Tuesday, November 25, 2014

The Great Escape (The Magic Shop #2) by Kate Egan – ESSENTIAL

Egan, Kate The Great Escape (The Magic Shop #2) 176 pgs. Feiwel & Friends, 2014. $5.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G
Mike is a changing, for the better, thanks to his new hobby of learning magic. However, his reputation for being a trouble maker is sticking with him. When the students are tasked to learn more about their heritage, Mike is determined to be related to Houdini, and when his bragging lands him in hot water, will magic find a way to help him out?
This series has been very popular with the 2-4 grade students at my school, and I really enjoyed reading this one. I highly recommend. I found the inclusion of multiple child friendly magic tricks to be the icing on the cake. I like that the story had some heart, some life learning experiences. Do yourself a favor and buy these in hardbound, so they can last through those repeated checkouts.
EL(K-3), ELEMENTARY – ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Itty-Bitty Animals by Joan Emerson –ADVISABLE


Emerson, Joan Itty-Bitty Animals EARLY READER. Scholastic Inc., 2014. $3.99 Content: G
This appealing early reader level 2 features a wide span of animals that are the smallest of their species, including a bat, an owl, a dog, a cow, a donkey, hedgehogs, and more. It provides two or three interesting facts and defines the more technical science terms in the back of the book.
This is a really fun book full of large clear images of each animal and easy to read text. The cover is flowery and features a cute teacup puppy, so it might be more appealing to girl readers, I wish they could have made it more gender neutral. I think this book will be adored by early readers none the less.
EL (K-3) -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Love by the Morning Star by Laura L. Sullivan - OPTIONAL


Sullivan, Laura L.  Love by the Morning Star.  Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt, 2014.  Violence: PG (descriptive threats).  Language: G (1 swear).  312 pages.  $17.99.  Sexual content: PG-13 (innuendo, a young lady becomes pregnant [those scenes are lightly touched on], and the profession of courtesans).   The Nazis in Germany are becoming more violent against Jews, so Hannah Morgenstern’s mother, Cora, is English, so she sends her daughter to stay with stuffy relatives in England.  Hannah has grown up on the stage of the cabaret and has a sultry beautiful voice.  She is surprised when she arrives at Starkers (an English estate) that she is taken to the kitchen and expected to be a servant.  Anna Morgan is the daughter of a grocer/socialist.  She is beautiful, except for her large hands which she hides in gloves.  Her goal in life is to marry well.  Her father forces her to go to Starkers as a kitchen maid/socialist spy.  When she arrives, Anna is delighted to be welcomed as a houseguest.  Both Anna and Hannah are taken with Teddy, Lord Winkfield.  Confused identities abound with late night romantic meetings in the dark, mixed signals, a foiled assassination attempt on the King, and lots of marriage proposals.  Teens looking for a light romantic read (actually two of them), will be satisfied.  From a thinking reader’s standpoint, I couldn’t possibly believe that the characters were so stupid as to not realize they were talking to a different person during the day than the night.  Also the two females were mentally and physically quite different, Hannah was small and smart and Anna was tall and stupid.  Like Shakespeare’s comedy “All’s Well That Ends Well”, happy endings all around. 

HS – OPTIONAL.  Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.

The $25,000 Flight (Totally True Adventure) by Lori Houran – ADVISABLE

Houran, Lori The $25,000 Flight (Totally True Adventure) 112 pgs. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014. $4.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: G NON-FICTION
Charles Lindbergh grew up as planes were just being invented. He knew he wanted to fly and he was determined to meet his goal. He became a delivery and trick pilot. When he heard about the reward of $25,000 for any pilot who could fly straight from New York City to Paris, Charles plotted and planned. Will he make it?
This was an excellent read, with the content created perfectly for 2-4 grade readers. I thought it was interesting and well written. It includes lots of photographs. Students will love this book. I also enjoyed extra content with more facts about the time period.
EL – ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Jackal (The Five Ancestors: Out of the Ashes Book #3) by Jeff Stone –ADVISABLE


Stone, Jeff Jackal (The Five Ancestors: Out of the Ashes Book #3) 192 pgs. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2014. $16.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G Violence: PG13.
Jake really just wants to relax for a bit, the adventures of the prior books having worn him out. But he finds himself BMX racing and even agreeing to go to race bikes in China for a week. The original offer is for a year and Jake and his friends might even become famous if they decide to accept. But when his best friend Hu Die’s mother is in danger of dying, Jake must accomplish a very tricky and dangerous task in order to aid in saving her. Jake has a lot on his plate and must do most of it alone.
I really enjoy this series! Its fast paced, adventurous and incredibly interesting. The characters are authentic and the sports components are very well written. I had tried to talk myself into including this series for upper elementary, but I just can’t justify it. There is a ton of violence and death, so I am recommending middle school and higher.
MS -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Saturday, November 22, 2014

Arcady's Goal by Eugene Yelchin - - ADVISABLE


Yelchin, Eugene Arcady's Goal, 234 pgs. Henry Holt and Company, 2014. $15.99.  Language: G (1 swear); Violence: G; Mature Content: G.  

Arcady is the best soccer player in the orphanage.  He's a good boy and always shares his rations with the boy he beats.  His life is about to change. When Ivan Ivanych, an inspector of the children’s homes, adopts Arcady and takes him home, Arcady hopes he’ll have a chance to reach his goal - - to play for the Red Army Soccer team! But can a child of an “enemy of the state” ever hope to be a regular boy?  

The author of the Newbery Honor book “Breaking Stalin’s Nose” brings us another story of a child affected by the Stalin Regime.  Beautifully written, gripping, sad yet hopeful, this illustrated children’s piece give readers a taste of what life was like in pre-WWII Russia.  

EL MS ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

I Heart Band! Crushes, Codas and Corsages by Michelle Schusterman - - ADVISABLE


Schusterman, Michelle I Heart Band! Crushes, Codas and Corsages, 168 pgs. Penguin Group, 2014. $6.99.  Language: G (6 swears - all diety) Violence: G; Mature Content: G.  

The school year is starting to end, but everything is getting more intense as the science fair approaches, it’s almost the spring dance and the big year end concert/competition is underway. Holly and Seth are still friends, but are they more than friends? Holly doesn’t think so until Seth starts talking about Ginny, his partner at a drawing class he attended, and now Holly is jealous! Maybe Seth is a boyfriend after all!  

Another great clean read. This was a fun series; well written, fast paced and full of 7th grade drama (best friends, boy friends, homework etc.) Buy the whole series, this is #4.  

EL MS ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Friday, November 21, 2014

Just Grace Gets Crafty by Charise Harper - ESSENTIAL



Harper, Charise Mericle  Just Grace Gets Crafty, 185 pgs.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.  $15.99  Content: G.   

This story is about a ten year old girl named Just Grace.  In the story there is an art fair at Mimi’s little brother's school (Mimi is Grace's BFF) and Mimi and Grace were told that they could  have their own table at the fair to sell things.  So during the book they are making things to sell.  They keep falling behind because Grace is trying to help other people.  In the end they made a lot of money and had a successful fair.  

 I think this is the best Just Grace book I have read (and I have read a lot).  I like the doodles and pictures throughout.  I like the funny parts in the story.   Everyone should have this book in their library.   

EL (K-3)-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, Isabelle, age 11.        

Unbreakable (The Legion Book, #1) - ADVISABLE



Garcia, Kami  Unbreakable (The Legion Book, #1), 305 pgs.  Little, Brown, and Company, 2013.  $18.00  Content: Language: PG-13 (9 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

 Kennedy lives with her mom (her dad walked out on them when she was little).  She has a photographic memory and likes to draw.  One night she goes out with her best friend, and comes home to find her mother dead.  Her aunt is ready to send her to a private school, but as she is home alone one night packing her stuff she is attacked by a ghost.  Two boys, Lukas and Jared, break into her house and save her from the ghost and proceed to tell her that she is the fifth member in the demon fighting legion.  Kennedy starts on a journey with the legion to fight Andras-an evil demon who is trying to bring hell to earth.   

This is a fast paced adventure with romance and a fight against evil.  There are holes in the character development and the relationships seem instant which annoyed me, but overall it was an entertaining book that was hard to put down.  The cover will grab young adults’ attention.   

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

Immi’s Gift by Karin Littlewood –NO


Littlewood, Karin Immi’s Gift PICTURE BOOK Peachtree Publishers 2010. $7.95 Content: G
A little girl in the frozen north is fishing for her dinner in an ice hole, when she finds a variety of bright, colorful objects. She uses them to decorate her igloo, making the white structure stand out from all the frozen white land she lives on. When spring comes and her igloo melts, she moves on, and drops her white polar bear necklace into the fishing hole, and it washes up on a tropical beach, the only white items in a colorful land.
Don’t get me wrong, there is some serious symmetry going on here -world connection maybe. However, I just didn’t get the point of this story. I sort of got caught up in thinking of this little girl living on her own with just animals for family, was she an orphan? lost? and I don’t think that was the point either. I can’t imagine how I would use this book in the library. The illustrations are cute and fun.
EL (K-3) -NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Revenge of Superstition Mountain (Book#3) by Elise Broach – NO

Broach, Elise Revenge of Superstition Mountain (Book#3) 304 pgs. Henry Holt and Co, 2014. $16.99 Content: Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG Violence: G.
The final book of a trilogy, the three brothers and their friend Delilah uncover more mysteries about the gold of superstition mountain. The most worrying thing they find out is that the gold is cursed, and they must return the small handful of flakes to the mine, which has been covered by a rockslide, or risk being hurt by this curse. Their return to the mountain is action packed and full of adventure and life-or-death danger.
I really want to like this series, the idea of ghost town/wild west/desert gold treasure mystery. But there have been some ongoing problems for me. Although the plot is great for say, 4th graders, the vocabulary can be very intense at times (sometimes featuring words I don’t even know!). In the first two books there was some adult type talk I found somewhat inappropriate and in this third book there is content about men who are “Players” that precludes me from adding this to my collection (which means I have to pull the first two books as well). Additionally the big time lying and sneaking around has grown to epic proportions, as the children are almost drowned and blown up. I have had to pull this whole set from my library so I can’t recommend it.  
EL – NO Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.