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More must-reads from local librarians

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Posted: Sunday, June 6, 2010 12:00 am

East Valley librarians recommended so many books for summer reading that we couldn't fit them all in the print edition of the paper. The full list is below. Please contact your local library or bookseller directly to see if a particular book is in stock.


From Cathy Ormsby at Perry Branch Library in Gilbert:

The Hank Zipzer series, by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver

Synopsis: Inspired by the childhood experiences of "Happy Days" actor Henry Winkler, this series follows the misadventures of fourth-grader Hank Zipzer, who has difficulty reading, writing and spelling.

Why it's a good summer read: "(It's) the everyday life of a typical American boy, told with great fun and humor," says Ormsby. Plus, she points out, "children are highly motivated to read every book in a series they love, so I recommend letting them read series books for fun over the summer."

Rainbow Magic by Daisy Meadows

Synopsis: Rather than one book, this is the overarching title of several fiction series, such as The Jewel Fairies and The Dance Fairies - all great for little girls.

Eyewitness Books, by various authors

Synopsis: Each Eyewitness book covers a topic in detail, with lots of pictures, graphics, sidebars and other elements that motivate children to keep reading.

Magic Tree House Research Guides

Synopsis: These guides are informational, non-fiction companions to many of the fiction titles in the popular Magic Tree House series.

From Mary Sagar with Chandler Public Library:

Gracias/Thanks, by Pat Mora

Synopsis: In this bilingual story, a multicultural family gives thanks for the everyday joy in their lives.

Why it's a good summer read: The folk-art illustrations are colorful and attractive. Children will recognize themselves and their families and will identify with the pleasure of spending time with people that they love.

From Vickie Hoff with Red Mountain Branch Library in Mesa:

Claim to Fame, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Synopsis: Former child TV star Lindsay, 16, is kidnapped by two teen boys who believe they are saving her from her father. But there's a twist that involves her father, the town she lives in and the special powers she possesses.

Why it's a good summer read: As usual, Haddix takes what we often say we want (in passing at least) and shows how those things might not really be all they are cracked up to be. Great reads, her books always challenge the reader to think about the things they are reading, beyond the book. Always a plus!

Lord of the Nutcracker Men, by Iain Lawrence

Synopsis: While fighting during World War I, an English boy's father whittles different soldiers and sends them home to his son. When the boy plays with these soldiers, he becomes convinced he can control the war his father is fighting.

Why it's a good summer read: Good boy reads (particularly for better readers) are tough to find and usually they end up with non-fiction or science fiction. This teaches a little about world history and also provides some suspense. Boys and girls will enjoy this book.


From Vickie Hoff at Red Mountain Branch Library in Mesa:

"Driver's Ed," by Caroline B. Cooney

Synopsis: Three teens out for a night of seemingly innocent thrill-seeking steal a stop sign at an intersection, and a young mother winds up dead. As community anger grows and the grieving widower appears on TV offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of the vandals, the teens' lives are turned upside down.

Why it's a good summer read: "While an older title, the questions it raises for young drivers always makes you pause and think about what actions you may have taken without considering their impact on others."

From Allison Burke and Lesilee Ozmon at Perry Branch Library in Gilbert:

Witch and Wizard by James Patterson

Synopsis: Siblings Whit and Wisty are suddenly pronounced a witch and a wizard by their oppressive government. They are sent to prison, where they learn to use their powers with hopes to escape.

Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins

Synopsis: In the sequel to The Hunger Games, Katniss is faced with the challenges of being a victor of the Games, from keeping up the image of a romantic relationship with Peeta to trying to prevent any rioting in the other districts. But when the Capitol announces a twist that will affect Katniss forever, will she be able to survive re-entering the world of the games?

City of Glass, by Cassandra Clare

Synopsis: Book three of a trilogy (City of Bones was #1; City of Ashes, #2), Clary must dig deep within herself to complete the journey into the unfamiliar in the name of family and love. Clary goes to the City of Glass to try to save her mother-even though it may mean her own death.

Watersmeet, by Ellen Jensen Abbot

Synopsis: Abisina is born into a colony of religious fanatics, where she is persecuted for her appearance, kept alive only because her mother is the healer. But when a new leader arrives, he rids the colony of the outcasts. Abisina escapes and is rescued by some dwarves, who help her journey to Watersmeet to find her father.

Fire, by Kristin Cashore

Synopsis: Fire is a monster, quite literally. She is extraordinarily beautiful and can control the minds of humans, but she chooses not to. That is until she gets sucked into the kingdom's political turmoil with its cold princes and surprising character connections. Fire has to determine how to define what a monster is, and how the perceptions of others impact the definition she crafts for herself.

From Vickie Hoff with Red Mountain Branch Library in Mesa:

Turnabout, by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Synopsis: At the age of 100, the main characters are invited to participate in a scientific project called "Turnabout." It's now 2085, and Melly has just celebrated her 16th birthday - again. We all talk about being young again, but is it all it's cracked up to be?

Why it's a good summer read: Another thoughtful, challenging book by Haddix. As an adult, I found myself wondering about the implications of such an event and whether I'd be willing to participate in order to be young again.


From Sarah Foster at Mesa Public Library:

Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon

Synopsis: Claire, a married British nurse in World War II, is suddenly swept into 18th-century Scotland and the arms of Jamie Fraser, a Jacobite rebel.

Why it's a good summer read: This book has been one of my favorites (and an annual re-read) since I first read it in 1991. It has everything: time travel, romance, battle scenes, sex and violence, historical personages and two strong, appealing main characters. The story continues in (so far) 6 sequels, bringing Claire & Jamie from Scotland & Europe to the colonies during the American Revolution.

The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and The Girl Who Played With Fire, both by Stieg Larsson

Synopsis: Financial misdeeds, family secrets and murder lead a Swedish journalist into dangerous territory with neo-Nazi sympathizers. As he follows the clues, he meets a strange young computer hacker who has dark secrets of her own.

Why it's a good summer read: Who wouldn't want to read about Sweden in our hot summer weather? Once the stage is set with a somewhat dry explanation of financial wrong-doing on a large scale, the action is swift-paced and suspenseful. The characters are rather unusual and not always likeable. Larsson was an investigative journalist whose life reads like his books. Sadly, he died shortly after finishing The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest (#3) and before he completed the fourth book in the Millennium series.

The Help, by Kathryn Stockett

Synopsis: A recent college grad collects the stories of Black maids and nannies in Jackson, Miss., with the help of two of them, Aibileen and Minny, in 1962 Jackson, Miss.

Why it's a good summer read: "There are still 97 people on our request list (for this book)!" says Stephanie Foster, a reference librarian at Mesa Public Library.

From Lesley Marshall at Perry Branch Library in Gilbert:

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress, by Sijie Dai

Synopsis: At the height of Mao's infamous Cultural Revolution, two boys are among hundreds of thousands exiled to the countryside for "re-education." When the two discover a hidden stash of Western classics in Chinese translation, their re-education takes its most surprising turn.

Born to Run: Hidden Tribes, Superathletes, and the Greatest Race the World Has Never Seen, by Christopher McDougall

Synopsis: McDougall reveals the secrets of the world's greatest distance runners - the Tarahumara Indians of Copper Canyon, Mexico - and how he trained for the challenge of a lifetime: a 50-mile race through the heart of Tarahumara country pitting the tribe against an odd band of super-athletic Americans. Nonfiction.

From Howard B. Carron at Queen Creek Library:

"52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning, and a Perfect Crust," by William Alexander

Synopsis: In his distant past, author William Alexander tasted a perfect loaf in a restaurant and has been, without success, trying to reproduce it ever since. Starting from growing, harvesting, winnowing, threshing and milling his own wheat, the nonfiction book is a year-long journey exploring the nature of obsession, ritual and futility.

Why it's a good summer read: "It is a humorous, serious travelogue in many aspects. In our texting, Twittering world, it might just make us stop and contemplate where we are now and if we are really going any place at all," says Howard B. Carron, supervisor of adult services at Queen Creek Library.

Passages in Caregiving, by Gail Sheehy

Synopsis: No one is usually prepared for the unexpected role of caregiver. Ms. Sheehy helps spouses, siblings, adult children and and anyone else tasked with caring for a loved one find their way in the illogical and contradictory venue of health care, while relating a 17-year odyssey with her husband's battle with terminal cancer.

Why it's a good summer read: While it is not browsing summer literaturem it is a guide which most of us will need sometime in the future.

Father Brown's Omnibus, by C.K. Chesterton

Synopsis: While Sherlock Holmes concerned himself with the collection and scientific analysis of minuscule pieces of external evidence, sleuth Father Brown was more interested with the internal workings of the human mind and soul. A student of human nature (like Holmes), the priest drew upon knowledge both secular and spiritual to find his way to the guilty party.

Why it's a good summer read: A book you can pick up anytime, anywhere and enjoy a journey into the facets of the human mind.

From Kathy Little and Kellie Gillespie with Mesa Public Library:

The Seamstress of Hollywood Boulevard, by Erin McGraw

Synopsis: Trapped in Kansas at the turn of the 20th century, Nell Plat is 17, unhappily married and the mother of two baby girls. Dreaming of glamour and excitement, she runs away to the glittering wonderland of Los Angeles and the burgeoning motion picture industry, where she renames herself Madame Annelle and serves as a costumer to Hollywood in the Roaring Twenties. But a knock on the door threatens her new life, and she's forced to confront the legacy of her abandonment and deception.

Why it's a good summer read: We've all had the urge to run away from our lives, but common sense and responsibilities make us rethink these urges. Nell, on the other hand, actually does what some women only dream of, and Madame Annelle actually makes her dream come true. Readers will be enthralled with her glamorous life but tension builds as her past comes closer and closer to catching up with her.

The Spellman Mystery Series, by Lisa Lutz

Synopsis: Twenty-eight-year-old Isabel "Izzy" Spellman, the star of this series of books, may have a checkered past littered with romantic mistakes, excessive drinking and creative vandalism, but she's good at her job as a private investigator with her family's firm, Spellman Investigations. To be a Spellman is to snoop on a Spellman, tail a Spellman, dig up dirt on, blackmail, and wiretap a Spellman - it's the family business.

Why it's a good summer read: Readers will identify with the antics of this highly dysfunctional family who make spying on each other their family business. All the books in this series are laugh-out-loud funny, and the light mystery keeps the reader engrossed until the end.

Firefly Lane, by Kristin Hannah

Synopsis: In the turbulent summer of 1974, Kate Mularkey has accepted her place at the bottom of the eighth-grade social food chain. Then, to her amazement, the "coolest girl in the world" moves in across the street and wants to be her friend. On the surface they are as opposite as two people can be, but they make a pact to be best friends forever, and for 30 years, Tully and Kate buoy each other through life, weathering the storms of friendship, dating, marriage, careers and child-rearing.

Why it's a good summer read: This novel has wide appeal because of the universal themes of friendship, betrayal, jealousy, ambition and the complicated life choices that women are faced with. Emotional yet realistic, this story is an honest portrayal of two best friends who struggle to remain as close as they once were, and the result is a rewarding and meaningful reading experience.

From Dolores Frangella at Red Mountain Branch Libraray in Mesa:

The Bear Went Over the Mountain, by William Kotzwinkle

Synopsis: In this merry send-up, the author of the hit novel "Desire and Destiny" is a bear, a real bear, who after finding the manuscript under a spruce tree and attaching his nom de plume, Hal Jam, becomes rich and famous overnight. Obtuse editors, star-hound agents, and a right-wing televangelist and Presidential candidate all warm to Hal's warm, bearish honesty without bothering to read his book - or to notice that he's an animal.

The Autobiography of Foudini M. Cat, by Susan Fromberg Schafeffer

Synopsis: "In the beginning," Foudini M. Cat explains, "I was not a housecat. I was born in a wall." And so starts the tale of this wise old feline telling his life story, from his orpaned kittenhood and meeting his Assigned Persons to his evolving love for "his" dog Sam and his dreams of visiting the cats of the rich and famous.

Tremor, by Winston Graham

Synopsis: Set amid the real-life destruction of a 1960 earthquake in the Moroccan seaside resort of Agadir, this compelling drama of sacrifice, loss and redemption focuses on the Hotel Saada and its collection of intriguingly oddball characters: a trio of boisterous French prostitutes celebrating a windfall; a young English writer fleeing his embittered wife; a pompous French banker fumbling to hide an indelicate secret; a beautiful French actress disillusioned by her career; an American lawyer recovering from his greatest personal trial; and an English bank robber hiding from the police and his own gang. Out of the earthquake's rubble emerge several new lives full of change, hope and love.

Why it's a good read: Emotionally resonant narration, snappy dialogue and clever plotting make this a captivating tale not only of natural havoc and human tragedy, but of the uncertainty and misdirection of life.


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