Thursday, October 30, 2014

Marion Strikes a Pose (The Critter Club #8) by Callie Barkley –ADVISABLE

Barkley, Callie Marion Strikes a Pose (The Critter Club #8) 128 pgs. Little Simon, 2014. $16.00 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G.
Marion is a member of the Critter Club, a group of girls who helps take care of animals in a barn by their house. But each girls has their own interests outside of the club, Marion for example, loves fashion. When a competition comes up for clothing styling, Marion makes a new friend. Is this a true friend, or is Marion just being used for her fashion advice. Do the frogs the club is caring for have any advice for her?
Coming into this series at book #8 wasn't the best, looks like its better to start with book 1. But I thought it was high interest, fun, and sweet.There are great illustrations, with a modern style. I can think of a dozen or more students that would adore this book, both for the pet component, and the fashion. It’s a great transition book from early reader to chapter books, and this level can be difficult to find quality books for. I would add this series to my library.

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

Sniffer Dogs by Nancy Castaldo –OPTIONAL


Castaldo, Nancy Sniffer Dogs 160 pgs. HMH Books for Young Readers, 2014. $16.99Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G. NON-FICTION
Who knew how truly amazing a dogs view of the world around them is, thanks to their noses! Readers may have heard of some dogs working with their noses (like blood hounds) or seeing them in action at the airports. But there are so many behind the scenes and out of the bounds of imagination jobs that sniffer dogs are great at. This book features stories about companions for diabetics, bone sniffing dogs, flower sniffers, snail finders, and tons more! Many of the best sniffer dogs are the shelter dogs that are unadoptable due to their high energy and lack of discipline, with training and hard work, they are unstoppable at their jobs.
This was actually a great read, with tons of information. The author does a great job really illuminating how much of the world we humans miss by having such boring noses. She breaks all my pre-conceived notions about the limitations of sniffer dogs. However, this book drove me nuts. It was one giant run on sentence, with no real defined chapter breaks, just page after page of text. There was much repetition of concepts, like training, types of dogs, and types of sniffers, it was as if a different person was writing and didn’t realize the first person had already detailed that same thing. Because of this, the book is not student friendly in the slightest. There is nothing to help guide a reader (especially for elementary); no variety of text, no excerpt blocks, no concepts or definitions clearly marked. The pages are different colors but it’s totally unrelated to so-called chapters and just added to my confusion. The pictures are wonderful, and are actually the dogs that are being written about, which believe it or not can be a problem with kids non-fiction.
EL, MS -OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Pirates of the Silver Coast (Three Thieves Book #5) by Scott Chantler –OPTIONAL


Chantler, Scott Pirates of the Silver Coast (Three Thieves Book #5) 96 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2014. $17.95 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G. GRAPHIC NOVEL
Captain Drake is still after Dessa, Topper, and Fisk. He even reluctantly consults a Tarot Card Reader (who looks suspiciously familiar), but little does he know that the three thieves have taken to the sea. They are on a smugglers ship and when they are taken by pirates Dessa’s map is taken, the one thing that she believes could lead to her kidnapped brother.
Its official, I have given up on this series for elementary school. It’s a great read, but its growing more complex and serious than the fun of the first three books, a bit too much for elementary. At least in my demographic the tarot card reading component could result in some serious parent drama. I think this series is worth a try with middle schooler as it remains fairly wholesome (no romance, no swearing) while evolving into more complexity as the series progresses.
MS -OPTIONAL  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

 

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The Wing Wing Brothers: Geometry Palooza! by Ethan Long - OPTIONAL

Long, Ethan  The Wing Wing Brothers: Geometry Palooza!  Holiday House, 2014.  $15.95  PICTURE BOOK Content: PG (dismemberment of a chicken).  

Five chicken brothers perform three circus-like acts to show different aspects of geometry.  They shoot each other out of a cannon, they move shapes around and they do fractions.  In the end they cut their brother in a magic box into quarters, but when they go to take a bow he falls apart in quarters.  They glue him back together, but it was still kind of gross.  

I didn’t like this book.  I think it didn’t explain enough about math and there wasn’t a story line, so I'm not sure what the point of the book was.  The illustrations are lacking and the dismembered chicken made it shocking and hard to recommend.   

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

Brothers by David McPhail - OPTIONAL

McPhaill, David  Brothers  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.  $12.9  PICTURE BOOK  Content: G.  

This is a sweet look at brotherhood.  Sometimes brothers get along great and sometimes they are cohorts in their adventures.  But sometimes brothers fight and don’t feel like sharing.  This is a cute look at all the different ways that brothers interact.  The story has simple one sentence explanations with light pastel colored illustrations.  The moral of the story is super cute, but I’m not sure the muted illustrations would hold young readers attention.  

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

The Graveyard Book (Graphic Novel Version: Volume 1) by Neil Gaiman –ADVISABLE

Gaiman, Neil The Graveyard Book (Graphic Novel Version: Volume 1) 192 pgs. HarperCollins, 2014. $19.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG13. GRAPHIC NOVEL
When a little boys family is killed, he toddles off to the graveyard. There he becomes Nobody Owens, and is raised by ghosts and a vampire. Though he still is in danger from his parents killer, he is quite safe, so long as he stays in the graveyard. Nobody doesn’t always do that, and finds himself in one situation that seems impossible to get out of. He also manages to make friends with a human child, makes an ally of a dangerous witch ghost, and discovers a powerful artifact in an underground tomb.
This was actually a fun read. Keep in mind this is part 1 of 2. The interesting thing is that different illustrators took charge of each different chapter, giving the artwork a slightly different feel for each little adventure. Fans of the book will love this story, though I didn’t find the imagery appropriate for elementary level as there is the detailed murder scene at the beginning.
MS, HS -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.
 
 

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold –NOT RECOMMENDED


Harrold, A.F. The Imaginary 240 pgs. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC, 2014. $12.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG.
Amanda has an imaginary friend named Rudger, together they have wonderful adventures. But when a scary man name Mr Bunting comes after Rudger to eat him, trouble starts and Amanda is hurt, possibly killed. That’s when Rudger starts to disappear, but with a little help and new real child to keep him alive in her imagination, Rudger continues to worry about Amanda, and the continuing danger from Mr. Bunting.
I absolutely did not care for this book. It was dark in a completely depressing and dismal way. The artwork is nightmare inducing and I would never give this book to an elementary student, though I think middle school students would find that imaginary friend plot a bit juvenile. My life was better before I read this book.
EL -NO  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Through the Woods by Emily Carroll –NOT RECOMMENDED


Carroll, Emily Through the Woods 208 pgs. Margaret K. McElderry Books, 2014. $21.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG Violence: R. GRAPHIC NOVEL
This is a collection of horror five stories. When a set of sister’s father disappears they also one by one go with a strange man to his house. When a new bride hears singing in the walls, she discovers a grim secret.
I am a fan of spooky and ghost stories, but I have to be honest here…I only read the first two stories and felt so depressed and dark about it, that I decided I would rather eat glass than read the rest. I hardly ever do this, as a book reviewer, but I have a limit with horror and this book passed it. There is no swearing or romance, but the violence and horror is pretty high, though I wouldn’t add this to my library, if I ran a high school library.
HS -NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

A Pinch of Magic (The Never Girls Book #7) by Kiki Thorpe –ADVISABLE


Thorpe, Kiki A Pinch of Magic (The Never Girls Book #7) 128 pgs. RH/Disney, 2014. $5.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G.
When there is a neighborhood fundraiser for a family in need, all of the Never girls want to help. Mia somehow ends up volunteering to make something for the bake sale and she doesn’t know how to cook! When a baking magic fairy comes to her aid, will she cause more problems than solutions? Will Mia’s creation beat out the competitive neighborhood twins?
This series has really grown on me! I like how the girls roll with bad events, like a cranky neighbor, losing games, and other problems. The last book hinted about more exploration into Neverland, and I am still eagerly waiting!! Students love this series!
EL (K-3) -ADVISABLE  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Making Money by Tommy Greenwald - - ESSENTIAL


Greenwald, Tommy Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Making Money, 201 pgs. Roaring Brook Press, 2014. $13.99. Language: G; Violence: G; Mature Content: G.  

When some of the rich and popular kids have the latest gadget, a Botman, Charlie Joe wants one for himself.  But, true to form, Charlie Joe wants to make money without working hard, well, without working at all. So, in this latest “guide to:” Charlie Joe enters the world of employment, but maybe there’s something more important than a Botman that will inspire Charlie Joe to make some real money (and still not have to work).  

Another hilarious episode.  Charlie Jo gets himself into situations that are so entertaining.  I love this series.  Keep them coming Tommy.  

MS -- ESSENTIAL Lisa Librarian

Max and the Won't Go to Bed Show by Mark Sperring - OPTIONAL

Sperring, Mark Max and the Won’t Go to Bed Show  Illustrated by Sarah Warburton  Scholastic Press, 2014.  PICTURE BOOK  $16.99  Content: G. 

 Max does whatever it takes to prolong going to bed.  He pretends like he is putting on a circus show, so simple steps of going to bed take him longer.  He makes everything he does sound exciting and magnificent.  The illustrations in this book are adorable and the change in font styles makes the words look exciting.  

The story line isn’t anything new-it’s just the basic brush your teeth, put on your pajamas.  Although it is described with creative adjectives, it is really just a drawn out bedtime routine.  That said, the bright illustrations and cute characters will hold younger readers.  

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

Love Disguised by Lisa Klein - OPTIONAL

Klein, Lisa  Love Disguised, 303 pgs.  Bloomsbury, 2013.  $17.99  Content: Language: PG-13 (8 swears); Mature Content: PG-13 (preoccupied with checking out women’s chests, off page sex); Violence: PG-13.  

In this historical fiction, William Shakespeare is tricked by Anne Hathaway and so he takes his distrust of women with him to London to try and clear his father of debt.  As a newbie in London, he is quickly robbed but finds a place to stay at the Boar’s Head where he quickly befriends Meg and helps run a small theatrical play.  As he tries to find money to clear his father’s name he becomes good friends with Meg’s brother (who is really Meg dressed like a boy), the two have many adventures on the streets of London.  

Overall, this book wasn’t interesting and I didn’t ever fall into the story.  The characters were hard to connect with and William Shakespeare was flaky and hard to like.   The historical aspects were interesting, but I don’t think many young adult readers have enough understanding of Shakespeare to find those parts interesting.  Lisa Klein’s book Ophelia was much better.  

HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.   

Katie Starting from Scratch (Cupcake Diaries #21) by Coco Simon –ADVISABLE


Simon, Coco Katie Starting from Scratch (Cupcake Diaries #21) 160 pgs. Simon Spotlight, 2014. $16.99  Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G.
Katie’s mom wants her to be friends with her boyfriends daughter Emily. Emily is a bit younger, but is very nice, so its not a big deal. Until, that is, Katie is asked to spend more and more time with her, bring her to cupcake club meetings, and listen to everyone talk about how perfect Emily is. Katie worries things will get even worse if her Mom marries Emily’s Dad. Will things ever go back to the way it was when it was just Katie and her mom?
This was an excellent read! I loved how the main character knows she shouldn’t be jealous and upset but feels it none the less, isn’t that the truth!? I think so many students will be able to relate to the kind of life changes that Katie is going through. The story comes to a natural conclusion that entails opening up to and relying on friends and family. Don’t worry there is still some mouthwatering cupcake making going on!
EL -ADVISABLE  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Swatch Out (Sew Zoey #8) by Chloe Taylor –OPTIONAL


Taylor, Chloe Swatch Out (Sew Zoey #8) 176 pgs. Simon Spotlight, 2014. $16.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G.
Zoey’s summer is filled with fun! Trips to the beach, concerts, and her business is very successful.  Zoey tries her hand at interior design for her friend Pritti, to help her feel comfortable in her dad new apartment, since her parents have divorced. But when some items go missing, Zoey places blame and hurts feelings. Will she be able to solve the mystery, make Pritti happy, and apologize for her accusations?
This is my least favorite Sew Zoey read so far, as it was the least realistic. Zoey is no longer learning (which was interesting and realistic) instead she super successful, branching out, and even meeting famous people. It seemed so happy go lucky that I had a hard time buying in. Fans will, of course, enjoy the read.
EL-OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Between Two Worlds by Katherine Kirkpatrick- - OPTIONAL


Kirkpatrick, Katherine Between Two Worlds, 285 pgs. Random House Children’s Books, 2014. $16.99. Language: G; Violence: PG (Hunting and Frostbite injuries) Mature Content: PG13.  

This novel tells the story of a 16-year-old Inuit girl known as Billy-Bah, has spent a year as a child living in Washington D.C. with the family of Lt. Peary, has returned, is married and has only memories of America.  Her parents were taken to America but contracted illnesses and died there.  Now, with Peary living in the north full time, supply ships come and go, and this one carries his wife and daughter.  Billy-Bah’s husband trades her “favors” with the sailors for supplies like wood, guns and bullets, but when she falls in love with Duncan, her world turns upside down.  

Based on historical characters, this story about the effects on the Inuit culture because of the contact with the outside world feels like a much more mature Julie of the Wolves.  The sex is all off-page and isn’t graphic but the subject matter keeps this one out of the middle school library.  
HS - - OPTIONAL  Lisa Librarian

Saturday, October 25, 2014

El Deafo by Cece Bell - - ADVISABLE


Bell, Cece El Deafo, 233 pgs. Amulet Books, 2014. $21.95  Language: G; Violence: PG; Mature Content: PG (bathroom humor)  GRAPHIC NOVEL

When Cece was 4 years old, an illness damaged her hearing.  This graphic novel memoir chronicles Cece's elementary school years and her struggle with making friends, the stigma of being hearing impaired, and using a bulky hearing aid for school called the Phonic Ear.  Changing a mean name she hears on an "after school special" she imagines herself a superhero 'El Deafo' who can, with the help of her special hearing aid defeat the mean kids. 

Everyone's experiences are different, and this novel shows both sides, the children's efforts to include Cece and try to accommodate her, and Cece's embarrassment that everyone is watching her and being worried about what people will  think.  Light and funny, the illustrations are as delightful as the story.  Not all joy and laughter, however, Bell shows the problems as well.  

EL, MS - - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Don't Even Think About It by Sarah Mlynowski-ADVISABLE



Mlynowski, Sarah, Don’t Even Think About It. Pgs. 336. Random House Children’s Books, 2014. Language: R (52 swears; 13 “f” words); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  

What if you could read minds? When Room 10B at Manhattan’s Bloomberg High School gets their flu shots, one very strange side effect happens to the class: they can read minds. Soon, everyone in town’s secrets that were supposed to stay buried start coming to the surface. Although it’s great for them to know if that boy they like likes you back, if you’re boyfriend/girlfriend is cheating on you, or knowing what’s going to be on tomorrow’s test, knowing what your parents did last night is not or not so great when you’re the one that cheated on your significant other.  Are the powers permanent? Will the effects wear off or are there some unforeseen consequences?

Although the pacing starts out a little rough due to an information overload feeling, the pace quickly smooths out and keeps the reader engaged and entertained. Some of the characters seem shallow and unrealistic, but most feel they have depth and are realistic. Although the large character cast could confuse some readers, the story wouldn’t be the same without them. The plot was well-developed, but could’ve used a little more fleshing out of the ending. Still, there’s enough of a funny, engaging story that avid and reluctant reader will both enjoy. People who are fans of Mlynowski, like magical realism, or have always wanted to read their friend’s thoughts will enjoy reading this book. MS OPTIONAL. HS ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Serviecs Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Friday, October 24, 2014

The Islands at the End of the World by Austin Aslan - ADVISABLE

Aslan, Austin The Islands at the End of the World, 358 p. Wendy Lamb (Random House), 2014.  $18.  Language: PG (24 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: PG-13 (dead bodies, gunshots, nothing graphic); Mature Content: G.  

Leilani and her father have gone to Oahu from the Big Island so that Leilani can try a new treatment for her epilepsy.  Over night, however, the world changes as all forms of electrical devices start failing.  Now The father and daughter are stuck far from home in a world that is becoming more hostile every day and disease is running through the population.  Even if they manage to escape the holding camp they have been confined in, very few boats are running and it is a long paddle home through now hostile waters.  Leilani may hold the key to the world’s problem, but only if she can make it home.

Don’t dismiss this is “another” apocalyptic novel.  I love having a book about that a place that really exists and being on a Pacific Island adds a culture that rarely makes the mainstream.  The book is tense and the situation is grim - almost over the top in description, but it holds back just enough.  In fact, the only objection I have is that he calls my favorite island treat “ice shave”, when, as a former BYU-Hawaii grad, I have called it “shave ice” all of my days.  

MS - OPTIONAL; HS - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Maid of Deception by Jennifer McGowan - ADVISABLE

McGowan, Jennifer Maid of Deception, 409 p. Simon & Schuster, 2014.  $18.  Language: PG (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: OG; Mature Content: PG (talk of “ruin”)

Queen Elizabeth has declare that Beatrice, one her Maids of Honor, shall marry and so she shall - until the very second before the vows are spoken and Elizabeth bursts in and calls an ending to the ceremony.  The Queen has more duties for her spies and a married Beatrice is now not part of them.  While Beatrice is still reeling from the Queen’s and her former betrothed’s betrayals, Beatrice is finding herself drawn more to the Scottish prince, Alsdair.  Or does she approach because the Queen commands it.  Beatrice has been playing so many deep games, she is no longer sure what genuine feelings really are.  

While still containing mystery, danger, and romance, this second in the series is much better than the first, I feel.  Beatrice is a much more complicated character and there is plenty of interaction with the other Maids.

MS, HS - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Girls of Gettysburg by Bobbi Miller - OPTIONAL

Miller, Bobbi The Girls of Gettysburg, 148 p. Holiday House, 2014.  $17.  Language: PG (5 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: PG (death and fighting but not graphic); Mature Content: G.  

Annie Gordon as disguised herself as a boy and left her family to join the Northern Army fighting during the American Civil War.  Tillie Pierce is the daughter of a Gettysburg merchant, while Grace is the daughter of a free black family.  All three will have their lives changed by the battle that is quickly about to happen.  

By using three narrators with wildly varying perspectives, Miller paints a multi-dimensional portrait of the Gettysburg battles.  She gives us a view of the town streets and the battlefields.  While she may not be breaking too much new ground here, I think it is always important to have new voices.

EL, MS - OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Asunder by Jodi Meadows - ADVISABLE

Meadows, Jodi Asunder, 416 p. Katherine Tegen (Harper), 2013.  $18.  Violence: PG; Mature Content: PG; Language: G.  

The citizens of Heart have made lots of assumptions about Ana and her “newsoul”, making her out as inferior or not human and not worth existing.  After the disaster of the night of dragons and sylphs, however, it looks like more new souls will be born and some in the community will resort to murder to stop it.  The secrets of Heart need to be exposed, but first Ana needs to garner support and protect the other newsouls.  But if Heart entered into an evil covenant willingly, there may be no one to turn to.  

Asunder and the Incarnate series is a great next read for students who loved Hush, Hush, or Possession, or Delirium.  Ana makes a great main character - she is courageous and she knows when she needs help.  There isa some romance, but Ana would still live without it.  The answers do not come easy to any of the mysteries, so iIam looking forward to the next book.

MS, HS - ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher

Fantasy League by Mike Lupica - ESSENTIAL

Lupica, Mike Fantasy League, 293 p. Philomel (Penguin), 2014. $18.  Content: G.  

Charlie Gaines has fantasy football down pat.  If only his hometown major league football team, the L.A. Bulldogs, did as well as the teams in Charlie’s dreams.  When his best friend Anna, introduces him to her grandfather, who happens to own the Bulldogs, Charlie drops an idea in his ear that may just start the team’s turn around.  Charlie is also getting attention from Anna’s brilliant idea of turning Charlie’s football knowledge and fantasy picks into a podcast.  Charlie has to learn to juggle tension, attention, and conflict if he wants to survive his ride to fame.  

I love the many choices of well-written sports books in the market.  Lupica, Feinstein, Deuker are just three of several solid choices for upper elementary and middle school students, whether boys or girls.  I told a student about this one at Parent-Teacher conferences last night and he is first in line to check it out as soon as it is in the catalog.  

EL, MS - ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

The Tree Lady by H. Joseph Hopkins - ADVISABLE

Hopkins, H. Joseph The Tree Lady: The true story of how one tree-loving woman changed a city forever.  PICTURE BOOK.  Beach Lane (Simon), 2013.  $17.  

In 1881, Kate Sessions was the first woman to graduate from the University of California with a science degree.  From there she moved to San Diego to teach science, but her true calling was to find drought-resistant trees and plant them and encourage others to plant them all over the city to bring green life to the desert.  When the California Exposition was coming to San Diego in 1909, Kate got the city leaders involved and the city planted thousands of trees and created Balboa Park.  

Pair this book with Wangari’s Trees of Peace for a lesson on woman's ability to create nature and change climate for the better, not just destroy it.

EL - ADVISABLE.

Victoria Rebels by Carolyn Meyer - ADVISABLE

Meyer, Carolyn Victoria Rebels, 272 p. Aladdin (Simon), 2013.  $17.  Content: G.  

Victoria is being raised to be the queen of England, though as a child she does not know it.  What she does know is that her mother is consorting with a married man, and the two of them exercise complete control over her life.  While she ors have one confident in her companion, she never feels that she can move an inch without her mother’s or Sir John’s approval.  Should Uncle King die, or when she turns 18, whichever comes first, Victoria is determined to wrest control over her life.  

Meyer’s notes at the end of the book are enlightening - I wish I had read them first.  In using the diary as a mode of writing, Meyer tries to emulate the tone of Victoria’s own diaries as she follows her from childhood until her marriage to Prince Albert. I kind of wish Meyer would abandon the diary style and just use a narrative - it doesn’t always work well to convey the action and dialogue for  a historical subject.  She does excellent research, however and brings life to time periods that most students think beneath their notice.

MS - ADVISABLE. Cindy - Library Teacher

Scarlatti’s Cat by Nathaniel Lachenmeyer - ADVISABLE

Lachenmeyer, Nathaniel Scarlatti’s Cat, illustrated by Carlyn Beccia.  PICTURE BOOK.  Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2014.  $17.  

Scarlatti may be a famous composer, but his cat Pulcinella dreams of also writing beautiful music.  One day she finally gets her paws on Scarlatti’s harpsichord and her composition flabbergasts the composer, who knows that he can’t credit his cat with the composition.  
Of course a cat never wrote a pre ice of classical music, but many composers have been inspired by nature - even their cats.  Very cute for story time, and can be accompanied by Scarlatti’s Cat Fuge and other classical excerpts to help students visualize musical influences.  I could even see the youngest students imitating animals during different pieces.

EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE. Cindy - Library Teacher

A Death-Struck Year by Makiia Lucier - OPTIONAL

Lucier, Makiia A Death-Struck Year, 276 p. Houghton Mifflin, 2014.  $18.  Language: G; Violence: G; Mature Content: PG-13. 

Cleo’s borther and his wife are away on a much needed holiday, so Cleo is stuck boarding at her all girls’ school instead of just attending as a day student.  When the Spanish influenza arrives in Portland, Oregon along with a train full of ill soldiers, Cleo leaves school and offered her help as a volunteer to go door-to-door to seek out victims too weak to ask for help.  The handsome doctor who is also aiding the victims also catches her eye, but with so much disease and death around, heartbreak is sure to follow. 

Lucier adds another dimension to the year of Spanish influenza that killed so many.  I would have recommended this book whole-heartedly, but there is a part that mentions birth control methods.  I realize that maturation is taught in elementary school and middle school, but I felt this warranted a heads up.

MS - OPTIONAL.  Cindy - Library Teacher

Doug unplugs on the farm by Dan Yaccarino - ADVISABLE

Yaccarino, Dan Doug unplugs on the farm.  PICTURE BOOK.  Knopf (Random), 2014.  $18.  

Doug the robot is headed towards a farm with his robot parents. On the way, they plug in and learn all kinds of facts about the farm and the animals, but once they arrive, they are all unplugged and experience farm life first hand. 
Dougs parents learned their lesson from his adventures in the city.  While plugged in knowledge can be helpful, hands on knowledge adds that extra kick.  Yaccarino continues to deliver a good book - illustrations and message combine well.  

Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE.  Cindy - Library Teacher

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love by Patricia and Fredrick McKissack - - ADVISABLE


McKissack, Patricia and Fredrick Jr. Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love, Illustrated by Randy Duburke,131 pgs. Chronicle Books, 2012. $19.99. Language: G; Violence: PG13 (mildly graphic illustrations) Mature Content: G.  GRAPHIC NOVEL  

Based on the autobiography of Nat Love, this story of being a cowboy in the old west tells the gritty dangerous story.  Nat Love, born a slave in Tennessee and freed after the civil war joins a cattle team in Kansas City and becomes one of the greatest cowboys in the old west.  Friends with the famous and the infamous, he even fought with indians and was invited to join a tribe.  

The pictures are illustrations, not cartoons, and are effectively gory when needed. The story never drags, tells just enough, and really gives a great feel for the time and the character.  What a great way to present a biography!

EL, MS - - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

365 Days of Wonder by P.J. Palacio - - ADVISABLE


Palacio, P.J. 365 Days of Wonder, 432 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2014. $14.99. Language: G; Violence: G; Mature Content: G. 

In this companion to Wonder, Mr. Browne has made a compilation of his precepts. 1 for each day of the year.  Each month is preceded by an essay introducing the theme for that month, or a follow-up story about the characters from Wonder, like Auggie and Julian.  The “words to live by” are short, attributed and simple.  Some were contributed by children.  

As “page a day” inspirational books go, I enjoyed this one.  As a teacher, I could relate to Mr. Browne, and, having read Wonder I appreciated the “rest of the story”.  I will certainly give this as a gift to my teacher friends as a resource for their classrooms,  but I’m not sure it would get checked out much in the library by students.   

EL, MS - - GIFT ADVISABLE Lisa Librarian