Boswell Book Company for Kids

2559 North Downer Avenue at Webster Place

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53211

(414) 332-1181,

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Boswell Book Company Newsletter          November 16, 2015, Day 2419

Welcome back to another special newsletter for kids books. We've got two special events coming up this week, both at Milwaukee Public Library locations, and we've also included recommendations of some of our favorite new titles. Let's get things started!
A New YA Thriller from Joelle Charbonneau Wednesday, November 18, 6:30 pm, at East Library.
Joelle Charbonneau In Joelle Charbonneau's latest young adult novel (great for ages 12 and up!), Need, teenagers at Wisconsin's Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need...regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.
One by one, the teens in Nottawa, Wisconsin join the newest, hottest networking site and answer one question: What do you need? A new iPhone? Backstage tickets to a concert? In exchange for a seemingly minor task, the NEED site will fulfill your request. Everyone is doing it. So why shouldn't you? Kaylee Dunham knows what she needs-a kidney for her sick brother. She doesn't believe a social networking site can help, but it couldn't hurt to try. Or could it? After making her request, Kaylee starts to realize the price that will have to be paid for her need to be met. The demands the site makes on users in exchange for their desires are escalating and so is the body count. Will Kaylee be able to unravel the mystery of who created the NEED network-and pull the plug before it destroys them all?

Join us at Milwaukee Public Library's East branch, located at 2320 N. Cramer Avenue, as we welcome Joelle Charbonneau back to Milwaukee on Wednesday, November 18, 6:30 pm. It's just across the street from Beans and Barley. And don't forget, if you're looking for a great YA author to visit your school, Charbonneau, who has taught theater and voice, might just be the perfect match. Check her out this time, and put in your proposal for the next book. She lives in the Chicago area, so we suspect she'll come back again!
Wow! Chris Van Allsburg on Saturday, November 21, 2 pm, at Central Library.
First published in 1985 The Polar Express has been honored with a Caldecott Medal, the highest accolade in children's books and has inspired dozens of seasonal train rides around the country, served as the theme for countless elementary school pageants, and perhaps most important of all, remains a steadfast reminder to readers young and old of the true magic of Christmas.
Thirty years ago, a mysterious train steamed up to a young boy's front door, taking him on a trip he would never forget. Told as a first-person recollection and richly illustrated in oil pastels, Chris Van Allsburg's The Polar Express is a story of the faith that children bring into the world. For millions of families worldwide, this boy's Christmas Eve journey has become a part of their own holiday traditions. In this 30th anniversary edition, the inimitable artistry of Chris Van Allsburg is revealed in a never-before-seen fashion, with a new jacket design and expanded interior layout, and includes a letter from Van Allsburg, downloadable audio read by Liam Neeson, and a golden keepsake ornament.

Join us at the Milwaukee Public Library's Central Library, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave., for this special Van Allsburg event. We're set up on the 1st floor, with a 1 pm start to special activities, including a train display, a Jumanji style game, and a craft project from Artists Working in Education. The talk begins at 2 pm. More here.

Due to time restraints, and in order to make sure Mr. Van Allsburg can sign as many books as possible, there are signing restrictions on this event. Mr. Van Allsburg will sign a book from home with the purchase of a new book from Boswell at the library, and he'll sign up to four books total. There is personalization but no inscriptions or posed photos, and he cannot sign memorabilia. The Milwaukee Public Library will be giving out line letters that day, probably starting at noon. And if you can't make our event, you can see Van Allsburg on Friday evening, November 20, 6:30 pm, at Oconomowoc High School, sponsored by our friends at Books and Company. Happy 30th anniversary, Polar Express!

Picture Book Picks

Most picture books generally have a recommendation of age 3 and up but with so many great titles being reissued in board book format, nowadays even the youngest can enjoy your favorites. One "wonderful" new title we're recommending is Lenny & Lucy, from the husband-and-wife team of Philip and Erin Stead. Boswellian Jen Steele offers: "When Peter's family moved to their new home, Peter does not like it. He tells Harold this but Harold is just a dog and can't do anything about it. Peter's new house is near a bridge and on the other side of that bridge? The dark woods! With his trusty dog, Harold, Peter sets out to build a guardian of the bridge. Once the guardian is built, Peter names him Lenny. Now that Peter feels safe he sees that Lenny looks lonely out there all alone guarding the bridge. So Peter and Harold build Lenny a friend, Lucy. And now it's not so lonely or scary out there."


Bookseller Todd Wellman's picture book pick is Lazy Dave, written and illustrated by Peter Jarvis: "Whoa; is Dave the dog lazy! Or is he? In this winsome tale Dave's inner desire to explore leads him to sleepwalk when his owner Lilly is at school. Dave becomes, unbeknownst to him, an adventurous hero. He swims with an octopus; floats through space; and trips up a bank robber. In the end, Dave is back at home with no memory of his exploits, and he and Lilly see a hero dog featured on the news. Neither knows the hero dog is really Dave--and Dave is forlorn about his assumed laziness in comparison to the hero dog's vitality. Lilly announces she loves Dave the way he is, though, and Dave smiles and nods off, happy to be loved."


Boswellian Phoebe Dyer is talking up Oskar and the Eight Blessings, a new collaboration from Richard and Tanya Simon that makes a great Hanukkah gift: "Beautiful illustrations complement this heartwarming and historical story. Oskar leaves Europe all by himself after the Night of the Broken Glass to travel to America. Before he leaves, his father tells him to look for the blessings in life, even the small ones. As he walks down Broadway in New York City to his aunt's house, Oskar learns that his father's words ring true. This book is truly astounding and my eyes got a bit watery while I read it. The art will inspire you and the story will touch your heart!"

More picture book recs here.
Middle Grade Recommendations
Don't forget that these recommended age ranges are both a generalization and a guess. Dial suggests 8 and up for Confessions of an Imaginary Friend: a Memoir by Jacques Papier, by Michelle Cuevas, and Jen Steele seals the deal with her shpiel: "Jacques Papier is having an existential crisis.  He has recently discovered that he's not an eight-year-old boy with a twin sister named Fleur. And perhaps everyone doesn't actually hate him (well, except maybe for Francois, the family's cantankerous wiener dog). It turns out he's actually Fleur's imaginary friend. People aren't ignoring him because they hate him. People just can't see him because he might possibly not be real. And so begins Jacques's journey to figure out just who he really is. Confessions of an Imaginary Friend is funny and charming and an absolute delight to read. I loved this book!"

Boswellian Barb Katz is a Stuart Gibbs fan and notes that Evil Spy School (also recommended for 8+) is on par with previous offerings. Here's her complete report, now declassified: "After thirteen-year-old Ben Ripley is kicked out of the CIA's Academy of Espionage he is recruited by rival school, the evil SPYDER. Fast paced and filled with humor and drama, Ben has to decide if he really wants to be part of SPYDER or become a double agent.  Well drawn characters, both good and evil, will draw readers into the action.  Though this is the third book in the series (following Spy School and Spy Camp), it can easily stand alone." Good news---events point to a probable fourth book in the series! (Editor's note: But not for a while, as the next book, coming in April, is part of the Moon Base Alpha series.)
Simon and Schuster is recommending 10 and up for the newest from Kenneth Oppel, who like Gibbs, has visited Milwaukee for a previous title. His newest, The Nest, is a feather in the author's cap, according to bookseller Todd Wellman: "Young Steve is obsessed with many things-including the health of his newly born baby brother. When his dream of a friendly angel reassures him that all will be well, he begins to believe his dreams might be real. Soon it is revealed that the figure in his dream is a queen wasp with a mission to replace his brother with a newly formed baby, and Steve takes on the task of saving his actual brother from being swapped out by real-world wasps. My inclination was to overlook the deep questions of mental health and root for Steve to succeed, and further pondering led me to want to talk to everyone else who's read the book to question if Steve is really experiencing what is said to happen."


More staff recs for intermediate reads on our website

 Yay for YA!
First up is Boswellian Pam Stilp's recommendation for Velvet Undercover, the new novel from Teri Brown. It's for an older spy than Stuart Gibbs, recommended for ages 13 and up: "17-year-old Samantha Donaldson, because of her knowledge of language and love of puzzles, codes, and ciphers, is thrilled when she is invited to join the elite ranks of La Dame Blanche, the all-female Belgian spy ring assisting Britain's M15 division during WWI. Although she hesitates to leave her mother all alone after her diplomat father disappeared while on duty, Sam is bribed into leaving by the promise of information on what happened to him. The training she receives in spy craft helps but, nothing prepares her for the danger and political intrigue she encounters when she is sent into the hostile court of the German Kaiser to serve an assistant to his children's' teacher. Her real mission is to figure out a way to extract a very valuable spy embedded there but, first, she must discover whom she can trust, the identity of the spy and whether they have been turned. I appreciated the strong and smart female characters that were also realistically flawed and made mistakes. I also enjoyed learning more about spy craft and the contributions of La Dame Blanche during the First World War. The danger and intrigue with a bit of romance in this historical spy thriller should appeal to young adults and teens and the story leaves an opening for a possible sequel."

Both Jen Steele and Phoebe Dyer are fans of Wolf by Wolf, which is a speculative take on World War II from Ryan Graudin, for ages 13 and up. This recommendation is from Jen: "vivor, having escaped the concentration camp where the famed 'Angel of Death' performed countless experiments and joined a resistance committed to bringing down the Third Reich. It's 1956 and Hitler has won the war and founded a new empire that dominates the globe. The world has become a very bleak and dangerous place. Each year to celebrate their victory, Hitler and Emperor Hirohito hold the 'Axis Tour,' a death-defying motorcycle race across their shared territories. The teens who enter the race are out for blood, and many of them won't make it to the finish line. Yael has been given a mission that will change all that. She's going to kill Hitler. All she has to do is 'become' last year's Axis Tour victor, win a cross-country motorcycle race, meet Hitler at the victor's ball... and then kill him on live TV. In Wolf by Wolf, Ryan Graudin presents a thrilling and terrifying alt-history that will keep you on the edge of your seat!"

While a lot of us read fiction targeted to teens, Phoebe Dyer is definitely the champion reader. Another of her picks is First & Then, by Emma Mills. Her take: "When her cousin Foster moves in with her family, Devon doesn't really know what to do with her new pseudo-sibling. She's more focused on getting through senior year and finally getting her best friend Cas to notice her romantically. When Foster discovers a surprising knack for placekicking, suddenly Ezra, the schools's star running back, seems to be inserted into Devon's life at every turn. At first, Devon wants nothing to do with him and his stuck-up attitude. But he's not what she thought he was, and their relationship slowly develops into something exciting and unexpected. This book exceeded all of my expectations. It's genuinely funny, and I laughed out loud while reading multiple times. Devon is a great character who falls into the in-love-with-her-best-friend trap and without realizing climbs her way out with the help of one swoon worthy Ezra Lynley. Her realistic and original voice is one of the best things about First & Then. While I loved and was enthralled by the romance in the book, I feel like the relationship that develops between Devon and Foster as they navigate the transition from distant cousins to siblings is equally as compelling. Funny, sweet, and with emotional depth that surprised me, I adored this book." Great for 14 and up.
More from our YA (12+) and Teen (14-) archives here. Ages are always a guess.

It's the time of the year when the fun begins. We're so excited about all the great books for kids out this fall. Our buyer Amie has a great selection of titles going in our gift guide, which will be mailed to select users of the Boswell Benefits program. We'll also have copies for you to pick up at the bookstore, and we're hoping we'll have several titles included in an upcoming kids newsletter.

There's also a lot more to look forward to eventwise in 2016. It looks like we're hosting Gordon Korman this winter (for the sequel to Masterminds, which several of us loved), and there's a good chance that Kwame Alexander will also be coming to town and appearing at a public event. Alas, due to time constraints, Linda Sue Park will only be doing school events for us, but even still, how's that for a reason to get out and shovel?

As always, thank you for your patronage and apologies for the typos,

 Daniel Goldin with Amie, Anne, Barb, Carly, Conrad, Jane, Jason, Jane, Jannis, Jen, Mel, Olivia, Pam, Peter, Phoebe, Sarah, Scott, Sharon, and Todd