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Sunday, February 27, 2011


Beth Choat’s debut novel, Soccerland, will appeal to all players of team sports. Flora Dupre is a star soccer player living in a small town in Maine. The kids in her town stop playing sports once the potato crops are ready to harvest as this is the main source of income for the families living there. Before Flora’s mother passed away, she would bond with Flora over Soccerland – stories they would share about soccer. Flora’s father is still grieving her mother’s death. When Flora is given an opportunity of a lifetime, an offer to attend the International Sports Academy in Colorado to try out for the Girls (Under 15) National Soccer Team, her father is afraid he just might lose her, too. What lessons will Flora learn at the Academy? Will her love for the game of soccer come before family? Choat provides an important message to all athletes…the value of teamwork.

Monday, February 21, 2011


If you are not sure what book to recommend to Twilight fans, try Sophie Jordan’s Firelight. This read also reminded me of Hawksong by Amelia Atwater-Rhodes. Jacinda is a draki – a dragon that shape shifts into human form. Her rare and special talent, fire-breathing, has made her a hot commodity in her pride (no pun intended). The number one eligible bachelor is a strong onyx named Cassian. Cassian will stop at nothing to make Jacinda his…the pride depends on their relationship for its future. But Jacinda is attracted to one of drakis’ enemy, a hunter named Will. When Jacinda’s mother moves her and her sister to a secret location to save Jacinda from the pride’s plans, Jacinda must battle to keep her shape shifting ability while keeping it hidden from her new classmates. Who will Jacinda choose…Cassian or Will? Read Firelight to find out. Click on the video below for an introduction to the book.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Touch Blue

Cynthia Lord’s Touch Blue is a moving novel about what makes a “family”. The author uses her own experiences for the setting of the story. A Maine island school is in danger of being closed due to a shortage of students. The residents decide to take in foster children to increase the number of students. Tess and her little sister, Libby, cannot wait to meet their new foster brother, Aaron. Unfortunately, Aaron isn’t what they thought he would be. He doesn’t even try to fit in with the family. Tess is obsessed with bringing about good luck (each chapter begins with a phrase about luck). Slowly, Tess is able to learn little things about Aaron. She decides that Aaron’s musical talent will help others on the island accept him and, as a result, Aaron will want to stay with her family. When that doesn’t work, Tess goes to extremes. Aaron’s mother lost custody of him when he was young, but he still idolizes her. Tess believes that getting his mother to the island will cure him; with a little luck, he will know that he has it better with Tess’s family. Another great book by Cynthia Lord is Rules, winner of the Schneider Family Award and a Newbery Honor Book Award.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors

The Last Summer of the Death Warriors is Francisco X. Stork’s most recent young adult novel. Pancho knows hardships – he lost his mother, father, and, most recently, his sister. The coroner’s report states that Pancho’s mentally-disabled sister, Rosa, died of natural causes, but Pancho knows that someone killed her. Feeling that he let his father down by not protecting Rosa, Pancho is determined to find the person responsible for her death and make him pay. He is given an opportunity to continue his education and get a fresh start at St. Anthony’s, an orphanage for boys. Once there, he becomes an aide to wheelchair-bound DQ, a fellow teenager who is battling a deadly form of brain cancer. DQ is unlike anyone that Pancho has known; he talks too much and intuitively knows the anger that consumes Pancho. DQ tells Pancho about the book he is writing called the Death Warrior Manifesto. When DQ’s wealthy mother insists that DQ come to Albuquerque for more powerful chemotherapy treatments, he convinces Pancho to come with him. Initially, Pancho’s motives for going have nothing to do with DQ; they have to do with his plan for revenge. Through the use of beautiful dialogue and difficult circumstances, Stork takes two strangers and creates a friendship that produces touching life lessons. Will Pancho avenge Rosa’s death? Will DQ escape his mother’s personal agenda to live his life the way he chooses? DQ’s Death Warrior Manifesto will change the way you look at life. Although this is on the Texas Lone Star reading list 2011-12, it is most appropriate for mature 8th graders and higher. Readers may be familiar with Stork’s previous novel, Marcelo in the Real World, which received soaring accolades.

Wednesday, February 9, 2011


Storyteller, by Patricia Reilly Giff, is actually two stories in one. One takes place in the 21st century, the other during the 18th century. At the beginning of the story, the main character, Elizabeth, finds out that she has to stay with her Aunt Libby while her father goes on a business trip to Australia. Elizabeth hardly knows her late mother’s sister and dreads going. Once she is at her Aunt Libby’s, she notices an old, faded picture of a girl who resembles her. Her Aunt Libby begins to share stories about this girl named Zee. Elizabeth and her aunt make a connection through her storytelling. Thus, the story alternates between Elizabeth’s new relationship with her aunt and the hard times that Zee endured during the American Revolution. Readers will appreciate Giff’s honest description of the adversity many families faced in a country divided between Loyalists and Patriots. My favorite part of the book was the poetic ending. Giff gives a positive message to her readers. Other great books by this talented author include Wild Girl, Water Street, Maggie’s Door, Pictures of Hollis Woods (one of my favorites, Newbery Honor Book), All the Way Home, Nory Ryan’s Song, and Lily’s Crossing (Newbery Honor Book).

Monday, February 7, 2011

Dirty Little Secrets

Dirty Little Secrets is the debut realistic novel by C. J. Omololu. This novel has been checked out a lot from my middle school library – the cover and title definitely catch your attention. The main character, Lucy, is the only child living at home with her single mother. Lucy’s older brother is in college and her older sister lives on her own. Lucy has not been able to let friends get too close to her. She definitely never lets anyone into her house, because she would become known as “garbage girl” if she did. Her mother is a hoarder – she doesn’t throw anything away – she even digs items out of the trash that others have thrown away. Everything changes in an instant when Lucy comes home to find her mother dead. If she calls for help, everyone will know her dirty little secret. She is desperate to protect her and her mother’s reputations. Josh, the boy she has always liked, is finally noticing her. Her best friend Kaylie will change the way she feels about Lucy if she knows the truth. What can she do to hide the way she has been living? Click on the book trailer below for more information about the book.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Brain Jack

Brain Jack is Brian Falkner’s second technological thriller. This New Zealand author writes about what he knows – computers. Las Vegas has been destroyed by terrorists. Seventeen-year-old Sam Wilson is a computer mastermind. When he successfully hacks into the largest telecommunications company, the Cyber Defense Division of Homeland Security recruits him to help protect our country’s global network. The problem begins once members of this elite division and the general population start to use neuro-headsets. Could they become brain jacked? The results are catastrophic…leading to a civil war. This novel reads like a season of the television show, 24. I must admit feeling a little brain jacked myself with all of the hi-tech computer encoding – those of you into computer programming will enjoy it. If you like this one, check out his first novel, The Tomorrow Code. This is another great selection on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2011-12. Click on the book trailer below for more information.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

A Long Walk to Water

A Long Walk to Water by Linda Sue Park is based on the hardships that a young man named Salva Dut faced growing up in Sudan during their civil war. This novel presents two stories in one which will connect at the end of the book as Linda Sue Park describes the special meeting of the two main characters. Nya’s story begins in 2008 when she describes her tedious daily life fetching drinking water from a distant dirty pond in the heat of the day in southern Sudan. Salva’s story begins in 1985 in a classroom full of boys in the same part of that country. Villages were attacked as a result of the political unrest between the rebels and the government. The school boys fled their classroom headed to the bush. Soon those that fled their villages had to walk miles and miles headed for a refugee camp in Ethiopia. Salva was told that his family was most likely dead. The difficulties the refugees faced are unspeakable. Park’s heart wrenching story follows Salva to the Unites States many years later. Read the book to find out how one person (one step at a time) overcame personal tragedies to make a difference for an entire country. Click on the video below to hear from Newbery winning author, Linda Sue Park, and Salva, the young man who inspired this story.