Here is another fairytale world that has evolved into a modern industrial society. Once upon a time everything ran on fairydust, but the fairies disappeared from their floating cities; factories crank out synthetic substitutes that support industries and on the street it is used as a drug. Henry Whelp is a wolf, a despised minority, living in a boarding school for “troubled youth” because his old man is the actual Big Bad Wolf in the slammer for killing Little red Riding Hood and her grandmother. This novel is all about the seedy underworld of this fantasy city and the plot twists and turns looking for the truth behind fairydust. There is a hard-boiled noir feel here, heavy enough to be nominated for the 2011 Edgar Award, usually reserved for serious adult crime novels. (Ages 13+)
Reviewd by Chris from Compass Books SFO
The world-renowned Chandelier family has come to town put on “the best show on earth!” Night after night, little Rufus Chandelier watches his family of highly talented giraffes put on the greatest show in town, longing to be big enough to join them, until he finally gets his chance to be the star. Not yet old enough to take the stage, he nevertheless proves his worth as the show unfolds...as their ever-trusty stagehand! Clever, resourceful and quick on his toes, Rufus Chandelier comes to the rescue, saving his family from some sticky situations. Take note of the beautiful watercolor illustration, the hilariously quirky details, and Mrs. Chandelier’s to die for costumes! Perfect for the shy and quiet kid who just needs a little encouragement! (Ages 4-8.)
By Sophie Iribarren from Books Inc. Chestnut St.
A beautiful, reassuring and deeply moving new novel from the Newbery Award winning author, Rebecca Stead—where When You Reach Me was a tale of metaphysics and choice, Liar and Spy is a questioning novel about the nature of destiny and games. This time taking on a contemporary boy’s point of view, Stead expertly negotiates delicate content with seeming ease. As in When You Reach Me, her prose is marked by deceptively simple structure, belying very complicated ideas. So for mystery lovers, lovers of spies and lovers of gorgeous kids writing, Liar and Spy is the very worthy heir to the When You Reach Me Throne. For ages 9-13
--Reviewed by Maggie, Books Inc. Children's Department Director
This book is so much fun! It’s a bit of a satire of the superhero genre, but I feel it will also appeal to fans of the superhero genre as well. Five teenagers are kidnapped by aging super villains and have super powers forced upon them so they can become the next team of super villains. As the book itself asks, "How hard can it be to turn teenagers evil?" Good and evil, black and white, and all the gray areas in between are explored in this fast paced and witty debut novel. This book is perfect for boys but there are enough strong female characters to win over female readers as well. (Ages 12+)
Reviewed by Katherine from Laurel Village
I love this book! I read it twice in two days! The story and illustrations (pen and ink and colored pencil) are wonderful in this sweet tale of the friendship between two girls in the fifth grade. The subtitle is: Research for the Social Improvement and General Betterment of Lydia Goldblatt and Julie Graham-Chang (the two protagonists). It has great characters and laugh-out-loud humor and poignant storylines. The format is a "dialogue" between the two girls in their own handwriting that share their triumphs and failures in their pursuit of popularity at school. There are also TWO sequels: The Popularity Papers: The Long Dispatch Between... (where one friend moves away) and The Popularity Papers: The Rocky Road Trip of... (where the friends go on a summer break adventure). And they include gay dads! What more could you ask for? (Ages 8-12)
Reviewed by Darrell Scheidegger from Books Inc. Market St.
I absolutely hated the cliffhanger ending of Eve, so when I didn’t have to wait long to find out what was going to happen next I pretty much jumped for joy. Once starts right where Eve left off, with Eve in Califia mourning over her loss of Caleb. As much as I loved Eve, Once really sucked me in while Anna Carey twisted the plot into so many different shapes I felt like there was no way I could predict what would happen next!
The relationship between Eve and Caleb is as passionate as ever and it really broke my heart whenever they were forced to separate. I won’t spoil anything for you, but I will let you know that I cried on way more than one occasion during this book! And the King! We finally get to meet him and he is as evil and manipulative as I ever imagined! I know a lot of people have been asking me what he wants with Eve, but there’s no way I’m telling, it’s way too good!!
I absolutely loved the way Carey continued Eve’s story. Sometimes, when I read the second book in a series or trilogy I end up with that “bridge novel” feeling, where nothing really happens in the book but the character moves from one point to another, only to set up the next book. Once was far from that! Every other chapter held a major twist or plot turn, and I was absolutely amazed by what was happening!
I loved Once way more than Eve, and I’m so happy I didn’t have to wait long! Sadly, now I have to wait twice as long to find out what else is going to happen!! Not once did I even think I knew what was going to happen next, and the story moved so quickly I was able to finish it in one sitting. I could not put it down!! If you loved Eve, you’re going to love Once even more! If you didn’t love Eve, or you haven’t read it, then here’s your chance to fall in love with Anna Carey and all of her wonderful characters! Lovers of dystopias, romances, mysteries, thrillers, and adventures will want to get their hands on this one!
--Anna of Literary Exploration
Every morning, A wakes up in a different body and a different life. The novel EveryDay starts on Day 5994 of A’s life. For this story, I wanted to go back to a day in A’s life before Every Day. Think of this as A recounting a few passing moments from his past.
As a child, I am baffled by inconsistency. Not my own inconsistency—I am used to waking up in a different body and a different life every morning. This makes sense to me. It is everyone else’s inconsistency that throws me.
It is a Saturday morning, and I am seven years old. I know it’s a Saturday from the quiet of the morning, from the fact that it’s nine in the morning and nobody is rushing me off to school or to church. I like Saturday mornings because that is when I am allowed to watch cartoons. Even in houses that don’t have all the channels, I can still find cartoons.
I stumble from room to room, looking for the TV. At this age, I don’t bother to access any memories of the house. I am happy to discover everything by wandering through. My mother is in the kitchen, talking on the phone. My father might be outside, or still asleep. The TV is in the den, which has a shaggy rug and wood walls. I am late for my nine o’clock show, but I can watch the end and then see the whole nine-thirty show. This is what I did last week, and the week before. I was in different houses, but once the TV was on, it was almost like they were the same place. Last week I had brothers and sisters, but this week I don’t think I do.
I switch on the TV and it’s too loud. I find the volume control and turn it down. It’s a commercial. I don’t really care about commercials, because even if I get things, I don’t have them for very long.
I sit on the shaggy rug and lean against the couch. This show has talking animals, and when it comes back on, the moose is arguing with the aardvark about the price of a ferry ride. The parrot keeps repeating the things they’re saying in a really funny voice, and I laugh.
“What are you doing?”
I have only been watching for five minutes, but already I’m so absorbed in what’s happening that I don’t hear her at first. Then she grabs my arm and pulls me up, and I know right away I am in trouble, big trouble, and I don’t know what for. Was I laughing too loud? Was I not supposed to sit on the carpet?
Now that I’m up, she lets go and slaps the TV off. The room is suddenly silent, and there’s nowhere to hide in that silence.
“How many times have I told you not to touch that? Did I even say you could leave your room? You are not allowed to watch such garbage.”
I have so few words at age seven. I don’t know stern or enraged or sanctimonious. All I know is mad. My mother is mad at me. Her face is mad. Her posture is mad. The sound of her words is mad.
“Go back to your room.”
I don’t hesitate. I don’t want to be in the presence of her anger one moment longer. I go back to my room and sit on the bed, waiting for her to come by, to tell me what my punishment is. But all she does is come by and shut the door. There is enough light coming in through the window to make everything in the room seeable, but the air still seems tinged in shadow.
I sit there and sit there. Time feels horizonless.
Feeling someone else’s anger is bad; being left alone is worse.
At first I am too afraid to move. But eventually I have to. There are very few books in my room, and all of them are for little kids. So I pick up the dictionary, because it is the longest book in the room, and I know it’s going to be a long day.
I learn a few words. I would rather be outside the room, using them.
There’s no reprieve until lunchtime. When my mother opens the door, she eyes the dictionary in my lap with suspicion. I’ve had time to close it, but not the time to put it on the shelf. At the very least, I don’t look comfortable.
“Have you learned your lesson?” she asks.
“Well,” she says, “we’ll see about that.”
I don’t know where my father is. His things are all around the house, so I know he has to be somewhere. He’s just not here right now.
I don’t feel I can ask where he is.
She gives me a chicken sandwich—leftovers from dinner last night, put between bread. I know to eat it all, and not to ask for more. Not because I access the thoughts of the life I’m in, but because my mother is so easy to read.
We don’t talk. We stare at other parts of the kitchen. I try to find things to read. Buttons on the microwave. The brand of the refrigerator.
I rarely feel like I’m a prisoner in a body, but I have felt like a prisoner in a house. I definitely feel like I’m a prisoner here. And I am a prisoner because, as my mother’s expression makes clear, she feels she is a prisoner to me, too.
I am not allowed television. I am not allowed to go outside. I am not given conversation. Eventually I am given dinner, but that is silent, too. My father never comes home.
The only thing I am allowed, the only thing I am given, is myself. It is enough, but only barely.
Some days are like this. And the only way to get through them is to remember that they are only one day, and that every day ends.
Text © 2012 by David Levithan.
YOU CAN MEET DAVID ON OCTOBER 12th, ALONG WITH MAGGIE STIEFVATER and ELLEN HOPKINS at BOOKS INC. OPERA PLAZA! This event will be in conjunction with TEEN QUAKE, SF's Favorite Literary Festival!
--Shannon, Senior Children's Book Buyer for Books Inc.