Friday, December 2, 2016

Marine Superstars (Animal Bests) by John Farndon -OPTIONAL

Farndon, John Marine Superstars (Animal Bests)  32 pgs. (Hungry Tomato) Lerner, 2017. $8.00  NON-FICTION
In this book readers learn all about many sea creatures from otters to dolphins to crabs, including informative tidbits about a plethora of other creatures. Includes a combination of illustrations and photographs.
This is my favorite so far in this Hungry Tomato science grouping. The cover is incredibly unappealing and dated looking so I probably wouldn’t add this to my library. But inside it has a nice variety of illustrations, page colors, layouts, and photography. I enjoyed reading all the interesting facts. Still though, why bother with so many illustrations in an informational book when real life photos have so much more appeal to young readers.

EL –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Five Perfect Christmas Picture Books for 2016

Meet the best pictures of this season!  
The Most Perfect Snowman by Chris Britt is reminiscent of tender books from years past, but feels fresh and new.  
Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader is a perfect addition for either cat lovers or Santa fans.  
The Nutcracker illustrated by Valeria Docampo is my personal favorite version of this ballet classic.
Candy Cane Lane by Scott Santoro will make you cry and then sending you running to watch "The Island of Misfit Toys"
You may think that you've read The Christmas Eve Tree by Delia Huddy already, but you would be completely wrong.
Add these five books to any Christmas picture book collection and feel the glow of the holidays for many months to come.

Thursday, December 1, 2016

A Little Taste of Poison by R. J. Anderson - ESSENTIAL


Anderson, R. J.  A Little Taste of Poison.  359 pages.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster), 2016.  $17.99.  Language: G.  Sexual Content: G.  Violence: PG. 
A companion to, A Pocket Full of Murder (Atheneum, 2015), this book continues Isaveth’s story.  Her family is still struggling financially, when she is offered a scholarship to the college where they teach Sage magic.  Isaveth is eager to learn about Sage magic, but she is bullied and ostracized by the other students because of her poor background and her religious beliefs.  Esmond (Quiz) is still trying to find proof of his brother’s villainous behavior and invites Isaveth to come to his sister’s coming out ball to search for it.  Isaveth uses her common magic skills and locates where the proof is hidden but she sets off an alarm and has to escape.  Esmond’s father, the Sagelord, takes a turn for the worst and tells everyone before he dies that he’s been poisoned.  Isaveth and Esmond team up again to find out the truth and locate the proof to bring the criminals to justice

Like its companion novel, this story has a swift moving plot with plenty of surprises.  Isaveth continues as a strong, female protagonist who makes mistakes, but who is loyal and keeps working hard, despite bullying and unfairness.  Esmond is a more complex character, but his development and growth is equally important to the story.  Author R. J. Anderson continues and intensifies the theme of religious and socio-economic prejudice; which is important because it teaches children to be tolerant to those who look, act, or believe differently than they do.  Highly recommended.    
EL-ESSENTIAL.  Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS. 

A Pocket Full of Murder by R. J. Anderson - ESSENTIAL


Anderson, R. J.  A Pocket Full of Murder.  340 pages.  Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster), 2015.  $7.99.  Language: G.  Sexual Content: G.  Violence: PG. 
Isaveth’s family is poor in a city where the wealthy have all the power and Sage magic.  She’s only twelve-years-old and her mother is dead and her father is arrested for the murder of Governor Orien.  Isaveth is sure that her father is innocent.  Why would her father murder than man who just offered him work?  She meets a one-eyed street boy named Quiz who is willing to help.  She goes to the college to find out who saw the Governor the day he died, besides her father.  Quiz finds proof that the Governor was killed by Sage-magic which is only taught to the wealthy.  Isaveth’s father was set up, but by who and why?  Was the Governor’s death personal or political? 

Isaveth is a savvy, plucky heroine who isn’t afraid to use her common magic skills to help her family’s finances or to discover the truth.  Quiz is a mysterious friend with skills and connections that come in handy.  Their friendship is the heart of the story.  The plot is fast-moving with some surprising twists that will leave the reader on the edge of their seat.  Author R. J. Anderson has created a unique, magical world reminiscent of the industrial era.          
EL-ESSENTIAL.  Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS. 

Real Cowboys by Kate Hoefler- ESSENTIAL


Hoefler, Kate. Real Cowboys, PICTURE BOOK. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. $16.99. Giving insight into how “real” cowboys spend their days, this picture book is full of details. In essence, real cowboys are respectful, hard working, and devoted. They have kind souls and do their jobs well. I also loved that it states that cowboys are many different colors of the earth and that “ Real cowboys are girls, too.” This is essentially a poem in picture book format and it’s outstanding. The pictures are fabulous, the message is on point, and the text is full of imagery. I was very pleasantly surprised by this unassuming treat of a book. K-3, EL- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

Charmed, I'm Sure by Sarah Darer Littman - ADVISABLE


Littman, Sarah Darer.  Charmed, I’m Sure.  193 pages.  Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2016.  $17.99.  Content: G.
Rosamunde White Charming is the daughter of Snow White and Prince Charming, but her life isn’t happily ever after.  She’s an eighth grader in New York City and her two best friends have dates to the Fall Festive and she doesn’t.  She asks her mom for some advice and she sends Rosie to her stylist for a makeover and gives her a compact mirror.  Rosie starts hearing a voice from the compact mirror.  The mirror promises to make Rosie the fairest of them all—but it comes at the cost of friendships and her own personality.  Can Rosie just be herself and still find a date to the dance?

A charming spin on the Snow White story, that pre-teens will drink up faster than you can order a latte at Starcups.  Rosie’s character development is central to the story—discovering who she is and how important it is to be herself and not who someone else wants her to be.  Rosie’s antics to find a date are both funny and believable.  Readers looking for age-appropriate romance will be drawn to the Shakespeare Mystery Boy, who she met at Starcups who liked her before she became the fairest.  A fun, fast-reading, romantic romp. 
EL, MS-ADVISABLE.  Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS. 

Mr. Putter and Tabby Smell the Roses by Cynthia Rylant- ADVISABLE


Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter and Tabby Smell the Roses, PICTURE BOOK. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. $5.99. Mr. Putter and Mrs. Teaberry are neighbors. They celebrate everything together. Mrs. Teaberry’s birthday is coming up and Mr. Putter decides he wants to do something special. They spend the day at a plant conservatory and eat ice cream after. It is wonderful despite Mrs. Teaberry’s dog, Zeke, getting into a bit of trouble. There seems to be a short flashback scene in each book where we get to read about Mr. Putter as a little boy, which I find charming and sweet. These books contain very short chapters and would be good for readers beginning to get into that format. You’ll also want to purchase if you have other Mr. Putter and Tabby books in your collection. K-3- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slope by Cynthia Rylant- ADVISABLE


Rylant, Cynthia. Mr. Putter and Tabby Hit the Slope, PICTURE BOOK. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2016. $14.99. Mr. Putter enjoys winter time, but he feels a bit bored. He knows he was always busy in the winter as a young boy, so he decides to recreate that feeling with Tabby and go sledding. Mrs. Teaberry, his neighbor has sleds and is always up for adventure. They decide to go to the snowy hill together and feel the rush of speeding down. This is a cute little series that I hadn’t happened to see before, and there are a lot of titles listed in the back. It is in a short chapter book format. K-3- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

Duck, Duck, Porcupine! by Salina Yoon- OPTIONAL


Yoon, Salina. Duck, Duck, Porcupine!, PICTURE BOOK. Bloomsbury, 2016. $9.99. Two ducks and a porcupine have three adventures in this segmented book. In the first story, the friends figure out how to deal with a surprise rainstorm during their picnic. In the second, Big Duck has something important to remember, but just can’t figure out what it is. In the last story, the friends want to go camping but they have to wade through Big Duck’s long list of camping necessities first. This is the same author of the Penguin books (such as Penguin and Pinecone). I had high hopes for this book as well, but it was a little disjointed. The first chapter ends abruptly and I felt like it wasn’t necessary to have “chapters” at all. The pictures are the highlight as they are in other Yoon books that I have read. PRE-K, K-3- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

Tawny Scrawny Lion by Kristin Depken- ADVISABLE

Depken, Kristin. Tawny Scrawny Lion, PICTURE BOOK. Random House, 2016. $3.99.

The lion has an insatiable appetite. He chases animal after animal trying to get full. All the other animals are tired of it. One brave rabbit talks the tawny scrawny lion into coming to his house for dinner. On the way there they pick all sorts of herbs, vegetables, and fruit. The lion is very sceptical, but he tries the carrot soup anyway and he loves it! He eats and eats and eats until he is full and fat. He no longer chases the other animals. This is a classic book that has been put into an early reader format. The fantastic early illustrations are the same and the simple text will interest young readers. PRE-K, K-3- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

Papillon: The Very Fluffy Kitty by A.N. Kang- ESSENTIAL


Kang, A.N. Papillon: The Very Fluffy Kitty, PICTURE BOOK. Disney Hyperion, 2016. $16.99. Papillon is a white, super, super fluffy kitty. He is so fluffy, he floats. His owner, Miss tilly, loves him so much and she is always worrying he will float away forever. She tried to weigh him down with lots and lots of rich food, but it didn’t work. The only thing that did was dressing him in clothes. Papillon however, hated being dressed up. Papillon follows a new bird friend out the window one day and eventually gets lost. He is scared and tries to make himself some clothes out of leaves, but the wind blows them (and him) away. Luckily, his new bird friend knows just what to do and lands on his head. Together they make their way home. In the end a new solution is created. I went gah-gah over the pictures in this book. They are simple and with lovely details. They are somewhat reminiscent of Lueyen Pham’s artwork. The story is equally as fabulous in the exact some way. PRE-K, K-3- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian

Frankie the Blankie by Jennifer Sattler- OPTIONAL


Sattler, Jennifer. Frankie the Blankie, BOARD BOOK. Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2016. $7.99. Doris loves her blankie, named Frankie, more than anything else. When an unfriendly rhino tells her she’s a baby for playing with a blankie, she is completely embarrassed. She comes up with all sorts of ways to make it possible to continue to play with Frankie without anyone thinking she is a baby. She pretends it’s a hat, a bandage, a hankie. But each time doesn’t end well. Eventually she convinces all the other animals that Frankie is a puppet and they think her blankie is magnificent. I was so jazzed about this book when I started it. The animals have that roly-poly, giant adorable-eyed illustrative quality, the premise seemed to be spot on, but the ending was so disappointing. I didn’t like that Doris had to convince her friends that Frankie was something that it wasn’t just so that they would accept her. I wanted Doris to be proud of who she was and feel confident enough to be herself and not care what others thought of her. Kids need to see more of that. PRE-K- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by Shay, School Librarian.