The Book Bag, Books for Ages 9 to 12 (September/October 2008)

Some wonderful stories — seasonal, valuable, and just plain fun — fill this edition of the book bag for independent readers. If you’ve read and reviewed any of the books, be sure to click on the titles. That way you can add your link via Mr. Linky on the Reading Tub website and as a comment on the Just One More Book! website.

When I Grow Up written by Jessica Loy. This photo-illustrated picture book introduces kids to 14 non-traditional career choices (cheese maker, chocolatier, robotics engineer, etc.). A byproduct is they also get to see how things are made (like cheese). Here’s what reviewer Bob Walch had to say: “Everyone can enjoy this book that has good information about career choices. The color photos used to illustrated each occupation are excellent.” (Henry Holt and Company, 2008)

Declare Yourself: Speak. Connect. Act. Vote. written by Declare Yourself. Declare Yourself is a national, nonpartisan, nonprofit organization focused on increasing citizen participation in local, state, and national campaigns. %ifty celebrities from political writers to rappers offer personal stories about the importance of participating in the voting process. Everyone will benefit from reading this interesting and creative approach the subject of the importance of the electoral process. This is an excellent tool.” (HarperTeen, 2008)

The Dragon’s Child written by Laurence Yep with Dr. Kathleen S. Yep The year is 1922, and Gim Lew Yep (10) and his family are emigrating from China to the United States. To live in America, they must all pass a rigorou exam. For Gim Lew, this seems insurmountable. He is left-handed, and when he gets excited, he stutters. “This is a powerful story with solid characters and a strong plot. The immigration and cross-generational themes, as well as the historical context, create a wonderful mosaic.” (HarperCollins, 2008)

MySpace/Our Planet; Change is Possible by the MySpace Community. This a comprehensive program that identifies the problems; shares up-to-date environmental data; and offers suggestions for short and long term change. This is a handbook to help teens promote making change. “This handbook is exceptionally well written and illustrated. The suggestions, if adopted, will have a positive impact on the global environment.” (HarperCollins, 2008)

Coraline adapted by Neil Gaiman and P. Craig Russell. Coraline and her parents just moved into a very old house. It was too large for a single family to maintain so they rented out sections of the house. Along with the tenants, there is a ghost family who is trying lure Coraline to live with them in another part of the house. Will Coraline realize what’s happening in time to free herself? or will the ghost family entrap her forever? This is a verbatim transformation of the classic novel into a graphic novel. “The author’s and illustrator’s collaboration on this project has produced an extraordinary and enjoyable piece of literature.” (HarperCollins Publishers, 2008)

My Dad’s a Birdman written by David Almond, illustrated by Polly Dunbar. The Great Human Bird Competition is coming to town and Lizzie’s Dad, Jackie, is preparing to enter the contest. Hoping to find her “old dad,” Lizzie decides to help him. Family and friends think the contest is too dangerous and try to persuade them not to participate. Are their fears justified? ” This is a quality piece of work. I would place it in top 10% of children’s literature for both the author and the illustrator.” (Candlewick Press, 2008)

“A podcast about the children’s books we love and why we love them — recorded in our favourite coffee shop.” As I mentioned in the Book Bag of books for kids ages 5 to 8, Andrea has selected a collection of books for Remembrance Day (November 11). These are her chapter book recommendations. As she points out “they are all great for ages 4-12 (well, for all ages). The issues of war and peace highlighted in these books are ones we should read throughout our lives.”

What We Remember written by Leslie Airth, illustrated by Mervyn Finch. Six simple, stirring stories help us slip into the shoes of real children as they deal with the impacts of war. (General Store Publishing House, 2005)

Lugalbanda: The Boy Who Got Caught Up In A War written by Kathy Henderson, illustrated by Jane Ray. This warmly worded and intricately illustrated epic enchants our daughters with its exotic beauty and its underlying themes of kindness and generosity, in spite of its war and gore and shark-toothed, eagle-taloned Anzu birds. (Candlewick Press, 2006)

If I Die Before I Wake: The Flu Epidemic Diary of Fiona Macgregor, 1918 written by Jean Little. Beautifully bound in a soft unevenly edged journal and told with humour, innocence, intimacy and affection, the daily entries of a fictional twelve year old disclose the spellbinding details of life during the Spanish flu epidemic of 1918-19. (Scholastic, 2007)

Janusz Korczak’s Children written by Gloria Spielman, illustrated by Matthew Archambault. Uncommonly rich illustrations and detailed, yet accessible, early reader text relay the haunting, true story of Janusz Korczak — doctor, writer, educator and champion of children’s rights. (Kar-Ben Publishing, 2007)