Saturday, January 28, 2023

The War to Save the Worlds by Samira Ahmed - ESSENTIAL

The War to Save the Worlds (Amira & Hamza #1) by Samira Ahmed, 356 pages. Little, Brown and Company/Poppy. 2021. $17.

Language: PG (30 swears (God) 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG - monster violence (i.e. green blood) warlike battles, dangerous challenges, peril. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ESSENTIAL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

12yo Amira and her 10yo brother Hamza are the chosen ones. On a visit to a museum on a special night (Super Moon, Blue Moon Blood Moon - all on the same night) Hamza is drawn to an ancient object, and it begins to work. At the same time, they discover that everyone else is kind of frozen and a group of Jinn arrive on a golden throne and tell the kids that they are the Chosen Ones and are needed to save both their own and the world of the Jinn. 

Exciting and engaging, The War to Save the Worlds is the first in a series. Amira really likes science, and I love how she used that knowledge to work through some of the problems the faced with magic. The kids work with a group of Jinn and other characters from Urdu and Persian stories and myths to stop the moon from coming apart and destroying both worlds. 10yo Hamza was just the perfect little brother turned hero. His character will be highly appealing to 4th-5th graders and gives this big a larger audience. The children are Islamic.

Lisa Librarian

In Honor of Broken Things by Paul Acampora - ESSENTIAL

In Honor of Broken Things
by Paul Acampora
, 197 pages. Dial, 2022. $18 

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Three eighth grade students are thrown together in pottery class. Oscar is the star of the football team, but he just lost his little sister to cancer. Ellie feels her mom dragged her to this tiny town from Philadelphia and Noah has been homeschooled his whole life. These three students bond over ceramics and things that are broken in their lives. They form a very unlikely friendship and realize that some things that are broken will never be fixed. 

The story of these three young people was both fascinating, heartwarming and heartbreaking. They stick together and do things they might not have normally done, just to support each other. I loved the story that showed that no matter what your background, you can make friends, do your best and live a good life. It really helps them that they have each other. I loved the story and highly recommend it.  The main characters are American and Mexican. 

Ellen-Anita. Librarian 

Virtually Me by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown - ADVISABLE


Virtually Me
by Chad Morris and Shelly Brown
, 256 pages. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2023. $17.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The school district is trying a new virtual reality school – with VR technology mailed to each student’s home. Bradley is excited for a fresh start, Edelle’s mom thinks Edelle is too worried about being outwardly beautiful, and Hunter has a secret to hide. In their new junior high school full of avatars, can they really get to know anyone if no one wants to simply be themselves?

The journey that these students go on is all about learning to love yourself and being willing to look beyond outward appearances. I love that the story is told through different perspectives because it allows readers to see that people can mess up while still having good intentions. And maybe sometimes they don’t have the best of intentions but they are struggling, too. Everyone wants to be the hero of the story, but the truth is that we become heroes when we work together to be kind.

White, Black, and Asian characters are mentioned. The violence rating is for bullying and descriptions of a RV shooting game (players versus giant bugs).

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen 

Friday, January 27, 2023

Sweet and Sour by Debbi Michiko Florence - ADVISABLE

Sweet and Sour
by Debbi Michiko Florence
, 304 pages. Scholastic Press (Scholastic). 2022 $18.00 Language: G (2 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G (2 kisses); Violence: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Mai and 13yo Zach have been friends since they were little kids. Their moms are best friends and they spend their summers together in a vacation home in Connecticut. But Zach and his family have lived in Japan the last 2 years, and that previous summer something happened between Mai and Zach and Mai is still really mad about it. When Mai finds out Zach did some modeling in Japan and now has an Instagram, she wonders if she can enact her revenge by taking his photo and posting embarrassing pictures on his account. 

A lite romance, it’s more about creating, maintaining and repairing friendships. Mai spends the bulk of the book angry at Zach, and plotting revenge while the flashbacks slowly unfold what had happened. Some are sweet - times when she and Zach were best friends and others are sour - when they were 10/11 and Mai felt Zach betrayed their friendship. Sweet and Sour is a cute story perfect for upper elementary and middle schoolers. Mai and Zach are Korean, his family has lived in Japan for the last 2 years so they speak some Japanese 

Lisa Librarian 

Miss Newbury’s List by Megan Walker - ADVISABLE


Miss Newbury’s List
by Megan Walker
, 320 pages. Shadow Mountain Publishing, 2023. $16.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Being engaged to a duke, Rosalind (20yo) should be thrilled. Instead, Rosalind feels like something is missing. She is sure that completing her list of ten things to do before she gets married will fill her emptiness, so Rosalind recruits her best friend, Liza, and Liza’s cousin, Charlie, to help her. Their adventures do help, but it may have more about who she’s with than the list.

Rosalind’s love story is totally adorable – it’s the equivalent of writing a bucket list and having your friends help you complete everything on the list. This exercise requires vulnerability on Rosalind’s side and commitment from all parties involved. The lines of right and wrong blur but are not crossed. Part of the charm of Rosalind’s love story is that they retain their integrity despite their inner turmoil.

All the characters are English. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, blackmail, and partial nudity. The violence rating is for boxing and knife use.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, January 26, 2023

Twelfth Grade Night (Arden High book #1) by Molly Horton Booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm and Jamie Green - ADVISABLE


Twelfth Grade Night (Arden High book #1)
by Molly Horton Booth, Stephanie Kate Strohm and Jamie Green,
160 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Disney/Hyperion. 2022. $25. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Violet and her twin brother Sebastian have been attending a private school together, but High School is a boarding school, and they feel, as their father recently passed away, that they should go to public school and continue to live at home. Violet is thrilled as she's always hated wearing the skirts required by the private school - she would rather dress like her brother. But at the last minute, Seb decides to board at the private school, so Vi is on her own in this Strange New High School. Vi makes a few friends right away, but things get weird when several of the boys all like the same girl - Olivia - and Olivia seems to like Vi. 

Based on Shakespeare's Twelfth Night - a play about mistaken identity and disguising who you really are - I quickly accepted that the school is populated by both humans and fairies and that magic is a thing. While knowledge of Shakespeare's plays adds some fun elements to the story - kids at the school are characters from Twelfth Night as well as Midsummer Nights' Dream and others, Twelfth Grade Night is an engaging story on its own. The students speak freely about gender and sexual orientation, and are of diverse culture and races. 

Lisa Librarian

Spice Road by Maiya Ibrahim - OPTIONAL


Spice Road
by Maiya Ibrahim
, 464 pages. Delacorte Press, 2023. $20.

Language: R (27 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Sahirans keep to themselves in the desert, protecting their magic and their people from the monsters in the surrounding area and the people beyond. Imani (17yo) is part of the Shields, like her older brother before he went missing a year ago. She’s given up on him for dead, but Amira hasn’t. And Amira might be right after all.

I had a difficult time reading Imani’s story because Imani felt more like an antagonist than a protagonist – she’s arrogant and selfish. When Imani went on her mission, she faced obstacles that continually cut her down, which meant I was watching an unlikable character fail over and over again. I didn’t find any enjoyment in that. Eventually, Imani started to change due to her character arc, but she still made choices I couldn’t relate with. I started enjoying the book three-fourths of the way in, but I can’t decide whether or not I’m willing to read a sequel. The magic system is cool, and it seems like there will be more of it to come; that’s the biggest draw for me.

The majority of characters, including Imani and her family and Taha, are either described as having “tawny” or “brown” skin or else are implied so. When White characters are introduced, it’s as outsiders. The mature content rating is for partial nudity, mentions of alcohol, and sexual assault. The violence rating is for weapon use, mention of suicide, fantasy violence, hanging, mentions of murder, and descriptions of corpses.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, January 25, 2023

What We Saw: A Thriller by Mary Downing Hahn - ADVISABLE

What We Saw: A Thriller
by Mary Downing Hahn
, 208 pages. Clarion (Clarion Books). 2022 $18. 

Language: G (3 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (description of violence - not on-page, also peril). 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Abbi and Skylar live across the street from each other and have been best friends since 3rd grade. It's the summer between 7th and 8th grade and the girls discover an abandoned tree house in a "bad" part of town, the perfect place to read on a hot day. When a couple of cars drive up, and they overhear what sounds like a meeting between a man and a woman, Abbi takes pictures of the cars and their license plates - in case they are spies or something. But when one of the meetings turns into a fight and the woman runs into the woods, Abbi and Skylar think they may have important information that could help solve a murder. 

I was thrilled to see a new Mary Downing Hahn - my students can't get enough of her books, and while this isn't a creepy ghost story, it's certainly an exciting murder mystery. There are some bullies their age that are pretty scary, as well as some dangerous adults. Note: I listened to the audiobook while reading along with the ebook and there were some pointed differences - the chapters didn't line up, as well as additional or missing text and some scenes played out much differently. 

Lisa Librarian 

Retro by Sofia Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman - ADVISABLE


Retro
by Sofia Lapuente and Jarrod Shusterman
, 400 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2023. $20.

Language: R (67 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When cyberbullying goes too far, Luna contacts the social media app Limbo for help making the situation right. Limbo decides to come to Luna’s high school to issue the retro challenge: go a whole year without technology made since the turn of the century. Luna makes new friends, learns more about herself, and tries to figure out why students participating in the retro challenge start to go missing.

I feel like Lapuente and Shusterman make a lot of good points about the damage that can be done on social media and the connection we lose when they are exclusively online connections. Social media isn’t necessarily evil, but we can be better about being kind and responsible social media and technology users. Luna is the narrator, talking directly to readers. Her interruptions of the story were disorienting, but it also felt like they were intended to be that way. I didn’t really like those breaks, but it wasn’t good or bad, just a literary choice. 

Luna is Spanish and Mexican, Kilo is Hawaiian, and Mimi and Axel are depicted as White on the cover. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, mentions of drugs, illegal activity, innuendo, mentions of penis and vagina, implied sex, and sexual assault. The violence rating is for cyberbullying, attempted suicide, and descriptions of scary scenes.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Twelfth by Janet Key - ADVISABLE

Twelfth
by Janet Key
, 354 pages. Little, Brown and Company/Poppy. 2022 $17. 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (evidence of physical assault, adult harming a child). 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Maren is attending Charlotte Goodman theater camp. Her sister is in treatment for depression - Hadley is now in college but went to the same camp for many years, and now Maren feels in her shadow as she tries to navigate the camp - hoping that people won't ask about her sister. She quickly makes friends with Theo, her bunkmate who identifies as non-binary. This may be the final year of the theater camp, as they are struggling for funding. Rumor has it that there may be a very expensive ring hidden somewhere on campus, and Maren, who is great at solving mysteries, is following clues while Theo films a "documentary" about her search for the ring. 

Told in alternating chapters - Maren's Theater camp experience and Charlotte Goodman's story (the 1930s-1950s which adds a bunch of Hollywood McCarthy era history). While theater people tend to be welcoming, some of the students' responses to non-binary Theo were, unfortunately realistic. Charlotte Goodman had been a director who presented male, and her story arc provides the mystery. There's a pretty nasty villain, she is ruthless and mean, and I think a bit over the top. I loved the theater school stories, the classes and the things the kids were learning were spot on. They pulled together a full Shakespeare production rather quickly, I'm hoping it was a children's theater version. Theater kids will like Twelfth. Includes a great interview with Jennifer Feldmann, MD on Gender Diversity. Characters' races and cultures were not defined 

Lisa Librarian 

Falling Out of Time (Running Out of Time #2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix - ESSENTIAL

Falling Out of Time (Running Out of Time #2) by Margaret Peterson Haddix
, 352 pages. Katherine Tegen (Harper), APRIL 2023. $18.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

12yo Zola loves her perfect life. Every day she gets fresh clothes from her InstaCloset; her food is delivered by the InstaOven. She and her classmates (who are from all over the world), meet in their VR classroom and fieldtrip anywhere they wish around the world and into the past. Then she finds a piece of paper in one of her outfits – someone is pleading for help. Zola finds out that her whole life is a lie – she and her mother are stuck in a Futureville – showing what life COULD be like in 2193, but really, they are living in 2023 – and everyone in Futureville is in trouble.

Haddix makes multiple great connections to Running Out of Time – fans of the first book will not be disappointed. She shows us how confusing Zola’s adapting to the present is, after she thought she lived in the perfect future. I can see why Haddix needed to wait 20 years – technology needed to reach a point where Zola’s future life could be possible. It looks like there will be a new cover of Running that coordinates with the cover of Falling.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS 

A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout - NO

A Shadow in the Ember by Jennifer L. Armentrout
, 551 pages. Blue Box Press, 2021. $20 (paperback)

Language: R (115 swears, 42 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (graphic, handsy kissing/ descriptive sex); Violence: R (baby murder/ violent graphic killing/ descriptive threats)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - NOT RECOMMENDED

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The first princess since the deal was made, Sera was born for one purpose: save her kingdom and kill the Primal of Death. She has trained her whole life for this in etiquette and weapons alike. So when the Primal turns her away, refusing to follow through with his deal and take her to his realm to marry, her life falls apart. Three years later, Sera has become her mother's personal assassin, but as the deal has gone unfinished, the kingdom is falling in rapid despair as it is claimed by both the Rot as well as violent, cruel gods. But not all gods are evil. In fact Sera may come to not only befriend one, but maybe just love him as they work to solve the issue of unruly gods. Ash is unexpectedly kind, unbelievable powerful, and is growing a little to close to Sera's heart for comfort. 

I'm not sure if it was because I had just finished a phenomenal series or something else entirely, but this book fell short in nearly every single category. The editing was atrocious and the book was full of grammatical errors; the writing and character development was subpar at best, and, worst of all, the characters were unlikeable and unbelievable. This book has nearly four and a half stars on both Goodreads and Barnes and Noble and is one of the most recommended on social medias, but I was not impressed! Not to mention the graphic sexual scenes including dirty talk and described arousal, this made for a rather unpleasant read. After reading this, I either need a phenomenal book to believe again that books are worth reading, or to take a month-long reading cleanse. Sera is white and Ash is a tan white man, both are straight. Most of their acquaintances also fall under this description except for Sera's stepsister who makes this book LGBTQ+ friendly.

Sierra Finlinson 

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman - HIGH

The Corpse Queen by Heather M. Herrman
, 401 pages. G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin), 2021. $14

Language: R (43 swears, 4 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (undescribed premarital sex, unwed pregnancy by side characters); Violence: PG-13 (Grave robbery and stealing parts from dead bodies, bloody remains, stabbing)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

In 1855 Philadelphia, Molly lives at an orphanage until her aunt requests that she live with her. Before she even meets her aunt, she’s told she has to pick up a package first which turns out to be nothing like she expects. Tom works for Molly’s aunt Ava and he picks her up from the orphanage, takes her to pick up the package then transports her to Ava’s home. Molly finally meets Ava and is given snippets of information about living there and what she’s required to do to stay. She’s expected to collect bodies for Dr. Lavall’s lectures and usually this requires dishonesty. Molly is eventually allowed to join the lectures and discovers that she wants to become a doctor herself even though she’s not welcomed into the surgical world by society or the other students. Molly also becomes deeply entwined in the mystery of The Knifeman and it’s going to take all her cleverness and bravery to keep from becoming a victim herself.

Suspenseful, creepy and frightening story kept me riveted. Molly’s strength overcomes her insecurities from being left in an orphanage by her parents and the abuse she suffered there. I enjoy the diverse characters and Tom’s personality and perseverance. The mystery is interesting. The characters are mainly Irish-American, white.

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

Monday, January 23, 2023

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman - ADVISABLE

 

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel and Trina Schart Hyman. PICTURE BOOK. Holiday House, 2022 (reprint, gift edition with a poster and 25th anniversary afterword). $25. 9780823452552

Content: PG (goblins, scares, gambling)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Hershel of Ostropol came into town on the first night of Hanukkah tired and hungry. But when he arrived, the village was silent and dark. Not a single Hanukkah candle could be seen. The villagers explained that they cannot have Hanukkah because of the Goblins haunting the synagogue at the top of the hill. Hershel decides to help the village. They tell him that he must spend eight nights in the old synagogue. The Hanukkah candles must be lit one by one each night. On the eighth night, the king of the goblins must light them himself to break their power. Hershel goes up to the synagogue and each night tricks each goblin and lights the candles. On the final night, will Hershel be able to trick the King of the goblins into lighting the candles himself?

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins is delightful and clever. I enjoyed finding out how Hershel tricked each scary goblin. Hyman’s illustrations were magical and masterful.

PGPowers 

Trigger by N. Griffin - OPTIONAL

Trigger by N. Griffin
, 256 pages. Atheneum (Simon & Schuster), 2022. $10 (paperback)

Language: R (67 swears, 22 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (severe neglect); Violence: R (physical child abuse and hunting child with a gun)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Small Town, USA is where Didi attends school, but she lives with her father in a secluded area. He’s abusive and neglects to give Didi everything she needs. Didi is terrified and on edge always, even when she’s not around her father because she’s worried she’ll do something wrong and he’ll find out somehow. Her father makes her run laps around the property so she can become as quick as possible but she doesn’t know why he cares about that. He also forces her to learn and play chess and compete in tournaments and she has to be the best. Eventually, Didi understands the reason her father has made her do these things but it might be too late for her to save herself.

The story is disturbing because of the neglect and abuse. The effects on the child’s physical and mental well-being are portrayed through the coping skills the main character develops over time to deal with her life; they were heartbreaking at times. The timeline jumps around and that was difficult to follow. Didi has brown hair but ethnicity is never stated of others. The ending was the best part.

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

How to Manage Your Social Power in Middle School by Bonnie Zucker, PsyD and DeAndra Hodge - ESSENTIAL

How to Manage Your Social Power in Middle School
(Kid Confident #1) by Bonnie Zucker, PsyD, illustrated by DeAndra Hodge
. 223 pages. NON-FICTION Magination Press. 2022. $17. 

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Social Power is the dynamic between you and another person (of a similar age). When Social power is unbalanced, one person tries to have power over the other, or take the other's power away. Sometimes this is mild - a friend ignores you or says something rude, or can be extreme - extreme power imbalance is called bullying. Especially in middle school, kids test out social power (most likely the cause of a lot of the drama at school). In this helpful book, kids are taught what their social rights are and how to be assertive; they learn about self confidence and self control and what to do to rebalance power. Dr. Zucker gives the reader several scenarios and how the kids in them worked through social power problems. 

She speaks to the reader in positive and helpful ways. I loved that she encouraged the reader to role play and make a plan. She called it a "Stress Inoculation Plan" because the more you practice the more confidence you feel and the better prepared you will be. I loved the note to parents at the beginning that says - your kid needs to learn to do this themselves, don't just call the other kid's parents. I loved the repetition and how the skills build on each other, and there are a bunch of extra resources. For sure buying for my library along with the rest of the series. 

Lisa Librarian

Breakup From Hell by Ann Davila Cardinal - OPTIONAL


Breakup From Hell
by Ann Davila Cardinal
, 304 pages. HarperTeen (HarperCollins Publishers), 2023. $19.

Language: R (183 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When Mica sees a new boy pop up three times in the same day, she takes notice. This boy, Sam, seems to really get her and she feels drawn to him in a way she never has before. Mica also starts having weird visions of fires, gains unexplainable strength, and notices that the weather has been getting warmer. The more time Mica spends with Sam, the more convinced she is that he is the source of these changes.

If you want a ridiculous and entertaining story, look no further. Cardinal throws together descendants of Satan and archangels, family secrets, and a new truck named Pegasus – readers never know what the next page will bring. Don’t let the handful of inconsistencies trip you up and just enjoy the ride.

Mica and her abuela are Puerto Rican, and most of the other characters are described as or are implied White. The mature content rating is for mentions of alcohol and underage drinking, innuendo, and mention of sex. The violence is for gun use and fantasy violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, January 22, 2023

The Queen of Nothing by Holly Black - HIGH

The Queen of Nothing (Folk of Air #2) by Holly Black
, 305 pages. Little Brown, 2019. $13

Language: PG (6 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (brief, undescriptive sex); Violence: R (High body count, murder and attempts of murder, a cannibal)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Jude has lost. The exiled High Queen of Elfhame, Jude has lost her husband, her power, and her world. She spends her days missing the magic, the scheming, and, as much as she hates it, Cardan. So when her twin sister Taryn arrives needing a favor and baring an opportunity to go back into Faerieland, Jude cannot refuse, and she soon learns that Elfhame is not how she left it. War is coming, prophecies are fulfilling, and curses are awakening.

The Queen of Nothing is a stunning conclusion to this brilliantly constructed trilogy. If anything, this series gets better as it progresses and the first two novels can almost be viewed as prequals that introduce and familiarize the reader with the world and characters so that one may fully appreciate the climax. This series is LGBTQIA+ friendly and violence heavy, including many undescriptive murders but it talks about death and blood quite a lot. 

Sierra Finlinson 

The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix - OPTIONAL

The Ones We Burn by Rebecca Mix
, 480 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2022. $11 .

Language: PG (11 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (drinking); Violence: PG-13 (Bloody deaths, not detailed) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

In an imaginary kingdom full of mixed ethnicities, Ranka is desperate to find Yeva. So desperate that she agrees to the betrothal of the Prince so she can search for her. Soon, Ranka’s companions include Prince Galen, Princess Aramis and the noble young ambassador Percy. After the virus winalin is discovered throughout the kingdom, the four companions want to stop it. Winalin is turning witches into diseased monsters that are intent on killing. While trying to get to the bottom of the mystery, their lives are completely overturned. Ranka, Prince Galen, Princess Aramis and Percy each realize that none of them might survive. 

I like that the story creates empathy and approaches the topic of abusive manipulation. Ranka’s character development is interesting. I like that there’s little swearing. The four main characters are lgbt and default to white. 

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Librarian, Delta, Utah 

Hummingbird by Natalie Lloyd - ADVISABLE

Hummingbird
by Natalie Lloyd
, 368 pages. Scholastic. 2022. $18. 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Olive has been home-schooled and wants more than anything to go to Macklemore Middle School and find a BFF. But, Olive is "fragile” because she has osteogenesis imperfecta, otherwise known as brittle bone disease. Her mother is worried, her teachers are worried and even some of the students are worried, but she is allowed to go as long as she stays in her wheelchair, which adds a layer of protection. Her first day isn't great - all the kids avoid her and she has an aide who pushes her slowly around the building and won't let her choose where to eat lunch. She's thrilled to see there are play auditions, but the drama teacher won't even allow her up on the stage - and there is no ramp. But when a rumor that a magical bird may be back to grant a "once in a generation" wish, Olive hopes to find the bird, and prove herself worthy. 

I really loved the touch of magical realism, it was a great surprise and changed the story from being about Olive's frustrations at not fitting in, to a hopeful look at what it really means to be fragile. The friendships Olive builds feel genuine and sweet, and I loved her supportive - yet careful parents and I don't blame them for being protective. The author also has OI, so details about Olive's condition and feelings were perfectly authentic. I will certainly be buying a copy and letting my theater kids know about it. Olive is white. 

Lisa Librarian