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Tuesday, November 30, 2010


I listened to Incarceron by Catherine Fisher on audiobook with numerous interruptions. Therefore, I have a guest blogger giving her insight to this fantasy which is on the Texas Lone Star 2011-12 reading list. My guest blogger is an amazing 8th Grade Language Arts teacher who is working on her Masters degree in Library Science.
I really enjoyed this book and will probably read the next one to see where the story goes. Claudia lives in a world constrained by time. Her world is in the not too distant future, but the ruling class has imposed the Victorian era on everyone, so the people live with the fashions, technologies, and rules of that time. She is about to be married to the prince, who is cruel and stupid, but whose mother is cunning. Her father is the warden of Incarceron, a prison no one can escape. It's been hundreds years since Incarceron's creation, and generations have been born and died there. Finn is one of its inhabitants, but he believes he came from outside Incarceron; he just can't remember his previous life. Finn and Claudia each come into possession of a key that allows them to communicate with each other, and they try to puzzle out the mysteries of Incarceron together while Finn tries to escape his prison and Claudia tries to escape hers. Click on the book trailer video below.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Hunt for the Seventh

The Hunt for the Seventh by Christine Morton-Shaw is a must read for those of you who love ghost stories and mysteries. This is another great read from the Texas Lone Star list 2010-11.Jim and Sally’s father is still grieving their mother’s death. Thinking that he will give his family a fresh start, he takes the position as head gardener of Minerva Hall. The family is allowed to live in a section of the castle-like grounds. The first sentence of the book is –“Somebody died here once”. Actually, six children have died over many years – all on the summer solstice every thirty years. The grounds hold the statues of these children. The ghost of a child tells Jim to find the seventh. The only person on the grounds that he can communicate with is the master’s autistic son, Henry. Henry speaks in riddles and makes very little eye contact. Jim keeps seeing frightening things and soon relives each child’s death. It is up to him to stop the prophecy that is destroying Minerva Hall. Readers who like The Hunt for the Seventh will want to read Morton-Shaw’s The Riddle of Epsilon. Click on the book trailer video below for more information.

Sunday, November 21, 2010

North of Beautiful

Justina Chen Headley’s novel, North of Beautiful, is a powerful read for many reasons. It is currently on the 2010-11 Texas Lone Star reading list. Terra describes herself as being perfect in every physical way except for one. She camouflages this one physical defect, a port wine stain birthmark on one side of her face, with a lot of heavy makeup. Terra has had numerous procedures to remove her birthmark in the past to no avail. Terra’s birthmark isn’t her biggest problem. Her father, a cartographer (a person who studies maps), is a bitter and controlling man due to his own insecurities. He constantly verbally abuses her mother who has gained so much weight the past couple of years. He also doesn’t support Terra’s dream of going to an art school. Terra and her mother literally crash into a teenager, Jacob, who was adopted when he was a little boy from China and his mother, Nora. Headley does a superb job of embedding all of the elements of a map into this story – strong symbolism. In fact, Terra and her mother join Jacob and Nora on a trip to China – the very country that brought upon Terra’s father’s failure as a cartographer. Terra will fall in love along the way and discover what beautiful really means. Justina Chen Headley also has a teen network website called readergirlz. Click on the book trailer below for more about the book.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Grimm Legacy

The Grimm Legacy, by Polly Shulman, reads like a movie. This adventure was highly recommended by a student who has read hundreds of books in my library. When Elizabeth’s mother passes away, her father remarries. She instantly has a new stepmother and stepsisters. Her father cannot pay for her ballet lessons or private school tuition, because he is paying for her stepsisters’ college tuition. Do you know a fairy tale like that? Elizabeth chooses to research the Grimm Brothers for a history project at her new public school. Her teacher recommends her for a new job as a page at the New-York Circulating Materials Repository – which houses the Grimm Collection. Patrons check out items rather than books at the Repository. The Grimm Collection contains magical items from each of the fairy tales. Things become strange! Items from the Collection are missing and others have been replaced by fakes. A large bird follows the pages once they leave work. Who is taking the items and why? How can Elizabeth prove she is not involved? What will happen when magic gets in the wrong hands? This book has the right combination of fantasy, romance, and fractured fairy tales to keep you reading! Readers may want to check out Shulman’s other book, Enthusiasm. Click on the book trailer below for more information.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

When Zachary Beaver Came to Town

My Book Talk Club just finished reading When Zachary Beaver Came to Town by Kimberly Willis Holt. This book, which was published in 1999, received the prestigious National Book Award. The first line of the book is – “Nothing ever happens in Antler, Texas”. Things are about to change. Toby is missing his mother who left for Nashville to pursue her dream of becoming a famous country singer. An old car pulling a trailer comes into town. It’s a sideshow act…for just two dollars you can see “the fattest boy in the world”, Zachary Beaver. Toby and his best friend, Cal, become even more interested in Zachary when they realize that Paulie Rankin, the man collecting the money to see Zachary, has left town and doesn’t seem to be coming back anytime soon. What does Zachary Beaver do all day? What does he eat? Cal’s older brother, Wayne, is fighting in the Vietnam War. Toby looks up to Wayne and seems to miss him even more than Cal does. The boys’ friendship will be tested. Ultimately, they will join forces to make the impossible possible for Zachary Beaver. No one will be the same. Another book you may want to read by Kimberly Willis Holt is My Louisiana Sky.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

This World We Live In

This World We Live In, by Susan Pfeffer, is a conclusion of Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone. Twelve months have passed since the collision of a meteor and the moon which resulted in disastrous changes to Earth’s stability. The survivors continue to face issues such as starvation and sanitation due to a shortage of resources. Miranda and her family are joined by Miranda’s father, stepmother, baby brother, and three other people. Two of the strangers are Alex and Julie from The Dead and the Gone. How will they be able to survive with more mouths to feed? Who will survive the deadly tornado that rips through the area? An underlying theme is that love is essential for hope and survival. I listened to the audiobook version. The narrator did not sound like I had imagined Miranda from reading Life as We Knew It. Because I had already established the characters in my mind from reading the first two books, I know that I would have enjoyed it even more if I had “read” it. These books are always checked out of my library. I warn my students to have a box of Kleenex available. Click on the trailer below for an introduction to the book.