Tuesday, September 19, 2017

The Wonder of Us by Kim Culbertson - ESSENTIAL

Culbertson, Kim The Wonder of Us 328 pgs., Point: an imprint of Scholastic Inc., $17.99, Language: G(0 swears, 0 “F”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G; 

Abby and Riya have been friends since Kindergarten, but when Riya moves to Berlin for a year, everything changes.  The two girls grow farther and farther apart as their communication slows down and the secrets start to pile up.  So, when Riya invites Abby on a summer tour of Europe, Riya hopes she can repair the gap between them.  The trip was a blast until Riya lets loose a secret that will test the bond between her and Abby.  

I really enjoyed this book because it showed me that friends can still be friends after a long period of no communication. It was also a good way to learn more about the six different European countries, and cities, the girls visited. Mature Content is PG because there is a lot of talk about divorce, romantic thoughts, and the mental state of the characters as they try to heal the rift between them. 

MS/HS - ESSENTIAL Student Reviewer: JM(9th grade)

Pattan’s Pumpkins by Chitra Soundar - ADVISABLE

Soundar, Chitra Pattan’s Pumpkins: A traditional flood story from Southern India, illustrated by Frane Lessac.  PICTURE BOOK.  Candlewick, 2017.  $18

Pattan and his family live a prosperous life in southern India.  With his farming skills he grows a gourd that is so giant that it is even taller than an elephant!  When a severe rainstorm comes Pattan and his family use the pumpkin as a boat to carry them all to safety.

Soundar’s story is based on a story told in a collection of Indian tales.  I love a traditional tale that can actually show that it is based on a folk tradition.  The drawings have a folk art quality, which adds to the feeling of the book.  It’s nice to have a new addition to a folktale collection.

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

Good Night, Reindeer by Denise Brennan-Nelson - OPTIONAL

Brennan-Nelson, Denise Good Night, Reindeer, illustrated by Marco Bucci. PICTURE BOOK. Sleeping Bear Press, 2017. $16.99. 

It is Christmas time at the North Pole, and Santa is bidding each of his reindeer goodnight. Following the tradition of the classic "Goodnight, Moon" the story is written in rhyme and farewells are offered to North Pole objects in addition to the reindeer. 

The main critique I have for this book is that it is blatantly unoriginal and therefore rather dull. The artwork is very nice and for those looking for an uninspired by fairly likeable Christmas picture book, this is the one for you. The rhyming pattern will make the story appealing to younger readers, but there is absolutely no "zing" to make this book a classic or even a real winner for the holiday season. 

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

The Wingsnatchers by Sarah Jean Horwitz - ESSENTIAL

Horwitz, Sarah Jean The Wingsnatchers (Carmer and Grit #1) 360 pgs, Algonquin Young Readers, $17.95, Language:G(0 swears, 0 “F”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G/PG;  

Felix Cassius Tiberius Carmer III is a magician's apprentice who is fascinated with mechanics.  The good news is that there are plenty of opportunities for a young machinist in Skemantian (the steampunk capital of the world).  When Carmer, his fellow assistant, and his master travel there, Carmer gets mixed up with the faerie princess Grit. Together they start investigating the disappearance of the Fae and work to help the Amazifier, Carmer’s master.  Soon they realize the the problem is much bigger than they had previously believed.  

This book was very entertaining and fun to read.  It was especially fun to read about the fictional steampunk era of time and about two young heroes. Violence is G/PG because there is some fighting between the Fae and the villain, but not a ton of gore.

EL, MS - ESSENTIAL Student Reviewer: JM (9th grade)

Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing by Leda Schubert - OPTIONAL

Schubert, Leda Listen: How Pete Seeger Got America Singing.  PICTURE BOOK.  Pictures by Raul Colon.  Roaring Brook, 2017.  $18.

Pete Seeger sang his way through in order to buoy spirits and impart messages.  Seeger is the epitome of the role of folk singer, if not the originator.  Extremely popular in the 1960’s, he is virtually unknown by children today.  

This narrative is rather sparse and more along the lines of a list of Seeger’s songs.  This would be perhaps useful as an introduction to the 60’s, Pete Seeger, or folk singing.  Other than that, however, it is not a compelling read on its own. If you want a better book at Seeger, try Stand Upand Sing by Susanna Reich.

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