Friday, September 30, 2016

Living in...Brazil by Chloe Perkins -- ADVISABLE

Perkins, Chloe Living in...Brazil, illustrated by Tom Woolley. NONFICTION. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $16.99.

This nonfiction early reader introduces children to life in Brazil. It includes a few details about the ecology and the school day, a brief description of several major cities, and a quick historical overview. A one-page afterword lays out basic facts about the country in a quick format, perhaps to help with research projects.

This introduction to Brazil has an approachable voice, colorful pictures, and just enough detail to inform elementary-age children without inundating them with facts.

EL -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by Sydney G., Teacher/Librarian

The Pegasus Quest by Jordan Quinn -- OPTIONAL

Quinn, Jordan The Pegasus Quest (The Kingdom of Wrenly #10), illustrated by Robert McPhillips. CHAPTER BOOK. Simon & Schuster, 2016. $16.99.

In the tenth installment of the Kingdom of Wrenly series, Prince Lucas and Clara see a shooting star during a blue moon. The source? A hurt and lost pegasus in search of food, medicine, and a way home.

Fans of the series will likely enjoy this addition. The plot has some adventure, with a decent -- if not speedy -- pace. The writing seems a little less careful than in the earliest books, with many redundancies. (e.g. "Stay back!" Lucas ordered in a commanding voice.)

EL (K-3) -- OPTIONAL. Reviewed by Sydney G., Teacher/Librarian

Projekt 1065 by Alan Gratz - ESSENTIAL

Gratz, Alan Projekt 1065, 320 pages.  Scholastic Press, 2016.  $17.  Language: G (4 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: PG-13 (deaths and beatings); Mature Content: G.

When World War II is raging in Germany, Michael O’Shaunessey’s father is Ireland’s ambassador to Germany – the only country that still has an embassy in Germany.  In order to help his father, Michael goes to a German school and participates in Jungvolk, the precursor to Hitler’s Youth.  Michael’s parents also happen to be spies.  In order to help them he has to get close to a certain boy in his class.  Against their better judgment, Michael will have to pass the brutal trials for Hitler’s Youth and help his target. 

Gratz has added another dimension to our knowledge of life in Germany during World War II and to information about Hitler Youth specifically.  I was fascinated and repulsed in equal measure.  The last couple chapters of the book get  little fantastic, but I forgive all of that for the thrill.

MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Stowaway in a Sleigh by C. Roger Mader - ESSENTIAL

Mader, C. Roger Stowaway in a Sleigh.  PICTURE BOOK.  Houghton Mifflin, 2016.  $18.
A curious cat hops into Mr. Furry Boots’ (Santa) bag and unexpectedly finds himself far away from home.
Instead of going for comedy with this tale, Mader creates a lush, sweet story that will tug at everyone’s heart string this Christmas.
Pre-K, EL (K-3) – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

MAPS of the Disney Parks - ESSENTIAL

Neary, Kevin and Susan MAPS of the Disney Parks, 141 pages.  Disney Editions, 2016.  $40.  Content: G.

If you love Disney then this book will make you drool!  I know I got a severe case of Disney fever after gazing longingly upon the beautiful array of maps, past and present, of all of the Disney parks around the world.  The center bifurcated cover is cool for coffee table home use, but makes it a difficult book for a library – these kinds of covers do not stand up well to use.  But it is such an awesome book,  I am still going to get it for my school.

GIFT – ESSENTIAL; MS, HS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The Bombs That Brought Us Together by Brian Monaghan - NO

Conaghan, Brian The Bombs That Brought Us Together, 304 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2016.  $18.  Langauge: R (90 swears, 6 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (multiple sexual innuendos and sexual remarks); Violence: PG-13 (beatings).

Charlie and his parents live in Little Town, a small place with a hard scrabble existence, ruled by the Big Man, the local mob boss.  There is a government, but everyone knows Big Man is the real power.  Their next door neighbors, Old Country, seem to be determined to invade.  When Charlie meets an Old Country refugee, he takes the strange young man under his wing.  When Old Country does invade, Charlie has many tough decisions to make. 

With references to Anne Frank and Ghandi, this is seems to be some kind of post-apocalyptic world, but the context clues don’t make anything easy to understand in terms of time and place.  Charlie makes a gut-wrenching decision right at the end of the book, but none of what he does compels me to share this with anyone else.  I would suggest “Tomorrow When the War Began” by James Marsden for a similar and more compelling read.

NOT RECOMMENDED.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Little Penguins by Cynthia Rylant - ESSENTIAL

Rylant, Cynthia Little Penguins, pictures by Christian Robinson.  PICTURE BOOK.  Schwartz & Wade (Random), 2016.  $18.

The penguins are headed outside for a fun day and then back inside for warm food and bed.  The sparse words on each page allow the illustrations to shine.  As art they are lovely, and as a book they make a perfect whole. 

Pre-K – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher