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 August, 2011

‘Tis the season of Reading Lists–tell us what tools you need.

Monday, August 29th, 2011

One of the things our users tell us that they like about our site is the ability to search for books by lists and categories. Using our Suggested Reading Lists (for either teens or tweens), you can find books about almost anything. A sampling of our lists include Books About Divorced Families,  Books Featuring Hispanic Characters, and Tween Girls Reading Up (books for girls who are reading above grade level but still need an age-appropriate book). We’ve also just added an entire category for “Oh The Places You’ll Go”, so you can find Tween Books set in New England, or Teen Books that take place in Europe, or even Stories In and Around NYC. Take a peek around the Suggested Reading Lists.  You can find them under the “Find-a-Book” section of our home page.

We’ve tried to cover a range of interests, but surely we must be missing a few. Are there any lists or topics you’d like to see covered on the StorySnoops website?  If so, what are they? What would help you to find that perfect book for the reader in your life?

We’d love your input on this, so Snoop around on our site (pun intended!) and drop us a line to let us know what other lists you’d like to see.  If we end up using your suggestion, we’ll send you a free StorySnoops coffee mug (they are very cute!) as a token of our appreciation.

Many thanks!

-The Snoops

Read Alikes–How much did your family love Holes?

Wednesday, August 24th, 2011

Here at StorySnoops, we really loved Holes (and deemed it a “new classic” here!).  We love its appeal to both boys and girls, and kids of all ages. If you are a fan too, here are some others you might want to try.

If you liked:

Then you’ll want to check out:

Enjoy!  –the Snoops

Put your readers back in a middle school state of mind…

Thursday, August 18th, 2011

Calling all parents of middle-schoolers!  If perhaps, like me, you haven’t been enforcing the twenty minutes of reading a night plan that you had in mind at the beginning of the summer, Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol by Jim Krieg could be just what you need to get your readers back in the groove.

In the book, twelve-year-old Griff Carver may be new to the halls of Rampart Junior High, but he is not new to hallway patrol. He’s been sporting the safety patrol badge for years, which has taught him more than a thing or two about the criminal mind and law enforcement. So when he discovers that the most popular kid in school is also the kingpin in a counterfeit hall pass scheme, Griff will stop at nothing to bring him down. Has Griff Carver finally met his match?

This funny survival story – surviving middle school, that is – features a savvy and snarky young crime-fighter. Told in journal entries, incident reports, and recorded interviews, the book is chock-full of insightful observations about the middle school pecking order and social dynamics. The author expertly creates relatable, authentic characters readers can’t help but recognize–the brainiac, the band kid, the popular guy, the newspaper editor, and the hall monitor.

Griff and the rest of the squad take their jobs very seriously, each fancying themselves more hall cop than hall patrol. After being kicked out of his last school for over-zealous hall monitoring, Griff is under strict orders from his mother to stay off the squad. But Griff can’t resist the call of the badge, so he lies to his mom. When found out in the end, Griff willingly accepts consequences for his behavior.

Filled with middle-school truism and sophisticated humor, Griff Carver, Hallway Patrol may be just what your middle-schooler needs to ease back into the school year.

Happy reading!

-Jen, StorySnoop

Never Say Never (Twilight anyone?)

Wednesday, August 17th, 2011

You know how when you parent your first child, you have all these big ideas and theories that you incorporate into your parenting? All those rules you simply MUST follow or else your child will be an absolute failure? And then – your second and third children come along and if you don’t exactly throw all those big rules out the window, you, well, don’t abide by them quite so steadfastly? Yeah, I’ve got that going on right now.

My oldest is sixteen, and a boy. I sanitized every bottle and pre-read all of his books. My daughter is now eleven and I’m not sure how to raise a girl pre-teen. I’m lucky – my three Snoops friends all have older daughters. I have watched them parent, set limits, and vent their frustrations. My daughter is so much younger than theirs that I often can’t relate, but I’ve always been taking mental notes of the rules that I will be enforcing when my girl comes of age. And now it’s happening…..

Funny, one of our experiences that prompted the start of StorySnoops had to do with the Snoops’ young daughters ripping through the Twilight series before their  poor moms knew what their daughters were reading. My friends all shared their surprise (shock?!) when they caught up to their girls in the series and realized there is S.E.X in the fourth book. Were their tween girls scarred for life? Of course not. But… would have been nice to get a heads up so the moms could be prepared to have a discussion or field any possible questions. Thus, StorySnoops began!

So, I directly benefitted from StorySnoops recently in my own house. My daughter has been BEGGING me to read Twilight. I swore I would never let her read such a thing until she was in high school! But, after after reading our scoops on the site, I relented. I pre-read “that part” in the fourth book, and Jen’s scoop is right on the money. It’s more innuendo than anything and after a chat with my daughter, I gave her the green light to read away. That was the right choice for our family. That’s the beauty of StorySnoops – we give you the information, and it is up to you what you do with it.

Two weeks ago, my daughter began the series and now she has five pages left. She doodles “Team Edward” on everything and has begun mourning the end of the series.  How often does a kid enjoy a book THAT much? I think I made the right decision – thanks to the veteran girl moms at StorySnoops.

-Shannon, StorySnoop

Read Alikes–Do you have an Allie Finkle fan on your hands?

Sunday, August 14th, 2011

At, we’ve met lots of young girls who LOVE a good chapter book with a spunky and smart main character (just like them, perhaps?). If your daughter needs help with where to go next, look no further!

If you liked:

The be sure to take a look at:

Enjoy! –The Snoops

Super Scoop – Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen

Thursday, August 11th, 2011

Liar, liar, pants on fire, underwear’s hanging from the telephone wire! : ) Remember that? I sure do! And the cover of this book Liar, Liar by Gary Paulsen made me think of it. I thought this little book was going to be one thing, and it was actually so much more.

Older tween and younger teen boys will enjoy this speed read about main character Kevin, who says that he is the best liar you will ever meet. He tells some whoppers, some little white lies, and everything in between for a variety of reasons and gets himself in some pretty deep trouble. He stops at nothing in his quest to prove to the lovely Tina that he is the boy for her, wreaking havoc along the way. He gets himself in trouble with his family, his best friend, and the authorities at school, and along the way he learns that the truth may not be such a bad thing after all.

Now, the truth may be stranger than fiction, but I have also learned that in fiction, there is truth. This central theme of this story is about telling the truth, and one boy’s journey through a whole lot of complicated lies to a place of truth. I absolutely love that, as well as entertaining with humor, relatable characters and an engaging plot, this story has some little gems of wisdom.

Each chapter’s title begins with “A good lie…” In the earlier chapters, the titles are funny and lighthearted and they evolve as the character does to show lessons learned. For example, the first few chapters are titled, “A good lie furthers your agenda,” and “A good lie can support any plan.” As the story goes on, the chapter titles change to ones like, “A good lie takes on a life of its own,” and “A good lie shows you the truth.” I loved the way the story wrapped up, and it is evident that main character Kevin has come a long way in the last few chapter titles: “A good lie can turn on you,” “A good lie requires a great apology,” and my personal favorite, “A good lie is an oxymoron.”

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

Truth is stranger than fiction!

Sunday, August 7th, 2011

Here at StorySnoops, we share the blog-writing responsibilities, a task I usually enjoy.  But this time, it’s my turn to write a blog entry and I’m stuck. I mean I’ve got nothing.  So I decided rather than my usual, “I read this great book…” blah, blah, blah, I thought I’d share a little, albeit bizarre, story with you.

I was in my car one day last week, minding my own business, when I stopped at a red light.  My vision shifted to my left where I was surprised and then horrified by what I saw.  A woman was passing the time waiting at the light by plucking her chin hair.  Yes, chin hair.  She must have had a lot of it because she was at it for quite some time.  There I was, like a deer caught in headlights. I simply could not look away.  Bewildered by seeing such a private activity in such a public place, I tucked the event away in my subconscious where it belonged… until today.

How can I top this bizarre occurrence? Even I didn’t think it was possible. Stopped a red light once again, I glanced in my rearview mirror and noticed a woman in a Mini Cooper convertible.  She seemed to be doing a very thorough examination of her nostrils when the unimaginable happened.  She whipped out a handy pair of grooming shears and went to work, trimming the hair inside her nostrils.  Did I mention that the top was down on her convertible?

Do people now think that being in a car makes them invisible?  And what’s with the mobile grooming trend? There’s a time and place for everything, right?  I must not have gotten the memo.

What do these observations have to do with children’s books, you ask? Virtually nothing.  Except that, having faced my own form of writer’s block, I am doing my part to provide material.  So all of you fiction writers out there, here is a little dose of truth.  Feel free to use it to make your fiction stranger.  :-)

-Jen, StorySnoop

Read Alikes–did you love The Wolves of Mercy Falls?

Tuesday, August 2nd, 2011

Forever, book 3 of the Wolves of Mercy Falls trilogy by Maggie Stiefvater, has just come out this month, and we loved it here at StorySnoops.  Are you a fan of a good fantasy + romance?

If you liked:

Then check out:

You’ll be glad you did!

-The Snoops