Sunday, December 10, 2017

Monstrous by Thomas Sniegoski - OPTIONAL

Sniegoski, Thomas E. Monstrous (Savage #2), 430 pages.  Simon, 2017.  $19.  Content: R (major violence, swearing)

Though Sidney and her friends seem to have saved their small town, they have not won the war.  The entity is not dead – in fact, it hasn’t even really retreated.  Not only will it come back stronger in order to get its revenge on the town, but it has set its sights on Boston as a platform to then take over the world. 

Now that Stranger Things has arrived, the Savage series will probably become more popular.  This sequel, however, is even more violent than the original. 

HS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The New Friend (Pip and Posy) - OPTIONAL

Scheffler, Axel Pip and Posy: The New Friend.  PICTURE BOOK. Nosy Crow (Candlewick Press), 2017. $12.99. 

Pip and Posy embark on a day at the beach and make a new friend while they are there.  This book lacks a certain magic in the story, it explores nice themes of friendship, being left out, and generosity but felt very generic.  The illustrations of the beach and beach day activities were well done, but the story was too bland. 

PRE-K-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: JQ

Chicken in Space by Adam Lehrhaupt -- ADVISABLE

Lehrhaupt, Adam Chicken in Space, illustrated by Shahar Kober. PICTURE BOOK. HarperCollins, 2016. $17.99.

Zoey is a dreamer and a planner, and a very persistent ... chicken. When she decides to go up into space, it looks as if the odds are stacked against her. But thanks to her determination and her positive attitude, she might just have the best space adventure of any chicken in the history of the universe.

I love Zoey's belief in herself despite the nay-sayers around her, and how she uses her creativity and determination to solve problem after problem. Most of all, I love that her positive attitude helps her make this the best day ever. With its adorable pictures and positive message, it would work especially well in a character lesson on growth mindset, persistence, or optimism.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Saturday, December 9, 2017

What Do You Do with a Chance? by Kobi Yamada - ESSENTIAL

Yamada, Kobi  What Do You Do With a Chance? Illustrated by Mae Besom  PICTURE BOOK  Compendium, 2017.  $16.95.  Content: G.  

One day a little child sees a chance in the form of a golden paper origami.  He doesn’t know what to do with the chance and lets it fly away.  Later, another chance comes along and when he tries to catch it, he falls and is embarrassed.  The child lets many chances pass him by before he begins to realize that he is living his life in fear.  When another big chance comes along, the child grabs hold and is rewarded with freedom and opportunity.  

This is an adorable book that illustrates why it’s important to take chances and try to live our dreams.  The drawings are brilliant and the expressive.  It’s fun to see something abstract like taking chances portrayed in a literal way.  This is a great addition to any library.  

EL (K-3), EL – ESSENTIAL.  MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Little Wing Learns to Fly by Calista Brill -- OPTIONAL

Brill, Calista Little Wing Learns to Fly, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell. PICTURE BOOK. HarperCollins, 2016. $17.99.

Little Wing is determined to make this the day he learns to fly. His mother cautions him not to work too hard at it, but he informs her that he won't give up. When he finally takes flight, his mother calls up to him the following three rules: Don't fly too high, too far, or without her. Unfortunately, he is already too far and too high up, and when the wind catches his wings he is carried away from home. Will he ever see his mother again?

The illustrations are adorable, and the heartwarming ending makes it a sweet choice for before-bed lap-reading. However, I have some serious logistical problems with this one. Why did his mother discourage him from trying when he failed? Isn't persistence in the face of failure something to be admired and encouraged? Why didn't his mother tell him the rules before he learned to fly, instead of while he was already in the air and flying further and further from her?  After all, she knew he was determined to make it work. A little preparation would have been a safe choice. Why did she not drop everything and follow him into the air the moment she saw that he actually had managed to fly? Why stay on the ground, calling up to him not to fly without her, instead of following him? The poor little dragon is brand new to flying; he can't possibly steer and control his height and speed well yet. And, finally, how can a little dragon who is fighting against the wind still outrun a full-grown, experienced dragon mother whose child is in danger? A mother's adrenaline is an amazing thing, after all.

I know these issues likely won't bother a young child -- the intended audience -- but as a parent and teacher, I can't read this one without being swamped by inconvenient questions.

Pre-K -- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl by John Demos - NO

Demos, John Puritan Girl, Mohawk Girl, 131 pages.  Amulet (Abrams), 2017.  $17.  Content: G.

In 1704 the village of Deerfield in the Massachusetts colony was invaded by the French and their Indian compatriots and the citizens were either killed, captured, or left behind to starve or survive on their own.  Eventually everyone was ransomed or returned except for one girl – Eunice.  Eunice’s father was the minister of the town, and prominent in the area, and the French wanted to torture him and make an example of his daughter.  Eunice, only seven, was adopted by an Indian family and quickly forgot her English and adapted to the native way of life.  Even when she could have returned years later, she chose to never go back to the English way of life.

Back in 2001 Caroline Cooney wrote The Ransom of Mercy Carter, which covers the story of another girl from the same town.  You should read that one instead.  Demos tries so hard to stick to the strictly historical facts that he spends 90% of the book telling us the story instead of showing it to us.  Since the book is considered fiction, I don’t understand his choices.  Now someone needs to take this book as source material and write it in a way that will immerse us into Eunice’s compelling journey.  Anyone know Caroline Cooney?  Ann Rinaldi? Carolyn Meyer?

NO – Cindy, Library Teacher

There’s a Monster in Your Book by Tom Fletcher - ADVISABLE

Fletcher, Tom There’s a Monster in Your Book, Illustrated by Greg Abbott.  PICTURE BOOK.  Random House, 2017. $17.99.  

There’s a Monster in Your Book takes the reader on an interactive journey to try to rid the book of an adorable playful monster giving instructions to shake the book, make loud noises and more.  This would make a fun read aloud book for a group, and the monster is endearing and sweet, making this a cheerful non-scary monster book. 

PRE-K-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: JQ

The Only Fish in the Sea by Philip C. Stead - ADVISABLE

Stead, Philip C. The Only Fish in the Sea  Illustrated by Matthew Cordell  PICTURE BOOK  Roaring Brook Press, 2017.  Content: G.  

Little Amy Scott is a spoiled little girl who receives a goldfish for her birthday.  Amy Scott thinks goldfish are boring and dumps her goldfish (in his plastic bag) into the ocean.  When Sadie hears about this injustice she borrows a boat, gathers supplies and heads out to look for the fish with her friend Sherman.  Eventually they rescue the fish and put him in the town fountain where the fish has many visitors.  
Amy Scott on the other hand will have to spend her birthday alone.  

This book is funny and it begins before the title page.  I loved the moral of being grateful for what you receive.  The illustrations are a bit messy and busy, but the ideas portrayed are humorous and fun.  

EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Santa's Moose by Syd Hoff - OPTIONAL

Hoff, Syd  Santa’s Moose EARLY READER  Harper, 1979.  $3.99  Content: G.  

All of the forest animals are preparing for Christmas when Milton the Moose sees eight reindeer going to help Santa.  Milton offers his help to pull the big sleigh and Santa and the reindeer are happy to have him because of his strength.  Milton has to learn a few skills along the way, but by the end of the night when the reindeer are tired, they are glad to have his help.  Milton promises to help Santa the next Christmas as well.  

Syd Hoff’s illustrations have always been fun and this is no exception.  The simple words and sentences are great for beginning readers.  My only hang up is that at one point Milton falls of the roof and takes all the reindeer with him and when they land there are “X”s on their eyes, which to my kids translates that they are dead (instead of disoriented)-that took some explaining.

EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Friday, December 8, 2017

The Lost Frost Girl by Amy Wilson - ADVISABLE

Wilson, Amy The Lost Frost Girl, 307 pages.  Katherine Tegen (Harper), 2017.  9780062671486.  $ 17.  Katherine Tegen (Harper), 2017.  Content: G (some danger).

Owl has never met her dad, but her mom refuses to tell her anything about him except some odd fairy tales.  When Mom finally give in and tells her his name – Jack Frost – Amy can’t believe it, but she sets in motion circumstances that makes the truth of this undeniable.  Now Amy is caught in the middle of a war between the different rulers of the seasons.  She may lose her own identity or her freedom before the battle is over.  And she will definitely be betrayed by someone she trusts.

For students who like Shelby Bach’s Ever Afters series, this is an easy companion fit.  Amy’s angst at becoming a teen is well reflected in the defiance and curiosity that she displays about her unknown father and in the powers that she manifests but can’t control.

EL, MS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy,  Library Teacher