Committee Booktalks - CHILIS: Children`s Librarians of New
GREAT STONE FACE BOOKTALKS 2015
Anton and Cecil: Cats at Sea by Lisa Martin and Valerie Martin
Two Cats, two brothers---night and day.
Anton, sleek and grey, enjoys watching the ships as they venture in and out of the harbor.
He is content to watch.
Cecil, stocky with black and whites patches is thirsty for adventure. He roams the harbor,
taking daily trips on the fish boats.
Then one day all changes. Anton is swept up and thrown on a vessel to be a ratter. Bound
for the seas, will Anton ever see his family and harbor again?
His capture does not go unnoticed. Cecil stows away on another vessel determined to
rescue his brother.
As the two brothers face the unknown, will their paths ever cross? Will their ships
survive? Will they? Will Anton and Cecil find safe harbor?
Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
(select a poem to read from the book)
Jacqueline Wilson was born in Columbus Ohio in 1963 in a time of dramatic and violent
change in America. In expressive and illuminative poetry, she tells her story of growing
up as an African American girl in the 1960’s and 1970’s between the worlds of the North
in New York City and of the South. Jacqueline shares with us her story – of loving
books and stories and yet also struggling to learn to read; of her family losses and
struggles and her thoughts and dreams. Through her engaging poems, we are invited
into her world; we taste, smell, and feel what is there and what is experienced by a young
girl dreaming and finding her voice as a writer.
Dash by Kirby Larson
The attack of Japan on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii changed the lives of Americans forever.
Mitisue “Mitsi” Kashino is 10 years old and living in Seattle, Washington. She is second
generation Japanese American, or “Nisei” in Japanese. She experiences the injustice and
cruelty of treatment of Japanese Americans and Japanese immigrants following the attack
on Pearl Harbor when the fear of the invasion and attack of the west coast of the United
States loomed as a possibility. Mitsi is bullied by neighborhood boys and dropped from
her circle of friends. The situation becomes much worse when her family along with
other Japanese and Japanese Americans are sent away to relocation camps in the spring
of 1942. They must give up their homes, and bring only what they can carry to the
camp. Mitsi also learns that she will not be able to take her beloved dog Dash along
with her to the camp. Based on the true story of Mitsue Shiraishi and her dog Chubby,
this book is a personal look back in time exploring the true meaning of friendship both
human and canine.
El Deafo by Cece Bell
In her graphic novel memoir, author Cece Bell tells the story of becoming deaf at a young
age and learning to live with the large contraption strapped to her chest that allows her to
hear, the phonic ear. When she discovers that the phonic ear in fact allows her to hear
what mere mortals cannot (like her teacher’s private conversations and *ahem* trips to
the bathroom), she secretly imagines herself as the superhero, El Deafo. Childhood
awkwardness, negotiating friendships, new schools, and everyday fun are all wrapped up
in Cece’s hearing loss. With a lot of humor, this graphic novel gives us all an opportunity
to learn a lot.
Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
Ally Nickerson spends a lot of time in the Principal’s office. She does not always
understand what she did wrong to get there. She has also had to move a lot, seven schools
in her twelve years. Her father is in the military and is currently deployed overseas.
Ally demonstrates unique brightness and interesting drawing capabilities as she doodles
in her “Sketchbook of Impossible Things,” but at other times her good intentions lead to
disastrous consequences, all because she cannot tell the absolute truth, not to her
principal, not to her teacher, not to her Mom, not to her friends. Ally still cannot read, no
matter how hard she tries. And she does try, but reading for Ally is “still like trying to
make sense of a can of alphabet soup that’s been dumped on a plate. She just doesn’t get
how other people do it. Ally Nickerson + reading = Impossible!
To say that Ally stands out is stating the obvious, but she is not totally alone. She
develops friendships with a couple of other class misfits; “Tell–it-like-it-is Keisha and
science and fact obsessed Albert who wears the same “Flint” shirt to school everyday and
is often seen with mysterious bruises.
In the course of their school year they get a new teacher, Mr. Daniels who sees the child
first, before the student. There are heroes in this book and they are not only the adults.
This book is a “Silver Dollar” read.
The Fish in a Tree title comes from a quote often misappropriated to Albert Einstein;
“Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it
will live its whole life believing that it is stupid.”
The truth of a quote has nothing to do with who it came from, but it would be fine and
fitting had it been Einstein.
(Kathleen Fencil, Great Stone Face Committee, 2015)
Gabriel Finley and the Raven’s Riddle by George Hagen
Ravens love riddles. This is the way they can tell the good ravens from the bad. Long
ago, ravens were our best friends…they watched over us and conversed with us easily.
That was before a phantom raven named Corax went rogue and lured some others to the
dark side. His new disciples were called valravens…
Gabriel Finley knew little about ravens, but was soon to learn a good deal more. When he
rescued an orphaned baby raven named Paladin, he discovered his family’s long-kept
secret: the Finelys had a special bond with these birds…they could talk with them,
receive their protection, and even briefly blend into the bodies of their familiars for
adventures in flight.
Gabriel loved riddles…his father had been a master of riddles right up until the day he
disappeared. Aunt Jaz seemed to know a lot more than she was telling about his dad’s
current whereabouts. With the help of Paladin and a very reluctant writing desk, he just
might be able to rescue his dad from the clutches of the evil Corax.
From Brooklyn to Aviopolis, a thrilling adventure, indeed!
Half A Chance by Cynthia Lord
When you take pictures do you just point and shoot? Do you frame your picture? Do you
consider the “story” the photo will tell?
Lucy’s family has just moved into a year round home on a lake in New Hampshire, her
third move in her twelve years. Lucy’s Dad, a famous photographer, never stays in one
place too long, and truth to tell he will be taking off within a day for a summer long
assignment in Arizona leaving Lucy and her Mom to sort out the move and settle into this
new life. Even before unpacking her first box Lucy is driven to grab her own camera and,
with her dog Ansel (after Ansel Adams), “capture a first New Hampshire photo, so that in
time she will feel the relief and comfort of looking back at this first one and remember
how brave and scary everything was then, and realize she ‘made it’ once again. Like
creating a memory in reverse.”
Memory and photography intertwine in the telling of this story.
Very quickly, Lucy meets Nate, the boy next door, and his family who are summer
residents in the cottage owned by his Grandma Lilah. Grandma Lilah is passionate about
participating with the Loon Preservation Society’s annual egg count and hatchings.
However, she can no longer manage daily kayaking to the loon nesting island and enlists
the help of Nate, his sister, and “Lucy of the Loons” as she dubs Lucy on her first
venture. Sometimes another neighbor Megan, who sees Lucy as a rival, participates as
well. As you will discover, Grandma Lilah is having more trouble managing other things
as well this summer.
Through a desire to help Grandma Lilah and a secret longing to have her photography
skills measure up to her father’s highly demanding standards, Lucy, with Nate’s interest
and help, work to gather samples for a Photo Scavenger Hunt run by a magazine, nine
photos reflecting a creative approach to nine words or phrases. Ethical issues arise when
Lucy has to enter the contest under Nate’s name since her father is one of the contest
judges. But even more difficult ethical, friendship, and creative choice issues arise over
the use or nonuse of a particular photo of Grandma Lilah that “reveals a story, show me
why I care?” but one that Nate cares too much to want to see.
(Kathleen Fencil, Great Stone Face Committee, 2015)
The Honest Truth by Dan Gemeinhart
We all have our bad days. Days when we feel like we’d love to just walk away
from everything—school, family, even friends…
Mark is a good kid, but when he finds out that he’s going to have to be admitted
to the hospital again, he makes a decision. He’s been fighting this disease for so long--maybe it’s time to walk away…from days in bed, treatments that make him sick, and
from everyone who means well but doesn’t understand.
He’s always dreamed of climbing nearby Mt. Rainier. Maybe now is the time to
make that dream a reality—even if it’s the last thing he ever does.
With only his dog for company, Mark sets off on his journey, seeking to evade all
the well-meaning people who try to stop him. Only his best friend Jessie has a clue as to
his intentions. Will he manage to make a success of this final trip? Will Jessie be able to
keep her suspicions to herself, or will she decide to point the searchers in Mark’s
The most meaningful journeys teach us something about ourselves. Mark has a
lot to learn---if he can just survive. His epic journey will keep you riveted from the first
page to the last.
Honey by Sarah Weeks
Ten year old Melody, lives in Royal Indiana where life has always been simple. It’s been
just her and her dad. Then her dad’s mood starts to change. He becomes forgetful and
starts singing for no reason. Melody overhears strange calls at night. “Who was on the
phone?” she asks. “Wrong number,” her dad says. Even groggy Melody knows she heard
her dad say Honey. Does dad have a girlfriend? Who could it be? Why all the secrets?
Join Melody and her pal Nick as they start gathering evidence and putting the pieces
together. But do the pieces really fit they way they think?
Loot by Jude Watson
Advice from Alfie McQuin to his son, March:
*Never trust a guy who says “trust me”.
*If you think nothing can go wrong---you’d better think again.
*Panic doesn’t get you anything but arrested.
March McQuin has led an “interesting” life so far. Being raised by his widowed dad,
who also happens to be an international jewel thief, has resulted in many moves to many
countries and countless transfers from one school to another. Through it all, though,
they’ve always had each other, and Alfie has passed on his wisdom as well as
“homeschooling” March in the art of burglary.
But Alfie’s latest heist has gone terribly wrong. Now March is on his own, and
he’s being followed. He’s going to need all of the skills and wisdom his father gave him
just to survive, let alone to solve the mystery of Alfie’s last request---“Find jewels…”
What jewels? Or, maybe, who is Jules? March will find friends and allies where he least
expects them, but there are enemies out there, too. And they’re all trying to be first to
This high-speed adventure will have you hooked from the first chapter to the last.
Luck Uglies by Paul Durham
Rye O’Chanter and her best friends Quinn and Folly know well the history of Village
Drowning, a village said to be “built on a foundation of secrets, rules, and lies but mostly
just mud.” The children have heard tell of the hideous Bog Noblins–creatures who wear
human feet as necklaces–and the bands of lawless men known as Luck Uglies, both
thought to be long-gone from the village. But when Rye herself has a horrible encounter
with a Bog Noblin late one night and a mysterious cloaked and tattooed man appears in
the village, Rye and her friends learn that things aren’t always what they seem and what
becomes history isn’t always true.
The author creates a multi-layered, rich world inhabited by characters that sparkle with
life and practically leap from the pages. Readers will be thrilled to know that this
engrossing fantasy is the first book of a series.
Masterminds by Gordon Korman
Your life is perfect- Your town is perfect- Serenity, … New Mexico. Population- 185.
No crime, no poverty, no unemployment, what more could anyone want or need?
Why would anyone want to leave Serenity? Could they leave even if they wanted to?
13 year old Eli and his friend Randy soon discover mysterious illnesses occur when the
kids try to pass the town border. Eli is hit with waves of crimpling nausea and paralyzing
pain. Memories become vague. Randy doesn’t seem to suffer the same illness, but fate
has something else in store. Within days, Randy leaves town.
No one has ever left town. What could this mean? As Eli discovers the clues Randy left
behind for him, he enlists the help of an unlikely crew of his peers. The clues mount, and
evidence is gathered as the kids discover Serenity may not be crime free after all. Slowly
they realize the grown-ups they trust might just be the criminals they should fear. Follow
the journey of Eli, Malik, Hector and Tori as they slowly find out the town’s secrets and
unravel the mystery of the disappearance of their friend Randy.
Murphy: Gold Rush Dog by Alison Hart
Nome, Alaska, 1900. The end of the earth, where gold lies waiting on the beaches, and
people race to the lawless town to stake a claim. Young Murphy, a sled dog cruelly
abused by Carlick his owner, arrives in Nome bloody and battered with his team. There,
he escapes to the streets and meets eleven-year-old Sally and her mother who’ve come
north to build a new life together. Needing a protector in that dangerous town, the two
take Murphy in. But Carlick hasn’t given up searching for his dog. And when Sally, who
falls in love with Nome and the wilderness, decides to run off and hunt for gold on her
own, it’s Murphy who must live up to his role of protector.
Murphy tells this solid story, filled with adventure, history, a feisty outdoor-loving girl,
and one very brave dog. The short chapters and artwork, as well as the happy ending
make this a good choice for younger readers.
Running Out of Night by Sharon Lovejoy
Her mama died in childbirth when she was born, and her pa and older brothers didn’t
think enough of her to give her a name. They simply called her “Girl”. She grew up in
fear of them, suffering their unspeakable abuse and serving as their slave, guarded by two
The day Zenobia knocked at her door, Girl’s life began to change. Zenobia was a
runaway slave, whose family had all been separated and sold away to cruel plantation
The two girls, of disparate color and background, forged an unlikely bond of friendship.
Zenobia gave her a new name: Lark, because she sang like a bird. Together, they made
their escape by night, using just their wits and a great deal of courage. They endured
many hair-raising close calls, even as they received assistance from some Quaker
families on the Underground Railroad. Did they successfully elude their pursuers and
make it to freedom?
A gritty, well-told historical novel, filled with high adventure.
The Terrible Two by Mac Barnett & Jory John
It was the first day of school, and Miles Murphy faced it with a sense of dread; he had
just moved to the cow town of Yawnee Valley from his beloved home town back in
Florida. Miles looked around and saw all the typical school stuff: typical marquee, typical
flagpole, typical bunch of kids milling around, typical school entrance blocked by the
typical principal’s car high up on the steps…huh? Wait a minute…what a fantastic prank!
The only trouble was, it wasn’t his prank! Back at his old school, he was known as the
master of pranks…who was the mastermind here at Yawnee Valley Science and Letters
Academy? He had to find out! The one person he was sure it couldn’t be was Niles
Sparks, the designated School Helper. Every school has one: the suck-up, the do-gooder,
the snitch… Can Miles be out-pranked?
This book is funnier than a rubber chicken… and contains some interesting facts about
cows! Hilarious for all ages…fun illustrations.
War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley
From the moment you meet Ada, the main character, you are going to not want to let her
go. She’s imperfect, impertinent, smart, and strong. Ada lives with her younger brother
Jamie and flat out evil mother in a tiny London flat on the eve of World War II. Ada has
a club foot. She’s never walked, and she’s never left the apartment. Her mother shames
her and punishes her in deplorable ways. Jamie is Ada’s only lifeline to the world, and
when Ada hears that Jamie will be evacuated to the countryside due to the impending
bombings, she secretly teaches herself to walk, and very painfully escapes with Jamie in
the evacuation. What happens to Ada, and Jamie, and Susan, the woman who has to care
for them, is transformative both for the characters and every reader who meets these
characters. This book will have you thinking about Ada long after it ends, waiting
impatiently for the sequel to be able to spend more time with her.
Where I Belong by Mary Downing Hahn
“If only I had someplace to go besides home. A safe place where I’d belong and nobody
would call me names or beat me up or laugh at me. No school. No teachers. No mean
kids. No Mrs. Clancy. Just me, Brendan Doyle”. (p. 13, Where I Belong)
No one is nice to sixth-grader Brendan Doyle: his foster mother, his teachers, his
classmates, and especially the teens who bully him. He escapes in books, drawing,
carving, and daydreaming. When Brendan meets an old man near his treehouse in the
Virginia woods, he believes that this is the Green Man, the magical spirit guardian of the
forest. Brendan builds a treehouse and retreats into his fantasy world. With the help of
another new friend, a girl named Shea with secrets of her own, Brendan just might find
a place where he belongs.