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Bri Meets Books

Children's and YA literature reviews.

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What do you consider the greatest moment in sports? When the Red Sox finally won the World Series? When the US Hockey Team defeated the Soviets?

Renowned sportcaster Len Berman offers readers his 50 greatest sports moments in Sourcebooks’ The Greatest Moments in Sports, now in bookstores. I looked forwarded to reading this because I rarely review “boy” books and this is one I know boys would definitely enjoy.

Inside are Berman’s handpicked greatest moments. Keeping in mind that greatest is subjective, Berman’s introduction explains these are “great” because of the drama involved or the historical impact, etc.

…if they can’t even agree on who thought up America’s pastime, then who can really say what the greatest moments in sports history were? Well, for one, I can! I’ve seen a few sports events in my day: lots of World Series, Super Bowls, and Olympics. You may or may not agree with my choices, but for each moment, I’ll tell you why I thought it was one of the greatest. It could be the drama of the moment. Perhaps it was historical or just plain amazing.

What really connects this book to the reader is the enclosed CD. There’s 12 tracks, and listeners get to hear actual broadcasts from the event. Before each broadcast, Berman offers an introduction and puts the event in context for the reader. His enthusiasm for sports is evident, as he eagerly discusses each moment, such as Secretariat winning the Triple Crown.

The layout of this book is really attractively done, with large images and text over them. Various colors and info sidebars with historical info, player stats, and other information throughout. I particularly like the use of arrows, calling your attention to important information quickly.

I learned quite a bit from this book. Prior to reading, I wasn’t really familiar with Jackie Robinson or knew that Secretariat was nicknamed “Big Red.” The historical range of the events was great too, with as early as the 1940s and as recently as 2008 covered. Most of all, I love the nonchalant style Berman has throughout the book, perfect for the sports-crazed fan as well as a casual reader curious about sports history. With a nice flow and stories presented in an entertaining manner, it’s a fun read.

You can view author Len Berman’s website at

Copy for review provided by the publisher.

Title: Greatest Moments in Sports
Author: Len Berman
Date: 2009
Publisher: Sourcebooks’ Jabberwocky Kids

I drew winners of the latest two little contests I had.. (I say little because I didn’t have many entries, but oh well!)

The winner of RIVAL REVENGE, the latest Canterwood Crest book is..




I’ll be emailing you shortly.

In My Mailbox was started by The Story Siren and lets bloggers share what books they’ve received, bought, or borrowed this week.  You can find more information here, if you’d like to participate.

…Got a little crazy this week. One picture is much easier.

Continue reading this article ›

In 2002, Queen Bees and Wannabes by Rosalind Wiseman was published.  The book was a discussion on the inner world of girls, from cliques to drama, in a way few parenting books bothered to eclipse.  The book became the basis for the hit movie Mean Girls, staring Lindsay Lohan.

Now Wiseman turns her sights on writing fiction, with her young adult debut, Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials.  Charlotte, or as she’s more known, Charlie, has suffered at the hands of mean girls during middle school, and is eager to start anew at Harmony Falls High. But people from the past arrive in her new life – Nidhi, also a victim of mean girls, and Will, her childhood best friend.  And when Will becomes a varsity athlete  and tries too hard to fit in with “the guys,”  an innocent man is hurt during their hazing prank. Charlie realizes she must make a choice between her friendship and doing the right thing.

It’s Rosalind’s experience with the microcosm of high school from Queen Bees that richens Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials.  While certainly not a flawless depiction of high school, her take on the mean girls was refreshing.  I loved Charlie, who wasn’t like most of the teenage girls in fiction – here was a girl who wasn’t constantly obsessed with her appearance.   Same for Sydney and Nidhi – friends that Charlie had left her old high school to find.    The dialogue feels fresh and real, not the product of a weekend’s worth of MTV viewing.  The plot of the damage mean boys can wreak, a converse of what Queen Bees introduced, was refreshing. However the plot with Will and the near-fatal prank came too far toward the end of the novel for me.  As a central plot device, one on which a character-altering decision hinged, it felt awkward to confront so near the conclusion.

There are great things to take from this novel, and I’m always a fan of a book that makes me think:  How Charlie must confront her past in the form of Nidhi and Charlie.  How far one will go to fit in.  Sexual harassment. The list goes on.  But they’re all presented woven into the narrative, never does a character speak for the author and real-life teen issues she writes about every day on her website.     Might be a great book for parents of teen girls to read with their children to spark some conversations.

Copy for review provided by the publisher.

Title:  Boys, Girls and Other Hazardous Materials
Author:  Rosalind Wiseman
Date:  January 2010
Publisher: GP Putnam
Pages: 288

The link above is simply to Amazon and is not an affiliate link.

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Lauren Mechling’s the co-author of three novels: The Rise and Fall of a 10th grade Social Climber, All Q, No A: More Tales of a 10th Grade Social Climber, and Foreign Exposure: The Social Climber Abroad. Now she’s got a new series about a French girl who receives psychic dreams from a cameo necklace given to her by her grandmother.   The first, Dream Life, was published in 2009  and this January Dream Girl was released.

You can read my reviews of Dream Life and Dream Girl reviews.   Visit Lauren’s website at

Can I say that Lauren is the fastest interview answerer I’ve ever met?!

A large plot element of both Dream Girl and Dream Life are the dreams of Claire, which are confusing and a mixture of different things.  Going off this theme, what’s one of the strangest dreams you’ve ever had?

There was a very sweet football player in my homeroom named Pete (well, that wasn’t his name, but let’s say it was). I dreamed that he had a kangaroo body and he stuffed me inside his pouch and I was stuck to his stomach all day long. Not only was it a weird dream, but it was very awkward–I could never look him in the eye after that.

Throughout the novels, Claire narrates what several characters are wearing, as well as her own ensembles. Which of Claire’s dresses or outfits would you want for your very own?

I would kill to have her colorful Givenchy dresses. They’d have to be simple, though–Im not the most adventurous dresser.

In other interviews, you’ve stated that all of Claire’s world in NYC is factual. I have two days to spend in New York City, and I’ve never been. In the voice of Claire, can you tell me what I should see and do?

You’ll have to forgive me–I’m writing something else now in the third person and I’m not feeling equal to re-infiltrating Claire (besides, I hardly know her anymore–it’s been a year and a half since I finished Dream Life and she was just on the cusp of in-her-own-skin greatness; can only imagine how much she’s grown since). Anyway, as ME talking, I’d say the best thing to do in New York is walk around as much as humanly possible and watch the neighborhoods change. Start in Dumbo Brooklyn and look up at the underbelly of the Manhattan Bridge (DUMBO=Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass). Walk 5 minutes to the foot of the Brooklyn Bridge and set out on the most glorious pedestrian experience of your life (assuming the bikes dont mow you down). When you get to Manhattan, ogle at City Hall and the Municipal Building, with its glittery gold top. Wander up Centre and Lafayette Streets, through Chinatown and into the East Village, which used to be where all the strung-out poets lived and now is filled with vintage clothing stores and vegan tea shops. End up at Momofuku Milk Bar, on 12th St and 2nd Ave. Buy yourself a piece of crack pie. Heck, buy a whole pie and make friends with the other customers. You’re on vacation.

What’s your writing process like? Do you outline, plan out plot points, or just do it on the fly?

My books have so many threads and subplots and supporting characters I have to outline like a maniac.

Women’s History Month is next month and I’ll be making a post or two related to the observance. Claire is such a fun heroine, with her plucky spirit and wry voice. Who are some are your favorite heroines, real or fictional?

I love Scarlett O’Hara, for her humor and foolishness; Anne Elliot, the 27-year-old spinster (!) in Persuasion for her refusal to settle; the writer Grace Paley for her gumption and grit; Julia Child for giving late bloomers a good reputation; Norma Klein for making everyone remember that children are smart.

What five celebrities (writers included!) living or dead, would you like to have dinner with? Do you have any particular questions you’d ask them?

I’ve met enough celebrities to know this would not be all that fun. I prefer my celebrities from afar.

What’s your favorite word?

Ort. It means uneatened morsel.

I always ask authors… If you could live inside any children’s title, which would it be and why?

Dream Life. Because it is my fantasy world.


“Everyone forgets their manners sometimes.”

Lisa Tharpe and Ali Bahrampour’s P is for Please: A Bestiary of Manners features twenty six lessons on etiquette, with the help of a large menagerie.   Starting from A, with “A is for asking permission,” each page offers a reminder starting with a letter of the alphabet, and a silly alliteration of the importance of manners.

What follows is a  zany breakdown of all the things one should always do, whether it’s using table manners or saying “excuse me.”

“Excuse me!”  whispers Xavier Xolo when he accidentally bumps into an extra large xenopus.”

Ali Bahrampour’s illustrations are simple but effective. The gentle nature of the animals depicted reminded me of Richard Scarry’s early work from his Golden Book titles. A wide range of species, from the common to the exotic, are shown here.  P is for Please is great for kids, because they’re learning lessons on politeness, while being entertained and the illustrations add to the whimsy of the text.

The cover design features a raised illustration.  Such tactile touches are rare these days in picture books, so this was a pleasant surprise.

Copy for review provided by the author.  To purchase your own copy, visit!

Title:  P is for Please
Author:  Lisa Tharpe (Illus. by Ali Bahrampour)
Date:  November 2009
Publisher: Blueberry Ink Press
Pages: 32