For young readers: Check out the news and book picks by Kepler's reviewers. Share your favorite reads in the comment box below.
From Antonia's Desk at Kepler's bookstore in Menlo Park::
Welcome once again to the Kepler's Children's Department Book Blast. School Winter Breaks are approaching, so we thought we'd offer some vacation suggestions.
For the younger set, Sunday Morning Story Time continues at 11:30, just in time to finish brunch at Cafe Borrone and meander over for shopping and a story (calendar listings below). For February, we have some darling events, including a picnic for teddy bears and their human companions, of course, and a birthday party for the Cat in the Hat. March Story Times have a stellar line-up with Tad Hills, Bob Barner, Caldecott Medal Winner Chris Raschka and indeed, the first Children's Poet laureate of the United States, Jack Prelutsky.
If the news has managed to miss you, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the last of the boy wizard's adventures, will be published July 21. Save the date and dust your cape for Massive, Midnight Merrymaking at Kepler's on the evening of the 20th, from 9:00-until after midnight when every witch and wizard shall have her/his book. You can pre-order, now by going to Web Link or by calling Kepler's at 324-4321.
For teens, we will be hosting Laurie Halse Anderson on March 31 at 4 p.m. Her new book, "Twisted," is a powerful story that focuses on the challenges facing a teenage young man.
Whether you're off to the slopes, up on a plane, out on the road or nesting at home, you'll find some great books below for all the young people in your life. Read on and enjoy.
"Adele & Simon": Young Adele is charged with getting her distractible little brother and all his possessions home from school, but Simon cannot seem to walk a block without leaving something behind. Can the reader keep track of hat, drawing, gloves, books, crayons and all the rest of the things Simon loses? This book with its delightful story, it's "I spy" puzzles, and it's gorgeous early 1900 Parisian panoramas saturated with smaller picture stories on the pages will hold a young child's interest for many miles. -- Reviewed by Vivian
"Flotsam" by David Weisner: If you are headed for the beach, or indeed, if you have ever been to the beach with a child, you must have this book. We were thrilled when the Caldecott Medal was announced because this astonishing book had our vote. It is a stunning triumph of storytelling through illustration. Give this wordless book to a child and have him/her tell you the story. You shall never hear the same tale twice, and yet, all those stories are there, so richly illustrated that you will wonder you had not quite seen the "real" story before. Older kids and adults will enjoy this book as much as a kindergartener. Here is MY story: An inquisitive boy, studying a hermit crab at the seashore, gets rolled by a wave. Along with the tumble, however, the wave has brought in an old underwater camera. The boy develops the pictures and discovers underwater marvels such as mechanical fish, an Octopus's living room, the eye of a whale, and even more intriguing to him, portraits of children from the past who have found the camera before him. He takes a picture of himself to add to the history and wonders the camera carries like a visual message in a bottle through the ages, and then returns it to the sea. -- Reviewed by Vivian
"Rabbit Ears Radio -- Treasury of Fables -- Audio CD": It may be your toddler requesting you play the CD, but we know even the more mature people in your car will discreetly tune into these clever, funny, irresistible tales. Holly Hunter's version of the "The Three Little Pigs" is a masterpiece of music, wit and dramatic expression. "Wolves are clever creatures," she says in her Southern drawl, "but pigs are cleverer." There are just no smarter, richer productions of classical folk tales and fairy tales. -- Reviewed by Vivian
"Cinderella" (as if you didn't already know the story) by Barbara Ensor: This is Cinderella as you have never seen her before: thoroughly modern and really not that impressed by the so-called Prince Charming. However, she is less impressed by her wicked stepmother and her daughters. Life just isn't fair, but when you are smart, independent and thoroughly modern, life has a way of working out just fine! -- Reviewed by Antonia
"Clementine" by Sara Pennypacker: I admit it. I adore Clementine. She's smart, funny, quirky, irrepressible, and utterly charming. Clementine is a girl who is allergic to sitting still, who is saving up for a gorilla, and who is in trouble for cutting off her friend's hair (how else do you get rid of glue?) then drawing it back on in permanent marker. She is irresistible, effervescent, and wins our hearts as easily as she wins the great Pigeon War. -- Reviewed by Angela M.
"The Far Flung Adventures: Fergus Crane" by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell: Young Fergus lives alone with his mother and goes to school on a boat. Strangely Fergus and his classmates don't learn math or spelling, rather map reading and pot holing. What Fergus doesn't realize until it is too late is the nefarious nature of the school he attends: private or not! It is up to him (with a little help from his eccentric uncle) to rescue his friends from the unscrupulous teachers (read Pirates!) and who might he meet along the way? -- Reviewed by Antonia
"The Mysterious Benedict Society" by Trenton Lee Stewart: An advertisement in the paper reads, "Are you a gifted child looking for special opportunities?" Four very different children, all brilliant, answer the ad and are recruited by the mysterious Mr. Benedict for an undercover mission at L.I.V.E. (the Learning Institute for the very Enlightened). They enter a dangerous world battling a conspiracy for world domination. But along with the exciting fast-paced plot, the book delves into deeper subjects such as the power of words to influence, deceive and undermine; the power of integrity even amidst loneliness, and most of all the power of friendship. Can this unlikely foursome work together to save the world using only their wits and the most important and fleeting gift of all: Childhood? This is a fantastic book that lives up to all the promotion and expectations. -- Reviewed by Antonia and Vivian
"The Secret Order of the Gumm Street Girls" by Elise Primavera: When three girls who can't stand each other meet the new kid in the neighborhood, they find themselves pulled into an adventure with witches, reverse tidal waves, and ... potatoes. Fans of Roald Dahl will delight in this funny, entertaining and off beat re-weaving of "The Wizard of Oz." -- Reviewed by Angela K-G
"Kiki Strike and the Shadow City": Oooooh, this thrilling adventure will get any 10-14 year old girl from Menlo Park to Tahoe without looking out the window! Young New Yorker Annaka Fishbein meets the enthralling, elusive girl spy and avenger of the wronged, Kiki Strike, and this friendship lures her into the Shadow City -- a labyrinth of tunnels and rooms hidden deep beneath New York City. They band together a group of five gutsy girls, uber-Girl Scouts if you will, each with a unique talent in engineering, disguise, chemistry and research and together they foil terrorist plots, thwart high school bullies, find treasures and evade very large sewer rats. What can these coolest of young women not do (and get away with)! -- Reviewed by Vivian
"Scorpia" by Anthony Horowitz: Would you follow an assassin's advice to find out about your father? Alex Rider does and heads to Venice looking for Scorpia, a powerful terrorist organization. There he is recruited, trained, and caught up in Scorpia's plot to kill thousands of schoolchildren. Alex finally does find out the truth about his father and has to decide where his loyalties really lie. This is a well plotted, fast paced, action packed adventure where nothing is straightforward or as it seems. You won't be able to put this book down. -- Reviewed by Angela Mann
"Here, There Be Dragons" by James A. Owen: The story begins in London during the First World War, but it doesn't stay there for very long. Three young men, destined to be some of the most successful fantasy writers of the early 20th Century, embark on a voyage with yet another literary giant through the fantastical world of the Imaginarium Geographica. There they meet legendary figures such as the Green Knight, the Three Witches and Noah himself who assist them on their quest to safeguard this parallel world and in turn save our own. Throughout the book there will be hints and suggestions as to the identities of these figures, interwoven with ancient mythology and supposition. Who are these men, who do they become, and most importantly, who is The Cartographer? I think I know, how about You?
High School / Teen
"Black and White" by Malorie Blackman: Finally, one of my all-time favorite teen novels is now available, newly titled, in paperback. "Naughts and Crosses," now titled "Black and White," is brilliant social commentary wrapped up in a romantic thriller. A sort of Romeo and Juliet meets White Man's Burden with a dash of apartheid and a sprinkle of terrorism thrown in for good measure. The first in a trilogy (No. 2 will be released in the U.S. on July 24) dealing with racism and social inequality, Sephy and Callum come to learn about love and loyalty: to their families, their people, and ultimately to each other.
** We cannot help put in this last bit: If you are 14 to 99 and have not read the "The Book Thief" by Marcus Zusack yet, come in and get a copy.
-- Children's Story Time: Valentines for Teddy Bears. Sunday, Feb. 11, at 11:30 a.m. Kepler's invites Teddy Bears of all ages to a Special Story Time in honor of the love, joy and companionship they bring to our lives. Teddy Bears are, of course, welcome to bring along their special friends.
-- Family Story Time: World Stories with Danna Troncatty Leahy. Sunday, Feb. 18, at 11:30 a.m. Pack your imagination and your spirit of adventure and come along on a tour of stories about far-flung places!
-- Cat in the Hat's Birthday Family Story Time. Sunday, Feb. 25, at 11:30 a.m. Enter Kepler's and come to the back, where we shall have cake for the cat in the hat! Come celebrate the Cat's 50th with us!
-- Family Story Time with Tad Hills: Duck, Duck, Goose and Duck and Goose. Sunday, March 4, at 11:30 a.m. Duck & Goose, Goose & Duck. Feathered friends forever . . . or are they? That's what we discover in this charming and hilarious follow-up to the bestselling "Duck & Goose." Goose is faced with a problem close to the hearts of children everywhere: what happens when your best friend makes a "new" friend?
-- Family Story Time with Sylvia Long/Dianna Hutts Aston: A Seed is Sleepy. Sunday, March 11, at 11:30 a.m. Join the creators of An Egg is Quiet, in our view, one of the most beautiful books for children published in 2006, for their visually stunning and linguistically poetic new book about all that grows from a seed. We shall plant our own tiny seedlings for young naturalists to take home.
-- Penguin Story Time. Sunday, March 18, at 11:30 a.m. Penguins, Penguins Everywhere -- Join master collage artist Bob Barner as he presents his fanciful, gorgeous and most informative new book about penguins of every kind in every place. We'll have beautiful supplies available for youngsters to try their hand at their own Barner-inspired creations with the help of Barner and instructors from Art in Action.
-- Good Sports Story Time. Sunday, March 25, at 11:30 a.m. Come join the fun and laughter as Children's Poet Laureate of the U.S., Jack Prelutsky, and 2006 Caldecott Medal Winner, Chris Raschka, present their joint effort: Good Sports: Rhymes about Running, Jumping, Throwing, and More. Exhilarating, all-new, kid-friendly rhymes capture the range of emotions, from winning to losing to the sheer joy of participating, that children experience as they discover the games of their choice -- baseball, soccer, football, skating, swimming, gymnastics, basketball, karate, and more.
-- AUTHOR SHOWCASE -- Laurie Halse Anderson: "Twisted." Saturday, March 31, at 4 p.m. The acclaimed author of "Speak," has crafted a powerhouse novel about what it means to be a man, something young Tyler Miller is desperately trying to become. Tyler's impulsive mistakes haunt him, his good intentions are misunderstood, his choices are blurred by hormone-inflamed emotions, and his words fail to explain so much of this to family and friends. As common as these sometimes humorous, sometimes traumatic, predicaments may be to adolescents, "Twisted" reveals how for a young man the strength required for self-awareness and mastery is nothing short of heroic.
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