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Book Hooks

SLJ reviewers suggest their favorite titles for booktalking, complete with grade level recommendation and a quick "booktalk hook." Guaranteed to make these titles fly off library shelves! #sljbookhook

Strike Three You're Dead by Josh Berk. Grades 5-8 How many of you are Phils fans? How cool would it be to sit in the announcer's booth and broadcast a game? Lenny gets just that chance, but things take a turn when the Phillies' new hotshot rookie pitcher drops dead on the mound! The official cause of death is a heart attack, but Lenny's sure there's more to it. Can he and his two best friends figure out what really happened?—Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, PA #sljbookhook

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black Gr 9&up Waking in a bathtub after a party, Tana discovers that she survived a mass murder. In the nick of time with a toothy nick to her leg, Tana escapes and frees two prisoners: her ex and a vampire. Now the trio of “infected” humans and mysterious vampire must head to a Coldtown, a quarantined zone of lawless vampires and the humans that loathe and love them.—Adrienne L. Strock, Chicago Public Library #sljbookhook

Jinx by Sage Blackwood Gr 4-7 Young Jinx is an orphan with a curse. But he also has a gift: He can tap into the ancient magic of nature and life itself and discover their mysterious secrets. This will come in handy when he must help save not only other children with curses but also his wizard teacher.—Marie Drucker, Malverne Public Library, NY #sljbookhook

One Came Home by Amy Timberlake Gr 5-7 Georgie is sure her older sister Agatha has run away with a group of people following the passenger pigeon migration. And though no one else believes her, Georgie is determined to find Agatha even if it means traveling the Wisconsin frontier of the 1870s by herself. Good thing 13-year-old Georgie is an expert with a shotgun.—Marie Drucker, Malverne Public Library, NY #sljbookhook

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan Gr 6&Up Aside from the occasional surprise birthday party, is lying ever the right thing to do, even to civil service authorities? Surprisingly, the correct answer just might be YES.—Cheryl Preisendorfer, Twinsburg City Schools, OH #sljbookhook

Stronger than Steel by Bridget Heos; photographs by Andy Comins. Gr 4&Up Have you ever seen a “spider goat?” What do you think it looks like? Actually, it looks the same as a regular goat on the outside, but on the inside the spider goat has one tiny spider gene that allows the females to produce spider silk proteins in their milk that can be used to make rope that’s so strong it can stop a fighter jet!—Alison O'Reilly, Cutchogue New Suffolk Free Library, NY #sljbookhook

Slated by Teri Terry. Gr 7&Up Kyla is sixteen years old, but she’s only been awake for the last nine months. Before that she was Slated—her mind was wiped clean of everything she’d ever done, everyone she ever knew, every thought she’d ever had. And yet she keeps having nightmares, and pieces of memories have been coming back to her. When her mind was wiped clean, the process didn't go exactly as expected.—Andrea Lipinski, New York Public Library #sljbookhook

Lincoln's Grave Robbers by Steve Sheinkin Gr 6&Up The job of the Secret Service now is to protect the president, but do you know how it first began? Tracking down criminals who spread counterfeit money all across the U.S.! When one of the country's best counterfeiters gets caught and tossed in jail, his gang comes up with the perfect plan to set him free... steal Abraham Lincoln's body and hold it hostage until he's released!—Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, PA #sljbookhook

Flora & Ulysses by Kate DiCamillo Gr 4-6 What do you suppose happens when a squirrel gets sucked into a vacuum cleaner? He gets super powers, of course! Then he becomes best friends with Flora, the girl who rescued him. But will his newfound abilities be enough to save him from his arch-nemesis (who also happens to be Flora's mother)?—Lauren Strohecker, McKinley Elementary School, PA #sljbookhook

Undertown by Melvin Bukiet Gr 5–8 What lies beneath your feet? You think just the ground? Guess again—especially if you live in a big city. When Timothy and Jessamyn play a prank on their parents, it backfires and leads them on an underground adventure in the sewers of Manhattan where they meet a goulish cast of characters including rats as big as dogs.—Karen Alexander, Lake Fenton High School, Linden, MI #sljbookhook

Tuesdays at the Castle by Jessica Day George. Gr 4-6 Princess Celie lives in a magical castle that changes every Tuesday, adding new rooms for guests or a new tower or even a new wing! Celie is trying to compile an atlas of the castle, which comes in handy when her parents are missing, enemies threaten, and the castle's secrets may save the day.—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI #sljbookhook

The Vengekeep Prophecies by Brian Farrey. Gr 4-7 Jaxter Grimjinx was born into a family of thieves, but he's so clumsy that his first big robbery lands his whole family in jail. The Grimjinxes are released when a prophecy woven into a tapestry predicts that they will save the city of Vengekeep from a variety of disasters. Can Jaxter and his friend Callie save their home city from a magic tapestry gone wrong?—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI #sljbookhook

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen. Gr 5–8 Sage is taken from his orphanage by Lord Conner, a nobleman who wants to train him and two other boys to pretend to be their country's missing prince. The boy who succeeds will rule—under the guidance of Lord Conner. But Sage has his own secrets and his own talents .—Beth L. Meister, Milwaukee Jewish Day School, WI #sljbookhook

More Than This by Patrick Ness. Gr 9&Up Seth decides to commit suicide and is dead by page 9. You would think the book is over at that point, but instead we follow him into what comes next. But what is it? Heaven? Hell? Purgatory? Something else? How is it possible? And why does it look like his distant past?—Carol Edwards, Denver Public Library, CO #sljbookhook

Teeth by Hannah Moskowitz Gr 10&Up Rudy is a lonely boy with a dying little brother. He lives on an island where all the residents are hoping to find magic fish. Magic fish that heal their dying loved ones. Then Rudy meets a fish-boy named Teeth who changes his life.—Eden Rassette, Kenton County Public Library, KY #sljbookhook

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle Gr 4–6 Show tunes, bright lights, stardom! Nate has always known that he was destined for Broadway—the only problem is he lives in Jankberg, PA. Luckily Nate has Libby, his best friend and conspirator. Libby is also the brains behind a daring plan to get Nate to New York in time for him to audition for the role of Elliot in E.T. Broadway musical. And that's just the beginning of his adventure.—Ragan O'Malley, Saint Ann's School, Brooklyn, NY #sljbookhook

A Little Book of Sloth by Lucy Cooke Gr 1–5 Author Lucy Cooke is a National Geographic Explorer which means she is always on the go...except when she is around the adorable, slow paced sloths! Flip through the pages to see how sloths really do look like Wookies and Ewoks and how sloths choose their perfect stuffed animals. Resources and videos at: www.slothville.com —Caitlin Augusta, Stratford Library, CT #sljbookhook

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal Gr 7 & Up "Listen if you will" to a modern take on an ancient tale, brought to life by the ghost of Jacob Grimm. This ghost can only be heard by 15-year-old Jeremy Johnson Johnson, who will need his assistance to escape from his own type of fairy tale that includes dungeons, deceit, trickery, and poison. Can a ghost, an unlikely candidate to help, really save Jeremy from becoming an unhappy ending?—Megan Egbert, Meridian Library District, ID #sljbookhook

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell. Gr 9&Up Cath is famous on the Internet for her stories inspired by beloved children's series, Simon Snow (think Harry Potter). She's got thousands of adoring fans online, but it's time to face the real world: she's off to college and she's not sure she's up for the challenge. It's hysterical, endearing, and you won't want it to end.—Alison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA #sljbookhook

Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang. Gr 8&up This two-volume graphic novel about the Boxer Rebellion is about a piece of history that's often overlooked. Boxers tells the story of a young Chinese peasant who becomes instrumental in the uprising against Westerners invading China at the turn of the last century, while Saints focuses on a young Chinese girl who was converted to Christianity by the foreign missionaries. Who's right? Who's wrong?—Allison Tran, Mission Viejo Library, CA #sljbookhook

Battle Bunny by Jon Scieszka and Mac Barnett Gr K to 2 Getting a great book for your birthday can be awesome! Funny animals, brave battle scenes, heroic quests? Yes! But when Alex gets a boring book from a well-meaning aunt, he is not going to put up with it. Using his great imagination and a small pencil, Alex rewrites the story...and this book will never be the same.—Natasha Forrester, Capitol Hill Library, OR #sljbookhook