Debut author Erin Bow’s Plain Kateis a joy. Kate is a likeable, charming girl whose plight pulls at your heartstrings and whose courage inspires you.  Even though she’s faced with seemingly insurmountable obstacles, she remains resolute and steadfast in her determination to keep moving forward in hopes of finding a place to belong. Plain Kate is the only child of her town’s master carver; she’s held a blade since before she could walk and her skill with carving sometimes earns the suspicion of her town.  They say she’s got a “witch’s blade” and her charms and carvings are magic.  That’s a dangerous rumor in Kate’s world,Read More →

What impact, if any, does access to print material have on our children’s reading? In an unprecedented, near- exhaustive search uncovering 11,000 reports and analyzing 108 of the most relevant studies, children’s book lending and ownership programs were shown to have positive behavioral, educational, and psychological outcomes. The study, “Children’s Access to Print Material and Education-Related Outcomes,” was commissioned by Reading Is Fundamental (RIF) and conducted by Learning Point Associates, a nonprofit education research and consulting organization and affiliate of American Institutes for Research (AIR). Read more about the study at RIF’s Literacy Issues page.Read More →

When I started Ellen Potter’s latest,The Kneeboy Boy, I felt an immediate kinship to the much beloved Lemony Snicket Series of Unfortunate Events.   There’s a witty, dark absurdity to the narrator (one of the Hardscrabble children, but you have to guess which), a quirky, likeable trio of siblings, and a mystery full of kooky, slightly off-center characters that combine into an enjoyable and engaging read.  The three Hardscrabble siblings: shy, mute Otto, take-charge Lucia, and clever Max, are the misfits in the their small English town.  Their lives were turned upside down years ago when their mother disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Ever since, the whole town has shunned them, althoughRead More →

School Library Journal’s  Debra Lau Whelan (September 30, 2010) reports: If you’re excited—or confused—about the future of ebooks but don’t know which ereader to buy or the role of digital books in your school, you’re not alone. These issues, along with ways to incorporate ebooks into lessons and present them to students in a cohesive way were among the compelling issues explored yesterday during “Ebooks: Libraries at the Tipping Point,” the first virtual summit brought to you by School Library Journal and Library Journal. Read the entire SLJ articleRead More →

Check out this review of Behemoth by Scott Westerfeld from “I realized today that there is no main antagonist in the Leviathan/Behemoth series. It’s straight character vs. self and character vs. society. I wonder if that’s why students don’t quite get into the action. The only complaint I’ve received is that there’s so much focus on the history and not on excitement. The “focus on history” comment is an interesting one, considering the book is about giant flying whales and steam-powered mechs. Behemoth is a great sequel to Leviathan. It continues documenting the travels of the airship crew as they delve into the Ottoman Empire.Read More →

The events and grief of September 11, 2001, will be explored in fiction for many years to come as our nation continues to work through the most profound, gut-wrenching event of our times.  It’s no surprise, then, that 9/11 will also have continuing impact on Young Adult fiction, even though today’s teens were in elementary school at the time.  Virgin Territory, James Lecesne’s next novel after Absolute Brightness, is in its own way a post-9/11 recovery novel.  15 year old Dylan and his dad have lived in the small town of Jupiter, Florida for the past 9 years.  Still feeling like an emotional and physical outsider, DylanRead More →

15 year old Pearl lives with her recently divorced mother on her uncle’s sprawling California avocado farm.  Uncle Hoyt routinely hires migrant labor to work in the groves and until the day when Pearl notices beautiful, mysterious, quiet Amiel, she’d never thought twice about the undocumented migrant workers’ plight.  But something about shy Amiel speaks to Pearl: he’s beautiful, of course, but there’s more; he’s mute due to a tragic accident in his past, he seems vulnerable and kind, and he’s very reluctant to open up to her overtures of friendship.  Pearl finds herself drawn repeatedly to the quiet bend in the river after she discovers Amiel’s small campsite where he’s beenRead More →