Wow! Summer's here and there are more great books than ever. Have you checked out the Library's Summer Reading Program? Check out lots of books and win prizes for reading them. What a deal! To celebrate great reads, I've made a list. Books about famous and not-so-famous people, books with fantastic adventures, and quiet, get-under-your-skin books for a day of reading in your favorite mud puddle.
Yours with snorts,
Orphan Train Rider: One Boy's True Story
By Warren, Andrea
Orphan trains were part of so-called "placing out" programs in New York City and other Eastern cities between 1854 and 1930, an effort to find homes for white children without parental support. Lee Nailling was one of these children. In 1926 Nailling rode with his younger brother on an "orphan train" to Texas. His story is skillfully interlaced with Warren's chilling overview of these social service programs. Because even today many survivors are unwilling to identify themselves as former "train kids," Nailling's witness offers a rare glimpse into the lifelong impact of his experiences. Black-and-white archival photos and Nailling family photos give human faces to information about the formal system that sent more than 200,000 children into homes where often they were expected to provide hard labor without receiving comfort or real family status in return. —Cooperative Children's Book Center Review.
The Hunger Games
By Collins, Suzanne
Sometime in the future, a 16-year-old girl named Katniss Everdeen lives with her little sister and mother in North America in a place called District 12. People in District 12 are poor, and since her father's death in a coal-mining accident, Katniss has had to hunt game with a bow and arrow to supplement her family's meager supplies. District 12 is far from the capital city, Panem, a place Katniss never expects to visit.
But then comes the day of "reaping," when her beloved sister Prim is randomly chosen to represent District 12 in the annual Hunger Games. Immediately Katniss steps forward and volunteers to take her sister's place in the Games, which are held each year in the Capitol. The Hunger Games have elements in common with the Olympics (coaches, training and a spectacular opening ceremony) and with reality TV shows (constant cameras, obstacles, a manipulated environment in the arena). But the purpose of these games is far more gruesome and terrifying. Of the 24 young people who compete, only one will survive. To win at the Hunger Games you must kill all your opponents, even if they have become your friends. Review by Deborah Hopkinson.
When the Tripods Came
By Christopher, John
When it comes to alien invasions, bad things come in threes.
Three landings. One in England, one in Russia, and one in the United States.
Three long legs, crushing everything in their paths, with three metallic arms, snaking out to embrace—and then discard—their helpless victims.
Three evil beings, called Tripods, which will change life on this planet forever.
"A prequel to the well-known Tripods trilogy more than outdoes itself in excitement and provides the logical, ingenious, and frightening explanation of just how the Tripods were able to take over most of the world".—The Horn Book
The Realities are in danger and from something more terrible than Mistress Jane and the mutated Chi karda of the Thirteenth Reality. People from all Realities are unexplainably going insane. Worse, some Realities are disintegrating into nothingness.
It was not until 1976 that a NASA campaign to find minority trainees was launched, leading to the recruitment of the two Air Force colonels and the civilian scientist who would become the first African Americans to journey into space. Dramatic photos and vivid text tell the inspiring story of those three men and the African Americans who have followed them.
Empire of Blue Water: Captain Morgan's Great Pirate Army, the Epic Battle for the Americas, and the Catastrophe That Ended the Outlaws' Bloody Regin
By Talty, Stephan
Awash with bloody battles, political intrigue, and an incredible epoch-ending natural disaster, this is the real-life story of Henry Morgan, the legendary pirate of the Caribbean, who in the 17th century challenged the greatest military power on earth with a ragtag bunch of renegades and brought it to its knees.
The Pirate Queen
By McCully, Emily Arnold
In 16th-century Ireland, there lived an amazing pirating woman named Grania O'Malley. Now Caldecott Award-winning author/artist McCully brings her fascinating story to life, recounting how she fought Turkish pirates, out-dueled and outwitted every enemy that challenged her, and saved her father from an Englishman's blade. Full color.
The Serpent's Children: Golden Mountain Chronicles: 1849
By Yep, Laurence
When the villagers call Cassia and her brother "the serpent's children", they mean it as an insult. But to Cassia it is an honor, for legend says that once a serpent sets her mind on something, she never gives up. Set in 19th-century China, during a time of famine, violence, and the threats of the Manchurian government, this novel by the author of Dragon's Gate tells a compelling story of a young girl's struggle to survive.
I Capture the Castle
By Smith, Dodie
I Capture the Castle tells the story of 17-year-old Cassandra and her family, who live in not-so-genteel poverty in a ramshackle old English castle. During eight turbulent months in 1934, she fills three diaries with funny yet poignant entries and manages to find herself hopelessly in love.
Scrambled States of America
By Keller, Laurie
At the first annual "states party," Virginia and Idaho hatch a plan to swap spots so each can see another part of the country. Packed with madcap humor and whimsical illustrations, this quirky story—starring all 50 states—is chock-full of introductory facts and silly antics that will make learning geography as fun as taking a vacation.
Tintin in America
When Tintin visits the U.S., he finds corruption, exploitation, and racism in this striking story from the early 1930s.
Mothers can do just about anything. Or can they? Find out in What Moms Can't Do. Douglas Wood and illustrator Doug Cushman, the creators of What Dads Can't Do, take a silly swipe at mothers everywhere. The mom here is a large green creature—a dinosaur with hair perhaps?—and it's clear she needs lots of help from her kid to do even the simplest things. For instance, she can't watch the scary parts of movies alone. (Not without that kid in her lap for protection.) And she can't ever let go of a hug without a kiss. But in the end, of course, moms can do one thing better than anyone: love you. Review by Deborah Hopkinson.
Somewhere in the Darkness
By Myers, Walter Dean
From the award-winning author of Fallen Angels and Malcolm X: By Any Means Necessary, here is a powerful, award-winning novel about a 14-year-old boy who meets his father for the first time and learns that although some things can't be fixed, they can be understood—and forgiven. 1993 Newbery Honor Book; 1993 Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book; 1992 Boston Globe/Horn Book Award Honor Book.