Old and New Fictional Friends

Jacket.aspxIt was quiet in the Children’s Room. The preschool crowd had gone home for lunch and the after school crowd had not yet arrived. As I wandered around, picking up books to reshelve, I spotted a copy of A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle.Jacket.aspx

How I loved (and still love) that book! It was one of my favorite’s from childhood. I wanted to be Meg Murry and travel to other worlds. I still know the story by heart.

This got me to thinking about the books my daughter loved as a child. Yes, A Wrinkle in Time was one, but she also loved The Enchanted Forest Chronicles by Patricia Wrede, featuring Cimorene, the princess who ran away to live with the dragons. Like my love for Meg, my daughter wanted to be Cimorene.


Jacket.aspxWhen it came to historical fiction, I loved Laura Ingalls in the Little House on the Prairie series. My daughter also enjoyed the tales but had new heroines such as Patience Goodspeed (The Education of Patience Goodspeed) and Jacky Faber (Bloody Jack).


Same thing for mysteries. Nancy Drew was my detective. My daughter had Enola Homes, Jacket.aspxSherlock Holmes’s younger sister in the Enola Holmes mystery series.

As I put A Wrinkle in Time back on the shelf, I wondered what my future grandchildren would be reading and who their favorites would be.

Fiction for Young Tech Fiends

Do you have a child that loves the computers and all things internet or computer game related? If you are hoping to get those kids looking at books on paper rather than computer screens, then perhaps some books about computers, the internet, and related games might interest them in  reading a little bit more. Here are some novels that feature computers and related technology in the story.

The Homework Machine by Dan Gutman
Four fifth-grade students–a geek, a class clown, a teacher’s pet, and a slacker–as well as their teacher and mothers, each relate events surrounding a computer programmed to complete homework assignments.

The Boggart by Susan Cooper
After visiting the castle in Scotland which her family has inherited and returning home to Canada, twelve-year-old Emily finds that she has accidentally brought back with her a boggart, an invisible and mischievous spirit with a fondness for practical jokes.

Mousenet by Prudence Breitrose; illustrated by Stephanie Yue.
Sent to live with her chef father and his wife in Oregon after having stayed with her inventor uncle and scientist mother in Cincinnati, ten-year-old misfit Megan is lonely until she starts working with some computer-savvy mice to try to save Mouse Nation–and the planet.

Snail Mail No More by Paula Danziger & Ann M. Martin
Now that they live in different cities, thirteen-year-old Tara and Elizabeth use email to “talk” about everything that is occurring in their lives and to try to maintain their closeness as they face big changes.

Pure Dead Magic by Debi Gliori
When their father is kidnapped and danger looms, the Strega-Borgia children, their mysterious new nanny, and a giant tarantula use magic and actual trips through the Internet to bring peace to their Scottish castle.

Even more great computer, video game, and internet based fiction is out there. Here are some more of the titles I would recommend first; Monsters in Cyberspace by Dian Curtis Regan with illustrations by Melissa Sweet, Gospel According to Larry by Janet Tashjian, Heir Apparent by Vivian Vande Velde, The Softwire: Virus on Orbis 1 by PJ Haarsma, and Curses, Inc., and Other Stories by Vivian Vande Velde. Do you or your children have a favorite I missed? Please let us know so we can spread the word!

On Our Shelves: New Children’s Fiction

Looking for some newly released fiction to peruse? Here are some of the newest additions to our children’s fiction collection that just might catch your fancy.

Zero tolerance by Claudia Mills
Seventh-grade honor student Sierra Shepard faces expulsion after accidentally bringing a paring knife to school, violating the school’s zero-tolerance policy.

The True Blue Scouts of Sugarman Swamp by Kathi Appelt
Twelve-year-old Chap Brayburn, ancient Sugar Man, and his raccoon-brother Swamp Scouts Bingo and J’miah try to save Bayou Tourterelle from feral pigs Clydine and Buzzie, greedy Sunny Boy Beaucoup, and world-class alligator wrestler and would-be land developer Jaeger Stitch.

Mister Max: the Book of Lost Things by Cynthia Voigt
When Max’s parents leave the country without him, he must rely on his wits to get by, and before long he is running his own–rather unusual–business.

The Truth of Me: About a Boy, His Grandmother, and a Very Good Dog by Patricia MacLachlan
Robbie and his dog, Ellie, spend the summer at his grandmother Maddy’s house, where Robbie learns many things about his emotionally distant parents and himself.

Salt: a Story of Friendship in a Time of War by Helen Frost
Twelve-year-olds Anikwa, of the Miami village of Kekionga, and James, of the trading post outside Fort Wayne, find their friendship threatened by the rising fear and tension brought by the War of 1812.

Still want more? Well here are a few more to help fill your library bag; Zombie Baseball Beatdown by Paolo Bacigalupi, Ghoulfriends Just Want to Have Fun by Gitty Daneshvari, My Homework Ate My Homework by Patrick Jennings, Gone Fishing: a Novel in Verse by Tamera Will Wissingerl, The Planet Thieves by Dan Krokos, and Write This Book: a Do-it-Yourself Mystery by Pseudonymous Bosch.

Powerful Fiction Focused on Bullying for Children and Young Adults

Bullying is a topic that is the focus of many fiction and non-fiction books. Partially because of the tragic stories in recent years about both the bullied and the bullies.  Part of the interest is also because just about everyone has felt like they have been bullied or on the outside looking in for at least some point in their lives. Some of the young adult and children’s fiction that focuses on bullying as part of the plot line or the everyday lives of the characters is extremely powerful. Here are five of the children’s and young adult books about bullying that I have found to be the easiest to relate to, or most moving.[Cover]

1. How to Beat the Bully Without Really Trying by Scott Starkey is a children’s chapter book about Rodney, an admitted coward, who moves to Ohio where the middle school bully immediately singles him out, but through accident gains an undeserved reputation as a tough guy.

2. Dear Life, You Suck by Scott Blagden is a young adult novel about seventeen-year-old Cricket Cherpin who lives under the watchful eye of Mother Mary at a Catholic boys’ home in Maine. He has such bleak prospects he is considering suicide when Wynona Bidaban steps into his world.

3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson is a young adult book in which a traumatic event near the end of the summer has a devastating effect on Melinda’s freshman year in high school.[Cover]

4. Everybody Sees the Ants by Amy Sarig King is a young adult book, and 2014 Nutmeg Award Nominee, about  overburdened fifteen-year-old Lucky Linderman who begins dreaming of being with his grandfather, who went missing during the Vietnam War.

5. Keep Holding On by Susane Colasanti is a young adult book about high school junior Noelle who is bullied at school and neglected by her mother at home.  She reaches her breaking point after a classmate commits suicide.

Other fiction about bullying that I recommend are;  Crazy Dangerous by Andrew Klavan(YA), Jake and Lily by Jerry Spinelli(J), The Other Felix by Keir Graff(J), How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill by James Patterson (J),and  The Odd Squad: Bully Bait by Michael Fry (J).

It’s National Audiobook Month – 10 Great Audiobooks to Listen to With Your Kids


Do you feel like you spend all your time driving your children back and forth from school, to practice, to friends houses, to wherever? These days we are all busy, and parents chauffeuring their children around know it well.  Whether it is on the way to scouts, sports, or a family vacation you can turn a search for quiet into some serious quality time. Put that CD player or iPod to work and steer your car-full towards some of your childhood favorites, or new popular books, and you have the bonus of knowing exactly what they are reading (or hearing as they case might be) so that you can start conversations about the books with your children.

Many classic and new, popular books for children are now available on audiobook, and they are often read by very talented voice actors, the author, or sometimes even a full cast of voices. Here are ten quick suggestions, in no particular order,  for audiobooks you might want to listen to with your children or for your own enjoyment.

1. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of her own Making, written and read by Catherynne M. Valente.[Cover]

2. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone (and the rest of the series), written by J.K. Rowling and read by Jim Dale.

3. Anything written and read by Neil Gaiman, such as Coraline, M is for Magic or The Graveyard Book.

4.Green Eggs and Ham and other Servings of Dr. Seuss, read by Jason Alexander, Michael McKean, and David Hyde Pierce.

5. The Lightning Thief, written by Rick Riordan and read by Jesse Bernstein.[Cover]

6. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda, written by Tom Angleberger and read by Mark Turetsky, Greg Steinbruner, Jonathan Todd Ross, Julia Gibson, and Charlotte Parry.

7. Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing, BlubberFreckle  Juice, or anything else from Judy Blume. Some books are read by the author, others by Halley Feiffer or Laura Hamilton.

8. Alice in Wonderland & Through the Looking Glass written by Lewis Carroll and read by Ralph Cosham.[Cover]

9. Magic Tree House Collection Books 1-8 (other book groupings are also available), written and read by Mary Pope Osborne.

10. The works of E.B. White, Charlotte’s Web and The Trumpet of the Swan read by E.B. White, and  Stuart Little, read by Julie Harris.

If you prefer downloading audiobooks rather than juggling cd’s in the car, do not forget that you can use Overdrive to download free audiobooks. Many of these titles, as well as more great audiobooks and e-books to share with the family can be found there as well.