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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The Council of Mirrors (The Sisters Grimm , Book 9) by Michael Buckley  ISBN 978-1419701863

Council of MirrorsMy children and I eagerly awaited the ninth and final chapter in the Sisters Grimm story.  We love this series!  It is written for children 8 and up so it is a bit “young” for us (my daughter just turned 11) but you know, it really doesn’t matter for it is a great series with wonderful characters and overall just a splendid story.

The Council of Mirrors is a group made up of all the mirrors that were made.  They produced a prophecy about Daphne and Sabrina and their role in the over-throwing of the Master.  This story is how they reacted to the prophecy and how the people around them supported their decisions.  There are a few surprises about who loves whom and what happens next, but all in all it is such a well crafted story that I believe young and old can find enjoyment in this series.

In my opinion everyone should read this — you have the fairy tale characters from classic stories, you have potty humor, you have great craft.  Something for everyone!

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The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus, Book 3) by Rick Riordan  ISBN 978-1423140603

The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus. Book 3) by Rick Riordan

cover art from The Mark of Athena (Heroes of Olympus. Book 3) by Rick Riordan

I love the Rick Riordan Percy Jackson series and have both read and listened to them numerous times.  When “The Mark of Athena” came out I had to wait for both of my kids to finish it before I was allowed to start it.  It was definitely worth the wait.  Rick Riordan has a magically way of story-telling and though the are written “for children” any adult who ever read Bullfinch’s Greek Mythology will find these characters fascinating.

“The Son of Neptune” closes with Percy receiving a message saying that they are coming and “The Marl of Athena” starts out with Annabeth pacing on board wondering about the state of Percy’s health.  Did the Romans accept him, how has he fared these past 6 months, did he miss her?  Annabeth also is carrying the burden her mother, Athena, thrust upon her in a dream.  A burden that has crippled children of Athena for centuries.

Annabeth, the child of wisdom is the leader by default since both Jason and Percy are too strong and rather competitive.  Thankfully for the state of the quest they both acknowledge Annabeth’s leadership qualities.  All seven of the heroes add richness to the quest — they also add their faults and weaknesses but as a team they work together as well as any seven teenagers and a militant satyr can be expected to work.  The Olympians are getting distracted and exhibiting their duo natures in their interactions with heroes — meeting Bacchus in Kansas and Aphrodite in Virginia before they cross the Atlantic to Old Rome.

They meet Gaia and Giants and save Niko.  It is a wonderful story and I just can’t wait until next year when “The House of Hades” will be released.  Dang, can’t you write faster???

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Room One: a mystery or two by Andrew Clements (performed by Keith Nobbs)

Room One by Andrew Clements

cover art from Room One: a mystery or two by Andrew Clements

Ted Hammond  is your typical sixth grader in a very non-typical town.  He lives in a rural Nebraska town with just 9 students in grades Kindergarten to 8th grade.  They all study in one room — 4 eighth graders, himself and 4 kindergarten students.  After this year, more than likely, the school will be closed.  He reads mysteries, delivers newspapers and helps out on his father’s cattle farm.

He used to be in Boy Scouts, but after the den leader moved away he never was able to continue.  However he continued to live by the principals of helping others and being prepared.  So when he saw a face in the window of an abandoned home while he was delivering newspapers he wanted to check it out because a person shouldn’t be in there and if they were maybe they needed help.

So Ted meets a young girl and does his best to keep her secret while bringing food and supplies to the abandoned house.  At one point he turns to his teacher for he needs help to help others and through a lot of soul searching — a grand plan is developed which turns out to be a big help to the whole town.  This is a great feel good book which shows how one decision to help another can really lead to wonderful things.


Book Description

Publication Date: May 20, 2008 | Age Level: 8 and up
Ted Hammond loves a good mystery, and in the spring of his [sixth]-grade year, he’s working on a big one. How can his school in the little town of Plattsford stay open next year if there are going to be only five students? Out here on the Great Plains in western Nebraska, everyone understands that if you lose the school, you lose the town.But the mystery that has Ted’s full attention at the moment is about that face, the face he sees in the upper window of the Andersons’ house as he rides past on his paper route. The Andersons moved away two years ago, and their old farmhouse is empty, boarded up tight. At least it’s supposed to be.

A shrinking school in a dying town. A face in the window of an empty house. At first these facts don’t seem to be related. But Ted Hammond learns that in a very small town, there’s no such thing as an isolated event. And the solution of one mystery is often the beginning of another.


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