List Books to Love

It is a truth universally acknowledged that kids in elementary school like to look at lists. Lists of animals and plants, dinosaurs, and famous people….I could go on and on. For reluctant readers, list books provide structure and have a more manageable word count than other books. The visuals are engaging and fit with the sense of competition that lots of young readers have at that age. Which mountain is the highest? Which animal is the most dangerous? Do you know? If you have a reader who loves lists, here are some titles to look for this holiday season:
Top 5 of Everything by Time for Kids; 11.99; Ages 7+
From Time magazine comes this book with the top five in every category imaginable: ice cream flavors, fastest animals, backyard birds, peppermint producers. Kids can quiz their parents and friends, learn cool facts about animals and geography and prepare for future trivia contests.
100 Most series by Scholastic; 7.99; Ages 8+
These are the books for a kid who picks up worms, spiders or other creepy crawlies. From feared creatures, to disgusting things, these books have lists of creatures, their stats and photographs to look at. The perfect way to gross out your friends!
Weird But True series by National Geographic; 7.95; Ages 6+
Did you know that in Ancient Egypt only royalty was allowed to eat mushrooms? Or that baby eels are called elvers? All these weird facts and more can be found in the Weird but True books. Printed with eye-catching graphics on each page, these are great books to page through and see what catches your eye. For All Ages.
The Top 10 of Everything in Sports by Sports Illustrated Books; 19.95; Ages 7+
It doesn’t matter if you love football, soccer, gymnastics or hockey. There’s something cool for everyone to find in this book of sports lists. Prodigies, Rivalries, Unbelievable Moments, and Coaches—all get face time in this big format book with great photographs. This book will make any young sports fan happy this holiday.

Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure

Let’s just get the truth about this book out of the way now: if you’re a Star Wars fan, you MUST have it for your collection. Absolutely must! Each page is full of fun activities to remind you of your favorite parts of all three Star Wars prequel movies. Pull-tabs, two working lightsabers, and huge, detailed pop-ups make the book visual awesome

The trivia is great for all fans and even for the true Star Wars buffs there are little known facts that are fun to read and share. And did I mention working lightsabers? How much fun is that?! . The paper engineering of the pages is just amazing.

Definitely a necessary addition to any Star Wars collection or for those pop-up collectors out there.

Have fun playing with this one!


Star Wars: A Galactic Pop-Up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart; $36.99; Orchard Books; Ages 8+

We know you still miss Pluto

Pluto, the ninth planet of our solar system for so long, was reclassified a dwarf planet on August 24, 2006, 6 years ago. Most of the little ones who will be reading this book won’t remember counting Pluto as they recited the planets, yet we know a lot of you do remember this small planet. No one was more upset than Pluto himself. Word travels very slowly throughout the solar system, after all Pluto is an average of 3.6 billion miles away from the earth. When Pluto finds out from a speedy space rock, he races to Earth to find out why. He passes five of our now eight planets on the way (Mercury and Venus were not on his route), so this story can also help teach the planets to little ones. Once Pluto reaches Earth, he is very angry. Astronomers don’t know what to say, they explain that Pluto just doesn’t fit the specifications to be a planet. Pluto isn’t happy until a child tells him that he is the very best, even if he is a dwarf planet and is very small. Pluto realizes that he is special and zooms back to his spot in the solar system.

Pluto Visits Earth! by Steve Metzger; illustrated by Jared Lee; Scholastic; hardcover; $16.99; ages 3-9

Happy Reading,


Keep the Lights on When You Read: Skeleton Creek by Patrick Carman

What an absolutely brilliant concept. These are unique books that teens and adults alike can enjoy reading and experiencing. In this internet age, when kids are often more into technology than holding a book in their hands, author Patrick Carman has produced an interactive book series that combines both reading and technology, giving teens exactly what they’ve been craving!

Skeleton Creek, the first in the series,  is told from best friends Ryan and Sarah’s dual perspectives, through Ryan’s journal and Sarah’s uploaded videos. Strange and scary things are happening in their town of Skeleton Creek, and when the pair vow to get to the bottom of it. They determined not to let a terrible accident or the fact that their parents have forbidden them to communicate stop them. While Ryan lies in bed, recovering from a broken leg, he tries to find out everything he can about the Skeleton Creek mystery from his dad, recording everything in his journal.  In the meantime, Sarah takes her video camera everywhere and uploads the clips for Ryan to see, emailing him passwords to ensure he is the only one able to connect to the video.

Working together, though very much apart, Ryan and Sarah slowly begin to uncover some pretty creepy information and end up way more involved than either ever planned. Their lives are put into danger several times and they learn that Ryan’s dad may be in the midst of the sinister info they are collecting.

And that’s just the first book! Let me tell you, the endings of each books leave you with one heck of a cliffhanger. Darn you, Patrick Carman!

I  had to read them each in one sitting–they’re that suspenseful! The videos are ultra-creepy (I’d suggest lights on for viewing). Perfect for a techno-savvy teen!

Skeleton Creek series by Patrick Carman; $14.99; Scholastic; Ages 12+

Two exciting new YA reads

Lots of fantastic dystopian novels were published this year and this Fall season shows that authors aren’t slowing down at all when it comes to writing fast-paced, high energy stories. Where all the ideas come from, I have no idea, but I loved these two books that recently hit our shelves:

In The Scorpio Races, her new standalone novel, Maggie Stiefvater strays from her much-loved werewolf series to write about mythical water horses. Told from the point of view of the two main characters, Puck, a hardworking girl determined to keep her family together after the death of her parents, and Sean, a local horse trainer who loves the water horses much more than he should.

Every year, the horses leave the ocean and the townspeople race them. The horses aren’t calm and serene as one may believe, but instead, out to harm anything that comes in their way, including humans. The race is often a fight to the death, offering up a large cash prize to the winner, and for the first time ever, a female, Puck, is entering.

This author has an amazing way of drawing the reader into the story with beautiful writing, yet shocking us at the same time. The Scorpio Races is a fabulous page turner you won’t want to put down!

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater; $16.99; Scholastic Press; 9780545224901; Ages 14+

The next book, Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi, is the first in a thrilling new trilogy. We’re introduced to Juliette, a young girl, locked up in some sort of prison. We quickly learn that she’s imprisoned because of a strange “gift.” If she touches someone, they die. The new government has given her a choice: she either joins them as their weapon or she’ll be killed.

The story will hit readers on several different levels. There’s the emotional aspect of what Juliette is going through with herself, the slight paranormal parts, the bits of romance, and then just the crazy fast pace of the story. The ending definitely has me wanting the next book, pronto! It was original and new, in the midst of dozens of dystopian books released this year. A hard task to tackle at this point, I would imagine.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi; $16.99; HarperCollins; 9780062085481; Ages 14+

Either of these books would be great for fans of The Hunger Games, looking for something just as exciting and adventurous to pass the cold winter months.

Come to our “Holiday Picks” event!

On Friday, November 4th, we’re having an exciting event to kick off our holiday shopping season and YOU are invited!

At 5:30, Barbara Kurland, a local reading specialist, will be demonstrating her Three Ps Reading Improvement Program. Great for struggling readers or parents/teachers that want to take a new approach to teaching reading.

From 6:00-7:00 we’ll be having an exciting presention by three publishing reps, each showcasing some of their favorite holiday picks for gift giving. We’ll be featuring books from Penguin, Random House, and Scholastic. Come meet the people who help us fill our shelves with great titles!

We’ll also have wine, cheese, and other refreshments, so come join us for a night of food, fun, and BOOKS!

R.S.V.P. by calling the store or sending us an email. 703-548-4092/

A Pirate’s Life For Me

With International Talk Like A Pirate Day coming up September 19, and Alexandria’s pirate weekend coming up September 16-18, we thought we’d highlight some book booty for you and your pirate crew:

Pirates Go to School by Corinne Demas and illustrated by John Manders; Orchard Books, an imprint of Scholastic; 2011; $16.99; 3-6

Like a memorable sea shanty, Corinne Demas’s lyrical rhyming text stays with you in this mash-up of two topics that don’t usually go together: pirates and school.

“Pirates like to paint black skies, make cannonballs with clay. Pirates bring home artwork to their pirate ship each day.”

Making the story even more entertaining is the fact that the pirates’ school isn’t exclusive to pirates, but shared by regular everyday school-going children. John Manders’ illustrations of the reactions of these children to their pirate classmates is highly humorous. We also like that the pirates include a pirate girl in their ranks.

Pirate Creativity Book CoverThe Pirate Creativity Book by Andrea Pinnington; Barrons; 2011; $12.99; ages 6-10

Whether sailing on the high seas, cruising in the car on errands or marooned indoors on a rainy day, your young scallywags will have no problem entertaining themselves with this book. It’s a true treasure trove of activities: coloring pages, spot the difference pictures, create your own story, stencils, stickers and much, much more. You’ll never say “Aarrrrg!” with bordom with this handy activity book around.

Pirates Don't Take Baths Book CoverPirates Don’t Take Baths by John Segal; Philomel Books, an imprint of Penguin Group; 2011; ages 3-6

A cute book about a little piggy who refuses to take a bath and the piggy parent who tries to reason with him. This little piggy comes up with excuse after excuse for not getting into the tub: I’m a pirate, a cowboy, a knight–none of them take baths. The piggy parent counters each iteration of his child’s declarations with the problems associated with them: getting seasick, sleeping on the hard cold ground, facing fire-breathing dragons. Eventually the piggy settles on being an treasure hunter and the piggy parent knows exactly where to find some–underwater. A great book to read (after your little piggy has had his/her bath)

Pirates of the Sea! Book CoverPirates of the Sea! by Brandon Dorman; Greenwillow Books, an imprint of Harper Collins; 2011; ages 3-6; $16.99

After spending all their booty, a band of pirates sets sail in search of treasure, facing sharks, sea monsters and storms along the way. Dorman has created a story with rich illustrations full of color, action and things you’ll miss the first time around, so you’ll have to look again and again.