Sunday, November 18, 2018

Lu : Sometimes You Gotta Jump Anyway by Jason Reynolds - ESSENTIAL

Lu : Sometimes You Gotta Jump Anyway by Jason Reynolds218 pages. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018 $16.99.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 'f') Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Lots of mean bully speak) 



Lu is learning to run hurdles - he's fast, but the hurdles throw him - or rather trip him - or stop him from jumping at all. He's Lightning Lu! Born to parents who thought they couldn't have children, plus, he's an albino - lightning struck twice in the same place. He knows he's special, but, like the others on his track team, Lu is dealing with issues. His dad is a former drug dealer, mom is expecting another "miracle" baby, and Lu can't see past the bullies or the hurdles. 

Jason Reynolds crossed the finish line on this series with style and finesse. Lu is a great voice, the message isn't heavy handed and all the problems aren't neatly solved, nor is the story completely wrapped up (just like in real life). Although there are issues (drug dealers, bullying, tough stuff) they are handled in a kid appropriate way, from the perspective of the child. I highly recommend this book, in fact the whole series for both elementary and middle school students and libraries.

Lisa Librarian

Extreme Longevity by Karen Latchana Kenney - ADVISABLE

Extreme Longevity: Discovering Earth’s Oldest Organisms by Karen Latchana Kenney, 91 pages. Twenty-First Century Books (Lerner Publishing Group), 2019. $30

Content: G 



Kenney introduces readers to several species of animals and plants according to how long their lives are. Some of these species live as long as humans, and some will live 5 or 100 times longer than humans do. These amazing organisms open a whole new world, and we have a lot that we can learn.

I really enjoyed reading this book because it made learning fun through story telling. Kenney mixes facts with stories in such a way as to keep the interest of her readers, and she also defines words that younger readers might not be as familiar with. The best part is that Kenney uses the researchers and explorers in the book to inspire readers to look at the world with new eyes, to discover and be curious.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, November 17, 2018

Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens - ADVISABLE

Jolly Foul Play by Robin Stevens, 347 pages. Simon and Schuster Inc., 2016. $18.

Language: G; Mature Content: PG (some LGBT content); Violence: PG



It’s a new school year and Daisy and Hazel are back with three successful cases solved ready for new adventures and to see old friends.  Unfortunately, the new year isn’t starting out all that great. The head girl, Elizabeth, is is not a nice person, and she has her followers, the Five, keeping the other girls in line, which means a lot of yelling, intimidating, and terrorizing.  On the night of the annual bonfire, there is music, food, and games plus a much needed break after the stress of the first few weeks of school. The evening comes to a halt when Elizabeth is found dead. Once again Daisy and Hazel have a mystery to solve, and it appears that someone at the school is responsible, probably one of the Five.  With the help of their dorm mates, the Wells and Wong Detective Society sets out to solve their newest mystery.

Another solid mystery from Stevens and her fourth in the Wells and Wong Mysteries.  Her characters are realistic, smart and methodical in solving the mystery, and I always appreciate a mystery that isn’t too easy to figure out.  With each book, time passes and the author has her characters getting older and encountering more mature and difficult issues. A good recommendation for readers that like a mystery, especially if they like a historical setting.  

Reviewer: RB

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - OPTIONAL

Little White Lies by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, 400 pages.  Freeform Books (Disney), 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (28 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  



Sawyer Taft is used to taking care of herself because her mother has always been a bit distracted and Sawyer thought she had no other family who was interested in her life.  But at eighteen, Sawyer’s grandmother, Lillian, shows up in Sawyer’s life and offers her half a million dollars to come live at Lillian’s and participate in the debutante season.  Sawyer quickly gets thrust into a lifestyle that she had never dreamed existed with family, new friends and confusing enemies that have secrets Sawyer couldn’t even imagine.  

This is one of those books that the story and the setting were intriguing, but the characters weren’t deep or endearing.  I liked trying to figure out the mystery and the twists and turns were entertaining.  My issue with the book was the weird reasoning behind who Sawyer’s father was, it was way left field and put a damper on the ending.  I also felt like the debutante culture needed to be explained more, it was assumed that the reader knew what being a debutante entailed.  

C. Peterson       

Lincoln in His Own Words by Milton Meltzer - ADVISABLE

Lincoln in His Own Words by Milton Meltzer, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn, 221 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1993 (reprint 2018).  $13. 

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  



This is a biography of Abraham Lincoln told with a mixture of the author’s explanations and Lincoln’s own words.  From the time Lincoln was little, he was interested in understanding the world around him.  He was a humanitarian and lawyer and he loved his country.  During his presidency, Lincoln tried to keep the country together during the Civil War and fought for slaves’ freedom.  In these moving speeches Lincoln’s goodness and passion for what is right becomes evident.  

This is a slow read with lots of interesting facts and great quotes.  I think this book would work well in a classroom where the teacher can concentrate on specific quotes (not necessarily the whole book at one time) and have the students study history from Lincoln’s own words.  I love Abraham Lincoln and I enjoyed the great illustrations and extensive timeline as well as his inspiring words.  

C. Peterson

Friday, November 16, 2018

Zombie Cross-Stitch by Kristy Kizzee and Erika Kern - ADVISABLE

Zombie Cross-Stitch by Kristy Kizzee and Erika Kern, 63 pages.  Thunder Bay Press, 2018.  $20. 9781684124121



All the materials you need for 12 zombie-related projects (Except I don’t think there is enough canvas)! I would have rated this an ESSENTIAL gift, but the booklet is teeny – In order to really use it, you will have to blow the cross-stitch pages up larger.  I love the touch of not only including the patterns, but also a “one step further” for each craft, with a suggestion of where to use the completed piece (baby bid, pillow, coffee cozy, etc.)

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by various authors - OPTIONAL

Fatal Throne: The Wives of Henry VIII Tell All by Various Authors, 386 pages.  Schwartz and Wade (Random House), 2018.  

Content: Language: PG (5 swears); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13.  



The six wives of Henry VIII are all given a voice in this fantastic historical fiction.  Katharine of Aragon was from Spain and out of seven childbirths, had only one living heir-Princess Mary.  Henry, in his desperation for a male heir and his lust for women other than his wife, moved onto Anne Boleyn whom he tired of quickly, but she did give him Princess Elizabeth.  After Anne Boleyn was beheaded, Henry fell in love with his proclaimed one true love, Jane Seymour.  After giving Henry a son, Jane died of a blood disease.  In an act to make alliances with Germany, Henry married Anne of Cleves, but was repulsed by her, so he divorced her.  His lecherous heart lead him to the young Catherine Howard, but she had her own lustful ways and was caught sleeping with men other than Henry, for which she lost her head.  To top off the wife list is Kateryn Parr who used her brains to outsmart Henry’s advisors when they tried to use her religion as a reason to get rid of her.  

This book was fascinating and so well done. I loved how the authors made you feel empathy for each of the women and also let you see the predicament the queens were in at court.  In between each wife, Henry had a small insert.  Each wife and Henry were written by different popular young adult authors including: M.T. Anderson, Jennifer Donnelly, Candace Fleming, Stephanie Hemphill, Deborah Hopkinson, Linda Sue Park and Lisa Ann Sandell.  This book was essential except for the sexual content which was crass and included on page sex.  There is violence (executions).  

C. Peterson    

Most Wanted by Rae Carson - ADVISABLE

Most Wanted (Star Wars) by Rae Carson, 348 pages.  Disney, 2018. $18. 

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (scifi fighting)



Han ekes out a living in the sewers of Corellia, under the fist of Lady Proxima, a petty criminal overlord of the White Worm gang.  Qi’ra is also human and a part of the gang.  Both are in competition for a prized promotion – a little more freedom, better food, and power.  When the two are sent on separate errands for the Lady, they both end up running for their lives – carrying with them an important piece of tech that is worth dying for – and if Han and Qi’ra die, so much the better for everyone.

I’m not sure how old Han is supposed to be int his title.  And I haven’t see the movie, so I don’t know if this is a novelization.  But I do know that I enjoyed seeing Han’s intuition in action and I need to find out what happened to Qi’ra!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Thursday, November 15, 2018

Prince Harry & Meghan: Royals for a New Era by Jill Sherman - ADVISABLE

Prince Harry & Meghan: Royals for a New Era by Jill Sherman, 48 pages. NONFICTION. Lerner Publications, 2019. $32. 9781541539457. 

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G



This is a short informational/biographical text of Prince Harry of Wales and his now-wife, US-born Meghan Markle. Basic information is covered about both of them--with more emphasis on Harry than Meghan--and colorful photographs illustrate every step of the way. The book ends with their royal 2018 wedding. The back of the book has a timeline, source notes, and a basic index and bibliography.

This was a great nonfiction biography at a perfect level for upper elementary and middle school readers. Those who are interested in this famous royal couple (and who isn't?!) will get the basic info they want; the numerous pictures are appropriate and add a nice touch. I liked the writing style and overall feel like this is a good fit for any library's informational text collection.

Reviewer: TC

The Flight of Swans by Sarah McGuire - ESSENTIAL

The Flight of Swans by Sarah McGuire, 437 pages. Carolrhoda (Lerner), 2018. $19.

Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



The princess Andaryn despises her stepmother, a beautiful enchantress. Ryn’s love for her captivated father and the kingdom propel her into high adventure as she uses all her intelligence and strength to rescue her brothers, turned into swans for six years, while she must remain mute to all or they die. She uses all her creativity to hide from those who seek her and her brothers harm while communicating with the outside world without words. As the years progress, Ryn grows into a mature woman full of wisdom. As the end of the six years draws to a close, Ryn must find the way to defeat the enchantress and return her family safely to their throne.

Sarah McGuire penned a delightful narrative of the Grimm Brothers, “Six Swans”. The fantasy world created in this story is clear and the adventure absorbs the reader at every turn of the page. Ryn’s strong character creates a love for her and a desire that she succeed in her quest. While this book reads at an upper elementary level, the story captivates the imagination of all ages.


The Prophet Calls by Melanie Sumrow - ADVISABLE

The Prophet Calls by Melanie Sumrow, 278 pages.  Yellow Jacket (Little Bee), 2018.  $17.

Language: G; Mature Content: PG (polygamy); Violence: PG (some hitting)



Gentry,13, has lived in a polygamous community all her life, but as she gets older, she knows she doesn’t fit in the marrow mold her family and community have dictated for her.  Her father indulges her at home, but when she is caught by the elders, she is punished – and then her father is punished too. Gentry knows she must find a way to escape, especially when the Prophet calls from his jail cell and demands that she marry her tormentor. 

I am dying to know if Sumrow is connected to a polygamous community or if her research focused on Warren Jeffs’ polygamist community, because being from Utah I felt like I was reading a book specifically about that particular group.  It’s hard to judge it through the lens of someone who is unfamiliar with the fringe group.  I think it would work well in other places as an introduction to that group and the secretive  inner workings of the community.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS