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Books You Can't Put Down!


Read Across America Day - March 2, 2015

You're never too old, too wacky, too wild, To pick up a book and read with a child. You're never too busy, too cool, or too hot, To pick up a book and share what you've got.

In schools and communities, Let's gather around, Let's pick up a book, Let's pass it around.

There are kids all around you, Kids who will need Someone to hug, Someone to read.

Come join us March 3rd Your own special way And make this America's Read to Kids Day.

©Anita Merina

For more information, activity and event ideas go to:



The Mother of all Kid's Summer Reading Lists...

What better way to tempt your kids away from the screens of many varieties, and the siren songs they sing, than with a list of captivating books to read!

NPR has done us all a great service by enumerating 100 of the best ones for kids, ages 9 - 14. Here's how they describe their picks:"The final 100 has a little bit of everything: tales of trying to fit in, escaping to magical lands, facing prejudice, coming of age and fighting to survive. There are animal stories, pioneer sagas, science-fiction adventures and, of course, beloved classics..."

There is a .pdf version that you can print out and have on hand, or on your mobile phone, when you set off for the library or the bookstore.

For more background on how the books were chosen and for more info on NPR's Backseat Book Club for Kids, visit



Books You Can't Put Down: The One and Only Ivan

The One and Only Ivan

A book by Katherine Applegate

Harper, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers


     Ivan is the One and Only gorilla, a sideshow attraction at an economically-struggling shopping mall. He lives in a cage, and is content to sit and eat and make art and be ogled by the dwindling number of visitors on the other side of the glass. But when the mall brings in a baby elephant to increase business, Ivan promises that this new addition will not live out her life in a cage, to die behind bars like her predecessor. Using his art and his newly found determination, Ivan will do anything to make her life as happy as it ought to be.


Quality: 5 stars out of 5


     Every once in a while there comes a book that is so pure, so genuine, it feels as if you are reading a cloud. The characters are haunting, and the story is heartbreakingly uplifting. I will never forget this book. While bringing attention to the horrors animals face in poaching and the extraction from their natural habitats to the zoos and circuses we take for granted, this story weaves a tale of friendship, love, courage and loyalty so deep that you can feel it in your bones. It is truly a gem, and one of the most touching and unforgettable books I have ever read.


     I love the cover. I think that a photograph of a gorilla's hand holding a crayon or covered in paint would also work, or maybe a picture of a gorilla holding an elephant's trunk in friendship. But the magical quality in the painting and the companionship demonstrated by their back-to-back positions makes it really heartwarming.


Clare Schuett is 16 and lives in Sebastopol California. She is a lover of books and a voracious reader. She reviews YA books, prior to their publication, for the American Library Association. We have the privilege of posting her reviews on our blog.



Want to know more? Visit:




The Oracle of Stamboul: a Book Published by Our Very Own Michael David Lukas!

Some of our kids can now officially brag that they have taken a creative writing class with a real published author. Not only that, but a great one!

Congratulations to our instructor Michael David Lukas on the continuous success of your new book, The Oracle of Stamboul, which published in February of this year.

The Oracle of Stamboul by Michael David LukasThe Oracle of Stamboul is a historical novel about a preternaturally intelligent little girl who becomes an advisor to the Ottoman sultan and, through her advice to him, changes the course of history. It is the story of an eight year-old orphan who pushed back against the tides of history and changes their direction. Influenced by Charles Dickens, Roald Dahl, Italo Calvino, and Gabriel Garcia Marquez, The Oracle of Stamboul is an evocative, magical historical novel that will transport readers to another time and place--romantic, exotic, yet remarkably similar to our own.

Michael says that working with kids inspired him throughout his writing. Read his story in Publisher's Weekly

To read an excerpt of the book, see some of the glowing reviews, and learn more about Michael, visit Michael's website.

Michael is still very dedicated to his work with students at "Take My Word For It!" We feel privileged to have such a star on our team!



Congrats to "Take My Word For It" Instructor Michael Lukas on his debut novel!

The Oracle of Stamboul 

This week I opened my Book Passage catalogue to find this glowing review of Michael's novel, The Oracle of Stamboul:

"Succumb to this old-fashioned compulsive read that will send you to an overstuffed armchair form which you will not extricate yourself until the final page. A brilliant 8 year-old girl is thrust into 1880 Istanbul, fleeing a village devastated by the Russian Cavalry. What follows is an adventure of epic proportions in a city steeped in atmosphere. Your imagination pulls you along and makes you want to learn more about the Ottoman Empire."
We are SO excited for him and glad he is sharing his teaching talents with our students!




Books You Can't Put Down: Matched


Clare Recommends:


By: Ally Condie

Cassia has always lived in the Society. The Society decides what she eats, when she sleeps, where she works, and whom she loves. She lives by the rules: You do not reject the Society. You do not complain about the Society. And you never fight the Society. When Cassia is matched with her best friend Xander, she has no reason to resist. But when a second face appears on the dying screen, she has to choose between Xander and Ky, between complacency and war. 

Clare's Review:

Quality: 3.7 stars out of 5

      Matched was a well woven tale, though not quite as intriguing as I expected. It was sweet, romantic, and interesting, but I thought it lacked a little...action perhaps? It did well for what it was. If you are into romance and sci-fi futuristic drama then you will definitely enjoy it.  


Clare Schuett is 13 and lives in Sebastopol California. She is a lover of books and a voracious reader. She reviews YA books, prior to their publication, for the American Library Association. We have the privilege of posting her reviews on our blog.


Want to know more? Visit: Matched on Amazon