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Saturday, May 30, 2009


May 2009

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

Reviews and Excerpts
THE LAST OLYMPIAN: Percy Jackson & the Olympians, Book 5 by Rick Riordan
In this momentous final book in the New York Times bestselling Percy Jackson & the Olympians series, the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's 16th birthday unfolds. And as the battle for Western civilization rages on the streets of Manhattan, Percy faces a terrifying suspicion that he may be fighting against his own fate. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

ATHERTON #3: THE DARK PLANET by Patrick Carman
When Edgar discovers a way to leave the mysterious satellite world of Atherton, he couldn't have imagined the gloom that awaited him on the dark planet, where the oceans are toxic, the forests are full of mutant monsters, and children toil in darkness, controlled by ruthless maniacs. Edgar's quest to discover Earth's dark secret leads to an out-of-this-world adventure in the final book of the Atherton trilogy. Reviewed by Sally M. Tibbetts.

There is a place where bears can live in peace, where there is sea-ice all year, where the forests are full of prey, where flat-faces never go. Polar bears Kallik and Taqqiq, black bear Lusa, grizzly Toklo, and the shape-shifting Ujurak believe that this fabled bear paradise must be the destination of their quest. But the path they follow is dangerous. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

DORMIA by Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski
With the ability to do powerful things in his sleep, 12-year-old Alfonso always knew he was different. It isn’t until he begins to grow a mysterious plant that Alfonso learns he is a Great Sleeper destined to save Dormia, an ancient kingdom deep in the Ural Mountains, from extinction. Reviewed by Benjamin Boche.

MUDSHARK by Gary Paulsen
Mudshark is the go-to guy for any mysteries that need solving. That is, until the Psychic Parrot takes up residence in the school library and threatens to overturn Mudshark’s position as the guy who knows all the answers. When Mudshark solves the mystery of who’s stealing erasers, he discovers the culprit has the best of intentions. Now he has to think of a way to prevent the Psychic Parrot from revealing the eraser-thief’s identity. Reviewed by Christine M. Irvin.

In the 1930s, 13-year-old Ian Wigby and his younger sister, Theo, love to explore the tunnels near their English orphanage. One day they discover a mysterious box buried in the tunnels that changes their lives forever. It contains an ancient prophesy about Ian and Theo themselves, and sets them off on an adventure filled with amazing psychics, deep mystery, rich treasure and terrifying danger. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

PETE'S DISAPPEARING ACT written by Jenny Tripp and illustrated by John Manders
After things go from bad to worse during a performance, Pete's circus mates give him the silent treatment. With a wink and a nod of the tail to THE WIZARD OF OZ, Pete finds himself air-lifted and twirled away from his problems at home…only to land in much bigger trouble. Reviewed by Terry Miller Shannon.

Emma-Jean is experiencing something new and unsettling, but not entirely unpleasant. It’s a fluttering in her heart when she imagines herself asking Will to the seventh-grade dance. Her best friend Colleen is worried that Will might laugh if Emma-Jean invites him. Reviewed by Jana Siciliano.

HIGHWAY ROBBERY by Kate Thompson
Small in stature but big in imagination, a down-on-his-luck orphan is forced to wander the streets begging for food after his mother dies. One cold and miserable day, the boy’s luck appears to change when a gentleman promises him a gold guinea for keeping an eye on a horse. Reviewed by Donna Volkenannt.

Graphic Novel Reviews
Somewhere between epistolary and graphic novel, WOLVERINE: WORST DAY EVER tells the story of a student at Professor Xavier’s School for Mutants who doesn’t quite love the powers he possesses and wants to emulate someone like Wolverine. Reviewed by John Hogan.

THE ADVENTURES OF DANIEL BOOM, AKA LOUDBOY: GAME ON! written by D.J. Steinberg and illustrated by Brian Smith
Daniel and his friends are back in the third installment of this superhero-light series that is perfect for grade school–level readers. Reviewed by Eva Volin.

ADVENTURES IN CARTOONING: How to Turn Your Doodles Into Comics, by James Sturm, Andrew Arnold and Alexis Frederick-Frost
It’s nonfiction! It’s a story! It’s possibly the best how-to book on cartooning for kids that has been disguised as an actual comic book ever! No, really! Reviewed by Eva Volin.

Manga Reviews
THE BIG ADVENTURES OF MAJOKO, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Tomomi Mizuna
Friendship and magic are on the same page when Nana, an ordinary girl, and Majoko, a witch with more confidence than skill, team up to catch a thief, meet a mermaid, and go on other adventures in this charming, timeless manga. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

FAIRY IDOL KANON, Volume 1 written and illustrated by Mera Hakamada
FAIRY IDOL KANON is a story of aspiration, empowerment and teamwork, all wrapped up in sparkly fairy magic. Grownups may find this tale too sweet to handle, but for young fans of music and fairy stories, it’s a winner. Reviewed by Brigid Alverson.

Author Interviews
Andy Briggs
Screenwriter Andy Briggs is the author of a new series for young readers,, as well as its parallel anti-series,, which both follow ordinary teenagers who stumble upon websites that allow them to download superhuman abilities to be used for good or evil. In this interview with's Sarah A. Wood, Briggs discusses why he chose to write these stories as novels instead of the more typical comic-book format, and muses on the books’ theme regarding the fine line between heroes and villains. He also explains why he chose to give his characters seemingly strange and unusual superpowers, describes his need to balance action with humor, and shares details about the series' interactive website,

Emily Bearn
In this interview with's Alexis Burling, author Emily Bearn recalls the incident that sparked the idea for her debut, TUMTUM AND NUTMEG: Adventures Beyond Nutmouse Hall, and explains why she decided to write for children, despite working as a journalist for many years. She also muses on why many people are afraid of mice --- regardless of the obvious difference in size --- names some of her favorite books from childhood, and shares what readers can look forward to in Tumtum and Nutmeg's next adventure.

Special Features
THE 39 CLUES Book 4: BEYOND THE GRAVE by Jude Watson
A Clue found in Book 3 sends Amy and Dan jetting off to find out just what’s behind the fierce rivalry between the Tomas and Ekaterina branches of the Cahill family. Was a Clue stolen from the Tomas branch? Where is it now? And most important, can Amy and Dan get their hands on it before their rivals do?
- Click here to read an excerpt from BEYOND THE GRAVE.
- Click here to read a Q&A with Jude Watson.
- Click here to read Jude Watson’s bio.

HERO.COM: RISE OF THE HEROES (#1) by Andy Briggs
Toby, Pete, Lorna and Emily are just average kids --- until they stumble upon a Web site that turns them into real heroes. allows them to download flying, invisibility, or teleportation abilities, and suddenly, Toby’s rivalry with his sister, Lorna, and Pete’s trouble with Jake Hunter, the school bully, don’t seem so bad! But when the supervillain Doc Tempest kidnaps Toby’s and Lorna’s mom, will they be able to combine their powers to fight evil and bring their mother home? Of course, little do they know that is out there too, recruiting teens for the other side…

Jake Hunter is your quintessential bully --- tough, mean and misunderstood. While he likes the power gotten from picking on the nerdy kids, he’s sick of his dumb buddies, and he craves some adventure in his dull life. So when he stumbles upon a Web site called that lets him download superpowers, he’s eager to try out the laser vision and the radioactivity. But when he joins forces with a supervillain named Basilisk, Jake must decide if he truly wants to accept the consequences of being a villain. And of course, little does he know that is out there too, recruiting teens for the other side….
Good or evil, would you be a HERO or a VILLAIN?
- Click here to read Andy Briggs’s bio.

Books into Movies
Though J. K. Rowling's spell-binding series ended with a bang last year, I'm sure many of you --- like all of us here at --- are having a hard time saying goodbye to Harry, Ron, Hermione and the rest of the Hogwarts clan. Luckily, we still have a chance to see our favorite wizard trio on the big screen. So mark your calendars and let the countdown begin, as Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince hits theaters on July 15th. This sixth installment of the epic good-vs.-evil saga promises plenty of magic, mystery, heart-pounding adventure and hair-raising suspense, not to mention some long-sought answers to dark secrets, raging teenage hormones and a jaw-dropping, gasp-worthy ending.

Cool New Books
May’s roundup of Cool New Books includes THE LAST OLYMPIAN, the conclusion to Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, in which the long-awaited prophecy surrounding Percy's 16th birthday unfolds; THE DARK PLANET, the final book in Patrick Carman’s Atherton trilogy, which continues Edgar's quest to discover the truth about a mad scientist’s plan to save the Earth from self-destruction; THE CASE OF THE CRYPTIC CRINOLINE by Nancy Springer, the latest Enola Holmes mystery that finds the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes investigating the kidnapping of Mrs. Tupper, her beloved landlady; and DORMIA, Jake Halpern and Peter Kujawinski’s debut novel about a 12-year-old boy who learns he is a Great Sleeper destined to save Dormia, an ancient kingdom deep in the Ural Mountains, from extinction.

New in Paperback
May’s roundup of New in Paperback titles includes AIRMAN, a story of high adventure from Artemis Fowl creator Eoin Colfer about a boy whose happy, carefree life is changed forever when he discovers a conspiracy to overthrow the king; ONE SMALL STEP by Children of the Lamp author P. B. Kerr, in which a 13-year-old recruited by NASA for their secret space program journeys to the moon with two chimps as his partners; THE CASE OF THE BIZARRE BOUQUETS, the fourth installment in Nancy Springer’s Enola Holmes Mystery series that finds the much younger sister of Sherlock Holmes investigating the disappearance of Sherlock’s right-hand man, Dr. Watson; and a graphic novel adaptation of Neil Gaiman's enchanting, nationally bestselling children's book CORALINE.

Click here to read the full newsletter.

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