December

Confessions of a Murder Suspect by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Unusual characters. There are four children in this post apartment in New York City and they wake up one morning to find their parents are dead--poisoned. The children and nanny are all suspects. A bit more surreal than your usual murder mystery, as the children have been the subjects of their parents' experimentations. OK for 6th+ Good.

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen
following a school but accident, Jessica has lost a leg and her life as a runner. This is about recovery and empathy.
Nothing objectionable in this.


Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman
In the Gaiman tradition, this is a unique book. Dad goes out for milk and returns later with a fantastic story of alien abduction and time travel. Lots of wild illustrations. Fun. 3rd read aloud? Good.
The Curse of the Blue Figurine: a John Bellairs Mystery by Bellairs
Johnny Dixon is pulled into a village tale about a missing priest who had evil tendancies. After he removes an Egyptian ushabti from the church basement, he starts seeing frightening things. This gets quite horrible. More horror than mystery. acceptable for 5th+ OK


Mr and Mrs Bunny--Detectives Extraordinaire! by Mrs Bunny. translated by Polly Horvath
Finally a funny book. (I wish there were as many of these as dystopia books!). Madeline's hippy parents Flo and Mildred have been kidnapped by foxes and she must find a way to save them. After all it is she who does most of the "taking care of" in their household. At the same time the bunny couple of the title decide to try something different--being detectives. Find a fedora! This has so many funny lines. The sarcasm makes this more appropriate for 4th-5th grades. Love this. Excellent.


Road Trip by Gary Paulsen and Jim Paulsen
a quick read. Ben is dragged out of bed for a road trip to pick up a border collie puppy who will have to be put down if no one takes him. Along the road trip several people join them and a mystery arises. Chapters alternate with short chapters by Atticus, their own border collie. Great voice. "Everyone on this bus has lied about something today. Lots of tight eyes and hunched up shoulders. Lonely looks the same way: smells different, but looks just like lying." p74 Really liked this. 3rd+ Excellent

Gingersnap by Patricia Reilly Giff
Set at the end of WWII, Jayna finds herself living with her irritating landlady because her brother is off on a warship in the Pacific. Her only clue to any other family is a recipe book written in French and a bakery address in Brooklyn with the name Gingersnap--also her mother's nickname for her. Part mystery, part family reunion. Very Good. 4th grade read aloud?


Theodore Boone: the activist by John Grisham
Sooooo Slow. Paragraphs about what and how the dog eats? The only action scene is where a dog is beaten and that's just painful. Sorry. It's just not my style. The story is about a bypass that is planned around town that will come too close to a school, soccer fields and use eminent domain to take away a family's 100 year old farm. Certainly a kid's book with the concept of eminent domain is unusual, but I need more suspense. Bleh. 3rd+


The Mouse with the Question Mark Tail by Richard Peck
This was a classic animal story. Minor Mouse doesn't even know his name but keeps being told Nameless is Blameless. He flees school and finds himself in a horse's ear. Then he ahs a day in the royal mouse guard. It keeps going from there. Dangers are enough to add suspense but not too scary. This was good. Cf with Frindle. 2nd +

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
I enjoyed the conflict of not believing and the magical, but the character of Ophelia wasn't quite strong enough for me. The death of her mother was dealt with in a touching, realistic way, although her sister was pretty shallow. Ophelia finds a boy locked in a mysterious room in a museum where her father is setting up a huge sword exhibit. Magic ensues. The scary parts are pretty intense. 5th+ OK.

counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan
This is the next Wonder or Out of My Mind. Willow Chance is different. She is adopted,for one, and not even the same color as her parents who are "so white they are almost blue." She loves all things medical and plant based. But she doesn't really fit in anywhere. This is ultimately a book about tribe with many surprises. Also many many tears. Not great for a read aloud unless you have a stone-cold heart. But one of the best books of this year. Excellent. 4th+

Confessions: The Private School Murders by James Patterson
Tandy Angel solved her parents' murders, but now if faced with three huge problems. Her brother is on trial for the murder of his girlfriend and their baby. There are private school girls being murdered in Central Park. And what has happened to her true love, James? This gets just a little spread out to hold our attention. But it's got plenty of action. Some active sexuality. Mature middleschool. OK.

The Grimm Conclusion by Adam Gidwitz
Jorinda and Joringel wind their way through a variety of Grimm fairy tales that are not for the touchy. They even die. More than once. There is a huge amount of violence in this concluding story fo A Tale Dark and Grimm. But there are seriously touching moments. Adam Gidwitz' narrator's voice is priceless. There is even a scene in his 2nd grade classroom where he furthers the story. This will take a mature reader to follow the action and see the message. Very Good. Almost but not quite YA.


The Hypnotist by Gordon Korman
Jackson Opus finds out he is a descendent of two strong hypnotist families. The Sentia Institute wants to help him hone his power, but he quickly finds himself in too deep. Now he needs to save his government, his friend, and his family. This is all pretty typical Korman, with lots of action and an ending that leaves Jax open to future adventures. Not particularly deep, but satisfactory. 4th+

Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate
These two authors can write. This is a great scifi genetics mystery along the lines of Adoration of Jenna Fox. Except with really evil scientists involved. It opens with a life-threatening accident in which Evening's leg is severed. Taken back to Spiker Biopharmaceuticals to recover, E.V. is given the task of using software to create the perfect boy--Adam. But there's also Solo who wants to expose Spiker for what it is. Great conflicts, action, and surprise ending. I loved this one. YA for violence and sexual innuendos.