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Friday, January 30, 2009


January 2009

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

Reviews and Excerpts
In the third installment of Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Greg Heffley's dad hopes to change his son's wimpy ways. Yes, he's actually talking soccer teams and military school here. Meanwhile, Greg has plans that go hilariously wrong, including never to wash his clothes, to somehow impress Holly Hills, and to let nobody know about his Wonder Woman Underoos. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

THREE CUPS OF TEA: One Man's Journey to Change the World...One Child at a Time - The Young Reader’s Edition, written by Greg Mortenson and David Oliver Relin, adapted by Sarah Thomson
This edition of the worldwide bestseller THREE CUPS OF TEA has been specially adapted for younger readers and updated by Greg Mortenson to bring his remarkable story of humanitarianism up to date for the present. It includes new photos and illustrations, as well as a special interview by Greg’s 12-year-old daughter, Amira, who has traveled with her father as an advocate for the Pennies for Peace program for children. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

PEACE, LOCOMOTION by Jacqueline Woodson
Lonnie Collins Motion, the kid poet from Jacqueline Woodson’s LOCOMOTION, is back, this time writing letters instead of poems. He and his younger sibling Lili live in separate foster homes, and as the older brother, Lonnie believes it's his job to remember everything and record it for his baby sister. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

11 BIRTHDAYS by Wendy Mass
It's Amanda's 11th birthday and she is super excited. After all, 11 is so different from 10. But from the start, everything goes wrong. Combining realism, fantasy and family history, Wendy Mass's new novel also cleverly explores the dynamics of preteen friendships and boy-girl relations --- 11 entertaining times. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

HOTEL FOR DOGS by Lois Duncan
Ten-year-old Andi Walker and her older brother, Bruce, love dogs. But as long as they are living with their Aunt Alice --- who is extremely allergic to canines --- they cannot have a pet. So when a stray shows up on Aunt Alice’s doorstep, Andi and Bruce must find a way to care for it. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

Following the defeat of the Collector, numerous new hauntings were reported across England, as ghosts and humans alike enjoyed the holiday season. It seemed like the joy would never end. Then January arrives, along with the First Day Back to School, a day often filled with excitement and dread for students of Thorbleton Secondary School. But for Tom Golden, it is also the beginning of yet another daring adventure involving the Ghost World. Reviewed by Sarah Sawtelle.

THE SECOND SIEGE: Book Two of The Tapestry, by Henry H. Neff
Thirteen-year-old Max McDaniels is psyched for his second year at Rowan Academy. Both he and his best friend, David, already have soared past the abilities of even the oldest students, but they still have much to learn. However, their classes are interrupted by another, far greater task --- they must decipher a coded message, find a key and get their hands on the powerful Book of Thoth before the evil demon Astaroth does. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

One day in the hot Arizona desert, a gopher snake was spied and then abducted by a fierce and ruthless predator. She was forced to live in a small box, and a dead mouse was thrown at her for food. The gopher snake tried to scare the predator, hissing and rattling her tail, but her captor was not impressed and kept her prisoner despite her threats and pleas. In his new book, Patrick Jennings tells the tale of that wild and proud gopher snake and the boy who tries to tame her. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

SUNNY HOLIDAY by Coleen Murtagh Paratore
Sunny Holiday thinks that every month should have a kid-friendly holiday. So she takes it upon herself to make new holidays for the months that need them, getting her friends and family involved. Sunny is headstrong, funny and trying to make the best out of every situation --- whether it involves holidays or family problems. Reviewed by Sarah Rachel Egelman.

Series Books
When Abby and her brother Peter go to visit their Uncle Jonathan, creepy things start happening immediately. A village woman warns them to stay away. Jonathan's big old house is crammed full of weird Egyptian artifacts --- including a mummy. Abby sees bats circling Jonathan's roof in broad daylight. Will Abby survive long enough to get an invitation to HorrorLand Theme Park? Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

Michael "Monster" Munroe is having a difficult time with his extremely weird teacher, Mrs. Hardesty. To get back at her, he and his friends pull a little prank on her --- and it backfires like you cannot believe, in yet another horrorfest by the master of gore. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.
-- Click here to play the updated Goosebumps Horrorland trivia game.
-- Click here to read our Goosebumps Horrorland series feature.

GERONIMO'S VALENTINE by Geronimo Stilton
Valentine's Day is one of Geronimo’s favorite holidays. This year he has a date with a very special rodent --- Petunia Pretty Paws. But then he gets a call from his private investigator friend Hercule Poirat, who desperately needs his help in solving a mystery. Now Geronimo must assist Hercule AND impress Petunia at the same time.
-- Click here to play the updated Geronimo Stilton trivia game.
-- Click here to read our Geronimo Stilton series feature.

Series Feature
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.

Each February we reflect upon the significant role that African Americans have played in the formation of our country. Through the struggles of extraordinarily courageous men and women, the “dream” for human equality has become a reality. Although the days of slavery and legal segregation are gone, we remember the hardships and obstacles once faced by people of color in the United States and celebrate the culture born out of that experience.

Therefore, in honor of Black History Month, has compiled a list of titles that are sure to both enlighten and inspire. In this roundup, readers will march hand in hand with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., paint southern landscapes with Clementine Hunter, sing with Doo-Wop Pop and engage in stirring conversations with Larnel and Mrs. Katz. Through these characters, we discover the meaning of togetherness, the resilience of the human spirit and the overall power of love. Most importantly, we learn never to stop dreaming.

Books into Movies
With the latest book-inspired films teeming with talking animals, alternate universes, escaped fairy tale villains, havoc-wreaking children and an entire neighborhood full of strays, a trip to the local theater is bound to be a bit chaotic. But the three offerings in January and February’s Books into Movies feature promise to be the perfect antidote for the winter doldrums that are oh so common this time of year.

Inkheart is an action-packed fantasy adventure about a father and daughter who possess the ability to bring storybook characters to life --- and its unexpected and disastrous consequences. Coraline is a delightfully creepy animated film à la The Nightmare Before Christmas featuring a young girl who stumbles upon an alternate mirrored universe and risks becoming trapped “on the other side” forever. And Hotel for Dogs is an adorable family- (and pet-) friendly flick that follows two foster kids who manage to turn an abandoned building into a home for themselves, along with nine cuddly canines.

Cool New Books Roundup
January’s roundup of Cool New Books includes THE LAST STRAW, the highly anticipated third installment in Jeff Kinney’s Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, which takes the art of being wimpy to a whole new level; SCAT by Carl Hiaasen, a mystery involving the disappearance of a fearsome biology teacher while on a field trip to Black Vine Swamp; HEROES OF THE VALLEY, an epic fantasy thriller from Jonathan Stroud, who follows up his Bartimaeus Trilogywith a tale featuring murder, revenge and a slightly diminutive protagonist; THE EYE OF THE FOREST, the fifth book in P. B. Kerr's Children of the Lamp series featuring djinn twins John and Philippa Gaunt; and a young readers edition of the worldwide bestseller THREE CUPS OF TEA, Greg Mortenson’s remarkable story of humanitarianism.

New in Paperback Roundup

The fourth installments of two popular fantasy/adventure series are now available in paperback: THE CURSE OF THE GLOAMGLOZER (The Edge Chronicles by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell) and THE BATTLE FOR SKANDIA (Ranger’s Apprentice by John Flanagan). January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles also includes FEATHERS, a novel about differences, understanding, faith and hope from award-winning author Jacqueline Woodson, who introduces her audience to two memorable characters; CLEMENTINE’S LETTER, Sara Pennypacker’s third chapter book starring third-grader Clementine, who this time hatches a plan to return her beloved teacher to the classroom; and SWORD QUEST, teen author Nancy Yi Fan’s richly layered novel full of adventure, bravery, heroism and a fascinating bird world.

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