Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Peter and the Sword of Mercy by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Barry, Dave and Ridley Pearson Peter and the Sword of Mercy, Disney/Hyperion, OCTOBER 2009. $18.99. Content: G (some violence). Molly has married George and her children are starting to grow-up, when former Lost Boy James appears in a panic, asking for Molly’s help. When James never returns, she tells her young daughter, Wendy, all about the Starcatchers and Peter and the evil Ombra. Then Molly disappears and Wendy must find a way to get to the island of the Mollusk tribe and get Peter Pan to return with her to help. But there is trouble on both islands and even the Mollusks will have to do some quick thinking to keep the remaining starstuff our of Ombra’s hands. I was sucked in right away and enjoyed this one even more than #2 or #3. There are several really great laugh-out-loud moments; this Wendy is so much more than either the original books or the Disney movie ever let her be. The only things I can complain about is that I don’t know that there will be any more in the series, because it seems to have almost met up with the original story line – and I don’t understand where the character called the Skeleton came from (but I may jus t need to reread a little closer). What a FABULOUS adventure! EL, MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Monday, June 29, 2009

Mouse Count by Ellen Walsh

Walsh, Ellen Stoll Mouse Count (Cuenta de Ratón). Houghton Mifflin, 1991 (2009). $11.99. BOARD BOOK. BILINGUAL. Ten little mice are curled up for a nap when a hungry snake comes by to count them up and eat them for lunch. Quickly the mice must distract the snake and uncount themselves. A little bit scary and for a counting book, but the danger is short lived! Pre K-K – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment by Wendy Macdonald

Macdonald, Wendy Galileo’s Leaning Tower Experiment, illustrated by Paolo Rui. Charlesbridge, 2009. $7.95. PICTURE BOOK. 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! EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Dani Bennoni by Bart Moeyaert

Moeyaert, Bart Dani Bennoni: Long May he Live, 93 p. Front Street, 2008 (2004). Sexual Content: PG-13. Language: PG. Translated from the original Flemish. Bing is home, without his big brother Mone who has been drafted in to the Belgian army in 1939. When Bing tries to get the local soccer star to teach him how to play, so that he can play with Mone when he returns, Dani refuses and Bing decides to get revenge – ultimately setting up the revealing of the secret that Bing thought he held over Dani’s head. This novel is more obscure than it is illuminating or entertaining. NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Tree Shaker by Bill Keller

Keller, Bill Tree Shaker: The Story of Nelson Mandela, 128 p. 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; Mature 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.

MS, OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: KH

Gold Rush Kid by Mary Waldorf

Waldorf, Mary Gold Rush Kid, 232 p. Clarion, 2008. Billy, 12and his sister Edna, 16, have headed to Alaska to find their father, who left the family months ago when he went in search of gold. The journey has hard enough, but now stuck with Pa in the gold fields. Billy has grit and determination and not-too-small of a streak of luck and he manages to find his own strike, which causes tension within the family. I was surprised how much I really liked Billy and his adventures. This would be a good one hand to a teacher for a possible classroom novel. EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Truth or Dare by Mary Wilcox

Wilcox, Mary Truth or Dare (Hollywood Sisters #5), 200 pgs. Random House Inc., 2009. Language-G, Sexual Content-G; Violence-G; Jessica loves a good mystery. She finds herself trapped in one when she is on a movie with her sister. She has heard that the mansion that they are filming in is haunted. She can't wait to solve the mystery. This is a very good book. I enjoyed reading it. It is a book that will keep you thinking! EL, MS - OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: MB

Marley Z and the Bloodstained Violin by Jim Fusilli

Fusilli, Jim Marley Z and the Bloodstained Violin, 164 pgs. Penguin Group Inc., 2008. Language-G, Sexual Content-G; Violence-G;

Marley finds herself in the middle of another mystery when a police arrives and accuses her friend of stealing the famous Habishaw violin. She sets out to figure out who is behind this. This is a very interesting book. It definitely keeps you thinking. I like the location that they put this; they came up with some very cool characters as well.

EL, MS -ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: MB.

Invisible I by Melissa Kantor

Kantor, Melissa. The Amanda Project: Invisible I, 338pgs. Harper Teen-

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

Amanda Valentino suddenly disappears one day; leaving only clues to help them find her. But, her clues lead them to more than that. Everything she told them was a lie and it was turning into huge mess. Who is she really? What is her main purpose?

I loved this book! It was mysterious and enthralling. Every page made me thirst for more of the book. It’s a great book for teens who like mystery and adventures. First in the series of eight! I can’t wait for the next one to come out.

MS, HS- ESSENTIAL Student Reviewer: CW

Kingdom of Twilight by Tui T. Sutherland - OPTIONAL

Sutherland, Tui T. Kingdom of Twilight, 344 p. EOS (Harper), 2008.

Diana has been betrayed and stabbed by one of the other avatars. Now she is stuck in the underworlds (all of them) and is trying to find her way back to the real world. The other avatars have headed off to Africa in order to escape from the gods pursuing them and hopefully also a healer for Diana. None of them are trying to think of the final outcome – that only one avatar is supposed to survive and take on all of the power of the gods.

This is an odd little series – and I’m not sure I really like the titles or covers – but the overarching concept has been a lot of fun to read and enjoy.

MS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Big George by Anne Rockwell

Rockwell, Anne Big George: How a Shy Boy Became President Washington, illustrated by Matt Phelan. Harcourt (Houghton), 2009. $17.00. PICTURE BOOK. 300 years ago, George Washington was a shy young boy being raised by his adult half brother. He educated himself and traveled with Lawrence, his brother – and when the French-Indian Wars began, he answered the call of the King of England. This picture book is not about any one specific incident in Washington’s life, but instead uses simple language to cover the panoply of his life – from a young age until his years as the President. There’s almost enough material here for a younger student to write a biography from – a teacher could certainly use it for a unit in class. EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Little Green Pea by Alison Barber

Barber, Alison The Little Green Pea, illustrated by Paige Keiser. Sleeping Bear Press, 2009. $15.95. PICTURE BOOK. A little green pea dreams of growing into something big, but he needs the help of a wiggly worm to get to a place where he might have a chance. As much as I liked the illustrations in this book, the text mystified me. It seems to imply that the peas had a chance to grow into a tree, or maybe it was just saying that the pea became fertilizer for a real tree. Either way, the ending fell flat for me. NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Milo’s Special Words by Charise Harper

Harper, Charise Mericle Milo’s Special Words, 22 p. Robin Corey (Random House), 2009. Milo wants and wants, but his Mommy won’t help him until he uses his special words. Then, as smart little kids can, Milo decides to try the special words to get some other things! Flaps to lift and wheels to turn make this a fun read-aloud book for a parent and child. PARENTS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Molly Bannaky by Alice McGill

McGill, Alice Molly Bannaky, illustrated by Chris K. Soenpiet. Sandpiper (Houghton), 1999 (paperback 2009). $6.99. PICTURE BOOK. At the age of 17, Molly Walsh was sentenced to seven years indentured servitude in the New World for twice allowing a cow to kick over her pail of milk. In the New World, Molly served her time, cleared herself some land and bought a slave, Bannacky, whom she later married and with whom she raised a small family. In time, her grandson Benjamin Banneker became a learned man, a scientist and a mathematician. It is nice to discover true stories of courageous women and men from a time where history seems to try to tell us that every black was stupid and women were only fit to be ruled by their men. EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

In Our Mothers’ House by Patricia Polacco

Polacco, Patricia In Our Mothers’ House. Philomel (Penguin), 2009. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK. A girl recounts the good times and the hard times growing up with her brother, sister and her two mothers. Polacco’s rich celebration of a living family is a good addition to any collection and it is a good choice to bring to the attention of your Teen Living teachers also. EL, MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Jimmy's Stars by Mary Ann Rodman

Rodman, Mary Ann Jimmy’s Stars, 272 pgs, Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR); Language~G, Sexual Content~G; Violence~PG
In today’s world of an all volunteer military, the draft doesn’t stir up the sense of fear that it once did. During both World Wars and Vietnam our country has drafted men to build their military. This meant that if your draft number came up, you stopped your life and became a soldier. . . . and sometimes you didn’t come home.

Ellie adores her older brother. He makes her feel special and important in a way no one else does. Then one day he receives a telegram calling him to service. Ellie’s world is shaken, but she is sure he will be back by Christmas. She lives for his letters and is so proud of the star hanging in her window that tells everyone he is serving his country. Then one day their family receives the dreaded telegram telling them that her beloved Jimmy has died.

This novel is a poignant yet sweet story of a young girl growing up in war time and how she deals with the worst news any family could get. Nicely done.

Upper EL/MS ADVISABLE Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Gone With the Wand by Margie Palatini

Palatini, Margie Gone With the Wand, illustrated by Brian Ajhar. Orchard (Scholastic), 2009. $16.99 PICTURE BOOK. When Beatrice Sparklestein, Fairy Godmother extraordinaire has a very bad wand day, her best friend, Tooth Fairy Second Class Edith B. Cuspid takes things into her own hands to cheer her friend up. No one will be able to resist a giggle at the quirky, colorful illustrations in the adorably funny charmer. I predict it to be a favorite read-aloud very quickly! EL – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Forest Born by Shannon Hale

Hale, Shannon Forest Born, 400 p. Bloomsbury, September, 2009. $17.99. Content: G.

Rin, Razo’s sister, has to leave her forest home. She knows that something is wrong with her, but home has no answers. She joins her brother at the palace and finds herself right in the middle of intrigue and danger. Rin, Isi, Enna and Dasha will desperately pursue Isi’s son into Kel, where someone is waiting to kill them.

I loved Goose Girl, but not Enna Burning or River Secrets so much. Forest Born brings the magic of Shannon Hale back for me; I am very glad that I read it.

EL, MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Adios Oscar by Peter Elwell

Elwell, Peter Adios Oscar: A Butterfly Fable. Blue Sky Press (Scholastic), 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Oscar the caterpillar is certain that he will turn into a butterfly that migrates to Mexico, so he studies hard and works on his Espanol. When he emerges from his cocoon as a moth, however, he is somewhat disappointed until his best friend Edna reminds him that he can be a moth that thinks like a butterfly. Oscar is a pretty adorable caterpillar and it is fun to watch him realize his dream. EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Fritz Danced the Fandango by Alicia Potter

Potter, Alicia Fritz Danced the Fandango, illustrated by Ethan Long. Scholastic, 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Fritz the Goat sets out to find other goats who might dance the fandango with him, but instead finds his place with a yodeling sheep and a herd dog with a glockenspiel. The simple, bright line drawings fit this tale perfectly; I’m so glad Fritz found some friends and children will be too. EL, - OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Mudville by Kurtis Scaletta

Scaletta, Kurtis Mudville, 264 p. Knopf (Random House), 2009. Moundville ahs been known as Mudville for longer than Roy, 12, has been alive. Why? Because the rain has not stop since the dramatic postponement of the big baseball game 22 years ago. Then one day, soon after Roy acquires a foster brother, the rain stops – and no one is sure what to do. Except the kids, who know that it is time to resurrect the old ball field and start up their own game. This book would be much better without the last two pages – I just don’t understand the need. EL – OPTIONAL.

Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System! by Kathleen Kudlinski

Kudlinski, Kathleen V. Boy, Were We Wrong About the Solar System! Illustrated by John Rocco. Dutton (Penguin), 2008. $15.98. PICTURE BOOK. With bright, funky pictures, Kudlinski and Rocco explore the different ways that our views about space have changed through the centuries. A simple timeline in the back fills in the details that were not in the text – just enough information without being pedantic. Any science classroom could easily use this picture book to talk about the importance of discovery, technology and the changing understanding of our world and solar system. EL, MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Secret Life of Prince Charming by Deb Caletti

Caletti, Deb The Secret Life of Prince Charming, 322 p. Simon and Schuster, 2009. $16.99/ Language: R; Sexual Content: PG-13. I made it all the way to page 225 when I threw away my pencil and quit counting the swears (145 swears, 25 “f”). Caletti’s books are for the oldest teens and adults, not for the general YA audience. NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert and Sullivan by Jonah Winter

Winter, Jonah The Fabulous Feud of Gilbert and Sullivan, illustrated by Richard Egielski. Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Sullivan is sick and tired of writing wonderful music for Gilbert’s very silly operas. When he takes a break, both men get the inspiration they need to rekindle their imaginations and create more enduring stage works together. While the illustrations are fun and grabbing and the text is witty and droll, this is mainly a specific use picture book – either as a resource for a unit on Gilbert and Sullivan or as a gift for a someone who is interested in the pair. EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Anatomy of Wings by Karen Foxlee

Foxlee, Karen The Anatomy of Wings, 360 p. Jennifer, 11, has been unable to sing since the death of her older sister. Now she is trying to put together the few clues she has to make sense of the death. I waded through 180 pages of this and just couldn’t take one more word. I was bored to tears. Others may call it lyrical, poignant and touching – I just call it dry and boring. NO. Cindy, Library-Teacher

City of Secrets by Mary Hoffman - OPTIONAL

Hoffman, Mary Stravaganza: City of Secrets, 318 p. Bloomsbury 2008.

Violence: PG

Matt has dyslexia and struggles to excel in school – and to impress his girlfriend. On his 17th birthday he is drawn to an old leather-bound book which is actually his talisman to travel into Talia, where he meets the other Stravangati. The di Chimi family is making another play for power over Talia and Matt is the key to thwarting them.

I thought the series was done with City of Flowers, but obviously I was wrong. I’m not sure that I would care too much about another Stravanganza book after this one, but the cover ia an eye-catcher.

EL, MS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Crazy Hair by Neil Gaiman

Gaiman, Neil Crazy Hair HarperCollins Language~G; Sexual Content~G Violence~G

Newbery author Neil Gaiman has given readers another fabulous children's book. Don't be put off by the pictures, for they are unique. This is a story about a man with 'Crazy Hair' that houses everything from birds to people. It is also about a girl who tries to tame it and is in for a surprise. The text and the pictures work seamlessly together to provide readers with a very enjoyable read. I loved it!

Everyone–ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3 by P.J. Haarsma

Haarsma, P.J. Wormhole Pirates on Orbis 3 (Softwire #3), 378 p. Johnny and the others are moving on to Orbis 3. But this time they are not slaves – they have a guardian and are going to school with the children of the citizens. The citizens don’t like it much, but they have no choice, especially when Johnny and the others have the highest test scores in the history of Orbis 3, beating the pants off the “regular” students. Entertainment here revolves around Lyld-den-oo, a game that the space kids know as Quest-Nest. Johnny and a few others will be drawn into a life-or-death version of the game, at the mercy of a group of wormhole pirates, one of which seems to have a personal vendetta against Johnny. This kind of space novel is more for hardcore space fans, a much smaller audience than your fantasy readers. I like Johnny and his friends, but you will have to point students at it. MS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Drive Me Crazy by Erin Downing

Downing, Erin Drive Me Crazy, 210 p. Simon Pulse, 2009. $6.99. Content: G. Kate is ready for a summer road trip with her best friends, especially since the prize at the end is being reunited with Lucas, her summer love from last year. Unfortunately, she must share the ride with Adam, Alexis’s sarcastic cousin, who rubs Katie the wrong way. The road to true love is never smooth – and maybe the destination is not what Katie thinks. I can’t get enough of the Romantic Comedies series. Cute and funny and well worth buying. MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Solving Zoe by Barbara Dee

Dee, Barbara Solving Zoe, 223 p. Margaret K. McElderry (Simon), $15.99.

Content: G.

Zoe doesn’t have the showy talents of her siblings or even of her other friends at her exclusive performing arts school. But an eccentric new student arrives, sure that Zoe does have a special talent, and his antics push Zoe away from her friends and almost out of school all together. Zoe can’t survive on daydreaming her way through school any more – now she has to engage and decide where she actually wants to be.

Unfortunately, this book is not as charming as Dee’s Just Another Day… book. Zoe and her friends are so far removed from most kids’ school experiences that this will have a harder time finding an audience.


The Art of Frank Howell by Frank Howell

Howell, Frank The Art of Frank Howell, text by Michael French. 150 p. Doubleday (Random House), 1997. $35.00. While he is Native American and the subjects of his paintings are Native American, Frank Howell is not a niche artist. This beautiful book explores a large number of Howell’s works and his history, his triumphs and his struggles with his art. Schools with an intense art program or with a Native American bent should add this to their collections. HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Minnow and Rose by Judy Young

Young, Judy Minnow and Rose: An Oregon Trail Story, illustrated by Bill Farnsworth. Sleeping Bear Press, 2009. $17.95. PICTURE BOOK. Minnow, a Native American girl is fascinated by Rose a white girl, who is in return drawn to Minnow. The girls need each other when there is trouble as Rose’s family gets help from Minnow’s tribe as they ford their wagons across a wide river. Young’s fictional account of two little girls from different lives meeting provides a nice counter balance to later stories of war and mutual destruction along the Oregon Trail. EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Prairie Builders by Sneed B. Collard III

Collard, Sneed B. III The Prairie Builders: Reconstructing America’s Lost Grasslands, 69 p. Houghton Mifflin, 2005. $8.95. PICTURE BOOK (now in paper). By the early 1900’s, 96% of America’s tallgrass prairie had been plowed under. In 1992 , scientists in Iowa embarked on a bold experiment to recreate the flora and fauna of the tallgrass prairie and create from scratch a new ecosystem. The amount of detail makes this book best for the teacher, who can then extract what they want to share with their classes – or as a primer for a class/school butterfly garden project – the more long term the better. The pictures are beautiful and inspiring! EL, MS - OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Sniper by James Riordan

Riordan, James The Sniper, 226 p. Frances Lincoln, 2008. $8.95(paper). The Russian Army has recruited girls to act as snipers during WWII and send them out to capture the Commander-in-Chief of the Germany army during their attempt to capture Stalingrad. Based on a true story. Boys who are interested in the un-niceties of war will probably love this very frank, gritty novel. If any one needs to be reminded that war is not pretty, this is one way to read about it! MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

What Mr. Darwin Saw by Mick Manning

Manning, Mick and Brita Granstrom What Mr. Darwin Saw. Frances Lincoln, 2009. $17.95. PICTURE BOOK. In the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, we are overloaded with books that want to teach us about his life. This one has short vignettes, heavily focused on his voyage on the Beagle. There is too much here for a teacher to read in one sitting – and I have no idea if Darwin is even covered in elementary school at all. This almost feels like too much book for a science classroom, but not enough for a student doing research. MS - OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Monday, June 15, 2009

There Was an Old Monster by Emberley - ESSENTIAL

Emberley, Rebecca, Adrian and Ed There Was an Old Monster. Orchard (Scholastic), 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK.

In the tradition of the old woman who swallowed a fly, join a monster who tries to get rid of a tick he swallowed with larger and larger creatures.

Not just for Halloween – young students will enjoy the increasing creepiness as the monster tries harder and harder to rid himself of the original pest! Now we just need a hand puppet for the read aloud!

EL (K-3), EL – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Pastworld by Ian Beck - OPTIONAL

Pastworld, by Ian Beck, 320 pages. Bloomsbury, November 2009. $16.99. 

Violence: PG-13


Caleb is visiting Pastworld for the first time with his father, one of the original creators of the project – a restoration of the entire city of London to its Victorian past. There is enough danger on the means streets of the step back into the past, but the reappearance of the Fantom, a creature who seems to be a reincarnation of Jack the Ripper, means that Caleb is personally in danger. When he meets Eve, a lifelong resident of the park, the two of them together are the catalyst to the final confrontation. 

At times I was thoroughly absorbed in that plot  - at others I couldn’t tear my eyes away because it read like a train wreck – the fluctuations in quality were very disconcerting. It Probably need another 50 pages to flesh things out. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Sorceress by Michael Scott - ESSENTIAL

The Sorceress (Flamel #3) by Michael Scott, 483 p. $17.99. Delacorte (Random), 2009.

Violence: PG


Perenelle is still stuck on Alcatraz, while the twins and Flamel have escaped the destruction of Paris and are seeking allies in London. Machiavelli and Dee are hell-bent to destroy all four heroes – and the twins still aren’t sure that they can actually trust Flamel.

Come what may, there is great danger and great magic aplenty!

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt - ESSENTIAL

Scaredy Squirrel at Night by Melanie Watt. PICTURE BOOK. Kids Can Press, 2009. $17


Scaredy Squirrel illustrates the important reasons for a good night’s sleep as our friend tries to stay awake in order to avoid scary dreams. 

This cute picture book makes the point brilliantly – and would be great for children of many ages. The Teen Living teacher will be using it at my school! 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew - ADVISABLE

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac, illustrated by Sonny Liew, 160 p. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Disney Press, 2009. $19.99. 


Alice has left Wonderland, but now Mary Ann, the White Rabbit’s maid has returned from her errands and must protect her employer from the wrath of the Queen of Heats, who wants to know who betrayed her. Originally published as five comic books and now gathered together. The illustrations are beautiful! And it’s all pretty funny. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Gettysburg Address illustrated by Michael McCurdy - ESSENTIAL

The Gettysburg Address, illustrated by Michael McCurdy. PICTURE BOOK. Houghton, 1995 (reissued 2009). $14.95.  


The Gettysburg Address is actually a very short speech that Lincoln gave at the dedication of the Soldiers’ Cemetery at Gettysburg. Michael McCurdy has paired powerful black and white drawings with Lincoln’s words to create a book well worth sharing with any unit on Lincoln, the Civil War or war in general. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Saturday, June 13, 2009

The Black Sphere by E.L.Young - ADVISABLE

The Black Sphere (STORM #3) by E.L. Young, 299 p. Dial (Penguin), 2009. $16.99. 

Content: G (mild violence and suspense). 


The STORM group is on the move again. This time the niece of a dead scientist is asking for their help. Her uncle may have been part of group working to perfect cold fusion – a multinational energy corporation is willing to commit murder to keep the process for themselves. Will has some new gadgets to try while Gaia and Andrew apply their brains to the mystery. 

All three of the STORM books to date are full of smart kids, dangerous situations and international intrigue. I think they are a lot of fun. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Winter Wood by Steve Augarde - ADVISABLE

Winter Wood by Steve Augarde, 504 pages. David Fickling (Random House), 2009. $18

Content: G


Who knew that after all these years that Midge’s great-great aunt Celandine was still alive. The Various need Celandine to keep her promise, but she cannot, or will not, rememeber the tiny people – or what she did with the Orbis. Without the Orbis, the Various will not survive much longer in this world. It is up to Midge to pursue the secret and put together the pieces of the puzzle. 

It’s been awhile since Celandine (number 2 in the series) was published – and since then the covers have been reworked – THANK GOODNESS! It was so hard to sell these books to students with the bland covers! Now the covers match the adventures MUCH better! If you ahven’t bought the series before, do it now, making sure you get the new covers. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Most Loved in all the World by Tonya Hegaman - ADVISABLE

Most Loved in all the World by Tonya Hegaman, illustrated by Cozbi A. Cabrera. PICTURE BOOK. Houghton, 2009. $17 


Every night, after she finished her work in the cotton fields, a slave mother stitches the pieces of a quilt for her daughter to remember her – after mother sends daughter on a trip to freedom on the Underground Railroad. 

While this book is not based on any one particular event, the book adds to what might be true about slaves, quilts and the Road, though much has been lost to history. It is a very loving story. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Down, Down, Down by Steve Jenkins - ESSENTIAL

Down, Down, Down: A Journey to the Bottom of the Sea by Steve Jenkins. PICTURE BOOK. Houghton, 2009. $17.00. 


Using cut-paper art, the author dramatically illustrates the variety of life at the different depths of the ocean – from above to surface to the depths of the Marianas Trench. While just the words on each page would make this a valuable book for sharing with any class, there is even more information at the back of the book. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Double Eagle by Sneed Collard III

Double Eagle by Sneed Collard III, 238 pages. Peachtree, 2009. $16.95. 

Language: PG


Mike, 13yo, has been sent to Florida to spend the summer of 1973 with his marine biologist dad at a field site for his Dad’s college classes. Mike is angry and disappointed, but finds a friend in a local boy, Kyle. Together the two boys explore a Civil War fortress and find a double eagle gold coin, supposedly minted by the Confederates. But when their questions attract the wrong attention, the boys’ search for any other coins turns deadly – right in time for the biggest hurricane of the season. 

I don’t really understand why this book needed a historical setting, as this is not a work of historical fiction. It is interesting, but not top shelf interesting. 

Cindy, MS Librarian

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan - ESSENTIAL

The Last Olympian by Rick Riordan, 381 pages. Disney Hyperion, 2009.

Violence: PG


Percy and his friends are gearing up for the final battle against Kronos and his minions. The Gods themselves are struggling against Typhon, a Titan let loose on America’s heartland, but Percy and his friends are sure that the final battle will center around New York City and the entrance to Olympus itself. The will gather what forces they can and make their final stand. But according to the prophecy, one hero will die.

The identity of the Last Olympian is not whom you may think, and I actually enjoyed the concept very much – it’s a sweet idea that makes you fell as if the whole struggle and the death and destruction is well worth it.

Cindy, Library-Teacher

The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn - OPTIONAL

The Diamond Secret by Suzanne Weyn, 209 pages. Simon Pulse, 2009. $6.99. 

Content: PG (murders of Romanov’s described)


Nadya doesn’t remember her life before the orphanage or before she came to work in the tea room in rural Russia. Two men, however have plans for her as they journey to Stalingrad and on to Paris and train Nadya to pass as the murdered Princess Anastasia. 

I don’t really understand why this is included in the Once Upon a Time series – it just doesn’t fit for me. Nevertheless, the story is good and reminds me a lot of the Disney movie. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher

Iron Jaw and Hummingbird by Chris Roberson

Roberson, Chris Iron Jaw and Hummingbird, 355 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2008. $20

Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG (off page).  


Iron Jaw was plucked from the streets and raised with an excellent education; after eight years and winning a bet for her mistress, she is unceremoniously returned to the streets and manages to make living as a grafter, under the tutelage of an older con. Hummingbird was the privileged son of wealth; on his first trip to become a soldier for the emperor, he is captured by bandits and eventually embraces their cause. When the two meet, they forge a plan to topple their planet’s government and find freedom and justice for all. 

For 200 pages I slogged through the couple’s back story – and watched the core action happen within five pages – and then saw the whole story dry up and blow away, ending in a whimper. I bought this book based on several review source recommendations and was greatly disappointed. The video game-like cover will capture kids’ attention, but be prepared for them to be disappointed. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher