Wednesday, April 26, 2017

Defender of the Realm by Mark Huckerby - ADVISABLE

Huckerby, Mark Defender of the Realm, 320 pages. Scholastic, 2017. $18.00. Language:PG (1 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content:G; Violence:PG-13 (impaling with description of bloodshed).


Alfie will be known as the “Most Disappointing King” to rule England. But, after his father is announced dead by a “heart attack,” Alfie becomes the new king, and also gains the ancient power of “Defender of the Realm.” Now he is tasked with protecting England from a dragon that seeks to become the new king.

This book is well written with a lot of good detail. Alfie really grows from a prince who doesn't want to be a prince to a king who is willing to give his life for his country. The book makes the title of king into something that doesn’t seem too fun. This book is one of the better books that I’ve read in 2017.  

MS - ADVISABLE  Student Reviewer 8th Grade DJ

You Make my Heart... Swing Sideways by Nanci Turner Stevenson - NO

Stevenson, Nanci Turner You Make my Heart... Swing Sideways, 279 pages. Harper Collins Children’s Books, 2016. $16.99. Language: G (1 swear 0 “f”) Mature Content: G Violence: G. 

14-year-old Annie and her parents are having issues within their family and a doctor tells them that they need to give Annie more freedom during this summer. Annie goes off and finds a new friend named California who needs help reuniting her Grandfather and Mother. Will they be able to bring California’s mom back and still have unity within Annie’s family? 

This book was not a very interesting book in any way. It made me feel sad and depressed as I read this book and felt the same emotions as the characters. It was very descriptive but at the same time it was repetitive and had almost no action. I would not recomend reading this book. 

MS- NO Student Reviewer 8th Grade: MB

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Select by Marit Weisenberg - OPTIONAL

Weisenberg, Marit Select, 352 pages.  Charlesbridge, 2017.  $18.  Langauge: R (100+ swears, 23 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (implied sex, body words); Violence: PG-13 (some blood).

Julia Jaynes has the perfect life and the perfect family – even though she is the odd one out.  She and some of the other teens have been put to the side, however, supposedly to stop the questions from the community tin which they live.  After her beautiful insider sister causes a huge scene at the local pool, however,  Julia is blamed and is ostracized even more – forced to go to the local high school.  There she struggles to keep her secrets from everyone around her, even her own family, as she is attracted to normal.  Julia goes back and forth between loyalty to family and her strong feelings for John – confusing both of them repeatedly – until the day when she finally has to make a choice that will last forever.

Weisenberg set up a yo-yo case of cold feet and confusion.  Julia’s constant flip-flopping on every issue became frustrating.  I can’t see a boy of any age putting up with her dizzying machinations.  The supposed magic powers of the group didn’t seem interesting or important enough to warrant the urgent secrecy of the family group, either.  The cover will probably draw fans of Matched and Divergent, but I would wait until it is available in paperback.

HS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

7 ate 9: The Untold Story by Tara Lazar - ADVISABLE

Lazar, Tara 7 ate 9: The Untold Story, illustrated by Ross MacDonald.  PICTURE BOOK.  Disney, 2017.  $18.  9781484717790

I think many people know the horror story in the middle of the first ten numbers where  7-8-9.  Lazar and MacDonald have turned it into a noir mystery with a great twist to the mystery.  I would reserve this for slightly older students who already understand the joke and can appreciate the puns, though. 

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

Monday, April 24, 2017

13 Reasons Why -- revisited

In 2008 Allison wrote the KTB review for a compelling new book, 13 Reasons Why   I loved the book so much that when I met Jay Asher at ALA, I bought ten copies of the book so that my daughter would have plenty to give away as she met people who needed to read it.  We only had two left after she finished high school.  Now the kids at my school are talking all about the new Netflix series.   It took me almost as long to watch it as it took Clay to listen to the tapes.  I had to take breaks to breathe and to absorb. But I finally did finish.
I remember way back when I heard that Selena Gomez was interested in playing Hannah - I wasn't too thrilled about her portraying Hannah.  Several years have passed and she is, instead,  the Executive Producer on the final project and she did the original text justice!  So much depth and added back story.  I loved it with all of my heart.  And after the 13 episodes came 13 Reasons Why - Behind the Reasons.  Don't forget to watch that part!  It talks about the care that was taken during production, about choices that lead to suicide, about rape culture, and so much more.  They have also set up a website for anyone who needs support.
I have always thought 13 Reasons Why was a masterpiece and now the visual component is a new touchstone when it comes to  teen viewing.
If truly feel sorry for those who dismiss Hannah as a stupid girl who killed herself.  Is it a lack of empathy?  Hits too close to a nerve? I don't know.  But I have never forgotten her - and I never will. --Cindy

Just a Normal Tuesday by Kim Turissi - OPTIONAL

Turrisi, Kim Just a Normal Tuesday, 244 pages.  Kids Can Press, 2017.  $18.  Language: R (50+ swears, 20 ‘f’); Violence: PG-13 (suicide); Mature Content: R (drugs and alcohol; implied sex)

Until Kai comes home and opens the mail, the day is just Tuesday.  But forevermore it will be the day that Kai’s beloved older sister committed suicide and there was nothing Kai could have done to prevent it.  As she and her parents try to process their grief, Kai descends into chaos and self-flagellation.  In a desperate ploy to help their struggling daughter, the parents send to her a grief camp.  There Kai will hopefully find her feet in this new, unwanted, normal. 

Turrisi’s look at Kai grief is raw and wonderful.  The camp is a month long and I had to allow for something looking as is they happened quickly because of the limitations of space and pages.  I wish, however, that Turrisi had concentrated on Kai’s journey towards healing without oh so conveniently falling in “forever” love with another camper.   That just added a trite element to the story, no matter how hard Turrisi strived to make it feel authentic.  High school students will be able to process and use this lovely book the best.

HS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Pirates of the Caribbean by Xavier Atencio - ADVISABLE

Atencio, Xavier Pirates of the Caribbean, illustrations by Mike Wall.  PICTURE BOOK.  Dsiney, 2017.  $18. 9781484727867

Wall’s new illustrations are a refreshing counterpoint to the classic song that no one really knows except for the Yo-Ho part of the chorus!  Now, whether you want your child to really learn the lyrics or not is up to you.  But there are no bad surprises here – it is exactly like going through the ride and hearing the narration and song there.  I found it a rollicking good time.  Pirates used to scare the beejeebers out of me as a child and I still love it!  The book includes the classic soundtrack to listen to as you read and sing the book.

EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE (great illustrations!), GIFT – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Panda-monium by Stuart Gibbs - ESSENTIAL

Gibbs, Stuart Panda-monium (funjungle #4), 337 pages.  Simon, 2017.  $17.  Language: G; Mature Content: PG (dolphin strips off people’s shorts); Violence: G.

FunJungle and panda fans are over the moon that a panda is being loaned to them by the Chinese government and another zoo.  When the truck arrives, however – no panda!  Who kidnapped the precious panda and how did they pull it off?  It is up to Teddy to solve the mystery, even if he doesn’t want to step on the FBI’s toes, before FunJungle is ruined, the panda starves to death, and before the Chinese government declares this an international incident.

Because of the considerations of the panda’s health, the timeline for the action in the book was severely compressed.  I don’t know if Large Marge suddenly becoming Teddy’s ally signals the end to the series, but I certainly hope not!  Gibbs masterfully crafts mysteries of all sorts and I can’t wait to read even more!

EL, MS - ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher