Saturday, August 29, 2015

Wilder Boys by Brandon Wallace - OPTIONAL

Wallace, Brandon Wilder Boys, 230 pgs. Simon & Schuster (Aladdin), 2015. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  

Jake (13) and Tyler (11) have run away from home.  Their mother has had an “accident” probably at the hands of her boyfriend Bull, and social services plans to leave the boys with him.  Afraid of his violence, the brothers hit the road, crossing the country from Pennsylvania to Wyoming in search of their father, who is a naturalist and has found a remote home for his family somewhere near Grand Teton National Park. Can the boys find their long lost father before Bull catches up with them?  

This survival story is fast moving and exciting, however, I find it hard to recommend as the boys make dangerous choices: accepting rides with strangers, hopping trains, backcountry hiking without proper supplies, running off alone. Still, your adventure lovers (Hatchet, Touching Spirit Bear) will find this a good read.   

EL - OPTIONAL     Lisa Librarian

Friday, August 28, 2015

The Walrus Who Escaped by Rachel and Sean Qitsualik-Tingsley -OPTIONAL

Qitsualik-Tingsley, Rachel and Sean The Walrus Who Escaped Inhabit, 2014. $16.95 PICTURE BOOK
An Inuit folktale of how of the Walrus got nearly straight tusks. The strength of the land was a power that all living creatures could access, if they used it for good or evil was up to them. A raven chose to use it for evil out of greed and jealousy. The Walrus must give up his curly tusks if he is to free himself from Raven’s trap.
This is a nice folktale with lessons about greed, jealousy and regret. Its beautifully illustrated…except for the Cover, which is just awful! I would add this to my folktales collection. Luckily mostly myself and teachers utilize the folktale collection, so we can get over the cover and share the book with students.
EL(K-3)  –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Ramadan Moon by Na’ima B Robert -ADVISABLE

Robert, Na’ima B Ramadan Moon Frances Lincoln 2009. $8.00  NON-FICTION
This book tells all the experiences of a families during the month of Ramadan including the daylight fasting, giving to charity, the night of power, and the closing festivities. Features collage style illustrations that show lots of texture and color.
This book could easily be added to a world holidays collection. It sticks to the traditions and does not get into the religious reasoning behind the event, which is helpful for an elementary school library. The illustrations are big and bright enough to share with a group. I think I would have like it better for students readers, if the story followed a child more closely, why they were excited and their favorite parts of the event.
EL(K-3), EL  –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Ignite Me by Tahereh Mafi - ADVISABLE

Mafi, Tahereh  Ignite Me, 408 pgs. Harper, 2014.  $17.99  Content: Language: PG-13(200+ swears); Mature Content: PG-13 (undress each other, and heated make out sessions); Violence: PG-13.  

In the final book in the Shatter Me series, Juliette wakes up after being shot in the chest and decides to ally with Warner, her enemy, against the Reestablishment and especially against Warner’s father, Anderson.  Juliette begins to trust Warner and has to convince the survivors of Omega Point to believe in Warner.  Juliette and her friends train at Warner’s compound and have to come up with a plan to bait Anderson to Sector 45, so they can bring down Anderson’s reign of terror.   

I love this series.  Some reviews complain about the author’s stream of conscience style of writing, but I think she is a great writer and makes the reader feel what the characters are feeling.  This is a satisfying conclusion to this series, even though it is sad to let these characters and their world come to an end.  There are a lot of swears, but I still loved it and feel like there are girls out there who would devour this series.  

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

Read Between the Lines by Jo Knowles - OPTIONAL

Knowles, Jo  Read Between the Lines, 329 pgs.  Candlewick Press, 2015.   $16.99  Content: Language: R (80 swears; 5 “F”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13.   

This book shows different perspectives of nine high school students and one teacher over the course of one day.  Each chapter is told from a different person, and although each story is specific to that character, all the characters show up in other people’s chapters.  Throughout the book it becomes clear that everyone has their different insecurities.  The overall message seemed to be about trying to understand other people and not judging them based on what you see.  

I liked many parts of this book.  The author does a great job making the reader empathetic for the different characters even though you only get to be inside their head for a short time.  I think it’s a valuable message for teens to read that everyone has their insecurities and how they handle them, so that they can learn to withhold criticism.  The parts of this book that frustrated me were that the “F” words were at the very end of the book, said by a teacher and were completely gratuitous.  Also the mature content was on the border between PG-13 and R, but it included so many sexual references that were shocking and an attempted sexual assault that I erred on the side of caution and put it as rated R.  The message would make this book advisable, but the content moves it to optional.   

HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.   

Chips and Cheese and Nana’s Knee’s: What is Alliteration by Brian Cleary -ESSENTIAL

Cleary, Brian Chips and Cheese and Nana’s Knee’s: What is Alliteration 32 pages Millbrook Press (Lerner), 2015. $18.00 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G NON-FICTION
This book defines alliteration and then proceeds to the show the reader Alliteration in action with tons of examples, exceptions, and real life ties. Features bright fun characters interacting with each other in settings that students will relate to. Word choices are silly and fun for readers.
This author does a wonderful job with language arts topics. We have many of his book already and this one will be included right away. My favorite thing is that rhythm and rhyme is seamless and well crafted,  unlike many children’s authors who resort to odd word choices to force the scheme to work out. I love the illustrations, they are bright and sloppy and incredibly appealing. Excellent teacher resource.
EL –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Jessica’s Box by Peter Carnavas -NO

Carnavas, Peter Jessica’s Box Kane Miller (EDC), 2008. $4.99 PICTURE BOOK
Jessica is new to school and eager to make friends. She comes with an idea to bring a box to school and surprise everyone with the contents. But no matter what she comes up with, its not enough to make a new friend, will Jessica give up?
The illustrations are simple and clean but the colors are kind of muted. I have been thinking about this book quite a bit before I wrote this review and decided that I think it sort of depressing no matter how you spin it, additionally because the main character is in a wheelchair. I may be reading into this too much from a grownup perspective but here is the lesson I perceived…No amount of creativity, tenacity, positive thoughts, or determination will help you make friends…only when you give up, give in, and go hide will friendship find you. Students readers may take a lighter view, but this book certainly makes me feel heavy and sad and I will not be adding it to my school library.
EL(K-3)  –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.