Tuesday, April 16, 2024

Skybound! by Sue Ganz-Schmitt and Jacopo Bruno - ADVISABLE

Skybound! Starring Mary Myers as Carlotta, Daredevil Aeronaut and Scientist
by Sue Ganz-Schmitt, illustrated by Jacopo Bruno
. PICTURE BOOK NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY Calkins Creek (Astra), 2024 $19. 9781635928150 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Mary Myers had her head in the clouds - literally! She dreamed of flying and worked with her husband on the science of aeronautics - even helping create a new fabric for balloons, even though it was dangerous to formulate. It isn't until she is 30 that she finally goes up in a balloon of her own - on her own - and doesn't ever stop. 

How fabulous! I love that Ganz-Schmitt and Bruno have brought Mary forward from the fringes of history and back into the limelight she so deserves. Our 9th graders build hot air balloons with tissue paper every spring, so I am very excited to be able to share this with them. The main text is exciting to read and view. The back matter is a great supplement, with a few photographs and artifacts of "Carlotta" and her exploits. Carlotta is white. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Monday, April 15, 2024

The Fabulous Fannie Farmer by Emma Bland Smith and Susan Reagan - ADVISABLE

The Fabulous Fannie Farmer: Kitchen Scientist and America's Cook
by Emma Bland Smith, illustrated by Susan Reagan
. PICTURE BOOK NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHY Calkins Creek (Astra), 2024. $19. 9781635926125 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

After a bout of polio when she was 16yo, Fannie turned to her love of cooking. It wasn't until she was 31 that she entered the Boston Cooking School, going on to become the principal. Dissatisfied with cookbooks of her day, Fannie and her students started experimenting and standardizing the measurements and instructions for recipes - pioneering a new standard and helping home cooks for generations. 

While text heavy, Smith still keeps the story simple and engaging, supported by Reagan's old-fashioned illustrations. Every cooking class would welcome this addition. Fanny is white. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Sunday, April 14, 2024

The Fastest Drummer: clap your hands for Viola Smith by Dean Robbins and Susanna Chapman - ADVISABLE

The Fastest Drummer: clap your hands for Viola Smith
by Dean Robbins, illustrated by Susanna Chapman
. PICTURE BOOK, BIOGRAPHY Candlewick, 2024. $18. 9781536224863 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

As part of her family's all-girl jazz band, Viola loved the drums and would always talk to other, more seasoned, drummers at their shows, trading tips and tricks. When the other girls left to pursue other interests, Viola formed her own band and advocated for women in music throughout her 107 year life. 

Viola's enthusiasm shines through a rare combination of enthusiasts text and swooping illustrations. What a fun book for any music class. There are some videos of Viola on the internet - so a great way to back-up the picture book with footage of her playing. Viola and her family are white; some of the other drummers are Black. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Saturday, April 13, 2024

The Wrong Kind of Weird by James Ramos - OPTIONAL

The Wrong Kind of Weird by James Ramos,  320 pages. Inkyard Press, 2023.  $19.


Language:  R   (100+ swears, 67 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (teenage sexuality e.g. frequent make out sessions, heavy petting, references to losing virginity throughout, several drug references); Violence: PG (one minor physical conflict at school);


BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL


AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE


Cameron is a bicultural senior (mom is latina, father is black), who has a small group of geek friends in Minneapolis, Minnesota. They even have a club (GANU - Geeks And Nerds Unite) where they watch anime, design cosplays, and celebrate that #geeklife. However, when one of the most popular girls in school starts working with Cameron, he tries to break down the rigid clique system at his school to make their relationship more acceptable to their different friend groups. However, Cameron's complicated web of half-told truths and posturing catches up with him and falls to pieces around him. Can Cameron figure out who he really is and what he really wants?


This was not my favorite contemporary YA rom-com that I’ve ever read. I had a hard time getting into it and the storyline kept jumping back and forth, from the summer when Cameron and Karla first met to the current school year, without a lot of rhyme or reason. Add to that, there was a LOT of language throughout the book. The one thing I liked about it was the celebration of multicultural students in geek culture. It shouldn’t be that revolutionary, but it was nice to see someone other than sickly white boys being the nerds.


Reviewer: Kiera Beddes, #bookswithbeddes

Friday, April 12, 2024

The Reappearance of Rachel Price by Holly Jackson - HIGH

The Reappearance of Rachel Price by Holly Jackson, 448 pages. Random House Children's/Delacorte Press, 2024. $16

Language: R (53 swears 121 'f'); Mature Content: PG (kissing); Violence: PG-13 (assault) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Rachel Price, mother of 18yo Bel, has been missing for over sixteen years. Bel’s father needs money to care for his elderly father, so he decides to participate in a documentary about the disappearance of his wife, Rachel Price. Bel doesn’t want to rehash everything over and over again but she wants to help her dad. She wonders if the documentary will help find her mom by rekindling the investigation. Also, Bel can’t shake the thought that her mom abandoned her all those years ago and that she just might be alive somewhere. The documentary is just the beginning of the chaos that's to come.  

I thoroughly enjoyed this mystery! The character development was interesting and the author showed Bel’s coping mechanisms of cruelty and shoplifting small items as a way to deal with the abandonment she’s had in her lifetime. The documentary idea was great as it helped show the changes in the family and Bel’s perspective of the situation. The ethnicity is predominantly white with mention of a brown skin background character.

LynnDell Watson, DHS Library

Thursday, April 11, 2024

Murtagh by Christopher Paolini - HIGH

Murtagh
by Christopher Paolini
, 690 Young Adult, Adult Fiction Knopf (Random House), 2023. $30 

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; R (graphic killings, torture, cults, possession) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, ADULT - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, are outcasts following the toppling of Galbatorix and their forced role in his reign of terror. There are whispers of evil in the brittle ground and brimstone in the air. Sensing an unknown danger, Murtagh and Thorn risk their lives as they face down a witch and those who follow her. 

 Murtagh is a complex character and a dark hero that you will end up rooting for. Both he and Thorn have to overcome the fears and trauma faced in their formative years. If you haven't read Eragon for awhile, there is just enough recapping to understand this book without having to reread the first series, but a more recent read through would make this book more compelling. The action is fast paced and well written. There are definitely dark moments, but fans of Eragon will eat this up. While the book concludes well enough, a second book is surely lurking, just like the danger that would overthrow Alagaesia. There are many cultures and races in the book as befits a fantasy novel 

Michelle in the Middle 

Wednesday, April 10, 2024

A Place for Vanishing by Ann Fraistat - OPTIONAL

A Place for Vanishing
by Ann Fraistat
, 456 pages. Delacorte (Random House), 2024. $20 

Language: R (114 swears 4 'f') Mature Content: PG-13 (suicide attempt, self harm, mild sexual content); Violence: R (graphic violence) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, ADULT - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

16yo Libby, her 13yo sister, Vivi, and their mom, are moving into a derelict Victorian mansion that has been in the family for years for a fresh start following Libby's suicide attempt. There have been many disappearances connected with the house: it has creepy stained glass windows, a strange bug infestation, its own hedge maze, and unusual blue roses. Libby soon discovers that the secrets that the house holds could destroy all of them, though she may have to harness a power beyond her own to fight back. The cover is beautiful and the premise promising. The house is appropriately creepy. Libby is a relatable character, but at over 400 pages, the book seemed long. The ending was unbelievable for me, but readers who have a healthy fear of bugs may enjoy the creep factor. Race is never specified. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Tuesday, April 9, 2024

Evil Spy School: The Graphic Novel by Stuart Gibbs and Anjan Sarkar - ADVISABLE

Evil Spy School: The Graphic Novel
by Stuart Gibbs, illustrated by Anjan Sarkar
, 352 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Simon and Schuster, 2024. $25 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

13yo Ben Ripley just got expelled from spy school. Luckily (or unluckily) he gets picked up by the evil organization, SPYDER. They begin training Ben but he's not sure for what. Turns out Ben is so deep undercover in SPYDER, not even he realizes it at first. He will have to make his new evil companions trust him while finding a way to communicate to his CIA friends. 

 As the graphic novel rendition of the book, this is fabulous. It is well illustrated and the pictures help tell the story. The story is fun and keeps. you guessing. I loved Ben's new evil friends and their quirks. There's plenty of humor to go with the high adventure and kids will be wishing they had spy missions of their own. The Spy School novels just got another reason to cheer. Race is never stated, but most of the characters are white. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Monday, April 8, 2024

Bright Red Fruit by Safia Elhillo - ESSENTIAL

Bright Red Fruit
by Safia Elhillo
, 368 pages. Young Adult, Book in Verse Make Me a World, Penguin Random House, 2024. $20.

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (kissing) Violence: PG13 (sexual assault attempt) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

16yo Samira has an unearned bad reputation. When she was younger, a boy she knew bragged a lie, and now adults and others in her community believe the worst. She's not yet even kissed a boy, but who she's with, and what she's wearing are reported to her mother, who doesn't believe Samira. So she's closely watched. Samira is a poet, and wants to go to college and New York where her life can be different. She meets a poet "Horus" online, and although he's much older she agrees to meet him IRL when he comes to D.C. for a reading. 

I love that Samira's story was told in verse, although I know they aren't for everyone. Samira is young and naive, but trying to break free of the strict rules of her culture, so it's no wonder she gets caught up in the excitement of this older man. Considering the topic, I was pleasantly surprised that the story is told without swears or adult content. Elhillo has woven the Persephone myth throughout which was genius. Oh, I loved this so much. Highly recommended.

Samira is Sudanese, many of her friends attend Arabic school with her. 

Lisa Librarian 

Sunday, April 7, 2024

The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna - OPTIONAL

The Gilded Ones
by Namina Forna
, 432 pages. Random House Children's/Delacorte Press, 2022. $12 

Language: PG-13 (23 swears 0 'f');  Mature Content: G; Violence: R (bloody deaths, implied Sexual Assaut) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

16yo Deka is worried that her blood is impure in a society that shuns those that are different. The village holds a ritual to know if a person is impure or not and it’s time for Deka’s participation. She lives alone with her weakened father who had an illness a few months ago; the illness that killed her mother at the same time. When her true nature shows itself while she’s protecting her village, everyone turns on her thinking she’s a demon. An emperor’s helper saves her and takes her to the capital to receive training to fight off death shrieks who wreak havoc on villages. Deka will discover more than her fate and the truth of who she is.

I love the cover of this book. Deka's strength is inspiring. Deka and Keita have a cute romance. "Deka has dark skin and her father is pale with blonde hair. The Emperor has bluish black skin. People with dark brown skin, golden skin, pink skin, and every shade from deep brown to eggshell are mentioned.

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Saturday, April 6, 2024

The Summer She Went Missing by Chelsea Ichaso - OPTIONAL

The Summer She Went Missing
by Chelsea Ichaso
, 384 pages. Sourcebooks Fire, 2024. $9 

Language: R (61 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG-13 (underage drinking); Violence: PG-13 (bloody death and abuse)

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

16yo Paige and 16yo Audrey are summertime best friends. Paige is looking forward to seeing Audrey and 18yo Dylan, Paige’s long time crush, this summer when they all arrive at Clearwater Ridge. Audrey starts off the summer by talking about jobs and her goal to save enough money to buy her own horse, since she’s always wanted one and spends so much time at the equestrian club. Since Audrey is busy and growing distant, Paige and Dylan get to spend more time together. One summer night, Audrey never returns home and she becomes a missing person case and a year later there’s still no evidence or help in finding her. Dylan and Paige take it upon themselves to find Audrey and the deeper they dig, the more dangerous the situation becomes. 

I enjoyed reading the mystery’s journey as it built up and unfolded. The alternating points of view added intrigue and suspense. I highly recommend this mystery for young adults. The ethnicity is predominantly white. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Friday, April 5, 2024

Kendrick Lamar Platinum Rap Artist by Heather E. Schwartz - OPTIONAL

Kendrick Lamar Platinum Rap Artist by Heather E. Schwartz
, 48 pages. CHAPTER BOOK BIOGRAPHY Lerner Publications, 2024. $10. 9781728491745

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

The story of hip hop artist Kendrick Lamar from his childhood in Compton, California to the fame and fortune he found through his music. The book highlights how he made a name for himself, his awards and honors, how he tries to be a role model, and how he uses his platform for good. 

An interesting biography. It is filled with photographs that add interest. There is a timeline and bibliography at the end of the book. The writing is clear and easy to understand. 

A. Snow

Thursday, April 4, 2024

The Heartbeat of the Universe by Emily Hockaday - OPTIONAL


The Heartbeat of the Universe by Emily Hockaday
, 110 pages. POETRY. Interstellar Flight Press, 2024. $18.

Language: PG (1 swear, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Hockaday believes that poetry is not limited by reality or literalness, and the poems in this collection illustrate her belief. With facts and emotions meeting over topics of identity, love, discrimination, hope, family, time, and more, there is a poem for everyone.

I loved the meeting point between science and creativity that these poets embrace, though overall only a couple of the poems spoke to me. The concept was enjoyable. The mature content rating is for mentions of alcohol and sexual harassment. The violence rating is for mentions of assault.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen 

Wednesday, April 3, 2024

One Last Breath by Ginny Myers Sain - OPTIONAL

One Last Breath
by Ginny Myers Sain
, 384 pages. Penguin Young Readers Group, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2024. $18 

Language: R (164 swears 52 'f'); Mature Content: R (sexual related nudity); Violence: R (bloody deaths) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

18yo Tru doesn’t know what she wants for her future, not even whether or not she wants to leave her hometown of Mount Orange, Florida. She feels stuck until 18yo Rio shows up in town. Rio is a female diver like Tru and they instantly become friends. They both want to solve the twenty year old cold case murders of Bailey and Celeste , who were teenagers when they were killed. Tru and Rio feel a deep connection to Bailey and Celeste and when they dig into the evidence and ask questions, their lives become endangered. 

I love that there’s more than one mystery inside this story. The suspense was great and kept me riveted. Tragic and scary and such a good read. The ethnicity is white. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Thursday, March 28, 2024

Otherworldly by F. T. Lukens - OPTIONAL

Otherworldly by F. T. Lukens, 352 pages. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster), 2024. $20.

Language: R (22 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Winter began five years ago and then never turned to spring. With the farm failing, Ellery (17yo) had to move and work in the city while her parents continued to foolishly petition the goddess. When a regular at the diner Ellery works at runs her over, he introduces himself as Knox, a magical familiar that serves the goddess Ellery no longer believes in—and he needs her help.

The magic and mythological creatures are the most interesting parts of the story. Most of the characters are flat, and the story was more about Ellery and Knox’s growing relationship than about solving the winter issue. While I was expecting more from the story than fluff romance, Lukens did the fluff romance well, and the conclusion was satisfying.

Ellery and Knox are described as “pale,” Zada is described as having “dark brown” skin, Lorelei is described as having “golden brown” skin, and the goddess is described as having “olive” skin. Charley and Zada are part of the LGBT community. The mature content rating is for mentions of alcohol, innuendo, and sexual harassment. The violence rating is for blood, assault, and fantasy violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen


Tuesday, March 26, 2024

The Perfect Guy Doesn’t Exist by Sophie Gonzales - OPTIONAL


The Perfect Guy Doesn’t Exist by Sophie Gonzales, 304 pages. Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), 2024. $20.

Language: R (101 swears, 15 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Living across the street from her ex-best friend, Mack, is made impossible when Ivy’s parents ask Mack’s family to check in on Ivy while they’re out of town. On her first night alone, a huge storm comes, and all Ivy wants is to not be alone—so she writes a short fanfic about her favorite TV character being with her. And, when she wakes up, he is.

Honestly, the whole situation with the TV character appearing in Ivy’s life is as disorienting for the reader as for Ivy and her friends—maybe more so because they accepted the situation faster than I did. The creativity involved in crafting this story astounds me, and I laughed out loud several times. Furthermore, Gonzales writes about struggling friendships and trying to get a grip on how to life in a way that makes readers happier with imperfect reality.

Ivy is White on the cover, and Mack is Black on the cover. Also, Ivy is bi, Mack is lesbian, and Henry describes himself as “aroace.” The mature content rating is for innuendo and mentions of sex. The violence rating is for assault and for mentions of murder and fantasy violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen


Monday, March 25, 2024

What Was the Children's Blizzard of 1888? by Steve Korté and Dede Putra - ADVISABLE

What Was the Children's Blizzard of 1888?
by Steve Korté, illustrated by Dede Putra,
106 pages CHAPTER BOOK NON-FICTION Penguin Workshop, 2023. $8. 9780593520710  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

On January 12, 1888, a surprise blizzard hit the Great Plains which lasted several hours. Many people were caught unaware and unprepared. Especially hard hit were the teachers and students stranded in their schools. They had to make the hard decision to wait out the storm in the school without heat or food or to brave the blinding snow and try to make it home. Many children and adults died. But there were also amazing stories of survival and bravery. 

I enjoyed this book. It was well-written and easy to understand, and I learned a lot. The book tells the story of the blizzard and what happened to the people caught in it. It also provides insight, context, and background information about other things happening during this time in history. There are small illustrations throughout the book to add interest. A timeline and bibliography are included at the end of the book. 

A. Snow

Sunday, March 24, 2024

Guts for Glory by Joanna Lapati - ADVISABLE

Guts for Glory: the story of the Civil War soldier Rosetta Wakeman by Joanna Lapati
. PICTURE BOOK NON-FICTION Eerdmans, 2024 $20 9780802854643 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

At 19yo, Rosetta Wakeman left her family farm and headed out to join a unit fighting in the Civil War. Throughout the war she sent letters home - the only known existing letters from a disguised female soldier. 

Lapati's scratch board illustrations are quite vivid and interesting to look at. The story is very simple. Wakeman's gender was never discovered, in fact her youngest sister thought that "Lyons" was her older brother. Those are the most intriguing parts of the story - the rest is pretty typical and simple. Rosetta is white.

Cindy, MS Librarian, MLS

Saturday, March 23, 2024

One Last Breath by Ginny Myers Sain - OPTIONAL

One Last Breath
by Ginny Myers Sain
, 384 pages. Penguin Young Readers Group, G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2024. $18 

Language: R (164 swears 52 'f') Mature Content: R (sexual-related nudity); Violence: R (bloody deaths) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

18yo Tru doesn’t know what she wants for her future, not even whether or not she wants to leave her hometown of Mount Orange, Florida. She feels stuck until 18yo Rio shows up in town. Rio is a female diver like Tru and they instantly become friends. They both want to solve the twenty-year-old cold case murders of Bailey and Celeste , who were teenagers when they were killed. Tru and Rio feel a deep connection to Bailey and Celeste and when they dig into the evidence and ask questions, their lives become endangered. 

I love that there’s more than one mystery inside this story. The suspense was great and kept me riveted. Tragic and scary and such a good read. The ethnicity is white. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Friday, March 22, 2024

Snowglobe by Soyoung Park - OPTIONAL

Snowglobe by Soyoung Park
384 pages. Delacorte Press 2024 $16 

Language: R (49 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG-13 (underage drinking) Violence: PG (death) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

17yo Jeon lives with her twin brother, mother, and grandmother in the extremely harsh environment surrounding Snowglobe. The main job for residents is producing power by running on giant hamster wheels for ten hours each day. Jeon is asked to leave her home and family to be a replacement for the Snowglobe star Goh Haeri. Jeon is thrilled because this means her family will be taken care of and her mother will no longer have to work but can stay home with her grandmother instead. Jeon arrives in Snowglobe excited and happy but things aren’t adding up and when she discovers secret passages by accident, her existence is threatened.

Strange concept that’s hard to grasp and become engrossed in. I enjoyed the mystery behind Goh Haeri. The story has an interesting and unique concept. The ethnicity is predominantly Korean. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian