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January 2009 Newsletter January 2009

New Year, Fresh Reads

This time of year, I’m always fired up about books (more than usual, I mean). The ALA Youth Media Awards --- which include the John Newbery Medal, the Michael L. Printz Award and the Coretta Scott King Awards --- remind me what great books have been published in the past year and get me excited for all the new titles in the year to come.  

Some of our favorite series have new beginnings, satisfying middles and bittersweet endings this month. In 3 WILLOWS: The Sisterhood Grows, Ann Brashares introduces the new generation of the Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants. Check out our TWO reviews of the book and a video of Brashares discussing the details of this exciting follow-up series. Just when the girls from Rosewood think their troubles are over, new complications arise in WICKED, the fifth entry in Sara Shepard’s Pretty Little Liars series. Be sure to read our review and browse inside the book. It feels like we’re coming to the end of an era, as FOREVER PRINCESS, the 10th and last installment in Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series, is now in stores. Click here to see our reviewer’s thoughts on the final adventures of Princess Mia. 

This month, we’re featuring three very different books, all of them excellent reads. First up, we have TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA by Shaun Tan, the acclaimed author of the wordless graphic novel THE ARRIVAL. This collection of short stories is, to say the least, quite quirky. To get a taste of what I mean, read (and look at) an excerpt and then check out our review.  

CHASING LINCOLN’S KILLER is some of the most exciting nonfiction you’ll ever read. In history class, you learn that John Wilkes Booth shot Abraham Lincoln, and then you move on to the impeachment of Andrew Johnson. But what happened to Booth? The thrilling story of the 12-day hunt for him comes to life in James Swanson’s YA version of his bestselling book for adults, MANHUNT. I saw Swanson interviewed when I was at a librarian convention in Denver last weekend. He made Booth's story come alive. I have decided that if more people talked about history like him, kids would love to study it. I enjoyed listening to him so much that that night I wanted to skip dinner and run back to read the book. I love when an author makes me that excited about a book.  

Moving from the east coast to the west, and from history to present day, ABSOLUTELY MAYBE by Lisa Yee tells the story of Maybelline “Maybe” Chestnut, who sets out for California with her two best friends in search of her father. We’re giving away 10 copies of this book, which you can enter here to win.  

For more freebies, be sure to check out this month’s Grab Bag of Books contest, filled with four of this winter’s hottest reads. There’s still time to enter the Sarah Dessen Giveaway. One winner will receive a copy of all her books as well as a “Lock & Key” necklace. Fans of the Luxe series will want to participate in our Word of Mouth feature for an opportunity to win a copy of ENVY by Anna Godbersen.

Saturday, January 31st is your last chance to nominate your favorite books of 2008 for the Children's Book Council's Teen Choice Book Award. So if you haven't done so already, click here to let your voice be heard!
If you’re looking to see a movie, check out two films based on books that promise to be a hit with many young readers: Coraline, an adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s novel of the same name, and Confessions of a Shopaholic, which is based on the first installment in Sophie Kinsella’s Shopaholic series. 

For more reading suggestions, take a peek at our Cool New Books and New in Paperback roundups as well as our most recent reviews (which now include both manga and graphic novel titles).  

Happy reading!

Carol Fitzgerald (


Now in Stores: 3 WILLOWS: The Sisterhood Grows, by Ann Brashares

3 WILLOWS: The Sisterhood Grows by Ann Brashares (Fiction)
Eighth grade has come to an end, and Polly, Jo and Ama --- a new generation of sisterhood --- are poised to enter South Bethesda High School. Over summer vacation, the three girls reflect on the day they first met and how their friendships have changed over the years.

Our review of 3 WILLOWS is written by Donna Volkenannt, a newcomer to Ann Brashares’s work. In addition, Amy Alessio, who has read all four books in The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants series, discusses the similarities and differences between the two series. 

-Click here to read an excerpt from 3 WILLOWS.
-Click here to watch an interview with Ann Brashares as she discusses 3 WILLOWS.


Click here to read our two reviews of 3 WILLOWS.


Now in Stores: FOREVER PRINCESS by Meg Cabot --- The Final Princess Diaries Book

FOREVER PRINCESS: Princess Diaries, Volume X by Meg Cabot (Fiction)
The final episode in the popular Princess Diaries series will surprise and delight. Once again, Meg Cabot is able to take the fun fantasy princess angle and apply it to a realistic, funny and endearing teen who is wondering who she is and what she wants out of life. FOREVER PRINCESS is a fitting end for a Princess. Reviewed by Amy Alessio.

-Click here to read an excerpt from FOREVER PRINCESS.

Click here to read a review of FOREVER PRINCESS.


2009 ALA Youth Media Awards

Each year the American Library Association (ALA) honors books and media for children and teens. Recognized worldwide for the high quality they represent, ALA awards --- including the Newbery, Printz, Sibert and Coretta Scott King Book Awards --- guide parents, educators, librarians and others in selecting the best materials for youth. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media.

The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA), the fastest-growing division of the ALA, also announced its 2009 Best Books for Young Adults, Great Graphic Novels for Teens and Quick Picks for Reluctant Young Adult Readers.


Click here to see this year's winning titles and honor books.


New Special Feature: TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA by Shaun Tan

TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA by Shaun Tan (Fiction/Illustrated Short Stories)
An exchange student who’s really an alien, a secret room that becomes the perfect place for a quick escape, a typical tale of grandfatherly exaggeration that is actually even more bizarre than he says... These are the odd details of everyday life that grow and take on an incredible life of their own in tales and illustrations by Shaun Tan, author and illustrator of the New York Times bestseller THE ARRIVAL. 

-Click here to view an excerpt from TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA.

-Click here to read Shaun Tan’s bio.


Click here to read a review of TALES FROM OUTER SUBURBIA.


New Special Feature: CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER by James Swanson

CHASING LINCOLN’S KILLER by James Swanson (History)
“This story is true. All the characters are real and were alive during the great manhunt of April 1865. Their words are authentic and come from original sources: letters, manuscripts, trial transcripts, newspapers, government reports, pamphlets, books, and other documents. What happened in Washington, D.C., that spring, and in the swamps and rivers, forests and fields of Maryland and Virginia during the next twelve days, is far too incredible to have been made up.”

CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER is a fast-paced thriller about the pursuit and capture of John Wilkes Booth: a wild 12-day chase through the streets of
Washington, D.C., across the swamps of Maryland, and into the forests of Virginia.

-Click here to read an excerpt from

-Click here to read James Swanson’s bio.


Click here to read a review of CHASING LINCOLN'S KILLER.


New Special Feature: PRETTY LITTLE LIARS #5: WICKED by Sara Shepard

PRETTY LITTLE LIARS #5: WICKED by Sara Shepard (Fiction)
Hanna, Spencer, Emily and Aria have paid dearly for their sins. A stalker named "A" terrorized them for months and revealed their darkest secrets. But now that A's true identity has been revealed, the girls can finally go back to their pretty little lives. Only, once a pretty little liar, always a pretty little liar --- and these girls just can't help but be bad. After all, girls who forget the past are condemned to repeat it. And in Rosewood, someone is always watching…  

-Click here to browse inside PRETTY LITTLE LIARS #5: WICKED.
-Click here to read Sara Shepard’s bio.

Click here to read a review of PRETTY LITTLE LIARS #5: WICKED.


New Special Feature: ABSOLUTELY MAYBE by Lisa Yee

ABSOLUTELY MAYBE by Lisa Yee (Fiction)
Meet Maybelline “Maybe” Chestnut. She may be named for her mother’s favorite brand of mascara, but she has a mind --- and a hair color --- all her own.

Meet her mother, Chessy --- that is, Chessamay Chestnut Abajian Wing Marshall Wing Sinclair Alvarez and soon-to-be Himmler. The one man she didn’t marry? Maybe’s father.

Meet Ted and Hollywood, aka Maybe’s best friends. When Chessy chooses her latest scuzzball fiancé over her daughter, the trio sets out to find Maybe’s dad in California.

Where they meet Los Angeles: city of swimming pools, movie stars, and a whole lot of surprises, including an aging screen goddess, a famous photographer, three makeovers, a Rolls-Royce, and a taco truck.  Hollywood makes a film; Ted makes his fortune. But the biggest surprise may be Maybe herself, as a charm-school dropout becomes a drop-dead charmer in Lisa Yee’s terrific new novel. is offering 10 readers the chance to win a copy of ABSOLUTELY MAYBE. To enter, please fill out this form by Thursday, March 26th. 

-Click here for all the contest details.
-Click here to read an excerpt from
-Click here to read Lisa Yee’s bio.

Click here to read a review of ABSOLUTELY MAYBE.


Special Giveaway: Win All of Sarah Dessen's Books --- and a "Lock and Key" Necklace!

Calling all Sarah Dessen fans! is giving one lucky reader the complete Sarah Dessen library, along with a very cool "lock and key" necklace (get it?!). The winner will receive one copy of LOCK AND KEY, JUST LISTEN, THE TRUTH ABOUT FOREVER, THIS LULLABY, DREAMLAND, KEEPING THE MOON, SOMEONE LIKE YOU and THAT SUMMER. Start reading now, and you'll be done with Sarah's books just in time for her upcoming title, ALONG FOR THE RIDE, which releases in June. Keep up with all the latest buzz on the new book at and To enter this can't-miss contest, all you have to do is fill out this form by Thursday, February 12th.
Click here for all the contest details.


Books into Movies: Now Featuring Coraline and Confessions of a Shopaholic

The two films in our latest Books into Movies feature are about as different as night and day, but each offers the perfect excuse to lose yourself in a good story. Hitting theaters on February 6th is Coraline, a delightfully creepy animated movie based on Neil Gaiman’s instant classic about a young girl who stumbles upon an alternate mirrored universe and risks becoming trapped “on the other side” forever. Remember to bring your 3-D glasses, as this Tim-Burton-meets-Alice-in-Wonderland fairy tale is being released in both 2-D and 3-D formats.

And just in time for Valentine’s Day, February 13th marks the release of Sophie Kinsella’s Confessions of a Shopaholic, a madcap romantic comedy that follows unlikely heroine Rebecca Bloomwood as she conquers life, love and looming credit card debt in the big city.


Click here for more details about these films.'s Grab Bag of Books Contest

Every month in our Grab Bag of Books contest, five readers are awarded a signature tote bag filled with some of the hottest books --- and may even include a sneak peak at titles that haven’t been released yet!

This contest period’s winners will each receive a copy of ABSOLUTELY MAYBE by Lisa Yee, ENVY: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen, PRINCESS DIARIES, VOLUME X: FOREVER PRINCESS by Meg Cabot and WONDROUS STRANGE by Lesley Livingston.

-Click here for the winners of our past giveaways.

Click here for all the contest details.

Cool New Books for January
2009 is getting off to an excellent start for teen readers, as bestselling authors return with additions to popular series, brand-new series and stand-alone novels that will be remembered for a long time to come.  

FOREVER PRINCESS marks the 10th and final installment of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series. Mia is now a senior in high school, and her future (along with Genovia’s) hangs in the balance. In 3 WILLOWS, Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants author Ann Brashares introduces fans to three BFFs on the verge of entering South Bethesda High School --- the very same school that the original Sisterhood attended. Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series continues with ENVY; it’s Manhattan, 1899, and all of society is eagerly watching the Hollands, the Hayeses and the Schoonmakers to see what kind of drama the great families’ sons and daughters will stir up next. Jonathan Stroud follows up his Bartimaeus Trilogy with HEROES OF THE VALLEY, an epic fantasy thriller featuring murder, revenge and a slightly diminutive protagonist. And Carl Hiaasen delivers his third novel for young audiences, SCAT, a mystery involving the disappearance of a fearsome biology teacher while on a field trip to Black Vine Swamp.

Click here to read our Cool New Books feature for January.


January's New in Paperback Roundup

The ninth --- and next-to-last --- installment of Meg Cabot’s Princess Diaries series is now available in paperback. PRINCESS MIA features several plotlines: Mia has broken up with Michael, her best friend Lily isn’t speaking to her, Mia’s parents are so worried about her emotional state that they are making her see a therapist, and Mia seems to have uncovered a secret that could alter Genovia’s destiny. January’s roundup of New in Paperback titles also includes RUMORS, the exciting sequel to Anna Godbersen’s THE LUXE, which revolves around the price of keeping secrets and the fortunes that can be made or lost upon their revelation; GAME, Walter Dean Myers’s novel about a young man who hopes that his achievements on the basketball court will help him succeed in life off the court; and BOY TOY by Barry Lyga, in which an 18-year-old battles the demons of his past, especially when he learns that his seventh grade history teacher is about to be released from prison.
Click here to see what's New in Paperback for January.

This Month's Reviews Reviews:

DEADLY LITTLE SECRET: A Touch Novel by Laurie Faria Stolarz
(Paranormal Romance)
Sixteen-year-old Camelia Hammond’s normal life gets turned upside down when Ben Carter transfers to her school. Rumors fly that Ben murdered his girlfriend. Then Camelia starts receiving threatening letters and phone calls. Her gut says she can trust Ben, but then who is stalking her every move? And is the stalker really capable of the threats he makes? Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

GUARDIAN by Julius Lester
(Historical Fiction)
In a time and place without moral conscience, 14-year-old Ansel knows what is right and what is true. But it is dangerous to choose honesty, and so he chooses silence. Now an innocent man is dead, and Ansel feels the burden of his decision. He must also bear the pain of losing a friend, his family and the love of a lifetime. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gomez.

DEADVILLE by Ron Koertge (Fiction)
Basically, Ryan has been sleepwalking through life since his younger sister died of cancer two years ago. But when Charlotte Silano --- a gorgeous, popular senior way out of his league --- has a riding accident and falls into a coma, Ryan finds himself drawn to her hospital room almost every day, long after her friends stop coming around. DEADVILLE, deals with life, death, love, drugs --- and a really great playlist. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

NEED by Carrie Jones
(Paranormal Romance)
After her father suddenly dies from a heart attack, Zara White falls into a deep depression. Desperate to help, Zara’s mom sends her to
Maine to live with her grandmother. And while the change of scenery, new friends and even a boyfriend help Zara begin to crawl out of her depression, her life is in even greater danger. An evil creature called the Pixie King has set his sights on Zara, and he is willing to kill in order to fulfill his needs. Reviewed by Chris Shanley-Dillman.

THE SCHOOL FOR DANGEROUS GIRLS by Eliot Schrefer (Psychological Thriller)Parents used to threaten their misbehaving children with military school. Now there is something much worse to offer --- Hidden Oak, a school that promises to rehabilitate "dangerous girls." Angela has no idea just how much danger is in store for her when she is forced to enroll. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

TIGER MOON by Antonia Michaelis
German author Antonia Michaelis makes her
U.S. debut with TIGER MOON, a powerful and thrilling fairy tale whose magical realism is set against the backdrop of colonial India. Michaelis's skillful storytelling should win her a wide following among anyone who enjoys losing themselves in a good, old-fashioned tale of adventure, love, friendship and storytelling. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Graphic Novel Reviews:

THE ARRIVAL by Shaun Tan
BONE, Volume 8: Treasure Hunters by Jeff Smith
BONE: One-Volume Edition by Jeff Smith
BURNOUT written by Rebecca Donner and illustrated by Inaki Miranda
CAIRO written by G. Willow Wilson and illustrated by M. K. Perker
CLUBBING by Andi Watson and Josh Howard
DEMO written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Becky Cloonan
GENTLEMAN JIM by Raymond Briggs
IN ODD WE TRUST by Queenie Chan and Dean Koontz
INVINCIBLE, Volume 9: Out of This World written by Robert Kirkman and illustrated by Ryan Ottley
LAIKA by Nick Abadzis
THE NEW YORK FOUR written by Brian Wood and illustrated by Ryan Kelly
POTENTIAL by Ariel Schrag
STEPHEN KING'S THE DARK TOWER: The Long Road Home written by Peter David and Robin Furth, illustrated by Jae Lee
WANTED by Matsuri Hino

Manga Reviews:

AFTER SCHOOL NIGHTMARE, Volumes 1-9 by Setona Mizushiro
BAT-MANGA!: The Secret History of Batman in Japan edited by Chip Kidd
EMMA, Volumes 1–7 by Kaoru Mori
FUSHIGI YÛGI, Volume 1: Priestess by Yûu Watase
SLAM DUNK, Volume 1 by Takehiko Inoue
WARCRAFT: The Sunwell Trilogy (Ultimate Edition) by Kim Jae-Hwan

-Click here to read all our graphic novel and manga reviews.

Recent Titles Perfect for Teens:

A LION AMONG MEN: Volume Three in the Wicked Years by Gregory Maguire (Fiction)
In A LION AMONG MEN, the much-anticipated third volume of the Wicked Years, Gregory Maguire re-examines the life of another acclaimed Oz denizen --- the so-called Cowardly Lion, the once tiny cub defended by Elphaba in WICKED. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

IZZY & LENORE: Two Dogs, an Unexpected Journey, and Me by Jon Katz
In his previous books, Jon Katz introduced us to the delightful menagerie at Bedlam Farm, including Izzy, the unforgettable border collie rescue. Now, in IZZY & LENORE, Katz delves deeper into his connection with the beautiful, once-abandoned dog, learning yet again about the unexpected places animals can take us. Reviewed by Judy Gigstad.

STREET GANG: The Complete History of Sesame Street by Michael Davis
(Arts & Entertainment)
In a fascinating history, television critic Michael Davis details how a motley gang of educators, television professionals, musicians, actors and puppeteers got to Sesame Street. STREET GANG traces the evolution of the show from its inspiration in the civil rights movement through its many ups and downs via the remarkable personalities who have contributed to it. Reviewed by Norah Piehl.

Call her the French Anne Frank if you like, but Hélène Berr is more than just another Holocaust account. This true journal, newly translated into English, records at once the average life of a French college student in the 1940s and the horrors of World War II. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

COLLEGE GIRL by Patricia Weitz
COLLEGE GIRL is a vivid portrait of life on a college campus and a poignant look at what happens to a 20-year-old college senior (and her self-esteem) when she loses her virginity and falls for the wrong guy. Patricia Weitz’s debut novel will resonate with anyone who remembers the often awkward transition from adolescence to adulthood. Reviewed by Sarah Hannah Gómez.

-Click here to read the titles perfect for teens.


Poll, Question and Word of Mouth

Do you have a profile on Facebook or MySpace?
I have a profile on Facebook.
I have a profile on MySpace.
I have a profile on Facebook and MySpace.
I do not have a profile on Facebook or MySpace.

Do you ever talk about the books you are reading on Facebook or MySpace?

I talk about books on Facebook.
I talk about books on MySpace.
I talk about books on Facebook and MySpace.
I do not talk about books on Facebook or MySpace.
I do not have a profile on Facebook or MySpace. 

-Click here to answer the poll.


Sometimes there's no better winter activity than curling up on the couch with a cup of hot cocoa and a good book. Name up to three of your favorite cozy winter reads.

-Click here to answer the question.

Word of Mouth: 

This contest period, one teen reader will be randomly chosen to win a copy of ENVY: A Luxe Novel by Anna Godbersen. See the official rules here. To put your name in the hat, submit your current reading list and ratings by completing the form here.

-Click here to see the most recent Word of Mouth comments.


Have a great month...and make some time each day to read something you enjoy!

Our mailing address is:
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--- Carol Fitzgerald for