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Tuesday, December 23, 2008


December 2008

The following reviews, interviews and features are running on for the month of December.

Reviews and Excerpts
THE 39 CLUES, Book Two: ONE FALSE NOTE by Gordon Korman
Amy and Dan Cahill are back in this second installment of the multimedia series The 39 Clues. Ride along with the siblings as they follow their next clue into Vienna, the Austrian Alps and Venice on their quest for the ultimate treasure. But their opponents, their cousins, are right there with them, still very willing to do whatever it takes to win the game --- even murder! Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman and excerpted.
-- Click here to read an excerpt.

Will Treaty is an apprentice no more as he returns in this fifth installment of John Flanagan's bestselling series. Will sets out to take on his new assignment, a post of his own in the kingdom. But soon after settling in, he receives a special assignment --- to go undercover as a traveling musician to investigate a mysterious illness rumored to be caused by a sorcerer. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

BARNABY GRIMES: CURSE OF THE NIGHT WOLF by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Barnaby Grimes is a tick-tock lad, running errands in his city, day and night, and "highstacking" around the rooftops in search of new mysteries to solve. In this first adventure, Barnaby is attacked one night by an enormous dog and soon finds himself swept up in a world of crooked doctors, poor and ill-advised patients, strange tonics and very expensive furs. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

RUNEWARRIORS by Jim Jennewein and Tom S. Parker
It's the eve of the Festival of Greatness, and Dane has a big problem: he has yet to choose his nickname. But when he sees his proud father shamed by the evil tyrant Thidrek the Terrifying, Dane's indignation earns him a moniker that sticks: Dane the Defiant! And when Thidrek kidnaps Dane's beloved Astrid in hopes of trading her for the ultimate power of the gods, Dane defiantly goes after him. Reviewed by Joy Held.

MIGHTY MONTY written by Johanna Hurwitz and illustrated by Anik McGrory
First grader Monty Morris is back in his second exciting chapter book following MOSTLY MONTY. This sweet and eager boy gears up for some new adventures, including a school play, karate class and a birthday party. Join Monty as he faces his fears and makes new friends in his amazing quest of life. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

Eleven-year-old Theodosia Throckmorton is an odd duck living in London during the early 20th century, a time when children should be "seen and not heard." Theodosia, not one to stay quiet, has a gift that comes in handy after mummies run loose on the streets of London and her father is accused of theft. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

CATCALL by Linda Newbery
Although Josh has always had an affinity with animals, it's his younger brother Jamie who falls under the all-pervading wild cat spell. "Leo' seems to have taken over Jamie's life. He eats whatever he wants and speaks only when he needs to. Soon it becomes impossible for the family to cope with his frightening, unpredictable behavior. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Loved the Harry Potter series, did you? Then read the five magical stories that Hermione herself translated from the ancient runes. For centuries, Beedle's stories have been read to little wizards and witches as they ready themselves for bed. For you Potter aficionados out there, you now know that Beedle's stories are more than that. Sure, they work as bedtime stories, but they hold in them a legendary power. How else could they have held so many secrets for Harry, Ron and Hermione? Reviewed by Jonathan Stephens.

PETER PAN: A Classic Collectible Pop-Up, written and illustrated by Robert Sabuda
Readers will delight in this retelling of the classic story of Neverland, pirates and flying. Robert Sabuda's elegant text and paper engineering give new life to favorite characters like Tinkerbell, Wendy, Michael, John and, of course, Peter Pan. His beautiful pop-ups are further complemented by full-color illustrations that pull readers even deeper into the magical world that is Neverland. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

THE FROST DRAGON: Dragonology Tracking and Taming Dragons, Volume 2 written by Dr. Ernest Drake and edited by Dugald A. Steer
Open this deluxe guidebook and model package and find the complete, 24-page TRACKING AND TAMING FROST DRAGONS, in which preeminent dragonologist Dr. Ernest Drake shares the special skills needed to set out on the trail of these coldweather dragons. In addition, each package features an easy-to-assemble, lifelike hanging model of the Draco occidentalis maritimus, or frost dragon, with a 24-inch wingspan and movable wings! Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Series Books
In yet another exciting Warriors: Power of Three adventure, unrest stalks the Clans as the question of who believes in StarClan and the warrior code becomes a deadly dividing point --- and the odd loner Sol makes predictions that cast the blackest shadow over the cats' future. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
-- Click here to play the updated Warriors: Power of Three trivia game.
-- Click here to read our Warriors: Power of Three series feature.

Author Talk: Gordon Korman
The Lucian branch of the Cahill family has been spying on Gordon Korman, author of THE 39 CLUES, BOOK 2: ONE FALSE NOTE. The Lucians have sent top agent Ian Kabra to find out what Gordon really knows about the Cahills and the 39 Clues hidden around the world that lead to the source of their power. Read this interview to find out what confidential information Gordon is willing to spill, and what secrets he's keeping for himself!
-- Click here to read a review of ONE FALSE NOTE.

Books into Movies
There's never a more perfect time of year for a fairy tale than the holiday season, so be sure to catch The Tale of Despereaux, which has crawled its way into theaters. This quirky and charming modern fable based on the beloved book by Kate DiCamillo follows a tiny little mouse with big ears and an even bigger heart who manages to become the most unlikely knight in shining armor.

Celebrate this major theatrical release with a number of outstanding special edition books, including a junior novelization of the film (complete with an eight-page full-color insert of stills from the movie), a graphic novel adaptation, a deluxe picture book, a coloring and activity book, a glow-in-the-dark sticker book, and three full-color storybooks.
-- Click here for more details about this film.
-- Click here to see the movie tie-in books for The Tale of Despereaux.

Fans of Star Wars just can't get enough of that galaxy far, far away. That's one of the reasons why Lucasfilm developed an animated television series focusing on the events of the pivotal Clone Wars that helped shape the career, and eventual downfall, of Anakin Skywalker. During the summer of 2008, the creators of Star Wars kick-started the launch of the program with an animated feature film, Star Wars: The Clone Wars, which itself sparked a whole range of books designed to appeal to the epic's younger set. The movie was a box office hit, and the books are likely to be just as popular.

Best Books of the Year
As 2008 comes to a close, we at have compiled some of our favorite books of the year for children. Along with THE TALES OF BEEDLE THE BARD, a collection of five fairy tales courtesy of J.K. Rowling that gives new insight into the world of Harry Potter, we spotlight THE MYSTERIOUS BENEDICT SOCIETY AND THE PERILOUS JOURNEY, the sequel to Trenton Lee Stewart's bestseller about four children who are brought together to go on secret missions that only the most intelligent and inventive youngsters can complete; The 39 Clues, an exciting multimedia series consisting of 10 books, 350 trading cards and an online game where readers play a part in the story and compete for over $100,000 in prizes; and INKDEATH, the conclusion to Cornelia Funke's absorbing Inkheart fantasy trilogy.

Additional standouts include CHAINS, Laurie Halse Anderson's compelling examination of the very different implications of freedom and loyalty for slaves during the American Revolution; THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman, a chilling tale about an unusual boy who is the only living resident of a graveyard; RAPUNZEL’S REVENGE, Shannon and Dean Hale's graphic novel adaptation of the classic story as you've never seen it before; and THE WILLOUGHBYS by two-time Newbery Medal winner Lois Lowry, in which four thoroughly old-fashioned children seek happiness, fortune --- and a way to get rid of their parents.

Cool New Books Roundup
November and December's roundup of Cool New Books includes ONE FALSE NOTE, the second installment in The 39 Clues, a blockbuster series consisting of 10 books, 350 trading cards, and an online game where readers play a part in the story and compete for over $100,000 in prizes; THE SORCERER OF THE NORTH, book five in John Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice fantasy/adventure series; LONG SHADOWS by Erin Hunter, the newest Warriors: Power of Three novel that finds three young cats having to put their powers to the ultimate test to save the Clans from destruction; THE FROST DRAGON, the second volume of Dr. Ernest Drake's Tracking and Taming Dragons, in which the preeminent dragonologist shares the special skills needed to set out on the trail of these cold-weather dragons; and a spectacular pop-up edition of the classic story of Peter Pan, courtesy of paper engineer extraordinaire Robert Sabuda.

New in Paperback Roundup
November and December's roundup of New in Paperback titles includes THE HIGHER POWER OF LUCKY, Susan Patron's Newbery Medal-winning novel about a 10-year-old girl who doesn't expect running away to turn into such a complicated adventure; THE PILGRIMS OF RAYNE, the eighth installment in D. J. MacHale'swildly popular Pendragon series; THE DAY OF THE DJINN WARRIORS by P. B. Kerr, the fourth Children of the Lamp book featuring djinn twins John and Philippa Gaunt; DARK RIVER, a continuation of Erin Hunter's Warriors: Power of Three series and a thrilling new chapter in the chronicles of the Clans; COVER-UP, a John Feinstein mystery that finds Steve Thomas and Susan Carol Anderson sitting on the biggest sports scandal of the decade; and GEMINI SUMMER, Iain Lawrence's poignant story of a boy who won't allow anyone to separate him from his very special dog.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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