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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – New Novels

Catherine Linka shares her picks for …

New Novels for Young Readers

This fall, there are several new novels for young readers that offer the flavor and feel of classics. I read these books before they were published, looking forward to the day when I could hand them to readers and say, “I think you’ll love this.” Pick these up for holiday gifts for readers aged 8-13.

THE SPINDLERS ($16.99, Harper Collins) by Lauren Oliver

This reminds me a bit of THE WIZARD OF OZ. Beautifully written, with a lush and dramatic setting “Below.” Liza realizes that her little brother’s soul was stolen in his sleep by Spindlers, spider-like creatures, so she goes Below to get it back. Liza must befriend Mirabella, a tricky rat, to find her brother and the evil queen who holds his soul.  Great read aloud with action and themes of friendship and family. For independent readers 9+.

THE HUMMING ROOM ($16.99, Feiwel & Friends)
by Ellen Potter

Inspired by THE SECRET GARDEN, this was a huge hit with our Advance Reader Club of 5th and 6th graders. Roo loses her parents and goes to live with her reclusive uncle in what was once a Children’s Hospital on an island in the Saint Lawrence river. There’s a mystery inside the walls of this old building and Roo sets out to uncover it. (9+)

SUMMER AND BIRD ($16.99, Dutton Juvenile) by Katherine Catmull

Summer and her little sister, Bird, wake up to find their parents have disappeared into the woods. Searching the woods for their mom and dad, Bird follows a birdsong to a strange and wintery land where the birds await the return of the missing swan queen. While THE SPINDLERS is dramatic, SUMMER AND BIRD is dreamlike. Read it before bed. 9+.

LIAR &  SPY ($15.99, Wendy Lamb Books) by Rebecca Stead

A great story for kids who befriend someone who may not be honest with them. Two boys, neighbors in a NYC apartment building, team up to spy on a resident they suspect of a crime. By the author of the Newbery-award winner, WHEN YOU REACH ME. Perfect for mother-daughter book clubs. (9+)  NOTE:  Read the GRWR review of this book by middle grade author Kristen Kittscher by clicking here.

KEEPING SAFE THE STARS ($16.99, Putnam Juvenile)
by Sheila O’Connor

For fans of Kate DiCamillo or Deb Wiles. A beautifully written story about a girl trying to keep her siblings together when their guardian gets sick. Strong themes of family loyalty, leadership, challenge of honesty.  Pride, the eldest girl is a terrific lead character. This funny and sweet story is perfect for mother-daughter book clubs. (9+)

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.

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Presidential Elections Are for Little People Too

Reviewer Debbie Glade shows us there’s no better time than right now to teach our children about presidential elections in the USA and to have a whole lotta fun while doing it.

Looking at the cover of Where Do Presidents Come From? : And Other Presidential Stuff of Super Great Importance ($14.99, Dial Books, Ages 8 and up) one might think they’re delivered by the stork. Author/illustrator Michael Townsend uses his humor and savvy illustrations in this comic-style book to teach young readers fun and educational facts about presidents.

The book starts out with a clever and humorous chapter about what all the other chapters in the book are about, and all chapters come complete with colorful comic art, speech bubbles and silly knock-knock jokes. What you’ll appreciate about this book is that it is so highly entertaining while being highly educational. Readers are introduced to facts about how America got started, the different branches of government, how a president gets elected, the White House, what presidents actually do and what happens when presidents are done serving. The last two chapters really had me roaring with laughter.

My favorite children’s books are always those that entertain adults as much as they do kids, and this is surely one of those books. Add to that humor, colorful illustrations comic-book style in a sturdy, high quality book, and what you’ve got is a real winner.

With an election two weeks away, what an ideal time it is for Mad Libs for President ($3.99, Price, Stern, Sloan, Ages 8 and up).  Check this out: “Ladies and gentlemen, on this __________ (adjective) occasion it is a privilege to address such a/an _________ (adjective) looking group of _____________ (plural noun). I can tell by your smiling _________ (plural noun) that you will support my __________ (adjective) program in the coming election.” Imagine how hilarious that will read once your family fills in the blanks.

Among the topics of these Mad Libs by Roger Price and Leonard Stern you’ll find Diplomacy, Political Speech, Mount Rushmore, A Great Debate, famous Quotes from the American Revolution, State of the Union, A Typical History Test and much more.

Some of my fondest memories of laughing with my daughter were while playing Mad Libs. If you play around with this one, you’re sure to make some lasting memories too.

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Stories With Heart

Catherine Linka share her picks for …

BOOKS BY MINORITY AUTHORS WITH UNIVERSAL APPEAL

I once heard black author Rita Williams Garcia say that some of the fans who connected most closely to her characters were Asian. Apparently, the story Rita wrote held truth for many families.

The authors of these books have all won major literary awards, but don’t save these books  for Black History Month. These are terrific human stories that show that even though our experiences may be different, we all feel longing, heartbreak, injustice,  and self-consciousness.

These books can all prompt great discussions about how the characters feel, what they have to deal with and what choices they make. I especially recommend them for book reports or Mother/Daughter book clubs.

THE MIGHTY MISS MALONE ($15.99 – Hardcover, $7.99 – Trade Paperback, Random House/Wendy Lamb Books) by Christopher Paul Curtis

I love eleven-year-old Deza Malone, a smart, sassy girl who loves to read and write. Like many during the Depression, her family is surviving on the edge until an accident forces them apart. Getting the family back together is the heart of this story. Great themes of love, family loyalty, and hard work. Historical Fiction (8+)

THE OTHER HALF OF MY HEART ($16.99, Delacorte Books for Young Readers) by Sundee Frazier

Twins Minerva and Kiera are like their parents, one is black and one is white. When their Southern grandmother invites them to visit and insists they enter the Miss Black Pearl Contest, the two sisters’ bond is tested. Grandmother clearly prefers one girl over the other. Kids will respond to this injustice. (8+)

CAMO GIRL ($16.99, Aladdin) by Kekla Magoon

Ella’s always been on the outside. The only black student in a white school, she also has a large birthmark on her face. When a cool new black boy arrives, Ella has to choose between staying loyal to her only friend or being popular. It’s a dilemma that kids will easily identify with. Contemporary Fiction (9+)

ONE CRAZY SUMMER ($15.99, Harper Collins) by Rita Williams Garcia

Three sisters are sent to spend the summer with the mother who walked out on them seven years before. Their mother is distant and resentful of their presence, and eleven-year-old Delphine must keep her sisters fed and busy at the Black Panther’s youth program. Readers will cheer these three girls as they speak up for themselves and try to form a bond with their mom. Historical Fiction (9+)

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Basics on Bullies

Today Catherine Linka shares her picks of …


STORIES ABOUT BULLIES

Bullying takes all forms from power plays to violence, and most children today will run into it. They may be the victims or merely onlookers or they may turn out to be the bullies. Writers are tackling this phenomenon with books for all different age groups. The styles and tone of these books are all different so you can pick the book that seems right for your child. We aren’t going to stamp out bullying, but the right book can give a child the tools or reassurance he or she needs to cope.

 

THE BULLY BOOK ($16.99, Harper Collins) by Eric Kahn Gale

Perfect for 5th-7th grade readers. An average kid gets bullied and tracks down an instructional manual for bullies. Excerpts from the actual manual interspersed with text are especially interesting. A book that kids will really feel is true to their own experiences. Shows how bullying doesn’t have to be personal or something the target brought on. (Ages 8-12 years old)

 

WONDER ($15.99, Knopf Books For Young Readers) by R J Palacio

This book reminds me of A PRAYER FOR OWEN MEANY. The main character is a fifth grade boy who was born disfigured and is attending school for the first time. Told in several voices including those of his classmates and sibling. He has great impact on those around him. Palacio shows the emotions and reactions of everyone he has to deal with. Kids can see there are two sides to every story. Great discussion book. (Ages 8+) Adult readers LOVE this book.  NOTE:  Click here to read Good Reads With Ronna’s Amanda Hogg review of this terrific book

 

COLIN FISCHER by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stentz

Colin is a genius with Asperger’s syndrome and a penchant for mystery-solving. He is bullied, but ends up proving his bully’s innocence in a crime. Funny and sarcastic –supportive parents, but annoying younger brother.  Alternative for younger teens to THE CURIOUS INCIDENT OF THE DOG IN THE NIGHTTIME. Vague reference to oral sex.  The first in a series. (Ages 12+) November publication date

 

PLAYGROUND by 50 Cent (Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson)

I got interested in Curtis after seeing Oprah interview him. He was thoughtful, not bombastic. PLAYGROUND is a semi-autobiographical novel. Eighth grader Butterball clocks another student in the mouth with a sockful of batteries and is court-ordered into therapy. This is bullying from the bully’s perspective. Butterball has reasons for his actions, but he’s also pressured into fighting by peers. Great discussion book for teens. Urban setting. Language. Sexuality. (fall paperback)

 

DEAR BULLY: 70 Authors Tell Their Stories ($9.99, HarperTeen) by Megan Kelley Hall and Carrie Jones

So many teen authors have dealt with bullying personally, they joined together and wrote an anthology of their own stories. Check out www.dearbully.com to see if one of your teen’s favorite writers is included and to read a story or two. Book is available in paperback in stores now. (Ages 14+)

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge – Whet Your Reading Appetites

Today Catherine Linka, shares her picks of  …


STORIES FOR KIDS WHO LIKE TO COOK

When I help children choose novels to read, I always try to find out what they are interested in. They may not be able to tell me that they like mysteries or fantasies or historical fiction, but they can usually tell me if there is a topic that fascinates them. Then I can choose a book that may get even a non-reader engaged.

So this week, here are some fiction suggestions for kids ages 8+ who love to cook.

PIE ($16.99,  Scholastic Press, ages 8 and up) by Sarah Weeks

After Alice’s Aunt Polly dies, everyone in town wants the secret recipe for her award-winning pie crust. Aunt Polly left the recipe to her nasty cat, Lardo, and left Lardo to Alice. When Lardo is catnapped, Alice must find Lardo and the missing recipe. A sweet, engaging story–complete with pie recipes at the end of every chapter. 

THE CANDYMAKERS ($16.99, Little, Brown Books For Young Readers, ages 9-12) by Wendy Mass

Reminiscent of CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, but for a slightly older audience. Four children apprentice in the Life is Sweet factory, to create new candies for a competition. But unlike Charlie and his cohorts, this group of kids has to get along to succeed. Appealing to both boys and girls, this book is for kids who can read a longer novel comfortably. Mass has published several wonderful novels including A MANGO SHAPED SPACE and 11 BIRTHDAYS.

NEIL FLAMBE AND THE MARCO POLO MYSTERIES  ($12.99, Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, ages 10 and up) by Kevin Sylvester

Teenager Neil Flambe is the star of this new series. He’s a top chef and the secret weapon of Inspector Nakamura in solving crimes with a culinary twist. Young foodies will enjoy that the cooking isn’t limited to baking or candy and may be inspired to cook one of Flambe’s meals. Good choice for 5th-8th graders.

CLOSE TO FAMOUS ($16.99, Viking Juvenile, ages 10 and  up) by Joan Bauer

Newbery winner Joan Bauer is a favorite pick of mine for 5th and 6th grade girls who want to read about teenagers, but who aren’t sophisticated. Bauer always delivers teenage girls that younger girls can look to for examples of how to handle challenges.

In this story, Foster, who dreams of having her own cooking show, gets a job baking for a local coffee shop. But she’s got challenges in front of her, including learning how to read. If your daughter loves CLOSE TO FAMOUS, then try Bauer’s HOPE WAS HERE. Ages 5th grade-teen.

 Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extensive selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times, author events and other exciting special events.

 

 

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Dare to Explore!

Our family always loves the yearly National Geographic Kids Almanac and the newest edition is no exception. With fab photos, facts, and an overall coolness quotient of 10, what’s not to love?

The best thing about the latest almanac is that it’s kept up with technology and offers readers a chance to watch neat new videos, play games and get even more facts via a QR Code you can scan with a smart phone or iPod Touch. Dinosaurs like me can also go the website.

So spend summer break the right way by packing a copy of the National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 ($13.99, National Geographic Children’s Publishing, ages 8 and up). It’ll keep your entire family entertained while on the road or at home. It will also be a great conversation starter, a dispute resolver and something to keep returning to throughout the year.

Broken down into themed sections so fact hungry kids can devour the book in small chunks, the book begins with Your World 2013 then moves into the ever popular Amazing Animals pages packed with amazing pictures and tons of information. Did you know, for example, that there are 10, 158 vulnerable or endangered species in the world?  The list even includes the American crocodile!

Next comes the Awesome Adventure section where kids can learn about different fields of exploration, hone up on their photo taking skills and even get tips on writing an engaging essay. Following is Culture Connection, Super Science and some Fun and Games. The Wonders of Nature section covers world climate, natural disasters, biomes, oceans, coral reefs and so much more.  I appreciated the Going Green section with its out-of-this-world green inventions including Hotel in The Clouds lazily making its way across the Atlantic from New York to London in 37 hours. Talk about a room with a view!

The book ends with History Happens and Geography Rocks saving the best for last in my adult opinion, but kids will be delighted from start to finish. With 500 photos, maps, crafts, fun facts and a slew of other interesting tidbits, National Geographic Kids Almanac 2013 is an adventure on every page.

By the way, I just learned that London is the only city to host the Olympics three times. 

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Fridays Featuring Flintridge: Find Your Child’s Next Favorite Book Here!

An Insider’s Guide to Getting Your Kids
to Become Passionate Page Turners

Welcome to an exciting new feature we’ll be offering every other Friday at Good Reads With Ronna, Fridays Featuring Flintridge. This insider’s look at great books for kids and teens is brought to us by professional children’s book buyer, Catherine Linka. She’ll present her recommended reads in themes and today’s theme is a rather dreamy one. Read more about Catherine below and see her suggestions for this summer. We’re sure you’ll soon understand why we value her opinions and why we’re so delighted she’s on board!

About Catherine

Catherine Linka is the Children’s and Teen Book Buyer for the Flintridge Bookstore in Southern California. She has an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from the Vermont College of Fine Arts, and blogs about writing at ThroughtheTollbooth.com.  Catherine also leads two groups of young book reviewers, elementary school and teens. Her book recommendations are books she respects and those her young reviewers loved.

Raising an Enthusiastic Reader –a message from Catherine Linka

– You want your child to grow up to be successful and independent and you know that being a good reader is crucial for their success.

– There are two parts to being a good reader. First, a child has to learn the technical skills of “decoding” text–of learning the relationship between letters, sounds, and the meaning of words.

– Second, a child has to want to read–to be excited about it, and to find it satisfying. Unless a child is motivated to read, they won’t advance. 

– Decoding is the job of your child’s teacher. But your job is better–to build your child’s love of reading.

– The books I picked for this blog are ones that kids I work with loved. These are books they held up and said, “This is the best book I’ve ever read.” I hope your child will find a book they love.

RECOMMENDED READING STARTS HERE! 

Books for Dreamy Girls who love to sit in the shade with a book for company. 

JUNONIA by Kevin Henkes ($6.99, Harper Collins Children’s Books)

Now in paperback, this lovely story of a girl who goes to Florida every year with her family only to find that this year, things are different. A perfect book to reassure a child that things change, but change can be OK. (8+)

THE SECRET TREE by Natalie Sandiford ($16.99, Scholastic Press)

This reminded me of BECAUSE OF WINN DIXIE. Set in a woodsy neighborhood, everyone writes their secrets on slips of paper and leaves them in a hollow tree, hoping their pain will be absolved. Two friends do what they can to help their neighbors heal. (9+)

 

REMARKABLE by Elizabeth Foley ($16.99, Dial Books For Young Readers)

The book for little girls who don’t see themselves as special, but who hunger to be. In this story, Jane is the only child in the town of Remarkable who is plain and unremarkable. But Jane becomes the hero when three unpleasant characters come to down. The fifth and sixth graders in my Advance Readers club LOVED this book. (8+)

THE GIRL WHO CIRCUMNAVIGATED FAIRYLAND by Catherynne M.Valente ($6.99, Macmillan/Square Fish)

Think ALICE IN WONDERLAND. Sophisticated, gorgeous, playful and ironic language and a perfect read aloud for 10+. Now in paperback. Sequel is coming.

KAT, INCORRIGIBLE   ($6.99, Atheneum Books For Young Readers)

Fun and funny fantasy set in England in the 1800s. Kat doesn’t want her older sisters to have to get married,
so she uses magic to mess up her stepmother’s plans. A little flavor of Jane Austen. Very sweet. Now in paperback. 10+.

SPARROW ROAD by Sheila O’Connor ($6.99, Penguin)

Now in paperback. A sensitive portrait of a 12 year old girl trying to figure herself out over a summer when her mother goes
to work at an artist colony. A tender, beautiful story. (10+)

Please visit the Flintridge Bookstore today to pick up your copy of these great books, buy gifts, enjoy their extension selection of other great reads  and relax over a great cup of coffee.  Also visit the website at www.flintridgebooks.com to keep up-to-date with story times author events and other exciting special events.

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How Your Body Works

A DAY IN THE LIFE OF YOUR BODY
Written by Beverly McMillan
featuring over 200 color photos and illustrations
(B.E.S., $14.99, Ages 10-14)

 

cover art from A Day in the Life of Your Body

I am going to start my review of A Day in the Life of Your Body: An Around the Clock Guide to How Your Body Works ($14.99, Barron’s, ages 8 and up) by saying that I find this book to be overwhelmingly wonderful in every way. Think of it as a comprehensive anatomy textbook, but for kids – filled with extraordinary, detailed full-color medical illustrations and photographs. Author Beverly McMillan’s narrative takes the reader through what goes on inside the body of a child on any given day, from the time she wakes up until she goes to sleep. Young readers will learn an array of fascinating facts about how the body works. For example, the keratin in our skin makes it completely waterproof, the cerebral cortex of the brain is used to doing math problems and vision is the most powerful of the five senses. In addition to covering the vital functions of the body, other engaging sections cover visiting the doctor, genetics, how food is processed, what it takes to live a long and healthy life plus health myths and facts.

 

 

int spread from A Day in the Life of Your Body pg 11_12
interior illustration from A Day in the Life of Your Body by Beverly McMillan, B.E.S. Publishing ©2012.

 

What I love about this book is that it is written in such a way that what would normally be complicated information is just so easy to understand. The exceptional illustrations clearly depict the internal layers of the body, which greatly complement the text. And it’s very important for our health, for all of us to understand how the human body works. This book may have been written for children, but you’d be hard pressed to find an adult anywhere who would not learn from it and enjoy reading it, too. Every home and classroom should have a copy of A Day in the Life of Your Body: An Around the Clock Guide to How Your Body Works!

 

  • Reviewed by Debbie Glade, who adores science books, and was excited to review this spectacular book about the human body.
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Mouse Gone Missing

My 11-year-old son Coleman has always been a voracious reader. The past few months he’s devoured some interesting middle grade books and I’ll be sharing some of his thoughts on what he’s read and loved.  The good news is that he’s discovered a slew of great books in all sorts of genres by a variety of very talented authors. We’ll begin our conversation by discussing a new series called The Song of the Winns and the first book in the Gerander trilogy is entitled The Secret of The Ginger Mice ($12.95, Running Press, ages 8 and up) by Frances Watts with illustrations by David Francis.   – Chosen as a Children’s Book Council of Australia Notable Book 2011

 Q. In a nutshell, if you described this book to friends, what would you tell them it was about?

 A. I’d have to say this book is part mystery, part adventure about mice triplets. When Alice and Alex, two of the triplets discover their other brother has gone missing, Alice and Alex set out on a journey to find Alistair (a ginger mouse unlike the other two) and learn why he has possibly been mousenapped.

 Q. Where do the mice live in the story?

A. They live in a country called Shetlock which borders a country in turmoil called Gerander. Another nearby country called Souris is trying to take over Gerander.

Q. Tell us something about the triplets. What are they like, what challenges do they face trying to locate Alistair?

A. Alex and Alice are very adventurous yet Alistair is the type who would rather sit on a chair, snuggle with his scarf and read a book.  The two siblings face many obstacles during their exploits like Alex eating all the food on the first day of the journey, encounters with two-faced spies, and being locked in a cellar with almost no way out. 

Q. How do the struggles in Gerander affect the triplets?

A. Semi-Spoiler Alert:  Most of the ginger mice come from Gerander, and Souris wants to eliminate all of the ginger mice no matter where they are from so it will be easier to invade and conquer Gerander. As it happens Alistair was mousenapped by FIG, a pro-Gerander secret organization, in order to keep him safe from Souris mousenappers and spies. So all the time Alice and Alex are worried, Alistair is actually safe.  It’s when Alistair tries to escape to go home that his real problems begin.

Q. What did you enjoy most about this book?

A. It’s so hard to pinpoint one thing that I liked because there were so many things in the story I found enjoyable.  I cared about the mice and felt how they did. I thought the story idea was clever and it kept me turning the pages to see what crazy things Alistair was going to get up to, unlike how he usually behaved. The setting was quite realistic and it was easy getting caught up in the story.

Q. How did you feel when you finished the book?

A. At the end I was like, “No, give me more!” I did not want the book to end.

Q. Who would like The Secret of The Ginger Mice?

A. Anyone who can read well and likes adventure books with lots of surprises would find this a terrific book. In other words probably 3rd through 5th graders, or kids even younger if their parents read it to them. I can’t wait for book #2.

 

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New Ways We Can Learn on Wednesday

We’re back with our (almost) weekly educational products review. We’re all over these great games, toys, books, DVDs and CDs that NAPPA(National Parenting Publications Awards) has shared with us. If you’d like to learn more about NAPPA, visit their website, like their Facebook page and keep stopping by here on Wednesdays for more interesting new products for your children and the entire family. Today’s product reviews comes courtesy of Julie Kertes, NAPPA General Manager.

Spell It! Spell to Win!; $29.99; Ages 8+; www.blueorangegames.com

This clever game is perfect for competitive wordsmith families. A felt-lined tin box is the arena for rolling lettered dice, shouting out words in specific categories that contain the letters rolled, and scoring chips. Themed plays inspire quick thinking; i.e., “Things in a Home” using letters M – I – A – F- Y?  Family. A NAPPA honors award winner, Spell It! Spell to Win! is all-inclusive and fluid, and rises to the linguistic levels of the players.

Click here now to order your very own Spell It game.

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