Saturday, January 30, 2010

After the Moment by Garret Freymann-Weyr - OPTIONAL

Freymann-Weyr, Garret After the Moment 336 pgs. Houghton Mifflin, 2009.

Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: PG13; Violence- PG. $17


Meet Maia Morland. Self-proclaimed train wreck. Enter Leigh Hunter. Popular, smart guy who on the outside has everything going for him. But everything changes the summer they meet. Although Maia has serious issues (anorexia, self-injury, sex contracts etc.) Leigh falls for her and takes on the "lover/protector" role. Everything goes well and Maia seems to be making progress with her struggles until Leigh is out of town and something terrible happens to Maia. Will their love conquer the issues that now face them?

This was an extremely hard book for me to get through. I didn't like the style of writing. It seemed too shifty and disconnected to me. I couldn't connect with the characters. Leigh's sex cravings/thoughts were too much for me. The ending was extremely unsatisfying. One thing I did find positive about this book was that it dealt with the grave, serious issues without too much detail or being too graphic.

Whitney, Library-Teacher.

Steel Trapp: The Academy by Ridley Pearson - ESSENTIAL

Pearson, Ridley Steel Trapp: The Academy, 408 p. Disney/Hyperion, 2010. $16 

Content: PG (mild kissing, some physical violence). 


Steven “Steel” Trapp and Kaleigh , fresh from their adventures at the National Science Competition, find themselves at an very exclusive private school – more exclusive than they even know. Steel’s perfect memory will be challenged, but so will his social skills, as he tries to maneuver the pitfalls of his new school, Kaleigh’s increasing attention to things besides detective work, and the dangers of their investigations into mysterious happenings around the school.

Welcome to America’s version of Muchamore’s Cherub books. While not quite as intense, Steel and Kaleigh are still very engaging and they are constantly on the run from one perilous situation to another. Enjoy!

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Wishing For Tomorrow by Hilary McKay - ESSENTIAL

McKay, Hilary Wishing For Tomorrow, 273 p. McElderry (Simon), 2010. $17

Content: G. 


Sara Crewe and Becky have left Miss Minchin’s Select Seminary for Young Ladies, but all of the others have been left behind. Such dramatic events can’t but change those who were involved. What will happen to Lavinia, Lottie, Ermengarde and even the stiff Miss Minchin? 

Ms. McKay gives us a rich look at the subsequent lives of the girls and their teachers – and you probably wouldn’t have been able to predict one things that happens, but you will certainly enjoy it all just as I did. I am thinking of putting this on the shelf right next to the original so that students who want it will be able to find it easily. If you have A Little Princess in your library, you had better buy this! 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia by Kimberly Sullivan - ADVISABLE

Sullivan, Kimberly L. Slobodan Milosevic’s Yugoslavia, 136 p. Twenty First Century (Lerner), 2010. $29 


21st Century continues its look at dictatorships with a look at Yugoslavia after the great break-up of the 1980’s, after the death of Tito. This is an excellently researched and written look at the history of Yugoslavia – how they arrived in a place that would foster such violence and at Milosevic’s politics and tactics in particular. 

This is only one title in what is so far a twelve book series. They are perfect for a World Geography class or a high school level World Government class. While the books may look short, the information is impeccable. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Fairies and Elves by Shannon Knudsen - OPTIONAL

Knudsen, Shannon Fairies and Elves, 46 p. Lerner, 2010. $21 


From the very first fairy tales to the modern world, Knudsen looks at the lore of the fairy and how it has evolved over the centuries. 

At first, at only 46 pages, I thought this title might be scant on information. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading it. If you have the money for a series for entertainment, then Lerner’s Fantasy Chronicles (5 titles to date) may be just the ticket. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Thursday, January 28, 2010

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater - ADVISABLE

Stiefvater, Maggie. Shiver, 392 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2009.

Language: PG; Violence: PG; Mature Content: PG13 (sexual encounter with no graphic description)


"In all the years she has watched the wolves in the woods behind her house, Grace has been particularly drawn to an unusual yellow-eyed wolf who, in his turn, has been watching her with increasing intensity." Told in alternating chapters from Sam and Grace's perspective, with the temperature duly noted, this story is similar to Twilight in three significant ways : Grace and Sam are drawn to each other almost immediately without the insight of shared experiences ; there is a lot of pining for one another but not much action (probably Shiver has even less than Twilight) ; and the author takes liberal license with the literary tradition of a mythical creature. In this case, the humans turn into wolves with the onset of winter and cold weather, and at some point become trapped in their lupine manifestation. A full moon and silver bullets don't enter into the story at all.

I read the book to the end so I could judge the appropriateness of the book for a middle school, but I don't know if I would have finished it otherwise. Nonetheless, I think teenage fans of Twilight will be happy with Shiver : a romance where the road to eternal bliss is threatened by a supernatural curse. The sequel is highly anticipated by Goodreads members (largest social network for readers online) and is scheduled to be released next year.

Cindy - Library Teacher

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Calamity Jack by Shannon and Dean Hale, illustrated by Nathan Hale

Hale, Shannon & Dean Illustrated by Nathan Hale Calamity Jack 144 pgs. Bloomsbury Publishing PLC

Language: G; Mature Content: G Violence: PG


Rapunzel and Jack are back in an exciting and new graphic novel! Jack has always been a little to the left of the law until one day his antics go too far. That was when he first met Rapunzel. Now as Jack returns home he finds out the giant Blunderboar has kidnapped his mother and taken over the town. With the help of a few friends Jack begins to cook up a plan that will rescue his mother and save the town to boot. Until he is betrayed! Now is their goose truly cooked? Find out by reading Calamity Jack.

In a second graphic novel adventure, Rapunzel and Jack return to entertain readers with their crazy adventures! Fans of graphic novels will love the combination of comedy and adventure that only the Hale trio can bring.

 Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library 

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Everlasting by Angie Frazier - ADVISABLE

Frazier, Angie Everlasting, 336 p. Scholastic, 2010. $18 


From the time she could walk, Camille Rowen has joined her father aboard his sailing ship. Now, however, she is about to get married and will have just one final trip. Unfortunately, on this trip, Camille’s father will die and a family secret will be revealed. Along her way, Camille will face many dangers and enemies of incalculable ruthlessness. She will discover that she is the heir to more than one great secret. She will also discover that love cannot be bought and sold, instead, the heart knows where it belongs.

Frazier manages to weave many dangers together without ever seeming contrived or calculated. The non-stop rush from beginning to end is an unrelenting sprint that includes a healthy dose of romance as leavening. If you can talk your girls into reading a sea-based adventure, you will definitely find some fans. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

The Wonders Inside: The Human Body - ESSENTIAL

The Wonders Inside: The Human Body, 90 p. Silver Dolphin (National Geographic), 2009. $20 


Once you show this fabulous book to any teacher of science, you will hard pressed to get it back. It doesn’t matter that it isn’t a multimedia, interactive, spectacle. The detail and brilliance of the technical drawings inside our bodies is endlessly fascinating. Each page is large enough for a class to see the detail – and if your teacher has a document camera, then so much the better. Be careful – because you made need to order more than one. Straight forward looks at the body educate without any titillation. Be confident of putting this on your shelf. And at this price – you can afford more than one!

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick - ADVISABLE

Fitzpatrick, Becca Hush, Hush, 391 p. Simon and Schuster, 2009. $18. 

Violence: PG. 


Nora Grey, sophomore, has been surviving the murder of her father, with the help of her best friend Vee. When the mysterious, beautiful Patch arrives on the scene, Nora is more than intrigued, she is mesmerized, even though it is a game of push and pull between the pair. Vee, however, is more interested in Elliot and Jules, cute, polite and much friendlier than Patch. What the girls don’t know is that Patch is a fallen angel – and he has the chance to become a guardian angel, if he can only save a human. And Jules has a deep, dark past of his own. Which of the two is more dangerous? 

This is Fitzpatrick’s first novel and I much enjoyed it. I read two fallen angel novels in one day, and this was hands down the better of the two. 

Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Al Capone Shines My Shoes by Gennifer Choldenko - ADVISABLE

Choldenko, Gennifer Al Capone Shines My Shoes (Al Capone at Alcatraz #2) 274 pgs. Dial Books for Young Readers, 2009.  $18

Content G


Moose Flanagan and his family live on Alcatraz island during the 1930s with some of the most dangerous criminals known to man. Following up from the previous book, Al Capone, notorious gangster who is in prison at Alcatraz, wants payback for helping Moose get his sister, Natalie, into a prestigious school for autistic children. As the criminals do all of the laundry for the island, Moose gets a note from Capone that simply states "your turn". Throughout the rest of the book Moose is looking over his shoulder for what will happen next. Through a series of events--some humorous, some chilling-- Moose learns that the line between good and bad is clearer than it seems.

The author did a fabulous job of really endearing you to the different characters, and I found myself liking each one if a different way. Also, although this is a sequel to the book Al Capone Does My Shirts, the reader will still be able to understand what is going and the book can stand alone.
That said, I was really excited to read this book because I knew that the first book was a Newbery Honor winner. After reading it I felt a bit let down. It was not a gripper by any means, and I feel like I had to trudge my way through it. I feel like there was a lot of build up in a lot of different spots and then nothing would happen so I felt let down again and again. I felt like the ending was the only time there was a real, satisfying resolution to all of the climax that had been going on. At any rate, there were enjoyable parts, and it was a very interesting book about the history and life of Alcatraz in the 1930s.

Whitney, Library-Teacher.

Tuesday, January 19, 2010

The Ring by Bobbie Pyron - PUBLIC ONLY

Pyron, Bobbie The Ring pgs. 254 WestSide Books

Language: PG13, MAture Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13


Mardie can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Not long after she is arrested on a charge of being ‘drunken and disorderly,’ she is caught shoplifting. Her grades are plummeting, her boyfriend hooks up with someone else, and her parent’s won’t get off her case! It also doesn’t help that she has a ‘perfect’ older brother who can do no wrong. When she discovers a girl’s boxing club at the local gym she decides to let her anger out through her fists. Soon she discovers that there is more to boxing then just punching the daylights out of someone. As she learns the ropes of boxing, she also begins to learn more about herself.

First time author Bobbie Pryon has hit the nail on the head with this captivating novel about a troubled teen who discovers herself through boxing. Filled with believable characters and thought provoking scenes, this novel will grab readers and leave them wanting more.

There is some language, including several ‘f’s. There are also some sexual references and make-out scenes. While the language and sexual references are realistic for today's world, they may not be appropriate for more conservative High Schools. However, no public library should be without this title.

 Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Library

Cold Hands, Warm Heart by Jill Wolfson - ADVISABLE

Wolfson, Jill, Cold Hands, Warm Heart, 245 pgs. Henry Holt and Co., 2009.

Language: R (10 swears 8 "f"); Mature Content: PG: Violence: G


Half the story is told in a third-person narrative that tells about Tyler's life - a boy whose younger sister dies suddenly in a gymnastic meet. We also meet other bit characters, such as nurses, doctors, donor personnel, and other donor recipients. The rest of the story is told in first-person by Dani, a teen who needs a new heart.

Right from the very first scene when Tyler's sister dies, this book tugged at my heart strings. I could feel the pain and heartache of Tyler and his family, the frustration and worry of Dani and hers. I learned a lot about what life might be like waiting for a transplant, and the pain and joy of connecting with a loved one who is already dead. The book is not about a interpersonal relationship between Dani and Tyler, but rather about how two opposite experiences -- one that inflicts long-lasting heartache and loss to one family and another that provides renewed hope, energy, and possibilities to another -- are really one story. Life and death are irrevocably connected on many different levels, and making connections between those that are experiencing death and those that are experiencing new life is important to both.

Reviewed by P.K. Foster, MS teacher-librarian.

The Leanin' Dog by K.A. Nuzum - ESSENTIAL

Nuzum, K.A. The Leanin' Dog179 pgs. Joanna Colter Books, 2008, 

Content: G


Dessa Dean can't go outside. She hasn't been able to since she saw her mother die on the cold snow. One day a dog comes to her doorstep and gives her hope. But will the dog stay? 

This story touched my heart. This girls love for the dog is just so sweet. I love the way her father cares for her and does what he has to help her. This story definitely deserves to be read.  

Student Reviewer: CRH

The Monster Variations by Daniel Kraus - ESSENTIAL

Kraus, Daniel. The Monster Variations, 256 pgs. Delacorte Press, 2009

Language: PG (42 swears, 0 "f"); Mature Content: G; Violence-PG


Someone is killing boys on a small town with a big truck, and three boys think they know who did it. Are they right? Or will the killing keep going? 

This book had me on the edge of my seat and kept my brain moving. I loved the action scenes and jus had to keep turning the pages. Congrats to Daniel Kraus for the great novel. 

Student Reviewer: CRH

Rule of Three by Megan McDonald - ADVISABLE

McDonald, Megan Rule of Three, 234 pages. Candlewick Press, 2009 

Content: G


Stevie is the middle sister in the Reel family. She has an older sister, Alex and a younger, Joey. Alex has been the actress in the family since forever; Joey is in LOVE with Little Women; and then there is Stevie - she likes to sing and bake her feelings into cupcakes. But when auditions for the school play roll around, Stevie decides that she is going to try out for the lead. Stevie is going to sign up for a cake-off and try to juggle the play. Will the play tear these once happy sisters apart, and can Stevie handle the pressure of these two major activities? 

This is a page turning comedy 

Student Reviewer:EM

Hate List by Jennifer Brown - ESSENTIAL

Brown, Jennifer Hate List, 405 pgs. Little Brown and Company, 2009. 

Language: R; Mature Content: PG; Violence: R; 


Valerie Leftman and her boyfriend Nick Levil aren't very popular in their high school. They come up with a list of all their enemies called the "Hate List". But when Nick shoots some of the people on the list in a school shooting Val realizes he was serious about the list. Read as she goes back to the school and faces all the students effected by the shooting. But Val finds that not all the people on the list were as bad as she thought. Will life ever return to normal or will she never be able to forgive the students that made her life miserable? 

Read in the Hate List.  


Monday, January 18, 2010

DarqStarz Rising by Allyson Black and Patrick Spaziante - OPTIONAL

Black, Allyson and Spaziante, Patrick. Darqstarz Rising. Simon Spotlight. 2009.


Scarlett and Crimson are trying to start up a new way of thinking through their band and website. The opportunity of a lifetime comes up when they join a Battle of the Bands contest. The Leetz (the popular girls at school), however, are trying to make it so that they win and not Scarlett and Crimson. Will Scarlett and Crimson win the Battle of the Bands and shine like the Darqstarz they are or will the Leetz get their way in the competition?

A fun book about self-discovery and friendship. Readers who enjoy music and realistic fiction type books will enjoy reading this story.

Reviewer: Jessica, Librarian Olympus Jr. High.

Animals by Miranda Smith - ADVISABLE

Smith, Miranda. Animals. Kingfisher Press. 2009. Pgs. 43.


Animals inhabit every nook and cranny of the earth. Some are mammals, some are amphibians, some are reptiles, some are bird, some are fish, and some are invertebrates (animals without a backbone). All, however, use various methods for attack, defense, mating, self-protection, traveling, raising young, etc.

This book introduces readers to the world of animals and what it means to be an animal. Although this guide it very basic, readers will enjoy the unusual insights it provides as well as the accurate illustrations and photos the author provides as well as the text they complement so well.

Reviewer: Jessica, Librarian, Olympus Jr. High.

A Really Short History of Nearly Everything by Martin Sanders - OPTIONAL

Bryson, Bill. A Really Short History of Nearly Everything. Ill. By Martin Sanders. Kingfisher Press. 2003. Pgs. 161.


Ever wondered how the universe was created? How inventors came up with their wonderful ideas and inventions?

This book will introduce you to space, Earth and its origins, and more. This book is a good overview to questions students may ask, but is not an end-all information book. Some things it mentions and talks about like they’re scientific facts are only theories. Despite it being very simplified for the average reader, those who joy question and answer books, are reluctant readers, or enjoy science and space book will enjoy reading this book.

. Reviewer: Jessica, Librarian, Olympus Jr. High.

Warriors vs Warriors ill. by Steve Stone - ESSENTIAL

Brereton, Catherine. Warrior vs Warriors. Ill. By Steve Stone. 64 pages. Kingfisher Press. 2009.


The most top-notch, ruthless fighting warriors throughout history have been brought together in the book’s arena to see who is the best fighter in history. Who will win?

The illustrations in this book are excellent. The facts are presented in a fun, easy-to-read format. Reluctant and avid readers alike will enjoy figuring out who will be deemed the most effective warrior in history.

Reviewer: Jessica, Librarian, Olympus Jr. High.