Archive for September, 2013

Counting by 7’s

Counting by 7’s. By Holly Goldberg Sloan. Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin Group USA Inc.), 2013. 384 pages. $16.99

Willow Chance is brilliant. She has an encyclopedia knowledge of medical conditions and plants.. She thinks of the world as a pattern of 7’s. An outlier? Definitely. But she fits right in with her warm and supportive, albeit small, family. Then Willow ’s life is changed in a heartbeat. Her parents die in a tragic accident and she faces the very real possibility of being swept into the foster care system.  Friends she didn’t know existed step up to provide her a place to live and a buffer against the system. In the spirit of Polacio’s Wonder and Lord’s Rules, Sloan opens our world to the possibilities of those who are differently abled. She writes with the same clarity and strength that she bestows upon Willow, who you’ll come to admire for her resiliency and determination. Counting by 7’s is achingly sad, funny, and heartwarming. A wonderful book for grades 4 and up.


Book 1: The Hypnotists: Hypnotize Me

The Hypnotists: Hypnotize Me. By Gordon Korman. Scholastic Press, 2013. 240 pages. $16.99

Look into my eyes… go to your nearest independent bookstore and buy a copy of Gordon Korman’s newest book Hypnotize Me. When you awake, you’ll remember all of the details and be telling your friends about this great new series. Korman has created a vivid and mesmerizing (sorry, I couldn’t help it!) world for hypnotists. Jackson Opus wonders why things go awry when he looks at some kids in a certain way. It turns out he’s descended from not one, but two, powerful families of hypnotists. As he learns to control his power, he realizes that not everyone has his best interests at heart as Dr. Mako seeks to exploit his powers to influence the results of a national election. Non-stop action will put even the most reluctant of readers in a trance. Korman has a winner here. Readable, thrilling, full of twists and turns, this book will appeal to readers in grades 4 to 8.

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library

Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. By Chris Grabenstein. Random House, 2013. 304 pages. $16.99

Disclaimer! I’m an elementary school librarian. I LOVED this book. I’m trying to think of how I can use it in my school library program to turn kids on to the magic of the Dewey Decimal System. But let me back up a minute….

Mr. Lemoncello, a board game magnate, bequeaths his hometown of Alexandriaville the funds for a new library. This is not just any library. It has all of the latest and greatest, not-yet-to-be-imagined-in-the-real-world, features. A drawing is held and twelve seventh graders are selected to celebrate the library’s opening by spending the night in the library. Their challenge is to find their way out. Relying on their game-playing skills, knowledge of the Dewey Decimal System, and applying old-fashioned logic, the 12-year-olds battle each other to win the grand prize. Conflict arises, allegiances form, egos are bruised, and friendships are formed as the puzzle is solved. Grabenstein has crafted an innovative story, but it requires a certain knowledge of and appreciation of how libraries are organized. Readers may not have that fascination and/or interest and that could narrow the appeal for this book. Hand-selling the title to library lovers will be key.  Perfect for bibliophiles in grades 4-7.

When I’m not reading children’s books, I’m most often found curled up with a good mystery. This is certainly due to my preoccupation with Nancy Drew in my formative years :-)

I don’t think the #1 selection surprises anyone, but maybe some of the others do. I had never read Anatomy of a Murder by Robert Traver, so I finished it this summer while in northern Michigan. It kept me on the edge of my seat clear through the end. The concierge at The Grand Hotel mentioned that you could visit locations in the book if you were visiting the north coast of the Upper Peninsula. Maybe on the next trip….

25 Greatest Law Novels…
ABA Journal August 2013 Vol 99 #8

25. Old Filth (2004) by Jane Gardam
25. The Ox-Bow Incident (1940) by Walter Van Tilburg Clark
24. The Fountainhead (1943) by Ayn Rand
23. Anatomy of a Murder (1958) by Robert Traver
22. The Handmaid’s Tale (1985) by Margaret Atwood
21. The Count of Monte Crisco (1844) by Alexander Dumas
20. The Firm by John Grisham
19. QBVII (1970) by Leon Uris
18. Their Eyes Were Watching God (1937) by Zora Neale Hurston
17. The Caine Mutiny (1951) by Herman Wouk
16. A Time to Kill (1989) by John Grisham
15. A Tale of Two Cities (1859) by Charles Dickens
14. The Stranger (1942) by Albert Camus
13. Native Son (1940) by Richard Wright
12. Bartleby the Scrivener: A Story of Wall Street (1853) by Herman Melville
11. The Paper Chase (1971) by John Jay Osborn Jr.
10. An American Tragedy (1925) by Theodore Dreiser
9. The Bonfire of the Vanities (1987) by Tom Wolfe
8. The Scarlet Letter (1850) by Nathanial Hawthorne
7. Presumed Innocent (1987) by Scott Turow
6. Billy Budd (1924) by Herman Melville
5. Les Miserables (1862) by Victor Hugo
4. The Trial (1925) by Franz Kafka
3. Bleak House (1852) by Charles Dickens
2. Crime and Punishment (1866) by Fydor Dostoevsky
1. To Kill a Mockingbird (1960) by Harper Lee

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