The Book Bag, Books for ages 9 to 12, July/August 2008

This is probably one of the more melancholy Book Bags I post all year. We’ve read lots of great books all summer, but now, kids are heading back to school. For this age group, in particular, it is a lot harder to squeeze in these read-for-fun books when so much other required reading fills their time.

Speaking of required reading …Head over to TubTalk to see A Rare Sunday Post about what teens think of all this reading we have planned for them. You’ll also get a link to Shelly Tremaglio’s essay, For the Love of Reading – A Book-loving Teen’s Perspective.

The Songweavers (Notherland Journeys trilogy) by Kathleen McDonnell. This is a fascinating, allegorical journey about what happens to the imaginary world you created when you grow up and leave it behind. Although this is the third title in the Notherland Journeys trilogy, it read like a monograph. It would be nice to have the background of the other two books, but you didn’t feel lost for not having read them. (Second Story Press, 2008)

Roscoe Riley Rules #1 (Don’t Glue Your Friends to Chairs) and Roscoe Riley Rules #2 (Never Swipe a Bully’s Bear by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Brian Biggs. Roscoe spends a LOT of time in Time Out. He means well, but life as a first grader just has way too many rules! “The story is so funny and moves so fast, it is hard to read just one chapter at a time. The author has pegged the age groups (first graders, older siblings, younger sisters) and their sense of humor.” This is a delightful series for read-aloud, remedial readers, reluctant readers, and their parents! (Flesch Kincaid readability 3.0) alike. (HarperTrophy, an Imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

Do the Math 2: The Writing on the Wall by Wendy Lichtman. Graffiti with coded messages is appearing on walls around school, and Tess (our math-loving heroine) believes the graffiti artist may want to harm her. The school principal caught Tess responding to a graffiti message and suspended her from school. How can she identify the graffiti tagger and prove her innocence? “The book will raise the reader’s curiousity because it integrates math formulas and puzzles into the plot. They keep him/her actively engaged from beginning to end.” (Greenwillow Books, 2008)

The Tygrine Cat by Inbali Iserles After Mati’s mother is killed, Mati finds himself in a new place (Cressida Lock), trying to fit in. He looks and acts differently than the other cats, but because of a spell of protection that his mother put on him, he can’t remember his true identity. Little by little he discovers who he is,as he must face his past and accept his destiny. The main character in this story, a cat, draws on mythology for this magical adventure. “I don’t usually enjoy books where the main characters are animals, but I found this one exciting and fun to read!! The theme of true friendship also runs throughout the story, making it a great book to read and discuss with children.” (Candlewick Press, 2008)

Up All Night; A Short Story Collection by Peter Abrahams, et al. This collection of short stories is about what happens at night. They cover anything from asking someone “What’s up?” and meaning it to going to a rock concert. The authors in this collection each tell a story about something that happens after dark. “Although you might be tempted to read them all in one sitting, it was actually more fun to read one at a time because there is so much detail you feel like you’re part of the ‘experience.'” (Laura Geringer Books, 2008)

JUST ONE MORE BOOK “Podcasts about the children’s books we love and why we love them — recorded in our favourite coffee shop.”

In this set of podcast reviews, we add to the variety by expanding beyond the current year and including some non-fiction (yea!), as well. These are the “dog days” of summer. Keep reading to catch the theme.

Desert Zest: 52 Days By Camel (My Sahara Adventure) by Lawrie Raskin and Deborah Pearson, photography by Lawrie Raskin. Passion sparked by childhood reading leads us through snow, salt, sandstorms, camel spit and souks in this eye opening introduction to the wonders of the Sahara and the sensational potential of curiosity and pluck. (Annick Press 1998)

Addictive Non-Fiction: Little Lions, Bull Baiters & Hunting Hounds by Jeff Crosby and Shelley Ann Jackson, illustrated by Shelley Ann Jackson and Jeff Crosby. Rich, realistic, edge-to-edge illustrations full of action, maps and lovable hounds combine with history, humour and friendly, accessible text to provide the full scoop on 43 canine breeds in this quickly dog-eared non-fiction tome. (Tundra Books, 2008)

Soul Tonic and Spoonerisms: If I Had a Million Onions by Sheree Fitch, illustrated by Yayo (Diego Howard) Tangy rainbow-fashioned sketches and popping, crackling, soaring, gliding rhyme make these sixty three pages of wordplay and warmth a poetry medley for all ages. (Tradewind Books, 2005)

Sizzling Rhythm: Dirty Dog Boogie written and illustrated by Loris Lesynski. If these thirty-two pages of flipping, flopping, bouncing, buzzing, twitching, itching, hissing, humming, fizzing, popping, whizzing, waltzing, shaking, leaping, rug-cutting rhyme don’t get your toes tapping, we’d like to hear about it. (Annick, 1999)

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