Author Archives: Melissa

March 2, 2011

The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery

Posted by at 5:40 am in Reads | Permalink

Midnight_tunnelWelcome to Scholastic Booktalks where we recommend brand new Scholastic books that we think you will love. Today's booktalk is:  The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery by Angie Frazier.

It's July of 1904 and Suzanna Snow (Zanna to her friends) is stuck in sleepy Loch Harbor, New Brunswick, helping her parents manage the beautiful Rosemount Hotel, but she really wants to be a detective like her uncle, the famous Bruce Snow. While she spends her days serving tea to ornery guests and trying to get the biggest lobsters for the cook's banquet table, Zanna takes notes on the hotel guests and any peculiar circumstances she encounters. . . an abandoned cigar and pair of socks on the beach. . . a bellhop's angry attitude. She longs to take a trip to Boston to study with her uncle, but he doesn't even return her letters. Zanna's summer looks like it will be another long boring stretch of chores. . . until little Maddie Cook disappears during a power outage in a thunderstorm, and Zanna is the only witness to her abduction.

Read about Suzanna Snow's adventures to see if you can solve the mystery of The Midnight Tunnel. And, look for the sequel The Mastermind Plot coming in March, 2012.

— Melissa, Scholastic Booktalker

January 5, 2011

The Romeo and Juliet Code

Posted by at 4:51 am in Reads | Permalink

RomeoAndJulietCode Welcome to Scholastic Booktalks where we recommend brand new Scholastic books that we think you will love. Today's booktalk is: The Romeo and Juliet Code by Phoebe Stone.

Felicity Bathburn Budwig is suffering ever so much without her dearest Winnie and Danny. Exiled from her beloved England at the start of World War II, she's taken up residence with the Bathburns of Bottlebay, Maine, USA, and left to fend for herself with her stuffed bear and only companion, Wink. The Gram, Uncle Gideon, and Aunt Miami are no replacement for Felicity's mother and father, fighting the Nazis across the cold and lonely ocean.

When Felicity discovers that the reclusive Captain Derek hidden away in the attic is actually a handsome young boy who has been paralyzed from polio, she gains a partner to help her unravel all the mysteries in the Bathburn house. Mysteries like: why don't Winnie and Danny write to her, and why does Uncle Gideon hide mysterious letters from Portugal? Why is Aunt Miami obsessed with lines from Shakespeare but terrified to actually perform on the stage? And, most importantly, how can Felicity contain this giddy, dizzy, fizzy feeling she has when she looks at Derek?

Read this book to see if you can be the next person to crack The Romeo and Juliet Code!

— Melissa, Scholastic Booktalker

December 29, 2010

Words in the Dust, A Story of Afghanistan

Posted by at 4:44 am in Reads | Permalink

WordsInTheDust Welcome to Scholastic Booktalks where we recommend brand new Scholastic books that we think you will love. Today's booktalk is: Words in the Dust by Trent Reedy.

Imagine living in a world where you've never been to school, never ridden in a car, or seen a TV. Zulaikha's life as a girl in An Daral, Afghanistan is difficult enough between all the chores she must do every day and the way her stepmother orders her around. But Zulaikha also must live with a cleft lip and twisted teeth that stick out enough for all the neighborhood boys to torment her. They call her "Donkeyface" and throw dirt at her. Even her own brothers, whom she cares for every day, disrespect her.

All Zulaikha wants is to be normal, maybe even pretty like her sister, and marry a handsome man who will take good care of her. But when American soldiers notice her and offer to fly her in a helicopter and give her an operation to fix her lip, will all of Zulaikha's problems immediately be solved?

This book is actually based on a true story. Here is the author, Trent Reedy, describing his inspiration for writing the book.

"In 2004 and 2005, when I was serving with the army in support of the reconstruction effort in western Afghanistan, I was often dismayed when I saw the aftermath of the terrible injustices women and girls had suffered under the oppression of the brutal Taliban. . . When my unit encountered a young girl named Zulaikha who suffered from a cleft lip and crooked teeth, we knew we had to help. My fellow soldiers and I pooled our money to pay for her flight to our main base in Afghanistan, where an army doctor had volunteered to conduct the needed corrective surgery. I was happy, feeling that we had really made a direct, positive difference. Throughout all of my encounters with Zulaikha, I was impressed by her courage and dignity. She covered her birth defect, but otherwise she met our gaze, answered our questions, and did not shy away from us, even though I imagine we could be quite frightening with our body armor and weapons. For me, Zulaikha began to represent the indomitable spirit of all Afghans and of Afghan women in particular.

After her surgery, Zulaikha's problems with her upper lip, teeth, and nose had vanished almost as if she had always been completely normal. Her physical transformation was amazing, but perhaps more striking was her emotional change. She no longer hid her mouth in shame. The very best moment of my time in Afghanistan was seeing Zulaikha smile."

Read Words in the Dust for an honest and brutal look into the human faces behind the war in Afghanistan.

— Melissa, Scholastic Booktalker

September 15, 2010

New Blue Balliett Book: The Danger Box

Posted by at 8:48 am in Reads | Permalink


Welcome to Scholastic Booktalks where we recommend brand new Scholastic books that we think you will love. Today’s booktalk is: The Danger Box by Blue Balliett, author of Chasing Vermeer, The Wright 3, and The Calder Game.

This story starts with Zoomy Chamberlain, who lives with his grandparents in sleepy Three Oaks, Michigan. Zoomy is a list-maker, a pathological myopia sufferer, a Secret from a Secret from a Secret who was left on a doorstep as a baby.

Continue reading

July 7, 2010

Fish, a Pirate Adventure Story

Posted by at 7:53 am in Reads | Permalink

Fish Hello and welcome to Scholastic Booktalks where we recommend brand new Scholastic books that we think you will love. Today's booktalk: Fish by Gregory Mone.

Maurice "Fish" Reidy is an eleven-year-old Irish boy whose life is changed forever by a dead horse, a mildly mysterious uncle, and a stolen pouch of coins. When his family's horse dies, Fish is sent to the city, where he gets a job making deliveries for his uncle Gerry. When an important delivery is stolen out from under Fish's nose, he has no choice but to follow the thief onto a pirate ship, where he gets stranded when the pirates put out to sea.

On the good ship Scurvy Mistress, Fish must swab decks, eat wormy gruel, and use a cabbage for a pillow, as he follows every order of Captain Cobb and his motley crew of characters like Scab, Sammy the Stomach, the Scalawags for Sausages, the Over and Unders, Jumping Jack, and the One-eyed Willies. Will Fish make it back home to his family, or will he end up walking the plank?

Read Fish to learn the ways of a pirate crew and get swept away in a rollicking adventure on the high seas.

— Melissa, Scholastic Booktalker

June 2, 2010

New McKissack Book: The Clone Codes

Posted by at 8:25 am in Reads | Permalink

Clonecodes Hello and welcome to Scholastic Booktalks where we recommend brand new Scholastic books that we think you will love. Today's booktalk: The Clone Codes by Patricia C., Fredrick L. and John McKissack.

America has changed a lot by 2170 — clones, cyborgs, and traveling through time for history class via virtual reality — but its citizens are still struggling with the same questions about freedom and human rights as they have throughout history. Leanna Deberry is an 8th grader in St. Louis, Missouri, who is only worried about doing well in her classes, hanging out with her best friend Sandra, and trying out for her school's swifting team. But everything changes for her the day her mother is arrested in her own home and accused of being a member of The Liberty Bell, a "terrorist" organization dedicated to winning equal rights for the clones who serve humans.

Leanne is forced to flee her home with only a backpack containing her commglasses, a change of clothes, and a virtual scrapbook that contains the true story of The Liberty Bell. She must evade the bounty hunter Joe Spiller and his flesh-eating biobots, hide out in dangerous Gypsy City, and make unlikely allies as she conceals her own identity and tries to piece together the mystery of her own life. Will Leanne become the newest member of The Liberty Bell and dedicate her life to fighting slavery and tyranny? And can she learn more about The O, a race of aliens that has worked with The Liberty Bell throughout history to protect humanity?

Read The Clone Codes to enter a fast-paced future world with echoes of America's fascinating history. See also the sequel Cyborg.

— Melissa, Scholastic Booktalker