Wednesday, November 27, 2013

From Norvelt to Nowhere by Jack Gantos - - ESSENTIAL


Gantos, Jack From Norvelt to Nowhere, 278 pgs. 2013. Farrar Straus Giroux; $16.99. Language: G; Violence: PG; Mature Content: PG.  

Young Jack Gantos returns in this laugh-filled sequel.  Life didn’t get back to normal in Norvelt, in fact, when Mrs. Custard returns from Utah, she becomes the next victim of the Old Lady killer.  When Miss Volker asks Jack to join her on a pilgrimage to visit the gravesite of Eleanor Roosevelt, the short trip turns into an odyssey crossing the Eastern US while avoiding Mr. Spizz, a couple of detectives, and other dangers. Old Ladies should not carry guns!  

This book is a continuation of Dead End in Norvelt, and I recommend you read that one first even though Gantos does a good job of filling in the reader.  A good clean read, action packed and plenty of history lessons, this is an Essential pick for your library.  A great boy book that girls will love, too.  EL, MS - ESSENTIAL Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Spartan and the Green Egg: A Trip to the Rainforest by Nabila Khashoggi –NO

Khashoggi, Nabila and Illustrated by Cadag, Manuel  Spartan and the Green Egg: A Trip to the Rainforest 59 pgs. Full Cycle Publications, 2013. $13.89.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.
When Spartan tells his best friends about a book that teaches them how to communicate with aliens, they decide to give it a try. Not only does an alien egg appear in their tree house, but it communicates with them. It takes them to the Amazonian rain-forest, where they meet Amazon Natives, learn about logging and deforestation, and help to turn things around.
I had high hopes for this large glossy educational graphic novel. But one thing I am really picky about, especially with genres outside of historical fiction, is terminology. This book features Amazon Natives, but refers to them twice as just Indians. Worst of all one of the kids jokes that the Indians might boil them for dinner. Also these Amazon Natives are portrayed as extremely stereotypical Pocahontas style Native Americans. I am all for opening students eyes to the dangers of logging and deforestation of these precious rain-forests, but when they solve the problem purely with Alien magic (isn't that just handy?), it just doesn't work for me at all.

EL –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant by Tony Cliff –ADVISABLE

Cliff, Tony Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant 176 pgs. First Second, 2013. $12.09.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG. GRAPHIC NOVEL
Delilah Dirk is a free spirited adventurer in early 1800’s. She travels the globe in her flying boat taking jobs, stealing, and fighting. In Constantinople she meets up with Selim, a Turkish Lieutenant. When he becomes embroiled in her escapades, he must escape with her. Selim mostly just likes sitting with friends and making and drinking tea, so life on the road for him, in constant danger, is jarring. But life without it, without Delilah, might just be too dull…
Top notch fantastic illustrations. One scene was frame-worthy stunning. The action is non-stop and interesting. I did feel like this was a character introduction story, made only to set the foundation for a real story. I think students will love the strong female heroine and maybe the historical setting will interest them in history. Also, despite the cheesy romance title, the book is romance free -just a pure adventure and friendship story.

MS, HS –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Nazi Hunters by Neal Bascomb - ESSENTIAL

Bascomb, Neal The Nazi Hunters:  How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captures the World’s Most Notorious Nazi, 241 pgs.
Arthur A Levine Books, 2013. $9.34 (Kindle) $12.23 (Hardcover)
Language PG (2 swears); Mature Content:  PG; Violence: PG: 

For eight years, Adolf Eichmann was in charge of Jewish affairs for the Nazis and was responsible for sending millions of Jews to their death. As World War II ended, Eichmann reluctantly accepted defeat; and knowing that he would be hunted for war crimes, he made a plan for escape and disappeared. This book explores the culmination of many victims of Eichmann and the Holocaust and their desire to see justice met.  It reveals the discovery of Adolf Eichmann in Buenos Aires, Argentina, his capture, his transportation to Israel, and ultimately his trial--an event that was able to enable the world to look, hear, and feel the horror of the Holocaust. 

This non-fiction book--packed with pictures, documents, and facts--opens the reader’s eyes to the details, excitement, and significance of this sixteen-year Nazi hunt.  I thoroughly enjoyed reading this book because of its breadth of information, the simplicity of explanation, and suspenseful plot.  It is rated PG for two appropriate uses of language and the mature reference to events relating to the cruelty and violence experienced by the Holocaust.  Some character names and flashbacks create confusion, but this is aided by the numerous graphics.  I highly recommend this book for every high school library shelf—the interest level and historical enlightenment is fantastic.  

MS HS-ESSENTIAL. Reviewer:  Donna Huxford

Monday, November 25, 2013

Dr. Z’s Adventure Park (I Scream, You Scream Scary Tales) by James Preller –NO

Preller, James  Dr. Z’s Adventure Park (I Scream, You Scream Scary Tales) 112 pgs. Feiwel & Friends, 2013. $5.39.  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.
Sam loves amusement park rides, the scarier the better. When she wins a ticket to the newest ride, Dragon’s Tooth, she is over joyed. But its only 1 ticket, so her parents must stay behind as she goes off with a scared little boy in a mine car, down into the earth. Things start to go gravely wrong, and Sam tries to protect the boy. Turns out nothing is what it seems.
This was more horror than anything. I think it was cold, dark, and didn’t have much to redeem itself. I wouldn’t want my students reading this. There is some very descriptive injuries and terror that isn’t great for Elementary. But the plot would be a bit too childish for older students. 
EL –NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author. 

When Christmas Feels Like Home by Gretchen Griffith-Essential


Griffith, Gretchen When Christmas Feels Like Home, illustrated by Carolina Farias. Albert Whitman and Company, 2013. $16.99. Picture Book

Eduardo has moved far from his village and is worried he will never feel at home again. His aunt promises that by the time Christmas arrives he will believe he belongs. Eduardo is skeptical, but as the days pass and he makes new friends, learns a new language, and watches the seasons change, he realizes that he may just have discovered a new home.

The illustrations are what make this book special. While the story is appealing and the use of Spanish words mixed into the text is a clever learning device, it is the pictorial representation of Eduardo’s experience that elevates this book.

EL (K-3)—ESSENTIAL. AEB Social Studies Teacher

The Christmas ABC by Florence Johnson-Advisible


Johnson, Florence The Christmas ABC, illustrated by Eloise Wilkin. Random House Children’s Books, 1962 renewed 1990. $3.99. Picture Book
This classic picture book teaches the ABC’s using Christmas vocabulary.

A delightful holiday book that will teach beginning readers their alphabet while celebrating the season with fun illustrations and charming descriptions.

Pre-K, EL (K-3)—ADVISIBLE. AEB Social Studies Teacher

Serafina's Promise by Anne Burg - ADVISABLE

Burg, Anne E. Serafina's Promise, 299 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2013. $16.99. Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.       
                                                          
An engaging novel about a girl growing up in war-torn Haiti, a country whose citizens are worn down by poverty and natural disasters. Serafina and her family are challenged to stay alive and united despite hunger, sickness, flooding and an earthquake. Serafina dreams of becoming a doctor, yet battles the guilt of knowing that every extra bit of family income is going to pay for her school uniforms rather than keeping other family members fed and healthy. The book is written in poetry stanzas, yet is very easy and enjoyable reading.     

EL, MS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Katherine S., Utah Educator.

Ding Dong! Gorilla! by Michelle Robinson - ADVISABLE

Robinson, Michelle Ding Dong! Gorilla!, illustrated by Leonie Lord. PICTURE BOOK. Peachtree Publishers, 2013.  $15.95.  Content: G. 

There is a mess and none of the children want to clean it up because they say the Gorilla did it.  A clever story about how messes are made and the way children blame someone else so they don’t have to clean up.  The illustrations of the Gorilla are wonderful and I recommend this book.

EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Mindy Tidwell

Boy Meets Dog by Valerie Wyatt - OPTIONAL

Wyatt, Valerie Boy Meets Dog: A Word Game Adventure, illustrated by Dave Whamond.  PICTURE BOOK.  Kids Can Press, 2013.  $16.95.  Content: G.

Shows children or young readers how important each letter is.  The illustrations are great and will keep any kids' interested for a long time.  The format in which she showed how the letter changed and easy to understand for any young kid.

EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Mindy Tidwell

Ten Birds Meet a Monster by Cybelle Young - ADVISABLE

Young, Cybele Ten Birds Meet a Monster.  PICTURE BOOK.   Kids Can Press, 2013.  $16.95.  Content: G.

Birds and people think differently, but each way is correct.  A creative and easy story to show teamwork can be fun and that there is no wrong way to solve a problem.  The birds learn that the easiest way may just be to face it head on.  The illustrations are amazing and I would advise art teachers to use this to show progression in art.

EL-ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Mindy Tidwell