I spend too much of my time in an office ordering kids books for libraries, and not enough telling people about the exciting things I'm ordering for them. Hopefully, this blog will help to rectify that.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

New job, same old reading habits

It's been a long time since I've posted, but that's because of the holidays . . . and the fact that I started a new job . . . and moved . . . and caught a cold . . . and . . . oh forget it! I'll get right to the books--two books that seem like standard fare but offer up so much more!

Sleeping Freshmen Never Lie by David Lubar
I read this book in one day. I didn't mean to--I had plenty of other pre-holiday things to do--but I just couldn't seem to put it down. This is the story of a boy facing his first year of high school, his mother's unexpected pregnancy, hid older brother's broken dreams, and his own inability to land the girl of his dreams. It's Lubar's wry humor and steady hand that keep it from dipping into predictability, though. Scott is never cruel or stupid . . . just a teenager. He is likeable, endearing, and amusing, just like this book

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne
Not since I read the fevered short stories of Dylan Thomas have I found a book so haunting. Try as I might, I just can't get it out of my head. It's a Holocaust book, which usually makes me sigh gently and wish that publishers could come up with a new topic upon which to fixate. This one, however, is lyrical and bold and different. Boyne writes in the voice of a nine-year-old boy, but not in a flashy, distracting, annoying way. No . . . Boyne's writing is precise--captivating and so utterly true. I was completely drawn in. I've been predicting that The Book Thief will win the Newbery this year, but if there's any justice in the world, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas will give it a run for its money.

Friday, November 03, 2006

So many happy people . . .

. . . and one unhappy blogger! I was going to have a big old picture trumpeting the arrival of two new books that I know your patrons will be super-excited about, but I can't find any images of the jackets. So, I will rely on fancy type effects (that says "fancy type effects" in webdings) and maybe some colors to let you know that December brings both a new Michigan Chillers book--Gruesome Ghouls of Grand Rapids--and a new American Chillers book--North Dakota Night Dragons. Yeah! Both are on order for KDL, so you can start to place holds.

17 Things I'm Not Allowed to Do Anymore by Jenny Offill
This story of a little girl who is forbidden to do certain things after stapling her brother's hair to his pillow, freezing a fly in the ice cube tray, etc. just cracks me up. She just looks so mischievious on the cover, and I can certainly sympathize with someone who only finds out after the fact that they're not allowed to do things. Much like how I'm not allowed to make buttercream frosting or change the batteries in my own smoke alarm.

Chickens to the Rescue by John Himmelman
Chickens, much like hot dogs, are just intrinsically funny. And when chickens heroically cook dinner, get a watch out of the well, and otherwise protect their farm friends from harm, they are super-duper funny. Chickens. Hee hee hee!

And as a sort of follow-up . . .

You know how sometimes you have those phases where everything you read is dissatisfying and weird? I am not having one of those phases, as everything I've read lately has been fabulous. I finally read Here There Be Dragons by James A. Owen (which I've mentioned here before)and loved it! Seriously, I came across phrases that were so stunning I had to put the book down and soak it all in. And I just last night finished Golden by Jennifer Barnes (also previously mentioned in this blog), which was SO GOOD! Now granted, I have a certain fascination with the concept of auras, so I was predisposed to like it, but it was just so much fun. Add to the mix The Murder of Bindy Mackenzie by Jaclyn Moriarty, which I enjoyed much more than I had expected to. A friend said that they like Moriarty's books because she seems to be going on one direction and you're down with that, when it suddenly becomes something else. And not in a disappointing "Why did you ruin this good book" sort of way, but in an "I totally wasn't expecting that and I'm even more intrigued and this makes everything up until this point way better" kind of way. Now I'm almost done with Girl, Going on 17: Pants on Fire by Sue Limb. This is the third book in a series which I enjoy most heartily. It isn't rocket science, but it is a whole lot of fun. Limb's series is similar to the Georgia Nicolson books, but without the grating self-centeredness that showed up in the protagonist of that series. So . . . yeah for good books, and I hope that something in here has inspired you to go out and read! Leave a comment and let me know what you've read lately that's been good.

Thursday, October 19, 2006

I swear I'm not a cat person!

I don't know why I'm so intrigued by all these picture books about cats, but here's another one (along with some other things I think look good).

Mr. Pusskins: A Love Story by Sam Lloyd
This book is about a grumpy cat (although I think anyone would be grumpy with a name like "Mr. Pusskins") who doesn't appreciate his easy feline life until he's forced to spend a night fending for himself on the street. I just have to wonder why everyone feels compelled to put these fat, grumpy, fuzzy, irresistible cats on the covers of their books. I'm powerless against the fat cat! I just can't help myself!

Sock Monkey Rides Again by Cece Bell
While I'm in a confessional mood, I should probably just admit that I hate sock monkeys. I find them creepy and phallic and odd, and the recent plethora of books featuring sock monkeys hasn't really been something that I've embraced. Until now! Sock Monkey is a famous actor who gets the best role of his life in a singing cowboy movie. The problem? He has to kiss his co-star, and he just can't seem to do it. This is a funny premise, and the illustrations seem to depict Sock Monkey as a cheerful fellow, without any of the malevolent glee that sock monkeys usually have.

Chandlefort: In the Shadow of the Bear by David Randall
Oh look . . . another fantasy sequel for me to rave about!!!! Randall's first book, Clovermead, was about a young girl who had the ability to change into a bear, and Chandlefort promises to continue the adventure. Granted, the publishers seem to have given it an ugly sci-fi-ish cover that can't really compare to the Leo and Diane Dillon artwork of the first, but I can overlook that. I've met the author on several occasions, and he is a delight. And his writing is gripping, elegant, and wonderfully ambiguous when it comes to questions of good and evil.

Friday, October 13, 2006

Two things that have nothing in common . . .

. . . except for the fact that they are both books.

Old Tom's Guide to Being Good by Leigh Hobbs
It would appear that this is the wrong jacket, but it's still pretty darn funny. Especially when you consider that the book is about Angela Throgmorton insisting that her cat (yes, the one in the picture) brush up on his manners to prepare for a tea party with the queen. When I look at that cat, I think "etiquette." And I love watching kids trying to get cats to do their bidding--always good for a laugh.

Forging the Sword by Hilari Bell
This is the third book in a trilogy, and I can't wait for it to fall into my hot little hands. At the center of this epic story are three completely different teens--a haughty girl of noble birth, an illegitimate boy eager to prove himself as a soldier, and a poor thief with a scarred hand. How their lives intertwine, and how they find themselves in the center of a battle to protect their native land from invasion by the much stronger Hrum, makes this trilogy fascinating and exciting and top-notch fantasy.

Okay . . . I lied . . . there aren't just two things in this post. Thinking of how much I'm looking forward to Forging the Sword made me remember another fantasy that I'm beside myself with excitement about, and I needed to tell you about that, too. Blade of Fire by Stuart Hill is the sequel to Cry of the Icemark, which is one of the best fantasy books I've read in the last decade. This exquisitely written story has everything you could want in a fantasy--a feisty female heroine, a soulful man to help her, vampires, wolves, invading armies, emotional deaths, good deeds rewarded, peril, swordfights. This book was so good I carried the galley back with me from the Dominican Republic (and usually when I travel I leave a trail of galleys behind me), thus giving me much less room for souvenirs. If Blade of Fire is half as good as the first book, it will be the best fantasy of 2006. Oh . . . I'm all in a swivet!

Friday, October 06, 2006

Short and Sweet

Despite the fact that I've been ordering like a maniac this week, I only have one book to blog about. Odd, that.

Runaway Dinner by Allan Ahlberg

Young Banjo sits down to his dinner, only to have the sausage (and then the fork and then the knife and then . . . ) jump up and run away. All the foods have names in this rolicking tale, which all the reviews say is a good read-aloud. Personally, I'm captivated by the illustrations, which are precise and matter-of-fact while still managing to be quirky and hilarious.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Three for the older crowd, and one that I'm reading

The Return of Death Eric by Sam Llewellyn
This tale of two quirky teens who attempt to revive their father's career as a head-banging rocker after his manager runs off with a fortune is, by all accounts, wacky good fun. With the popularity of reality shows based on the lives of former rockers, the subject matter is bound to be popular. And I like the title--it catches the eye.

Runaway by Wendelin Van Draanen
After living on the streets for years, Holly's mother has died of an overdose and left Holly trapped in the foster care system. After running away from her fifth foster home, she decides to travel across the country, writing about her experiences in a journal. Chock full of deliciously gritty details of life on the street, this will appeal to that overly-dramatic and misery-loving part of teen patrons. Considering the fact that it's written in the wildly popular journal format, and contains both poetry and prose, this book should fly off the shelves.

Chance Fortune and the Outlaws by Shane Berryhill
Just in case there was ever any question . . . I'm a big old nerd who gets weirdly excited about books like this. Joshua has always wanted to be a superhero, but unfortunately has no super powers. Thankfully, he does have a superhero ally, who helps him forge documents and enter the superhero academy under false pretenses. I can relate--I still haven't discovered my super power, yet I would love to be a superhero. And the cover on this is great!

Manny Files by Christian Burch
I'm about halfway through this tale of a modern-day Mario Poppins and I'm loving it!!! Yeah, the manny sounds like he would be fun to have around, and the secondary characters are quirky and amusing. But the real treasure in this book is Keats, our young narrator. His voice is spot-on and wicked funny. It's his kid's-eye view of the people and events that make this one of my new favorites.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Dreary Days

Is it just me, or does this fall seem even more dismal and gray than usual? We haven't really had those days that make me want to throw on a sweater and take a walk through the woods, just days that make me want to curl up under an afghan with a cup of cocoa and a good book. Here are some new books perfect for days that make you want to snuggle up and read.

Courage of the Blue Boy by Robert Neubecker
Blue and his cow, Polly, are tired of living in a land where everything (including themselves) is blue. So, they set off to find some other colors, learning how to live in a multi-hued world along the way. I'm sure that this book has a good message about inclusiveness and acceptance, but I'm just drawn in by the picture of Blue and Polly on the cover. Their bright, wide eyes contrast delightfully with the blue of their skin, making them seem courageous indeed--and hopeful and happy and adventurous.

Love From Woolly by Nina Michaels
Okay . . . it's a lift-the-flap book, which I know makes people cranky, but how can you resist? Woolly, the chubby, woolly sheep with hilariously short legs has knitted gifts for all her friends, and kids can lift the flap to reveal these gifts. According to the description, it also teaches about numbers and etiquette. And did I mention that the sheep is chubby and woolly?

Melrose and Croc: A Christmas to Remember by Emma Chichester Clark
You really can't go wrong with a Christmas book, particularly one with a lonely golden retriever and a visiting crocodile painting the big city (Santa Claus-y) red. There's a lot to like about this book, like the fact that the dog is considerably bigger than the crocodile to reduce the reptilian threat, and the cover illustration of the two friends ice skating.

Where is Baby's Pumpkin by Karen Katz
You know that I'm a sucker for all things fuzzy and sparkly, but this new board book goes above and beyond all my expectations. Yeah . . . it's got flaps to lift, sparkly foil and glittery flocking!!!!!! Who knew you could even combine the sparkly and the fuzzy into one thing?!?!?! And it's holiday-themed, which means it will fly off the shelves before it even comes in. I can't wait!

I was reading some sneak peeks of the spring season books, and it was mentioned that Mo Willems will debut his first easy reader in the first half of 2007. How exciting is that?!?? It's always a thrill when someone who gets kids as much as Willems obviously does (Knuffle Bunny? Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus?) turns their talents to easy readers, which isn't as easy a genre to write for as one would think. I'm expecting good things . . .