Friday, May 31, 2013

Checkers and Dots at the Beach by J. Torres - ESSENTIAL


Torres, J.  Checkers and Dots at the Beach  Illustrated by Jennifer Lum Tundra Books, 2013.  $8.99  BOARD BOOK  Content: G 
A little boy and girl, with their dog and cat, go to the beach where they encounter different sea life.  They find five different animals and count from one to five: one crab, two clams, three turtles, four gulls and five fish.  The last page spread shows the boy and girl with their cat and dog with all of the sea animals interacting. 
This book is completely done in black and white and the illustrations are simple and adorable.  The counting fits into a storyline and the storyline rhymes making it fun to read aloud.  This is a great book for newborns and little ones.
PREK-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Life Eternal by Yvonne Woon - ADVISABLE


Woon, Yvonne  Life Eternal, 416 pgs. Hyperion, 2012. $16.99  Content: Language: G (1 God); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13. 
This is the second book in the Dead Beautiful series.  Renee is a Monitor, a person who can feel the Undead around her, and she goes to a special school so that she can learn how to take care of reburying the Undead.  The problem, in this second book, however, is that Renee has died and been brought back to life as well, and she should also be Undead, but is not because the person who brought her back to life, Dante, also shares her soul.  Dante and Renee love each other but can’t be together, and they are searching for a solution for their shared soul.  Renee has two new friends from her new school, Noah and Anya, who help her follow clues that should lead them to the secret of immortality, which Renee hopes will allow her and Dante to be together. 
This is a typical second book in a series, in the fact that it feels like a bridge between the first book and a conclusion.  The ending totally leaves the reader hanging and annoyed that the third book isn’t out yet.  The characters are okay, but the story is creepy and exciting, making it hard to put down.  This is a good book for girls who like supernatural trilogies set in boarding schools, along the lines of the Hex Hall and Haven series. 
MS, HS-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Big River’s Daughter by Bobbie Miller –OPTIONAL

Miller, Bobbi Big River’s Daughter 200 pgs. Holiday House, 2013. $10.87.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: PG.

River is a young girl raised on the Mississippi river by her famous pirate fathers. When a natural disaster separates them, she must hold her own. Quickly she is ensnared into the politics of the river, as numerous factions try to capture her, hoping to gain the knowledge of her fathers connections. But River has her own mind and her own plans. She is brave and snarky and quickly joins forces with the in-famous Annie Christmas and her sons. Together they not on have their hearts set on a famous long lost treasure but apparently the means to possibly make it happen!

This was a fantastic book! The tone is set bright and vivid  with larger than life characters and a fast pace. There are lots of references to tall tales, both the people, like Mike Fink, and in the delivery of the story. It’s a fun intrigue-filled adventure that was so fun to read. That being said, the language is so authentic that I think students would give up fairly quickly. It was fairly challenging!! Students old enough to fall into the story regardless of that, might not be that interested in the story of such a younger girl.

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

Breaking Point (Book#2 Article 5 Series) by Kristen Simmons –OPTIONAL

Simmons, Kristen Breaking Point (Book#2 Article 5 Series) 400 pgs. Tor Teen, 2013. $13.33.  Content: Language: PG (0 swears);  Mature Content: PG13 ;  Violence: PG.
Here are the continuing adventures of Ember and her love interest, Chase. They are now on the run from the government –although they faked their own deaths and thought they were “safe” (As safe as one can be in a post-apocalyptic dystopian society) –then Ember is pegged as wanted sniper, now her photograph is everywhere! The pair meet up with the Resistance and go on a few missions, but things go awry when their home base is set on fire. They must leave town –with the one person they trust very least.
I liked the first book just fine, but now I am on the fence. Nothing endears me to this character –she is almost boring. Because of the life and death dystopian thing –there is naturally this over blown sense of grandeur –since every moment is a risk. I just felt like the storyline just couldn't provide enough to live up to that. If the first book is popular at your school, might as well add this one.

HS -OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.


Here is my review of Book#1 –Article 5

Cold Fury by T.M. Goeglein - ADVISABLE


Goeglein, T.M.  Cold Fury, 312 pgs.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2012. $17.99  Content:  Language: PG-13 (81 swears; 10 God); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13. 
  Sara’s life has always revolved around her close-knit family, to the point where she has almost stopped interacting with her friends.  Her loving grandparents and parents run a neighborhood bakery with the help of her uncle, but when her uncle marries, there begins to be some fighting within the family.  While fighting, secrets are hinted at, but never revealed to Sara.  So when Sara returns to her home on the night of her sixteen birthday to find her family home ransacked and her family missing, she begins to work at uncovering the family secrets, some that have been in the family for a long time. 
  This is an action packed story with a strong female character.  The family secret is revealed, but the overall mystery is not solved within this book.  This book introduces some minor characters that will be fun to learn more about in the upcoming book.  My only complaint is that at times it felt like the main character thought and acted more like a teenage boy, than a girl, but it didn’t take away from the excitement and readability of the book.  
MS, HS-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Brick by Brick by Charles R. Smith –ADVISABLE


Smith, Charles R and Illustrated by Cooper, Floyd  Brick by Brick 32 pgs. Amistad, 2013. $13.36.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

It took more people than could be found to build the first White House. So slaves were brought in, they toiled without pay, by hand to build the White House. They also learned skills from craftsman that later enable them the chance to make money to earn their freedom.

I did not know that slaves helped to build the first White House so I was eager to read this book and learn more. But the story is very lyrical, and not all that clear. Students would not understand this book without teacher guidance. I think teachers would find this book to be a valuable component for a lesson on US History, Slavery, and American Symbols. The artwork is pixilated and washed out, but the pages are large enough that the visuals and unique viewpoint would make an impact.

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

Mary Walker wears the Pants by Cheryl Harness –ESSENTIAL


Harness, Cheryl and Illustrated by Molinari. Carlo  Mary Walker wears the Pants 32 pgs. Albert Whitman & Company, 2013. $14.42.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

Mary Edwards Walker helped lay the ground work for the role of women today. She rebelled against the typical female conventions by becoming a doctor, wearing pants, and actively participating in the civil war. Although she was often ridiculed, she stood up for what she believed and made a difference through hard work, perseverance and sheer grit.

What a fantastic role model!! Never giving up, individuality, standing up for what is right and just, and being yourself! This was an excellent book! The book does a great job of laying out understandable context, both about a woman typical place in this time period, as well as the events. A general foundation in basic US history would be helpful though –works for lessons on role models, biographies, women’s rights, and of course, history.  

EL -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Changeling by Philippa Gregory - OPTIONAL


Gregory, Philippa  Changeling, 256 pgs. Simon Pulse, 2012. $18.99  Content: Language: PG-13 (15 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13. 
Luca Vero has an inquisitive mind, which moves him from the monastery he grew up in, and places him, at the age of seventeen, as the church’s inquisitor.  He is ordered to roam Europe and investigate the goings-on in villages that lead people to believe in supernatural elements.  His first mission places him at an abbey where he meets the beautiful Isolde, a lady whose brother swindled her out of her holdings upon her beloved father’s death and had Isolde placed in the abbey.  Luca and Isolde, working separately, begin to learn that the wealth of the abbey is coming from questionable means and the person who is benefiting the most from the circumstances is willing to go to great lengths to keep the secret.  Uncovering the abbey’s secret is the beginning of Luca and Isolde’s adventures. 
I was really excited to read this book because I have read other books by this author that I loved.  It’s hard to pin point what I didn’t like about the book, but I didn’t feel like either character was that endearing.  The storyline was fantastic and interesting, but sometimes repetitive.  Also the book felt divided between two adventures-almost like two short stories put together.  This is the first book in a new series and so the ending, although it did have resolve, left the characters fates unfinished.  I would probably read more of the series because the storyline is interesting and well thought out, but I’m not sure young adults would stick with it because, at times, the story seemed geared towards adults. 
MS, HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Pterosaur Trouble (Tales of Prehistoric Life) by Daniel Loxton –ESSENTIAL


Loxton, Daniel Pterosaur Trouble (Tales of Prehistoric Life) 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2013. $12.20.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G;  Violence: G.
This realistic book takes the reader on a journey with a flying Pterosaur, an extinct flying giant reptile. We get to experience his flight, high above beaches and later on -what looks like southern Utah.We get to see how he deals with attacks from other dinosaurs and learn lots of interesting facts.  
This is a exactly the kind of book that students will just love, reading this book is like watching a real movie. Everything was fantastic; the simple story that takes us on a journey, the vivid outdoor settings, the well crafted and realistic dinosaurs, action packed events, and cool features like skin texture. I can’t wait to add this and all the other books from the “Tales of Prehistoric Life” series to my school library collection.
EL -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Eagles are Back by Jean Craighead George –ESSENTIAL


George, Jean Craighead and Illustrated by Minor, Wendell  The Eagles are Back 32 pgs. Dial, 2013. $12.23.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.
A simple yet touching story about the small part one boy played in helping the American Bald Eagle come back from near extinction. The boy always watches his favorite pair of eagles, when he discovers that the two eggs they laid are crushed, he is upset. How can this be? What can he do?
While this book is full of information and doesn't hold back on the realities of the part humans have played in the situation –it also has this wonderful story that carries the reader through and brings them up with hope. The artwork is varied in presentation and interesting. I think this book will be a wonderful addition to a school library collection and useful in areas such as American symbols, environmentalism, inspiration, and a nature story. Looks like this book is part of a series of animal population recovery books, worth looking into further.
EL –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Cookie Monster's Busy Day by Ernie Kwiat -- ADVISABLE

Kwiat, Ernie Cookie Monster's Busy Day 40 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2012. $5.99.

A collection of four very short early readers featuring Cookie Monster and friends. Includes Cookie and Elmo Eat Their Colors, Cookie Monster and the Parade, Cookie Monster Cleans Up, and Cookie Monster's Bed.

Featuring colorful images, simple words and concepts, and lots of repetition, these are nice for new readers who still have an interest in Sesame Street. Since the accompanying text includes longer words that are not always seen on beginning sight words lists, such as pillow and tricycle, these are probably best for reading with an adult's assistance.

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


And the Winner is….Amazing Animal Athletes by Etta Kaner –ADVISABLE


Kaner, Etta and Illustrated by Anderson, David And the Winner is….Amazing Animal Athletes 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2013. $12.20  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.

A competition sporting event between all kinds of animals. There are fun commentators; a walrus and a cockatoo, who are featured across the top of each page –making their comments and providing info. Four different animals square off in each of a variety of events from the Marathon to Swimming. Facts and information about each participant are provided. Once the reader turns the page they discover the winner, and how humans compare.

Content wise, this was a fantastic book! I loved the commentators and the presentation. The information was interesting and fun. But, I thought the art work was dated looking, a bit drab, not appealing to students. If the majority of this book had been done with action photography, I think this would be an all-time favorite. I might have trouble trying to get students to choose this over the more showy Guinness World Book Record Books.  
EL (K-3), EL  –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Planet Ark: Preserving Earth’s Biodiversity by Adrienne Mason –ADVISABLE


Mason, Adrienne and Illustrated by Thompson, Margot Planet Ark: Preserving Earth’s Biodiversity 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2013. $17.06.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ; Violence: G.

This story starts with a wonderful analogy of how earth is much like Noah's Ark. It goes through a variety of topics that relate to biodiversity, such as global warming, dirt, alien species, and saving wild places. It also includes examples of people today who are making a difference and suggestions for students.

This book is very well written! It is interesting, invokes the 5 senses, and manages to squeeze in important definitions without sounding textbook like in the slightest. I really liked the biodiversity perspective presented in this book. The pages are huge and filled with beautiful illustrations. Add this to your Going Green collection.

EL (k-3), EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Eighth Grade is Making me Sick by Holm, Jennifer L. -- ADVISABLE

Holm, Jennifer L. and Elisia Castaldi Eighth Grade is Making Me Sick: Ginny Davis's Year in Stuff 121 pgs. Random House, 2012. $15.99. (Language: PG, Sexual Content: PG, Violence: PG)

Told entirely in full-color illustrations, this cross between a scrapbook and a graphic novel uses notes, class assignments, shopping lists, bills, instant messages, and many other items to show the highlights of Ginny Davsis' eighth grade year. She begins with a new house and a new list of things to do, including trying out for cheer, saving money, and teaching her grandfather how to use e-mail. But she could never have anticipated the difficulties she had ahead of her, from her stepfather losing his job to her mother having a new baby.

This is a surprisingly touching and fun insight into one girls' middle school life. The colorful, collage-like pictures contain many details, and the plot takes a fair number of twists and turns. The format does make it difficult to become fully invested in Ginny and the other characters, but Holm does an admirable job, and the unique presentation should be appealing to many students. This is a follow-up to Middle School Is Worse Than Meatloaf, but stands alone fairly well.

MS -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

In the Tree House by Andrew Larsen –OPTIONAL


Larsen, Andrew and Illustrated by Petricic, Dusan  In the Tree House 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, Ltd, 2013. $13.15.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ; Violence: G.
This is a story about 2 brothers, the tree house they build with their dad, and how even though things are changing, they can still spend time together.
This was kind of an odd story. I felt like all fun of the tree house was over with quickly, then moving right into the depressing part where the older brother has moved away from the friendship with his younger brother. Some of the illustrations are really dated looking, while others are spectacular.
EL  –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Operation Robot Storm (The Mythical 9th Division Book #1) by Alex Milway–ADVISABLE


Milway, Alex Operation Robot Storm (The Mythical 9th Division Book #1) 224 pgs. Walker Children’s Paperbacks, 2010. $6.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
The Country of Wales has a new glacier! That’s a problem, because there shouldn't be a glacier there, ever. So the Mythical 9th Division is called into action; Albrecht, Saar, Timonen. These 3 special agents are not just good at what they do, but they are Yetis. In this first book of a series they must face Balaclava and his army of Greebo robots. Will they be able to stop the bad guy from freezing the entire world?
This was a super fun book to read! It was really well written, super stuffed with secret agent talk and gadgets, and fast paced. I think students will really enjoy this, picking it up for its appealing cover, and sticking with it for its great characters and action. A series worth following.
Elementary- ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Addie on the Inside by James Howe -- ESSENTIAL

Howe, James Addie on the Inside 206 pgs. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2011. $6.99. (Language: PG-13; Sexual Content: PG; Violence: PG)

Told in a series of poems, this is the story of Addie, a smart, outspoken, often obnoxious, "plain" girl who is suffering through seventh grade. The only girl in her group of boys, she doesn't hesitate to take on worldwide social issues, such as bullying, arranged marriages, or gay rights, but when it comes to local issues such as friendships, her on-again/off-again boyfriend, and dealing with mean girls, she's at a loss.

The poems are sometimes funny, sometimes sad, and sometimes just plain thoughtful, but at their heart they all tell the truth about being a misfit middle-school girl trying to make her way in the world. A good one for the library shelves, as many girls should be able to identify with Addie's ups and downs. While some of the messages are a little heavy-handed, it's hard to argue with the ideas that people should learn to be true to themselves and bullying is not okay. Although it is listed as a companion to two of Howe's previous books, The Misfits and Totally Joe, it stands alone quite well.

MS -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn

This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smith - ADVISABLE


Smith, Jennifer E.  This is What Happy Looks Like, 404 pgs.  Little, Brown and Company, 2013. $17.99  Content: Language: PG (4 swears; 4 God); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG. 
Ellie receives an e-mail in error from a boy who lives across the country.  All she knows is his e-mail address and his initials: G.L.  They spark up an online conversation for three months, were both Ellie and G.L. become great friends.  Come summer, Ellie’s hometown becomes invaded by a filming crew because they are filming a movie starring the teen heartthrob Graham Larkin.  Little does Ellie know, but G.L. is the famous actor, Graham Larkin and he has convinced the movie producers to shoot the new film in Ellie’s town because he wants to get to know the girl he’s fallen in love with from the e-mails.  Ellie is in for a surprise and can both of them learn to care for each other now that they know each other in real life. 
This is a sweet teen romance with good characters and great dialogue.  I read the whole book in one day because I wanted to know what would happen.  This book is PG through and through which makes it great for middle school, but the age of the characters makes it work for a high school too.  Fun, light summer read. 
MS, HS-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas - ESSENTIAL


Maas, Sarah J.  Throne of Glass, 404 pgs. Bloomsbury, 2012. $17.99  Content: Language: PG-13 (36 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13. 
Celaena Sardothien is a notorious assassin, a job which landed her in the salt mines as a slave.  She is taken from the mines by the Captain of the Guard, Chaol, to the Crown Prince, Dorian.  Dorian wants to enter Celaena as his champion into a contest to earn the title of King’s Champion.  Celaena has assassin skills and a sharp tongue, and with training from the Captain of the Guard, Dorian hopes that she will win the champion contest.  What Celaena finds in the glass castle of the king is dark magic that is opening a portal for evil to come into her land.  Between fighting in challenges put on by the king, uncovering who is brutally murdering the champions, and figuring out the magic working in the castle, Celaena also finds herself caring deeply for both Chaol and Dorian. 
This is a great read, with exciting actions scenes and a strong main character.  The broken world that these characters live in creates a great setting for Celanea’s story.  I cannot wait to read more in this series.  It’s well written and fast paced.  Great read! 
MS, HS-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Friday, May 17, 2013

The Rose Throne by Mette Ivie Harrison -- OPTIONAL

Harrison, Mette Ivie The Rose Throne 400 pgs. Egmont USA, 2013. $16.99. Language: PG, Sexual Content: PG, Violence: PG-13.

Tells the story of two princesses from two very different countries. While one country embraces an earthy magic usually embodied by women, the other favors the violent, war-like power generally found in men. When the two princesses come together in one court, the fates of both countries may never be the same. Some people will fall in love. Some will be betrayed. Some will reveal unexpected power. And many will die.

While I was excited to read this book, since it sounded like an enthralling fantasy, it was very difficult to become immersed in it, both because of the frequent telling instead of showing, and because of the very slow pacing. The characters rarely acted -- often standing around instead, thinking about how helpless they were and how there wasn't anything they could do to prevent all the awful things that were happening. The lack of action made this one a bit of a slog, and the princesses' self-pity and hand-wringing in the face of some truly awful events made it hard for me to sympathize with them. There is little resolution at the end, as if it is the first of a series, but no other books have been announced as of yet. Perhaps fans of the author's other books, or those who can never get enough fantasy, may find this one to their taste.

HS -- OPTIONAL Reviewed by: Caryn

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Venom by Fiona Paul - OPTIONAL


Paul, Fiona Venom, 435 pgs. Philomel Books, 2012 $17.99 Content: Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R. 
Since both of her parents died, Cassandra lives with her wealthy aunt and enjoys a plush lifestyle.  She is engaged to a wealthy scholar, Luca, and has her best friend Madalena.  However, she feels oppressed as her life is planned for her and she craves freedom.  Shortly after one of her childhood friends dies, Cassandra finds that her friend’s body has been traded in the crypt with the body of a murdered courtesan.  Cass meets a boy artist, Falco, who attempts to help her figure out the murder mystery; however, a lot of the clues lean towards Falco’s guilt.  Cass finds herself falling in love with Falco and doubting him at the same time. 
This book has a great story full of mystery.  The main character is well developed, even though sometimes her actions don't seem logical.  The mature content is almost rated R because Cass goes into a brothel and walks in on a couple having sex.  The violence is rated R because there is someone stealing dead bodies and taking them apart and putting them in basins.  It’s grotesque.  Overall, the story was engaging, but the setting was dark and felt more adult than young adult. 
HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson. 

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Cartboy and the Time Capsule by L.A. Campbell –OPTIONAL


Campbell, L.A.  Cartboy and the Time Capsule 208 pgs. Starscape, 2013. $11.07.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: PG ;  Violence: G.

Hal is a 6th grader who hates history and loves video games. He isn't popular but has a best friend. His goals are simple –to pass a level on his favorite game and get a good enough grade in history to earn his own bedroom. This book is Hal’s yearlong journal for his history class –addressed to future readers that find the time capsule its going in.

Reminiscent of Diary of a Wimpy Kid, this book is the typical life of a very typical 6th grade boy. It is chocked full of silly timelines, humorous photos and illustrations. I think 4th grade boys will enjoy this book, but I am questioning its inclusion in my library due to a photo page of museum statue naked butts. I can justify them in history books but am not sure that this book is worth defending to upset parents, so I have listed this book as optional.

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

The day my mom came to kindergarten by Maureen Fergus –ESSENTIAL


Fergus, Maureen and Illustrated by Lowery, Mike The day my mom came to kindergarten 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2013. $13.17.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.
A little girl who loves Kindergarten gets a surprise one day when her mom decides to stay for class. Instead of helping out the teacher or sitting around, like most grown-ups do, her mom acts just like a kid. A bad kid. She breaks all the rules, makes messes, and even talks during story time in the library. What can a girl do with a mom who doesn't follow the rules?
At first I was worried, I sort of dislike starting or continuing the notion that parents are embarrassing, especially in regards to younger students who mostly still hero worship their parents. But this book was a sneaky surprise and functions as a neat perspective change on the effect of breaking rules! The artwork is adorable and fun to look at, with harmonious colors and an interesting use of layout and text.
EL- ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

Author Awesomeness!

If you weren't at The King's English Bookstore tonight, then you definitely missed a real treat.  From left to right in the photo, Ally Condie, Stephanie Perkins and Shannon Hale came as backup for Margaret Stohl on her Icons book release tour.  Margaret is a HOOT - and she egged on all of the ladies as they answered audience questions and mugged for each other.  I so wish I could get Margaret for a school visit, because she is a born comedian.  It was a really great evening and full of so many jokes I just can't get into, because you should have been there to hear them.  Shame on you for not coming!

See you next week at TKE when Rachel Hawkins talks about her newest - a spin off in her Hex Hall universe!

Showtime by Kevin Sylvester - ADVISABLE


Sylvester, Kevin Showtime: Meet the People Behind the Scenes, 84 p. Annick Press, 2013.  $13.  Content: G.  

Besides the performers, dozens, if not hundereds, of other people are needed in order to make any kind of show or performance go off right.  Sylvester has distilled an array of information about a wide variety of the people it takes to make a blockbuster performance.  Honest, real-life looks behind the scenes.  This would be a great resource for a drama class, careers education, or for any kind that may want to be in show biz, but doesn’t have the voice, the look or the desire to be in front of the curtain.  

EL, MS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Wumbers by Amy Rosenthal - OPTIONAL


Rosenthal, Amy Krouse Wumbers, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld.  Chronicle Books, 2013.  $17.  PICTURE BOOK. Content: G.  

Just in time to raise up the next twitter, text generation, Rosenthal has created a book using that old license plate game – numbers representing part of the sound in a word.  The pictures are adorable and little kids learning to read will probably enjoy the silliness.  As a school librarian, however, I know that if this creeps even more into student writing, it will just be irritating.  

EL – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems by Marilyn Singer - ESSENTIAL


Singer, Marilyn Follow Follow: A Book of Reverso Poems, illustrated by Josee Masse.  

Marilyn Singer is incredibly intelligent and creative.  She has created her own form of poetry – reverso.  Each line of the poem is carefully constructed, so that when read from top to bottom is gives one character’s perspective.  Then, when all of the lines are reversed and re-punctuated, they give the perspective of the other character.  You really need to get your hands on this book and share it with your colleagues and students.  You will be amazed by what you read.  This is uncharted territory here.  And what an excellent challenge for an honors English class at any level.  

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Dirt on My Shirt by Jeff Foxworthy - OPTIONAL


Foxworthy, Jeff Dirt on My Shirt Illustrated by Steve Bjorkman Harper, 2008. $9.99 PICTURE BOOK  Content: G. 
This is a book of poems about little kids and their experiences in the everyday world.  The poems sometimes have funny little twists at the end and are light and funny.  Some of the poem’s topics include the weather, family, nature, and friends.  All the poems have a rhyming cadence.  Some of the poems are longer and some are only four lines long.  The illustrations add to the message of the poems and will keep the attention of younger readers.  Sometimes it is hard to make the connection of some of the lines to the rest of the poem.  Overall, these are sweet poems, but they aren’t Shel Silverstein by any stretch of the imagination. 
EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Reading Promise by Alice Ozma - ESSENTIAL


Ozma, Alice  The Reading Promise, 288 pgs.  Grand Central Publishing, 2011. $24.99  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: G. 
As a fourth grader, Alice and her librarian father decide to have a reading streak for 100 nights in a row.  Every night Alice’s father reads to her for fifteen minutes from her favorite books.  After they accomplish their original goal of 100 nights, they decide to keep the streak up for as long as they can, which makes for some awkward moments as Alice gets older.  As you read about their reading streak you get to know about Alice and her father's lives and relationship. 
I loved this memoir.  It made me laugh out loud, and sometimes I had to read passages to my husband.  When I got towards the end I sobbed for ten straight minutes.  I loved getting to know Alice and her father and reflecting on what parent-children relationships are like as time goes on.  This book didn’t have a spectacular plot or anything, it had simple and heartwarming glimpses into a relationship, and I think I appreciated it more as an adult than I would have as a teenager, but it still has great value for teens.  This book encourages the value of reading and having someone to share what you have read with.  The only reason I wouldn't put it in an elementary school is that I don't think it would hold the interest of young readers.
MS, HS-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Monday, May 13, 2013

Wilfred by Ryan Higgins –ESSENTIAL


Higgins, Ryan Wilfred 32 pgs. Dial, 2013 (American Edition). $11.79.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
Wilfred is a giant who is not only hairy but lonely. When he comes across town where everyone is bald –Wilfred thinks he has found a new friend. The little boy is quite bossy but Wilfred doesn't mind. But when the towns people ask for Wilfred's fur to make wigs for everyone, they don’t consider how it will affect Wilfred. His new friend is determined to help Wilfred survive the winter, no matter the risk.
This wonderful story has some pretty powerful lessons about taking advantage of friends and proving your friendship. It’s full of heart and is an amazing addition to any library collection. On top of that, the illustrations are phenomenally adorable, especially the cover –which will serves as a big drawn for this stupendous book!
EL –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Cats of Tanglewood Forest by Charles De Lint –ADVISABLE


De Lint, Charles and Illustrated by Vess, Charles The Cats of Tanglewood Forest 304 pgs. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2013. $11.30.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ; Violence: G.

Lillian is a simple farm girl who loves the woods. When tragedy befalls her there, the cats of the forest take matters into their own hands. Now transformed into a kitten, Lillian sets out on journey which delves into native American legend. She meets Mother Possum, the Bear People, and Aunt Nancy who is rumored to be a spider. Will she get her life back or have events gone too far to set things right?

First off this is a high quality fully illustrated book, filled to the brim with some of the most stunning art I have ever seen. I was blown away by how amazing this unexpected inclusion was and how much it added to the mood of the story. I love the folktale feel of this story along with the many Native American legends. I did feel a bit detached from the main character because she was a bit air-headed at times. Also the story has many native forest animals, but then includes feral cats, which doesn't seem to mesh well. Close to essential but not quite.

EL- ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Return to Finkleton by KC. Hilton-ADVISABLE


Hilton, K.C., Return to FInkleton. CreateSpace, 2012. Pgs. 210. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: G
Living with their Great Uncle Harry and helping in his shop, Robert, Lizzy, and Jack has discovered some magical secrets. In the first book Magic of Finkleton, the trio was able to stop their nemesis, Mr. Lowsley’s dastardly plot to try and force people into selling their house to him by fixing the lever under the counter of their uncle’s shop. That lever controlled the rain in Finkleton. Now, a new lever has appeared. When Robert discovers a secret room under his uncle’s study, he also discovers a lever that creates lightning in Finkleton. When he pulls the lever, he finds out that Miss Caroline, a friend of the family’s, house has burned down. To make matters worse, the hourglasses in the shop, that somehow help to control the weather, malfunction and Robert accidentally blurts the problem out to his uncle in front of Mr. Lowsley. Now Mr. Lowsley is threatening Robert and his family if Robert doesn’t tell the magical secret of Finkleton. Thinking that he can get past all of the bad things and prevent himself from betraying his family, Robert messes with a clock in his uncle’s study that’s supposed to go forward or backward. Unfortunately, he not only winds the clock forward, but manages to break just as he gets 25 years into the future. Can Robert figure out a way to fix the clock, save Finkleton from Mr. Lowsley, and fix the problem he created?
A delightful, time travel fantasy. The characters are likable and realistic. The plot is well-developed, well-paced, and entertaining. Readers who have read the first book in the series will have an easier time following this book, but it can be read without having read the first one. Fans of fantasy, adventure, time travel, and magic will enjoying reading this book.

EL, MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

The Three Bears ABC: An Alphabet Book by Grace Maccarone –OPTIONAL


Maccarone, Grace and Illustrated by Hibbert, Hollie The Three Bears ABC: An Alphabet Book 32 pgs. Albert Whitman & Company, 2013. $12.67.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
The traditional story of Goldilocks and the 3 bears re-told in a creative A-Z format. For example: “G is for a girl named Goldilocks”.  
This was a fun and creative way to present this story. It actually worked out really well –even those tricky letters! I liked the artwork, it was bright and colorful and featured interesting angles. However, the art did look a bit blurry and overexposed, like taking a photograph of your TV as it plays a cartoon and in most of shots Goldilocks looks like she has been at the tanning salon one too many times. 
EL- OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

A Perfect Home for a Family by David Harrison –OPTIONAL


Harrison, David and Illustrated by Angaramo, Roberta  A Perfect Home for a Family 32 pgs. Holiday House, 2013. $15.26.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
When Mama and Papa Raccoon family is about to grow, they want just the perfect place to live, but their tree is too crowded and noisy. They hire a real estate agent and get to work, but nothing seems quite right.
Adorable artwork! Would be fun for a lesson to introduce the concept of animal homes. As far as the story goes, I was a bit irritated about how picky the couple was, for example when their tree was crowded they could have embraced the community that was there.  
EL –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books by Mary Blair -- ESSENTIAL

Blair, Mary A Mary Blair Treasury of Golden Books 160 pgs. Random House, 2012. $19.99. PICTURE BOOK.

Reprints of several of author Mary Blair's old Golden Books, many of which are no longer available. Includes Baby's House, I Can Fly, The Golden Book of Little Verses, The Up and Down Book, and selections from The New Golden Song Book.

The stories are sweet and fun to read. The digitally-enhanced illustrations are colorful and clear, set off by the large format. Song book selections include both music and words, and cover such topics as singing games, hymns and carols, folk songs, and patriotic songs. Especially recommended for younger children, as older ones may find the stories and illustrations too juvenile.

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

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie by Mary Ellen Jordan and Andrew Weldon –ADVISABLE


Jordan, Mary Ellen and Weldon, Andrew Lazy Daisy, Cranky Frankie 24pgs. Albert Whitman & Company, 2013 (American Edition). $11.96.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
A lyrical tour of a farm that’s full of animals not quite what they are cut out to be. The chicken is too busy dancing (in her underwear) to lay eggs and the pig is too busy staring in the mirror to roll in the mud. But they all have one thing in common that they do right, sleeping quietly at night.
This is a cute story featuring a fun rhyme. It would make for a fun discussion on what the animals should be doing on a farm. Maybe a follow up for the K and 1st grade trip to the local farm –did they see a cow laying around eating jelly? The art work is decent, but bright and big enough to show off for a read-aloud.
PRE-K, EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

These Seas Count! by Alison Formento –OPTIONAL


Formento, Alison and Illustrated by Snow, Sarah These Seas Count! 32 pgs. Albert Whitman & Company, 2013. $12.84.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G ; Violence: G.
One beach full of garbage leads to a lesson for Mr. Tate’s class about caring for our seas. He has them listen to the animals in the ocean and tells them about how important the health of the ocean is.
I thought this story was an awkward combination of lecture and counting animals. The water cycle is mentioned so first graders just learning about that will relate, but the counting to ten part is sort of pre-K.  I also thought the inclusion of phytoplankton was confusing for younger readers. I though the artwork of the sand and ocean was beautiful but the color are so subdued and monotone that the artwork won’t catch the eye of younger readers.   
EL- OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Bananas in My Ears by Michael Rosen -- ADVISABLE

Rosen, Michael and Quentin Blake Bananas in My Ears: A Collection of Nonsense Stories, Poems, Riddles & Rhymes 96 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2012. $15.99.

A collection of free verse poems and stories covering the topics of breakfast, oceans, sickness, and bedtime. The 'nonsense' in the title is accurate; many of these poems and stories are very silly and often without a point or resolution. Still, the sense of fun and craziness in both the text and illustrations should capture many children's imaginations. While the repetition makes this one less fun for a read-aloud -- especially when tackling the entire book at once -- it would be a nice addition to a unit on poetry, or for students to browse through.

EL -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn


I Will Keep You Safe and Sound by Lori Haskins Houran -- ESSENTIAL

Houran, Lori Haskins I Will Keep You Safe and Sound 32 pgs. Cartwheel Books, 2013. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK.

Page after page of loving animal parents caring for their offspring through difficulties such as rain, heat, a long winter, and the threat of predators. A simple, lilting rhyme accompanies the soft, beautifully-rendered illustrations. A pleasure to read aloud, this one is perfect for right before bed, during thunderstorms, or any other time when children may wish for cuddles and reassurance. The love radiating off the pages should leave little ones and adults alike with a safe, warm, cozy feeling.

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

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Great Choice, Camille! by Stuart J. Murphy -- ADVISABLE

Murphy, Stuart J. Great Choice, Camille! 32 pgs. Charlesbridge Books, 2013. $6.95.

When Camille's teacher tells her class that they will be doing several special projects, the children are excited. Camille has trouble making decisions, though, and she faces several difficult choices throughout the day, from whether to plant a garden or build a kite, to which veggies to eat from the finished gardens. Her teacher guides her and gives her tips on making up her mind. By the time she reaches the final choice at the end, she knows just what to do.

A nice exploration of the topic of making choices -- something children have to do many times a day and often have difficulty with. The author suggests several things to consider when making decisions, from asking yourself if you can change your choice to picking your favorite option before it's no longer available. Some of the suggestions could seem obvious to adults, who are practiced at making decisions, but are helpful for children who are still developing that skill.

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

Percy's Neighborhood by Stuart J. Murphy -- OPTIONAL

Murphy, Stuart J. Percy's Neighborhood 32 pgs. Charlesbridge Publishing, 2013. $6.95.

Before Percy is allowed to play at the park, he has to help his father put up posters for the community's upcoming Fun Run. In their quest, Percy and his father visit a police station, fire station, library, and doctor's office. Along the way, they discuss how the people who work in those places are community helpers.

While I usually like the titles in Murphy's I See I Learn series, this one didn't come together for me. The concept of "community helpers" is not well-explained, nor is the "Fun Run" they're hanging up flyers for, so the ultimate point can be easily lost. In addition, a number of other community helpers were left out, making it seem as if there are only four types. I know it can be difficult to fit everything into a children's book, but even mentioning them in passing would have made the concept more clear.

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

Little Rooster’s Diamond Button by Margaret MacDonald –ADVISABLE


MacDonald, Margaret Read and Illustrated by Terry, Will Little Rooster’s Diamond Button 32 pgs. Albert Whitman & Company, 2013. $7.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
Little Rooster has an unusual ability, he has a magic stomach! It sure comes in handy when the King takes a diamond button from Little Rooster. A re-telling of a Hungarian Folktale that teaches us to use the strengths we have and keep trying in the face of adversity.
Student will love this story because part of the roosters magic stomach is to expel what he is storing inside. Which makes for a silly and entertaining story time! Its filled with bright zany artwork that is eye-catching as well. Add this to your folktale collection.
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Spindlers by Lauren Oliver –ADVISABLE


Oliver, Lauren  The Spindlers 256 pgs. HarperCollins, 2012. $12.27.  Content: Language: G (0 swears);  Mature Content: G ;  Violence: G.
Liza is a great big sister, she really loves spending time with her little brother Patrick. One day she notices that he isn't quite himself. Liza immediately suspects the evil Spindlers, a magical creature that steals souls, as she learned from her favorite babysitter. Luckily she thinks the entrance to their lands is in her basement, so she sets off to rescue him.
The plot sounds pretty goofy, but the author pulls it off. I felt like I was reading Alice in Wonderland with a touch of the movie The Labyrinth. I thought this was a fun read and it was entertaining. I think students will be intrigued by the cover, so this book will be read often. Perfect for 2-4 graders.
Elementary –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse by Marjorie Blain Parker - ADVISABLE


Parker, Marjorie Blain Colorful Dreamer: The Story of Artist Henri Matisse  Illustrated by Holly Berry  Penguin, 2012. $16.99 PICTURE BOOK  Content: G. 
Henri always was a dreamer.  His parents were concerned when he was young that he wasn’t a hard worker.  He didn’t like working at the family store and he always wanted to become something exciting like an actor.  When he was in his twenties he decided to go to Paris to study law, but he got sick while working and ended up in a hospital for a month.  During his hospital stay he watched another patient paint while he was in bed, so Henri decided to try to paint too.  Once he got ahold of the colors and started painting the world opened up for him, and he finally found what he loved.  At first his art wasn’t appreciated because of the bright colors he used, but eventually some people began to appreciate his art.  He ended up being a hard worker after all. 
This book has great illustrations.  The beginning of his life is illustrated in black and white, with his dreams being in color, and then when he is older and discovers that he loves to paint all the illustrations are in color.  The story is a simple summary of Henri Matisse’s life, but an inspiring one.  There is an author’s note at the end that also explains more about Henri’s life.  This is a great book to encourage young artists and to teach children to appreciate the arts.
EL (K-3), EL-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Splat the Cat: The Perfect Present for Mom and Dad by Rob Scotton - ADVISABLE


Scotton, Rob Splat the Cat: The Perfect Present for Mom and Dad Harper, 2012. $4.99 PICTURE BOOK  Content: G. 
Splat wants to make something great for his mom and dad, so he draws and cuts out a cute orange fish.  When he goes to show it to his brother and sister, he sees that they are also creating something for his parents, and he wants his to be the best, so he goes back to his room and makes a whole mobile of fish.  The siblings’ gifts keep getting fancier, until finally they decide to join forces and make something together.  They make a paper fish tank using all their crafts and their parents love it, but some seagulls seem to think the fish tank looks like the lunch and they destroy it.  Splat’s parents tell the kids that they love them regardless of the gift. 
This book has adorable illustrations and bright pictures to keep the interest of little readers.  The storyline has a great message of working together within a family.  The storyline is simple and easy to follow. 
PREK, EL (K-3)-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.