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 June, 2012

LGBT Pride Month

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

June is the official month celebrating LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender-Transsexual) Pride. In both children’s and young adult literature, there are a great many characters that fall somewhere in the LGBT category. Here is a selection of books that reflect characters either struggling with their sexuality, or who are very secure in their sexuality, or somewhere in between. For young people who may need to know that they are not alone and that there are characters and stories that reflect who they are, and what they deal with, these books serve a very valuable purpose.

Reading lists: the IT thing on social media for summer!

Monday, June 25th, 2012

Here at StorySnoops we learn so much from our Twitter followers (a.k.a, our “tweeps”)!

By keeping track of what our followers are talking about, favoriting, and retweeting, we get to see what you are most interested in. Whether it be a popular genre, a summer reading list, or a list of books based on a certain topic word, we pay attention to what you are liking to give you more of what you want.

Not on Twitter? No problem. Just because you aren’t a tweeter, you shouldn’t miss out on everyone’s favorite StorySnoops lists! Here are some of our recent most popular tweeted reading lists. Hopefully you’ll find a  list or two that you’ll like!

Looking for an award-winning book for your tween/middle grader? We have a list of 139 of them right here: http://bit.ly/hlbxJf

25 great reads for teen girls this summer: bit.ly/M8XgKc

Need a book for a younger reader? Here are 150 of them right here: http://bit.ly/kOt1R5

62 books for tweens with happy endings! We’ve reviewed them all right here: bit.ly/vFw81B

Wow! In our reading, we’ve found 85 books with positive teacher role models. Here’s the list: bit.ly/lrfIpy

Curl up with your kid and one of these great read alouds: http://bit.ly/iq5p5n

Oh, those reluctant teen boy readers! Try one of these 86 books: bit.ly/r4I5yx

These books for kids feature a positive sibling relationship: http://bit.ly/iCJmpo

Like the dystopian genre? We’ve read these 43 dystopian books for teens. Check them out here: bit.ly/KmgTeD

And in case you find yourself on Twitter, follow us at @storysnoops for more fun lists.

For all you Facebookers, like us at https://www.facebook.com/pages/Story-Snoops/112619442082241 to get all the latest and greatest from StorySnoops.

Enjoy your summer social media!

-Shannon, StorySnoop

Super Scoop: Is Bitterblue on your summer reading list?

Monday, June 18th, 2012

We Snoops pride ourselves on helping to match up readers with the best children’s books for every age. If you happen to be looking for a great summer read for your teen girl, look no further. I recently finished Bitterblue, the sequel to Graceling (2008) and its companion book, Fire (2009). For those who have already read the first two books, Bitterblue is a long-awaited and satisfying sequel. And for those who have become teens since the first books were released, it’s worth starting this series from the beginning as it offers a whole summer’s worth of page-turning pleasure.

Graceling is the story the fiercely independent and self-reliant Katsa, who at the age of eight learned that she had a special talent — or “Grace” — for killing. Since then, her uncle, King Randa, has exploited that talent by using Katsa, now in her late teens, to punish people at his whim. Despising her Grace, Katsa forms the Council, whose secret mission is to right injustices inflicted by the kings of the seven kingdoms. On one of these missions, Katsa meets Prince Po, and the two form an unlikely alliance to uncover the truth about his grandfather’s kidnapping.

Fire and its main character share the same name. She is the last remaining human monster in the kingdom of the Dells. Irresistibly beautiful, Fire has the unique ability to control people’s minds and actions. Determined not to become the treacherous monster her father was, Fire has vowed to use her power only in self-defense. When called to King City by the royal family, Fire must decide if she will make an exception and help defeat the rebel armies planning to overthrow King Nash.

Bitterblue and its main character also share the same name. The story begins eight years after Graceling, and eighteen-year-old Bitterblue is queen of Monsea. It isn’t easy to lead a kingdom that is recovering from the thirty-five-year reign of her father Leck, a sadistic maniac with the ability to alter people’s perceptions of reality. Stuck in her castle tower signing papers all day, she can’t help but feel removed from the kingdom she is supposed to rule. So Bitterblue begins to sneak out of the castle at night–anonymously–to intermingle with her subjects, learn about their lives, and become a more effective queen. On the streets of the city, she discovers that her kingdom is not as peaceful as her closest advisors have led her to believe after she befriends a group of people trying to expose the truth about what happened during Leck’s reign and set things right. When her friends become the target of those who intend to silence the truth, Bitterblue decides that she cannot rest until she understands exactly what Leck did that left her kingdom so damaged. Only then can she help her kingdom heal from the truth of those atrocities.

These three books are immensely readable and feature protagonists that are both dauntless and likable. Readers can’t help but root for Katsa, Fire, and Bitterblue as they take on new challenges and fight for their beliefs. Those who enjoy a good love story won’t be disappointed either because each of these heroines has an intriguing love interest. And who doesn’t enjoy a good summer romance?

Happy reading!

–Jen, StorySnoop

Lists, lists and more lists!

Thursday, June 14th, 2012

Lists, lists, lists. Seems much of our lives involve a list for everything! I could go on and on about the lists that rule my life, but since this site is about books and reading, I’ll stick to reading lists.

I have a list of adult books I want to read. I have a giant list of YA and middle grade books that I need to read – and quickly! I have a list of books that friends have recommended to me, and a list of books I like to recommend. I even keep a list of all the books I have read (I did, that is, until my phone died, and I had not backed up my data – lesson learned!)

With regards to my kids – more lists! When school let out I had them make their own summer reading lists so I could put books on hold for them at the library. With a little bit of help from the Snoops site, and recommendations from their friends, here is what they came up with:

7th Grade Daughter’s List:

Uglies series by Scott Westerfield (all 4 books)

The Adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson

Whatever After #1: Fairest of All by Sarah Mylnowski

This Is Me From Now On by Barbara Dee

4th Grade Son’s List

Island Book Two: Survival by Gordon Korman

Island Book Three: Escape by Gordon Korman

Ghost Buddy by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Big Nate Goes for Broke by Lincoln Pierce

How about you? What are your kids looking forward to reading this summer? And hey, if you know of anything to add to my kids’ lists, please share in the comments section. I am sure that other readers will appreciate your suggestions, too. : )

-Shannon, StorySnoop

Read Alikes–You liked Divergent? Check these out!

Monday, June 11th, 2012

StorySnoops loved Divergent by Veronica Roth! And so did our Junior Snoops girls :-) If, like us, you need some follow-up favorites in the Dystopian genre to help fill your daughters’ summer days, look no further.

If you liked:


Then be sure to check out these Read Alikes:

Enjoy!

-The Snoops

Super Scoop–Code Name Verity

Monday, June 4th, 2012

Love the smart spy stuff? Love the semi-recent historical stuff?  Even if you are only a fan of one or the other, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein is a super find that will appeal to teens and adults who enjoy an intellectual, fabulously plotted story.

The book opens with young British special operations officer Queenie (not her real name) having been captured by the Gestapo in German-occupied France. She has been through rounds of interrogation and torture, and knows that death awaits her at the end of this horrifying imprisonment. That is what the British would do to the spies they catch, after all. In exchange for a stay of execution and lesser torture, Queenie agrees to write a full confession of her knowledge of Britain’s war efforts. She decides to give her confession in the form of the story of Maddie, her best friend and the pilot who flew her to France in the first place, just before their mission went horribly wrong.

What follows is the story of a remarkable friendship between two young women whose paths never would have crossed had they not met in wartime. Queenie is a Scottish aristocrat, fluent in French and German, and Maddie is the scrappy granddaughter of a Jewish motorcycle salesman, who only wants to fly planes. Queenie’s “confession” is of course more than it seems, but not in an obvious way.  The reader suspects this, but will be hard-pressed to put a finger on exactly what she is up to.

This book is richly layered, and will appeal on many levels. The historical details are accurate and the plot just plausible enough that the reader will find herself hoping beyond hope to find out at the end that it has indeed been a true story after all. Queenie has a complex relationship with her captor and chief interrogator, Hauptsturmfuhrer Von Linden. He is at the outset a cold Orwellian character, but he and Queenie find an intellectual common ground that gives depth to his character that the reader might not expect.

The last third of the book switches points of view, which I can’t elaborate on without giving away important plot spoilers, so suffice it to say that as with any good spy thriller, just when you think you have it all figured out…you don’t! Younger readers, or those who are not familiar with WWII from the British point of view may struggle with the dense details of Queenie’s narrative–the acronyms, titles and details of the British war effort are confusing (even for this adult). There are also many literary references (“A Thousand and One Nights” and Rudyard Kipling’s “Kim”) that will go over a young reader’s head, but there are just as many shout outs to the story of Peter Pan which will not.

So many reasons to pick this one up, under the guise (or not!) of previewing it for your teen. Beautiful friendship. Unparalleled bravery. Smart plot. Resistance fighters. Spies. Villains. Suspense. Tragedy. Girl power. Tears. Love.

Read it now. Then read it again.

-Eden, StorySnoop