imaginary friend, she whisks her away to Scotland, though not before she and Bod learn of the mysterious Sleer.

Meanwhile, Bod’s old enemy, the man Jack, has never stopped hunting for him. Will an opportunity to explore his past bring Bod closer to safety or to danger? Can the community of the graveyard from the world of the dead protect Bod forever from forces in the world of the living that threaten his mortal life? And just who or what exactly occupies the oldest grave of all?

Listen to author Neil Gaiman narrate this Graveyard Book Trailer!
"The Graveyard Book Trailer Narrated by Neil Gaiman" Online Posting. YouTube, 10 October 2008. Web. 29 November 2011.

  • ALA Best Books for Young Adults 2009
  • ALA Notable Children’s Book 2009
  • Audie Winner, Children’s Titles for Ages up to 8 2009
  • Booktrust Teenage Prize 2009
  • Carnegie Medal 2010
  • Cybils Award 2008
  • Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 2008
  • Hugo Award 2009
  • Indies Choice Book Award- Young Adult Fiction 2009
  • Locus Award for Best Young Adult Book 2009
  • Newberry Award 2009
  • SF Site Editor’s Choice 2008
  • SF Site Reader’s Choice 2009
  • Time Magazine Best Books of the Year 2008

Gaiman, Neil. The Graveyard Book. New York: Harper, 2008. Print.

Image courtesy of http://www.goodreads.com/

Monday, November 14, 2011

Annotation: A young girl travels through space and time to rescue her father, a scientist who mysteriously disappeared while working on a top-secret government project, from an evil force that threatens to destroy her family and planet.

Book Talk:
What if, in the course of conducting scientific research for the government, your Dad stumbled upon an unbelievable discovery?

What if time travel wasn’t just theoretically mathematically possible, but in fact actually possible?
But what if something went horribly wrong and through a scientific accident your Dad mysteriously disappeared?

Would you trust three strange women with questionable names who don’t seem quite human to transport you throughout the universe on a rescue mission?

What if you faced unimaginable creatures and forces on unfamiliar planets to find your Dad, but in the process lost your little brother?

How far would you go and how much would you risk to save your family and your planet and return everyone home safely?

  • 1001 Children’s Books You Must Read Before You Grow Up
  • ALA 100 Most Frequently Challenged Books of 1990-2000
  • Lewis Carroll Shelf Award 1965
  • Horn Book Fanfare Best Book 1963
  • Locus Poll All-Time Best Fantasy Novel 1987
  • Locus Poll All-Time Best Fantasy Novel Before 1990
  • Newbery Medal Recipient 1963
  • Sequoyah Book Award 1963
  • Thisrecording.com 100 Greatest Science Fiction or Fantasy Novels of All Time
L’Engle, Madeleine. A Wrinkle in Time. New York: Farrar, 1962. Print.

Image courtesy of http://en.wikipedia.org/

Sunday, November 13, 2011

The Book of Lost Things

Annotation: During WWII in England, young David loses his mother and finds solace in the fairytales she left behind, until strange things begin to happen and David finds himself trapped in a dangerous fairytale world, fighting for his life and the chance to return home.

Book Talk:
David has always loved stories, especially the fairy tale books his mother had shared with him before she died. But after her death, strange things begin to happen to David. His mother’s old books start speaking and David begins to have “episodes,” blacking out and coming to with faint memories of another world that seems to beckon to him. It doesn’t help that David’s father takes up with a new woman who soon bears another son, and David finds himself living in her strange old country home. His father insists it’s the safest option while Germany is regularly bombing London. At first David doesn’t necessarily mind his new room and enjoys all the old books left behind on the shelves, even if they do insist on speaking and even if the versions of fairytales they contain are fractured and odd, to say the least. But soon he learns about the mystery of the last boy who occupied the room. And he begins to notice the persistent way the ivy all seems to grow directly to his window and poke through the walls into his room.

“The world of the old tales existed parallel to ours, as David’s mother had once told him, but sometimes the wall separating the two became so thin and brittle that the two worlds started to blend into each other.

That was when the trouble started.
That was when the bad things came.
That was when the Crooked Man began to appear to David.”

And it’s not just the Crooked Man, though his appearance seems sinister enough. David begins to hear his mother’s voice calling for his help from a world beyond his own and one night he just can’t bear it any more. It takes all his courage to cross over, but once in the other world, David finds himself in mortal danger, facing horrible creatures and encountering twisted versions of familiar characters and plots from beloved fairy tales. And his mother is nowhere to be found.

Can David survive in the other world to learn what his purpose is for travelling to it? And if he does survive, will he ever be able cross back over and return home to his own world?

Check out this book trailer teaser of David's epic adventure!
"The Book of Lost Things Trailer" Online Posting. YouTube, 11 January 2011. Web. 29 November 2011. 

  • 2007 Alex Award
  • Nominee 2007 Irish Book Award

    Connolly, John. The Book of Lost Things. New York: Atria-Simon, 2006. Print.

    Image courtesy of http://www.boomtron.com/

    Saturday, November 12, 2011


    Annotation: Marji’s autobiography about growing up in as a privileged and precocious Iranian girl during the Islamic Revolution and subsequent war with Iraq is told through a haunting and irreverent graphic novel.

    Book Talk:

    Little Marji remembers her life before and after veils came to Iran.

    It’s hard at first for her to figure out what she thinks of all the political changes swirling around her.
    “I really didn’t know what to think about the veil. Deep down I was very religious but as a family we were very modern and avant-garde.”

    Marji had believed she could be a prophet and imagined how she might solve all of her family’s problems!

    But as she grew, she learned more about the history of her homeland and her father taught her about the “2,500 years of tyranny and submission” of her people.

    Marji’s parents begin to share their political ideas with her and she is fascinated by a comic book about Marxism. This is just in time because a revolution in Iran begins to gain steam. Marji’s parents demonstrate every day and she’s desperate to join them, but the revolution grows increasingly violent.

    Marji’s parents decide to share a family secret with her, the kind of secret that changes everything she though about her family and their role in Iranian society.

    This secret opens up Marji’s eyes to harsher realities than she ever could have imagined about what life has been like in Iran for people who have openly challenged the Monarchy. And when the revolution finally succeeds, Marji meets family and friends who suffered unthinkable torture in prison for speaking and acting out about their beliefs.

    But the happy reunions and celebrations are premature; the revolution has lead to religious extremists seizing power and life for Marji, her family, and friends grows more dangerous than ever. She has always relied on her special relationship with god, but with terror and fear all around her, which she can no longer ignore, Marji’s faith crumbles.

    And that is just the beginning of Marji’s story! Read the graphic novel of her autobiography to learn about the ways her life changes even more once war breaks out, how her family struggles to cling to hope and persist with their normal lives, despite the world falling apart all around them, and especially how Marji finds creative ways to resist oppression, as only teenagers can, through humor, attitude and pop, punk and rock music!

    Once you've read Persepolis, I guarantee you'll want to get your hands on Persepolis 2, which picks Marji's story right back up and chronicles her teenage experiences abroad!

    Image courtesy of http://sumthinblue.com/

    Can't get enough Persepolis?! Check out the trailer for the award-winning feature film based on both books!

    "Persepolis Trailer" Online Posting. YouTube, 20 November 2007. Web. 29 November 2011. 

    • 2001: Angoul√™me Coup de Coeur Award for Persepolis
    • 2004 ALA Alex Award
    • YALSA Best Books for Young Adults
    • Booklist Editor's Choice for Young Adults
    • New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age
    • School Library Journal Adult Books for Young Adults
    Satrapi, Marjane. Persepolis:The Story of a Childhood. Trans. Mattias Ripa and Blake Ferris. New York: Pantheon-Random, 2003. Print.

    Image courtest of http://www.randomhouse.com/

    Monday, November 7, 2011

    The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian

    Annotation: A bright, artistic Indian teenager chooses to attend a school off his reservation to escape the dead-end cycle of poverty and violence and clings to hope, despite challenges resulting from his identity as an Indian in an all-white school and as a traitor within his own community on the reservation.

    Book Talk:
    Meet Junior:
    This is a self-portrait he drew of how he thinks he looks at fourteen. Sometimes kids think they look a lot worse than they do and imagine their flaws as being super exaggerated. In Junior’s case though, he does stand out physically; he was born with “water on the brain” and his head is unusually large. He miraculously survived brain surgery when he was just six months old, but he still suffers from seizures, a debilitating stutter and lisp. He gets headaches because one of his eyes is near-sighted and the other is far-sighted and since he lives on an Indian reservation, or “res,” his only option for glasses is a pair that’s big, thick and black. But trapped inside Junior’s body is a hopeful, artistic soul who is smart and can draw.

    Meet Junior’s parents:
    This is how Junior imagines they might have been. They used to have dreams and aspirations for the future, but the oppression and poverty of the “res” left them with few choices and so, even though his mother still reads all the time, she never became a teacher and, though his father could have been a musician, he only plays now when he drinks his pain away, and is poor, like everyone else on the res is and has been for generations.

    Meet Mr. P, Junior’s teacher on the res:
    Mr. P might mean well, but he forgets to come to school. Teachers like Mr. P live in a compound, apart from the community. They are all white. Indians on the res don’t get to become teachers and educate their own people. The books Mr. P uses to teach are the same ones Junior’s mom used. Not just the same edition; the same exact copies. There isn’t money for new, updated books for the res school.

    Meet Rowdy:
    Junior’s best friend hates when Junior draws him. He’s angry, and if you lived in a home with as much violence as he does, you’d probably be angry too. Rowdy is tough and good at sports, but he also loves comic books, just like Junior, so they’ve been friends since they were little kids. He can be cruel to Junior, but he’s also loyal and defends his friend against all the bullies on the res.

    Junior should, by all accounts, be dead, or at least as hopeless and broken down as the other Indians on the res who fight and drink, drink and fight. And yet, his love of learning and his artistic talent lead him to make the bravest decision of all: to attend a school off the res, where he might actually have a shot at a decent future. This might not seem like a big deal, but to the res community, and his only friend Rowdy, he is a traitor. And he doesn’t exactly fit in with the white, middle and upper class students at his new school either:
    Can Junior survive being ostracized by his own people; his closest friend? Can he brave the social scene at his suburban school as a poor res kid, knowing he will never have the right clothes, cash to cover a snack or even be able to count on ride home? Can he rise above the poverty, violence and tragedy of the res to be the first Indian in his family able to choose hope and, just maybe, a future worth the risk?

    • #1 Book Sense Bestseller
    • Amazon.com Best Book of the Year
    • Boston-Globe Horn Book Award 2008
    • California Young Reader Medal 2010
    • International Book on Books for Young People Sweden- Peter Pan Prize 2009
    • Kirkus Reviews Best YA Book of 2007
    • Nappa Gold Book
    • National Book Award for Young People’s Literature 2007
    • New York Times Notable Book of 2007
    • Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year
    • School Library Journal Best Book of the Year 2007
    Alexie, Sherman. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. Illus. Ellen 
         Forney. New York: Little, 2007. Print.

    Image courtesy of http://www.fallsapart.com/