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 April, 2012

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

Super Scoop — The Curse Workers trilogy, by Holly Black

Tuesday, April 24th, 2012

I just finished reading Black Heart, the final installment in one of my favorites trilogies for teens, The Curse Workers by Holly Black.  Having read my fair share of series for StorySnoops, believe me when I tell you that they can become predictable and formulaic.  Not so with The Curse Workers.  Each book is engrossing, entertaining, and unpredictable, and is based an intriguing premise that, while fantasy, is close enough to reality to be relatable.

White Cat introduces seventeen-year-old Cassel Sharpe. He’s the only one in his family who is not a curse worker, so he can’t help but feel like he’s not quite good enough. Curse work is illegal, which means anyone who is born with the ability to alter a person’s emotions, luck, or memories with the touch of a hand is a criminal or scam artist–just like every member of Cassel’s family. He may not be a worker, but he’s far from innocent and he can run a scam to rival any con artist.  When Cassel notices that his two brothers are being even more secretive than usual, he runs scam after scam to get to the bottom of their odd behavior, only to discover a shocking secret about himself that changes everything.

After his older brother is murdered, in Red Glove Cassel is surprised to find out that he was an informant for the FBI. The Feds want Cassel to take over where his brother left off and help them find an assassin. The problem is, thanks to his brothers, Cassel may be the murderer they are looking for. To make matters worse, his brother’s old boss–the head of a crime family–wants Cassel to work for him.

Black Heart finds Cassel trying to go legit. Now, the boy whose family views the government as the enemy is a trainee for the FBI. But being one of the good guys doesn’t come easy for Cassel. And when that same crime boss–who just happens to be the love of his life’s father–threatens to kill Cassel’s mother unless he finds an important artifact, being good gets even harder. Then when the Feds want to turn him into an assassin again, Cassel has trouble figuring out who the good guys are and if they even exist. Once again, Cassel has to outsmart both sides, each of which is fighting for a piece of him.

In each installment of The Curse Workers series, the plot is as spirited and intelligent as its protagonist, who has just the right mix of irreverence, street smarts, and sarcasm to appeal to teen readers.  Part of Cassel’s charm is that he is acutely aware his own weaknesses, and readers will identify with him as he struggles against his nature to do the right thing. Cassel is forced into impossible situations but uses his wits to emerge triumphant, without becoming a pawn for those who want to take advantage of him.

This series could be just what the doctor ordered for teen boys, even those tricky reluctant readers.

Happy reading!

-Jen, StorySnoop

Earth Day and Books

Saturday, April 21st, 2012

Am I mistaken, or was Earth Day even a thing back when I was a kid?  I kind of think not.  I guess I was a kid a really long time ago though :-) I did a little checking on it, and it turns out that it was first celebrated in San Francisco (named after St. Francis, the patron saint of ecology) on March 21st, 1970. It is now celebrated in over 175 countries around the world, with the intention of increasing awareness and appreciation of the Earth’s natural environment and resources. I give a big thumbs up for anything that gives our younger generation an opportunity to think about what the Earth has to offer, and how to make it last for generations yet-to-come. So in the spirit of Earth Day on April 22, StorySnoops has created a list of books for teens and tweens that have environmental themes or environmentally conscious characters—just a little something to reinforce what they’ll be hearing about in school this week. Enjoy!

-Eden, StorySnoop

Say it ain’t so! Celebrating Teen Lit Day just a bit late…

Monday, April 16th, 2012

How is it possible that I missed Teen Lit Day last week on April 12th?? I am so disappointed in myself. As a huge fan of teen lit, I would have loved to celebrate in some wild and crazy fashion, surround myself by all my favorite teen books and look lovingly at them. Never too late though, right?

Though Teen Lit Day may have been last week, I am going to have my own ltitle celebration here on the blog, with confetti and streamers and everything : )

I still have all of my favorite books from when I was a teen – Sweet Valley High, Sweet Dreams Romances, Go Ask Alice, Zanboomer, My First Love And Other Disasters… I could go on and on and on.  I actually have about three shelves of them, and they are dated and they are beat up and they are well loved, and if my house were on fire, I would definitely grab them.

Now I have a special shelf of contemporary teen lit that I love. And… lucky me, I have a teen girl to share them with!

Maybe I have some sort of arrested development, as I am a forty-something woman who still reads teen lit – for my website though! – but I don’t even really care. There have been teen lit books I have read in the past few years that were as memorable and moving to me as those intended for my age group.

In fact, my favorite book of all time – and that is REALLY saying something – is a teen book. But, that is a topic for another blog  : )

The modern teen lit books I own that have a special shelf all of their own are very dear to my heart. They are varied and diverse, are extremely well written, have memorable characters and stood out among the hundreds of books I’ve read.  I know that some of them have made my “best of” lists over the last two years, but it can’t hurt to mention them again, can it??

So, in honor of Teen Lit Day (just a week or so late!) here is a list of some of my all time favorite teen literature. I love these books, in a ridiculously sentimental way, and reread them every chance I get.

What are your favorite teen books??

-Tiffany, StorySnoop

Vacation Reads

Thursday, April 12th, 2012

There is not much better than a good book and a sandy beach in my opinion. Even non-readers have been known to tote a book or two on vacation. Ask most women, and they’ll tell you their idea of a dream vacation is sitting on a sunny beach with a great book. (OK, that is my dream vacation, but I know I am not alone here!)

Maybe this is because on vacation, you can really mentally escape into a book. And, unless someone is sitting next to you trying to chat you up every few minutes, you actually have the time to read.

This might be a psychological disorder but I remember vacations by the book I was reading at the time.

Family Camp 1987Kaleidoscope by Danielle Steele (oh yes, I went through a Daniel Steele phase)

Family Camp 1990 The Stand by Stephen King.

Hawaii 2007The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian (So good I made my non-reading husband read it the next day so we could discuss)

I reread Angela’s Ashes by Frank McCourt on the plane to Ireland, and even though I was in Pismo Beach for Thanksgiving this year, my mind was very much in the Balkans. I was reading The Tiger’s Wife by Tea Obreht.

What is better than a good book on vacation? Do you remember any great books you read on vacation? Or better yet, do you have any great books to recommend for my next vacation?

-Shannon, StorySnoop

Love (triangle) is in the air

Monday, April 9th, 2012

Vampires may have lost some momentum in the world of young adult literature, but one element of the Twilight saga legacy carries on in the form of the love triangle.  Why is a love triangle so compelling?  Perhaps it’s because the reader can’t help choosing sides and becomes more invested in the story as a result.  Or maybe it’s the tension and suspense created as the protagonist contemplates the relative merits of her options.  It’s probably a little bit of both.  So if you have a soft spot for the ever-so-frustrating love triangle, here are a few more to try.


-Jen, StorySnoop

Teacher Tuesday–Beginning Boy Readers

Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012

Happy Teacher Tuesday!

Today we’re talking about beginning readers, specifically BOY beginning readers.

The boys we’re thinking about are in second and third grade, past the Frog and Toad series, and trying to find a chapter book that appeals to them in some way. Let me rephrase that. They are trying to find a book other than Diary of a Wimpy Kid, because although that book is very appealing, the reading level is still a bit too difficult. So, what will get them reading – and liking it? Here are some favorite tried and true titles for such an occasion:

We know boys who trade these books back and forth enthusiastically. What about you? Do you have any great reads for beginning boy readers to add to this list?

–The Snoops