Wednesday, May 27, 2009

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment by Wendy MacDonald and Paolo Rui - ADVISABLE

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment by Wendy McDonald, illustrated by Paolo Rui. PICTURE BOOK. Charlesbridge, 2009. $8 


A young boy who is dropping his uncle’s lunch to him from a bridge, catches Galileo’s attention and leads the two to experiment. Based on a legend (never documented) of Galileo throwing things from the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa in order to disprove Aristotle’s teachings about falling objects.

Share this one with your science teachers, but be careful – if you read this one to your students, they will probably start dropping all manner of things from all manner of heights!

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela by Bill Keller - ADVISABLE

Keller, Bill Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela, 128 p. NON-FICTION. Kingfisher, 2008.

Black and white and full-color photos and ever-changing colored watermarks highlight the life of Nelson Mandela in this visually stunning work of non-fiction. The basic biography lasts only 90 pages, but several articles from the New York Times, many of them by the book’s author, add some important source material to the book. Student’s looking for a Mandela biography will enjoy this one.

MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

City of Time by Eoin McNamee - OPTIONAL

McNamee, Eoin City of Time, 336 p. Wendy Lamb Books, 2008

Language: G; Sexual Content: G; Violence: PG.


Owen and his friends, Cati and the Professor, make an astonishing journey to Hadima, a desperate move in order to save their planet from totally being destroyed from lack of time. On this journey Owen begins to understand his great responsibility as the Navigator.

This was an OK book. It had a very interesting storyline, and interesting characters, but the book just wasn't that fun to read. It held out scenes and jumped through others so fast, it didn't flow smoothly, which made it difficult to read.

Student Reviewer: KH

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan - ADVISABLE

Tales from Outer Suburbia by Shaun Tan, 96 pages. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2008

Language – PG; Sexual Content – G; Violence – G


This collection of 15 short stories – some very short, only a paragraph or two long – are combined with illustrations that relate stories about events and characters in a most unusual suburb. There is a water buffalo that offers directions, stick figures whose presence confuses the other residents, an amnesia machine, and a missile in every back yard. Brothers travel to the end of the map; a family takes in a foreign exchange student; grandpa relates the events of his wedding day.

From curious to thought-provoking, these stories offer interesting reads. Useful to discuss relationship between text and images, or to practice predictions.

Reviewer: P.K. Foster, MS teacher-librarian.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Here’s How I see It; Here’s How It Is by Heather Henson - OPTIONAL

Here’s How I see It; Here’s How It Is
 by Heather Henson, 264 pages. Atheneum (Simon), 2009. $17


Something is wrong with 12yo Junebug’s summer – her mom has moved across the property and Dad is running their summer stock theater by himself. To add insult to injury, a gorgeous actress from New York seems to be taking up her dad’s attention and a strange young man, who June nicknames Thespis, seems to want to take over her place in the company.

Turning 13 is hard enough without all of this other turmoil. Each short chapter starts with Junebug’s observation on how she wishes the world would be and then goes on to explain what is really happening. I have a feeling that adults will be charmed by the format and characters – and I think most students will give it a pass.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

A Season of Eden by J. M. Warwick

Warwick, J.M. A Season of Eden 248pgs. Grove Creek Publishing

Language~PG-13; Sexual Content~PG-13 Violence~PG


“He's my teacher. I shouldn't be alone with him. But I can't help that he's irresistible.” taken from ARC’s back cover. Eden is looking forward to her last semester in high school and takes Chorus for an easy ‘A.’ What she didn’t expect was a new teacher, Mr. Christian, who was not much older than her and h-o-t! Eden falls fast and hard and knows she shouldn’t but can’t resist. Living in a ‘palace,’as she calls her multi-million dollar home, life is not so good. Her father and step-mom have all but ignored her since they got married. She lost her mother to cancer and not 2 months later she had a new young step-mom. Now 10 years later her father’s marriage is on the rocks and Eden just wants to ignore the whole thing. Meanwhile at school it is obvious that Mr. Christian is in to her and they begin to meet at a Starbucks away from school. Will they ever be able to be together in public?

Warwick has given readers a semi-believable novel about what can happen when a young teacher let’s down his guard and a senior goes after what she wants. Surprisingly, I only counted 1 swear an ‘h.’ There is heavy petting and lots of passionate kissing, but no sex. The relationship of teacher/student is disturbing and the story is mediocre and since the senior is 18, legally they have done nothing wrong. I would save this for public libraries.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

First Stop, New York by Tracey West and Katherine Knoll - NO

First Stop New York by Tracy West and Katherine Knoll, 144 pages. Grosset and Dunlap

EL, MS – NO 

There are no ratings for this book, because I couldn’t get past the first ten pages without being absolutely turned off by how poorly written this book is. I highly doubt there are any swears or even hints at sexual anything. I was insulted at the pedantic and relatively stupid dialog. The writing is so ‘lame’ no teen would stick with it beyond page 1. Needless to say, I didn’t read the book in its entirety. I skimmed it and seeing that it didn’t get any better, I tossed it. I wouldn’t waste my time or money on this series.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Monday, May 25, 2009

Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson by Deborah Hopkinson and Stephen Alcorn - ADVISABLE

Keep On! The Story of Matthew Henson, Co-Discoverer of the North Pole, by Deborah Hopkinson, illustrated by Stephen Alcorn. Peachtree, 2009. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK.


This very dense picture book contains a wealth of information about Matthew Henson and his trip with Robert Peary to find the North Pole – first. Whether for Black History Month or for a unit on Scientists and Explorers. This is not a book that could be read in one day – instead using only parts of it would be best in a classroom situation.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight by Kathleen Krull and Amy June Bates - ADVISABLE

Hillary Rodham Clinton: Dreams Taking Flight by Kathleen Krull, illustrated by Amy June Bates. Simon, 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


The Hillary Clinton’s dreams are laid out as Ms. Krull looks at her life from just a little girl to the woman who almost became the candidate for president. Ms. Bates’ illustrations are a perfect companion for the succinct text, and together they make their point without preaching. This is as much a book about the change in the opportunities available to women as it is a look at Clinton’s life.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Friday, May 22, 2009

Artful Reading by Bob Raczka - ESSENTIAL

Artful Reading by Bob Raczka. First Avenue (Lerner), 2007. $10. PICTURE BOOK.


Through 24 paintings and a simple rhyming text, Raczka unfolds the worlds and dimensions of reading. Old masters and modern classics are side by side, showing how easy it can by to collect art that relates to a theme. I adore Raczka and I want to share this book (now in paperback) with both my art teachers and my Language Arts teachers.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

A Certain Strain of Peculiar by Gigi Amateau - NO

Amateau, Gigi A Certain Strain of Peculiar, 261 p. Candlewick, 2009. $17

Sexual Content: R, Language: PG.


Mary Harold Woods is only 13 years old, but she is fed up with life in her Virginia town, being ostracized and criticized by everyone in the whole school, and sick of her mother’s resistance to moving back to their hometown. So, she takes matters into her own hands and drives herself to Alabama. There she hopes to find herself, and maybe a friend and a place.

Mary Harold is okay and I mostly enjoyed her story, BUT – there is one scene that, were this a movie, would make this rated “R”, easily. It’s kind of similar in thought to Are You There God, It’s Me Margaret, but much more descriptive. I wasn’t charmed enough to ignore that. And doesn't it bug you when the cover of a book, especially a characterization of the protagonist doesn't match the author's description?

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

March Toward the Thunder by Joseph Bruchac - ESSENTIAL

Bruchac, Joseph March Toward the Thunder, 298 p. Penguin, 2008

Language: PG; Sexual Content: G; Violence: PG-13


Louis Nolette is an Abenaki Indian from Canada. When he joins the army for the final years of the Civil War, he learns that war is never what you expect. He also discovers prejudice, acceptance, courage, and cowardice in the most surprising places.

I really liked this book. I've never really been into historical fiction, but this book was really interesting and kept me entertained to the very end. It was very well written and a good viewpoint into what war was like in those times.

Student Reviewer: KH

Sea Change by Aimee Friedman - OPTIONAL

Friedman, Aimee Sea Change, 304 p. Scholastic, June 2009. $17

Content – G (one sexual innuendo)


Miranda and her mother are headed off to Selkie Island for the summer to cloean up the family summer home and sell it off. Miranda has never been to Selkie, had never met her grandmother, and Mom hasn’t returned since high school. Miranda meets an intriguing local boy, but there are secrets hidden on Selkie Island and they aren’t all just family secrets.

The only thing I don’t like about this book is the cover – it looks hot, sexy and romantic, but the romance is probably the least of the parts of this story. Plus I can’t tell which is the girl and which is the boy (too much makeup!). This would be a better buy if it were coming out in paper.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Take the Reins by Jessica Burkehart - NO

Burkehart, Jessica Take the Reins, 249 p. Aladdin Mix

 Language R (says “G” way too many times), Sexual Content G, Violence G


Sasha Silver and her horse, Charm, have been accepted into the elite Canterwood Crest Academy. When they first arrive things start off disastrous! Canterwood is so big and spacious she is at first overwhelmed. On her first day she loses her horse, and causes trouble with her trainer and another girl in her grade. She makes an enemy on her first day. After she settles in, however, she begins school and makes some friends. She also meets this hot new guy named Jacob and makes some girls jealous.

This book was a pretty good book overall. I liked how it involved horse competition as well as normal everyday life. The only thing I did not like about it was how much it swore. It was hard to enjoy while trying to overlook all the swearing. Interest Level:

Student Reviewer: AR

Marvels in the Muck by Doug Wechsler - ADVISABLE

Marvels in the Muck: Life in the Salt Marshes by Doug Wechsler. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Boyds Mill Press, 2008. $17.95. 


Explore the flora and fauna of the salt marshes in this non-fiction title. Beautiful photographs on each page accompany detailed in formation on life cycles, food webs, and the interdependence of the species of the marsh. A classroom teacher could pick out certain pictures and pages to share with their students, but also any student doing biome research will find exactly what they need for their reports.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Oooh! Picasso by Mil Niepold and Jeanyves Verdu- ADVISABLE

Oooh! Picasso by Mil Niepold and Jeanyves Verdu. Tricycle Press, 2009. PICTURE BOOK.


Nieplod and Verdu have taken five of Picasso’s sculptures and brought them to life through re-imagining the parts and the whole, as they explore the whimsy and the expression of his art. While there are few words with the pictures, the multitude of lessons ideas that can come from this one book make this an important title to share with your art teachers.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Guardian of the Darkness by Nahoko Uehashi - ADVISABLE

Uehashi, Nahoko Moribito II: Guardian of the Darkness, 272 p. Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), 2009.


When Balsa was just six, she had to flee for her life with the help of her father’s friend, Jiguro. He protected her from the wrath of eight assassins and trained her in the fighting arts. Now, Jiguro is dead and Balsa feels the need to return to her homeland and meet his family and seek out what might be left of her own family. But though the evil king has died, Balsa does not know that danger and possibly death awaits her on the other side of the mountains.

What a very different story from the first in the Moribito series – and what a great one! Balsa is a fabulous fighter, but a also a great human being; her homeland is well-fleshed with mythos and culture and exciting people to meet. I know that my students enjoy Hoobler’s Asiatic books, so I think they will enjoy these also.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Independence Hall by Roland Smith - ESSENTIAL

I, Q: Book One: Independence Hall by Roland Smith, 293 pages. Sleeping Bear Press, 2008. $9

Content: G


On the day of their parents’ wedding, Angela and Q are forced to help each other find their way through the treacherous path of step-sibling-dom. But more dangerous paths await the pair, because Angela’s real mother was a Secret Service agent, killed in the line of duty – or so everyone thought. It’s much more complicated than that! It involves international espionage, an unknown twin sister and a private firm of bodyguards who are willing to die in order to keep Angela from being kidnapped!

WOW! What a rollercoaster ride! Perfect for all of those students who are digging fast-paced detective novels right now.

 Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Mama Says by Rob D. Walker - ESSENTIAL

Walker, Rob D. Mama Says: A Book of Love for Mothers and Sons, illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Scholastic, 2009. $17 PICTURE BOOK


Mothers from all around the world give their sons advise as they make their way into adulthood. Every beautiful illustration in this book is accompanied by text in English and text in language of that country.

This would be a fabulous book for the beginning of the year in any geography class to talk about cultural clues and identity. I showed this to one of my teachers and she went and bought her own copy that night. Oh, and it’s a great book for a mother to give to a son or vice versa.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Backtracked by Pedro De Alcantara - OPTIONAL

De Alcantara, Pedro Backtracked, 249 p. Delacorte (Random), 2009. $16

Language: PG; Violence: PG.


The World thinks that Tommy’s older brother Jimmy was perfect, especially since he was killed Turing the 9/11 attacks. Tommy copes by rebelling and spread his graffiti all over New York City, but an especially dangerous prank turns deadly and Tommy finds himself thrown back through time – first to 1918, working in the original subway tunnels; then to 1932 and the midst of Prohibition; and finally to 1942 where he gets caught up in World War II. Aong the way, Tommy learns a lot about himself and what making good choices in life actually means. But will he ever return intact to his former life so that he can put this change of heart to use?

There is no lack of action and tension in De Alcantara’s book, but I am afraid that this one will need help to find its audience.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Fetch by Laura Whitcomb - OPTIONAL

Whitcomb, Laura The Fetch, 379 p. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. $17.


For centuries, Calder has existed as a Fetch, a spirit who appears to someone who is dying and escorts them through a Door, down the Hall and on to their afterlife. But twice now, Calder has seen a beautiful girl/woman and is certain that they are meant to be together. So, he defies all Fetch wisdom and commonsense in pursuit of a woman who is not what she seems to be. Now he is stuck in the body of Rasputin, his love is the now dead Queen Alexandra and Calder must cross the world with two of Alexandra’s children in tow in order to find his Key and his Door in order to escort the two to their destiny.

Should I mention that Rasputin is causing (or preventing) a rebellion in the Land of Lost Souls? Students who know something about the Russian Revolution and about Rasputin will understand this book much more than those who happen upon this. While this is aimed towards the YA audience, I think adults will enjoy it much more than teens.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

On Rough Seas by Nancy L. Hull - ADVISABLE

Hull, Nancy L. On Rough Seas, 261 p. Clarion, 2008.


In 1940’s England, Alec is determined to make something of himself and sneaks aboard a boat going that is heads across the English Channel. Unfortunately, that boat is part of the rescue effort at Dunkirk, during one of the many dangerous missions during WWII.

If I had judged this book by the cover, I would have never picked it up. I hope that the paperback version is much more exciting to go along with a valuable historical fiction novel.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Diamonds by Ted Michael - OPTIONAL

Michael, Ted The Diamonds, 342 p. Delacorte (Random), 2009. $9

Language: PG-13. Sexual Content: PG, some alcohol content.


For three years, Marni has been a proud member of the Diamonds, the rulers of Bennington School since their freshman year. This year Clarissa, the leader of the Diamonds, has decided to cement their supremacy by taking over the school’s mock trial group and turn the whole process as a way to humiliate their enemies – or anyone else they feel like taking down. And after helping create this system of oppression, Marni has set herself up as a target by dating Clarissa’s ex behind her back. Now that she is no longer a Diamond, will Marni be able to create a life for herself? Or is revenge on the horizon?

I was more entertained by this book than I thought I would be; I am, for the record, not a supporter of “Mean Girl” books as a rule, nor books about spoiled rich girls who get everything that they want. SO, while this is not a fine piece of literature, it was a good read, with a tip of the hat to the American Revolution in the process.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Happenstance Found by P.W. Catanese - ESSENTIAL

Happenstance Found (Books of Umber #1), by P.W. Catanese, 342 pages. Aladdin (Simon), 2009. $17

Violence: PG


One minute the boy opens his eyes and it feels as though that was the beginning of his everything. Minutes later his life is in danger as people find them and they must together escape for their lives, first from a gigantic worm monster intent on eating them and then from a fast-sinking island. Umber, the man who rescued the boy, whom he dubs Happenstance, takes Hap back to his castle and tries to integrate him into his household. Hap wants to know who he is and why an assassin is chasing him, but he doesn’t realize he should probably instead ask who is Lord Umber.

A grand piece of fantasy – I can’t wait to collect the series – how ever long it may be.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry - ESSENTIAL

Berry, Julie The Amaranth Enchantment, 306 p. Bloomsbury, 2009. $17

Content: G


Lucinda has been a virtual slave in her uncle and aunt’s jewelry shop since the night her parents left for a grand ball and never returned. Then one day a suspected witch with a wondrous gem walks into the shop and nothing will ever be the same again. Soon thereafter, a handsome young man appears and so do a sneaky thief and a goat named Dog. When the jewel disappears, Lucinda must make amends and put herself in danger in order to solve much more than a simple theft. Berry’s writing flows so smoothly that I was surprised to find myself at the end of the book; and I was surprised to find that she is a first time author.

The book may feel like a light fairy tale or fantasy, but when the twists appear, and they will startle you when they do, they fit perfectly with what you should have been paying better attention to! I hope Berry has more ideas in her head, because she should become major competition for Shannon Hale!

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Reluctant Heiress by Eva Ibbotson - OPTIONAL

Ibbotson, Eva The Reluctant Heiress, 325 p. Speak (Penguin), 2009, 1982. $10

Content: G


Guy was a rough and tumble youngster who grew up challenging and protecting everything around him with equal fierceness. Now, at the end of WWI, he has a made a fortune and the woman of his dreams, for the last ten years, is a widow and ready to accept his hand in marriage. As a wedding present he has bought her a castle near Vienna and brought in a theater company to perform for all of their guests. What he doesn’t know, however, is that the castle’s princess, now impoverished, is working for the company, and she is the one who is destined to be his love.

In the 1980’s, Ibbotson wrote several romance novels basically variations on the same theme – impoverished royal girls who are in dire circumstances who will fall in love and be rescued and restored to their former glory. The books and easy on the eyes and while romantic, do not contain the trashy romance that is usually associated with the genre. At $10 each, they are a good way to satisfy the romance lovers in your crowd.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Things Change by Patrick Jones - ADVISABLE

Jones, Patrick Things Change, 216 p. Walker, 2004 (new in paperback), $7.95.

Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13


Johanna was a perfect, straight-A student, but happy-go-lucky, charming Paul has caught her attention and she is willing to overlook a wide variety of faults in order to be within his circle. Even the fact that he is dominating, controlling and abusing her. Joanna’s wakeup call may come too late- she will have to face facts and reach out to get the help she needs to break the cycle.

This book is so powerful and so moving that I totally champion its place within the shelves of high school libraries. Your copies will probably be stolen – so be ready to replace them as needed.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Silksinger by Laini Taylor - ESSENTIAL

Taylor, Laini Dreamdark: Silksinger, 441. Putnam (Penguin), September 2009. $19

Content: G


Whisper Silksinger is the last of her clan and has been charged to protect their most precious burden – the ember containing Azazel, one of the most important creatures in the world. Hirik, however is a Mothmage – the clan most despised by all the faeries, for allowing the destruction of an entire city; he is determined to tell the true story behind the treachery and restore his clan’s honor. They will need to join forces with Magpie Windwitch and her friends in order to fulfill both their goals and learn to trust each other. Blackbringer (#1) was great and Silksinger lives up to the challenge spectacularly.

Point this series at your fantasy readers and prepare for an onslaught!

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Dinosaur by Stephanie Stansbie - ESSENTIAL

Dinosaur by Stephanie Stansbie, 40 p. Little, Brown, 2008. MOVABLE BOOK.


You really need to get your hands on this book! Stansbie has distilled the new information about dinosaurs and added amazing graphics and all kinds of flappable flaps and foldout pages that will fascinate anyone who picks it up. 

If you have dinosaur books that are older than three years, its time to replace them – the whole realm of dinosaur classification has changed and this book contains a wealth of facts, figures and pictures. Yes, you may lose a few of the removable pieces, but what is left is still well worth having. And any dinosaur crazy child would love this as the perfect gift.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Eternal Smile by Gene Luen Yang & Derek Kirk Kim - ADVISABLE

Yang, Gene Luen and Derek Kirk Kim Eternal Smile 176 pgs. First Second

Language~G; Sexual Content~PG Violence~PG


In three entirely different stories, Yang has presented another masterpiece that will cause readers to pause and think. The first tale is of a young boy who is battling demons on the inside. The story shows his struggles through dreams. The second tale is of a character absorbed by the need to obtain wealth. It is odd and yet poignant. The third tale is of a young woman disappointed by her life and its outlook. All three stories center on the need to look outside of oneself and see the bigger picture. These stories are a quick read and would make excellent classroom discussions.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Monday, May 18, 2009

Walking to School by Eve Bunting - ADVISABLE

Walking to School: A Story from Northern Ireland by Eve Bunting, illustrated by Michael Dooling. Clarion, 2008. PICTURE BOOK.


Allison was excited to go to her Catholic school, until the first day, when she and the other Catholic students had to walk a gauntlet of taunts, threats and projectiles as they walked with their parents along the edge of a Protestant neighborhood. Today it is her mother and her Uncle Frank with her, but Allison knows that Frank has caused problems for Protestants in the past and she doesn’t understand why – all she wants to do is to go to school.

This picture book would be an excellent classroom addition, especially if paired with The Other Side by Woodson or Across the Alley by Michelson.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Yes, I Know the Monkey Man by Dori Hillestad Butler - ADVISABLE

Butler, Dori Hillestad Yes, I Know the Monkey Man, 196 p. Peachtree, 2009. $16.95.

Content: G


First Sam discovers that the twin sister she never knew she had (and that everyone else thought had drowned) is alive. Now Sara – who goes by the name T.J. - is supposed to be coming for their mother’s wedding. But T.J. doesn’t want to leave her luckless father, nor her sickly grandmother and resists the idea all together. When she gets pushed into going, however, T.J. starts unraveling the carefully constructed house of lies and self-deceptions that she and her father have built around themselves all these years.

I like this sequel even better than I liked “Whatever Happened to Janie” all those years ago. The strange title makes this one a little harder to sell, but the readers I have talked to were excited to find out there was a sequel.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Lucy Long Ago by Catherine Thimmesh - ADVISABLE

Thimmesh, Catherine Lucy Long Ago: Uncovering the Mystery of Where We Came From. NON-FICTION. Houghton Mifflin, 2009. 61 p.


Through photographs, diagrams and charts, Thimmesh coalesces the discovery, research and discussion about Lucy into a coherent whole. Though the book is short, the information is detailed enough for a well-written research presentation by any level of student. There is actually too much here for most elementary students, but older students and Science teachers at higher levels should read this text.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Musician’s Daughter by Susanne Dunlap - ADVISABLE

Dunlap, Susanne The Musician’s Daughter, 317 p. Bloomsbury, 2009. $17


It’s Christmas Eve and Theresa, 15, finds out that her father has been murdered and his violin is missing. In 18th century Vienna, life if difficult for those without wealth or connections. Luckily, Theresa’s godfather and her father’s former employer, Franz Joseph Haydn, is concerned for the family and helps Theresa and she puts her own life in jeopardy in order investigate the murder, even if means disobeying her mother and exposing the treachery of someone important to the family.

This is not technically historical fiction, as it does not explain a moment from history. Instead, Ms. Dunlap uses history to create a charming setting for a murder mystery. Theresa makes many new friends along her way – and even finds time for love.. But she is no pushover – she doesn’t need love in order to win the day.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Shine, Coconut Moon by Neesha Meminger - OPTIONAL

Meminger, Neesha Shine, Coconut Moon, 253 p. McElderry (Simon), 2009. $17

Violence: PG; Language: PG. Sexual Content: PG.


Samar may be Indian, but her mother has raised her alone and always taught her to blend in. Then, four days after the events of 9/11, Sam’s turbaned uncle shows up on their doorstep, setting Sam on a rocky path of introspection and self-discovery. How is it that one day everything can feel perfect and then the next day you look around and it seems like it was all a lie? Samar is no longer sure about the loyalty of her best friend, she no longer trusts her mother and she doesn’t feel so sure about her boyfriend either.

This author’s first novel clunks occasionally with situations or dialogue that don’t ring true and it does have a weird side story of Sam and her best friend collecting trashy lingerie in anticipation of their eventual “first time”. But the feelings and sentiments surrounding the aftermath of 9/11 are spot on.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Elska by Catherine Hapka - OPTIONAL

Hapka, Catherine Elska (Horse Diaries), 113 p. (including appendix). Random House, 2009. $6

Content: G


Elska is a Icelandic filly, gorgeous with her silver dappled coat, very frisky and devoted to the girl human Amma. But, a powerful neighbor takes notices of Elska and she must go with him. Not understanding, Elska does her best to return to her first friend.

Horse crazy little girls will adore this young readers series that anthropomorphizes horses’ thoughts and actions.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Miss Match by Wendy Toliver - ADVISABLE

Toliver, Wendy Miss Match, 275 p. Simon Pulse, 2009. Content: G. $7


Sasha Finnegan has a talent for helping people catch the eye of a secret interest, so much so that she has started herself a little business. Then a Hot New Guy, Derek, comes to school and he wants Sasha to set him up with her hot older sister Maddie. Sasha’s not sure about this one, because she thinks that Derek may be perfect for herself, instead. Can’t she just be greedy this one time?

I love the Romantic Comedies series from Simon and Schuster. This one is s perfect fit with the rest.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Meltdown by Andy McNab - ESSENTIAL

McNab, Andy and Robert Rigby Meltdown, 248 p. Penguin, 2007

Language: PG-13; Sexual Content: G; Violence: PG-13.


Danny and his grandfather are back to working in the field again. Only, now the missions are getting even more dangerous. They are now trying to stop a deadly illegal drug called "meltdown" from being produced by two rich brothers with too much time on their hands. Will they fail if the only ones they can really trust are each other? This book was very good! I've really been into action books and movies lately, and this was a very good one. There was lots of suspense and lots of twists and turns. It was a very interesting book and fun to read.

Student Reviewer: KH

The Negro Speaks of Rivers by Langston Hughes - ADVISABLE

Hughes, Langston The Negro Speaks of Rivers, illustrated by E.B. Lewis. Jump at the Sun (Disney), 2009. PICTURE BOOK.


Langston Hughes wrote his poem exploring the collective soul of all Negroes during the Harlem Renaissance. Now E.B. Lewis adds evocative pictures to the simple words.

Any class that touches on the Black Experience could easily use this book as a jump start for a lively discussion. Actually, I find it too mature for elementary students – instead it rightfully belongs in middle schools, high schools and colleges.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Devil on Trial by Phillip Margulies - ESSENTIAL

Margulies, Phillip and Maxine Rosaler The Devil on Trial: Witches, Anarchists, Communists and Terrorists in America’s Courtrooms, 201 p. Houghton Mifflin, 2008. NON-FICTION. $22.


Five famous trials are explored in this look at the path of justice role of courts in American history. The Salem’s witches, the Haymarket bombing, evolution in schools, Alger Hiss and one of the 9/11 conspirator. Each of these trials seized the attention of the people of that day and most of them are still discussed in classrooms all over America.

This would be a perfect book for a teacher to do background research, an American government class, or civics.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Sunday, May 17, 2009

North of Beautiful by Justina Headley - ESSENTIAL

Headley, Justina Chen North of Beautiful, 373 p. Little, Brown, 2009. $16.99.

Content: G


Everyone thinks that Terra is beautiful, until they see the large port wine stain on her face, then the odd glances and whispering begins. Her father’s verbal abuse towards Terra and her mother is almost unbearable, and her brothers rarely come home because of it. Then Terra meets a Goth boy who challenges her very ieas about herself, her family and everyone around her. Mom and Terra take a bold step and join the boy, Jacob, and his mother for a once in a lifetime trip to China – mapping out a whole new future for everyone.

Fans of Sarah Dessen will eat this book up. Girls will choose it just by its cover and then want more. Personally, I love that Headley makes her point without resorting to gratuitous language or sexual content.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Bloodhound by Tamora Pierce - ESSENTIAL

Pierce, Tamora Bloodhound (Beka Cooper #2), 534 p. Random House, 2009. $19

Violence: PG


Beka Copper has survived her puppy days and graduated to Dog. But, there are Dogs and then there are DOGS and Beka wants to be one of the good, or great, ones, so she is having a hard time finding a partner she can respect. Now she is back partnering with Tunstall and Goodwin – just in time for Tunstall to beak both his legs in a bread riot. Goodwin and Beka must go to the town of Port Caynn, masquerading as bad Dogs, in order to flush out the source of fake money that threatens to ruin the economy of all Tortall. There is some bad business afoot and Beka will need all of her resources – her magic talents, her new bloodhound and her pigeon friends to escape this assignment alive.

There are 16 books now in the Tortall universe and I think they just keep getting better.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Door of No Return by Sarah Mussi - OPTIONAL

Mussi, Sarah The Door of No Return, 391 p. McElderry (Simon), 2009.

Violence: PG


Zac Baxter loves his grandfather, but he thinks his weird stories about being the son of a king and about hidden treasure are just the mutterings of a crazy old man. Then his grandfather is murdered, all of his possessions are stolen and someone is trying to frame Zac for something he never did. Zac figures that the only way to find peace is to actually prove his grandfather either right or wrong, but clues are slim and they all lead to a dangerous situation in Ghana. Zac will have to retrace his ancestor’s steps through a slave fort, uncovering secrets and putting everyone around him into danger.

Mussi has taken real events and places from history and created a tale of intrigue, peril and betrayal by the very government of Britain.


Dream Girl by Lauren Mechling - ADVISABLE

Mechling, Lauren Dream Girl, 320 pgs. Random House.

Content - G


Ever since Claire was little she has been having these strange visions that haven’t been so clear, but when she suddenly gets a birthday present from her grandmother they become strangely clear. I think that this is a really good book, it kept me up half of the night wondering what was going to happen.

Student Reviewer: SA

Out of the Shadows by Sarah Singleton - NO

Singleton, Sarah Out of the Shadows, 252 p. Clarion, 2006.


More thana hundered years ago, Isabella and her younger brother fled the mortal world for the land of faerie, in order to escape persecution. Now Isabella has returned to the human world, and there she finds another young girl in danger of prejudice, a young Catholic in a land of Protestants. Together, they might find a way for both of them to have lives full of wonder.

Unfortunately, Isabella’s story did not hold my attention. It neither details the risks that Catholics faced, nor did it create a tale of wonder.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Bad Girls Don’t Die by Katie Alender - ADVISABLE

Alender, Katie Bad Girls Don’t Die, 352 p. Hyperion, 2009. $15.99.

Content: PG (Violence)


Anti-social Alexis does her best to fly low and avoid the wrath of the cheer-leading crowd, even after they publically humiliated her best friend, leaving Alexis without a support group. Now highly eligible BMOC Carter finds Alexis intriguing and wants to get to know her better. But Alexis’ doll-crazy little sister is attracting bad attention, and acting really weird. Her blue eyes turn green, she speaks in a strangely old-fashioned manner and dangerous things happen around her. Alexia may lose her life before she is ever ready to find love.

If your students grew up on Mary Downing Hahn or Betty Ren Wright, this is a great next step in ghostliness.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Saturday, May 16, 2009

The Dead and The Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer - OPTIONAL

Pfeffer, Susan Beth The Dead and The Gone (#2), 336 pgs. Harcourt Children's Books

Language~PG, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG-13


The moon has been knocked out of its current orbit and is now closer to the earth. This upsets tides, awakens volcanoes, and disrupts satellite transmissions. Alex Morales, 17yo, is at home with his 2 sisters when the disaster strikes. His parents are missing and it is up to Alex to provide and care for his family as food becomes scarce and NYC becomes more and more uninhabitable.

Pfeffer includes more discussion of the dead, people who commit suicide or starve to death. Alex goes ‘body shopping”, looting the bodies of the dead for items that may be used to barter for food. The outlook of this installment is much less hopeful almost bleak, however Alex’s holds tight to his religious faith to sustain him. The discussion of the dead may be disturbing to some read. There are scenes of violence that describe the panic that ensues. There is much mention of the Catholic faith and practices. There are no official swears, but Alex does curse “idiota” and once hits his sister. Many teens have told me this installment is not as good or as captivating as the first.

Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Robert Smalls: The Boat Thief by Robert F. Kennedy Jr. and Patrick Faricy - OPTIONAL

Robert Smalls: The Boat Thief, by Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., illustrated by Patrick Faricy. PICTURE BOOK. Hyperion, 2008. $17. NON-FICTION.


In 1862, a small group of slaves stole the fastest gunship in the Confederate arsenal and made an audacious escape to freedom. Robert Smalls, the mastermind, went on to captaincy in the Federal Navy and remained an activist all his life. Though this may look like a picture book, there is a huge amount of content on every page and not as many pictures as you would expect.

This would be daunting for young student to read for enjoyment. But, that means it has a wealth of information for older students who might be writing a report. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Friday, May 15, 2009

Dandelion Fire by N.D. Wilson - ADVISABLE

Dandelion Fire by N. D. Wilson, 466 p. Random House, 2009. $17

Content: G


All seems to be back to normal on Henry’s uncle’s farm until the day that Henry is struck by lightning (or is he?) and loses his sight. Blind, he is kidnapped and taken through the cupboards. His family decides to follow them in, along with a couple of neighbors stuck with them in some sort of alternate Kansas. Adventures ensue until all are reunited.

I actually liked this one better than the first – the picture of the cupboards and the various universes become somewhat clearer and Henry becomes a stronger character. I am so VERY glad that his cousin Henrietta gets a good figurative spanking, because she was way too smug in her supposed cleverness for my taste.

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Chancey of the Maury River by Gigi Amateau - ESSENTIAL

Chancey of the Maury River, by Gigi Amateau, 246 pages. Candlewick, 2008.

Content: G


When Chauncey is left abandoned in a field, he is sold to a lady in the Blue Mountains by the Maury River. He helps to heal a girl whose parents are going through a divorce. In turn, she helps him overcome his rough past and they learn how to let love into their lives again.

I really enjoyed this book. It was easy to get into and had some really good morals. It’s a book I would call “good and clean”.

Student Reviewer: AR