Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Jack the Ripper by Michael Burgan - ADVISABLE

Burgan, Michael. History’s Worst: Jack the Ripper, 181 pgs. NON-FICTION. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2017. $7.99 Language – PG (1 swears, 0 “f”), Mature Content – PG (defining prostitutes); Violence – PG (there are descriptions of the victims, but not overly graphic); 

Jack the Ripper is not the worst serial killer who ever lived, but he is one of the most infamous because he has never been identified. Even over 100 years later, people are captivated by the legacy left by this uncaught killer.

History’s Worst: Jack the Ripper was a fun non-fiction book to read. Burgan writes very well and is informative in his writing, giving a history of London and the 1880s as well as theories from the 1880s up to current times of who Jack the Ripper might have been. While there are suspicions shared in this book that are not known facts, Burgan is transparent in presenting both facts and theories in an easy-to-read, flowing manner. 

EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Speaker by Traci Chee - OPTIONAL

Chee, Traci  The Speaker, (#2 Sea of Ink and Gold), 487 pgs.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2017.  $19.99  Content: Language: PG (1 swear); Violence: R; Mature Content: PG-13.  

Sefia and Archer decide that they are going to free as many boys from the Impressors as they are able.  Impressors kidnap teenagers and brand them and make them fight, a past that Archer shared.  Sefia uses the magic of her book to look into the future and find where the Impressors are hiding and then Archer and his growing band of released boys attack the Impressors and release more boys.  The kingdom is being manipulated into a war, and it is prophesied that a boy will rise up and lead, Sefia and Archer are trying to overcome the destiny spelled out for them in the book and help others along the way.  

This book was better organized than the first in the series.  The characters are likable and the story line weaves together into an interesting world.  As much as I enjoyed this book, it seemed long and drawn out and it took me a long time to finish it.  The violence is over the top, Archer has a drive for fighting and so do the other boys in his band.  The details of their fights are often gruesome and gory.  

MS, HS – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Let’s Go, Bobby! by Ruth Wielockx - ESSENTIAL

Wielockx, Ruth Let’s Go, Bobby!  BOARD BOOK.  Clavis, 2017.  $18.  9781605373614

Bobby is off on all kinds of adventures.  Join him as you explore the paths and follow along with your finger.

Originally published in Amsterdam, Wielockx knows how to engage a kinesthetic learner.  Her variety of shapes mimic what you would except for the type of transportation.  I had fun myself when I joined in.

Pre-K – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Reader by Traci Chee - OPTIONAL

Chee, Traci  The Reader, (#1 Sea of Ink and Gold), 437 pgs.  G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2016.  $19.99  Content: Language: G; Violence: PG-13; Mature Content: PG.  

Sefia lives with her aunt named Nin.  They have been on the run ever since Sefia’s father was violently murdered.  The people who killed Sefia’s dad, are looking for a book that Sefia’s father has given her for safe keeping.  When Nin is taken by those who were chasing them, Sefia has to learn how to read the book in the hopes that she will be able to find her aunt Nin.  Along the way she rescues an abused boy that she names Archer and they encounter pirates.  

This book has a lot going on-a few story lines, many characters and multiple dimensions.  Eventually it comes together and makes for an interesting story, but I’m not sure many teen readers would stick with the story.  The violence is torture and amputated limbs.  

MS, HS – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Teachers Pet by Anica Rissi -ADVISABLE

Rissi, Anica The Teachers Pet, PICTURE BOOK. Disney, 2017.  $18.
Mr. Stricter is a great teacher who also happens to have always really wanted a pet. After the class releases their tiny science project critters into the wild, Mr. Stricter decides to keep one. It becomes the class pet. Its unruly, destructive, and beloved by Mr. Stricter, who is able to overlook its many faults. The students are not happy and it will take a major disaster to help them band together and solve the problem of the class pet.  
This book is hilarious! I was surprised over and over and thoroughly enjoyed this book. I think students will be rolling in the isles and learn some valuable lessons about speaking up and making tough decisions. The artwork is a dated style, sort of 70’s but actually fits perfectly with the story.

EL(K-3) –ADVISABLE.  Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author

A new Friend for Sparkle by Amy Young -OPTIONAL

Young, Amy A new Friend for Sparkle, PICTURE BOOK. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2017.  $16.99.
In the continuing adventures of Sparkle the Unicorn, Lucy has a friend over, Cole. Sparkle and Lucy take turns being jealous and finally learn how to all play together.
A relatable story about jealousy, friendship, and how to include everyone. While adorable, it lacked the emotional response (students are always heartbroken with the scene where Lucy sends him back) and hilarity of the first book.  The illustrations are adorable and now I really want a unicorn (goat) of my own.

EL(K-3) –OPTIONAL.  Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author

The Bow-wow Bus by Jacobs and Swender - OPTIONAL

Jacobs, Paul Dubois and Jennifer Swender The Bow-wow Bus (Animal Inn #3).  112 pages. CHAPTER BOOK.  Illustrated by Stephanie Laberis. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2017.  $5.99.  Content: G.

This book is told from the perspective of Coco, a Labrador retriever who lives at the Animal Inn.  The Inn is a spa and animal hotel run by the Tyler family that is the permanent home of Coco and six other pets.  In this book, Cassie Tyler’s first grade class comes to visit the Inn. One of the animals at the Inn is getting donated to her class, which has all the pets worried.

Although this is book number three in the series, I wasn’t lost not having read any of the previous books.  The book consists of 14 short chapters and an epilogue.  Almost every chapter has an illustration to accompany it.  Although I wasn’t wowed by this book, it will likely appeal to young, animal lovers.

EL –OPTIONAL.  Reviewer:  Nancy W.

Merry Christmas Peanut! by Terry Border - ESSENTIAL

Border, Terry Merry Christmas Peanut! PICTURE BOOK.  Philomel (Penguin), 2017.  $18. 9780399176210

Peanut and his family are on their way to Grandma’s house for Christmas dinner.  Along the way they find strangers who could also use a place to enjoy the day.  Just when Peanut gets worried that there may too many guests, every hand is needed in order to save the day.

Border is such a master of imbuing inanimate objects with personality!  This book has an especially tender message that should make it a Christmas favorite !

Pre-K – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Monday, October 16, 2017

La La La by Kate DiCamillo - OPTIONAL

DiCamillo, Kate  La La La Illustrated by Jaime Kim  PICTURE BOOK  Candlewick Press, 2017.  $17.99  Content: G.  

A little girl sings out “La La La” and waits for someone to answer.  When no one answers she keeps trying and she wanders around in nature hoping that someone will respond.  She gets tired and falls asleep for a nap, and then she is awoken by the sun singing “La La La” back to her.  

This is mostly a wordless picture book—the only words are “La La La”.  The illustrations are beautiful and the little girl is endearing.  There are notes from the author and illustrator at the ending about putting ourselves out there and trying to find a friend.  Once I read their notes and had a better understanding of the message I loved the book, until that point though I was confused.  

EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Reunited by Colleen Houck - OPTIONAL

Houck, Colleen  Reunited, 451 pgs.  Delacorte Press, 2017.  $17.99  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

Lily wakes up one morning with no memory of her adventures with the three Sons of Egypt, the two people living in her head, or her love for Amon. One day a man named Dr. Hassan comes and tells her that she has lost her memory of all of her adventures and tells her that she is to become Warset, the goddess whose destiny is to defeat the evil god Seth. He trains her and soon she is ready to leave. Lily, Nana and Dr. Hassan raise Ahmose. Can Lily and Ahmose save the brothers Amon and Asten and defeat Seth? 

I thought this book was okay. I liked the fantasy part but at times it go a little out of hand. I felt like there were a lot of characters and it was hard to keep track of them all. I enjoyed the action, I thought that the author was creative. I was a little disappointed in the ending. I have read Collen Houck’s first series, Tigers Curse and I thought that Tigers Curse’s final book had a more satisfying ending.  

MS, HS-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, Isabelle (8th grade). 

Seraphina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty - ADVSIABLE

Beatty, Robert.  Seraphina and the Splintered Heart.  355 pages.  Disney Hyperion, 2017.  $16.99.  Language: G. Sexual Content: G.  Violence: PG.
The third book in the Serafina series (Serafina and the Black Cloak and Serafina and the Twisted Staff), starts with Serafina waking up and realizing she is buried alive.  She fights her way out of the coffin only to find that no one else can see her or hear her.  She's been split into three: her spirit, her human body, and her black panther form.  Even worse, her friend Braedon has put on the black cloak which is evil.  She discovers that her old enemy Rowena can hear her.  Rowena says that she’s changed and will now help them fight her father, Uriah the conjurer.  But can she be trusted?  How can they defeat a man who cannot die?

Fast-paced from the first paragraph to the final conclusion.  Rowena shows the most character development by showing it is who we choose to be, rather than who we once were, that determines our future.  Serafina continues to be a strong female protagonist in both wits and grit.  Author, Robert Beatty does a great job of tying in elements from the first two books into the storyline and resolving them in this third story.  Recommended for libraries where the first two books were popular.      
EL-ADVISABLE.  Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS. 

Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1962 by Brimner - ADVISABLE

Brimner, Larry Dane Twelve Days in May: Freedom Ride 1962, 97 pages. NON-FICTION.  Calkins Creek, 2017. $19. 

In May 1961, thirteen people, both black and white, boarded two buses in Washington D.C. to test federal laws from 1947 that don’t allow segregation in bus terminals for interstate buses.  On the fifth day of the journey things start to get difficult and by the time they get to Alabama, the entire United States knows about their mission and the Klan has pulled out all their stops to give them a “welcome” they won’t forget.  Segregation was the way of life in the South and there was no way any uppity whites and blacks from the North were going to tell the South how to treat its blacks. 

Brimner clearly and simply delineates the precedents and events of these days in the early 1960’s.  I’ve read other books and seen documentaries about the Freedom Riders and I found this one to be clear and powerful enough for students to really gravitate to.

MS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher