Eight must-read books for your kids



Thacher Hurd is the author/illustrator of Art Dog, Mama Don't Allow, Mystery on the Docks and Bad Frogs. His latest is Moo Cow Kaboom: A cow is kidnapped one night from her field by a space-alien cowboy who wants to ride her in an intergalactic rodeo on his distant home planet. At first, the cow is passive, but after the alien insults her, she dances around, wielding a red scarf like a matador, eventually giving the pesky alien a good kick. Realizing that she is more cow than they can handle, the aliens put her in a spaceship and send her whizzing back to her beloved barnyard.

Diana Cohn is an award winning children's book author. Her books include, Dream Carver, Si Se Puede! Yes We Can! Janitor Strike in LA, Mr. Goethe's Garden, The Bee Tree and the most recent, Namaste! The story centers on a little Sherpa girl, Nima who lives high in the mountains of Nepal. As she walks many miles to her school meeting many people on her way, she learns she can brighten their day by acknowledging them with the simple word, Namaste!


Dave Keane is the author and illustrator of the Joe Sherlock: Kid Detective chapter books. His latest: Bobby Bramble Loses His Brain.

Booklist: It's not every day you read a book that climaxes with a boy riding his own brain down the road like a bucking bronco. But such freakiness is exactly what makes Keane's take on the importance of using your noggin so refreshing. "Bobby Bramble had ants in his pants, a thirst for adventure, and energy to spare," writes Keane, and Clark backs him up with exaggerated perspectives of Bobby cavorting across rooftops without a care in the world. Until he falls and knocks off the top of his head, that is, instigating a townwide hunt for the runaway brain. Grandfather puts out math flash cards to trap the brain, and Dad promises $20 for its capture, but it is Bobby's zomboid body that sniffs out the missing organ and brings it back home. Keane's mischievous mind comes out through his demented asides and his message is nicely subtle: you really need your brain if you want to keep your body safe.

SCOTT MORSE is the award-winning author of more than ten graphic novels, including Soulwind and The Barefoot Serpent. He lives in Oakland. Latest: Magic Pickle And The Garden Of Evil. When Jo Jo Wigman and her classmates plant their new class garden, they're expecting rows and rows of plump, juicy fruits and vegetables. But what they unearth is a pretty rotten bunch! That gnarly old lettuce head, The Romaine Gladiator, rises from the garden patch with dastardly plans to reunite the Brotherhood of Evil Produce! Can the Magic Pickle make a knuckle sandwich out of those notorious no-good veggies before their seeds of destruction destroy the world?


Wendy Lichtman, writes about math puzzles and mysteries (she has a degree in math).

Do the Math #2: The Writing on the Wall. In this sequel to Secrets, Lies, and Algebra (2007), eighth-grade mathematician Tess is intrigued by numeric graffiti that may connect with a recent classroom fire. Using her algebra skills to sort through clues, Tess investigates and encounters a bullying classmate along the way. Lichtman cleverly weaves math throughout the story, and Tess is an appealing, dimensional character whose descriptive narrative rings true. Mystery and math fans will enjoy the code breaking, while many readers will want to debate the significance of graffiti as art, communication tool, and vandalism. Another engaging blend of mystery, math, and teen life in the Do the Math series.

Zilpha Keatley Snyder: Three time Newbery honor-winner. She published her first book in 1964 and her 44th book for young people just this month!!!

William S. and the Great Escape : William S. Baggett is a good kid trapped in a really awful family. William has his running-away money ready to go, he's just been waiting until he's older than twelve to leave. When his big brothers flush his sister's pet guinea pig down the toilet, she insists they leave now. And take the two littlest Baggetts with them. So they head out in the middle of the night, ready to escape to their aunt Fiona's house. Unfortunately the trip doesn't go exactly as planned. It's not so easy traveling with two little kids, and some help from a lonely rich girl makes it even more complicated. Will they ever make it to Aunt Fiona's? And if they do, will she let them stay? This is the story of four children who learn that sometimes you have to run away before you can find your way home.


Betsy Franco's latest, Metamorphosis, I loved (written with her middle son Tom) and she's a sexy sell for media not only because of her famous son James (the actor) but also because she's got a great story (writer, mother, stand up comic). Betsy Franco has written over eighty books, including the novel Metamorphosis, illustrated by her son Tom and read as an audiobook by her actor sons, James and Dave. She also compiled Falling Hard, 100 love poems by teenagers. Tom Franco is a founder of the Firehouse Collective arts community, a dancer, a meditation teacher, a founder of 23 Monkey Tree green smoothie initiative, and illustrated Metamorphosis (in collaboration with mom Betsy).

Andromeda Klein by Frank Portman (former punk-rock star of the Mr. T Experience) is my second pick for teens, yes because his book is a-w-e-s-o-m-e but also because there's audio accompaniment (he's recorded at least two songs for the book).

Both books have really fresh, real voices of contemporary teens. Metamorphosis uses Ovid as a framework and Andromeda is about a hard-of-hearing teen occultist. Ah, aren't we all...

Frank Portman, a.k.a Dr. Frank, is the singer/songwriter/guitarist of the punk band Mr. T Experience and author of the best-selling King Dork. His newest is Andromeda Klein, a portrait of a teenage occultist. http://frankportman.com | http://andromedaklein.com.


Kidquake (Elementary School Age)
Wednesday, October 14
10 am-12 noon
Kidquake, Elementary School Program

Join twelve Bay Area children's authors, illustrators, poets, and workshop leaders for a morning of readings, discussion, and special workshops designed to help fuel the imagination of kids from kindergarten to 5th grade. Grades K-2 authors: Jorge Tetl Argueta, Diana Cohn ,Thacher Hurd , Laura Joy Rennert , Rachel Rodríguez Grades 3-5 authors: Cynthia Chin-Lee , Dave Keane , M. Sarah Klise, Scott Morse

San Francisco Main Library's Koret Auditorium and Latino Rooms, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, (415) 557-4595

Admission: free for school groups. Teachers must sign their classes up in advance by fax (415-550-7825) or email kidquake@litquake.org

Kidquake (Teens 13-19)
Thursday, October 15
10 am-12:15 pm
Kidquake, Middle School Program

Join seven Bay Area authors, illustrators, poets and workshop leaders for a morning of readings, discussion, and special workshops designed to excite the imaginations of middle school kids in grades 6 through 8. Grades 6-8 authors: Lewis Buzbee, Hillary Homzie, Wendy Lichtman , Elizabeth Partridge, Zilpha Keatley Snyder

San Francisco Main Library's Koret Auditorium and Latino Rooms, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, (415) 557-4595

Admission: free for school groups. Teachers must sign their classes up in advance by fax (415-550-7825) or email kidquake@litquake.org

Teenquake (Teens 13-19)
Friday, October 16
6:30-9 pm
Teenquake: Inspire, Create, Re-think the Library

A Friday night carnival of events where 13- to 19-year-olds take over the library after hours! From the Koret Auditorium to the Rotunda to the Teen Center, there will be an extravaganza of author panels, hands-on workshops, a scavenger hunt, and performances by teen writers, artists, musicians, dancers, and more. With authors Betsy Franco, Tom Franco, Ying Chang Compestine, Frank Portman, Tom Dolby.

San Francisco Main Library, 100 Larkin Street, San Francisco, (415) 557-4595

Admission: free

About Litquake
Litquake, San Francisco's annual literary festival, was founded by Bay Area writers in order to put on a week-long literary spectacle for book lovers, complete with cutting-edge panels, unique cross-media events, and hundreds of readings. Since its founding in 1999, the festival has presented close to 1400 author appearances for an audience of over 32,000 in its lively and inclusive celebration of San Francisco's thriving contemporary literary scene. Litquake seeks to foster interest in literature, perpetuate a sense of literary community, and provide a vibrant forum for Bay Area writing as a complement to the city's music, film, and cultural festivals. Dates: 10/9-17, 2009.

About Jane Ganahl
Jane Ganahl has worked as a journalist, humorist, author, consultant, editor and community organizer in San Francisco for 25 years. She is the author of the novelized memoir, "Naked on the Page: the Misadventures of My Unmarried Midlife" (Viking), which is in development for a TV series. She is also the editor of the acclaimed 2005 anthology, "Single Woman of a Certain Age: 28 Women Writers on the Unmarried Midlife," which was re-released by New World Library in May 2009. In addition she shares the title of co-founder and co-executive director of Litquake, San Francisco's Literary Festival which in 2009 celebrates its 10 year anniversary.

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