Sunday, November 15, 2009

39 Clues - #6 is in the LTC!

For all the 39 Clues fans at school, if you did not buy a copy at the Book Fair, #6 is in the LTC.
In Too Deep takes our brother and sister team to Australia and Indonesia. More odd things about their guardian Nellie begin to make Amy and Dan nervous but don't stop them from finding a long lost cousin who really helps them out. Fast paced as ever, with more twists and turns, our duo realizes that the advice "don't trust anyone" given to them in book #1 is truer than ever. You will be shocked at who turns out to be on their side as alliances continue to shift in pursuit of those clues. Hint: read the picture clues carefully and do look at the cover. We still don't know which of the four houses of Cahill Dan and Amy belong to but their focus shifts dramatically when new evidence of their parents' deaths come to light.
#7 arrives Feb. 2, 2010!

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Two reviews from our second guest blogger - Ella H.!

Flygirl by Sherri Smith: This book starts a mile up in the air and doesn't stop climbing (the main character is a pilot). I love really good books, and this one is one of my favorites. If you are tired of princesses and magic, but absolutely dislike non-fiction , try this. Sherri L. Smith does a fabulous job of writing realistic fiction set during World War II. This is definitely one of my recommendations.

The Maximum Ride Series: Hurry up, the train is leaving! Or should I say flight!? James Patterson is one of my favorite authors and his Maximum Ride series are at the top of my list. These are the kind of books you won't want to put down. This series is packed with adventure, suspense, risk taking and maybe some romance. Whenever I read a book in this series I always feel like I'm flying along with the characters (they have real wings!) Don't miss this adventure!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Our First Guest Blog - by Sophie K.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly is set in the turn of the century, 1899. Calpurnia Virginia Tate, aka Callie Vee II, tells the story. Callie is raised in a wealthy family with six brothers. She discovers that her grandfather is a great scientist, and soon realizes that she would rather be the next Marie Curie than a proper housewife. This exciting book set in Texas, tells you everything an 11 year old would think in 1899 - from wondering if the world really will end when the 20th century starts, to discovering a species of plant. Once you pick this book up, you'll never put it down, and you'll realize how much times have changed!

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Caudills 2010 - adventure story

Will Hobbs, writer of over 20 adventure stories, brings you a modern, fast paced piece of gritty realism with "Crossing the Wire". Be prepared to experience 15 year old Victor Flores' attempts to better the life of his family in rural Mexico. Set in 2004, Victor comes to the conclusion that only in the United States will he be able to find paid work that will permit his family from falling into complete poverty. Armed only with his intelligence, faith and good intentions, he sets off to attempt to cross the border into Arizona without the help of "Coyotes". "Coyotes" are the smugglers who make a business of smuggling people over the border for very high prices. Danger meets Victor at every turn but he never gives up, as help comes from unexpected places. You can learn more about Will Hobbs and his great novels at

Sunday, September 20, 2009

Coming Soon-Yippee!!

As orientation in the LTC continues, we are hoping to bring you guest bloggers/podcasters to LeBrisary. 5th - 8th graders are being invited to submit reviews as blogs or podcasts to LeBrisary to spread the word on great reads!!

A great Caudill choice!

Home of the Brave by Katherine Applegate (of Animorphs fame) does an incredible job of bringing you an insider view of a modern outsider. 5th grader Kek is a Sudanese refugee who arrives in Minnesota in winter to live with his aunt and his high school age cousin. Written in free verse, Kek tells his story of trying to adjust to a world very far from his native Africa. Having witnessed the death of his father and brother and separated from his mom in a refugee camp escaping the local violence, Kek is determined to learn his mother's fate. His first year, in Minn. is punctuated by failures and victories as he learns English, attends school and makes friends. One of these new friends turns out to be an older woman farmer and her cow that live on the outskirts of his town. They affect each others lives in ways they never expected. This story is full of wonderful images and words that will carry you along on Kek's journey of discovery. You may develop a whole new appreciation of cows. One not to miss!!

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Historical Fiction - Caudill nominee

Don't let the illustrations and modest page count fool you. Michael Morpurgo's The Mozart Question is a serious, thoughtful story that will stay with you long after the book is closed. Set today, the story follows a young reporter who is sent to interview a brilliant, world famous violinist notorious for being difficult with reporters. Her candid, fresh approach to him gets him to open up about his up bringing. He decides to tell her about why he has never played the music of Mozart. The story flashes back to his own childhood and then backs up again to his young parents when they were prisoners in a Nazi concentration camp. Michael Foreman's beautiful water colors will transport you so take the time to look at them carefully. Be sure to read the author's note at the end as well. It will help you understand his motivation and inspiration to write this powerful short story.

Saturday, August 8, 2009

Two more Caudills for all readers

A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban c2007 is set today in a suburban setting. Witty, determined 5th grader Zoe Elias really wants to learn to play the piano more than anything. She is convinced that she could become a world famous concert pianist. She ends up with the Perfectone D-60, an organ! In short chapters, Zoe takes her readers along as she navigates her year learning to play the organ. Her friends take some unexpected turns (such as unlikely guy Wheeler Diggs) as do her mom, a workaholic accountant and her dad, who takes endless classes from the Living Room University. Every character in the book rings true. You will get to know and care about these people and their triumphs, big and small. This is realistic fiction that works for any reader.

Someone Named Eva by Joan Wolf c2007 is historical fiction set during World War II in Czechoslovakia, Poland and Germany. In 1942, eleven year old Milada's life is changed forever when Nazi soldiers invade her small village of Lidice. Based on real events, Milada's story traces her being separated from her family, sent to a strange school in Poland for nearly two years, and then adopted by a German Nazi officer's family in Furstenburg. Forced to learn and speak only German, taught only the Nazi way of life, Milada/Eva struggles to hold onto her real self and memories of her family. Told from Milada/Eva's point of view, you will experience this little known piece of the war's history through the eyes of someone near your age. Be sure to read the author's note at the end of the book. Joan Wolf gives the background of the real events and what has happened since including the memorial museum and garden that now exist on the site of the old Lidice village in the Czech Republic.

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Two more Caudills-One for Junior High and one for elementary

Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham is set today in southern California. Jane Arrowood, 15, tells her story of surviving a shark attack that leaves her without her right arm and elbow. Told in prose, the story of her relationships with her mom, her brother, her friends, the various hospital workers and one young fellow amputee carry you into her transformed world. Jane is a gifted artist before the attack. How do you cope when what defines you is no longer your talent but a horrific accident?

The White Giraffe by Lauren St. John is set in modern day South Africa. 11 year old Martine Allen is orphaned in a fire and must move from England to be with her maternal grandmother who runs a game preserve in South Africa. Martine tries to fit in at her new school and understand her seemingly cold and strict grandmother. Soon after arriving, Martine hears about the legend of a white giraffe. She is determined to find it. As she begins to put bits of information together, she also begins to realize that the animals on the preserve are in grave danger especially, the white giraffe. The fast paced story mixes suspence with a bit of supernatural while giving the reader wonderful descriptions of the animals, landscapes, foods and climate of South Africa. You will feel like you are right there with Martine and the white giraffe in the South African night.

Monday, July 20, 2009

And now a Caudill ghost story!!

Nothing like a good ghost story set during the summer! All The Lovely Bad Ones by Mary Hahn ( a great ghost story writer!) is about Travis and Corey, a brother and sister sent to spend the summer at their grandmother's Vermont bed and breakfast inn at Fox Hill. Well, these two have a reputation for practical jokes, pranks and bad behavior. Determined to have some fun at the expense of the guests, Travis and Corey decide to create their own haunting based on the old stories of the area. Unfortunately, they stir up the real spirits, some of which are not at all amused. Fairly soon what started out as fun turns into a nightmare that only Travis and Corey can fix. This fast paced read will surely satisfy your supernatural cravings.

Some more Caudill nominees to consider

Jeremy Fink and the Meaning of Life by Wendy Mass is a great modern day adventure quest. Jeremy is about to turn 13 when he receives a locked box from his dad, who had died five years earlier. With the help of his best friend, Lizzy, Jeremy is about to embark on an incredible journey of discovery as he tries to find the four keys that will open the box. You see his father told him in a letter that the meaning of life is in the box!! At times serious, then funny and full of action, this story will carry a junior high boy or girl on an urban adventure through New York city.

The Thing About Georgie by Lisa Graff is about 4th grader Georgie Bishop. Georgie seems to be managing just fine when we meet him until his best friend makes a new friend, his arch enemy at school ends up being his project partner and his parents announce that there is a new baby on the way. All this throws Georgie's life into a tale spin because it is all complicated by the fact that Georgie is a dwarf. Scattered throughout the story you'll be asked by a secret writer to try things out that will get you to experience life the way Georgie does. Mostly you will come to really like Georgie; laugh and worry right along with him as he solves some familiar problems in his own unique way.

Monday, July 13, 2009

The latest from the author of Hoot!

Carl Hiaasen, of Hoot and Flush fame, does not disappoint with his latest eco-thriller set in Florida. Nick and friend Marta are the young junior high heros of this story set in present day southwestern Florida. Much of the action takes place in the Big Cypress National Preserve - as our heros with the help of a mysterious classmate, appropriately named Smoke, get involved with a rare Florida panther sighting, the disappearance of their stern biology teacher, Mrs. Starch, on a field trip and illegal oil exploration! A terrific cast of secondary characters and sub-plots keeps the action non-stop along with heart-stopping moments but plenty of laughs. If you enjoyed Mr. Hiaasen's other novels, Scat is for you.

Monday, July 6, 2009

Caudills 2010 - Two More

Naked Mole-Rat Letters by Mary Amato is set today in a small town outside Indiana University in Bloomington.  12 year old Frankie Wallop has always been an ideal daughter, sister and friend until she discovers an email sent to her widowed father from a woman he met at a conference.  Frankie goes into overdrive trying to derail what she perceives as a threat to her familiar life.  Unfortunately, in the process she digs herself into ever deepening holes of lies and the subsequent guilt. Frankie's voice is honest and believable in this brisk, sometimes humorous, sometimes very serious story of relationships, trust and doing the right thing. PS You will learn a ton about naked mole-rats,

Kimchi and Calamari by Rose Kent is set today as well.  Joseph Calderaro is about to turn 14.  He's got a loving family, great friends, a great sense of humor and he is adopted from Korea. When his English teacher assigns a "Your roots in your family" ancestry essay Joseph is faced with a real challenge.  How does he reconcile his proud Italian upbringing with the face in the mirror? Joseph tries to handle it all himself with the help of his best friend with mixed results. An internet search leads down a surprising path of discovery that eventually gets his family involved.  You will discover right along with Joseph what really makes a person an individual no matter who they are or where they are from.  Joseph is person worth getting to know.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Caudills 2010

So far what I have read has been really good.  Some have guys as main characters and some have girls but all could be read by anyone.  It really would depend on what you are in the mood for and what type of story appeals to you.  One common thread to them all is that they fall into the realism category more or less (one is set in the late 60's and one in the late 40's). 

So here goes:A Small White Scar by K. Nuzum. This one is set in the late 1940's. The story centers on the relationship of 15 year old twin brothers, one of whom has Downs Syndrome.  A western styled adventure will take you on a voyage of discovery both mental and physical as disabled Denny decides to follow his brother Will, who has run away from the ranch to become a rodeo rider.

Emma-Jean Lazarus Fell Out of a Tree by Lauren Tarshis.  Emma-Jean likes her world ordered and even though she likes her middle school classmates she stays on the outside looking in because it's safe there.  Middle school kids live messy lives she feels. So when she
 decides to help one of the most popular girls with a problem, Emma-Jean finds out that mathematical logic does not necessarily apply to people.  Funny, realistic and eye-opening from both ends of the social food chain.

The Wednesday Wars by Gary Schmidt is the book set during the year 1967-68.  Holling Hoodhood, the 7th grade hero of the story, will completely win you over as he faces a host of challenges at school and at home.  The author manages to balance the humor (lots of it) with the serious events in this realistic story mostly centered around school.  It all starts when Holling finds himself the only student left on Wednesday's last period with his English teacher while his classmates are at various religious education classes.  Shakespeare, the VietNam War, his prickly high school sister, loose rats and a bully all keep the action coming and going.  You will find yourself seriously rooting for Holling.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Just finished Beyond The Grave, 39 Clues #4!!  Really liked the ancient Egyptian angle to this story.  When I was in the 6th grade, we studied the ancient Egyptians and I fell in love with the culture.  I thought I wanted to be an Egyptologist for a very long time.  My best friend actually did become one and lived in Luxor!  Well, the love of the topic never went away so this book was extra enjoyable.  Fans of the series will really like the twists and turns in this installment as loyalties go in lots of directions.  Expect the usual amount of action and thrills, of course!!
Now onto the 2010 Caudill nominees!

Monday, May 25, 2009

The 39 Clues - Reminder

For all our fans of the The 39 Clues series, there are only 6 more days until Book #4 arrives at book stores June 2nd.  Beyond The Grave is written by Jude Watson.  Jude Watson is best known for her series work with the diaries of Princess Amadala of Star Wars and also some Star Trek series as well, well over a 100 titles.  Jude Watson is the pseudonym of Judy Blundell who just won the National Book Award for her YA novel What I Saw and How I Lied, which we do not yet have in the library. 
Beyond The Grave will be in the LTC but not before the school year ends unfortunately.  You can count on it in multiple copies for the Fall however. It will certainly be at our wonderful two public libraries, Winnetka and Wilmette.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Historical Fiction - 1776 New York

Just recently finished Chains by Laurie Halse Anderson. For those of you who read Fever 1793 and liked that book, you will really like this one.
Set during several months of the Revolutionary War in New York city, this follows the complex life and events of 13 year old Isabel, her little sister and Curzon, a boy slightly older than herself. Isabel was promised by her last mistress that on her death, she and her sister would be freed according to her mistress' will. Isabel soon learns that her mistress' nephew has other plans in mind. She and her sister Ruth are sold to the Lockton's, a wealthy, influential Tory family loyal to the British crown. Isabel's life takes many turns as she fights for her and her sister's freedom including spying for the patriots.
Here is a chance to see the American Revolution from a very different point of view, that ofa literate slave girl. Usually the history of the Revolution is dominated by the adult male patriots of the period. In this book you will feel the tension, panic and hardships of the average citizens caught in the turmoil of change.
I would recommend this book to any student looking for a gripping story of what freedom meant at a critical time in our nation's history, The American Revolution.
What period of history do you like to read about, fiction or non-fiction?

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Another Award Winner


Waiting for Normal by Leslie Connor is one the best of last year's recommendations from the Book Stall at our spring book fair '08.
With the Book Fair kicking off tomorrow I thought I might refresh a choice from last year.
12 year old Addie is living with her newly divorced mother in a small cramped trailer parked on a deserted parking lot on the edge of town. Addie's loving step-father and two half sisters now live elsewhere away from her and her mom. Addie misses them terribly and yearns for the normalcy that life with them once held. In Addie's life, she is the one who manages all the adult responsibilities and it is her mom who acts like the child. Soon, Addie cannot cope with the ever increasing stress of her irresponsible mother. Near disaster, brings the help and "normal" Addie has been hoping for. Addie is a resourceful, brave and loving character.
This could have been a depressing story but it is not because of Addie's point of view. Her realistic often funny take on life will keep you turning pages as you cheer her on to a satisfying conclusion.

Saturday, April 25, 2009

Time to look at an award winner.  This year's Newbery Winner for 2009 is Neil Gaiman's The Graveyard Book.  Known to many of you for his novel, Coraline, that was made into an animated film this year.
Part gothic, part supernatural tale this is the story of Bod Owens growing up in a grave yard.  There is the little detail that someone or something wants him dead as well. 
Neil Gaiman himself said this story all started with his son riding his tricycle through a graveyard that was the only park like setting available. His son was totally at ease there and very happy.  Those days started Neil thinking about a baby raised by the inhabitants (read ghosts) of an old graveyard.  Although the story is set today it feels as though it has no time to it at all.  Between the boy himself who knows only the world of the graveyard and the sinister beings sent to protect him and destroy him, you will be drawn into a memorable, believable fantasy world.  
Most critics, adults and young people alike, feel that this Newbery choice was an excellent one. What do you think?

Friday, April 17, 2009

Margaret McMullen will be visiting our school in May to speak to the 5th-7th graders.  I just finished two of her books, one set during the Civil War and the other during Reconstruction, ten years later.  Let me tell you a about the latter.

When I Crossed No-Bob is told from the point of view of 12 year old Addy.  When Addy is abandoned by her only parent, her mom, she is taken in by the local school teacher and his new wife. Removed from the brutish world of her clan the O'Donnells, Addy begins to thrive in her new surroundings. Her long missing father unexpectedly returns, and takes her back to No-Bob, the clan's self-proclaimed land.  Addy tries to make the best of her situation but soon realizes that how the O'Donnell's view the world is no longer how she does.  Addy must summon all her inner courage to do the right thing when she comes to fully realize what her father and others are doing.
Set in rural Mississippi, ten years after the ravages of the Civil War are still being felt, the story combines issues of family, race, loyalty and love in a powerful story of growth and integrity.

I thought this book was so good, that I recommended it to Mrs. Tiesse as a possible 7th grade class novel.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

I recently finished "The Last Invisible Boy" by Evan Kuhlman.  

Finn Garrett, 12 years old, is writing a journal after the sudden death of his dad. Finn is trying to make his way through a really hard time in his life while his mom, brother Derek, and grandfather are doing the same.  Part of Finn's journey is complicated by the fact that his hair is turning white and he is getting progressively paler.  He is fairly sure he is becoming invisible.  As he navigates through his year without his dad, he speaks to you the reader in a clear, believable voice.  He is at times funny, sad, scared, happy, lost and determined. 
Here is a quote from Susan Patron who won the Newbery medal two years ago that I think you will find interesting. "If you're looking for a tender, redemptive story told by a fierce, fragile protagonist, meet Finn Garrett, the Last Invisible Boy. You'll love him."-- Susan Patron, author of the Newbery Medal-winning The Higher Power of Lucky
I would recommend this book to any junior high student, boy or girl, looking for a realistic story with a great main character.  You might think this would be a very sad book but Finn will show you real human spirit.
Add your thoughts to this post.

Sunday, April 5, 2009

If you are wondering why I have a group of sleeping puppies on a bench for the header, it is because they are my favorite breed (Pembroke Welsh Corgis) and the picture makes me smile.  I hope it does the same for you.

Saturday, April 4, 2009

95% of the books you see on my LibraryThing widget are in the school library, either in regular fiction or YA fiction.  You can check on the school catalog online to see if they are on the shelf currently.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Welcome to the beginning of something new and hopefully fun for everyone.  My plan is to get our students involved in discussions about what I am reading and what they are reading.  

The next logical step is to get others reading based on the discussion.  

Additionally,  this blog should help develop the collection with ideas generated by our student users, our key clients.