Childrens book reviews by StorySnoops, judge a book by more than its cover, serving fresh scoops of new books for you every day
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Archive for the ‘Announcements’ Category

Ready for the scoop on this year’s Newbery winners?

Sunday, March 30th, 2014

Let’s start with the Honor books, shall we?

Doll Bones by Holly Black

Zach, Poppy and Alice have been friends forever. They love playing with their action figure toys, imagining a magical world of adventure and heroism. But disaster strikes when, without warning, Zach’s father throws out all his toys, declaring he’s too old for them. Zach is furious, confused and embarrassed, deciding that the only way to cope is to stop playing . . . and stop being friends with Poppy and Alice. But one night the girls pay Zach a visit, and tell him about a series of mysterious occurrences. Poppy swears that she is now being haunted by a china doll – who claims that it is made from the ground-up bones of a murdered girl. They must return the doll to where the girl lived, and bury it. Otherwise the three children will be cursed for eternity . . .

Here’s our Scoop: The Doll Bones is a haunting, imaginative, and oddly enough, endearing story from the co-author of The Spiderwick Chronicles. Three friends set off on a quest to investigate a girl’s mysterious death…(click here for the full review)

The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

When Billy Miller has a mishap at the statue of the Jolly Green Giant at the end of summer vacation, he ends up with a big lump on his head. What a way to start second grade, with a lump on your head! As the year goes by, though, Billy figures out how to navigate elementary school, how to appreciate his little sister, and how to be a more grown up and responsible member of the family and a help to his busy working mom and stay-at-home dad. Newbery Honor author and Caldecott Medalist Kevin Henkes delivers a short, satisfying, laugh-out-loud-funny school and family story that features a diorama homework assignment, a school poetry slam, cancelled sleepovers, and epic sibling temper tantrums. This is a perfect short novel for the early elementary grades.

Here’s our Scoop: The Year of Billy Miller is from the award-winning and beloved author, Kevin Henkes. As usual, Henkes writes a story that is humorous, relatable, and very well-written. Both genders will enjoy this read, but boys…(click here for the full review)

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake

In the town of Placid, Wisconsin, in 1871, Georgie Burkhardt is known for two things: her uncanny aim with a rifle and her habit of speaking her mind plainly. But when Georgie blurts out something she shouldn’t, her older sister Agatha flees, running off with a pack of “pigeoners” trailing the passenger pigeon migration. And when the sheriff returns to town with an unidentifiable body—wearing Agatha’s blue-green ball gown—everyone assumes the worst. Except Georgie. Refusing to believe the facts that are laid down (and coffined) before her, Georgie sets out on a journey to find her sister. She will track every last clue and shred of evidence to bring Agatha home. Yet even with resolute determination and her trusty Springfield single-shot, Georgie is not prepared for what she faces on the western frontier.

Here’s our Scoop: One Came Home is a Newbery Honor book that is essentially, as western for kids. The main character is a strong, smart and humorous heroine, who goes out on a quest to solve the…(click here for the full review)

Paperboy by Vince Vawter

An 11-year-old boy living in Memphis in 1959 throws the meanest fastball in town, but talking is a whole different ball game. He can barely say a word without stuttering, not even his own name. So when he takes over his best friend’s paper route for the month of July, he knows he’ll be forced to communicate with the different customers, including a housewife who drinks too much and a retired merchant marine who seems to know just about everything.

The paper route poses challenges, but it’s a run-in with the neighborhood junkman, a bully and thief, that stirs up real trouble–and puts the boy’s life, as well as that of his family’s devoted housekeeper, in danger.

Here’s our Scoop: What I love about the book, The Paperboy , is that it demonstrates empathy on so many levels. The main character, Victor, has a terrible stutter making it hard…(click here for the full review)

Congrats to these outstanding books for receiving the Newbery Honor Award. I love that each are unique and very different from each other, but special in its own way.

In the next blog, we will bring you our review of this year’s Newberry Award Winner! Stay tuned….

–Shannon, StorySnoop

What do you hear about Pinterest?

Monday, April 30th, 2012

Oh baby, is there some fun going on in the cyber-world these days!  Here at StorySnoops, we may be late in jumping on the bandwagon, but we have just discovered Pinterest, and boy are we having a good time :-) The latest phenom in the social media world is growing leaps and bounds every week, and it is exciting to get in on it.

Have you checked it out yet? If not, it is a virtual “pin board”, where you can post photos of pretty much anything you find on in the internet, and organize your pins into groups of things that interest you. Just like other social media sites, you follow people, although the difference in this case is that in addition to your friends, you can follow random people who share similar interests as well. For sure, this is a mecca for folks who are interested in fashion, design ideas, recipes and pithy quotes.

Pinterest is not really designed for businesses or bloggers per se, but both groups are definitely jumping in trying to figure out the best way to share their wares. We are excited to explore Pinterest as a way to showcase an informal presentation of our website, and add other literacy-related goodies that we don’t have an opportunity to post on the site.

We’ll be putting Pinterest buttons on our site soon, to make it easy to link back and forth or to pin pages that other people like to their own boards. But until then, log on to Pinterest and give us a look.  Do you have a page yourself? Let us know so we can follow you. Happy browsing!

-Eden, StorySnoop

It’s World Read Aloud Day!

Wednesday, March 7th, 2012

I will never forget my fourth grade teacher, Mrs. Sullivan, reading my class the book Jennifer, Hecate, Macbeth, William McKinley and Me, Elizabeth by E.L. Konigsburg. It is one of my favorite books from my childhood, most likely because I have such fond memories of those days in the classroom, sitting with my classmates, hanging on Mrs. Sullivan’s every word, so eager to find out what would happen next.

Today, March 7, 2012 is World Read Aloud Day, and is a great opportunity to look at the importance of reading aloud to children. According to the Commission on Reading, ‘The single most important activity for building the knowledge required for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children.’

When you read aloud to your child, or to any child for that matter, you are not only providing them with important downtime, you are improving their reading skills, their written, oral and auditory skills, you are teaching them grammatical form and story structure, and you are helping them associate reading with pleasure. Reading aloud to children stimulates language, cognitive skills, builds motivation, curiosity and memory and it helps to foster a love of literature.

Children listen at a higher reading level than they read. When you read a child a story that is slightly more advanced than their independent reading level, you expose children to new vocabulary and allow them to enjoy material beyond their own reading abilities.

No child is too young or too old to be read to.

I have loved reading books to my children, and I would bet that they would tell you that they loved being read to. We have some of our very favorites still on the shelf and every once in awhile we get them out and read them again. The books themselves are beloved to us, but so are the memories of sitting and enjoying the story together.

So, in the spirit of World Read Aloud Day, make a trip to the library, stop by the bookstore, stock up from an online retailer or load up your e-reader. The world of children’s literature is full of exciting, engaging an extraordinary writing and stories that are just begging to be read – and I bet there are some children in your life who would love to hear them, from you.

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

The library! It’s here! It’s here! It’s here!

Monday, February 13th, 2012

If you are an out-of-town friend of StorySnoops, you may not have had February 11, 2012 on your calendar for months and months, but here in Los Gatos, we have been waiting for this day with baited breath. In this town sadly devoid of book stores (sigh–read about it here), we have all been marking the days until our NEW Los Gatos Library opened. And that day finally came this weekend.

It was a big deal, and I was so proud of the citizens of our town for supporting such a grand celebration of literature.  A half hour before opening, it seemed like half the town was out front waiting for the doors to open, listening to speeches by town leaders and music by the high school band. There were author signings, tours and other events happening all weekend. People were walking around town with the new book bags they got at the library.  It warmed my heart to see it all.

And today, my middle school son was begging me to let him ride his skateboard down, with his library card in his pocket, just to wander on his own and check something out. What? Yes! Of course! Take all the time you need! He and his friends have been talking about meeting there after school to do homework. Be still my heart.

It’s been awhile since there has been happy book news in our town, and if only a fraction of the excitement surrounding this library opening sticks around, it will be enough for me. Congratulations to all involved who have succeeded in building a beautiful and welcoming facility that joins literature and technology in an inviting setting–a place that people will want to gather and surround themselves with books. It gives me hope that young people will continue to treasure the written word, and have a place where they can experience the beauty of holding a paper book in their hand. What a worthwhile investment for our community.

-Eden, StorySnoop

And the winner is…

Monday, January 23rd, 2012

Are you ready?

Woo hoo!  It’s award season!  And it’s a big day in the book world as the American Library Association has just announced a slew of important awards in Children’s and Young Adult literature. Here are just some of the highlights:

John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature:

Two Newbery Honor awards were also named:

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

Four Printz Honor Books also were named:

Schneider Family Book Award for books that embody an artistic expression of the disability experience:

For the complete list of distinguished awards that were announced today, click here.  We are on pins and needles waiting for the YALSA “Best Fiction for Young Adults” lists, which we will bring you as soon as we hear :-)


–The Snoops

New Today–Teacher Tuesday!

Tuesday, January 17th, 2012

Last month, we blogged some read-aloud suggestions for the classroom here, and the response was amazing! We love teachers here at StorySnoops. If we can help make your job just a teeny bit easier, well, that just makes our day :-)

In honor of you educators, we’ll be devoting one blog a month to all things education. We’ll be dishing about great read-alouds for all ages, book report suggestions, and books that will make for great classroom discussions. Looking for books for those reluctant readers?  Trying to find age-appropriate books for that nine year-old in your class who is reading three grade levels ahead?  We can help you out with those books, too.

For January, let’s begin the year with some more read-alouds…

Since you are never too old to be read to, here are some books that would be especially enjoyed in a 5th, 6th, and 7th grade classroom.

Happy Reading!

The Snoops

New Year’s Resolution

Sunday, January 1st, 2012

At this time of year, we Snoops not only like to reflect on what we’ve read over the past twelve months, we also like to look ahead and consider how we can make the website even better. But to create our list of StorySnoops New Year’s resolutions, we need your feedback. What could be improved about the site? Are there books that we have missed or features you’d like to see more of? How about a new theme for our suggested reading lists? All ideas and suggestions are welcome. Please help us make StorySnoops the best resource it can be by leaving a comment. We look forward to hearing from you!


The Snoops

Let the StorySnoops Holiday Gift Guide help you out this year!

Monday, December 12th, 2011

Now that it is mid-December, you are undoubtedly either fully engaged in holiday shopping or at the very least, thinking about being fully engaged in holiday shopping!  In either case, let us take the guess work out of it with some ideas for the young readers on your list. We’ve organized our holiday list by age and gender, with books we loved this year.  We define Tweens as kids aged roughly 9-12, and Teens are 12 and up. There is obviously a lot of grey area in the 11-14 age range though, depending on the individual child and their maturity level, so be sure to click on the titles so that you can see exactly what we had to say about each book.  We know you’ve got a lot to do, so let’s get right down to business…drum roll please…

For the Tween Boys, an age group with a disproportionately-high percentage of reluctant readers—check these titles out:

Also consider:

The Bridge to Never Land by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

The Absolute Value of Mike by Kathryn Erskine

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

The Genius Files: Mission Unstoppable by Dan Gutman

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

Cahills vs. Vespers Book 1: The Medusa Plot by Gordon Korman

The Black (Morpheus Road #2) by D. J. MacHale

Big Nate on a Roll by Lincoln Peirce

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

The Fingertips of Duncan Dorfman by Meg Wolitzer

For the Tween Girls, we’ve got beautiful fiction, adventure, fantasy, you name it:

Also consider:

Cinderella Smith by Stephanie Barden

The Bridge to Never Land by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Close to Famous by Joan Bauer

Flyaway by Lucy Christopher

Notes from an Accidental Band Geek by Erin Dionne

Fashion Kitty and the B.O.Y.S. (Ball of Yellow String) by Cherise Mericle Harper

Addie on the Inside by James Howe

Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6: Cabin Fever by Jeff Kinney

Leisl and Po by Lauren Oliver

The Summer I Learned to Fly by Dana Reinhardt

The Son of Neptune (The Heroes of Olympus #2) by Rick Riordan

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

The Emerald Atlas by John Stephens

Water Balloon by Audrey Vernick

For the Teen Guys, there is stark realism, humor, adventure, dystopian lit, sports fiction and more:

Also consider:

Red Glove (Curse Workers Book 2) by Holly Black

The Slayer Chronicles: First Kill by Heather Brewer

The Death Cure (Maze Runner Trilogy #3) by James Dashner

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans

You Don’t Know About Me by Brian Meehl

Kick by Walter Dean Myers and Ross Workman

This Dark Endeavor: The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein by Kenneth Oppel

Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas by Gary Paulsen

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

And finally for the Teen Girls, take your pick—there is truly something for every taste:

Also consider:

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

My Life Undecided by Jessica Brody

Uncommon Criminals (Heist Society #2) by Ally Carter

The Beginning of After by Jennifer Castle

City of Fallen Angels (Mortal Instruments #4) by Cassandra Clare

Crossed (Matched #2) by Ally Condie

The Lost Songs by Caroline B. Cooney

Happyface by Stephen Emond

You Have Seven Messages by Stewart Lewis

Finding Somewhere by Joseph Monninger

Paintings from the Cave: Three Novellas by Gary Paulsen

The Day Before by Lisa Schroeder

Supernaturally (Paranormalcy #2) by Kiersten White

How to Save a Life by Sarah Zarr

We love all of these books and hope that you’ll find just the right book at just the right reading level for your child.

Happy Holidays!

-The Snoops

National Book Award 2011!!

Wednesday, November 16th, 2011

“Congratulations to Inside Out and Back Again by Thanhha Lai, winner of the 2011 National Book Award for Young People’s Literature! Click on a book cover for the scoop on the winner and all of the finalists.

And the Teen’s Top 10 winners are…plus Read Alikes!

Thursday, October 20th, 2011

Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, where teens nominate and choose their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in sixteen school and public libraries around the country, then voting is open to all teens via the American Library Association’s website.  Over nine thousand votes later, the winners are…

1. Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare

2. Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

3. Crescendo by Becca Fitzpatrick

4. I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

5. The Iron King by Julie Kagawa

6. Matched by Ally Condie

7. Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

8. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White

9. Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

10. Nightshade by Andrea Cremer

Congratulations to all of the winners! And since we featured two of the winning authors on our site this week (you can see their interviews here), we thought we’d throw in some Read Alikes for their books that we enjoyed so much :-) So here goes.

If you liked:

Then you may also want to check out:

And, if you enjoyed:

Take a look at:

So many books, so little time! Enjoy!  –The Snoops