Saturday, March 28, 2015

Rita's Rhino by Tony Ross - NO

Ross, Tony Rita’s Rhino, PICTUREBOOK, Anderson Press, 2014. $16.95. Content: G.  

When Rita asks her mother for a pet, she is told that they are awful and stinky, but that she can have a small one, and is presented with a flea, and then a tadpole.  Rita wants to choose her own pet, and goes to the zoo to look for one.  When the rhino complains about the rain, Rita takes him home, only to find he is a bigger problem than she expected.  The Rhino is unhappy, too.  

The illustrations in this book are wonderful, the story however, isn’t.  The way Rita contains the rhino while she is at school borders on abuse - she lodges his horn in the ground so he can’t roll over and then the children bounce on him at recess.  Not worth reading. 

EL - NO  Lisa LIbrarian

The Harder the Fall by Lauren Barnholdt - ADVISABLE

Barnholdt, Lauren The Harder the Fall, 229 pgs. Aladdin, 2013. $6.99 Language: PG (14 swears most diety); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.  

12-year-old Kendall Williams can see dead people.  In fact, they seek her out.  She has the ability to help them pass on, but she can't tell anyone about it.  They'll think she's crazy.   When Kendall and her best friend Ellie try out a new salon for a manicure, Kendall meets Lyra, who is dead, but apparently has some unfinished business.  Lyra’s brother Micah is a manicurist at the salon, and is very cute, but Kendall has a boyfriend, Brandon. Brandon’s mother has also passed away and won’t leave Kendall alone.  She doesn’t want her son and Kendall involved, and this ghost has some scary abilities.  

This is book 2 in the Girl Meets Ghost series, but Barnholt does a great job of filling in the reader with just enough to continue the story without giving anything away.  The reader will want to go back and read book 1.  A delightful story; funny, suspenseful, it bit scary but nothing gory, and just enough romance.  

EL, MS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Deadlock by Mark Walden - ESSENTIAL

Walden, Mark Deadlock (HIVE #8), 292 p. Simon, 2015.  $17.  Language: PG (10 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (deaths and destruction, violent, but bloodless, fighting).

Otto and Raven are determined to rescue what remains of the Alpha group from the clutched of the insane Alexandra Furan.  In order to start, however, they need to find The Architect, so that he can help them find the very well-hidden lair.  Even if they do discover the lair, they still must carefully plot a way to rescue their friends from an inescapable prison, the Glasshouse.  With the Americans also chasing after them, this situation is as desperate as any that Otto and crew have ever been in. 

True to the heart-pounding danger of the other HIVE books, this will not fail to engage long time readers of the series.  I don’t understand why the author continues to pretend that anyoneworking at HIVE is a villain, because they haven’t done anything evil since they first arrived on scene, but oh well.  I can’t tell you the other thing that bothered me because that would give away part of the plot.

MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

Ping Wants to Play by Adam Gudeon - OPTIONAL

Gudeon, Adam Ping Wants to Play, PICTURE BOOK. Holiday House. 2014. $14.95.

Ping and Pong are dogs, and Ping and Pong are friends. While they enjoy doing many things together, Ping likes to play, but Pong likes to nap. While Pong naps, Pings shenanigans land him in trouble. Luckily for Ping, Pong also likes to help.

This book was just okay. It’s not one that we read regularly. My 17 month-old, who loves books, picks this up now and again, but quickly loses interest. She won’t sit still as I try to read it to her either. It just doesn’t have the rhythm and the rhyme of a great picture book. The pictures are bland, and what should be a simple story line with simple narrative gets a little wordy towards the middle. This would be worth a check out from the library, but I wouldn’t pay $15.95 to purchase it.

PRE-K, EL (K-3)-- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Rebecca H.

The Island of Dr. Libris by Chris Grabenstein - OPTIONAL

Grabenstein, Chris The Island of Dr. Libris, 242 p. Random House, 2015.  $17. Mature Content: G; Language: G; Violence: PG.

Billy and his mother have retreated to a remote cabin by a lake so that his mother can work on her doctoral dissertation; his father is staying in New York and Billy is afraid that his parents are about to call their marriage quits. At the cabin he encounters the local bullies, but he also finds Dr. Libris’ private library, which has many classic books.  When he starts reading, however, he hears strange noises coming from the island in the lake – noises that seem to be related to the book he is reading.  With the help of another cabin-dweller, he rows across and finds that the book he read, Robin Hood, has come to life.  And with each new book he reads, more familiar characters also appear.  Freaky as it is, could he some how avoid disaster on the island and also rekindle his parents’ love?  With the Three Musketeers and the Sheriff of Nottingham pitted against him, the chances are very dim.

I was hoping for something related to Mr. Lemoncello, but no luck.  Once I got over that, I did enjoy the book.  It was fun to see the kids interacting with the characters (including sending the little sister off with Pollyanna for the day on a picnic so that she didn’t get involved with the danger).  Of course sending your parents back in time in George Orwell’s time machine stretches the imagination (not the time machine, but the idea that you can make your parents fall in love again that fast).  For kids who like fantasy adventure with out too much stress, this will be fun.  

EL, MS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Backhoe Joe by Lori Alexander - ADVISABLE

Alexander, Lori Backhoe Joe, Illustrated by Craig Camerson.  PICTURE BOOK.  Harper, 2014. $15.99.  Content: G.

When a backhoe loses his owner a little boy steps in and adopts him. He finds that taking care of a backhoe is more work than he thought. It is a unique take on the challenges of taking care of a pet.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE Reviewer: SM

Soldier Doll by Jennifer Gold - OPTIONAL

Gold, Jennifer Soldier Doll, 277 p. Second Story Press, 2014.  Mature Content: PG (unwed pregnancy, undescribed); Violence: PG-13 (some bloody war situations); Language: PG (10+ swears).

Elizabeth’s family has dragged her across Canada to live in Toronto.  In an effort to find him a small birthday gift before he ships off for Afghanistan, at a rummage sale she picks up a little wooden doll painted to look like a soldier.  During a chance encounter with a cute clerk in a secondhand book store, she finds out about a poem called “Soldier Doll”.  Could the poem be about her little doll?  Told in the present day and in flashbacks, Gold traces the history of the little doll, from World War I to post 9-11, as Elizabeth tries to figure out whether her doll is THAT doll and as she builds a new life for herself.

While the war action is restrained, it still captures life on the battlefields and the heartaches and joys of the various people who interacted with the doll down the years.  A little bit of romance for Elizabeth adds some interest.  I dove into the mystery and loved watching Gold weave the different stories together in to a complete whole.

MS, HS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher