Thursday, April 24, 2014

Just Grace and the Trouble with Cupcakes by Charise Mericle Harper - ESSENTIAL

Harper, Charise Mericle  Just Grace and the Trouble with Cupcakes, 192 pgs.  Houghton Mifflin, 2013.  $15.99  Content: G.  Grace’s school class is having a school fair and the kids get to vote on the theme.  Grace’s best friend Mimi has an idea for a candy fair, but Grace trumps her idea with a cupcake fair that all the other students vote for.  Grace and Mimi have a small falling out, but Grace makes things better with Mimi and they are able to enjoy the cupcake fair.  

I like the Just Grace series because I think that the characters have typical friend troubles or growing up troubles and the main character goes about fixing them in a kind and reasonable way.  The book has little illustrations throughout that are cartoonish and fun.  My ten year old daughter and I read this together and she loved it.  It seems to be geared towards 3rd or 4th grade girls. 

EL-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Tickle by Leslie Patricelli - ADVISABLE

Patricelli, Leslie  Tickle  Candlewick Press, 2014.  $6.99  BOARD BOOK  Content: G.  

A little baby in its diaper claims that he is not ticklish.  The baby’s father comes and the baby shouts, “Tickle Monster” and is chased around the room.  Finally, the baby’s father catches him and tickles him all over his body.  Soon the mother and pets join in the tickling.  Eventually, the baby gets tired of the tickling and yells, “Stop!” and then the family kisses him.  He ends by claiming that he is not ticklish.  

The story is easy to follow with a short storyline.  The illustrations are simple, but the happy, smiling baby is cute.  I like the idea that the baby can say stop and the family did.  A good, fun board book for little readers.  

PREK-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Hattie Ever After by Kirby Larson - OPTIONAL

Larson, Kirby  Hattie Ever After, 219 pgs.  Delacorte Press, 2013.  $16.99  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.  

Hattie joins an acting troupe to get to San Francisco where she dreams of becoming a reporter.  Charlie tries to get her to come with him to Seattle where he has a job for Boeing, but Hattie feels like she needs to be true to her dream of being a writer.  While in San Francisco Hattie works her way from cleaning person to help with the writers, but when she glimpses her dreams coming true, reality happens.  

This is the sequel to Newbery Honor winning Hattie Big Sky.  It follows Hattie after she leaves the plains of Montana in the 1920s and works at a newspaper.  There are little historical tidbits throughout that are interesting and it’s nice to have resolve to Hattie’s story.  My frustrations with Hattie's story in both books is her inability to grasp her dreams at the very end of the book.  I read this whole story and got caught up in Hattie's efforts, just to have it all not work in the last few pages-both books were like that.  The story line felt similar to the first book, with a different setting.   MS, HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson - ADVISABLE

Larson, Kirby  Hattie Big Sky, 283 pgs.  Delacorte Press, 2006.  $15.95  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  

Hattie is a sixteen year old orphan girl who has been moved around among her relatives, so when her uncle passes and deeds her a homestead claim, she decides to move to Montana and give it a try.   While alone on her claim she writes to her best friend Charlie who is serving in World War I and finds that although the war is taking place in Europe everyone is affected by it, including her German neighbor Carl.  Hattie befriends Carl and his wife and their small children and finally feels a part of a real family, but when hardships hit Montana Hattie is going to have be stronger than she thought.  

This is a unique historical perspective about westward expansion in the United States during World War I.  Hattie is a strong character and her story helps the reader to understand how hard it was to work a claim and the many dangers and hardships of living out West.  The book is a Newbery Honor, but I feel like the story and the issues that Hattie dealt with would be hard for a young reader to relate to and better appreciated by an older reader.  

MS, HS-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Still Life (Tune #2) by Derek Kim –NO

Kim, Derek and Illustrated by McClaine, Les Still Life (Tune #2) 208 pgs. First Second, 2013. $9.99 Content: Language: PG (0 swears); Mature Content: R Violence: G. GRAPHIC NOVEL
The continuing story of Andy, a twenty something who has gotten himself into an unusual situation. He has signed a binding contract to be an exhibit in a zoo, on an alien planet. This was an ideal job for Andy as he has trouble with ambition and motivation. The problem is that Andy didn’t read the fine print, and he is stuck forever in the zoo exhibit. He finds an ally, makes friends with a native, and is joined by the girl of his dreams that is all wrong.
I actually really liked this story and it can function as a read-alone. But I really think that high schoolers will have trouble relating to this story: the free-fall that occurs after high school, when self-motivation is required over pushing parents and legally required school attendance. The artwork is great! There is some imagery and a lot of potty humor that would make it inappropriate for a school library. This would be a great addition to a public library collection though.
HS –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Cute Girl Network by Greg Means and MK Reed –NO

Means, Greg and Reed, MK and Illustrated by Flood, Joe The Cute Girl Network 182 pgs. First Second, 2013. $17.99 Content: Language: R (20+ swears); Mature Content: R Violence: G. GRAPHIC NOVEL
This is the story of early 20 year olds, living on their own, but still working menial jobs and scraping by. Jane is a skateboarding girl who meets a cute guy named Jack, who works at a soup cart. They have a great time together…until one of Jane’s new girl friends contacts the Cute Girl Network. Now Jane is meeting a plethora of ex’s from Jacks past. There is no end to the embarrassing and cringe worthy stories about his behavior. Will Jane learn from other people’s mistakes or make her own?
This is actually a fantastic story, for high school graduates. It true to life, interesting, funny, and well written. There is just too much swearing and sex talk for this to work for a high school library. Even in a public library setting, this story might be hard for high schooler’s to relate to. Takes a bit of life experience for this story to really make sense and be fully appreciated.

HS –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Amelia Earhart: Lady Lindy (The Treasure Chest #8) by Ann Hood -NO

Hood, Ann Amelia Earhart: Lady Lindy (The Treasure Chest #8) 176 pgs. Grosset & Dunlap, 2014. $6.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG Violence: G.
Maisie and Felix use the Treasure Chest to travel back in time to the jungles of the Congo. Although they are trying to find someone, instead they find themselves in grave danger and leave their friends, the Ziff twins behind! Now the twins take off for Kansas, during the time when airplanes are first being shown off. They meet two little girls and encourage them to be brave and go for their dreams.  
Although I would love for this series to be a stand in for a more sophisticated Magic Tree house type of series, it’s a giant mess. There are a ton of characters, most of them really uninteresting. The parts about their parents love life are cringe worthy. The time travel and plot in this book made no sense. They start in the Congo, and its a really long drawn out thing referencing like 5 characters from past books. But this didn't really gel with the flight/Amelia Earhart plot. That portion of the book was also confusing and strange. This is the fourth book in this series I have read and I think I am done giving it a chance.

EL –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.