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Monday, July 25, 2011

The Emerald Atlas

If I were an author, I would want the team at Random House Publishing working for me. They have done an excellent job marketing John Stephens’ The Emerald Atlas. This book seems to be on the front shelf in every bookstore’s children/young adult section. It is getting a lot of buzz; justifiably so. This action-packed fantasy (book one of a future trilogy) is about three children who have miserably lived in various orphanages for the past ten years. Their parents abruptly left them ten years before and only the oldest child, Kate, has vivid memories of that day. She vowed to take care of her younger brother, Michael, and baby sister, Emma. After failing to get adopted once again, the trio is taken to a strange place called Cambridge Falls. It is an extremely peculiar place in the middle of nowhere. The only people in the old, dilapidated house are the housekeeper, a servant named Abraham, and the mysterious man, Dr. Pym, who has adopted them. The kids are drawn to a secret office and stumble upon a powerful green book, the Emerald Atlas. By placing an old photograph in the blank pages of the book, the children are swept away to that particular time, a time when children were held captive at Cambridge Falls by an evil witch. The book has the power to transport the kids through time; it is ultimately up to Kate to save the children and people of Cambridge Falls. The three will meet up with some unlikely allies and deadly enemies on their quest. Will Kate, Michael, and Emma finally be reunited with the parents they long to see again? Will the Emerald Atlas fall into the hands of the wicked sorceress? Read The Emerald Atlas to find out, you won’t be disappointed.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011


Every one of us can remember a momentous birthday in our lives. Finally by Wendy Mass celebrates every girl’s dream of turning 12. I actually bought a copy of this book back in March for my niece’s twelfth birthday without having read it before; I just knew how much I liked the author and the title was perfect for the occasion. I just finished listening to the audiobook version while traveling home from Florida this past weekend. It was so entertaining and the narrator, Kathleen Mcinerney, did an excellent job portraying the various characters. Rory Swenson is finally turning 12 years old. She has waited for this day forever. She intends to complete her checklist of all the things she can finally do now that she is twelve. Each item that she completes on her list is met with disaster. What else can go wrong? Is growing up all that we think it is? The best thing about reading this book was getting to laugh with my niece when we were discussing how much we both enjoyed it. Wendy Mass is one of my new favorite authors. I have enjoyed every book I have read by her. My middle school students love them as well. Other fantastic books by Wendy Mass include Leap Day, Every Soul a Star, Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life, 11 Birthdays, and The Candymakers.

Thursday, July 14, 2011

Sneak Peek of Jason Henderson's Alex Van Helsing Book #2: Voices of the Undead

My students have been eagerly awaiting book 2 in this awesome series. Check out the Read Inside provided by HarperTeen. Voices of the Undead will be published on July 26th.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011


I have to admit that the beginning of Cornelia Funke’s Reckless had me a little confused. Readers you need to just stick with it – you will not be disappointed. Reckless is a perfect mix of horror, fairy tale, fantasy, and adventure. At the beginning of the story we are introduced to two brothers who are aware of a secret, forbidden passage-way that exists through a mirror in their missing father’s office. Over the years rebellious Jacob, the older brother, has left his younger brother, Will, wondering where he is while spending a lot of time in the dangerous world on the other side of the mirror. Twelve years pass when both boys’ lives will be turned upside down. Will, while crossing through the mirror, is tragically clawed by a Goyl. As a result of his injury, Will slowly turns into the Dark Fairy’s most prized possession, the jade Goyl. If Jacob doesn’t find a way to help his brother quickly, he will permanently become a stone creature under the evil Fairy’s power. Jacob with the help of Will’s girlfriend – Clara, a shape-shifting fox, and an untrustworthy dwarf must overcome a variety of wicked creatures, the Red Fairy’s power, and his own personal feelings if he has any chance to save Will. For me, after the first sixty pages this novel read like an action-packed movie. Other great books by Cornelia Funke include The Thief Lord, the Inkheart trilogy, the Ghosthunters series, and Igraine the Brave.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

How to Survive Middle School

Donna Gephart’s How to Survive Middle School is an entertaining read mixed with humor and heartbreak. It is on the Texas Lone Star Reading List 2011-12. David Greenburg, a talented eleven-year-old who has just started his first year of middle school, has been forewarned about the biggest bully at school, Tommy Murphy. The summer has not gone as he had planned. Instead of getting to do his favorite thing, make his comical TalkTime videos inspired by Jon Stewarts’ Daily Show, David has done what his best friend Elliott wanted to do – hang out at the mall in hopes of seeing girls. Things go from bad to worse when he and Elliott have a huge fight and Elliott starts hanging around the meanest kid in school, Tommy Murphy. David is bullied by the two of them from the very first day of middle school. The bright spot is his new friend, Sophie, who helps TalkTime gain national attention. David and Hammy, his pet hamster who is the star of the show, become instant celebrities. Will the one person who matters most see how successful David has become? Will Elliott and Tommy quit torturing David? Read How to Survive Middle School to find out.

Friday, July 8, 2011

Forest Born

Forest Born, the fourth book in Shannon Hale’s The Books of Bayern series, is about self-discovery and forgiveness. Rin, the youngest child and only girl in her large family, fears that her actions have caused the trees in her forest to shun her. She has a powerful gift that she doesn’t yet understand…one she has used negatively thus far. Being one that lives and breathes by the beauty of her home, the Forest, Rin feels that she is slowly fading away when she can no longer communicate with her surroundings. She breaks her mother’s heart when she decides to follow her favorite brother, Razo, to help the King and Queen in the city. Rin’s natural nurturing instincts, experience gained from her time with her nieces and nephews in the Forest, lands her the important job of caring for Tusken, the toddler prince. Tragedy strikes the kingdom and the only hope lies in the hands of the women: Queen Isi, Enna , Dasha, and Rin. They must find who is setting the fires that have killed so many and use their individual powers to overcome evil. Although this is part of a series, you do not have to read the other books first. I have always enjoyed Shannon Hale’s writing style. I appreciate the strong female characters, touch of magic, and suspense in this novel. Other books by this Newbery Honor –winning writer include The Goose Girl, Enna Burning, River Secrets, Princess Academy, and Book of a Thousand Days.