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Nicholas Benedict's Mysterious Childhood Revealed

The extraordinary education of Nicholas Benedict by Trenton Lee Stewart; illustrated by Diana Sudyka — is a must-read for anyone who has read books from Stewart's series, The Mysterious Benedict Society. Nine-year-old Nicholas has been shifted from orphanage to orphanage because no one quite knows how to deal with this brilliant, bizarre child plagued with narcolepsy. At Rothchild's End Nicholas encounters unchallenged bullies, self-absorbed adults, and ridiculous rules and procedures. He also presented with an intriguing mystery that if solved could make him a millionaire and buy his freedom from insufferable orphanages forever. On his quest to find the enigmatic treasure before the orphanage's director, Nicholas faces unexpected obstacles, but also forms rich frienships. Ultimately he realizes that the greatest puzzle and reward might be found within himself.

Great Ghost Adventure (Youth Book)

Ghost knight by Cornelia Funke ; translated by Oliver Latsch ; [illustrated by Andrea Offermann] will keep you in rapt suspense with terrifying ghosts, an ancient mystery, and present day conflicts. Eleven-year-old Jon is shipped off to Salisbury Cathedral's boarding school, in part because he loathes his soon-to-be dentist stepfather. Vengeful ghosts begin attacking Jon almost immediately, but luckily he finds help from the lovely, albeit mysterious, Ella whose grandmother is a reputed ghost expert. She insists that Jon's only hope is to summon the ghost of the late knight Longspee. Will Longspee help? Can he be trusted? Why are the time-traveling ghosts of Lord Stourton and his servants so intent on killing Jon anyway? Based on actual historical events, people, and purported ghosts, spiced with humor and heart-warming friendships, this latest work by Funke is one awesome reading adventure.

Great Titanic Book for All Ages

Iceberg, right ahead!: the tragedy of the Titanic by Stephanie Sammartino McPherson is a wonderful resource for the latest information regarding the Titanic. On April 14, 2012 one century will have passed since this tragic maritime disaster occurred and many books have been published and events are planned to commemorate it. Seventy-three years separate the sinking of the vessel and the dramatic 1985 discovery of the wreck by Robert Ballard. McPherson fills in this time frame with actual stories about the victims, survivors, rescuers, reporters, investigators, and many others showing  the far-reaching effects this tragedy has had on society as a whole. We learn about the politics and intrigue still surrounding the disaster - including what modern science can reveal about what really happened to the ship and who was at fault. It truly seems to be a never-ending story that continues to captivate people. Two pages at the end of the book guide the reader to resources for more information, including books, websites, DVDs, and free educational downloads.

Do You Know What's in Your Cereal?

Cold cereal by Adam Rex — If you are a cereal lover as I am, you may never be able to eat it again with impunity after reading this book. However, this zany, fast-paced, hilarious fantasy adventure by Rex is totally worth it. Scott Doe has the ability to see magical creatures that no one else can, but doesn't really realize it. Emily and Erno are super smart twins involved in an nefarious experiment, but do not know it. Goodco Cereal Company is capturing magical beings and draining the "glamour" from them to use as an addictive additive to their products, but consumers haven't a clue. A bigfoot butler, a snarky leprechaun, and a rabbit-headed man are some of the lucky few creatures who have managed to escape Goodco's ever-expanding power. Kids and creatures unite in an attempt to thwart Goodco's evil agenda, but the odds are definitely against them. A massive explosion at the end leaves the reader dangling. It was rather awful really to be left with so many questions about characters you had come to love. Then I re-read the reviews and, fear not, sequels are planned that will continue this fantastic, satiric, spell-binding story.

Book of Wonders

The book of wonders by Jasmine Richards is an exciting fantasy based loosely on the Arabian nights. When thirteen-year-old Zardi's sister and father are captured by the evil, saddistic sultan, Zardi knows the time has come for her to flee the realm and seek help in overthrowing this tyrant.  Otherwise her sister will suffer the same horrific fate as countless other teenage girls.  Along with Rhidan, who is her best friend, and an unlikely crew of sailors led by the notorious Captain Sinbad, Zardi embarks on a perilous quest in search of the lost magic of Arribitha. Only with the power of this force is there any hope of restoring peace and harmony to her homeland. Be ready to enter a realm full of jinn, fantastic creatures, enchanting characters, breathtaking adventures, and Arabian mythology as you delve into The Book of Wonders.

Soldier Bear Wins an Award

Soldier bear by written by Bibi Dumon Tak — is a wonderful, heartwarming novel based on a true story about a bear, Voytek, and a group of Polish soldiers who adopt him as a cub during World War II. Voytek grows into one smart bear who learns to act as a spy and carry bombs and, thereby, earns the honor of being made an official soldier of the company. While the horrors of war are not minimized, this delightful story keeps the reader laughing as it relates the crazy antics and mischief Voytek gets into. He is helped by a monkey and some dogs who are also part of the troop. During very difficult times he boosts the morale of all those he comes in contact with. Reading this real-life adventure, you realize just how special and emotionally fulfilling human-animal relationships can be. Drawings, actual photographs, a map, and an informative afterward enhance an already stellar piece of fascinating history.

Soldier Bear definitely earned ALA's 2012 Mildred L. Batchelder Award for the year's most outstanding translated children's book printed in the United States. It was originally published in the Netherlands in 2008. We are very fortunate this awesome story was made available to us in English!

Breaking Stalin's Nose

Breaking Stalin's nose by Eugene Yelchin — a gripping story about a seldom covered historical era — Russia, or the then Soviet Union, under Stalin's rule. Ten-year-old Sasha begins a 24 hour period in a state of utter elation, the day has finally arrived for him to join the Young Pioneers. At last he will be able to serve the Communist Party and Comrade Stalin, just as his father does who works for the secret police in State Security. But poor, niave Sasha soon finds his whole world spiraling into an abyssmal black hole. His father is arrested in the middle of the night leaving him homeless. He accidentally breaks the nose off of a bust of Stalin at school and knows he could be arrested, too, if anyone reports him and he will never be able to join the Young Pioneers. His classmates, just like the apartment comrades who reported his father, would be happy to squeal on him so they could be rewarded. Sasha begins to see the 'ideal' world of communism in a darker light as questions about motives and feelings overtake him. A suspenseful, emotional, page-turner, Breaking Stalin's Nose is historical fiction at its most awesome. An author's note at the end presents a chilling account of how Sasha's story relates to his own real experiences. Yelchin justly earned winning a Newbery honor for his work.

Dead End in Norvelt

Dead end in Norvelt by Jack Gantos — justly deserved winning the Newbery. It is an entertaining as well enriching read set in 1962 Norvelt, Pennsylvania — a real place. Indeed, the story is partly autobiographical which is why the main character's name is Jackie Gantos. Jackie is grounded for the summer for doing a couple dumb things. He ends up having to be the "hired hands" for an arthritic elderly neighbor, Miss Volker. As he transcribes the obituaries for the local paper, a sinister pattern begins to emerge — far too many of the town's elderly are dying in rapid succession by bizarre causes. Zany characters and wild escapades are intermixed with fascinating historical facts about not only Norvelt, but renowned figures in world history. By the end of the summer Jackie has made a quantum leap of consciousness on many levels. One realization is that anyone can benefit from studying the past, their own or mankind's. If you remind yourself of the stupid stuff done and the rotten results, you won't want to repeat it. When you can get your hands on it, you will have a memorable, fun, and enlightening reading adventure with this latest work of literary art by Jack Gantos.

A Book by Many Authors

This episodic story was originally published online and was a collaboration between the National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance and the Library of Congress's Center for the Book. It began as a national literacy project for young people to help launch the READ.gov website. Nineteen celebrated children's book authors and illustrators have joined together to write a fun, humorous, adventure tale like no other:

The Exquisite Corpse Adventure: a progressive story game played by M.T. Anderson ... [et. al.] ; [The National Children's Book and Literacy Alliance] — Joe and Nancy are twins who have been raised in a circus. On their 11th birthday they learn they are not orphans after all, and that their parents need their help. Extraordinary beings and madcap adventures are but some of the engaging and amusing encounters they have as they set out on their quest find and rescue the parents they never knew.

Diary of a Not-So-Wimpy Kid

Inside out & back again by Thanhha Lai — Do you enjoy reading diaries? Do you like historical fiction? A wonderful adventure is in store for you then. This book justly deserved winning The National Book Award for Young People's Literature, as well as two other awards. Meet Ha, a bright, feisty 10-year-old girl, who must flee her home in Vietnam along with her mother and three older brothers. When they arrive in Florida they must stay at a refugeee camp until a family is found to sponsor them. "Cowboy" and his wife in Alabama agree to do so and yet another chapter begins in a very challenging year for Ha. She faces bullies, prejudice, an unknown language, and a deep longing for her friends, family, and life in Saigon. Not only are Ha's diary entries full of action and adventure that keep you turning pages, but they also introduce you to a cast of characters who are so vividly protrayed, you feel as if you know them. Ha's relationships with her brothers depict typical sibling rivilry, as well as loving unity. Much of what happens to Ha is based on what Lai experienced as a child.

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