Tuesday, January 20, 2009


Written by Cynthia Lord
Most enjoyed by 4th through 8th graders

Catherine's younger brother David goes to occupational therapy twice a week. It's summer time, and even though she could stay home while her mother takes David to therapy, Catherine enjoys going along. It's one of the few times she can have her mother to herself. Sometimes they shop or go to the park while they wait for David, but most often they simply sit in the waiting room where Catherine fills the time drawing in her sketch pad. The waiting room is where Catherine first meets Justin, a disabled young man a few years older than she. Confined to a wheelchair, Justin cannot speak. He uses a binder full of words that he points to as a slow way of communicating. Their friendship slowly grows when Catherine offers to create more words for Justin's binder.

The relationship Catherine hold most important is the one she tries to develop with the new girl next door. Kristi is pretty, seems nice, and is sure to be popular when school begins in the fall. But when Kristi invites Catherine to the community dance and suggests she bring Justin, Catherine must now deal with her feelings toward Justin. What will Kristi and others think when she shows up at the dance with a guy in a wheelchair? Will this be the end of a friendship, not just Catherine's friendship with Kristi but with Justin as well?

'Rules' is an honest look at the world of the handicapped and how that world perceives them. Catherine likes Justin, but she struggles with the stares people give them when they are out together. She worries about how she will be perceived while failing to view that perception through Justin's eyes. Eventually, readers will wonder whether Justin is the only one with a handicap in the story. The developing friendship between Catherine and Justin is a good example of what can happen when we remove barriers between us and others.

Monday, January 19, 2009

The Hunger Games

Written by Suzanne Collins
Most enjoyed by readers in 6th through 8th grade

Katniss Everdeen has been struggling to survive ever since her father was blown to pieces in a mine explosion. Food is scarce in District 12, but Katniss has been able to support her mother and younger sister Prim by hunting illegally and by putting her name in the bowl for the Hunger Games more than once. When Reaping Day arrives, Katniss will wait with other district residents to see whose names are drawn from the bowl. One boy and one girl from District 12 will join boys and girls from the other 11 districts in Panem to compete in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death for all but one winner. This year, Prim's name has been entered in the bowl once, but Katniss knows her name is entered at least 16 times, representing the times she has had to bargain her name away in return for bread and oil to live on. As Reaping Day arrives, Katniss watches in horror as Prim's name is drawn from the bowl. She volunteers to take her sister's place, knowing that she will save her sister's life by perhaps forfeiting hers. Peeta Mellark, the baker's son, is the boy chosen to represent District 12. Peeta once did Katniss a favor, leaving her in his debt, the memory of which lives on strongly in Katniss's mind. Together, Katniss and Peeta travel to the Capitol to begin the contest of their lives, as they fight for their survival in the Hunger Games. Only one of them can return the victor. Which will it be?

'The Hunger Games' is a book readers will have a hard time putting down (and I speak from experience!). I think it's one of the best books published in 2008 and a real contender for either the Newbery or Printz award. Katniss and Peeta are unforgettable characters participating in a terrible sport created to control people in the country of Panem. Issues of friendship, trust, loyalty, freedom, and governmental control make this book one perfect for discussion. The first in a trilogy, 'The Hunger Games' will leave you craving the next book in the series. Grab this one when you're looking for a book that will stay with you long after you turn the last page.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Allie Finkle's Rules for Girls: Moving Day

Written by Meg Cabot
Most enjoyed by girls in 3rd through 5th grade

Allie Finkle is 9 years old and she's moving. Her parents have decided to move the family into a fixer-upper so Allie's mom can do the home improvement projects she enjoys so much. But how could her parents make Allie leave the home she loves, her best friend, her school, and her rock collection? To Allie, the new house looks haunted, and, thanks to the advice of a new neighbor, is sure there is a zombie hand hidden in the attic just waiting to attack her. Despite the promise of a new kitten if she goes along with the move, Allie is determined to sabotage it whenever she can. But a missing 'For Sale' sign and a deadly rock collection collapse don't seem like they'll stop the big move. Will Allie's never-ending list of rules help her adjust to her new life?

Meet Allie Finkle, a fresh new voice for younger chapter book readers. Allie loves collecting rocks (geodes, as she'll quickly correct you), ballet, and baseball (except the part where you have to wait your turn, which seems to take forever). Her best friend is Mary Kay who only wants to play one game, lions, leaving Allie with rug burns on her knees. And take a look at Allie's list of rules. It's quite long and contains some interesting ones. Take, for instance, the first rule - Don't Stick a Spatula Down Your Best Friend's Throat. Now what could that be all about? Oh, and did I mention she's an animal rights activist, too? Just ask her about the turtle in the pond at the Chinese restaurant.

So, are you ready to meet Allie?

Thursday, January 15, 2009

Nothing Like a Snow Day

There really is nothing like a snow day. A day out of the regular routine that enables one to catch up on activities one is quite behind on. And this blog is one of those things I'm behind on. I haven't posted about anything in the Zion library since before Christmas. But don't let this lead you to believe I've stopped reading the great books we've got. I haven't stopped, and actually, I'm getting ready to place an order for even more good reads. So catch up with me and let's see what's on the shelves!