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February 8, 2008 Edition

The Strongest Man in the World: Louis Cyr, written and illustrated by Nicholas Debon, Boston Globe Hornbook Non-fiction Award Wi

Imagine being strong enough to lift a horse! Louis Cyr could do that and more – in fact, some of his weight-lifting records still haven’t been broken. Born in Canada in 1863, he worked as a policeman, lumberjack, and tavern owner before traveling the world as a circus strongman and then starting his own circus. (elementary grade readers)

Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything In It, by Sundee T. Frazier, John Steptoe Award Winner

Brendan wants to be a scientist and is rapidly filling his Confidential notebook with his discoveries and questions about the world. He’s a blue belt in Tae Kwon Do, loves his family, misses his Grandpa Clem (who died last year), and has just started a new hobby: rock collecting. And that’s how he meets his “pink” grandfather for the first time, a meeting which changes the questions he asks. But these new questions don’t have easy answers in this funny and adventurous book about family and the pleasures of asking questions. (chapter book readers)

Henry’s Freedom Box, written by Ellen Levine, illustrated by Kadir Nelson, Caldecott Honor Book

This richly illustrated book about Henry, a slave who, with the help of slavery-hating white men, mailed himself to freedom, is both chilling and uplifting. Taken from his family as a child, Henry grows up, meets and marries his wife, Nancy, and loses her and their children when they are sold to another owner and taken away. Despair drives him to finally try his escape to freedom; though he is successful and lives out the rest of his life a free man, sadly, there is no record that he was ever able to reunite with his family. (elementary grade readers)

Tracking Trash, by Loree Griffin Burns, Boston Globe Hornbook Non-fiction Honor Book.

Dr. Curt Ebbesmeyer is a lucky guy – he’s turned his beachcombing hobby into a career – he studies ocean currents through the trash he finds on the beach. With the help of sneakers, bath toys, and observant volunteer beachcombers, Ebbesmeyer and other scientists have fine-tuned a computer program that helps predict where things like oil spills will go. This intriguing book is full of maps, amazing photos, and information that will wow readers. (older elementary and middle school readers)

The Wednesday Wars, by Gary D. Schmidt, Newbery Honor Book

Seventh grader Holling Hoodhood is convinced his teacher is out to get him. Why else would she make him read Shakespeare’s plays on Wednesday afternoons while the other students are at Catechism or Hebrew school? To his surprise, he finds himself drawn in, first by the curses that roll off his tongue so smoothly (“apes with villainous foreheads low”), until he finds himself playing Ariel in a Shakespearean Holiday Extravaganza, thanks in part to two escaped rats and a box of cream puffs. In the background is the Vietnam War and home life with an ambitious businessman father; in the foreground are yellow tights, bullies, and Vietnamese refugees. In the middle of it all: Holling Hoodhood. (middle school readers)

Dreamquake, by Elizabeth Knox, Printz Honor Book

Completing the Dreamhunter duet, “Dreamquake” picks up where the first book ended. Likened to Garth Nix and Philip Pullman, Knox has created a world where dreams are controllable and indeed, are manipulated by the government for its own ends. Convicts are terrified into obedience through nightmares and the wealthy are lulled into complacency by dreams of golden futures. Now, Laura, a young member of a dreamhunter family, finds herself in a position to change the balance of power if she dares. (young adult)

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