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New chapter books for older kids include 'Gully's Travels' and 'After Tupac & D Foster'

Posted: Thursday, September 02, 2010

Here's a look at the new chapter books for independent readers.

Gully's Travels, by Tor Seidler, illustrated by Brock Cole.

Gulliver, a Lhasa apso with a big ego, lives a life of luxury with his owner Professor Rattigan. He goes for walks every day, gets groomed every month, has two slices of bacon every Sunday, flies to Paris every July, and wears a stunning salmon-colored collar studded with turquoise and silver. And then - tragedy: Professor Rattigan gets engaged. To a woman who's allergic to dogs. And just like that, Gulliver finds himself living in a scrubby yard with kids and three uneducated hounds and a cat, reduced to eating kibble. After a particularly disastrous day at the beach, Gulliver's had enough and runs away. But will he ever find his way home? This sweet, funny story will make a great multi-night read-aloud for kindergarteners as well as a fun read for elementary school independent readers.

Falling In, by Frances O'Roark Dowell.

Isabelle Bean isn't like other kids. She wears funny clothes and she hears things that no-one else does. And one day she concentrates too hard on an elusive buzzing while she opens a closet door and falls in... Where? She's not sure, but the kids she meets in the new place are frightened of her - they say her favorite red boots make her look like the witch. The witch? Isabelle is intrigued and decides to meet this witch. Along the way, she meets Hen, a little girl who's heading for the safety of the camps, and together they face the fearsome witch, who turns out not to be so scary after all, and who definitely doesn't eat children. Here's a twist on the fairy tale genre with a bit of mystery thrown in for good measure that should appeal to older elementary school and middle school readers.

After Tupac & D Foster, by Jacqueline Woodson.

When the narrator and her best friend Neeka meet D Foster, they are immediately scornful of D's acquiescence to her foster mom's rules and her odd clothes, but are attracted by her air of worldliness. The three 12-year-olds are very different: the unnamed narrator is a good girl, while Neeka is a rule-breaker and back-talker, and D is well-aware of what happens to foster kids who mess up too often but still can't resist the urge to "roam" once in a while. But the three become close as sisters over Tupac Shakur's music, feeling like he's singing about their lives, like he knows them. When he gets shot for the first time, it seems like everyone they know holds their breath. Tupac's recovery is symbolic of the girls' own hopes for a long-lived friendship. But life is full of changes and one day D leaves to live with her real mother and Tupac gets shot again. Gritty and poignant, and written with middle school and high school readers in mind.

Fever Crumb, by Phillip Reeve.

Young Fever Crumb, found in a marsh when she was a baby and raised by the Order of Engineers, is now going to work as an assistant to an archaeologist. The world as she knows it is crumbling: years ago, it was ruled by the Scriven, an inhuman race of beings, but they were overthrown by the commoners and no clear social order has been re-established. And all too soon, she finds that her own personal world is not what she thought - moreover, she isn't who she thought she was - and that she must flee for her life. This prequel to the Mortal Engines quartet can be read by middle and high school readers alone or as part of the series.

Adventures of Benny, by Steve Shreve.

This generously illustrated book follows young Benny as he digs up a mummy with his Uncle Howard (and suffers the curse of King Butt), lends socks to Bigfoot, digs up treasure on Monkey Island (and learns why to carry toilet paper to desert islands), matches wits with a booger-man, and goes squid fishing with pirates. Warning: really bad jokes abound in this chuckle-worthy book for elementary and middle school readers.

***

The public libraries will be closed on Monday, Sept. 6, in honor of Labor Day.

Toddler and story times are back in full-swing! And so is family night for preschoolers, held this Tuesday, Sept. 7, at 5:30 p.m. in the downtown library.

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



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