6-15-10: Pink Me! Pink Me!

June 14, 2010 at 8:28 pm 4 comments

[Audio http://stream.publicbroadcasting.net/production/mp3/wypr/local-wypr-907459.mp3%5DPaula Willey blogs about children’s literature over at Pink Me. This morning she joins Tom in the studio to talk about what’s hot in summer reading for the youngsters this year. If you like what you hear, look below for a list of the books they talked about (and then some!), along with descriptions by Willey.


(If you liked Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson and the Olympians series)

The Underland Chronicles by Suzanne Collins. Five books in the series, all published. First book in the series is Gregor the Overlander.

Age range: Grades 3-6

Gregor is a New York kid whose baby sister falls down some kind of vent shaft in their apartment building. Gregor follows her, of course, because if he loses her his mom is going to kill him. At the bottom of the shaft is this vast underground world, with people living down there who have been there for hundreds of years. But alongside the people there are giant talking rats and giant talking bats and giant talking cockroaches and pretty much giant talking whatever else doesn’t mind living in the dark. There are five books in the series and they get quite serious toward the end, but it’s absolutely gripping and completely addictive.

The Last Apprentice by Joseph Delaney. There will be ten books in the series, nine are out so far. The first book in the series is Revenge of the Witch.

Age range: Grades 4-9

A dark fantasy very popular with middle grade boys. Lots of magic and danger in these books, with shivery writing, sharp characters, creepy beasties, untrustworthy humans, and sarcastic humor.

Ulysses Moore by Pierdomenico Baccalario. There are 10 books in this series, 4 out already. Since this series is being translated from the Italian, hopefully they’ll come fast and furious. The first book in the series is The Door to Time

Age range: Grades 3-6

Three kids move into a giant spooky old house and discover clues and puzzles left by a previous owner, the mysterious Ulysses Moore. These clues lead to a time travel portal, and of course, that’s where the real fun begins. Illustrated with intricate old-fashioned drawings that are clues themselves, this is a good one for kids who like the 39 Clues or the Hardy Boys.

Dark Life by Kat Falls. Dark Life is the first in a planned 4-book series.

Age range: Grades 3-9

Dark Life is set in a future when global warming has reduced the surface of the earth so much that the government is sponsoring homesteaders to settle the sea floor. Ty and his family have herds of red snapper and mahi mahi and grow kelp as a cash crop on their 100-acres seabed farm. They have to fend off bandits and dangerous wildlife, and cope with limited resources. It’s like a sci-fi Western, but with underwater surfboards instead of mustang ponies, and dolphins in place of dogs. I cannot recommend this super exciting book highly enough.

The Kane Chronicles by Rick Riordan. The first book in the series is Red Pyramid, and it’s not known yet how many there will be.

Age range: Grades 3-8

Red Pyramid is the first book in the Kane Chronicles, the eagerly anticipated new series by Rick Riordan, who wrote Percy Jackson and the Olympians. Carter and Sadie Kane are siblings whose life gets strange the night their dad blows up the Rosetta Stone, summons an angry Egyptian god, and disappears. It’s 500 pages, but those pages go like the wind. This new series could do for Egyptian mythology what Percy did for the Greeks.

FUNNY (If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney):

Nathan Abercrombie, Accidental Zombie by David Lubar. Two books in this series have been published, with a 3rd due in the fall and surely more to come. First book in the series is called My Rotten Life.

Age range: Grades 2-6

Poor Nathan. He’s having a bad day. All he wants is to put it all behind him when – whoops! He gets doused with some kind of mad scientist juice that makes him undead. Which kind of is good for his life – his stamina improves, he can swim underwater as long as he wants, he’s kind of a superhero – but, you know, he’s dead. He’s having trouble keeping all his parts attached. David Lubar is the author of the Weenies books, which, if you were a 9-year-old boy, might be all the endorsement you need.

Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce. The first book in this series, Big Nate: In a Class By Himself is out and the second is on the way.

Age range: Grades 2-6

You may know Big Nate from his newspaper comic strip of the same name. This book is predictably very heavy on comic art, with the illustrations carrying much of the story. We follow Nate through a day at school, meeting his friends, watching him cook up schemes, and reading over his shoulder as he doodles in his notebook. Funny and goofy and down-to earth.

The Lunch Lady graphic novels by Jarrett K. Krosoczka. Four books are out so far, the first one being Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute, and more are planned.

Age range: Grades 2-6

The Lunch Lady graphic novels are short and wacky, just the right length to be a funny diversion during Adult Swim at the pool. Three meddlesome kids help Lunch Lady and her sidekick Betty solve mysteries with the aid of super gadgets like the Spork Phone and the Underwater Bendy-Straw Breathing Apparatus. Lunch Lady has a strong sense of justice and a mean Sloppy Joe.

An Awfully Beastly Business by  David Sinden, Matthew Morgan, Guy Macdonald, and Jonny Duddle. There are four books in this series so far, with the fifth arriving in July. The first book in the series is titled Werewolf vs. Dragon.

Age range: Grades 2-6

How to Train Your Dragon fans should look for An Awfully Beastly Business, by David Sinden. This is a series of books about a preteen werewolf, Ulf, and his friends in the RSPCB, the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Beasts. It’s funny and exciting, and only a little bit scary, and great for car trips. The CDs are read by Gerard Doyle, who does fantastic character voices.

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda by Tom Angleberger

Age range: Grades 2-6

The Strange Case of Origami Yoda is a standalone book, not in a series, at least not yet. Origami Yoda is a finger puppet piloted by this kid Dwight, who at school is a little bit of a loser. When the kids at his lunch table have problems or dilemmas, the finger puppet pipes up, “Ask Origami Yoda you should” so they do, and Yoda gives them wise insightful advice. Now, Dwight’s friend Tommy is extremely puzzled by all this. He can’t figure out why Dwight, who is such a space case, can come up with this great advice, and wonders if maybe there really is a Jedi master inside Dwight’s finger puppet.

N.E.R.D.S. By Michael Buckley. The first book in this series, N.E.R.D.S: the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society is published, and the second, M is for Mama’s Boy, is due out in September.

Age range: Grades 2-6

A series that is both funny and adventurous, is N.E.R.D.S. by Michael Buckley. N.E.R.D.S stands for the National Espionage, Rescue, and Defense Society and it’s made up of 5th graders who are, at the beginning of the book, not the coolest in school. One has ADHD, one has asthma, one kid has braces, etc. But when they get inducted into the secret spy agency NERDS, their weaknesses are turned into superpowers. Michael Buckley wrote The Sisters Grimm, an eight-volume fractured fairy tale detective series that was very popular, so if that’s any indication, then NERDS is going to completely take off.

The Brixton Brothers by Mac Barnett. The first book, The Case of the Case of Mistaken Identity, has been published, and the second, the Ghostwriter Secret, is due in October.

Age range: Grades 2-6

This series is perfect for kids who like the Hardy Boys and Encyclopedia Brown. In fact, the hero of this book, Steve, is obsessed with a pair of teen detectives exactly like the Hardy Boys. He has memorizes all their tips and methods, and so when he’s attacked by a SWAT team of librarians at his local public library, he tries to solve the case just like his heroes would. As it turns, however, his heroes give lousy advice – not only totally impractical but sometimes actually dangerous. In the end, Steve’s own deductive abilities save the day. The mystery is genuinely hard to figure out, the humor is great, and the book is in its way as old-fashioned as the series it gently mocks.


The Emily Windsnap books by Liz Kessler. Four in this series, starting with The Tail of Emily Windsnap.

Age range: Grades 2-6

This series is a beautiful summer read for girls. Emily is a somewhat lonely English girl who lives on a houseboat with her mom, and one day discovers that she is half mermaid! This leads to gorgeous undersea discoveries and adventures along with a fair bit of drama with her family and friends. This one is particularly nice on audio – it’s read by the British actress Finty Williams, who has a sweet, musical voice that never turns sugary.

One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia

Age range: Grades 3-6

One Crazy Summer is getting a lot of buzz as an award contender this year. Unfortunately, it’s a little difficult to synopsize in an appealing way: as the book starts, Delphine and her little sisters are being sent to California to spend the summer of 1968 with the mother who abandoned them years ago. Once they get there, their mom still has no interest in them, and sends them to a summer camp sponsored by the Black Panthers. Yay, right? And yet it is an upbeat and happy book.

Any Which Wall by Laurel Snyder

Age range: Grades 2-6

Any Which Wall by former Baltimorean Laurel Snyder is kind of a quieter adventure. It’s a quick and friendly read, and kids who pick it up can’t put it down – boys and girls. Four kids find a strange wall standing in the middle of a field. It turns out that if they touch it, and make a wish, the wall will transport them anywhere and anywhen they want. It’s kind of an old-fashioned summer book, full of bike riding and popsicles and magic.

Entry filed under: Arts and Culture, Books, On Air. Tags: , , .

6-14-10: Budget Bafflement 6-15-10: It Takes Youth Radio to Raise a Child

4 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Nathan Sterner (WYPR)  |  June 15, 2010 at 1:42 pm

    Tom Hall did a far better job with this interview than I would have, no question. But here’s a question I would have asked (one that the Maryland Morning producers would have likely cut, as to its stupidity): is “Pink Me” a reference to President Theodore Roosevelt’s famous response to being shot during the 1912 presidential race: “He Pinked Me!”??? TR carried the bullet through the rest of his life… and don’t many books we’ve read as kids stay with us through the rest of our lives? Didn’t many of those books make us bleed? (That last only works for those of us with violent sisters who used books as weapons, literally…)

  • 2. blahblahblah  |  June 15, 2010 at 1:49 pm

    Incredible. Can’t wait to read the Oragami Yoda and son said he liked the Lunch Lady books.

    One Crazy Summer sounds like a book that would have been something I read over and over again as a kid.

    These are all such great! You sound fab and such a treat listening to you and plan to bend your ear at the next pool outting. xx

  • 3. :paula  |  June 15, 2010 at 8:01 pm

    Ok Nathan I’m so sorry to hear about the book-wielding sister – no question, children’s literature can leave its scars!

    I named my blog Pink Me because many people know of me as ‘the pink-haired librarian at the Towson library,’ but the TR reference is a good story too!

    Thanks for doing such a great job as MC at Kidstock – I was working that day but my friends on the NOGLI committee all said you were great!

    And Cole, you and the boy can borrow our copy of Origami Yoda – I’ll put it in the swim bag!

  • […] And Paula Wiley from Pink Me discusses the book on the radio at Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast. […]


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