New List – Historical Fiction

May 24, 2007

There’s so much great historical fiction for children and young adults these days that it’s difficult to keep this list manageable.

Here are some of the favorites listed by book clubss. Check out to purchase any of these titles.


4th – 5th Grade Readers

  • Bat 6—Virginia Euwer Wollf
  • Boston Jane—Jennifer Holm
  • Our Only May AmeliaJennifer Holm
  • Walk Across the SeaSusan Fletcher
  • Caddie Woodlawn—Carol Ryrie Brink


5th – 8th Grade Readers

  • A Year Down Yonder—Richard Peck
  • A Long Way from ChicagoRichard Peck
  • PeteyBen Michaelson
  • The True Confessions of Charlotte DoyleAvi


9th – 12th Grade Readers

  • A Lesson Before DyingErnest J. Gaines
  • In the Time of the Butterflies—Julia Alvarez
  • Night—Elie Wiesel
  • The Crucible—Arthur Miller
  • The Kite Runner—Khaled Hosseini
  • The River Between Us—Richard Peck
  • The Secret Life of BeesSue Monk Kidd
  • To Kill a Mockingbird—Harper Lee
  • Wild LifeMolly Gloss

Karen’s Picnic Fixings

May 22, 2007

At last night’s mother daughter-book club meeting one of our members proved you don’t have to cook a complicated meal to make everyone happy. In fact, with two picky eaters and one vegetarian in our group of 12, this turned out to be quite a hit. The book was Goose Girl by Shannon Hale, and we had a picnic to go along with the one in the book. This meal was also great for our hostess, who arrived from picking up her daughter from piano just minutes before the first guests drove up. Obviously, this idea can be adjusted to the taste of any group.

Karen’s Picnic Fixings

Provide the following for mix and match according to taste:

  • Tomatoes
  • Lettuce
  • Cucumbers
  • Sweet pickles, dill pickles
  • Olive assortment
  • Guacamole
  • Fresh carrots, broccoli, cauliflower with veggie dip
  • Sauteed sweet red, green and yellow peppers
  • Sauteed mushrooms
  • Sliced cheese assortment
  • Mustard, mayonnaise, ketchup
  • Wheat bread, sourdough, rye, tortillas

Sandwiches can be grilled. This is a great meal to follow up with ice cream sundaes or banana splits for dessert.

For more ideas of meals to serve at your book club meetings, check out the recipes section under categories.

Young Readers Choice Award Winners

May 21, 2007


The Pacific Northwest Library Association has announced its Young Reader’s Choice Awards for 2007 in three categories:

  • Junior (4th–6th grade)Dragon Rider by Cornelia Funke
  • Intermediate (7th–9th grade)—Supernaturalist by Eoin Colfer
  • Senior (10th–12th grade)Hat Full of Sky by Terry Pratchett

I’ve read Dragon Rider and think it’s a great book for upper elementary kids. But I’m unfamiliar with the other two books. Both of my daughters have loved Eoin Colfer’s previous works, and I’ve gotten a recommendation to read Terry Pratchett’s work as well so I look forward to exploring these authors.

To see all the 2007 nominees as well as the list of books nominated for 2008, visit the Web site

Show-Ling’s Chinese Dumpling Recipe

May 16, 2007

One of our mother daughter book club moms grew up in Taiwan. When we read Red Scarf Girl by Ji-Li Jiang, she made these wonderful Chinese dumplings that we all loved. She insisted they were very simple to make, and said that she threw it together after she got home from work and before everybody started to arrive for our meeting.

She happily shared her recipe, and I couldn’t wait to try it on my own. The dumplings were just as good as I remembered from our meeting, but I think it will take a little practice before I can do them fast. This makes a great theme meal to go along with any book set in China.

Show-Ling’s Chinese Dumplings

  • 1 pound ground pork (you can use ground beef, chicken, or turkey)
  • 1/3-1/2 small bag of prewashed baby spinach (you can substitute with other vegetables of your liking)
  • 3-4 heads of green onions (scallions)
  • one small piece of ginger root
  • cilantro (for sauce)
  • garlic (for sauce)
  • salt to taste
  • pepper to taste
  • sesame oil, 1/4 teaspoon
  • vegetable oil, 2-3 tablespoons
  • 1-2 packages of dumpling wraps (make sure that you DON’T get the thick style kind)

To make:
Chop ginger, green onion, and spinach in a food processor.
Combine with ground meat in a big bowl. Add vegetable oil, salt, pepper, sesame oil, mix well with a spatula. Place some stuffing in the middle of the wrap (make sure to thaw out the wraps ahead of time, microwave is NOT recommended), make sure you don’t over-stuff it.

Apply water to the edge of the wrap and seal the edge by folding one side over the other. It’s important to make sure that the seal is tight. Have a pot of boiling water ready.

Put the dumplings in one by one (you might need to do it in batches). Gently stir once to make sure that the dumplings are not stuck to the bottom of the pot. If you do it too hard you’ll break the dumplings.

Add one cup of cold water after the dumplings have boiled and repeat three times. After you the dumplings out, rinse them quickly with cold water to prevent them from sticking to each other. You can probably also coat them with some olive oil to prevent sticking.

Chop a few heads of garlic and some cilantro, mix with some soysauce, sesame oil, and a bit of water. If you want, you can also add vinegar, chili sauce.

This amount is enough to serve 2 adults and 3 kids age 10–14.

On My Nightstand—The Grail by Brian Doyle

May 11, 2007


Not everything I read is for my mother-daughter book clubs, but keeping up with selections for those two makes it challenging to tackle a weighty book in the time I have left. Especially since my personal reading time is just before bed, I sometimes have a hard time keeping my eyes open long enough to read more than a few pages.

That’s why the book I’m reading now is perfect. It’s called The Grail: A Year Ambling and Shambling Through an Oregon Vineyard in Pursuit of the Best Pinot Noir Wine in the Whole Wild World by Brian Doyle,  and it’s about the author’s year-long quest to find the best pinot noir wine. Each chapter is short, no more than two or three pages long, and it tells of what’s happening in a vineyard at certain times of the year. Doyle spends his time in a particular vineyard, that of Lange winery in Dundee, Oregon, but he also sprinkles his chapters with talk about visits to other wine-growing regions in other parts of the world.

Doyle’s style is light and playful, and the only problem I have with reading it at bedtime is it makes me thirsty to taste wine. But I’m taking notes and plan to have a pinot noir tasting of my own when I’m finished with the book. It’s a fun read!

Nancy Drew—Cultural Icon

May 8, 2007


A few years ago, Madeleine and I read a Nancy Drew mystery for our mother-daughter book club. Each mother-daughter pair picked a different mystery, then we talked about the similar styles and things that seemed to hold each of the books together.

The moms remembered Nancy as the pioneering spirit she was for the time we were growing up. We saw her then as someone who wasn’t afraid to take on challenges and stand apart from the crowd. But we were surprised to find that the daughters saw her as too dependent, and they derided her for getting her boyfriend or other friends to tackle some of the more difficult challenges she faced. We had an interesting discussion on cultural changes from generation to generation.

On June 15 the Nancy Drew movie hits screens around the country, providing a great opportunity for mother-daughter book clubs to read one or more of the traditional Nancy Drew mysteries and compare it to the movie. If the trailer is any indication, this Nancy Drew is totally hip in her old-fashioned ways and very independent.

You can choose more than one Nancy Drew mystery, as my group did, or have everyone read the same novel and discuss it in relation to the movie after you’ve seen it. Then send in your comments to let others know how you think this female character has changed over time.