Thursday, January 27, 2011

#51 Operation Redwood

I think it was the picture on the cover of this book that appealed to me: doesn't it look like fun? I've always wanted to try a zip line and zoom through the trees...and just look at that tree house way up in the top of the tree! So I checked out Operation Redwood.

It starts off with Julian Carter-Li sitting in his uncle's office, waiting for a ride home. You see, he was sent home from school sick, but instead of picking him up, his uncle sent him a taxi and had him delivered to the office, where he took a nap on the couch and then waited for hours. While there, Julian sees an email with his name on it, and then one calling his uncle a moron and a world-class jerk. Who could help but read that message?

And so Julian learns of the beautiful redwood grove, the girl named Robin, and the terrible crime his uncle is planning to commit. Can Julian and his friends save Big Tree?

You can learn more about this book, and the redwoods that are still growing, by going to the website:

Monday, January 17, 2011

#50 One-Handed Catch

Somehow I forgot to post a review of this excellent Maud Hart Lovelace Award Nominee! I'm sorry you had to wait so long, and I'm sure many of you have already read this great book.

This is the story of 11-year-old Norm, who often works in his father's butcher shop. It is quite shocking when the unthinkable happens: Norm gets his hand caught in the meat grinder and has to have it amputated. How will he ever tie his shoes, or play ball, or be normal again? I can't imagine how awful it had to be, but even though it's a terrible tragedy, the author manages to keep this book light and humorous.

The story takes place in 1946, so you learn some history while you're reading it. Norm's mom does everything she can to help keep life normal for him, and even his pesky little sister comes through in the end! Whether or not you're a baseball fan, you will find this book heartwarming. I think it teaches you that no matter what difficulties life brings your way, you can always struggle through them.

#49 Lives of the Athletes

This interesting book about athletes didn't stick to the major sports, but includes swimmer/surfer Duke Kahanamoku, swimmer Gertrude Ederle, golfer Babe Didrikson Zaharias, track & field star Jesse Owens, mountain climber Sir Edmund Hillary, and several football, baseball and hockey stars. If you enjoy sports - and especially if you enjoy learning unusual bits of information about people's lives - you will love this book.

The illustrations are a bit goofy, the stories are wild at times, and there are little notes about athleticism at the end of each chapter. You don't just learn about their lives on the court or on the field, but the reader is given lots of other information about each athlete, which often includes their favorite food, the games they played as children, and how they handled being famous (and sometimes rich).

Who knows? When you read this book you might even find out which athlete liked to make rude digestive noises in public. Now, isn't that worth reading about?

Sunday, January 16, 2011

#48 Lara and the Gray Mare (Hoofbeats, Book 1)

Lara lives in medieval Ireland with her family. Her father is the leader of her clan, but is off to war for most of the story. Lara works hard to be a good daughter and to do her share of the work, but the times are very hard and none of them have as much as they need.

Lara loves the horses, especially the gray mare who is with foal, but it is the job of the men and boys to care for and ride the horses while the girls and women must care for the sheep and cattle. She is hoping to ask her father if he will let her keep the gray mare's foal when it is born. One day raiders arrive in their village and steal their horses, and Lara is devastated. What will become of her favorite mare and its foal?

You will learn a lot about 14th century Ireland through this exciting adventure story. Even if you don't love horses, you will find this to be one of your favorite books - and when you finish this one I just know you'll move on to finish reading all four of the books in this series.

Lara and the Moon-Colored Filly (Hoofbeats, Book 2)
Lara at Athenry Castle (Hoofbeats, Book 3)
Lara and the Silent Place (Hoofbeats, Book 4)

#47 Abraham Lincoln

Did you know that Abraham Lincoln lost two elections? Did you know that he only went to school for about a year? He loved to read, but he had hardly any books of his own - and when he worked as a manager of a general store he borrowed books from the town's school teacher?

This book will teach you many interesting facts about Abraham Lincoln. If you enjoy reading biographies, this series is one that you will want to check out. The chapters are short and easy to understand. There are lots of little pictures and images of documents that highlight the life of the main character. The back of the book has a nice timeline of the person's life. It also has many additional suggestions for books to read and places to visit. There is also a great index you can use to help you locate the important information.

If you like this series you will also find: Helen Keller, Lewis and Clark, Thomas Edison, Sitting Bull and many others in the biography section of our library.

#46 Lives of the Pirates

I now know much more about pirates than I ever thought possible!

This interesting non-fiction book highlights the lives of the swashbucklers and scoundrels known as pirates. You will learn the real stories of twenty famous pirates, including many women. Some of them were really bad characters who were truly criminals. Others were simply misunderstood. I was amazed to learn that many of them could read and write, and some had actually been raised as royalty.

Did you know that there are still pirates today? They make some places at sea very dangerous. Our library has a number of great books about pirates - but if you search on Destiny, our library software, you will find 40 websites about pirates! If you're interested in these unsavory people this is just the place for you to visit!

#45 The Gold-Threaded Dress

Can you imagine what it must feel like to be new in school and to want to make friends? Oy is a new 4th grader in her school. Her teacher calls her by her American name, Olivia, but Oy is really from Thailand. She is very proud of her heritage, although it makes her feel different. How can she find a way to make friends and fit in?

One day the other girls see the picture Oy carries of herself in her beautiful gold-threaded celebration dress. It is her most precious possession - but of course, all the other girls want to see it. Should Oy bring it to school and let them try it on?

How many times have you heard someone say "I'll be your best friend?" Will Liliandra, the most popular girl in class, really be her friend if she brings the dress to school?

This is a wonderful story of friendship and belonging. Check it out today!

Monday, January 10, 2011

#44 Sisters Grimm: The Fairy-Tale Detectives

I don't really know why I waited so long to begin this exciting series - but I'm glad I finally tried it! Sabrina and Daphne are sisters who are sent to live with their mysterious grandmother. At first Sabrina doesn't trust her at all, and she thinks they need to run away, but running away from this strange house is nearly impossible!

Soon the fairy tale characters begin appearing, and the girls find themselves alone facing a giant! Who can help them - and who can they trust? Will it be Jack, who has faced giants in the past? The smiling Prince Charming? The Magic Mirror? Since Daphne and Sabrina most certainly are members of the famous Grimm family they are going to have to do something...and fast!

There's a great website all about this series at: There are many more books beyond the first check it out today and start your voyage with the fairy tale characters!

Sisters Grimm Book Trailer from Jay Johnson on Vimeo.

Monday, January 3, 2011

#43 Lone Wolf

Lone Wolf is the first in Kathryn Lasky's Wolves of the Beyond series. It is a companion series to the Guardians of Ga'Hoole. Faolan, the wolf pup, is born with a deformed paw and, according to the order of wolves, must be removed from the pack. The obea drops Faolan onto a block of ice, thinking that this will bring certain death. But somehow Faolan survives!

Faolan is raised by a large grizzly, Thunderheart, and they become a family. It is amazing all that the reader learns about bears and about wolves. This is an awesome book for animal lovers - and particularly for those who read have read the Guardians of Ga'Hoole series.

Kathryn Lasky's website for the series is: