People are talking so much about the innovative (illustration-heavy)  format of COUNTDOWN, as well as the historical setting ( the Cuban Missile Crisis) they're neglecting to mention that it's simply a wonderfully written book. Franny's voice is fresh and convincing, offering insights to both the tumult of the era, but also the usual emotional swings of a kid turning into a teenager.  In turns breathless and immediate, but also mindful and poetic (Franny is herself a reflective kid) Wiles earns the buzz she's getting.
The only thing KNEEBONE BOY has in common with Ellen Potter's other books is that it is excellent.  Told by one (you don't know which) of three odd semi-orphans, the book follows the trio on a search for their missing mother, in a house strange enough to be magical. Only it isn't. The characters are at once bizarre, and human, and the end is an absolute surprise. Amazing!
Our picks for all the kids and teens on your holiday list continues with FIRELIGHT by Sophie Jordan. Jacinda is the new heroine to look out for. She is both daring and defiant - a girl who is descended from dragons, and who falls in love with a very dangerous, but totally irresistable, guy... who just happens to be a Hunter. The plot is full of suspense and surprises and you will not want to stop reading.
THE QUIET BOOK is perfect for adults who want to encourage the little ones they know to use their "library voice" more often, or for lulling baby to sleep. With kid-centric descriptions and irresistible artwork, this gentle picture book explores all the different quiets that can fill a child’s days from morning to night.
In THE MERMAID'S MIRROR by LK Madigan, Lena is a Northern California girl who is obsessed with the ocean. All her friends surf, and her dad was a surfer too - but after a bad accident a long time ago, he refuses to let Lena take lessons. She sneaks behind his back and does it anyway, and finds a secret beneath the waves... a secret that will change her life forever. This book is magical and wonderful, you can practically smell the salty air between the words. A treat for 12+ girls - should appeal to both those who are into fantasy, and those who prefer realistic stories.

For fans of dystopian fiction, MATCHED is the most compelling teen novel since HUNGER GAMES. Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander's face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky's face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. Cassia begins to doubt everything she's ever known and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she's known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

It's a classic story: Kid Wants Pet. In this hilarious twist on the theme, a young bear find a kid in the woods. She really really wants to keep him, and gives him a name and everything, but as the title says... Children make terrible pets!  Join Lucy and Squeakers for their day of fun and find out why.
Our month-long holiday gift guide continues with Jennifer Donnelly's REVOLUTION. Andi and Alexandrine. Two girls, two centuries apart. One never knowing the other. But when Andi finds Alexandrine’s diary, she recognizes something in her words and is moved to the point of obsession. There’s comfort and distraction for Andi in the journal’s antique pages—until, on a midnight journey through the catacombs of Paris, Alexandrine’s words transcend paper and time, and the past becomes suddenly, terrifyingly present. A surprising and beautiful novel for teens (or adults!)

Our next holiday pick is SUGAR AND ICE by Kate Messner. It will make a perfect gift for any girl who likes skating, theatre, dance or other competitive athletic or artistic endeavors. For Claire Boucher, life is all about skating on the frozen cow pond and in the annual Maple Show right before the big pancake breakfast on her family's farm. But all that changes when a charismatic Russian skating coach offers Claire a scholarship to train with the elite in Lake Placid. Tossed into a world of mean girls on ice, where competition is everything, Claire realizes that her sweet dream come true has sharper edges than she could have imagined. Can she find the strength to stand up to the people who want to see her fail and the courage to decide which dream she wants to follow?

Winter 2010-2011 Kids Indie Next List

Junior Library Guild Selection

For the child who appreciates facts, may we recommend JUST ONE BITE? This is a color-saturated, gorgeous and life-sized introduction to what animals eat, how they eat it, and how much they eat in a single bite, and it is full of compelling facts and images. From drops of nectar and tiny sand-grain-sized bits of earth, to the vast tentacles of the giant squid that is a snack for a sperm whale, this book and the eleven animals in it are EXACTLY as large as life!