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Dances with Dogs

The dogs of winter by Bobbie Pyron is an incredible, heart-pounding survival story based on fact.  Ivan is but one of 80,000 to 2 million homeless children forced to fend for himself in Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Most of these abandoned children form packs and live in vacant buildings and/or underground train stations. What distinguishes four year old Ivan Mishukov is his decision to depend on a pack of feral street dogs instead of other children for his survival.  For two years they eek out an existence together, helping one another just as a family would.  Enduring the brutal Russian winters with temperatures often twenty below zero is almost beyond belief.  As Ivan is later quoted as saying, "I was better off with the dogs.

Far Out Fantasy

The scorpions of Zahir by Christine Brodien-Jones is a riveting, fast-paced mixture of fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, mythology, mystery, family affairs, and travel. Feisty Zagora Pym sets off for Morocco with her astronomy-crazed brother and archaeologist father to connect with a long lost colleague (Pitblade Yegen) of her father and explore  ruins of the ancient city of Zahir. But Pitblade had been kidnapped, mammoth scorpions have invaded the city, and the rogue planet, Nar Azrak, is on a collision course with earth. With the help of members of the Azimuth tribe, thought to have been extinct, Zagora begins a daring quest to restore order and harmony to this desert land. Key to success of this mission is returning the Oryx Stone to the apex of a buried pyramid.

First Book in a Great Mystery Series?

The secrets of Shakespeare's grave by Deron R. Hicks ; illustrated by Mark Edward Geyer has action, humor, suspense, and family intrigue.  An unscrupulous, greedy relative theatens to take control of the family publishing business from Colophon and Case's father. Enter Julian, an eccentric cousin. He and Colophon join forces to solve a centuries' old mystery about a hidden family fortune that dates back to Shakespeare's time. She is even able to enlist the help of her obtuse older brother Case in a valiant attempt to save their father from financial ruin. Puzzles, hidden clues, creepy graves, slapstick chases, and diverse family dynamics keep readers riveted. A open ending ensures at least one more gripping epsisode in The Letterford Mysteries.

Dystopian Fantasy or a Fantastic Dystopia

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann is like Harry Potter entering the Hunger Games, according to one Kirkus reviewer. Other reviews also rave about this new teen/tween Fantasy/Sci-Fi series. In the dystopic land of Quill, when you reach age 13, you are deemed Wanted, Necessary, or Unwanted. Alex is too creative and is thereby judged Unwanted and sentenced to be cast into the Lake of Burning Death along with the other Unwanteds.  His identical brother, Aaron, is rated Wanted, turns his back on his brother, enters Wanted University, and rises quickly, becoming the protege of High Priest Justine. Meanwhile, Alex is pleasantly surprised when instead of suffering a painful death, he is welcomed into the magical realm of Artime by the kindly mage Mr. Today.

Meet the Greatest Paleozoologist

The wondrous journals of Dr. Wendell Wiggins: describing the most curious, fascinating, sometimes-gruesome, and seemingly impossible creatures that roamed the world before us by Lesley M.M. Blume ; illustrated by David Foote. If you don't know what a paleozoologist is, then read this extremely informative and entertaining work by Dr. Wiggin. It reveals the secrets of the very ancient earth and long-extinct plant, animal, and humanoid species. Wiggins provides detailed sketches and descriptions of such bizarre creatures as: Thunder Vulcusts, "Land" Whales, Bunny Fluffs, Cloud-Dwelling Hummingbird People, and Hapless Vampire Glow Bats.

Are You Ready for VEXT-mail?

The phantom of the post office by Kate Klise — will bring you up to speed on this next generation of electronic communication if you are not. In book four of 43 Old Cemetery Road you will also meet a new, mysterious ghost and Seymour may actually find a human friend his age. Mystery, humor, intrigue, and heart-warming relationships fill every unusual page. Nothing is predictable in this story told with illustrations, letters, newspaper articles, diagrams, VEXT-mail recordings, and ghostly insights. Join Olive, Ignatius, and Seymour on their latest adventure and you will be swept away by a literary delight.

Spine-tingling Sherlock Case

The dragon turn by Shane Peacock will captivate readers, even if they have not read the first four cases in the award winnning The Boy Sherlock Holmes series. Actually, Sherlock is an astute teen, not boy, in these books and in addition to solving crimes Scotland Yard cannot, he is dealing with male teen coming-of-age issues. Malicious magicians, affairs d'amour gone awry, a missing body, terrifying creatures, and hidden identities keep Sherlock and readers searching for clues that will illuminate what is really going on behind the scenes of The Egyptian Hall. Adding to Sherlock's agony, is his conviction that a female's guiles has spurred him to win the freedom of a wizard who really is the murderer.

Great Mystery Book

The great cake mystery: Precious Ramotswe's very first case by Alexander McCall Smith ; illustrations by Iain McIntosh is a delightful read and a quick way to claim the Sleuth It badge in the CYS program. It is written by the bestselling author of The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency (an adult series) and introduces readers to Precious Ramotswe as a child. When treats start disappearing from the kids' school lunches, a chubby boy named Poloko becomes the likely suspect. Precious believes he is innocent and sets out to find the real culprit. Set in a vividly realistic setting of Botswana with magnificent black and red illustrations and featuring compelling characters, this mystery will have readers of all ages clammering for a sequel.

Time Travel Trip (Youth Book)

Bridge of time by Lewis Buzbee is a perfect book for older readers who are interested in earning the Time Travel badge. A wrinkle in time propels best friends Lee Jones and Jones Lee back to the summer Mark Twain spent in San Francisco. The class trip they were on was a total loser, so they snuck away to discuss the pending divorces of their parents. Upon awaking from a nap in a lighthouse they find the Golden Gate bridge has fanished, their cell phones don't work, and they are clueless as to how to get back to their class and/or time. Then they meet this young man named Sam Clemens who is on the run from a mysterious stranger, who soon is after Lee and Jone, too. A suspenseful summer, sci-fi, time-travel treat for all those who delve into its pages.

Food-Faring Adventure

The traveling restaurant: Jasper's voyage in three parts: a novel for children by Barbara Else ; [illustrations, Sam Broad] is a savory story featuring twelve-year-old Jasper who must mature very quickly in order to meet the challenges of life suddenly thrust upon him. He is abandoned by his family, he thinks, and soon realizes his baby sister has been kidnapped by the ruthless Lady Gall and her soldiers. She holds the key to restoring the missing magic to Fontania and he must rescue her before they poison her and take control of the kingdom. He gets help from a most unexpected source - the Traveling Resaurant, a mysterious ship serving delicious, magically appearing food and the two owers who operate it.

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.

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?

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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:

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.