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In the Stacks: New chapter books

Posted: April 11, 2013 - 12:04am

New chapter books at the public libraries include science fiction (“Above World,” by Jenn Reese), mysteries (“Signed by Zelda,” by Kate Feiffer), and slice-of-life books (“Summer of the Wolves,” by Polly Carlson-Voiles), in addition to the titles below.

“The Wikkeling,” by Steven Arntson, illustrated by Daniela J. Terrazzini

All the kids who live in the Addition are safe, secure, and supervised – technology makes sure of that, with four seatbelts per kid on the bus, school computers that instantly grade and report their progress, and cameras that watch them while they sleep. But that doesn’t mean life is happy for Henrietta, who gets picked on a lot. Smart, but distracted, she doesn’t have any friends until Rose and Gary show up. All three kids have secrets: Henrietta’s is the extinct wild housecat named Mister Lady who lives in her attic. Gary’s is that, even though he’s the teacher’s son, he can’t read – a problem that could mean he’s Finished and will be a garbage collector for the rest of his life. And Rose? Well, Rose’s secret is more complicated. As the three work together to solve the mystery of the attic window that looks out to the past, a new threat shows up: the Wikkeling, with long, waxy fingers and staring, yellow eyes, who asks a question they’re afraid to answer. Creepy, yet compelling, this pokes fun at the future we’re heading towards.

“The Other Felix,” by Keir Graff.

Felix has two problems: when he’s awake, the problem is Chase, the bully who sits next to him in school and blames Felix when things go missing. When he’s asleep, the problem is nightmares, the kind with monsters that chase him, tear his bathrobe, and leave his feet muddy when he wakes up. One night, though, the monster that’s chasing him gets scared away by a boy who looks just like Felix - in fact, his name is Felix, too. There’s a big difference between the two Felixes, though: the Other Felix is much braver than Felix. Night after night, Felix dreams about the Other Felix and his nightmares gradually turn into adventures. Day after day, Felix gets braver, too, and turns the tables on Chase. But one night, the Other Felix gets mad at Felix. And one day, Felix takes his new-found bravery too far and does something that makes him ashamed of himself. Can he find a way to be himself without turning into a bully himself?

“On the Run,” by Clara Bourreau.

Third-grader Anthony barely remembers his dad, a wildlife photographer who has been away on jobs for a couple of years now. But one night Anthony lays out all the postcards he’s gotten from his father and realizes they all have the same postmark. When he asks his sister, Lise, about it, she spills the beans: their dad is in jail. Their mom fills in the details about his father’s bank robberies and subsequent imprisonment. And finally, with the truth out, Anthony, with mixed emotions, gets to visit him. Just as he’s getting used to the idea of having a father in prison, suddenly he doesn’t – his father has escaped and the police start patrolling Anthony’s home to catch him again. Deciding he’s been separated from his father long enough, Anthony packs a backpack and runs off with him. In the end, astute readers find that there’s a difference between “growing up” and “growing older.” This French import is smoothly translated, but its plot is more oblique than American readers may be used to.

“The Hole in the Wall,” by Lisa Rowe Fraustino

Things are tight in the Daniels household and every penny counts, so when 11-year-old Sebby finds that the chickens have flown the coop and the only egg left bounces without breaking, he knows that’s the end of roller skating on weekends. There’s a lot Sebby dislikes about his life, from his dad’s unemployed status (which led to depression which led to drinking which circled back around to unemployment again) to the ugly landscape around him. But there are things he likes, too: most of all, his hideout, the Hole in the Wall, and the colors he can only see when he wears the glasses he found in Mr. Odum’s shed. But when mysterious things start happening around town – his neighbor’s poodle turns into a living statue, colors start leaching into walls, and Sebby himself starts an unprecedented growth spurt - Sebby decides it’s time to get some answers.

•••

Upcoming events at the public libraries include an OWL videoconference downtown about Balto on Saturday, April 13, at 1 p.m.; a meeting of the Juneau Cinema Book Club downtown on Sunday, April 14, at 2 p.m.; the library’s monthly Family Movie Afternoon at the Douglas Library also on Sunday at 3 p.m.; and a presentation by Vaughn Sherman, author of “Sea Travels: Memoirs of a 20th Century Master Mariner” at the Douglas Library on Tuesday, April 16 at 6:30 p.m.

For information about upcoming programs, or to place a hold, visit www.juneau.org/library or call 586-5249.

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