Monday, February 19, 2018

Big Cat, Little Cat by Elisha Cooper - ESSENTIAL

Cooper, Elisha Big Cat little Cat, PICTURE BOOK. Roaring Brook Press (Holtzbrinck), 2017. $17. 9781626723719  

A solitary cat gets to show a new kitten what to do.  When to eat and drink, where the litter box is, when it’s time to sleep.   Eventually, the little cat grows bigger and they become great friends.

For such a simple story, it says so much.  Simple line drawing illustrations , easy text and a beautiful twist.  Cat lovers will adore this book, especially those who own multiple cats.  It made me cry.

EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix by Jacqueline Briggs Martin and June JoLee - ADVISABLE

Martin, Jacqueline Briggs and June JoLee Chef Roy Choi and the Street Food Remix, illustrated by Man One PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Readers to Eaters Books, 2017. $19. 9780983661597

Chef Roy Choi was born in Korea, but his family moved to Los Angeles when he was only 2 years old.  His parents owned a restaurant, so he grew up helping out.  Eventually he went to cooking school and became a chef.  But cooking for rich people in restaurants wasn’t his thing, so he and a friend bought a food truck and sold Korean food filled tacos.  He was on a mission to feed hungry people, so he went to the poorer communities and he opened small cafes in worn down neighborhoods, creating jobs making the neighborhood a better place.

What an inspirational story!  Bright colored illustrations, graffiti styled definitions (of Korean food and recipe ideas)  Another great contribution to diverse books! I wish it came with a sample of Chef Roy Choi’s awesome sauce!

EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Eyes of the World by Marc Aronson and Marina Budhos- ADVISABLE

Aronson, Marc and Marina Budhos Eyes of the World : Robert Capa, Gerda Taro and the invention of Modern Photojournalism, 294 pgs. NON-FICTION. Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2017. $23. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.

Hungarian Andre Friedmann and German Gerta Pohorylle met in Paris in the mid-1930’s. They changed their names to Robert Capa and Gerda Taro, to help hide their cultural background, and to get a contract with a magazine. They headed to Spain to cover the Spanish Civil War as photojournalists.  On their way to the front, they photographed the people of Spain, many of them peasants still living in what looks like the middle ages, using ancient tools to farm the way their ancestors did.  Interspersed among the chapters about Capa and Taro are “interludes” which give the reader background on the wars, or the style of the photo magazines (like Life). Their photo styles are different, yet complementary.  Covering the war with literary giants like George Orwell and Ernest Hemingway, in Spain and in France, Always courageous, Capa said “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough”  An interesting look into the beginnings of photojournalism and the Spanish Civil War - and how it relates to WWII (fascinating).

I was impressed with the courage and determination of Capa and Taro in getting these historic pictures, of both the fighting, the aftermath and the people affected.  There are large captioned pictures on almost every page - by Capa and Taro - there are not a lot of Capa and Taro.  Lots of additional resources: 3 appendices, (about some of the controversies, so as not to muddle the text?); a “Cast of Characters” explaining who all of these famous people are, including political groups, factions and who was on what side.  There is a time line, an author statement, acknowledgements, sources, notes, a bibliography, web resources and an index.  A bit of a heavy read for middle school, I would recommend it for High School.

HS - ADVISABLE  Lisa Librarian

Norse Myths by Crossley-Holland - ADVISABLE

Crossley-Holland, Kevin Norse Myths: Tales of Odin, Thor, and Loki; 220 pgs. Candlewick Studio (Candlewick Press), 2017. Language – G (0 swears, 0 “f”), Mature Content – PG; Violence – PG;

This book is a compilation of short stories that were passed down as myths of the Norse people. All of the gods have parts to play, though Thor becomes more of a focus in the second half of the stories, as they live in a tenuous balance with the giants, dwarfs, and each other. 

I think that it is important to point out that, while the Marvel characters are based off of these Norse gods, the heroes that are known and loved in current popular culture are only loosely based off of the gods recorded in the old Norse stories. One of my favorite parts of the book was looking through the illustrations; Jeffrey Allan Love did a superb job.

HS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Waste of Space by Gina Damico - ADVISABLE

Damico, Gina Waste of Space, 396 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing 2017. $17.99. Language: R (161 swears, 3 "f"); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.

Ten teens all looking to escape their mundane and angst filled lives embark on the adventure of a lifetime, or so they thought.  Chaze Young, CEO of DV8  productions has decided on a new reality TV show.  Sending a mixed demographic of stereotypical teens into space, Big Brother style.  The only way off the ship is to be voted out as that weeks "Waste of Space".  Unbeknownst to the prospective "spacetronauts" the entire production is completely fake.  True to reality TV, anything goes and the more scandalous the better. 

Damico's satirical look at reality TV is definitely on point.  The story is written as a transcript from an intern exposing the production company for the frauds they really are. Damico's characters are extreme in their stereotypes making them difficult to connect with but the absurdity of the show and humor will keep you engaged, and the surprise ending was a good twist.

HS -ADVISABLE. Gina, Media Specialist

How to Live Like a Viking Warrior by Anita Ganeri - ESSENTIAL

Ganeri, Anita How to Live Like a Viking Warrior, 32 pages. NON-FICTION.  Hungry Tomato (Lerner Publishing Group), 2015. $27. Language: G Rating: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

Told from the perspective of the son of a Viking Leaderm this fun non-fiction book paints a perfect picture of the life of a Viking.  Their lives were filled with pillage, fighting, and the love of their heritage.  The illustrations are fun and help create a visual of what they looked like, their homes, boats, and weapons.

I learned some interesting facts and found myself wanting to know more.  I enjoyed this interesting read.

EL – ESSENTIAL. Emilee, Library Teacher

Time Traveler Inventions by Ruzicka and Sanza - OPTIONAL

Ruzicka, Oldrich and Silvie Sanza Time Traveler Inventions.  PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION.  Walter Foster Jr. (Quarto Publishing Group), 2013 $16.95. G Rating: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

Take a journey through time with Albert Einstein as your guide.  This charming book travels through time and briefly highlights the incredible inventions through history.  It also showcases popular inventors in that day.  The illustrations are fun and inviting.  A dotted line runs through the book showing the passage of time.

I love the format and how easy it is to read.  Being a visual learner I found myself easily learning all about inventions.  My only complaint is it’s not made very well.  There’s a timeline on the front that moves up and down.  It’s not constructed well and broke off.  Some pages are thin and others are like a board book.  It’s kind of weird that way.  I did enjoy the content and recommend it for that but it would not hold up in a library.

EL – OPTIONAL, Emilee, Library Teacher

Sunday, February 18, 2018

#NotYourPrincess:Voices of Native American Women - ESSENTIAL

Charleyboy, Lisa and Mary Beth Leatherdale #NotYourPrincess:Voices of Native American Women, 103 pages. NON-FICTION. Annick Press Ltd. 2017. $20. Language: PG (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (references to violence against women) Violence: PG.

This is a compilation of poems, essays and stories by and about indigenous women.  The pictures, some artwork, some photographs and photo essays are beautiful, capturing these women and their stories.  I’m honored to have read this and am grateful for the empathy I now feel for these brave women and for others like them.  This is a voice we don’t hear often, and that we should hear more.

HS - ESSENTIAL  Lisa Librarian

Tinyville Town: I'm a Librarian (A Tinyville Town Book)- ADVISABLE


Biggs, Brian I'm a Librarian (A Tinyville Town Book). BOARD BOOK. Abrams, 2017. $7.95. Content: G. 

Would you like to be a librarian? People ask librarians all kinds of questions. Librarians like to help people get the information they need.  If someone wants to find a book about elephants, a librarian knows where to look.  At the end of the day the librarian returns books to their shelves.  He can even check a book out for himself to enjoy on the bus ride home! 

This is a fun book that details the job descriptions of a typical librarian. The illustrations are unique and will become a favorite of small readers and older children alike.  

Pre-K. EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

Baby Animals Take a Bath by Marsha Diane Arnold- ADVISABLE

Arnold, Marsha Diane Baby Animals Take a Bath. Illustrated by Phyllis Tildes. BOARD BOOK. Charlesbridge Publishers, Inc., 2017. $6.99. Content: G.  

What type of bath do babies enjoy? A bubble bath!  What about baby animals? What kind of bath does a polar bear cub, sea lion pup, snow monkey infant, chickadee fledgling, zebra foal, hippopotamus calf, tiger cub or elephant calf take? 

This fun board book explores snow baths, steam baths, dust baths, mud baths and much more!  Children will have fun exploring different baby animals and the world in which they live and bathe.   The illustrations are very detailed and fun.  

Pre-K. EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

Do You See My Tail by Anita Bijsterbosch-ESSENTIAL


Bijsterbosch , Anita Do You See My Tail? PICTURE BOOK. Clavish Publishing, Inc., 2017. $12.95.  Content: G. 

In this  fun “lift the page” picture book children will delight in guessing which animal is hiding behind the page.  “Do you see my tail? I have a teeny tiny tail. Guess who I am!”  When the flap is listed the hedgehog is revealed with her little babies.  The text then shares information about the babies: “My babies are sleeping and eating in a nest made of branches and leaves.  They love apples.” The illustrations are bold and bright.  The details on each page will be loved by all.  

Pre-K. EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.

Numbers by John J. Reiss-ADVISABLE


Reiss, John J. Numbers. BOARD BOOK. Simon & Schuster, 2016.  $8.99.  Content: G. 

From 1 boy to 1,000 raindrops this unique board book does not stop with typically counting from 1 to 10 but continues counting by 10’s and ending with the last page showing one thousand raindrops! Many pages show more than one image representing a particular number: two socks and two shoes, a three leaf clover and a traffic light with three lights.  The illustrations are bright and colorful. This is a fun board book that will not only help little ones begin to count to ten but will extend their number learning by learning to count by 10’s. 

Pre-K. EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

Baby Animals Take a Nap by Marsha Diane Arnold- ADVISABLE


Arnold, Marsha Diane Baby Animals Take a Nap. Illustrated by Phyllis Tildes. BOARD BOOK. Charlesbridge Publishers, Inc., 2017. $6.99. Content: G. 

Babies  can take a nap on shoulders, in cribs, in car seats.  But where does a penguin chick, dolphin calf, bat pup, koala joey, sloth baby, squirrel monkey infant, fox cub and sea otter pup typically take a nap? 

Read this simple and sweet board book about animal babies to find out.  The illustrations are very detailed and tender as the story of mother and baby bonding is explored.  

Pre-K.  ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.