Monday, April 29, 2013

Stranded by Jeff Probst –ADVISABLE


Probst, Jeff A Stranded 192 pgs. Puffin, 2013. $6.29.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: G;  Violence: G.
Vanessa, Buzz, Carter, and Jane are a new step family. Their parents decide that to help them bond, they will send them on a boat trip together. The kids take to the open seas with two adult crew members sailing the boat. When a storm separates them from their hosts, the kids find themselves on a deserted island alone! Will they be able to set aside their differences and survive?
ARG! This book is the first in a series, which was really aggravating! I thought this was a pretty fun book and I think students will be intrigued by kids their own age in this adventurous situation. This book will span 2-4 grade nicely and the cover art will be a big draw as well. The character are well developed and fun. I will eagerly snag the next book.
EL, Elementary – ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Your Food Is Fooling You by David A Kessler MD –OPTIONAL


Kessler, David A Your Food Is Fooling You: How your brain is hijacked by sugar, fat, and salt 192 pgs. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. $8.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: G;  Violence: G.
This book offers an explain for today's epidemic of obesity. It delves into how brain chemistry is manipulated by marketing companies and food producers who ingeniously designed foods that combine sugar,fat, and salt. It includes chapters on how to break the cycle of over-eating and to set rules that work for you.
I was annoyed by this book. I thought that if I read “Sugar, Fat, and Salt” one more time that I would throw the book and never retrieve it.  The content is very repetitive, constantly reviewing, rehashing and reminding. I think the foundational message is wonderful though –food is necessary and good, just not when its out of control, be aware of marketing and manipulation and seek to create your own customized food rules. The question is, will reader survive the gambit of hundreds of “Sugar, Fat, and Salt” mentions to actually finish this book and take its message to heart.
MS, HS –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Thank You, Trees! by Gail Langer Karwoski and Marily E. Gootman - OPTIONAL


Karwoski, Gail Langer and Marily E. Gootman  Thank You, Trees!  Illustrated by Kristen Balouch  Kar-ben, 2013.  BOARD BOOK  $5.95  Content:  G. 
This book is about the Jewish holiday Tu B’Shevat, a holiday that encourages ecological awareness and the planting of trees.  It explains the different kinds of trees that can be planted-orange, apple, etc.  Then after the tree is planted the people enjoy a picnic in the shade of the tree.  Then the book explains the importance of recycling and taking care of the trees. 
The book has a rhyming cadence that makes it enjoyable to share with young readers.  The illustrations are bright and creative.  My only complaint would be that the book doesn’t explain that Tu B’Shevat is a holiday that celebrates trees, it is inferred which can be a bit confusing for a reader that doesn’t know the Jewish holiday. 
PREK-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Black City by Elizabeth Richards - ADVISABLE


Richards, Elizabeth  Black City, 400 pgs. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012.  $17.99 Content: Language: PG-13 (25 swears; 2 God); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13. 
Natalie Buchannan comes from a Sentry family, her mother is an important government official, so it is shocking when she is placed at the local Workboot school, where all the blue collar workers’ kids go.  While at her new school, Natalie feels a physical draw, an actual physical pull on her heart, to a boy named Ash Fisher.  However, any relationship between them is forbidden because Ash is half-human and half-Darkling.  The reconstruction of their city is not going smoothly between the Sentry and the Darklings, and Ash and Natalie can’t seem to fight their feelings for each other, regardless of the legal implications of their relationship.  Because they care about each other, they are more willing to see the truth behind the political uprisings, and they begin to unravel the truths behind the fa├žade put out by the government. 
This book is hard to put down, the storyline revels pieces of the puzzle at just the right time to keep the reader interested.  The characters both carry a lot of baggage so I liked how they were able to use their pasts to show character growth.  The violence is war violence and a lot of blood from vampire deaths.  There is also off page sex.  This is the first book in the series. 
MS, HS-ADVSIABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Otter and Odder: A Love Story by James Howe -- OPTIONAL

Howe, James and Chris Raschka Otter and Odder: A Love Story 40 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2012. $14.00. PICTURE BOOK.

When an otter falls in love with a fish, it seems their relationship is doomed. After all, you're supposed to eat your food source, not love it. Indeed, that's what everyone around Otter and Myrtle says -- loudly and often. In a perfect world, the pair would be free to love each other without complications, but the world is not perfect, and they must decide if their relationship is worth such sacrifices as Otter not eating fish again and Myrtle standing up to her scared family -- or if they must go their separate ways. Just what are they willing to do for love?

I love the premise and, as an adult reader, I can see that the book does contain a number of gems. In fact, I enjoyed it very much and thought the romance was quite sweet. Unfortunately, Otter and Odder is intended for children, not adults. When taking that into consideration, the text was far longer, wordier and more complicated than necessary. The length risks losing children's interest, while the wordiness and inexplicable illustration choices make it difficult for children to comprehend what are actually simple messages about love and acceptance. While some may enjoy the artist's style, I felt the extremely juvenile illustrations did not fit the rather mature-sounding story at all. Rather than complementing the text, they pulled me out of the story on numerous occasions, and my daughter kept stopping me to ask, "What is that?" and "What are they doing?" Unfortunately, I couldn't answer her much of the time because I myself couldn't figure it out either. Perhaps it wouldn't matter so much if the story itself were simple and clear, but in a complicated tale such as this one the illustrations could have carried far more weight than they did and would have gone a long way toward helping children understand the complicated text.

EL -- OPTIONAL; Adults -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

The Kindhearted Crocodile by Lucia Panzieri -- OPTIONAL

Panzieri, Lucia and Anton Gionata Ferrari The Kindhearted Crocodile 24 pgs. Holiday House, 2013.  $16.95. PICTURE BOOK.

A lonely crocodile wants so badly to be someone's pet that he crawls through the pages of one family's picture book every night and into their home. He spends the time until dawn washing dishes, fighting monsters in bad dreams, and preparing breakfast for the family in the hopes that they will overlook the fact that he's a big, scary crocodile and take him in. But when they do discover him, the "frantic mother" is terrified and the "courageous father" wants to fight him. Only the children want to keep him. It's up to the kids and the kindly crocodile to convince the parents that he should stay. When the mother realizes that having the crocodile around means less housework for her, she relents. But first, she has to convince her husband, who has the final say.

Although the story itself was a bit convoluted and some of the workings of this imaginary world were unclear, the fun, creative illustrations went a long way toward explaining what the text did not. Children may also enjoy the thought of their picture book characters coming to life in the night, doing their chores and frightening away the monsters in their bad dreams. Unfortunately, it was difficult to get past the outdated gender roles, which are a product of the original 1960 copyright date -- complete with a mother wearing high heels and a dress while struggling under mounds of housework and a father relaxing in his easy chair while reading the newspaper.

EL -- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by: Caryn

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith Jr. -- ESSENTIAL

Smith Jr., Charles R. and Floyd Cooper Brick by Brick 32 pgs. Amistad/HarperCollins, 2013. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK.

The original White House was was so big that its construction required the help of local workers, immigrants, and even slaves, whose masters hired them out for five dollars a month. This book highlights the plight of the slaves, who didn't earn a penny for their help in clearing the forest, making the bricks, and carrying the stones. It was back-breaking work that did have one payoff in the end: some of those who stayed on were trained to do more detailed work, thus becoming specialists and finally earning the pay that let them buy their freedom. All because they helped build the White House.

Brick by Brick imparts some little-known information about the original White House. The ending is inspirational, as some of the slaves did earn their freedom, although it may be unclear to younger readers and could require more explanation. Although the rhythm was off in some places, and the rhymes didn't always work, for the most part it's still a pleasure to read, both aloud and silently, and the pictures are a nice complement to the narrative. An afterword provides further information.

EL -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn

Saturday, April 27, 2013

You Can Do It! by Betsy Lewin -- ADVISABLE

Lewin, Betsy You Can Do It! 28 pgs. Holiday House, 2013. $14.95. PICTURE BOOK.

When a little crocodile sees a sign announcing a race, he tells his friend that he can win it. A nearby bully overhears and informs him that he can't. With his friend by his side, however, the determined little crocodile begins training, reminding himself, over and over again, "I can do it!"

A simply written story that shows you can do most anything if you have a concrete goal, hard work, determination, and a friend to encourage you when you begin to doubt yourself. I especially appreciated that the crocodile didn't just have a healthy self-esteem, but worked hard to achieve what he wanted -- an important ingredient that some books of this type lack. I also admire the crocodile for getting back at the bully by trying harder and becoming more determined to succeed, instead of resorting to yelling or physical retaliation. The repetitive phrasing does become a bit tedious -- for example, over one three-page spread the crocodile gasps out, "One, two...I can do it" nine times while exercising. Probably wouldn't be much fun for a read-aloud, but children who are struggling with limited vocabularies should appreciate the repeated words and simple phrasing. Would make a great intro for discussions on goal-setting and how to deal with bullies.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

Monsters Love Colors by Mike Austin - ADVISABLE


Austin, Mike  Monsters Love Colors  Harper, 2013.  PICTURE BOOK  $15.99  Content: G. 
In this creative book about colors, monsters love to scribble, mix and wiggle.  They scribble and mix their way through the primary colors of red, yellow and blue while associating rhyming words to the colors, such as “Blue is the color of scribble, and dribble and nibble, nibble, nibble.  Then they decide to make new colors for four grey monsters who want new colors.  They mix and make orange, green and purple, with the final monster becoming rainbow colored.
This is a bright colorful book that will attract the attention of young readers.  It’s a creative way to talk about colors with lots of sound effect words while mixing, such as “mash, squish, squash”.  The colorful mess that the monsters make is bright and helps the reader see the fun that can be had with color.  Great for preschool and kindergarten. 
PREK, EL (K-3)-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Innocents by Lili Peloquin - OPTIONAL


Peloquin, Lili  The Innocents, 288 pgs.  Razor Bill, 2012.  $17.99  Content: Language: R (45 swears; 17 “F”; 11 God); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG. 
Alice and her sister Charlie are best friends, but since their mother has married the very rich Richard Flood, their lives have changed drastically.  This new change for Charlie involves fitting in with the upper class kids that have known each other most of their lives.  For Alice, the change has made her question the history between her mother and her new stepfather, as well as her stepfather’s previous family, who all happens to be dead now.  Alice digs into the mystery while falling for her dead stepsister’s boyfriend.  Charlie takes risks to be a part of the new crowd.  Will their sisterhood survive this crazy new social world?  
This is a great story with romance, mystery and a ghost story all mixed in.  The characters have depth and I found myself caring for them.  I would put this as advisable and in the middle school, except for the language makes it optional and for the high school.  The swearing frustrates me, especially the “F” word, because they aren’t necessary and the story is so good, but you don’t feel like you can recommend it to all your students because of the language.  That being said, I am excited for the next book in the series. 
HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad by David Adler - ESSENTIAL


Adler, David A. Harriet Tubman and the Underground Railroad, 129 p. Holiday House, 2013.  $19.  

Adler turns his remarkable talent to chronicalling the life of Harriet Tubman.  You can tell that Adler has done extensive research and he has written a book that is detailed and interesting, but still at a level that is appropriate for students.  While most students will probably not read the book from cover to cover, it is a valuable research source for the Civil War, the Underground Railroad or just the history of this very brave woman.  

MS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

I Say, You Say Animal Sounds! by Tad Carpenter - ADVISABLE


Carpenter, Tad I Say, You Say Animal Sounds! LB Kids, 2012 $6.99. PICTURE BOOK. 

Brightly colored animals teach little ones what sound they make through liftable flaps. The pictures are bright and fun and would keep kids engaged and wanting to read this book over and over again. 

PRE-K, ADVISABLE. Shauna, Teacher.

Friday, April 26, 2013

The Boy in the Box by Cary Fagan - NO


Fagan, Cary The Boy in the Box, 283 pgs, Clarion Books, 2012. $16.99.  Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G. 

Twelve-Year-Old Sullivan Mintz is a very ordinary boy. So ordinary, that kids at school barely notice him, except of course the school bully.  Sullivan helps his parents run their old folk’s home where his best friend is Manny, an 81-year-old resident, who encourages him as he learns to juggle.  He’s pretty good and when an old fashioned Medicine Show comes to town, (remarkably out of time period but no one seems to care) Sullivan and his sister set off to watch the kids perform and he is kidnapped by the owner.  Is Sullivan good enough to perform with the show? 

Sullivan’s story, while unlikely, is interesting, however the minor characters, the bully, the police, even the school principal are buffoons, complete with ridiculous names and situations.  In this scary age when kidnapping is such a serious issue, this book which takes the subject so lightly might be best left off the shelves.  

NO Lisa Librarian

The Originals by Cat Patrick - ESSENTIAL


Patrick, Cat The Originals, 296 p. Little Brown, 2013.  $18.  Content: G.  

Lizzy, Ella, Betsy – 3 girls – 3 sisters – who share one life.  For years they have been taking turns going to school, having a job and just hanging out.  No one can tell the difference between the girls, until one year two of them fall in love with different guys.  Until now, the girls have never really questioned their existence, but now they are willing to question their mother and shake up the status quo.  But will they really like the answers?  

Patrick hooked me from the start and carried me along until I was finished.  What more can I say?  

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever by Ferber - ESSENTIAL


Ferber, Brenda A. The Yuckiest, Stinkiest, Best Valentine Ever. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012 $16.99. PICTURE BOOK.  

When Leon decides to proclaim his love for Zoey Maloney, the valentine that he creates has a different idea. Follow Leon through the town as he chases his valentine card to see if Zoey Maloney will ever get it. 

This book is super cute. It’s written in a comic book style so all the text is written in word and thought bubbles. 

ESSENTIAL, EL. Shauna, Teacher.

Ender’s World edited by Card - PUBLIC


Card, Orson Scott, ed.  Ender’s World, 304 p. BenBella Books, 2012.  $15.  Violence: PG (recountings of violence in the original book).  

So, I picked this up thinking that Card had written another book in this much beloved series.  Instead, it is a series of essays about the books.  Which is fine, just not what I wanted.  From Neal Shusterman, David Lubar, Hilari Bell and Alethea Kontis, among others, the essays and intriguing, thought-provoking and certainly open for argument or interpretation – but I don’t see this getting much traffic in a school library, unless it is picked up by a teacher for classroom use.  

PUBLIC - Cindy, Library Teacher

Apples and Pumpkins by Anne Rockwell - OPTIONAL


Rockwell, Anne Apples and Pumpkins. Aladdin, 1989. $5.99. PICTURE BOOK.  

A little girl and her family practice the tradition of picking apples and pumpkins from an orchard.  This quick little read will get any little one excited about harvest, autumn and Halloween. 

OPTIONAL, Pre-K, EL (K-3). Shauna, Teacher.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

The Archived by Victoria Schwab –ESSENTIAL


Schwab, Victoria The Archived 336 pgs. Hyperion Book CH, 2013. $11.35.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: PG13 ;  Violence: G.
Mackenzie is a teen with a secret job to do, she is a Keepers, a job passed down by her Da. She helps maintain the Archive, which is a place where copies of everyone that has died are cataloged like library books. They slumber silently, well usually, until they are wake up and find their way into The Narrows, a sort of in between place. Its Mackenzie’s job to hustle them back through a door into the Archive so they can be shelved. But something is wrong, really wrong, both with the Archive and the new building Mackenzie and her family just moved into. Mackenize must risk her life to seek answers. 
This book was like a breath of fresh air, a fresh fantasy concept that was a bit grim but mostly just incredibly haunting. The multifaceted plot was placed central, not a cheesy romance like most teen fantasy books. I thought this book was pretty incredible. I was a bit confused at first, but once I was hooked, I couldn't put this book down. Teens are going to love this creepy and intriguing murder mystery!
MS, HS –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.


Bones Never Lie by Elizabeth Macleod –ESSENTIAL


Macleod, Elizabeth Bones Never Lie: How Forensics Helps Solve Histories Mysteries 156 pgs. Annick Press, 2013. $17.96.  Content: Language: PG (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: PG.
This is an in depth look at some incredibly interesting forensic CSI. Each case details the historical background behind the mystery and includes simple-language explanations about the crime solving techniques used. It gives definitive answers about some mysteries –like how King Tut and Napoleon died. Other mysteries just become more mysterious or speculative like what happened to King Rama of Thailand.
I loved this book! I think its a perfect for Middle school students who have some of that foundational history knowledge and want an introduction to forensic anthropology/crime solving! I didn't even realize when I was getting to the end of the book- so when I read the last page, I was almost dumbfounded –I couldn't believe that more pages simply weren't there. An immersive and engaging read that I read from start to finish in one sitting! Students are going to love this one!
MS- ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

False Sight by Dan Krokos - ESSENTIAL


Krokos, Dan False Sight, 336 p. Disney-Hyperion, 2013.  $18.  Violence: PG-13,; Mature Content: G; Language: G.  

Miranda and the other Roses are trying to build alife for themselves in hiding – disguised as regular suburban teenager.  At the group’s first school dance, however, Sequel loses control of her mind and body to an implanted personality – Nina, a direct clone of The Director.  Now The Roses are on the run and into a different dimension, where they MIGHT find the answers they need to save their Earth from total annihilation from True Earth, the whole planet of the Originals. 

Krokos has moved from earth-based science fiction and straight into trans-dimensional travel.  I was not disappointed by the ride, however – in fact I loved it!  

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Princess in Training by Tammi Sauer - ESSENTIAL


Sauer, Tammi Princess in Training.  Harcourt Children’s Books, 2012 $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. 

When Viola Louise Hassenferrer needs a little polishing on her princess skills, she was sent to Camp Princess where she learned to wave, dress, dance and be as prim and proper as possible. Even Camp Princess can’t help Viola turn into the lady that everyone wants her to be, but the girls at the camp learn something from Viola. 

The story gives girls the idea that they are a princess no matter what they do and that they don’t have to be perfect which is such a great lesson with all the media and social pressure put on girls at younger and younger ages. 

ESSENTIAL, PRE-K, EL, Shauna, Teacher.

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross - ADVISABLE


Cross, Kady The Girl with the Iron Touch, 384 p. Harlequin, 2013.  Violence: PG-13, Mature Content: PG (clothes off, no details), Language: G.  

Emily has been kidnapped by the mechanical minions of Garibaldi.  Yes, Garibaldi survived, but only barely.  The automatons insist Emily place their master’s brain in a part-mech body prepared for him, but Emily has sympathy for 312, the girl who has been created.  Meanwhile, Finley Jane and the rest of Emily’s friends are desperate to find and rescue her.  They will risk everything to do so.  

Kady Cross is the perfect steampunk writer.  I love her books the best of all I have read.  This is an excellent introduction into the genre for girls.  

MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Apple Cake: A Recipe of Love by Julie Paschkis - OPTIONAL


Paschkis, Julie  Apple Cake: A Recipe of Love  Harcourt Books, 2012. $16.99  PICTURE BOOK  Content: G.  

Ida loves reading and can’t imagine anything more wonderful than her books.  Alfonso loves Ida, but regardless of what he does, he can’t get her to look up from her book and notice him.  So he decides to bake an apple cake.  The book illustrates Alfonso cooking the cake in imaginative and creative ways.  He collects the salt from the sea and bakes the cake with a dragon’s fiery breath.  In the end the apple cake smells so delicious that Ida looks up from her book and notices Alfonso.  

The book is creative and the illustrations are pretty.  The storyline has simple one sentence lines for each page layout.  I like the moral that sometimes we need to look up from what we are doing and notice what is going on around us, because we may see something beautiful.  Although I like this book, I wonder if it might not have the visual appeal to younger readers.  

EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson. 

Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett - ADVISABLE


Arnett, Mindee Nightmare Affair, 368 p. TOR, 2013.  $18.  Language: PG (9 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

  Dusty is a dream feeder – in order to maintain her energy, she must feed on other’s dreams.  The person whose dreams draw her most is, unfortunately, Eli, one of the most popular boys at school.  And the way she has been taught to draw the dreams is down right embarrassing, should she be caught.  When the pair share a dream where they watch a fellow classmate get murdered, Eli and Dusty are packed up and sent to the Arkwell Academy, a place for people with powers like Dusty’s.  There, Dusty is still an outcast, while Eli, who has absolutely no value except as Dusty’s “dinner”, is still popular.  Bu the pair are supposed to be working together to solve a murder – or several murders.  Now Dusty’s absent mother has returned, the twists an complications have deepened and the danger is even greater than anyone expected.  

I thought this was a very good, tense horror/fantasy book.  It held my attention and I am looking forward to reading more.  Then was nothing overtly ‘mature’ in the book – just that whoever taught Dusty to feed told her she had to straddle her victim’s chest to do it.  Weird. 

MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Marvin Makes Music by Marvin Hamlisch - ADVISABLE


Hamlisch, Marvin  Marvin Makes Music Illustrated by Jim Madsen  Dial Books for Young Readers, 2012. $17.99  PICTURE BOOK  Content: G.  

Marvin loves the piano and he loves music.  He likes the music that he makes up in his head best, so he has a hard time when he is supposed to practice his lessons because he doesn’t like to play “old music”.  He also has a hard time performing in front of other people.  His parents think that he is good enough at the piano that they want him to audition at a special musical school, but he is nervous.  They arrive to the audition early enough that Marvin and his father go to the roof to take a deep breath and look at the city.  They get locked on the rooftop and by the time someone helps them get down they are late for the audition.  Although he is flustered, Marvin imagines that he is on the roof with his father when he plays for the judges, plays his piece great and is accepted into the music school.  The illustrations are great and this book is telling a story from the real composer, Marvin Hamlisch’s life which makes it even more interesting.  

I think this is a great book for inspiring kids to keep practicing their instruments even though the songs they may have to practice aren’t always what they want to play.  It also discusses what Marvin did about his stage fright, which also could help kids talk about ways to overcome their fear of performing in front of others.  

EL (K-3) (4-6)-ADVISABLE. 

Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet by Devon Kinch


Kinch, Devon  Pretty Penny Makes Ends Meet  Random House, 2013.  $16.99  PICTURE BOOK  Content: G. 
Grandma Bunny and Penny wake up one night to a bang in the basement.  When they get downstairs they see that the water heater has flooded the basement.  Grandma Bunny is worried about the repairs because she has already spent a lot of money on repairs this month and doesn’t have enough in the budget.  Penny and her pet pig, Iggy, decide to make jewelry and sell it to help pay for the basement.  They buy supplies, sell jewelry and then do some math to figure out how much they made for profit.  They present the money to Grandma Bunny who appreciates their hard work. 
This book has cute pictures that are appealing.  The book explains what it takes to sell something-buying supplies and putting on a sale.  It also explains how profits are mathematically figured.  Penny is thoughtful and aware of her Grandma’s stress, and this book helps young readers understand the relationship and importance of money to everyday living. 
EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Vanquished by Nancy Holder and Debiie Viguie - ADVISABLE


Holder, Nancy and Debbie Viguie  Vanquished, 462 pgs.  Simon Pulse, 2012.  $16.99 Content: Language: PG-13 (63 swears; 14 God); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13. 
In this third and final book in the Crusade trilogy, the vampire war with the humans is finally coming to a head.  Team Salamancan, after some upsetting setbacks, has gathered their forces and weapons and they are preparing for war.  The vampire kingdom, after breaking apart the vampire nations, is also preparing to annihilate any humans who will not submit to them.  As the two sides face off, the main characters Jenn and her partner, a good vampire, Antonio, are unsure of where their relationship stands.  The other team members also face interesting relationship changes.  All of them hope they can preserve the human world against the growing evil. 
This is a fun series that has lots of action, romance and adventure.  The characters are relatable and I found myself cheering for Team Salamancan.  The violence seemed almost rated R because the battle scenes were quite gruesome and descriptive and the hybrid vampire/werewolves seemed grotesque.  Overall, it was a fun series to read. 
HS-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Monday, April 22, 2013

Butterfly: Colors and Counting by Jerry Pallotta - ESSENTIAL


Pallotta, Jerry  Butterfly: Colors and Counting  Illustrated by Shennen Bersani  Charlesbridge, 2013.  BOARD BOOK  $5.95  Content: G. 
This beautifully illustrated board book is a review of the numbers 1-10 and the basic colors of the rainbow.  Each page has a numerical number, the number spelled out and the name of the color with a drawing of the corresponding number and color of butterflies. 
The butterflies are very colorful and detailed to catch the reader’s eye.  This is a basic book with no story line, but it’s a great addition for any little reader’s library.  On the back cover the author includes the names of the butterflies. 
PREK-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Heart of Glass by Sasha Gould - ESSENTIAL


Gould, Sasha  Heart of Glass, 326 pgs.  Delacorte Press, 2013.  $17.99  Content: Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13. 
 Laura is engaged to her true love, the Doge of Venice’s oldest son, Roberto.  She is also a part of a secret society of women who control Venice, called the Segreta.  When Roberto is charged with the murder of a Turkish princess, the people turn against the Doge and his family in a crucial point when the Turkish prince is threatening war.  Laura tries to get the Segreta to help her save Roberto, but Laura starts to doubt how well she knows Roberto. 
This book is the second book in the Cross My Heart series and both books are really fun, but it’s not necessary to read the first book to understand the second.  The first book does set up the characters more, but the adventures and storyline move quickly enough to keep any reader engaged in Heart of Glass.  I love this book because the setting in Venice is portrayed well and it’s fun to see how the characters weave their way through the mysteries they face. 
 MS, HS-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Sunday, April 21, 2013

The Market Bowl by Jim Averbeck - ADVISABLE

Averbeck, Jim  The Market Bowl. Charlesbridge, 2013. PICTURE BOOK.

Yoyo is too excited about sitting on the seller's stool for the first time to take the proper care in preparing her first pot of bitterleaf stew for market. When a stranger offers less for a bowl of her stew than what people have been paying for her mother's, she refuses his price and angers the spirit of the market, Brother Coin. How can she restore his blessing?

With vibrant colors and patterns on each page, and an encounter with Brother Coin that requires Yoyo's patience, hard work, and cleverness to gain his blessing, the author conveys a slice of Cameroon life and traditions intriguingly. The end of the book includes a recipe for bitterleaf (spinach) stew, and some facts about Cameroon.

Elem, Advisable, reviewed by PKFoster, teacher-librarian

Oh! If Only... By Michael Foreman - ADVISABLE

Foreman, Michael  Oh! If Only... Anderson Press, 2013. PICTURE BOOK

A boy wishes things had gone differently that day. If only he hadn't left home, he would have avoided a long chain of increasingly unfortunate events. With incidents that include horses, a parade, a palace, and a spot on the evening news, this book is about just how much trouble a great dog is worth. The funny pictures and bright red ball will help young readers follow the sequence of events. Great for talking about cause and effect, the expression "if only,"and even media.

EL (K-3), Advisable. revuiewed by PKFoster, teacher-librarian

The Dark by Lemony Snicket - ESSENTIAL

Snicket, Lemony The Dark. Illustrated by Jon Klassen. Little, Brown and Co, 2013. PICTURE BOOK.

Laszlo was afraid of the dark. He'd go to the basement each morning, where the dark lived, and say hi, hoping that if he visited the dark where it lived, it wouldn't visit him in his room. But one night, it did. This book has just the right amount of creepy anticipation before resolving itself with a friendly helpful hand.

Though the illustrations have minimum details, they are perfect for the tone of the story. It's a great read-aloud, and a story with which you could talk about personification and tone.

Elem, Essential, reviewed by PKFoster, teacher-librarian

The One and Only Willa Bean by Cecilia Galante - ADVISABLE

Galante, Cecilia  The One and Only Willa Bean (Little Wings, book 4), 103 pages. Illustrated by Kristi Valiant. Random House, a Stepping Stone book, 2012.
Riding the cloud bus to Cupid school one day, Willa Bean meets a new girl who she tries to befriend. When she finds out that the new girl's special winged friend is an owl, just like hers, Willa isn't so sure how she feels about the girl who ruined the "onliest-ness" of her owl. This is a cute story for readers not quite ready for some of the intermediate readers' series, like Magic Tree House or Rainbow Magic. The fantasy elements are lots of fun, and beginning readers will relate to the cupid's wish to be unique.
EL (K-3), Advisable, reviewed by PKFoster, teacher-librarian

Just a Dog by Michael Gerard Bauer - ADVISABLE

Bauer, Michael Gerard  Just a Dog, 138 pages. Scholstic, 2013.
Yes, this is a "dog" story which ends in an expected way, but Bauer's tale, told as a first-person account by a ten-year-old about the life of his beloved pet, is well told with beautifully simple language, believable tone, and poignant details about the boy's family. This is a good suggestion for your animal lovers, as well as a good read-aloud option to discuss voice, description, or theme.
EL, ADVISABLE, reviewed by PKFoster, teacher-librarian

Saturday, April 20, 2013

The Holders by Julianna Scott - ADVISABLE


Scott, Julianna The Holders, 368 p. Strange Chemistry, 2013.  $10.  Language: PG-13 (35+ swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (battles with magic and such).  

Becca knows that her younger brother Ryland is special, but she has never believed that the voices in his head means that he is crazy.  When representatives of a special school come to offer Ryland a place, Becca finds out that the headmaster is none other than her absentee father.  She insists that if Ryland goes, she goes too.  To her surprise, she finds a school where some kids are normals, but others like Ryland have magic powers.  And the leaders of the school think that Ryland has a destiny as the bearer of a special artifact that is the only things saving humankind from being taken over by a great evil.

I kind of thought I knew where this book was going – and I was right, but I didn’t mind at all.  Becca has a great sense of honor, but also humor and this is a classic piece of modern fantasy.  Perfect for fans of Harry Potter, Alfred Kropp, or any of the other dozens of fun “kids save the world” fantasy books out there.  Too bad it is so sweary, because otherwise it would fit fine in an elementary school also.  

MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Next Stop-Zanzibar Road? by Niki Daly - OPTIONAL


Daly, Niki  Next Stop-Zanzibar Road? Clarion Book, 2012. $16.99  PICTURE BOOK  Content: G.  

Mama Jumbo is an elephant in Africa she has a hard time getting her hat to fit on right, but decides that she needs to get a mirror at the market.  She leaves her child (a chicken) with the babysitter (a lion) and goes to market.  She lucks out when she trades some people at the market and gets a mirror.  On the return trip home the taxi gets a flat and she uses her gum to patch the flat tire, and her trunk to put air into it.  When she returns home to Little Chico her chicken they eat dinner.  When she looks into the mirror she is disappointed in what she sees of herself, but Little Chico tells her she is a beautiful Mama and they both go to bed happy.  

This book is broken up into five chapters which indicates it’s for beginner readers.  Mama Jumbo is not a very endearing character and the story line seems obvious and drawn out.  This wasn’t my favorite book because it was too long and it felt like there was a lot of filler that didn’t move the story forward or make it interesting.  

EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.