Libri Dilectio: The Adventures of a Booktalking Librarian

19 May 2010

The Adventures of a Booktalking Librarian

This morning a coworker and I went out to one of our local elementary schools for a booktalk! We each brought ten books to promote to kids in the advanced reading group (grades 3-5). If you’re a librarian and you haven’t had a chance to do something like this, definitely start trying to! Get in touch with your local elementary schools and offer your services, they may not know that you’ll do booktalks.

As soon as I found out I was one of the lucky librarians going on this visit, I ran right out and started grabbing my recent and long time favorites. Frankly, narrowing them down to only ten was really difficult…and really fun! Here are the ten that made the cut for me!

 The Looking Glass Wars, Frank Beddor
Everyone knows the story of Alice Liddel who walked through the looking glass and into a magical adventure in Wonderland, but what you don’t know is that Lewis Carroll got it all wrong. Alyss Heart is not just an ordinary girl, she’s the heir to the throne of Wonderland. A happy kingdom ruled by imagination, until the day that Alyss’s evil Aunt Redd attacks the palace and steals the throne. Alyss escapes to our world with her loyal bodyguard, Hatter Madigan, but they are separated. Alyss finds herself alone and lost in Victorian London, while Hatter Madigan searches for her to return her Wonderland and restore her to her rightful place on the throne.

Revolution is Not a Dinner Party, Ying Chang Compestine
Nine year old Ling has a good life. Her parents are physicians at the best hospital in Wuhan, her family is educated and worldly. She loves to read English books, listen to radio shows from other countries, and learn as much as she can about the world. Then a high ranking official of Chairman Mao’s moves into Ling’s apartment building. Soon she’s not allowed to read or listen to anything that isn’t Chinese, she can’t have ideas different from those of Chairman Mao’s and it’s considered dangerous that she can speak English. Ling watches, over the course of four years, as her neighbors, friends, and family lose more and more of their rights. This novel is based on the author’s own experiences as a child living in Wuhan, China.
Emily and Navin’s mother has just moved them into their deceased great grandfather’s home. It’s a dirty, dusty, dank old mansion that they must first clean up. As Emily cleans, she discovers a secret room, a mysterious book, and a beautiful amulet, but something sinister also discovers her. That night an octopus creature breaks into the house and kidnaps Emily and Navin’s mother. In order to save her, the kids make their way into a new world filled with talking animals, robots, and the most frightening monsters imaginable.
A Wrinkle in Time, Madeleine L’Engle
This year’s Newbery Award winner was Rebecca Stead’s, When You Reach Me, which told the story of a girl named Miranda, who’s favorite book in the world is A Wrinkle in Time. She loved traveling through time and space with Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin as they search the stars for Meg and Charles’s lost father. Their father was a prominent scientist who disappeared off the face of the Earth while experimenting with a new form of space travel called tesseract. The adventure begins, as all good adventure’s do, on “a dark and stormy night,” (p.1).
North, Donna Jo Napoli
Alvin is a wimp. He’s a wuss and a mama’s boy. Or so his classmates think. He’s nothing like his hero, Matthew Henson, the first African American to explore the Arctic. Alvin never does anything unexpected. He does well in school, obeys his elders, and never strays far from home. Until the day he decides he’s had enough. He doesn’t want to be the wimp anymore, he’s ready for a real adventure, just like Matthew Henson. Alvin leaves the comfort and safety of home to run away to the arctic North, but he’s not really prepared to face polar bears, wolves, and temperatures cold enough to freeze a man in moments.

Arthur Penhaligon was supposed to die on Monday, instead he’s saved by a key shaped like the hand of a clock, but the key also brings with it great danger. Strange men enter the world after the key and bring in their wake a dangerous plague. In order to save his family and friends, Arthur must enter a mysterious house, that turns out to be the doorway into a new world. The world inside the House is ruled by seven keys, one of which is now in Arthur’s possession. He now has to solve a mystery and fight for the safety of the House as well as that of his world, all while never letting go of his key, or else he will die.
Rascal, Sterling North
The world is full of adorable creatures that your mom has always told you would not make good pets; squirrels, chipmunks, birds, and raccoons belong outside, unless you’re Sterling North. As a young boy, he found an abandoned raccoon cub and brought him home. The cub, whom North named Rascal, became his most loyal pet and the author had a lot of interesting pets!
This is a lifelong favorite that my dad read to me as a child. I love passing along books like this to a new generation of readers!
Nicholas, Rene Goscinny and Jean Jacques Sempe
A collection of short stories about an energetic, trouble-making French school boy named Nicholas. This hilarious book is written by one of the creators of the universally popular comic series, Asterix the Gaul. Nicholas and his friends are forever in and out of trouble. My favorite story in the book involves a game of cowboys that ends with Nicholas and his friends going in for supper and leaving his father tied to a tree outside. Nicholas sees nothing wrong with leaving his father tied up, in his mind, his dad is just really dedicated to the game. This book is great for reluctant readers who want something a little shorter, but also for strong readers who just want something to laugh at.
Leviathan, Scott Westerfeld
In 1914, on the eve of World War I, Deryn Sharp and Prince Alek of Austria are about to embark on a great adventure. Deryn is a British girl who disguises herself as a boy in order to join the Royal Air Force, but she doesn’t learn to fly planes. The British are Darwinists, which means they genetically engineer animals into war machines. Prince Alek is an Austrian Clanker, who’s country creates machines of steal and steam. Both the Clankers and the Darwinists find the other unnatural, but who will win this conflict of animal vs. machine? And can Deryn and Alek find a way to work together for the common good when they are so different?
Thirteenth Child, Patricia C. Wrede

The most powerful magicians in the world are seventh sons of seventh sons and the most unlucky children are thirteenth. Lan is a double seventh son and his twin sister, Eff, is a thirteenth child. Eff has been mistrusted and mistreated for most of her life just for being thirteenth. When her family moves out West it’s her chance to start a new life where no one knows her curse. Life in the West isn’t easy – the settlements are constantly under threat from the many magical creatures living just beyond the protective magical border. Eff must discover her inner strength to find out if she really is bad luck or just a different kind of magical.


  1. AbbyMay 19, 2010 06:50 PM

    You *are* lucky! I loved visiting that class. None of the schools have had me booktalk yet, but I am going to try harder to "sell" it next year.


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