Category Archives: Book Reviews

The Orphan Train by Christina Baker Kline

By Robin Ebelt, Reference Assistant813iibgF3CL._SL1500_

Meet Molly Ayer, a 17 year old Goth foster kid who needs to fulfill community service hours or risk going to juvenile hall. Next meet Vivian, a wealthy widow who agrees to fulfill Molly’s community service requirement by having her clean out her attic.  Their relationship grows as they work together in the attic and deepens when Molly’s teacher assigns a project where she has to interview someone about their life’s journey. She chooses Vivian. Vivian takes Molly on the journey of being an orphan emigrating from Ireland to Ellis Island, NY, at the age of 9, through her adoption, childhood, adolescence and early adulthood in Minnesota. Vivian’s answers tell a powerful story.

Kline uses alternating chapters to tell the women’s stories, with parallels becoming more evident throughout the novel. Throughout the story, we alternate between present day Maine in Molly’s story, to the 1920’s-1940’s with Vivian’s story taking the reader through the midst of the Great Depression and World War II in Minnesota. Orphan Train is a wonderful novel that parallels the lives of orphans in the Depression era to those in present-day.

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What To Read After Rick Riordan

by Stacy Parish (Children’s Department) and Liz Arrambide (Children’s Department)

“I love Rick Riordan’s (pronounced RYER-den, rhymes with FIREmen, sort of) books! I have read his Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, his Heroes of Olympus series, and his Kane Chronicles series. What other juvenile fiction books based on Greek, Roman and/or Norse Mythology are available?”

Well, we are just so very thrilled that you asked! Below is a suggested reading list compiled by the beautiful minds in the Children’s Department of the Main Branch of WCPL. You can also find some great recommendations at Amazon.com, and straight from the (Trojan) horse’s mouth at Rick Riordan’s website and blog at http://www.rickriordan.com.


Underworlds series by Tony Abbott (Greek)

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  • In the first book in the series, The Battle Begins, Owen is just an average kid with an average life, until his best friend Dana disappears right before his eyes. Owen brings their friends Jon and Sydney into the loop, and they embark upon a mysterious, mythological search-and-rescue mission. AR level 3.6.

Loki’s Wolves by Kelley Armstrong (Norse) AR level 4.4.

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Frostborn series by Lou Anders (Norse)

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  • A millennium ago, Arthur Pendragon’s last surviving grandson led the survivors of Britain through a mystical gate to a land of bright magic and dark creatures. Now, a thousand years later, the descendants of those exiles face a threat that could destroy their peaceful, prosperous kingdom. AR 4.9.

The King of Ithaka by Tracy Barrett (Greek)

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  • Sixteen-year-old Telemachos has a great life on his island home of Ithaka, which is ruled by his mother Penelopeia while Telemachos’ father Odysseus is away fighting the Trojan War. But Ithaka’s citizens are demanding a new king, and it is up to Telemachos, with only a vague and mysterious prophecy to guide him and his two best friends to accompany him, to find Odysseus and bring him home. AR level 5.5.

Juliet Dove, Queen of Love by Bruce Coville (Greek) AR level 5.0.

  • J F Cov      51CN4OwragL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

The Mythic Misadventures series by Caroline Hennesy (Greek)

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  • Pandy, aka Pandora Atheneus Andromaeche Helena, has a fantastic prop for a show-and-tell project at school. She knows the box that Zeus himself gave to her father must never ever be opened, but accidents happen, right? And now it’s up to Pandy to capture all seven evils that escaped from the box, or go down in history as the girl who ruined the world. This fun series begins with Pandora Gets Jealous. AR level 5.5.

The Last Girls of Pompeii by Katheryn Lasky (Rome)

  • J F Las
  • In the summer of AD 79 in the city of Pompeii are two girls named Julia and Sura who lead very different lives. When the girls learn of the plans their parents have for each of them, coupled with the impending eruption of Mount Vesuvius, they are forced to confront the true meaning of freedom. AR level 5.1.

Goddess Girls series by Joan Holub (Greek) AR level 4.5-5.5

  • J F HolGoddess Girls Joan Holub Suzanne Williams Simon & Schuster

The Roman Mysteries series by Caroline Lawrence (Rome)

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  • In the first book of this clever and engaging series, The Thieves of Ostia, amateur detective Flavia Gemina and her friends must solve the mystery of who beheaded the guard dog belonging to her neighbors (who are secretly Christians.) Although some of the descriptions of the violence that occurs may be too graphic for more sensitive readers, this book provides an intriguing glimpse into the customs, attitudes, and culture of the Holy Roman Empire. AR level 5.2.

The 13th Sign by Kristin O’Donnell Tubb (Greek)

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  • What if there were 13 zodiac signs instead of 12? And what if you accidentally unlocked the 13th one, Ophiuchus, and that infuriated the other signs? In this fast-paced book, Jalen does exactly that, and along with her best friend and her brother must battle in the streets of New Orleans to get the signs back where they belong. AR level 4.4.

 

Time Warp Trio series by Jon Scieszka (Various eras/locations) AR 3.5-4.0.

  • J F Sci

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The Storied Life of A J Fikry by Gabrielle Zevin

9781616203214_custom-1248f47d7cb47c8f90ffeacbcdc3bf065de3f59b-s6-c30By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

A J Fikry is a curmudgeon who owns the only book store on an island off the Eastern seaboard.  He has definite likes and dislikes when it comes to purchasing books for his store. He growled and grouched at the new book representative, who had replaced the only real friend he had. He hadn’t even known the man had died. His wife died a few years ago, and he is still grieving; he drinks himself to sleep almost every night. He lives above the store in a modest apartment. He has gotten into the habit of leaving his bookstore unlocked; he figures there is nothing really worth stealing. It is safe to say the book store is not as popular as it was while his wife was still alive.

One night he took out his retirement nest egg –a book entitled Tammerlane, a very rare Poe work. He drank to excess , as usual, and passed out; when he woke up the book was gone. In a panic, he ran out to try to find it and then called the police. He searched high and low and when he came back, just as he was getting ready to drink again that night, he heard a noise. Someone had left a baby in his store while he was out. There was a note from the mother stating that she thought a bookstore would be a good place to leave Maya since she loved books so much. She also said she just couldn’t take care of her as Maya needed.   The local police officer said he called Child Services, but it wouldn’t be until Monday that they would be able to get to the island.

You’ll have to read the book to find out what happened with A J and the baby.

I really enjoyed this book, which is destined to become a book club classic. It’s great for anyone who likes books and reading.   I thought I knew what would happen, but I was surprised by several developments. Ms. Zevin has written other adult novels and is well known for her Teen novels as well.

Romance titles that TEENS will LOVE

By Erin Holt, Teen Librarian

There’ve been so many times that our Teen staff have been asked for “safe” romance novels for their teens, starting at the age of 12. So we decided to create this awesome list of safe teen romance titles.  Check it out!

To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before by Jenny Han 51vsd5j8hXL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_– What would happen if all your crushes received your love letters…at the same time?

The Summer I Turned Pretty, It’s Not Summer Without You, We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han – Follow Belly on her journey over several summers, including a best friend, two love interests, and a love triangle

The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight by Jennifer E. Smith – When four minutes changed everything in 24 hours.

Anna and the French Kiss, Lola and the Boy Next Door, Isla and the Happily Ever After by Stephanie Perkins – Companion novels revolving around friendship, love, and travel.5231173

The Lonely Hearts Club by Elizabeth Eulberg – What happens when Penny decides to give up boys and dating…

All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin – NYC in the year 2083, chocolate and coffee are illegal and teen Anya’s mafia family is accused of poisoning chocolate that they have been distributing

Twenty Boy Summer by Sarah Ockler – BFFs Frankie and Anna spend a 20 day vacation together, making a bet that they can meet one boy per day.

Dash and Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn – A sweet fun read involving books, New York City, and teen love interests.

71LkLmxqgjLSloppy Firsts by Megan McCafferty – Follow Jessica Darling as she navigates through school, boyfriends, and more after her BFF, Hope, moves away.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell – A beautiful love story, taking place in 1986, between 2 misfit teenagers.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen – A story about a girl…and the cute guy next door…

Just One Day by Gayle Forman – The lives of Allyson and Willem is transformed in just 24 hours

*See the Teen Library staff for a complete list of titles*

Carol O’Connell’s Mallory novels

By Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

OConnellC-KM-Group01UK_thumb[3]Have you read all three of The Girl Who books? Looking for a new Salander? Perhaps you should try the books by Carol O’Connell featuring Mallory. Kathy Mallory was an eleven year old foundling living on the streets when she was rescued by New York police detective Markowitz. As she grew up, she continued to lack many social skills, including empathy, conversation and humor. She is considered by some a sociopath. One review stated that Mallory is the original Salander. The novels are all full of twists and turns and interesting characters.

The books, in order are Mallory’s Oracle (1994), The Man Who Cast Two Shadows (1995), Killing Critics (1996), Stone Angel (1997), Shell Game (1999), Crime School (2002), The Jury Must Die (2003), Winter House (2004), Find Me (2006) and the most recent book The Chalk Girl (2011). Our library has the entire series.

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Three Parts Dead by Max Gladstone

91Aw6BgBpKLBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

In this imaginative steam-punk fantasy, the god Kos, protector of Alt Coulumb, has died and must be revived before the city falls apart. Kos the Everburning literally keeps the city going—holding up the city’s infrastructure, as well as answering the prayers of his church and clergy. Tara Abernathy, a new intern, and her boss, Mrs. Kevarian (from the investigative firm Kelethras, Albrecht and Ao) have come to Alt Coulumb to find out how Kos died and revive him. Tara and Mrs. Kevarian are magical investigators who solve problems. They have run into a big one. Kos was murdered—who would be able to murder a god? Any why?

One reviewer suggested that if the authors Roger Zelazny, Neil Gaiman and John Grisham had collaborated on a book, something like Three Parts Dead would be the result. I’d like to add Jim Butcher and possibly Terry Pratchett to this list as well.

Will Tara, with the help of the priest Abelard and Justice Cat(herine) and the despised gargoyles, find out what happened to Kos and bring him back? Will the city survive if they can’t? Why did someone wipe the vampire privateer’s mind? Is Justice truly blind? And most importantly, when will the sequel come out?! Remarkable that this is Gladstone’s first novel.

How to Teach Your Baby to Read by Glenn and Janet Doman

babyBy Liz Arrambide, Children’s Librarian

Occasionally families ask us what books do we have to teach very young children how to read. Most of the books we carry are designed for older children. Megan Sheridan has written an excellent article on this blog explaining fun ways to teach basic early literacy skills.

For families that want to teach their young children (under age six) how to read there is an excellent book: “How to Teach Your Baby to Read: the gentle revolution” by Glenn Doman and Janet Doman. Glenn Doman and his research team started in the 1950’s to see what they could do to help children with brain injuries increase their capacity to learn. The researchers learned that their methods helped the children to learn to read. They were surprised to find that a brain damaged child could read at ages three and four when their peers could not.

The institutes for the Achievement of Human Potential began to theorize that very young children seem to be learning differently than children who are six years or older. A child learns language by being shown an object and then being told the name of the object. The team experimented and found that this type of learning can be extended to teaching a child to read. Very young children can learn that the sound ”ball”, a physical ball and the word “ball” all mean the same thing. Their in-depth research showed that this facility of the brain disappears at age six.

As a young mother, I was intrigued with this book. I tried their methods with my then two and half year old child. We had a lot of fun and she learned to read really well. When she started Kindergarten, she tested at a third grade reading level. I’ve tutored others in reading since then. It was much easier for my daughter to learn to read using this method. She didn’t have to be taught about “consonant blends” or the “er” sound etc. She didn’t go through these stages. For interested families, this revised edition offers a fun and easy way to teach very young children to read.

Eragon Series by Christopher Paolini

InheritanceCycleCoversBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Christopher Paolini had an idea for a book in high school. Lucky for us all he started writing a fantasy novel featuring a young boy named Eragon who finds one of the world’s last dragons. Eragon and the dragon Saphira learn how to work together throughout the series, which enables them to fight the evil king Galbatorix. He has several setbacks, saves his village and his brother who becomes a warrior in his own right. Those of us who finished all four books (originally there were supposed to be only three) were happy to find out that Paolini will revisit Alagaesia again. If you are looking for something to read after Hunger Games, Twilight and Harry Potter, I suggest you revisit The Inheritance Cycle featuring Eragon and Saphira. The first volume is titled Eragon. Volumes two Eldest and three Brisingr followed not quickly enough for most of us waiting impatiently. The final volume Inheritance came out last fall.

On the 1st Day of Christmas, One Librarian Blogging: 10 Charming Children’s Christmas Books

By Stacy Parish, Children’s Assistant Librarian

polar‘Tis the season—for reading! Here is a non-comprehensive, totally subjective, but thoroughly festive list of Christmas books for children. In no particular order:

The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg: This “new classic” and Caldecott Medal winner has amazing illustrations and a sweet, inspiring story about a boy’s Christmas Eve journey with Santa Claus and other children to the North Pole. (The page with the wolves is my favorite.)

grinchHow The Grinch Stole Christmas by Dr. Seuss: “Maybe Christmas perhaps . . . means a little bit more.” Join The Grinch on his night of marauding and morning of soul searching when he learns that Christmas came to Whoville even without the boxes and bags.

Olive, The Other Reindeer by J.otto Seibold and Vivian Walsh: Colorful, whimsical artwork combines with a hilarious storyline about Olive the Dog for a fun holiday book that is sure to make anyone’s Christmas a little merrier.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens: In October of 1843, Charles Dickens was giving new meaning to the term “starving artist.” Deep in debt and under huge obligations to his publisher, Dickens began crafting what would become the quintessential Christmas story, and creating one of the most memorable and enduring characters in English literature in Ebenezer Scrooge.

auntieAuntie Claus by Elise Primavera: Is Sophie’s eccentric great-aunt Auntie Claus just another weird New Yorker, or is there something else going on there? Snuggle up and accompany Sophie on her yuletide adventure. (There are also some fun sequels!)

Christmas In The Barn by Margaret Wise Brown: There are two editions of this lovely interpretation of The Nativity; the original was published in 1952 and alternated pages in color and black-and-white, similar to Brown’s classic Goodnight Moon.  The 2007 edition keeps the simple, beautiful original text but features all new illustrations in full color.

reindeerThe Wild Christmas Reindeer by Jan Brett: Teeka, a young Arctic girl living “in the shadow of Santa’s Winterfarm,” has been tasked with getting Santa’s reindeer ready to fly on Christmas Eve. The creatures are not responsive to Teeka’s tactics of yelling and bossing. She realizes that to prevent the annual sleigh ride across the skies from being a disaster, she is going to have to come up with some new motivational methods for Bramble, Heather, Windswept, Lichen, Snowball, Crag, Twilight, and Tundra.

The Legend of the Candy Cane by Lori Walburg: A mysterious stranger rides into a small prairie town one cold November night. (No, it isn’t Clint Eastwood.) The stranger’s identity is revealed to a young girl named Lucy, and he tells her of the legend of the candy cane and provides the answer to the town’s dreams. Will Lucy in turn share her newfound knowledge?

comfortThe Best Christmas Pageant Ever by Barbara Robinson: The horrible Herdman horde is a lying, cheating, stealing, fighting, smoking, cussing bunch of social outlaws. When they decide to commandeer the annual Nativity program at the local church, the congregation is caught completely flat-footed. However, the result is one of the most unorthodox—and hilarious—Christmas pageants ever.

Welcome Comfort by Patricia Polacco: Life is no sleigh ride for foster child Welcome Comfort at any time, but especially around Christmas, with no family or friends, no presents, and no Santa Claus. But when Welcome makes a new friend in the school custodian Mr. Hamp, his fortune just may be changing.

Happy holidays, and happy reading!

Doc by Mary Doria Russell

urlBy Lindsay Roseberry, Reference Librarian

Yes, this book is about Doc Holliday. You may think you know all you about John Henry Holliday, but this fictionalized biography focuses on his early years. J H holliday was a Southern gentleman, raised on a plantation, played piano and was devastated when his mother died, so very young, from tuberculosis. Ms. Russell portrays Doc as a Southerner who desperately missed his Southern family, but needed to go west for the dryer air. He first went to Texas, and eventually worked his way up to Dodge City, Kansas, where he first met the Earp brothers. Ms. Russell researched his early years a great deal and has poignantly shown his illness, his intelligence and wit and his loyalty to friends. She used creative license in some areas, but wrote a beautiful biography of John Henry Holliday, dentist and card sharp.

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