Saturday, September 23, 2017

Hamster-Saurus Rex by Tom O'Donnell - ADVISABLE


O’Donnell, Tom Hamster-Saurus Rex, illustrated by Tim Miller, 257 pgs. Harper Collins, 2016. $12.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  

When Sam’s 6th grade class gets a hamster, everyone is excited but before they can even decide on a name, the hamster escapes. But Sam, who has decided to call it Hamster-Saurus Rex discovers it living in the walls of the gym teacher’s office where it has eaten an extremely large dose of bodybuilding powder. Before long, the hamster has turned into a mutant, with a dinosaur like tail, super strength and a very scary roar. 

This is a typical farce with crazy inept teachers, a bully bent on making Sam’s life miserable and 2 girls - one who like him (unrequited) and the other his best friend who he lets down.  Although it is very silly, Sam is likeable and tried to do the right thing.  This is a great, simple read for fans of Zombie Goldfish - not very literary, but certainly a lot of zany fun.

EL, MS - ADVISABLE Lisa Librarian

Friday, September 22, 2017

What To Say Next by Julie Buxbaum - ESSENTIAL

Buxbaum, Julie What To Say Next, 287 pages. Delacorte Press (Random), 2017. $18.99. Language: PG-13 (46 swears, 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG (bullying, off-page fight). 

David is an exceptionally bright loner at the high school, separated from his classmates by his high-functioning autism but generally thought of as just "weird." Kit is one of the more popular girls at school, smart, kind and now forced apart from her classmates by her grief over her father's recent death. When Kit chooses David's lunch table one day in an attempt to avoid her friends, an unlikely and unexpected relationship begins to blossom. Kit needs David's blunt honesty and David needs a friend who will actually see him for who he is. Together they delve into the real story behind the car accident that killed Kit's dad, but the truth--and the getting to it--will challenge their newly discovered friendship in ways neither could expect. 

To put it simply, I loved this book. I loved how the story is told from each character's perspective in alternating chapters, and I appreciated the distinctiveness of each voice. The characters felt real and never said or did things that felt entirely fictional or unbelievable. There were a few twists and turns I was not expecting, but it all seemed true to the story and not just done for added drama. This is a solid YA novel and I'd love to read more just like it. 

MS, HS--ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: TC

BRRR! BRRR! by Sebastien Braun - ADVISABLE

Braun, Sebastien BRRR! BRRR! (Can You Say It Too?).  BOARD BOOK/INTERACTIVE.  Nosy Crow (Candlewick), 2017.  $9.

The series moves to the cold parts of our planet in its newest offereing.  I forget how much I enjoy Braun’s artwork, along with making the noises.  His illustrations feel just right.  I like the double flap at the end, but that is also the one I always have to repair when it is loved a little too enthusiastically!

Pre-K – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Frida and Bear play the Shape Game! by Anthony Browne - ESSENTIAL

Browne, Anthony   Frida and Bear play the shape game! Illustrated by Hanne Bartholin.  PICTURE BOOK.  Candlewick Press, 2015.  $15.99. Content: G.  

Look at this squiggly line! What could it be?  A frog, a fish, a robot?  How about this torn piece of paper?  Follow along as two friends create and draw using lines, scraps and lots of imagination.
Two youngsters who love to draw play the shape game in a delightful children’s book that keeps youngsters guessing on every page.  Creative juices will flow while dreaming up all the potential possibilities.  This is a book that may provide hours of fun for some.  Very cute.

EL (K-3), ESSENTIAL. Jen M.  Elementary Librarian

Vampires on the Run by C. M. Surrisi - OPTIONAL

Surrisi, C. M. Vampires on the Run, 285 pgs. Carolrhoda Books, 2017. $16.99. Language: PG (4 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  

It's spring in Maine and Quinnie is looking forward to school ending and spending time with Ella and Ben.  Ellla's aunt and uncle are coming to recuperate after just releasing their newest best-seller based on the adventures of the vampire Count Le Plasma.  Quinnie was hoping they would visit the cafe and talk about their new book, but it doesn't look like that's going to happen.  They have always been a bit odd and reclusive but now they won't even go outside, and the few glimpses Quinnie has had of them, doesn't look good.  They are pale and gaunt and it's odd, and when you all up all the other weird things happening around town, what does it mean? Vampires?  Well, that impossible because everyone knows vampires aren't real, right?  

It took me a couple of chapters, but I ended up enjoying this book.  It's a mystery and not complicated but the vampire aspect was fun and the characters are likeable.  It's part of a mystery series but not necessary to have read the author's first one.  If you have students that just want a mystery, this works.  The characters are older than I thought but I doubt it would appeal to older students.  It reads young in both language and content.   

EL, MS - OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: RB

Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten by Candice Ransom - ESSENTIAL

Ransom, Candice Amanda Panda Quits Kindergarten, illustrated by Christine Grove. PICTURE BOOK. Doubleday Books for Young Readers, 2017. $17.99. 

Amanda Panda is looking forward to her first day of kindergarten and she has big plans for how awesome it is going to be--she'll write her name up big on the board, win a footrace and more. When the big day arrives, however, things do not go as planned. Another kindergartner, Bitsy, seems to always be in the way, ruining everything Amanda Panda had hoped for. After she abandons kindergarten for her brother's 2nd grade class, Amanda has the opportunity to finally turn it around and make a new plan for kindergarten! 

This is the perfect book for any child who is nervous about the first day of school or a reader who is struggling with change in general. The story is absolutely delightful and I fell in love with it from my first read through! The illustrations are wonderful and the text, though a little long, is written with a humorous and easily understood tone. This is a great choice for parents and libraries, alike.

Pre-K, EL (K-3)--ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: TC