This week, as a follow up to the previous post about magical animals, we have a post about regular ol’ animals. Except the one about a girl whose brain is put into a chimpanzee. That’s not necessarily a regular ol’ animal. But otherwise we’re featuring dogs, chimps and whales, just your usual backyard pets…
Half brother / by Kenneth Oppel.
“Thirteen-year-old Ben Tomlin’s whole world is changing. His parents, research scientists, have moved them across Canada to be with their newest subject, Zan. Intending to prove that chimpanzees are capable of intelligent thought and communication, the Tomlins teach the baby chimp sign language and incorporate him into their daily lives. Thrust into a new school and, essentially, a new family, Ben is caught in a whirl of new emotions, especially when the lovely Jennifer comes onto the scene. Though Zan learns sign language relatively well, his animal instincts gradually become more pronounced and Ben and his parents must make some important decisions about the chimp’s future.” (School Library Journal)
Jamrach’s menagerie : a novel / by Carol Birch.
“Jamrach’s Menagerie tells the story of a nineteenth-century street urchin named Jaffy Brown. Following an incident with an escaped tiger, Jaffy goes to work for Mr. Charles Jamrach, the famed importer of exotic animals, alongside Tim, a good but sometimes spitefully competitive boy. Mr. Jamrach recruits the two boys to capture a fabled dragon during the course of a three-year whaling expedition. They even succeed in catching the reptilian beast. But when the ship’s whaling venture falls short of expectations, the crew begins to regard the dragon—seething with feral power in its cage—as bad luck, a feeling that is cruelly reinforced when a violent storm sinks the ship. Drifting across an increasingly hallucinatory ocean, the survivors, including Jaffy and Tim, are forced to confront their own place in the animal kingdom. ” (Syndetics summary)
Wolves, boys, & other things that might kill me / Kristen Chandler.
“The only daughter of a fishing and wildlife guide, KJ Carson can hold her own on the water or in the mountains near her hometown outside Yellowstone National Park. But when she meets the shaggy-haired, intensely appealing Virgil, KJ loses all self-possession. And she’s not sure if it’s a good thing or a bad thing that they’re assigned to work together on a school newspaper article about the famous wolves of Yellowstone. As KJ spends time with Virgil, she also spends more time getting to know a part of her world that she always took for granted… and she begins to see herself and her town in a whole new light.” (Goodreads)
Lost dogs / Garrett Carr.
“Ewan is back in the city for his father’s trial, while May has come to join a school for girls with special talents. Andrew wants only to keep them all out of trouble. But trouble is sure to find them. Crates of genetically engineered dogs are stacked down by the docks. They rattle their containers and smell of death. Vicious and unstoppable, they will soon be exported to fight in foreign wars. Unless someone releases them first.” (Syndetics summary)
Threatened / Eliot Schrefer.
“Luc lives with other young orphan boys under the roof of Monsieur Tatagani, an unscrupulous man who exploits his charges. Professor Abdul Mohammad, a prosperous-looking Arab, meets Luc and hires him as his assistant, taking him deep into the jungle to study chimpanzees. Luc discovers he has an interest and aptitude for the work, and he thrives under Prof’s tutelage. All too soon, though, Prof disappears under mysterious circumstances, and Luc must survive on his own. With only Prof’s tiny pet vervet for company, Luc watches and learns from the chimps.” (Booklist)
The boy with the tiger’s heart / Linda Coggin.
“The wild is danger, the wild is fierce, the wild is freedom. Raised by dogs and feared by humans, Nona, suspected of murdering her guardian, must run from the authorities with the only poeple she can trust: a frightened boy called Caius, a mixed-up boy called Jay – and a bear by the name of Abel Dancer.” (Back cover)
Edge of nowhere / John Smelcer.
“Seth, an overweight teenager who is grieving over his mother’s death is washed overboard his father’s fishing boat during a torrential storm. He and his dog Tucker must make their way home from island to island along the Alaskan coast, and Seth gains new insights into himself, even as his father searches desperately for him. Based on true events, interwoven with Alutiiq myths.” (Syndetics summary)
Singing home the whale / Mandy Hager.
“Will Jackson is a city boy reluctantly staying with his uncle in small town New Zealand while he struggles to recover from a brutal attack and the aftermath of a humiliating Youtube clip gone viral. Will discovers an orphaned orca and they form a deep bond through music, but Will must rally to protect it from hostile locals, worried about the whale’s effect on the town’s salmon farms.” (Syndetics summary)
Eva / Peter Dickinson.
“Following a terrible car crash, Eva, 14, awakens from a strange dream and finds herself in a hospital bed. Medical science, in this book’s future setting, has allowed doctors to pull her functioning brain from her crushed body and put it into the able body of a chimpanzee. With the aid of a voice synthesizer, she communicates with others and adjusts to her new body; because her father is a scientist who has always worked among the chimps (who have been crowded by the massive human population out of any semblance of a natural world, and into iron and steel jungles), Eva is comfortable with her new self. She takes on the issue of animal rights, setting up (with the help of others, of course) an elaborate scheme to release chimps back into the last of the wild.” (Publisher Weekly)
The amazing Maurice and his educated rodents / Terry Pratchett.
“It’s time for the rats to tell their side of the Pied Piper story. Think rats can’t talk? These rats can, and not only that, they also read, disarm mousetraps, and concoct schemes with a genius cat known as the Amazing Maurice.” (Syndetics summary)
This week we have a list featuring animals – magical animals, to be precise. If you just want a taster, try a short story from the collection Unnatural Creatures curated by our fave Neil Gaiman. If you know what you’re in for, try the dark tale The Knife of Never Letting Go (Manchee the dog is the comic relief here) or perhaps an interpretation of the Grimm brothers fable The Goose Girl. Whatever you choose, expect a talking dog. Or bear. An animal will probably be able to talk.
Down the Mysterly River / Bill Willingham ; illustrations by Mark Buckingham.
“Max ‘the Wolf’ is a top notch Boy Scout, so it is a little odd that he suddenly finds himself, with no recollection of his immediate past, lost in an unfamiliar wood. Even odder still, he encounters a badger named Banderbrock, a black bear named Walden, and McTavish the Monster (who might also be an old barn cat) – all of whom talk – and who are as clueless as Max. Before long, Max and his friends are on the run from a relentless group of hunters and their deadly hounds. Armed with powerful blue swords and known as the Blue Cutters, these hunters capture and change the very essence of their prey. For what purpose, Max can’t guess. But unless he can solve the mystery of the strange forested world he’s landed in, Max may find himself and his friends changed beyond recognition, lost in a lost world…” (Goodreads)
Unnatural creatures / stories selected by Neil Gaiman with Maria Dahvana Headley ; illustrated by Briony Morrow-Cribbs.
The 16 short stories in this anthology contain accounts of delightfully fantastical creatures, ranging from the familiar (werewolves, mermaids, griffins, and unicorns) to the chillingly mysterious (an ever-expanding, flesh-eating blob; a strange bird that spurs unpredictable changes to its surroundings; and even Death herself). Classic science fiction and fantasy authors Anthony Boucher, Frank R. Stockton, Peter S. Beagle, E. Nesbit, and Diana Wynne Jones are represented, as are contemporary authors such as Nnedi Okorafor, E. Lily Yu, and Gaiman himself. Who would a griffin eat? What does a phoenix taste like? What happens when you question an invisible dragon? Why are there always too many coat hangers? All of these questions, and more, are answered here.” (School Library Journal)
Also available as an Overdrive eBook!
The princess and the hound / Mette Ivie Harrison.
“He is a prince, heir to a kingdom threatened on all sides, possessor of the animal magic, which is forbidden by death in the land he’ll rule.She is a princess from a rival kingdom, the daughter her father never wanted, isolated from true human friendship but inseparable from her hound.Though they think they have little in common, each possesses a secret that must be hidden at all costs. Proud, stubborn, bound to marry for the good of their kingdoms, this prince and princess will steal “your” heart, but will they fall in love?” (Syndetics summary)
Darkwood / M.E. Breen.
“Darkness falls so quickly in Howland that the people there have no word for evening. One minute the sky is light, the next minute it is black. But darkness comes in other forms, too, and for thirteen-year-old Annie, the misery she endures in her Uncle’s household makes the black of night seem almost soothing. When Annie escapes, her route takes her first to a dangerous mine where a precious stone is being stolen by an enemy of the king, and later to the king’s own halls, where a figure from Annie’s past makes a startling appearance.” (Goodreads)
The twyning / Terence Blacker.
“Thirteen-year-old Peter, who lives in a garbage dump with his younger friend Caz, scratches out a living catching rats for the local “sportsmen” and their dogs. He also works for Dr. Ross-Gibbon, a monomaniacal scientist who wants to wipe out all of the rats in London. Efren, an impulsive young rat living in the Kingdom of elderly King Tzuriel, is restless and has trouble following orders. When Peter captures the dying King for the doctor’s experiments, Efren reports this to his superiors, leading to outrage in the kingdom; matters worsen quickly after the doctor puts his deadly plan into action.” (Publisher Weekly)
The knife of never letting go / Patrick Ness.
“Prentisstown isn’t like other towns. Everyone can hear everyone else’s thoughts in an overwhelming, never-ending stream of Noise. Just a month away from the birthday that will make him a man, Todd and his dog, Manchee — whose thoughts Todd can hear too, whether he wants to or not — stumble upon an area of complete silence. They find that in a town where privacy is impossible, something terrible has been hidden — a secret so awful that Todd and Manchee must run for their lives. But how do you escape when your pursuers can hear your every thought?” (Goodreads)
We also have the Bolinda eAudiobook & Overdrive eBook versions.
Winter falls / Nicole Maggi.
“Alessia Jacobs is a typical sixteen-year-old, dying to get out of her small Maine town. Things look up when a new family comes to town. But as she begins to fall for the hot, mysterious son, Jonah, her life turns upside down.Weird visions of transforming into an otherworldly falcon are just the beginning. Soon she learns she’s part of the Benandanti, an ancient cult of warriors with the unique power to separate their souls from their bodies and take on the forms of magnificent animals. Suddenly forced to weigh choices a sixteen-year-old should never have to make, Alessia witnesses two worlds colliding with devastating consequences.” (Syndetics summary)
The goose girl / Shannon Hale.
“Anidori-Kiladra Talianna Isilee, Crown Princess of Kildenree, spends the first years of her life under her aunt’s guidance learning to communicate with animals. As she grows up Ani develops the skills of animal speech, but is never comfortable speaking with people, so when her silver-tongued lady-in-waiting leads a mutiny during Ani’s journey to be married in a foreign land, Ani is helpless and cannot persuade anyone to assist her. Becoming a goose girl for the king, Ani eventually uses her own special, nearly magical powers to find her way to her true destiny.” (Syndetics summary)
Also available as an audiobook on CD and Overdrive ebook.
Pom Poko [videorecording] / a film by Isao Takahata.
A community of magical shapeshifting raccoons desperately struggle to prevent their forest home from being destroyed by urban development.
Tender morsels / Margo Lanagan.
“Liga’s life is filled with dark hearts and foul deeds. So she chooses a protective path of natural magic to find a safe other-worldly place for herself and her two daughters. But when magicked bears and mischief men break the borders of their refuge the girls must face the truth, and engage with the appeal and risk of the real raw world.” (Syndetics summary)
Also available as an Overdrive ebook.
Have you seen Cool Dog Group on Facebook? It’s a place to post pictures of dogs doing cool things, like riding a skateboard, wearing a cap, or just bein’ cute. It’s a closed group but it has 30k+ members, so you can request to join to view more cool dogs! While you wait for membership approval, here’s a list of great books featuring cool dogs (dogs are inherently cool anyway, don’t you think?)
The story of us / Deb Caletti.
“Eighteen-year-old Cricket’s mother has left a trail of broken relationships behind her, but this time she’s found a “good guy.” Cricket, however, fears that her mother won’t go through with her marriage plans. Indeed, the week leading up to the wedding, as family and friends arrive at a large coastal inn, is fraught with spoiled soon-to-be stepsisters, fighting dogs, and the sudden divorce of the groom’s parents. Complications arise for Cricket involving her own love life, her beloved dog Jupiter, and her mother’s reluctance to marry.” (adapted from Syndetics)
Notes from the dog / Gary Paulsen.
“Fifteen-year-old Finn is a loner, living with his dad and his amazing dog, Dylan. This summer he’s hoping for a job where he doesn’t have to talk to anyone except his pal Matthew. Then Johanna moves in next door. She’s 10 years older, cool, funny, and she treats Finn as an equal. Dylan loves her, too. Johanna’s dealing with breast cancer, and Matthew and Finn learn to care for her, emotionally and physically. When she hires Finn to create a garden, his gardening ideas backfire comically. But Johanna and the garden help Finn discover his talents for connecting with people.” (Goodreads)
Laika / Nick Abadzis.
“Laika was the abandoned puppy destined to become Earths first space traveler in the Soviets Sputnik program. This is her journey. Nick Abadzis masterfully blends fiction and fact in the intertwined stories of three compelling lives. Along with Laika, there is Korolev, once a political prisoner, now a driven engineer at the top of the Soviet space program, and Yelena, the lab technician responsible for Laika’s health and life.” (adapted from Goodreads)
The dust of 100 dogs / A.S. King.
“In the late 17th century, famed teenage pirate Emer Morrisey was slain and cursed with the dust of 100 dogs, dooming her to live 100 lives as a dog before returning to a human body–with her memories intact. When she finally returns to life as a human being and has only one thing on her mind–to recover the treasure she had buried in Jamaica three hundred years before.” (adapted from Syndetics summary)
Sorta like a rockstar : a novel / by Matthew Quick.
“Although seventeen-year-old Amber Appleton is homeless, living in a school bus with her unfit mother, she is a relentless optimist who visits the elderly at a nursing home, teaches English to Korean Catholic women with the use of rhythm and blues music, and befriends a solitary Vietnam veteran and his dog, but eventually she experiences one burden more than she can bear.” (Syndetics summary)
My boyfriends’ dogs : the tales of Adam and Eve and Shirley / Dandi Daley Mackall
“On a stormy night in St. Louis, Bailey Daley finds refuge in an after-hours diner. Bailey, a girl with three dogs in tow, wearing a soaking-wet prom dress, obviously has a story to tell. See, she wants what every girl wants from her boyfriend: enthusiasm, loyalty, and unconditional love.” (Syndetics summary)
Stay with me / Paul Griffin.
“Fifteen-year-olds Mack, a high school drop-out but a genius with dogs, and Cece, who hopes to use her intelligence to avoid a life like her mother’s, meet and fall in love at the restaurant where they both work, but when Mack lands in prison he pushes Cece away and only a one-eared pit-bull can keep them together.” (Syndetics)
Tuesday means trailers! The first is a good one. You will tear up! Awww. It is called Chimpanzee, and is due out next year. You can watch it after watching the Rise of the Planet of the Apes, and be all, “eh, apes aren’t all bad.”
The video for Lady Gaga’s newest single, Judas, is due out on the 5th (in the US, so the 6th here?). There is no trailer for it yet, as is so often the case, but she tweeted an image this morning. Sort of a trailer picture? Cast your eyes over it here!
Parodies/mashups of classic novels are all the rage these days, what with Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, or Sense and Sensibilities and Sea Monsters. The latest – The Meowmorphosis – is a mix of Kafka’s Metamorphosis and adorable kitties. If anything, hopefully, it will get people reading more Kafka, whose cheery books are guaranteed to lighten your day.
Sometimes people make their own trailers for things that don’t really exist. Like the romantic comedy version of The Shining, for instance. Very funny! Here’s one that is very new, and very sweet. When Kurt Met Blaine is sort of a Glee version of When Harry Met Sally (an old romantic classic). Oh also, SPOILER ALERT.
Also! Here’s the newest trailer for Immortals, which looks pretty good, right? It’s based on the classic story of Theseus, which can be obtained from your local library.
Landcare Research would like your help for the 2010 Garden Bird Survey. It takes an hour, and all you need to do is count the different bird species you see in your backyard, school, park, garden, or meadow (I think that covers it). It’s been going on for a few years now, and the results are used to find out if common bird populations are increasing or decreasing. SO if you want to do it you can go to this webpage and download an identification flyer with a recording form. Will house sparrows win for the fourth year running? Will silvereyes make a late resurgence?
Genesis, Bernard Beckett’s multi award winning book, has won another prize, this time the young adult section of the 2010 Prix Sorcières, a French literary award. Genesis has done super well since it was published in 2006, and was published in the United States last year and was one of Amazon’s best books of the month last April (although they don’t get the edition with the cool orang on the cover).
So, if you read Genesis then you can cross off “New Zealand author” and “award winning book” from your reading list for school maybe?