Thursday, May 28, 2015

Fairy Tale Twist: Prince of a Frog

Prince of a Frog
story and illustrations by Jackie Urbanovic
Orchard Books (Scholastic Inc.)
2015
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545636520


Prince of a Frog takes the classic fairy tale and twists it in such a way that it will have kids giggling and their parents and grandparents amazed at the transformation from classic tale to new story.

Hopper is a gregarious frog who longs for fun and games, so much so, that he just doesn't fit in at the small pond. A wise old turtle advises him that he may not be a frog at all; perhaps he is a prince. Hopper isn't sure what that means but he knows he has to find a princess and kiss her. He looks high and low and nearly runs into trouble in the woods but is saved by a likeable, outgoing dog. The dog is kind and sweet and shows him that he truly is a prince and has been one all along.

Charming and sweet, Hopper and Princess are two cute characters bound to become favorites. Jackie Urbanovic hits all the right notes in this retelling of a well-known tale.

The illustrations capture the friendship and joy between the two main characters and the final page is sheer beauty!

Highly, highly recommended for any beginning reader and perfect for a friendship story.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Picture Book Pick: Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner

Never Ask a Dinosaur to Dinner
by Gareth Edwards
Illustrations by Guy Parker-Rees
Scholastic Press
2015 (Published in U.K. 2014)
32 pages
ISBN:9780545812962

read an excerpt

Clever rhyming content is matched with winsome and whimsical illustrations and the outcome is amazing and entertaining. A boy tries to discover which animal would be the best one for comfort at bedtime. Fierce animals like sharks, tigers and bison all have drawbacks as bedtime pals. Some animals are too loud, or too pointy, or too growly. The boy finds out that his own teddy bear is the best animal to take to bed and that counting sheep will put him fast asleep.  You won't want to ask a dinosaur to dinner, "...because a T. rex is ferocious/and his manners are atrocious,/And you'll find that if he's able.../He will eat the kitchen table!"

Dinosaurs are always  winners with the younger set and this book is no exception. The smiling blue dinosaur on the cover is ready to sit down to dinner. He's got his bib on and holds a fork and knife. Never mind the mess he's made at his feet. The boy is waving to the dinosaur ignoring his own teddy bear who is reaching up to be held. No young reader is going to walk by this book without picking it up. The cover design alone will sell this title.

Highly, highly recommended for dinosaur lovers and anyone who likes a rhyming bedtime story.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Dystopian Trilogy Pick: Undertow

Undertow (book 1)
by Michael Buckley
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015
376 pages
ISBN: 9780544348257
 
 
 
Get Ready! Undertow will make a huge splash (yes, pun intended) in YA novels this year! Gripping, action packed, full of fierce, raw energy, violent clashes between humans and "monsters," one kick axe (again, spelling intended)  girl who is willing to do anything to save both species. You will have tons of nail biting moments when you will see the pages turning at record speed, and you will find yourself hurtled into a world gone terribly wrong.
 
 

Book Giveaway: Undertow (book 1)

 
 
                                                                    View the trailer
Undertow
by Michael Buckley
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
2015
376 pages
ISBN: 9780544348257

This is the BEST YA novel I've read so far this year. You gotta get your hands on a copy! Highly, highly recommended grade 7-up. So highly recommended that I think this is the next Hollywood blockbuster! Dystopian fiction mixed with sci-fi and romance! Teen dialog is spot on. Michael Buckley, thank you for Lyric Walker, the coolest girl protagonist EVER!


I have FIVE FREE copies of Undertow up for grabs!!!! Post a comment to the blog and please include your first name, city, state and email contact. Deadline for posts is May 27 at NOON MST. I will notify winners on that day shortly after 12:00 MST. Winner will be chosen randomly  by Randomizer. Winners have 24 hours to respond to my email. Books will ship from New York. Don't miss out on your chance of winning the next big thing! Trust me, Undertow is awesome! Good luck and start posting! Pamela

Monday, May 18, 2015

Poetry Pick: Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation
Brett Fletcher Lauer & Lynn Melnick, editors
Viking
2015
203 pages with About the Poet and Permissions pages
ISBN: 9780670014798

Please Excuse This Poem: 100 New Poets for the Next Generation is not your mama's book of poetry and it's for sure not your grandmother's poetry. This is the poetry of the street: raw, in-your-face, unapologetic and genre defying. Many of the poems throw genre and rules to the winds and take on a prose like look but sound like a defiant street prophet shouting angry verse to unwary pedestrians.

The language is raw and biting, the tone crude and unapologetic, the themes tough and urban. "Yellow Rubber Gloves" and "In Colorado My Father Scoured and Stacked Dishes" takes up the torch for minimum wage workers who are often ignored by the public performing their base jobs like mopping floors and washing dishes. "When at a Certain Party in NYC" comments that a mid-westerner would never fit in with all the "fancy" people who ooze NYC coolness. "There I Was Unrequited" ignites off the pages. The reader can feel the angst and tension in the poet's voice and the steamy rage oozes throughout the poem.

This anthology is for high school and college bound. The language is rough; the poems show a harsher reality than the poetry currently taught in schools. Some of the writing may have been torn from a diary or a scratch piece of paper. These are the thoughts that people cared about--cared enough to write them down for others to read. I would not recommend giving this collection to any person who is in a depressive state.

For a book that touts New Poets for the Next Generation, the cover has an archaic, old school typewriter--and not even an electric typewriter. This is the type of machine Clark Kent may have  used in the news room! I think the title of the book and the cover are at odds with each other. 

Recommended high school and above. Not for the faint  of heart.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)
 






Friday, May 15, 2015

Monsters Love Underpants!
by Claire Freedman
Illustrations Ben Cort
Aladdin
2015 (published in UK in 2014)
32 pages
ISBN: 9781481442527

Monstrously wonderful illustrations by Ben Cort bring each of  the wacky monsters alive. Each seems to have his own individual personality. Sure, monsters are hairy and scary, but what few of us  know is that monsters love to wear wacky boxers and briefs. They cavort happily through the woods and have a disco ball showing off their best undergarments. They love being ugly and scary, but they love underpants more than anything!

Much of the fun of this particular children's book is in the language. British writer Clair Freedman will teach American youngsters words like: twanging, dingy, armour (notice the spelling), pinched (meaning stolen), bloomers, wobbly, jive, and snazzy.

This witty, whimsical read is sure to be a new favorite. The children's pet cat appears at the beginning and ending, but  he adds greatly to the story.  He is visibly on edge and ready to spit and scratch and probably run away.

Recommended for early readers and anyone who loves crazy underpants.

FTC Required Disclosure: I received this book form the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)
 




Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Book Peek and Author Interview: Jennifer Salvato Doktorski

 
From the publisher:

The Summer After You and Me
Jennifer Salvato Doktorski
Sourcebooks Fire
May 2015 ● ISBN: 9781492619031
Tradepaper/$9.99 ● Ages 14+

Will it be a summer of fresh starts or second chances? 
For Lucy, the Jersey Shore isn’t just the perfect summer escape, it’s home. As a local girl, she knows not to get attached to the tourists. They breeze in during Memorial Day weekend, crowding her costal town and stealing moonlit kisses, only to pack up their beach umbrellas and empty promises on Labor Day. Still, she can’t help but crush on charming Connor Malloy. His family spends every summer next door, and she longs for their friendship to turn into something deeper.

Then Superstorm Sandy sweeps up the coast, bringing Lucy and Connor together for a few intense hours. Except nothing is the same in the wake of the storm, and Lucy is left to pick up the pieces of her broken heart and her broken home. Time may heal all wounds, but with Memorial Day approaching and Connor returning, Lucy’s summer is sure to be filled with fireworks.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jennifer Salvato Doktorski is the author of two YA  novels and is a freelance nonfiction writer. Her first paid writing gig was at The North Jersey Herald & News, where she wrote obituaries and began her lifelong love of news and coffee. She lives in New Jersey with her family.

MY INTERVIEW WITH JENNIFER  SALVATO DOKTORSKI:

I was able to ask Jennifer a few questions about her passions,  love, life and the pursuit of writing. Jennifer, an avid Hogwarts fan and ex-obituary writer,  answers my questions here:


(Me) I  read that you are a Hogwarts fan, so this is about your love:

 

 1.      If you arrived at Hogwarts, what house would the hat choose for you and why?

 
(Jennifer)
Okay, so for this question I took three online quizzes and three times, the answer was Hufflepuff. The reasons given were that I’m loyal, dependable, and hardworking. Coincidentally, I once had my handwriting analyzed and that same set of characteristics came up. So, Hufflepuff it is. Better that than Slytherin! My friends call me “safety pup” so I knew I wasn’t cut out for Gryffindor.

 

2. Since you have been an obituary writer, write a brief obituary for Dumbledore:

 

Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore died today at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. He was between 115 and 150 years old. Longtime Hogwarts headmaster and founder of the Order of the Phoenix, Dumbledore never married or had children. He is preceded in death by his sister Ariana, survived by a brother, Aberforth, and devoted phoenix, Fawkes, and will live forever in the hearts and minds of the Hogwarts students and wizards who knew and loved him. Funeral to be held on the Hogwarts grounds beside Black Lake, where he will also be interred.

 

( Me again) these are not about Hogwarts:

 

2.      What 3 books are your favorite books of all time and why?

 

To Kill a Mockingbird. I re-read this book every few years and never get tired of it. Scout may be one of the most endearing characters in all of literature. From the opening line until the end, Scout speaks to me; telling an important story that is every bit as relevant today as it was when it was first published in 1960. Yes, I’ve already preordered Go Set a Watchman.

 

Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret, I recently read a list of important “must reads” in YA literature that’s been kicking around social media lately and was shocked to find that this title was not on it. What? I consider Judy Blume’s books to be the cornerstone of YA fiction. Judy Blume was one of my earliest and most important influences. Her books were groundbreaking and anyone writing YA today owes her a debt of gratitude.

 

The Catcher in the Rye. I picked up this book for the first time in seventh grade. I’d finished a test early and my teacher told me to select a book off the classroom shelf and read quietly. No problem there. Not when I found this book to be absolutely mind blowing!! It was also un-put-down-able. I remember forgoing all homework that night until I finished it.

 

 

 

 

4. Is it more exciting to finish writing the last sentence of your book (s) or is it more exciting to see the first copy in print?

 

Even as I’m writing that last sentence, I know I headed back to the beginning to start a series of revisions. In fact, if it weren’t for print deadlines, I would never stop rewriting. So for me, it’s more exciting to see the first copy in print because it means the hard part is done.

 

 

5. What advice would you give to your 15-year-old self if you could?

 

Hang in there, it all gets better. Oh, and the “popular” kids? You won’t even remember their names in 20 years.

 

6. Hurricane Sandy influences your latest book Summer After You and Me, how did it change you personally?

 

It underscored what I already knew—nature is powerful and life is precious and we shouldn’t take one second for granted. It also renewed my faith in the inherent goodness in people. It was nice to see people coming together and showing their willingness to help people they didn’t even know in the aftermath of a devastating storm.

 

 

7. Describe your writing style:

 

This may be more my process than my style, but I’m definitely more of a pantser than a plotter (Google pantser).

Maybe it’s because I began my writing career as a journalist and thrive on deadline pressure, or maybe it’s because I never could figure out how to do a proper outline with Roman numerals, capital letters, and numbers, or maybe I’m just stubborn. At any rate, when I begin a novel, I have a vague idea of where I’d like the plot to go, but for the most part, I just see where my characters take me. I wish I could be a plotter. I want to be a plotter. I’m told by authors who have converted from being pantsers to plotters that plotting IS easier. But I don’t know, there’s something about sheer panic that helps the words spill out faster and gets that first draft (ugly as it may be) down on paper.

 

8. Finish the sentence: If I could write just one more book, I'd write.....

 

…something that would leave readers laughing.
 
(ME, Pamela) Thank you, Jennifer, we can hardly wait to read your new book! Congratulations!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Early Reader Pick: 8: An Animal Alphabet

8: An Animal Alphabet
by Elisa Cooper
Illustrations by he author
Orchard Books (Scholastic)
2015
40 pages
ISBN: 9780545470834


8: An Animal Alphabet is sure to delight eager young readers and learners. They will be so busy finding the hidden animals, they may forget to count to eight. The delight in this book is in all the not-so-well known animals included by author/illustrator Elisha Cooper. Some not so cute and not so cuddly animals who make an appearance are: the albatross (the last time I saw a mention of him was in the poem "The Rime of the Ancient Mariner"), the boar, the cockroach, the cicada, the earthworm, the dung beetle, the flying squirrel, the gerbil, the hedgehog, the ibex, the ibis and the impala to name a few. There is a helpful "Did You Know" section in the back that lists little known facts about each animal. I wish there was a bit more detail and that the type on these pages were a little larger to make it easier to read and understand.


Each page has 8 of one type of featured animal for that letter of the alphabet; the letter "A" for example, has 8 ants and other animals that begin with "A" featured. The child must count the 8 ants and then figure out which animal goes to each animal name (and point to the picture of that animal). Get ready for countless hours of fun. And get ready to read this one over and over and over and did I say over again? Young readers may never tire of this beauty!

8:An Animal Book is sure to become a childhood favorite. If you have children or grandchildren, this book is for them!

Mother's Day, Father's Day and Grandparent's Day is just around the corner. If you know anyone who has this wonderful job, be sure and give them this book as a gift.

Highly, highly recommended for every child, parent, grandparent and book lover.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Friday, April 24, 2015

Texas Library Conference: Taking Texas By Storm

 
Texas Library Conference
Austin, Texas
April 14-17, 2015
 
That's Naomi Bates (on right) and me, Pamela Thompson (on left) right before we sit down to interview the keynote speaker,  New York Times best-selling author David Baldacci! What a thrill!

You can find David's books at any bookseller and almost always on the Top Ten list. David has recently entered the YA market with the release of his first YA title, The Finisher. I reviewed it last year and interviewed David with a group of librarians and book sellers.

Naomi filmed the interview at TLA and  that I'll post it  to the blog soon.

David Baldacci is a practiced speaker. In the keynote, he was entertaining and witty. A crowd of 4,700 librarians attended the conference this year and everyone enjoyed the keynote. He talked about writing and being a famous author and how it's not that different from anything else. He admits he often wrote his finest fiction when practicing law (big laughs from the audience). A case of mistaken identity where a woman mistook him for the other lawyer turned writer, John Grisham, also got big laughs. Baldacci spends his time writing and in charity work. His charity "Wish You Well" donates books to food banks. Baldacci says we all need food to eat in order to survive, but "we can do better." Books are food for the soul.

As for the rest of the conference, it was equally entertaining. Whether networking with other Texas librarians or chatting up the authors, the conference was a blast! I stopped by to see Nikki Loftin, (author of Wish Girl)  and congratulate her on a fantastic book. She was Texas sweet. She jumped up and hugged me and thanked me for my review. Wish Girl is the BEST middle grade book I've read in years and I told Nikki that I see many awards in her future. Nikki said that she was turning the guest bedroom in her house into the "Pamela Thompson suite" and invited me to stay with her any time I'm in Austin. How Texan is that?!

A road  trip to Austin would never be complete without bluebonnets. They were blooming everywhere! The hill country sure came out for me. Bluebonnets as far as the eye could see! Like Wish Girl, the bluebonnets are a love letter for Texas.



Thursday, April 23, 2015

Graphic Pick: The Babysitter's Club: Kristy's Great Idea

The Babysitter's Club: Kristy's Great Idea
by Raina Telgemeier
based on the novel by Ann M. Martin
Graphix (Scholastic)
2015
192 pages with full color illustrations
ISBN: 9780545813860

Available April 28, 2015

Fans of Sisters, Drama, and Smile will be delighted to read and enjoy Telgemeier's newest graphic novel although they may miss her quick wit and her storytelling. Retelling a story by Ann M. Martin as a graphic novel is a novel idea but it is apparent that the characters suffer.

Formed out of necessity and ingenuity, The Baby Sitter's Club keeps the girls busy and out of trouble. And it's not  a bad way to make extra spending money either.

Kristy's great idea is for the girls to start a babysitter's club. Friends Kristy, Claudia and Mary Anne reach out to new girl Stacey. They figure four heads are better than one, and the girls will offer their babysitting skills, advertise to reach more parents and work together in manning the phones and taking the jobs.

The characters never fully develop as they can in prose. Readers may not even discern any differences in the girls and probably won't have a favorite character.

I miss Telgemeier's easy tales of growing up and fighting with her sister that we have come to expect. Her graphic art saves this book.

Recommended for fans of The Babysitters Club.

Grade 5-up.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive oneary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)


Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Truth Commission
by Susan Juby
Illustrated by Trevor Cooer
Viking
2015
309 pages
ISBN: 9780451468772


Praise for
The Truth Commission

Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“With a deft hand and an open mind, Juby (the Alice trilogy) presents many layers of truth while evoking Normandy’s pain over being the subject of ridicule in her sister’s books. This is a sharp-edged portrait of a dysfunctional family with some thought-provoking ideas about what is real.”

Kirkus (starred review)
 
“Hilarious, deliciously provocative and slyly thought-provoking, Juby's welcome return is bound to ignite debate.”

Luann Toth, School Library Journal (starred review)
 
“The narrative/book is smart, darkly funny, sad, and heartening as Normandy learns some hard truths, how to stand up for herself, and how to take charge of her own destiny. While there is no reconciliation in sight, there’s no doubt that the truth has set her free. A surprising, witty, and compulsive read.”

Jaclyn Moriarty, author of “The Year of My Secret Assignments” and “A Corner of White”
 
“I absolutely loved The Truth Commission. Every page made me laugh aloud, while all the time the tears were creeping up on me. The characters were so real I wouldn’t be surprised if they knocked on my door right now. I hope they do; I want to spend more time with them.”
Susin Nielsen, author of “The Reluctant Journal of Henry K. Larsen” and “We Are All Made of Molecules”
“You know how we have terms like "Dickensian?" I vote that from here on in we should also have "Jubyesque," to describe something particularly funny, offbeat and original. The Truth Commission is Juby at her best - I wanted to be at that school with those unique, flawed and utterly believable kids. It is a fantastic and highly original novel. I heart Susan Juby.”

Kim Carter in VOYA
 
“Smart and witty, eclectic and engrossing, introspective and insightful, The Truth Commission is a creatively crafted treasure of a novel which will be deeply appreciated by readers who like their existentialism wrapped in practical reality.”

My Review:

Comic and irreverent, teen angst and teen art collide (I mean can you have one without the other?) in The Truth Commission. Younger sister Normandy Pale pales in comparison to her older, more talented, more artistic, and well known debut graphic novelist Keira. Teachers and students at Normanday's art school speak of Keira with hushed tones, reverence and awe in their voices. Keira sold her first graphic novel to a publishing house and made a fortune. When Keira comes home from her new school, Norm knows something is wrong, but is too afraid to ask. Their parents treat their oldest daughter as a reigning queen worshipping her every move and catering to  her every need.

Normandy is best friends with Dusk (whose real name is Dawn, but she prefers the darker version) and dapper dresser Neil. All three attend a prestigious and expensive school of arts  but Normandy is a scholarship student  since her older sister is  an art prodigy. The school probably is hoping the same holds true for Normandy. If you think high school is full of weird cliques, wait till you read about Green Pastures art school! There is a dragon (mean, pancho-wearing ostrich lover Mrs. Dekker in the front office, a kind counselor, and several strange artists (no surprise here) in residence.

The three kids decide that "the truth will set you free" and begin a campaign to have people tell their truths. It begins with Mrs. Dekker. Then the kids target a student that everyone has wondered about. He is a handsome loner whose movie star looks have everyone wondering whether he is gay or straight. The kids decide that they must find out or the sake of the truth.

Keira begins to spill the truth about what happened to her at school, but Normandy is afraid to hear the truth and she begins to investigate her sister on her own. Each student at school has a project to present at year's end and Normandy is presenting her work of creative non-fiction--which is what she is writing...and what readers are reading. I love the way the book works. Normandy slips in footnotes on nearly every page. I find that endearing and clever.

Highly recommended grade 9-up. Mature subject matter and some language.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received this book from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.


This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Friday, April 10, 2015

Picture Book Pick: Believe It or Not, My Brother Has a Monster!

Believe It or Not, My Brother Has a Monster!
by Kenn Nesbitt
Illustrations by David Slonim
Cartwheel Books (Scholastic)
2015
32 pages
ISBN: 9780545650595

Available June 30, 2015

This fun and frolicking tale takes place last Halloween when a boy's older brother finds a monster in the park. All kinds of creepy characters join in the lively romp that takes place when the older brother takes the monster home and hides him in his bedroom. Funny rhymes are spot on and illustrated with fanciful  glee by illustrator David Slonim. Readers will sense the joy that both the writer and illustrator must have experienced while working on this lively picture book. Lizards, rats, bats, spiders, toads, ravens, slugs and cats  soon appear and wreak havoc on the bedroom.

There is so much to love about this children's book. First of all, it rhymes and the rhymes work. The storyline is great and captures Halloween, fright night, monstrous creatures and a younger brother's worship and adoration of his "cool" older sibling. As each creature is added, their count goes up, so this is a rhyming, counting book that is funny, silly, scary and is a Halloween read. That makes it a home run!


Highly, highly recommended. Believe It or Not, My Brother Has a Monster! will become every child's favorite book and fun bedtime read. Kids will be delighted when they realize what kind of monster the brother brought home. And fear not! They won't have nightmares about this monster.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the F & G from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Magical Pick: Wish Girl

Wish Girl
by Nikki Loftin
Razorbill
2015
256 pages
ISBN: 9781595146861

Prose so poetic it's majestic and magical! Wish Girl is the most promising middle grades book of the year. This one is the real deal and it is the next childhood classic read. The Texas Hill Country sings off the pages. Nikki Loftin has written a love letter to the Texas countryside and all I have to say is: YES! Loftin makes me proud to say she's a Texas girl.

Peter Stone is a quiet boy who prefers his own company. Having relocated from San Antonio, Peter now lives in a two story farm house in the middle of the Texas Hill Country. The nearest neighbor is about a mile away but Peter doesn't care to play with any children. One day while out wandering neighboring fields, he nearly gets bit by a rattlesnake but doesn't bother to tell his parents. They would just yell at him. If he tried to explain, they wouldn't listen. They never do. Since his dad lost his job, his parents always fight. Peter feels alone and unloved.

Out in a meadow the next day, Peter meets a girl about his age. She says she's a wish girl and her name is Annie Blythe. She wants to be an artist. Peter has never met anyone like Annie. She's funny and fun but she does have a temper. Annie tells Peter that she thinks the valley is magic and he has to agree. It's almost as if the valley can hear them and does what they want.

Later, Peter finds out that Annie is sick; she's a wish girl because that's what she calls being selected by the "Make a Wish" program. Peter vows to himself that he will keep Annie safe and help her with her art. The kids spend the next week playing in the valley, hiking and making art projects using twigs, vines and even river mud. Through Annie's eyes, Peter sees the unspoiled beauty of nature around him. Only outside the valley can really bad things happen.

Powerfully evocative imagery and a  sweet, tender friendship make this book a classic. Like "Bridge to Terabithia" the boy and girl characters find friendship where they least expect it. By creating their own secret world, the pair discover themselves. Keep your box of tissues handy; this one is a tearjerker.

Highly, highly recommended grade 4-7. Anyone who enjoys a magical book will enjoy reading and rereading Wish Girl.

FTC Required Disclaimer: I received the ARC from the publisher. I did not receive monetary compensation for this review.



This review has been posted in compliance with the FTC requirements set forth in the Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising (available at ftc.gov/os/2009/10/091005revisedendorsementguides.pdf)