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Book Sense Picks for children is a seasonal selection of eclectic new books chosen by independent booksellers.

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Favorites of 2007

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

September 25, 2007

1. THE ABSOLUTELY TRUE DIARY OF A PART-TIME INDIAN: A Novel, by Sherman Alexie "Arnold Spirit, Jr., knows he has to find a way out of the poverty and despair on his Indian reservation, but when he transfers to a better, all-white school, he's treated like a traitor. This book should be heartbreaking. Instead, it's joyous and laugh-out-loud funny — a book I wish everyone in the world would read."—Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

2. THE CHICKEN DANCE, by Jacques Couvillon "An engaging story that captures the heart and soul of young Don Schmidt, who stumbles upon his family's secrets. The story sensitively deals with deceit, friendship, and loyalty while untangling what is important for Don and his family." —Judith Lafitte, Octavia Books, New Orleans, LA

3. THE VERY ORDERED EXISTENCE OF MERILEE MARVELOUS, by Suzanne Crowley "Life in tiny Jumbo, Texas, has complicated feuds and friendships spilling through every screen door, keeping Merilee on edge as she tries to protect the strict routines that get her through each day. And the arrival of needy Biswick and big-hearted Veraleen disrupts Merilee's VOE ("very ordered existence") forever. Filled with rich language and endearing characters, I haven't loved a book this much since Ida B. and Each Little Bird That Sings." —Ellen Davis, Dragonwings Bookstore, Waupaca, WI

4. BEFORE I DIE: A Novel, by Jenny Downham "A beautifully crafted, heartbreaking novel. Often, people with a terminal condition are portrayed as noble and wise, as if, because they are going to die, they are without fault. Tessa is real: a normal teenager reacting to an impossible situation, a girl who is beautiful because she is imperfect. I'm telling everyone to put this one at the top of their list." —Lanora Hurley, Harry W. Schwartz Bookshops, Mequon, WI

5. THE LAND OF THE SILVER APPLES, by Nancy Farmer, Rick Sardinha (Illus.) "This sequel to The Sea of Trolls lives up to its predecessor in both energy and imagination. Farmer mixes Viking, Celtic, and Saxon mythology into a hair-raising adventure. Perfect for fans of The Hobbit and Harry Potter." —Lisa Wright, Oblong Books And Music, Millerton, NY

6. MEMOIRS OF A TEENAGE AMNESIAC: A Novel, by Gabrielle Zevin "What would life be like if you developed amnesia and couldn't remember anything after your twelfth birthday? I found myself armchair-coaching Naomi as she tries to figure out just how she fits in. She discovers old friends and new friends, not to mention romance — and I got weird glances for talking to a book. It was worth it, though." —Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

7. ZANE'S TRACE, by Allan Wolf. "Written as a road-trip journal, this book is as compelling as it is disturbing. Zane Guesswind plans his suicide as he drives to his mother's grave in Zanesville, Ohio. An insightful hitchhiker and Zane's own rational thought help turn this doomed trip around." —Rebecca Mullin, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN

8. BOY TOY, by Barry Lyga. "'Teacher Has Scandalous Affair with Schoolboy!' Sound familiar? If you think you know what's behind those headlines, you're wrong. This novel is shocking, devastating, and brilliant. Barry Lyga is a major new talent." —Jennifer Laughran, Books Inc., San Francisco, CA

9. LLAMA LLAMA MAD AT MAMA, by Anna Dewdney. "Playful, expressive illustrations perfectly match the rhyming text to portray Llama Llama's and Mama's exasperation during a shopping expedition. It's a wonderful follow-up to the popular bedtime story Llama Llama Red Pajama. The message will appeal to parents and toddlers, and it's easy to read aloud over and over again." —Andi Allen, Piece of Mind Books, Edwardsville, IL

10. PSSST!, by Adam Rex. "A girl goes to the zoo. Nothing too odd there, but wait — the animals all have errands for her to run for them. What will the bats do with flashlights? All will be hilariously revealed, but don't hurry through the book too fast. The pictures are packed with additional puns and fun." —Julie Leonard, Troubadour Books, Boulder, CO

For Babies and Pre-Schoolers

GLOBAL BABIES, by Global Fund for Children. "The gorgeous photos in this board book are worth a thousand words apiece. Babies from 17 countries perfectly show why anybody and everybody cares about them." —Carol Chittenden, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA

THE APPLE PIE THAT PAPA BAKED, by Lauren Thompson, Jonathan Bean (Illus.) "My favorite picture book of the year. The story describes what goes into the apple pie a father bakes for his daughter: not just apples and pastry, but ingredients that can't be measured, such as the sun that helped the tree grow, and a parent's love. Rhythmic text and superb illustrations ensure that, like the best apple pie recipes, this book deserves to be a classic!" —Lori Kauffman, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

AT GLEASON'S GYM, by Ted Lewin. "Through Lewin's vibrant paintings and black-and-white sketches, the reader is an observer on the journey of athletes in the making. Inside the world's most famous boxing gym, we see the sights and hear the sounds as they happen." —Ellen Mager, Booktenders' Secret Garden Children's Bookstore, Doylestown, PA

BABY BEAR, BABY BEAR, WHAT DO YOU SEE?, by Bill Martin, Jr., Eric Carle (Illus.) "This is the final effort from the iconic team of Carle and the late Martin. The story and illustrations focus on the bond between mother and child, and the book is everything you expect it to be. Baby Bear will be as popular as Brown Bear, Polar Bear, and Panda Bear!" —Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

BAYBERRY & BEAU, by Nita Choukas, Gillian Tyler (Illus.) "Children of all ages will love this endearing book and its characters: a boy forced to give up his beloved cat; an aging championship horse cared for by the cat; and a mouse that organizes the barnyard to protect this special world. This is a sweet and funny tale of compassion, friendship, and learning to care for others. A thumbs-, paws-, and hooves-up!" —Katharine Nevins, MainStreet BookEnds of Warner, Warner, NH

FRED STAYS WITH ME!, by Nancy Coffelt, Tricia Tusa (Illus.) "Having to move back and forth between mom's and dad's houses can be tough, but this little girl has found one thing she can always count on: her dog, Fred. With adorable pictures and a simple, clear message, this book is great for any child who travels between the homes of divorced parents." —Laura Spies, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

LIVING COLOR, by Steve Jenkins "Once again, Steve Jenkins introduces science in a way that helps children learn concepts even as they have fun experiencing this brightly colored book, which reflects the stunning range of hues found in nature." —Ellen Mager, Booktenders Children's, Doylestown, PA

THE MAGIC RABBIT, by Annette LeBlanc Cate "Bunny gets lost in the city when he is separated from his friend Ray during their magic show. How will he find his way back? Cate's wonderful illustrations allow the young reader to help Bunny get back home. This book is so well done, I couldn't believe it was Cate's first. I'm already eager for her next!" —Lori Kauffman, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

MUCUMBER MCGEE AND THE HALF-EATEN HOT DOG, by Patrick Loehr."Mucumber McGee has, in his desperate hunger, eaten a hot dog straight from the back of the fridge — and his sister has warned him of imminent death. 'Cheerful gothic' may be a curious-sounding description, but it perfectly fits this story-in-rhyme and its illustrations." —Lori Kauffman, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

PHOOEY!, by Marc Rosenthal. "Having outlawed the b-word ('bored') in my house this summer, I loved Rosenthal's book about a young boy oblivious to the adventures happening around him. With its scant text, heavy on onomatopoeia, Phooey! is a treat for young ones who will delight in the hilarious mishaps the young hero doesn't see coming." —Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

SAMSARA DOG, by Helen Manos, Julie Vivas (Illus.) "A beautiful book about learning to love and to be loved, as seen from the Buddhist perspective. Samsara Dog has lived many lives, and with each rebirth, he learns to give more and love better." —Lisa Stefanacci, The Book Works, Del Mar, CA

SKINNY BROWN DOG, by Kimberly Willis Holt, Donald Saaf (illus.) "This picture book for children by the award-winning author of My Louisiana Sky tells the story of Benny the Baker, who just happens to be a polar bear. One day a skinny brown dog shows up, and life changes forever. The illustrations will charm adults and children alike." —Betty Jo Harris, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

SUGAR CANE: A CARIBBEAN RAPUNZEL, by Patricia Storace, Raul Colon (Illus.) "This retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale in a Caribbean setting is beautiful in every way. The language is rich and mysterious, the illustrations are warm and dreamy, and the ending is happy." —Julie Leonard, Troubadour Books, Boulder, CO

WHERE I LIVE, by Eileen Spinelli, Matt Phelan (Illus.) "A sweet novel in verse, accompanied by endearing sketches. When Diana's family decides to move, it feels like the worst idea in the world. Then, Diana meets Sam and attends a poetry workshop, and things seem to be changing for the better. Even with just a few lines per page, Spinelli's love for her characters shines through." —Beth Reynolds, Norwich Bookstore, Norwich, VT

THE WIZARD, by Jack Prelutsky, Brandon Dorman (Illus.) "Prelutsky's wonderful rhyming style invites us into the room of a wizard. A careful study of his surroundings illustrates all the mysteries of being a wizard, as we hear him casting spell after spell and changing things we see every day. You'll be inspired to take a closer look at what's around you." —Diane Betz, Butterfly Books, De Pere, WI

For Ages 9 to 12

THE AURORA COUNTY ALL-STARS, by Deborah Wiles "The final book in Wiles' Aurora County trilogy. House Jackson wants nothing more than to pitch the winning game against his baseball team's archrivals. But life has a strange way of turning things upside down. It's a wild summer in Aurora County, featuring life, death, poetry, and dancing." —Elisabeth Grant-Gibson, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

BEARWALKER, by Joseph Bruchac, Sally Wern Comport (Illus.) "A heart-thumping thriller about a middle school kid on a class camping trip in the Adirondacks. The pages seem to turn themselves, until you find out if there really is a Bearwalker." —Sarah Galvin, The Bookstore Plus, Lake Placid, NY

THE BOOK OF TIME, by Guillaume Prevost. "Sam's dad has been missing for 10 days and, when Sam searches for him at the family's ancient bookstore, he discovers a secret room and a mysterious sculpture. Placing a coin in the sculpture takes him back in time, and he struggles to find his father, from ancient Egypt to World War I. Then Sam gets bad news: his dad may be a prisoner of Vlad Tepes ... otherwise known as Dracula. A tight, well-written story that will have readers clamoring for the next book in this series." —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

CAVE OF THE DARK WIND: A Never Land Book, by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson. "A fanciful mystery, the latest in the Never Land series. Peter is away from the island, and James and the Lost Boys go exploring. They find a fascinating cave that turns out to be dangerous — the Goat Taker lives inside. Will the boys learn the secret of the cave? Or will Captain Hook get there first?" —Jack Blanchard, Fairy Godmother Children's Books & Toys, Washington, DC

A CROOKED KIND OF PERFECT, by Linda Urban. "Urban's first novel for young readers is about a girl who dreams of playing the piano at Carnegie Hall. She needs a piano, but her parents give her an embarrassing organ, complete with rhythm switches. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, and will introduce many young readers to the great and terrible songs of the 1970s." —Stan Hynds, Northshire Bookstore, Manchester Center, VT

EVOLUTION, ME & OTHER FREAKS OF NATURE, by Robin Brande. "Biology class is a battleground for a high school freshman who wants to embrace her Christian faith and her newfound love of science. Brande's writing is authentic and sweet, and her heroine's quest to think her own thoughts is quietly challenging." —Mark Bradshaw, Watermark Books, Wichita, KS

I AM NOT JOEY PIGZA, by Jack Gantos. "Who's the child and who's the adult in the newest book in the Joey Pigza series? When Joey's long-lost father reappears and is welcomed by Joey's mother, Joey questions what is happening to the family. A great continuation of the Pigza saga!" —Kathy Taber, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN

IF A TREE FALLS AT LUNCH PERIOD, by Gennifer Choldenko. "Absolute middle school novel perfection! Kirsten and Walker attend the same exclusive private school, but they couldn't be less alike. Kirsten faces backstabbing clique girls and a fractured family; Walker struggles to balance his racial identity as one of the few blacks at school, while keeping his overprotective mother at bay. Choldenko writes with humor and pathos about middle school, where even well-intentioned lies can turn the world upside down." —Sarah Todd, Children's Book World, Haverford, PA

LOVE, STARGIRL, by Jerry Spinelli. "We've been wondering if Spinelli could recreate the magic of the original Stargirl, and I'm here to utter a resounding 'YES!' Stargirl is surrounded by beautifully quirky characters as she continues on her quest to be true to herself. A must-read for that special young reader in your life!" —Michelle Charles, Oblong Books & Music, Rhinebeck, NY

ME AND THE PUMPKIN QUEEN, by Marlane Kennedy. "Mildred is very focused...on giant pumpkins, that is. Ever since her mama died, Mildred has had her heart set on growing a champion for the Circleville Pumpkin Show weigh-off. No matter what other kids say, and in spite of crabby old pumpkin champ Grover Fernhart, Mildred holds tight to her dream in this sweetheart of a chapter book." —Sarah Miller, Halfway Down the Stairs, Rochester, MI

MIDDLE SCHOOL IS WORSE THAN MEATLOAF: A Year Told Through Stuff, by Jennifer L. Holm, Elicia Castaldi (Illus.) "First the title caught my eye, then the format hooked me. I read it through before I did another thing. What a unique way to portray a middle schooler's life — through the variety of stuff she uses, saves, and creates. " —Gayle Wingerter, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA

PIPER REED: Navy Brat, by Kimberly Willis Holt, Christine Davenier (Illus.) "This first book in a new series details the life of Piper Reed, middle child of a Navy Chief. She's lived in San Diego, Texas, Guam, Mississippi, and New Hampshire by the time she's nine. Piper relishes each move, her older sister resents it, and her younger sister goes with the flow. Using experiences from her life as a Navy brat, Holt has created a delightful new character." —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX

QUESTORS, by Joan Lennon. "This is a wonderful adventure story with creative fantasy and intelligent humor. Lennon revisits old themes with originality and makes the book a joy to read. There is, of course, a moral — but she is not heavy-handed about it." —Julia Green, Front Street Books, Alpine, TX

THE SEEMS: The Glitch in Sleep, by John Hulme and Michael Wexler. "What could be cooler than a job as a Fixer in the world behind our world? When the Sleep department goes on the fritz, 12-year-old Becker Drane is there to fix it. Funny, fantastic, fanciful, phat, and phun!" —Janet Rhodes, HearthFire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, CO

THE THIEF QUEEN'S DAUGHTER: The Last Journals of Ven Polypheme, by Elizabeth Haydon, Jason Chan (Illus.) "A creative adventure about a group of mismatched friends on a mission from the King. A little like Harry Potter and The Hobbit mixed together, this book is a fun-filled adventure with great characters and a fantasy world that comes to life. For all ages to enjoy." —Courtney Kiphart, A Likely Story, Sykesville, MD

THREE CAVE MOUNTAIN: Or: Grandfather and the Wolves, by Per Olov Enquist. "What to do when nobody understands? Why, go on an adventure, of course. Grandpa takes Mina, her sister, and their cousins to Three Cave Mountain to face their fears. A charming story and a fun read-aloud." —Marie Nordquist, The Secret Garden, Seattle, WA

VICTORY, by Susan Cooper. "The best historical books are the ones where you don't realize you're learning, you're enjoying them so much. Victory is one of those books! When Molly, a homesick English girl living in modern-day New England, makes a surprising discovery in a biography of Horatio Nelson, she connects with memories of Sam Robbins (who fought the Battle of Trafalgar on Nelson's ship) with life-altering results. Highly recommended!" —Carol Schneck, Schuler Books & Music, Okemos, MI

THE WALL: Growing Up Behind the Iron Curtain, by Peter Sis. "This is that very rare book that addresses the life of a boy behind the Iron Curtain. The format of this book, Sis' brilliant illustrations, and his personal story make this a powerful read. A story that conveys the power of freedom and how it relates to the arts and expression." —Becky Anderson, Anderson's Bookshop, Naperville, IL

THE BOOK THIEF, by Markus Zusak. "This 2006 Book Sense Book of the Year winner is an ambitious novel that manages to be at once fascinating, poignant, and funny. Death narrates the story of young Liesl Meminger, a foster child living with a family in Munich during World War II. Liesl begins to steal books as a way to escape from the strain of her life, and it is through books and reading that she finds friendship and hope." —Leslie Reiner, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL

BOOK OF A THOUSAND DAYS, by Shannon Hale. "This is the diary of Dashti, a lady's maid who accompanies her mistress when she is locked in a tower for refusing to marry her father's choice of suitor. Dashti has the ability to heal pain through song, but will that help the women survive? The world she inhabits, The Eight Realms, is an imagining of medieval Mongolia that combines fantasy and realistic characters. The quality of Hale's writing continues to amaze me." —Lori Kauffman, Brookline Booksmith, Brookline, MA

CARPE DIEM, by Autumn Cornwell. "Every junior high and high school kid in America will relate to Vassar and her family. But anyone who has lost their luggage; felt their well-planned day, trip, or life slip through their fingers; or made a list of goals will laugh aloud and love this book." —Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

THE CORPS OF THE BARE-BONED PLANE, by Polly Horvath. "Horvath is funny and smart, and so are her books. The teenagers in this story are displaced, and the uncle and housekeeper with whom they now live are eccentric, but with anchors sunk deep in the lake of humanity. This book is brilliant, and should take all the prizes offered this fall." —Pat Grant, Windows a bookshop, Monroe, LA

DEADLINE, by Chris Crutcher. "Crutcher answers the age-old question, 'How would you live if you knew you only had one year left?' When 18-year-old Ben Wolf learns he has terminal leukemia, he decides to go out for football, save the town drunk, and maybe get it on with his longtime crush — all while not telling anyone he's dying. But no man is an island. Crutcher writes with honesty and wit about what makes a life count." —Janet Rhodes, HearthFire Books of Evergreen, Evergreen, CO

FREAK, by Marcella Pixley. "A riveting, heartbreaking, ultimately redemptive book about the cruelty of middle school students. A quirky seventh-grader, Miriam, is bullied by the popular Jenny. Miriam doesn't tell anyone when things escalate, but she remains true to herself, with surprising results. This book should be read by every middle schooler and their parents." —Josie Leavitt, Flying Pig Boooks, Shelburne, VT

IN THE SERPENT'S COILS, by Tiffany Trent. "Who do you trust? That's what 15-year-old Corinne asked when she started having the dreams, and thought her world was ending. The Fey gave her everything she wished for. But when she is sent to boarding school, she is confused by her surroundings and the people she interacts with. Did they follow her there? Why are the teachers so harsh on the students? A gripping, magical book — you'll be dying to read the next book in the series (but not if the Fey have their way)." —Cassandra Helms, Constellation Books, Reisterstown, MD

LOVE IS A MANY TROUSERED THING: Confessions of Georgia Nicholson, by Louise Rennison. "Georgia Nicholson is at it again, trying to choose between Massimo and Robbie the Sex God. And what about Dave the Laugh? Don't miss this hilarious new installment in the Confessions of Georgia Nicolson series." —Tammy R. Lynn, The Book Basket, Wetumpka, AL

THE POISON APPLES, by Lily Archer. "The cover art is perfect, the frustration the girls feel is palatable, the he-said-she-said is just right. This is going on my shelf right next to Carpe Diem. Perfect!" —Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA

REVOLUTION IS NOT A DINNER PARTY: A Novel, by Ying Chang Compestine. "It's the summer of 1972, and nine-year-old Ling's life will change dramatically. Over four years, her family suffers terribly at the hands of Chairman Mao and his edicts. Ling has to learn to live, and hopefully survive, in this new and scary world. The Chinese Revolution is up close and personal in this touching historical novel." —Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English, Salt Lake City, UT

THE SECRET LIFE OF SPARROW DELANEY, by Suzanne Harper. "All Sparrow Delaney wants is a normal life. It's a bit difficult, because she is the seventh daughter in a house full of psychics. Her adventures are hilarious — she tries to hide her powers and is almost discovered. You will want to read this book in one sitting." —Diane Betz, Butterfly Books, De Pere, WI

SPANKING SHAKESPEARE, by Jake Wizner, Richard Ewing (Illus.) "Take a teenager, Shakespeare Shapiro, who hates his name; two unusual friends; several love interests; a younger brother who knows more about females than he does; and an assignment to write his senior memoir...and what do you get? Tear-inducing laughter and one of the best reads of the season. If you're not laughing by the end of the first page, check your pulse." —David Richardson, The Blue Marble Children's Bookstore, Fort Thomas, KY

WILDERNESS, by Roddy Doyle. "Brothers Johnny and Tom and their mother are on an adventure vacation in Finland, while their father and half-sister Grainne stay behind. Grainne has long felt like she doesn't belong, and her birth mother's decision to return to Ireland hasn't helped matters. Stories of mothers lost and found, happening concurrently to a blended family, are told in an engrossing, clever way." —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX