Monday, October 24, 2016

The Swan Riders by Erin Bow - ADVISABLE

Bow, Erin The Swan Riders (Scorpion Rules #2), 376 pages.  McElderry (Simon) 2016.  $18.  Language: PG-13 (25+ swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (implied sex); Violence: PG-13 (torture, fighting).

Greta has become and AI, but she has a long way to travel, both physically and emotionally before she will be in a safe place.  Along the journey, she and Talis are betrayed by their Swan Rider companions, and Talis is injured in a way that he cannot upload back into  his AI body – he is stuck as a lowly human, scrambling across the territory to the Swan Rider refuge.  Even there, however, there is danger.  The Swan Riders are playing a desperate game that has been long in the planning and both Greta and Talis are part of the solution – if Talis can actually listen instead of reacting.

Bow has taken a sharp turn with this second book.  It took me a while to settle in, confused by the direction, but I was oh so glad that I persisted, because the last quarter of the book was highly satisfying.

MS – OPTIONAL; HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Be A Friend by Salina Soon - ESSENTIAL

Yoon, Salina Be A Friend. PICTURE BOOK. Bloomsbury Publishing. 2016. $17.99. Content: G. 

Dennis is a mime who is quiet and acts everything out just like mimes do. He does things differently than other kids, and he doesn't mind a bit. Sometimes he gets lonely just like everyone does. Most kids think he is different and don't know how to act around him, but Joy understands him. 

This book illustrates that being different is a great and "normal" thing. Everyone feels a little odd sometimes. It is hard-warming to see that even when we feel like we don't fit in, there are always friends who understand us. Many lessons can be learned from a discussion after reading this story. The illustrations are unique and capture who Dennis really is. 

PRE-K & EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Amy, Elementary Teacher. 

Mark of the Plague by Kevin Sands - ADVISABLE

Sands, Kevin Mark of the Plague (Blackthorn Key #2), 529 pages.  Aladdin (Simon), 2016.  $18.  Language: G (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some danger and fighting).

Christopher is learning to live without his beloved master, but since the plague came to London, life has been very hard.  The Masters at the Apothecary Guild have refused to find him a new teacher, so he is stuck eking out a life with the help of his best friend Tom.  When Master Galen comes to town proclaiming he has a cure for the plague, he is first dismissed as another quack, but this miracle seems to actually do the job.  Christopher is not happy at all when his shop is commandeered to reproduce the cure and even more put out when Master Galen chooses Tom as his aide and kicks Christopher out of his own home.  Christopher is suspicious, but he will have to dig deep in order to find evidence of a plot and he and his friends may be on their own to protect the entire city of London.

Sands kicks right into the boys creating explosions and fire inside the apothecary, just as the beginning of the first book.  The drama is a little more removed at first, as the plague seems to be happening to everyone else in London, but soon swings around to involve Tom and his friends directly.  I hope you have students who like books set historically, because I enjoy them very much.

EL, MS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

My Name is James Madison Hemings by Jonah Winter - ADVISABLE

Winter, Jonah My Name is James Madison Hemings, illustrated by Terry Widener.  PICTURE BOOK.  Schwatrz & Wade (Random), 2016.  $18.

James Hemings was a slave on a plantation in Virginia.  Like many slaves, his father was also his master.  In James case, however, his master/father was Thomas Jefferson.  Being only one-eighth black, he could have passed as white, but since he is property, such a life is not for him.

Winter takes a very interesting look at the life of Thomas Jefferson’s slave children.  It is quite a lot of information and more detailed than the average picture book.  I will definitely be showing this to my teachers, as I feel the material is more appropriate for the upper grades,  I’d love to know if an elementary school would use and talk about this book.  Anyone?

EL _ OPTIONAL.  MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne - ESSENTIAL

Boyne, John The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, illustrated by Oliver Jeffers, 335 pages.  Knopf (Random), 2016/2006.  $19.

You might think that its odd to have Oliver Jeffers, a picture book author, illustrating a book about the Holocaust.  However, this is a book about children.  A heart wrenching book about children.  So it is perfect.  Ironic, really.   I will be replacing at least one of my copies of the original with this version.  I think I will always keep both versions in the library.

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher