Friday, January 31, 2014

Taking Stock - January

Well, 2014 is off to a robust start though I didn't quite manage a book a day. ALAMW got a bit in the way.

Total posts: 19
Total books read this month: 24
Total books read this year: 24

Challenges:
Audio Books: 4
Debut Author: 0
Mount TBR: 0
Picture Books: 4

The Good: 24 books considering how busy this month was is pretty good.

The Bad: Oops! No debuts read yet. Nothing off the TBR either. Didn't review much. I really have to buckle down.

The Books: * indicated favorites 
January
1. Princess Tales by Grace Maccarone (1/1)
2. Poached by Stuart Gibbs (Reviewing for SLJ) (1/2)
3. The Impossible Knife of Memory by Laurie Halse Anderson (1/4)
4. Heaven is Paved with Oreos by Catherine Gilbert Murdoch (1/7)
5. I Even Funnier by James Patterson (1/9)
6. The Sound of Your Voice...only Really Far Away by Frances O'Roark Dowell (1/10)
7. Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson (1/12)
8. Extreme Oceans by Seymour Simon (1/12)
9. Who Counts Penguins? Working in Antarctica by Mary Meinking (1/13)
10. I, too, am America by Langston Hughes (1/13)
11. Double Dribble by W. C. Mack (1/15)
12. Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman (1/16)
13. The Boy on the Wooden Box by Leon Leyson (1/18)*
14. The President Has Been Shot! The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (1/18)
15. The Snow Baby: the Arctic Childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary's Daring Daughter by Katherine Kirkpatrick (1/18)
16. Breakfast on Mars and 37 Other Delectable Essays (1/20)
17. The Boy on the Porch by Sharon Creech (1/21)
18. Plastic Ahoy! Investigating the Great Pacific Garbage Patch by Patricia Newman (1/24)*
19. Better Nate Than Ever! by Tim Federle (audio reread)(1/25)*
20. Dog Days of School by Kelly S. Dipucchio (1/28)
21. Duck, Duck, Moose! by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallan (1/28)
22. Superworm by Julia Donaldson (1/28)
23. When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket (1/30)
24. Imprisoned: the betrayal of Japanese Americans during World War II by Martin W. Sandler (1/30)*

Audiobook review: Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle


Unabridged audiobook on 5 compact discs, 5.75 hours. Narrated by the author. Recorded Books, May, 2013. 9781470369385. (Purchased)


Thirteen-year-old Nate Foster is the odd man out in Jankburg,

PA. He loves theater in a family and community that is

football obsessed. He and his bff, Libby are plotting his 

getaway. She learned that there is an open audition for ET: 

the musical and Nate is Broadway bound on a Greyhound 

bus. Nate's observations of New York City are precious and 

absolutely hysterical.



We learn pretty quickly that life at home and at school is not 

very easy for Nate. But he reveals it so breezily that it takes 

beat or two to realize just what he deals with on a daily 

basis and it's heartbreaking. He is resilient though and, hm,m,

optimistic? He puts such a positive spin on things. It's like 

he's giving everyone the benefit of the doubt. And, he kind, 

so kind. He's also hysterically funny.


Now, I'm not usually a fan of author narrations, but Tim 

Federle's narration was perfectly paced. He sounded 

appropriately young and his comedic timing was subtle and 

flawless. I laughed and teared up all over again. It was such

pleasure to reread this favorite of mine with my ears.


I finished the audio as I pulled into my hotel garage in

Philadelphia last Friday. I was in town for ALAMW. I sat in on

the BFYA and Notable Children's Books discussion and was 

thrilled to see it on their lists. I cheered very loudly on Monday

morning when it was announced as a Stonewall Honor and an

Odyssey Honor. Tuesday, it made the BFYA top ten and 

later I learned it also made Notable Recordings! Fine 

recognition for a debut novel, eh?



I read Better Nate Than Ever with my eyes back in May

and inexplicably, never reviewed it. I don't know why. It was 

terrible oversight. I accosted Tim at ALA Annual in Chicago 

last summer and raved about Nate. He kindly grabbed an arc 

of Five, Six, Seven Nate! and signed it for me. I featured it in 

Friday meme here and reviewed it here.


Tim is currently on book tour for Five, Six, Seven, Nate! and 

my school was lucky to be a stop. We didn't have enough

time to get a class or two to read the book ahead of time, but

Tim's website is a fantastic resource. All the fifth and sixth

grade teachers showed his video to get the kids excited about

the visit. There's even a curriculum guide aligned with the 

Common Core. Here's a link to his newest trailer for Five, Six,

Seven Nate! 


Once he arrived, he connected immediately with his audience,

teachers included. He was so comfortable and so charming 

and so funny! I could tell that the kids were really listening 

because their questions were thoughtful.The fifty minutes 

were soon over and no one wanted to leave the auditorium.






Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems

WoW is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books we can't wait to release. 


The Pigeon Needs a Bath! by Mo Willems. 40 p. Disney-Hyperion, April 1, 2014. 9781423190875. 

Pigeon needs no synopsis and the title says it all. I was lucky enough to listen to Mo Willems read Pigeon Needs a Bath at ALA Annual last summer. Needless to say, it's hysterical and so, so Pigeon. I have all the Pigeon books in my personal collection even though my boys are grown. Never too old for picture books!

Monday, January 27, 2014

ALA Midwinter - Little Brown Breakfast & Preview

I am going to try and recap my weekend at ALAMW in Philadelphia in the next couple of posts.

I am a huge fan of Little, Brown Books and am so lucky to get regular invitations to previews both at conferences and in New York.

Aack! I can't find the handout with the book titles! There were so many great looking titles! These are the arcs I took with me:



Allies & Assassins by Justin Somper. 482 p. 9780316253932. May 27, 2014.

Synopsis: Prince Anders, the ruler of Archenfield, has been murdered, leaving his younger brother, Jared, to ascend the throne. Sixteen-year-old Jared feels unprepared to rule the kingdom and its powerful and dangerous court, yet he knows he can rely on the twelve officers of the court to advise him. He also knows he can just as easily be at their mercy-especially when it appears that one of them may be responsible for his brother's death. Unable to trust anyone, Jared takes it upon himself to hunt down his brother's killer-but the killer may be hunting him, as well.
Murder, betrayal, and intrigue abound in Justin Somper's thrilling YA series debut. Exploring the political machinations of the medieval court and the lives that hang in the balance, Allies & Assassins is a gripping tale of a teen torn between duty and revenge.


Prince of Venice Beach by Blake Nelson. 232 p. 9780316230483. June 3, 2013.

Synopsis: Robert "'Cali" Callahan is a teen runaway, living on the streets of Venice Beach, California. He's got a pretty sweet life: a treehouse to sleep in, a gang of surf bros, a regular basketball game...even a girl who's maybe-sorta interested in him.
What he doesn't have is a plan.
All that changes when a local cop refers Cali to a private investigator who is looking for a missing teenager. After all, Cali knows everyone in Venice. But the streets are filled with people who don't want to be found, and when he's hired to find the beautiful Reese Abernathy, who would do anything to stay hidden, Cali must decide where his loyalties truly lie.


Just Call My Name by Holly Goldberg Sloan. 328 p. 9780316122818. 

Synopsis: The happily-ever-after of Holly Goldberg Sloan's acclaimed debut, I'll Be There, is turned on its head in this riveting, emotional sequel about friends, enemies, and how those roles can shift in a matter of moments.
Emily Bell has it all. She's in love with a boy named Sam Border, and his little brother has become part of her family. This summer is destined to be the best time of their lives--until a charismatic new girl in town sets her sights on Sam. Now Emily finds herself questioning the loyalty of the person she thought she could trust most.
But the biggest threat to her happiness is someone she never saw coming. Sam's criminally insane father, whom everyone thought they'd finally left behind, is planning a jailbreak. And he knows exactly where to find Emily and his sons when he escapes...and takes his revenge.


Wildflower by Alecia Whitaker. 307 p. 978036251389. July 1, 2014.

Synopsis: The best songs come from broken hearts.
Sixteen-year-old Bird Barrett has grown up on the road, singing backup in her family's bluegrass band, and playing everywhere from Nashville, Tennessee to Nowhere, Oklahoma. One fateful night, Bird fills in for her dad by singing lead, and a scout in the audience offers her a spotlight all her own.
Soon Bird is caught up in a whirlwind of songwriting meetings, recording sessions, and music video shoots. Her first single hits the top twenty, and suddenly fans and paparazzi are around every corner. She's even caught the eye of her longtime crush, fellow roving musician Adam Dean. With Bird's star on the rise, though, tradition and ambition collide. Can Bird break out while staying true to her roots?
In a world of glamour and gold records, a young country music star finds her voice.

-------

I'm really looking forward to reading these. If I find the handout, I will talk more about the rest of the titles.

The special secret guest was Eric Litwin. He's the author of the beloved Pete the Cat books. He is launching a new series with Little Brown centered around the Nut family. I've forgotten Mama Nut' name, but her son is called Wally Nut and her daughter is Hazel Nut.

He sang the lyrics to Bedtime at the Nuthouse, illustrated by Scott Magoon and due out in September. He was so entertaining and there was much audience participation. Art from the book was projected. It was filled with lots of visual humor, such as a poster of Nutvana on a wall.

Eric also signed posters. Much as I was tempted to have it signed to the students of TMS, I opted instead to have it autographed to the students of HES and I'll send it over to my colleague in the elementary school. (ETA: my photo does not do the poster justice. The colors are vibrant. When I used a flash, the photo washed out.)




Thank you Victoria Stapleton and all the fine folks at Little, Brown for a wonderful start to my experience at MW.


"We're Nuts! We're Nuts! We're Nuts! We're Nuts!"



What's New? Stacking the Shelves


I usually post this meme on Saturdays, but I was at ALA Midwinter and just brought my iPad. I can't blog on it. I tried to blog from the Internet Cafe at the Convention Center but the cursor wouldn't enter the text area for some reason. Anyway, I want to get these two books out there now. I brought home a suitcase full of arcs from MW and will be featuring them over the next few weeks. So excited!

For review:

Followers by Anna Davies. 216 p. Point Horror/ Scholastic Inc., June 24, 2014. 9780545511964.

Publisher synopsis: To tweet or not to tweet . . . what a deadly question.
When Briana loses out on a starring role in the school's production of Hamlet, she reluctantly agrees to be the drama department's "social media director" and starts tweeting half-hearted updates. She barely has any followers, so when someone hacks her twitter account, Briana can't muster the energy to stop it. After all, tweets like "Something's rotten in the state of Denmark . . . and a body's rotting in the theater" are obviously a joke.
But then a body IS discovered in the theater: Briana's rival. Suddenly, what seemed like a prank turns deadly serious. To everyone's horror, the grisly tweets continue . . . and the body count starts to rise.

Won: Thanks Augusta Scattergood!


Better Off Friends by Elizabeth Eulberg. 276 p. Point/ Scholastic Inc., February 25, 2014. 980545551465.

Publisher synopsis: WHEN HARRY MET SALLY . . . for teens, from romantic comedy star Elizabeth Eulberg.
For Macallan and Levi, it was friends at first sight. Everyone says guys and girls can't be just friends, but these two are. They hang out after school, share tons of inside jokes, their families are super close, and Levi even starts dating one of Macallan's friends. They are platonic and happy that way.
Eventually they realize they're best friends -- which wouldn't be so bad if they didn't keep getting in each other's way. Guys won't ask Macallan out because they think she's with Levi, and Levi spends too much time joking around with Macallan, and maybe not enough time with his date. They can't help but wonder . . . are they more than friends or are they better off without making it even more complicated?
From romantic comedy superstar Elizabeth Eulberg comes a fresh, fun examination of a question for the ages: Can guys and girls ever really be just friends? Or are they always one fight away from not speaking again -- and one kiss away from true love?

That's what's new with me. What's new with you?



Friday, January 24, 2014

Friday Memes: Paperboy by Vince Vawter

Book Beginnings is hosted by Rose City Reader and the Friday 56 is hosted by Freda's Voice.


Paperboy by Vince Vawter. 224 p. Delacorte Press/ Random House Children's Books, May, 2013. 9780385742443. (Purchased.)

Synopsis: For fans of To Kill a MockingbirdThe King's Speech, and The Help. A boy who stutters comes-of-age in the segregated South, during the summer that changes his life.
An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend's paper route for the month of July, he knows he'll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything.
The paper route poses challenges, but it's a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble--and puts the boy's life, as well as that of his family's devoted housekeeper, in danger.

First Line: I'm typing about the stabbing for a good reason.

Page 56: I missed Rat every time I had to talk to somebody who didn't know me but it didn't do any good to think about Rat because I would miss him more.


Thursday, January 23, 2014

The Snow Baby: the Arctic childhood of Admiral Robert E. Peary's Daring Daughter by Katherine Kirkpatrick


48 p. Holiday House Inc., February, 2007. 9780803419739. (Review from copy borrowed from public library)

The "Polar Vortex" about a week or so ago must have inspired the children's librarian at my local library to make a display of snow books. This one caught my eye. It looked brand-spanking new so imagine my surprise when I learned it was published in 2007! How did I miss this?

This whole "Polar Vortex" thing has me rolling my eyes. First, with the weather folks propensity for naming storms and weather systems. Come on! Secondly, by making a big deal about the plunging temperatures. It's winter! It's supposed to be cold. We have been spoiled by the mild winters we've been having here in the New York metropolitan area. The real winter toughies in the northern midwest earned the name, Polar Vortex, with their well below zero weather. We are winter wimps compared to them and compared to The Snow Baby.

Marie Ahnighito Peary, aka the Snow Baby, was born September 12, 1893 to Josephine and Admiral Robert Peary in Anniversary Lodge in the far north of Greenland. They lived among the Smith Sound Inuit, who called Marie the Snow Baby because of her blond hair and blue eyes. Josephine Peary was notable for breaking with Victorian tradition and not only accompanying her husband to live in such an inhospitable environment, but to subsequently give birth there. 

Marie thrived in the Polar environment but Admiral Peary sent his wife and eleven-month-old daughter home to Washington when the ship, the Falcon, arrived at the expected conclusion of his expedition. He failed to reach the North Pole and opted to stay and make further attempts. Peary was so intent on being the first to reach the North Pole, that he was mostly absent as Marie grew up. He returned home to raise funds for further expeditions.

Readers will learn as much about Admiral Peary as they will about his hearty daughter in this highly engaging biography. It focuses on Marie's childhood through her teens, when Peary finally claimed to have reached the Pole only to have Dr. Frederick Cook claim otherwise. 

Plenty of intriguing black and white photographs break up the text, an Afterword covers Marie's adult life in two pages. Source notes, a bibliography and an index conclude this attractive volume.

This is definitely a unique addition to the biography section and one I'll be purchasing for my middle school collection.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday - Raging Star by Moira Young

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly meme hosted by Breaking the Spine in which we share the titles of books we can't wait to release. 


Raging Star (Dust Lands #3) by Moira Young. 448 p. Margaret K. McElderry Books, May 13, 2014. 9781442439929.

Publisher synopsis: Saba is ready to seize her destiny and defeat DeMalo and the Tonton...until she meets him and he confounds all her expectations with his seductive vision of a healed earth, a New Eden. DeMalo wants Saba to join him, in life and work, to create and build a healthy, stable, sustainable world…for the chosen few.
Jack’s choice is clear: to fight DeMalo and try to stop New Eden. Still uncertain, her connection with DeMalo a secret, Saba commits herself to the fight. Joined by her brother, Lugh, anxious for the land in New Eden, Saba leads an inexperienced guerilla band against the powerfully charismatic DeMalo, in command of his settlers and the Tonton militia. What chance do they have? Saba must act. And be willing to pay the price.
Raging Star is the stunningly beautiful conclusion to the Dust Lands Trilogy, which has been called “better than The Hunger Games” by MTV’s Hollywood Crush.

Ooh, ooh, ooh-ooh! I just loved the first two books! I wonder if there will be arcs at ALA MW! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Non-Fiction Monday: Martin & Mahalia: His Words, Her Song


by Andrea Davis Pinkney & Brian Pinkney. 40 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, July, 2013. 9780316070133. (Borrowed from the public library.)

Do we really need another book about Martin Luther King Jr.? Well, yes. I have a variety of books about him in my middle school library, from picture books to longer biographies. But this one is a new collaboration by the Pinkneys. Not only is a new book by them an automatic purchase regardless of subject, this one is a dual biography and it's gorgeous. Sure kids know about MLK, but is the average young reader familiar with Mahalia Jackson?

Martin Luther King Jr. and Mahalia Jackson were friends as well as prominent Civil Rights leaders. In alternating double-page spreads, readers learn that both were "born with the gift of gospel." Martin had a gift for preaching, having learned by watching his father preach weekly. Mahalia had a gift for singing gospel and her church treasured her. As the two grew into adulthood, King used his words to inspire and Jackson took gospel music mainstream. When she recorded a song called, "Move On Up a Little Higher," it sold two million records and King realized that her voice had the power to inspire as well. It is at this point that the two share the page and begin working together to achieve Civil Rights, culminating in the March on Washington for Jobs and Freedom and King's "I Have a Dream" speech. 

Brian Pinkney's swirling palette flows from cool blues and greens for King to vibrant reds and orange for Jackson. Andrea Davis Pinkney's rhythmic, commanding prose conveys the ideals of their life's work. The energy of the paintings and words combine and practically leap off the pages.

Backmatter includes notes by both author and illustrator and an illustrated timeline. 

Make room on the shelf for this.

Saturday, January 18, 2014

What's New? Stacking the Shelves - Book Fair Edition


StS is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews. Hop on over there to ogle what other bloggers got. 

The PTO hosted the book fair in my library this past week. As usual, I couldn't help myself and spent my own money on books for the school library. Here's some of what's going on the shelves at TMS next week:



QB1 by Mike Lupica. 272 p. Penguin Young Readers Group, September, 2013. 9780399252280.

Synopsis: Jake Cullen is a freshman quarterback playing high school football in the high-pressure land of Friday Night Lights (Texas). He is also the brother of Wyatt Cullen, who quarterbacked his team to the Texas State Championship last season—not to mention the son of former NFL quarterback and local legend, Troy Cullen. To be a Cullen in Texas is to be royalty . . . and a quarterback. All of which leaves 14-year-old Jake in a Texas-sized shadow, a tall order for any boy, especially one who's merely a freshman.
While his teammates assume the starting job will be handed to Jake on a silver platter, the truth is that he has to fight for every snap and every ounce of respect. Jake may be a Cullen and he may play quarterback, but he is not his brother or his father. Being a good teammate comes naturally to Jake; being a winner and a celebrity does not. He's just like every other boy—awkward around a pretty girl, in awe of his famous family, and desperate to simultaneously blend in and cast his own shadow.
Inspired by the real-life Manning family of quarterbacks (father Archie, Super Bowl-winning sons Peyton and Eli) and set amid the football-crazy culture of Texas immortalized in Friday Night Lights, QB 1 is a coming-of-age story perfect for the fan of MILLION-DOLLAR THROW, HEAT, and of course FRIDAY NIGHT LIGHTS.


Foul Trouble by John Feinstein. 400 p. Random House Children's Books, November, 2013. 97803759648.

Synopsis: Terrell Jamerson is the #1 high school basketball player in the country. His team is poised to win State, top colleges are lining up to give him scholarships, and everyone says he could play in the NBA tomorrow. But it only takes one false step to lose everything.

Danny Wilcox is Terrell’s best friend and teammate, and a top prospect himself, but these days it seems likeeveryone wants to get close to Terrell: the sneaker guys, the money managers, the college boosters. They show up offering fast cars, hot girls, and cold, hard cash. They say they just want to help, but their kind of help could get Terrell disqualified.

Danny and Terrell better keep their eyes on the ball if they hope to last the season.



Sports Illustrated Kids Big Book of Who: Football by Sports Illustrated Kids. 128 p. Time HOme Entertainment, Inc., June 2013. 9781618930408.

Synopsis: From the editors of Sports Illustrated Kids comes The Big Book of Who: Football, a 128-page collection of the brightest stars in America's favorite sport, past and present. Profiles, facts and stats will bring the best players in pro football history to life with all of the classic touches that Sports Illustrated Kids is famous for - terrific, age-appropriate writing and exciting sports photography. Gridiron greats such as, from Sammy Baugh to Cam Newton, Jim Brown to Emmitt Smith, Dick Butkus to Ray Lewis will be profiled.
The Big Book of Who: Football is a book young sports fans will return to again and again as a lively, exciting and encyclopedic resource.

Lest you think it was all about sports, there's more:


The Boy on the Wooden Box: how the 

impossible became possible on Schindler's

list by Leon Leyson with J. Harran and Elisabeth B. Leyson. 240 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, August, 2013. 9781442497818.
Synopsis: Even in the darkest of times—especially in the darkest of times—there is room for strength and bravery. A remarkable memoir from Leon Leyson, one of the youngest children to survive the Holocaust on Oskar Schindler’s list.

Leon Leyson (born Leib Lezjon) was only ten years old when the Nazis invaded Poland and his family was forced to relocate to the Krakow ghetto. With incredible luck, perseverance, and grit, Leyson was able to survive the sadism of the Nazis, including that of the demonic Amon Goeth, commandant of Plaszow, the concentration camp outside Krakow. Ultimately, it was the generosity and cunning of one man, a man named Oskar Schindler, who saved Leon Leyson’s life, and the lives of his mother, his father, and two of his four siblings, by adding their names to his list of workers in his factory—a list that became world renowned: Schindler’s List.
This, the only memoir published by a former Schindler’s List child, perfectly captures the innocence of a small boy who goes through the unthinkable. Most notable is the lack of rancor, the lack of venom, and the abundance of dignity in Mr. Leyson’s telling. The Boy on the Wooden Box is a legacy of hope, a memoir unlike anything you’ve ever read.

The Year of the Shadows by Claire Legrand. Illustrated by Karl Kwasny. 416 p. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, August, 2013. 9781442442948.
Synopsis: Olivia wants a new life—and it might take ghosts to get it. A heartfelt, gently Gothic novel from Claire Legrand.
Olivia Stellatella is having a rough year.
Her mother’s left, her neglectful father—the maestro of a failing orchestra—has moved her and her grandmother into the city’s dark, broken-down concert hall to save money, and her only friend is Igor, an ornery stray cat.
Just when she thinks life couldn’t get any weirder, she meets four ghosts who haunt the hall. They need Olivia’s help—if the hall is torn down, they’ll be stuck as ghosts forever, never able to move on.
Olivia has to do the impossible for her shadowy new friends: Save the concert hall. But helping the dead has powerful consequences for the living…and soon it’s not just the concert hall that needs saving.



Jinx by Sage Blackwood. 384 p. HarperCollins Publishers, January, 2013. 978006219901.

Synopsis: In the Urwald, you don’t step off the path. Trolls, werewolves, and butter-churn riding witches lurk amid the clawing branches, eager to swoop up the unwary. Jinx has always feared leaving the path—then he meets the wizard Simon Magus. 

Jinx knows that wizards are evil. But Simon’s kitchen is cozy, and he seems cranky rather than wicked. Staying with him appears to be Jinx’s safest, and perhaps only, option. As Jinx’s curiosity about magic grows, he learns to listen to the trees as closely as he does to Simon’s unusual visitors. The more Jinx discovers, the more determined he becomes to explore beyond the security of well-trod paths. But in the Urwald, a little healthy fear is never out of place, for magic—and magicians—can be as dangerous as the forest, and soon Jinx must decide which is the greater threat. 

Sage Blackwood introduces a daring new hero for an innovative new world as Jinx is joined by friends, battles enemies, and discovers life beyond—and even within—the forest is more complex than he can imagine, and that the Urwald itself needs him more than he could ever guess.


The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer. 432 p. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, September, 2013. 9781442482548.
Synopsis: As the teenage ruler of his own country, Matt must cope with clones and cartels in this riveting sequel to the modern classic House of the Scorpion, winner of the National Book Award, a Newbery Honor, and a Printz Honor.
Matt has always been nothing but a clone—grown from a strip of old El Patron’s skin. Now, at age fourteen, he finds himself suddenly thrust into the position of ruling over his own country. The Land of Opium is the largest territory of the Dope Confederacy, which ranges on the map like an intestine from the ruins of San Diego to the ruins of Matamoros. But while Opium thrives, the rest of the world has been devastated by ecological disaster—and hidden in Opium is the cure.
And that isn’t all that awaits within the depths of Opium. Matt is haunted by the ubiquitous army of eejits, zombielike workers harnessed to the old El Patron’s sinister system of drug growing—people stripped of the very qualities that once made them human.
Matt wants to use his newfound power to help, to stop the suffering, but he can’t even find a way to smuggle his childhood love, Maria, across the border and into Opium. Instead, his every move hits a roadblock, some from the enemies that surround him…and some from a voice within himself. For who is Matt really, but the clone of an evil, murderous dictator?


When Did You See Her Last? by Lemony Snicket. 288 p. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, October, 2013. 9780316123051.

Synopsis: I should have asked the question "How could someone who was missing be in two places at once?" Instead, I asked the wrong question — four wrong questions, more or less. This is the account of the second.
In the fading town of Stain'd-by-the-Sea, young apprentice Lemony Snicket has a new case to solve when he and his chaperone are hired to find a missing girl. Is the girl a runaway? Or was she kidnapped? Was she seen last at the grocery store? Or could she have stopped at the diner? Is it really any of your business? These are All The Wrong Questions.

Fortunately,  the Milk by Neil Gaiman. Illustrated by Skottie Young. 128 p. HarperCollins Publishers, September, 2013. 9780062224071. 

Synopsis: "I bought the milk," said my father. "I walked out of the corner shop, and heard a noise like this: T h u m m t h u m m. I looked up and saw a huge silver disc hovering in the air above Marshall Road."
"Hullo," I said to myself. "That's not something you see every day. And then something odd happened."
Find out just how odd things get in this hilarious story of time travel and breakfast cereal, expertly told by Newbery Medalist and bestselling author Neil Gaiman and illustrated by Skottie Young.


The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck. Illustrated by Kelly Murphy. 224 p. Dial, July, 2013. 9780803738386.
Synopsis: Newbery Award-winning author Richard Peck is at his very best in this fast-paced mystery adventure. Fans of The Tale of Desperaux, A Little Princess, and Stuart Little will all be captivated by this memorable story of a lovable orphan mouse on an amazing quest.
The smallest mouse in London’s Royal Mews is such a little mystery that he hasn't even a name. And who were his parents? His Aunt Marigold, Head Needlemouse, sews him a uniform and sends him off to be educated at the Royal Mews Mouse Academy. There he's called "Mouse Minor" (though it's not quite a name), and he doesn't make a success of school. Soon he's running for his life, looking high and low through the grand precincts of Buckingham Palace to find out who he is and who he might become.
Queen Victoria ought to be able to help him, if she can communicate with mice. She is all-seeing, after all, and her powers are unexplainable. But from her, Mouse Minor learns only that you do not get all your answers from the first asking. And so his voyage of self-discovery takes him onward, to strange and wonderful places.

What's new with you? Leave your link in the comments.