January

Mark of the Thief by Jennifer A. Nielsen
Nic is a hopeless slave in the Roman mines until he finds a powerful bulla of Cesear. Then he is suddenly wanted (not in a good way!) by every one in power from the emperor to his former slave driver. Lots of intrigue and magic here. Very similar style to the Runaway King series but set in a believable Roman Empire. I can hardly wait to read the next one. Mature 5th graders Excellent.

Why Is This Night Different from All Other Nights? by Lemony Snicket
Oh, Snicket. This is like a remake in some bizarro world of the Orient Express.

Holy Obfuscation, BatMan! Written with the same wry self-examination of the How to Train Your Dragon books, but with ridiculous amounts of adult allusions, this is not an easy read for anyone. At least students can read all four in a row. I had a hard time remembering who and what was going on. It seems like the end of this series although I assume Snicket will return as our “hero” of sorts in another story. I did smile when a character asks, “Why do you always say that—‘which here means’?” “I’ll probably outgrow it.” I said. I think not. This particular part of the story takes part on The Thistle of the Valley a la the Orient Express. This was OK if you like Snicket. 4th+


Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
I'm rereading these because a kid told me her parent didn't want her to read them anymore due to some offensive remark. Now I find Clementine delightful and innocuous. In this one she and her apartment friend have some serious hair mishaps.
The Talented Clementine by Sara Pennypacker
Clementine's class has a talent show and she can't figure out hers.

Clementine's Letter (Clementine #3) by Sara Pennypacker
Mr D'Matz (found it! sounds like dumb a) has an opportunity to spend the rest of the year in Egypt if he wins the teacher prize. But Clementine has come to understandings with him and can't stand that idea. And she has to write a letter of recommendation. Torture! So much to like about our outside-the-box hero.

Tricky Twenty-Two by Janet Evanovich
Yep another one. These are my candy reads. In this one Stephanie Plum is chasing a crazy professor who may be trying to spread the plague, and Morelli is having second thoughts about his relationship with Steph. Ranger is always there of course, except he's not really there. And Lulu is the perfect sidekick again as they pick up miscellaneous bond skippers. Two funerals and several car wrecks (geese--brilliant). My fav scene is the Mother take down. Adult...


The Odds of Getting Even (Tupelo Landing #3) by Sheila Turnage
Finale or will there be more Mo and Dale mysteries? Scheduled to testify against Dale's abusive father, everything turns around when he escapes jail. The whole town is in an uproar and a reporter from the big city makes a splash when she appears dramatically. Leave it to Mo to find the clues of course. This has fresh turns just like the first three. Great language: p11 My anger cooling like a kettle taken off a stove... p15 "If Tupelo Landing was a country, gossip would be our national sport." Excellent. Mystery. 3rd+

Cloud Shifters by Katie Pottle
This was a difficult read for me. Katie is a Quest parent. This wasn't bad and I'm sure there's an audience. But the very off-putting theology was too much for me. Cadin is one of a class of new angels going into Commons HIgh School where they will choose a path. We know right away that he is somehow special. It's just so very slow progressing toward the bigger conflict. It was difficult. I don't see why it's YA either.


Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan
This was a reread, and well worth it. Starting in a fairytale genre, the story of three sisters, destiny, and a harmonica lead us to three stories following the harmonica's story. A conductor prodigy who is "damaged" according to Hitler's philosophy due to a birthmark and epilepsy, then two orphans who are gifted musicians taken in by a heartbroken woman in NYC, and finally girl in California who is helping take care of a Japanese family's farm while they are in camp. Memorable conclusion that ties everyone together. moving. Excellent. 4th+

Wipeout of the Wireless Weenies by David Lubar
Lubar is certainly an unusual person. Short stories are pretty rare as a form in children's lit, so these are useful. Some of the stories cross the line for me in creepiness, Just not my fav. But some of the surprise twists are terrific. Violent. 4th+

Newsgirlby Liza Ketchum
This is from 2009 but I picked it up because the cover was interesting and I didn't remember hearing about it. It's decent historical fiction about two women and a girl moving to San Francisco to start a new life during the gold rush. Very believable except for our heroines weird reactions to not knowing her father. That whole area (illegitimacy)makes this a YA. Good read.

The Lightning Queen by Laura Resau
Another winner for me. Back and forth between the present and two generations back, and between Maryland and Oaxaca Mexico. This is a love story between a Mixtec Indian (Teo) and a Romany (Esme). And Teo's grandson,Mateo. There is beautiful writing, magical power, and sacrifice and overcoming. Awesome. LOVED THIS 4th up.

Unleashed: a Swindle Mystery by Gordon Korman (#7)
Pretty much more of the same, but still fresh enough to keep readers engaged. Luther continueally chases an exterminator truck. Griffin Bing and enemy Darrn Vader challenge each other in an invention contest. Stolen inventions, weird new neighbor who is a conspiracist, and even the government are part of this. Good + 3rd+

Bad Magic by Pseudonymous Bosch
Haven't read any of this writer in a while. Very abstract and undercurrents of other stories. Footnotes like Lemony Snicket. Could be a bit scary for some and the Tempest allusions may be too much for younger readers. First in a series. OK 4th+

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia
The sisters are spending the summer with Big Ma and Ma Charles (great grandmother). It would seem not much would be happening in very rural Alabama, but with these three of course things are popping. Lots of family drama and then--a tornado! Extremely emotional and I don't want to spoil the story. My favorite of the Gaithers so far. Excellent 4th+


Switch by Ingrid Law

Mr. Lemoncello's Library Olympics (Mr. Lemoncello's Library #2) by Chris Grabenstein