Archive for the ‘kids fiction’ Category

NUTMEG-LOGOHave you ever seen the image to the right of this post?

Do you know what the Nutmeg Book Award is?  Every year a select group of students and librarians gather together and read from 60 to 130 books, this number is dependent on for which level they are participating in.

Though I know many adults who do not think of reading youth books — if you are ever looking for some books that speak to an age group; you might consider looking at the teen (grades 7 & 8) or high school (grades 9 to 12) to find what Connecticut tweens and teen say are interesting.  Teen readers read 80 books and had to write short blurbs defending their position about if this book should be a nominee … one of 10 books they are asking the rest of the Connecticut students to read.  High School readers had to read at minimum of 60 books and find 10 that they recommend to others.

Some of the past award winners are very familiar to readers and movie goers — “The Lightning Thief” by Rick Riordan and “The Hunger Games” by Suzanne Collins — please don’t a book by its movie!

These awards are wonderful to be a part of … if only to use the lists as a short list for gift giving or an idea to find some recommended books.  The Goshen Public Library always purchases two of each Nutmeg Nominee so that many people can have the opportunity to read these amazing books.  You can tell a past nominee because they have the Nutmeg sticker on their spine with the normal library markings.


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Darling, mercy dog of World War I by Alison Hart ISBN 978-1561457052

cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I

cover art from Darling, a mercy dog of World War I

I have read many dog lover books and this is one of them.  I think the society has finally come to the point when we can recognize the hard work of others and celebrate that hard work.  In World War I many animals were trained to help the soldiers, if it were horses pulling wagons or dogs finding wounded soldiers and delivering messages.

We may remember C.S. Lewis’s story of “The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe” — where we hear a tell of what it is like to be a child in war torn Britain. “Darling, mercy dog of World War I” tells a story of what it was like to be a dog.

There is a dog tax so it is more expensive to have dogs in war time.  Eventually with the father away and finances tight, they need to give up Darling.  The war department thinks that she will make a good messenger dog for she seems smart and quick.  However, on her final test, she is thinking more of going home than completing the task at hand.  However on her way across the field en route to home, she hears that her handler is hurt and she goes to him and then finds help.  At that point the trainers learn that she is much better suited to being a mercy dog, a dog that finds wounded soldiers.  She successfully completes her training and goes to the front.

This is a great story — with a happy ending (a rare occurrence for a trained military animal in World War I) but we learn about the possibility of unhappy endings.  This story is fictional enough to make it a pleasant reading experience but also has just enough truth to know that these animals were amazing and the trainers were truly hard working.

If you have an early independent reader who enjoys animal books — this is a great read.  A highly recommended book!

Product Description:  At home in England, Darling is a mischievous but much loved pet to Robert and Katherine. But when the British military asks families to volunteer their dogs to help the war effort, they send Darling off to be trained, even though it is very hard to say goodbye. Darling goes through training along with many other dogs and is ultimately used as a mercy dog, seeking out injured soldiers on the battlefield and leading the medics to them. After saving the lives of numerous soldiers, Darling is faced with a major challenge.

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The House of Hades (Heroes of Olympus, Book 4) by Rick Riordan

cover art from The House of Hades

cover art from The House of Hades

My children have followed Percy and Annabeth through their many adventures and we just HAD to follow into Hades.  Because the library version was checked out, we got the eBook and read it on my phone out loud to each other during our many car trips and rare evenings home.  It was a great story — the Argo II flying over the mountains with the rest of the team meeting all kinds of monsters, Roman prefects and rogue goddesses and Percy and Annabeth drudging through Hades battling fiery rivers and meeting Bob the janitor.

It was amazing.  It was great.  I didn’t want it to end, but it did anyway.

Later, the audiobook was available at the library and since we loved it so much, I borrowed it.


We couldn’t get through the first track the reader was so horrible.

I much preferred reading the whole book from a 2 inch by 2 inch cell phone screen than listen to that reader.  My thoughts — bring back Jesse Bernstein, even Joshua Swanson was better than this fiasco of a reader.

But the story was great and I am SO willing to read the next one out loud too, unless they get a real reader.  Then I will get the audiobook the first time around!


At the conclusion of The Mark of Athena, Annabeth and Percy tumble into a pit leading straight to the Underworld. The other five demigods have to put aside their grief and follow Percy’s instructions to find the mortal side of the Doors of Death. If they can fight their way through the Gaea’s forces, and Percy and Annabeth can survive the House of Hades, then the Seven will be able to seal the Doors from both sides and prevent the giants from raising Gaea. But, Leo wonders, if the Doors are sealed, how will Percy and Annabeth be able to escape?

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Middle School: How I Survived Bullies, Broccoli, and Snake Hill by James Patterson

Middle School, I survived

This is the first book in this series that I had read and/or listened to. I really don’t remember why I picked it up, but I think it had something to do with I was looking for something to listen to with the kids and we had just finished “Angels & Demons” and we needed something light and fluffy. This fit the bill perfectly.

Though I am sure we missed something by not starting the series at the beginning — it was fine. The main character was going to summer camp with his sister. His sister was going to the advanced academic side of the camp and he was going to the remedial camp section.

The camp was split into cabins and of course judging by the name of the book we find that our main character is in the ‘loser’ cabin and we see all kinds of bullying that occur and have occurred over the years at this camp. Many of the campers are repeat campers and know each other.

There are some great antics. Typical potty humor that all middle school students love and yet some really serious sections that make people think about motivations and what makes people tick. Plots of revenge for misdeeds, midnight adventures, and running away from camp.

I can see this is a great book for reluctant readers who may need encouragement to read or, like us, a great bit of light humor between harder, deeper books.

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Daughter of Winter by Pat Lowery Collins

Daughter of Winter

This book was recommended by an adult patron who reads a lot of children’s literature.

Addie lives in Essex, Massachusetts in 1849.  Her father has gone West to the gold fields and has left Addie with her mother and baby brother.  Her mother, who was never very strong, died with the flux as did her brother.  Addie had sole care for her mother and brother for her mother refused any help from neighbors.  Addie is afraid of being taken in by another family and forced to be a servant.  So she runs away and lives in the wilderness.

Eventually she is joined by an old Wampanoag woman who teaches her how to survive in the woods.  This woman Addie has seen around and knows that her father has purchased shell fish from so Addie trusts her.  Slowly Addie learns that this woman knows a great deal more about her and her family than she ever dreamed.

This is really an amazing story and I highly recommend it to anyone looking for a youth coming of age story and historical fiction.

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The Quest of the Warrior Sheep by Christopher and Christine Russell ISBN 978-1402255113

Warrior Sheep

This was a fun read that I think many youngsters would enjoy.

The heroes are a small flock of heirloom sheep which belong to a little old lady in Great Britain. She and her grandson care for them and they seem to have some affection for their people.

All of a sudden a cell phone falls into their midst from a hot air balloon and this starts a great adventure, since they have no idea what it is and what is the significance of the object. They think it is an object that needs to return to the great god Aries the Ram. To get the object back to their god — they start north.

Really this is the phone that belongs to two thieves and all of the bank plans and codes are on it and they chase the sheep all across the country trying to get the phone back.

These sheep are amazing taking planes, trucks and side roads across Great Britain — the bad guys are taken to the cleaners and the little flock happily returns home after some breath-taking situations.

A fun book for children ages 8 to 12.

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I am probably the only person on the face of the planet who never read “The Series of Unfortunate Events” until this winter.  Somehow this sort of missed my pile and when it did come into the remote vicinity I thought … my kids’ father died years ago, do they need to hear about unfortunate things?  I like adventure and happy endings.  I like handsome heroes who win in the end.  A series of unfortunate events sounded depressing — life is depressing enough when I read I want escapism.

cover art from "The Bad Beginning"by Lemony Snicket

cover art from “The Bad Beginning”by Lemony Snicket

But somehow the kids (ages 11 and 13) decided that we needed to listen to the series and since all thirteen books have been published, thankfully we didn’t have to wait for any.  We listened to the whole series and though Lemony Snicket himself read some of the earlier works, Tim Curry read the majority of the books and OMG, he had too much fun reading these books.  The books themselves are great, they really are — the combination of reading and humor and word choice are just plain great … Tim Curry is a performer of amazing talent and the voices he gives everyone are just priceless.

These books are listed for age eight and up — so we are rather late in listening … but the humor is there and readily available for all reading levels.

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