Codes for Reviews

First Initial (Overall Rating):
E = Exceptional
VG = Very Good
G = Good
F = Fair
NR = Not Recommended

Second Initital (Reading Level):
A = Average Reading Level
E = Easy
M = Mature

“The views expressed are of individuals and do not necessarily reflect the views of their respective institutions.”

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Tuesday, September 27, 2011


Middle School Novel in Verse

G/A Frost, Helen. Hidden. France Foster Books, 2011. 147 p. 9780374382216. $16.99

At 8-years old Wren is accidentally kidnapped in a robbery gone wrong. Darra's father was that robber and he is sent to prison. 6 years later, Wren and Darra meet face to face at summer camp and start to heal.

This novel is told in verse first from Wren's perspective, then from Darra's and third part alternates between the two. The novel is well-written but the way the girls meet up is a little too coincidental to be believed.

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman

Middle School Fiction

G/A Woltzer, Meg. The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman. Dutton, 2011. 304 p. 9780525423041 $16.99

Three kids are joining hundreds of other hopefuls in the Youth Scrabble Tournament (YST). This is their story.

Duncan Dorfman has a special talent; he can read written words with the fingertips of his left hand. His mom tells him to keep it a secret but he wants to be popular at his new school and this just might be the ticket.

April Blunt doesn’t fit with her family full of jocks. All they care about is sports, all she cares about is Scrabble. Maybe if she wins the YST, her family will see that Scrabble is a “sport” too.

Nate Saviano’s father lost the YST in his final game 26 years ago. Now he has pulled Nate out of school to focus solely on Scrabble. Will Nate live up to his father’s dreams of Scrabble dominance?

Recommended for fans of E.L. Konigsburg

Sarah Mae Harper, CoLAPL- AC Bilbrew Library

Wednesday, September 7, 2011


Middle School Fiction

F/A Meloy, Colin. Wildwood. Balzer & Bray, 2011. 560p. 978-0-06-202468-8. 16.99.

Colin Meloy, lead singer of the Portland based band, The Decemberists, uses the same magic and whimsy of his song lyrics in his first novel for middle readers. 7th grader Prue McKeel watches with amazement as her baby brother is kidnapped by a murder of crows. In order to get him back she must venture into the forbidden Impassable Woods. When she gets there, with classmate Curtis in tow, they discover a magical place that the inhabitants call Wildwood. The citizens of Wildwood, which include talking animals, birds and humans, are at war and Prue, her missing brother and Curtis find themselves in the middle of it. While the characters are fun, there are a few too many of them to follow. The vocabulary seems advanced for it’s intended audience, but the story is too child-like for older readers. Middle readers who like the Narnia series, magical realism or talking animals might enjoy this book as long as they don’t mind the length. If nothing else, the illustrations by Meloy’s wife, Carson Ellis, are beautiful. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Okay For Now

General YA Fiction

E/A Schmidt, Gary D. Okay For Now. Clarion Books, 2011. 368p. 978-0-547-15260-8. 16.99.

In this companion book to Wednesday Wars, Schmidt focuses on Holling Hoodhood’s best friend, Doug Swieteck. Just weeks before Doug is set to start 8th grade in 1968, his dad loses his job and moves the family upstate. Doug’s family life is complicated; his oldest brother is in Vietnam, his middle brother is a troublemaker, his dad is abusive and his mother is a pushover. To keep busy, Doug spends time at the library admiring the John Audubon book (and learning to draw the beautiful birds) and delivering groceries for the local grocer. He also makes a great friend in Lil Spicer (the daughter of the grocery store owner) and several of his customers. Through it all though, Doug must contend with the humiliation that both his father and brother often cause him. Like Wednesday Wars, Schmidt masterfully mixes a little humor into this otherwise realistic family drama. It’s a great read for all ages. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve


Middle School Fiction

VG/A Selznick, Brian. Wonder Struck. Scholastic Press, 2011. 640p. 978-0-545-02789-2. 29.99.

Selznick’s latest novel intertwines two stories through illustrations and words. The first story is of Ben in Minnesota in 1977. He is hearing impaired and searching for clues about his father. His journey leads him to New York City and the Museum of Natural History. The illustrated story is about Rose in 1927. She too is hearing impaired and runs away to New York City to see her actress mother and stay with her older brother. Although beginning 50 years apart, the stories come together in an unexpected twist. Not only are the illustrations beautiful, but the story is touching and heartfelt too. Readers of all ages will have a hard time putting this one down and will undoubtedly read it in one sitting. Loren Spector, LAPL, Felipe de Neve

Saturday, September 3, 2011


Adult Nonfiction

NR Jacob, Matthew. What the Great Ate. Three Rivers Press, 2010. 310p. 978-0-307-46195-7. 14.00. Did you know that Sacagawea ate marrow from a killed elk's shank bones or that fried chicken and Pepsi Cola were among Hugh Hefner's favorite foods in the 50s? Interesting food trivia is affiliated with other known persons such as Mother Teresa, David Beckham, Matthew Henson, etc. (Some names, however, are not as well known.) And some unusual foods for thought--and tasting? are raw dog, beer soup, Koumiss-fermented mare's milk and hashish fudge.

Since the format is not very attractive, teens are less likely to give this more than a passing glance.

E.M. Roublow, LAPL, San Pedro Branch