Friday, April 30, 2010

Porky and Bess by Ellen Weiss and Mel Friedman

Friedman, Mel and Weiss, Ellen Porky and Bess 48 p . Random House Books for Young Readers 2010. $12.99. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. Porky the pig is friends with Bess the cat. They are opposites, Porky not minding a mess and Bess being very tidy. The second Tuesday in April is Poem-Reading Day. Porky wants to write a poem that he can read. He had a hard time thinking of rhyming end words. To pass the time he decides to bake a cake and wants to put in his special ingredient, moonlight. Much to his dismay, when he opens the can, the moonlight is gone. Bess comes to the rescue and lets him use her "foggy night on water" ingredient. They are able to bake a cake together and Porky finds the missing word to his poem. He rhymes end with friend. EL(K-3) - ADVISABLE. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

The Smash! Smash! Truck Recycling as You've Never Heard it Before! by Aidan Potts

Potts, Aidan The Smash! Smash! Truck 48 p. David Fickling Books 2010. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. This book explains how recycling is happening all around us. It talks about how atoms are recycled on Earth, and that Earth recycles atoms all the time. Our land, which is made up of atoms is constantly changing, but always recycling. The water cycle is another example of recycling that is happening right now. Human beings are also made up of recycled atoms. We could contain atoms that used to be in glass or other living things. It stresses how important it is for us to recycle glass because it sits for hundreds of thousands of years before being "smashed up." The sound of glass smashing used to mean that something broke, but now it just means that the green recycling truck is here to pick up the glass. EL - OPTIONAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub

Holub, Joan Groundhog Weather School 32 p. Putnam Juvenile 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. Groundhog day is here and rabbit is so excited, the prediction is that it will be spring. Rabbit puts on his Hawaiian shirt and heads outdoors to find snow on the ground. He writes a letter complaining that maybe the weather groundhog should hire more helpers to cover the weather all over the country. The weather groundhog thinks this is a great idea and soon recruits more groundhogs to help him. They have to go through Groundhog Weather School first. Once the students have learned what seeing their shadow means, how to dig a burrow, and why they hibernate they are ready to help the weather groundhog. On the next Groundhog Day, they all come up and give their predictions. The predictions are sent to the main headquarters, where the weather groundhog predicts that it will be winter for another six weeks. Rabbit is excited and heads outside with a sled. He finds sunshine and realizes that it is hard to predict the weather. This is a cute and informative book about groundhogs and explains how Groundhog Day works. EL - ESSENTIAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Snow Globe Family by Jane O'Connor

O'Connor, Jane Snow Globe Family 48 p. Puffin 2008. $6.99. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. There lives a family on a hill, it consists of a mama, a papa, a girl, a boy, and a baby. On top of their mantel is a snow globe. Inside of that snow globe lives a similar family. No one in the family notices the snow globe family except for the baby. The snow globe family desperately wish they could get a really big snow storm, but no one has shook the snow globe for a long time. One day, the baby is able to get a hold of it, and shakes it as hard as he can. The little family in the snow globe is ecstatic and they are able to go sledding. They hope another big snow storm will come their way. EL - ADVISABLE. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Sweet Dreams Lullaby by Betsy Snyder

Snyder, Betsy Sweet Dreams 32 p. Random House Books for Young Readers 2010. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. This is a very relaxing and peaceful read. The story rhymes and paints vivid pictures in your mind. A young bunny is going to bed, and its mother tells it peaceful images to relax it. The mother says to think of "eggs wrapped in a nest where mama bird has come to rest," and to "dream of clouds like puffy pillows; a canopy of weeping willows." She wants to make sure that her bunny will go to sleep with peaceful dreams. EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

First Kids by Gibbs Davis

Davis, Gibbs First Kids: Step into Reading 48 p. Random House 2009. $3.99. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. This is a great book for students who are just learning how to read paragraphs. It is step 4 in the Step into Reading program. You learn about what it would be like to grow up in the White House. Tad and Willie Lincoln, Jesse Root Grant, Roosevelt's children, the Coolidge boys and many more are described with humor and entertaining stories. The boys used to play pranks on the staff, let animals roam the White house, and form their own clubs. This is the updated version so it also includes Malia and Sasha Obama. I found it entertaining to read, and informative at the same time. EL - ESSENTIAL. Anna Mattheus. Elementary Teacher.

Beck's Bunny Secret by RH Disney

Rh Disney Beck's Bunny Secret 48 p. RH/Disney 2010. $3.99. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. A fairy named Beck is known for taking in stray baby animals. Another fairy, named Fawn, is constantly making fun of her for doing this. One day, Beck finds a baby bunny and she knows she must keep it a secret from Fawn. The baby bunny named Bitty goes missing and Beck looks everywhere for it. She checks by the peas, the beans, and the carrots and no luck. Then she hears a rustle in the grass and finds Bitty being taken care of by Fawn. Fawn had been taking care of the baby bunny the whole time, so they decide to take care of it together from now on. EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE. Anna Mattheus. Elementary Teacher.

Sunday is for God by Michael McGowan

McGowan, Michael Sunday is for God 40 p. Schwartz and Wade 2010. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK. Sundays are for God, that is what Mother says. A young boy has to go to church on Sunday. Going to church means wearing white shirts and ties, getting up early in the morning, and having to sit still during the sermon. Although the young boy doesn't necessarily enjoy these things, he comes to realize that Sundays are meant for God, and that it is something that his family shares and values. The author does a good job describing how the boy is feeling and what a typical Sunday is to him. EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL. Anna Mattheus. Elementary Teacher.

Who Would Like a Christmas Tree?: A Tree for All Seasons by Ellen Bryan Obed

Obed, Bryan Ellen Who Would Like a Christmas Tree? 32 p. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children 2009. $16.00. PICTURE BOOK. It seems that a Christmas tree can be used by creatures all throughout the year. The book begins, "Who would like a Christmas tree in January?" and then it explains how black-capped chickadees could use it for food and for shelter. In February, field mice use Christmas trees for food and to hide from predators. It continues to list creatures that would use a Christmas tree for each month of the year. In December, children and their parents use a Christmas tree to decorate as a family. I found the book to be too repetitive, and the explanations for each creature too lengthy. EL - OPTIONAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

My Abuelita by Tony Johnston

Johnston, Tony My Abuelita 32 p. Harcourt Children's Books 2009. $16.00. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. A boy describes what he does with his grandmother (abuelita) every morning before she goes to work. Abuelita is contently singing and warming up her voice for her job. She sings about slippers, skeletons, and starry eggs. Spanish words are mentioned throughout the text. At the end, you learn that Abuelita needs to warm up her voice because she is a story teller. The book uses a lot of good similes and metaphors. I was not impressed with the illustrations, it reminds me of I Spy books. EL - OPTIONAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials by Rosalind Wiseman

Wiseman, Rosalind. Boys, Girls & Other Hazardous Materials, 279 pgs. G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin Group), 2010.

Rating : Language : PG-13 (about 20 swears, no f- words) ; Sexual content and Violence : G.

Charlotte, who goes by Charlie, has two well-articulated goals for her freshman year at high school : distance herself from her "frenemies" (girls she doesn't 100% trust but, for some reason, have been her closest friends); and meet cool, interesting, non-evil, non-vindictive friends. But life rarely follows a plan. Things for Charlie become complicated when Will -- her former best friend and neighbor -- shows up at freshman orientation ; Nihdi -- a victim of harassment by her old mean-girl friends, and by association, her -- shows up at the first school newspaper meeting ; and her new friend Sydney is asked to homecoming by Josh, the boy Charlie's been crushing.

Charlie's a girl who's trying to do the right thing, even as she acknowledges that she tends to lose her backbone around her friends. When her new (and renewed) friends appear to be making wrong decisions, she has to decide whether to go along, like she did last year, or make a stand for what's right. Funny and engaging, students will enjoy this book about making a new start while facing up to your past.

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

Sphinx's Princess by Esther Friesner

Friesner, Esther Sphinx's Princess, 365 pgs. Random House, 2009. Language - PG (1 swears, 0 "f"), Sexual Content - PG; Violence - PG; When Nefertiti's aunt Tiye , the Great Royal Wife of the king, whats Nefertiti and her family to visit her, they can't refuse. When they arrive they discover the reason behind this invitation: Queen Tiye wants Nefertiti to marry her eldest son. This book is a story of loyalty, treachery, and longing. As you follow Nefertiti's story you can't help but be drawn in; her bravery and cleverness never ceased to amaze me. MS, HS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: CCH

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison

Harrison, Michelle 13 Treasures, 355 pgs. Little, Brown and Company, 2010. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - G; Tanya is being terrorized by faries. After a recent run-in with them, Tanya's mother decides to send her to her grandmother's house. Tanya does not want to go at all, but that was before her adventures there. I felt this book went a little too slow but I enjoyed it none the less. I live the magic in the pages and of course the alluring adventure. EL – ADVISABLE, MS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Wolven by Di Toft

Toft, Di Wolven, 322 pgs. Chicken House, 2010. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - G; Nat and his mom are moving into his mom's parents house. When they get there his grandparents decide to get him a dog. They find Woody and Nat chooses to get him. That night Nat discovers that Woody isn't just a dog, he's a wolven and is being hunted. It was a pretty interesting book, just really slow. I really enjoyed the idea of wolvens but again, it was just too slow for me to actually enjoy. EL, MS - OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Forbidden Sea by Sheila A. Nielson

Nielson, Sheila A. Forbidden Sea, 296 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2010. Language - G, Sexual Content - G; Violence - G; One night, Adrianne's sister Cecily is missing and Adrianne goes to find get and discovers that she's unconscious by the sea. When Adrianne goes down to get her, she finds a mermaid and gets marked by her. Now Adrianne must struggle against doing what the mermaid wants and staying to help her dysfunctional family. This is one of the most thrilling books I've ever read and made my heart race with excitement. With all the details and action it's impossible to not be sucked into the story and feel like you're there. EL, MS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: CCH

The Absolute Value of -1 by Steve Brezenoff

Brezenoff, Steve The Absolute Value of -1, 289 pgs. Carolrhoda Lab, 2010. Language - PG-13 (7+ swears, 4+ "f"), Sexual Content - PG-13; Violence - G; I quit reading at page 28. I didn't find it interesting in the least bit. Nothing was going on but three kids walking around, swearing, smoking, and being pervs. MS, HS - NO. Reviewer: CCH

Monday, April 26, 2010

I am Apache by Tanya Landman

Landman, Tanya I am Apache 320pgs. Candlewickpress, 2008. Language-G; Sexual Content-Pg13; Violence-Pg13; After the murder of her brother Siki follows the path of a warrior to seek revenge. I loved this book a lot. The emotions were well expressed and I could easily picture
what the surrounding area looked like. It was well written. I loved the plot to. It was exiting. I hope that everyone else loves it as much as I did. MS-HS ESSENTIAL Student Reviewer: CRH

Who’s Your Daddy? by Diane Muldrow

Muldrow, Diane Who’s Your Daddy? Illustrated by Rick Peterson.  Golden Books (Random), 2010.  $7.99.  BOARD BOOK. Which of those four guys might be my daddy??  Lift the flap and find out.  Animal babies, familiar and exotic, are looking for their daddies in this board book. I personally enjoyed it – multi-dimensional and not unwieldy.  I can’t wait to share it with my little friends at church – that’s where I try out all of the board books, as my kids are well past that stage!  PreK – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Stolen by Lucy Christopher

Christopher, Lucy Stolen 304pgs. Chicken House, 2010 Language-R (35+ swears, 11 "f") Sexual Content-Pg Violence-G Ty has been following Gemma for years. One day at an airport he steals her. He loves her. Will she start to grow feelings for him?I loved it. Even though there was foul language it was still well written. Thumbs up to Lucy Christopher! I would suggest this to almost anyone (as long as they don't mind cussing of course) HS OPTIONAL Student Reviewer: CRH

Colors, Numbers, Letters by Leo Lionni

Lionni, Leo Colors, Numbers, Letters: 3 Books in 1.  Alfred A. Knopf (Random), 2010. BOARD BOOK.  Lionni’s mice take center stage in this compilation of three past books (1985).  They have lost none of their appeal over the years – this is a classic that deserves to be gifted to all of your little friends.  PreK – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Daddy Calls Me Doodlebug by J.D. Lester

Lester, J.D. Daddy Calls Me Doodlebug, illustrated by Hiroe Nakata.  $7.99. BOARD BOOK.  Babies and Daddies of all types and sizes populate the pages her.  Using rhyming couplets, the author gives adorable to nicknames to them all.  Cute, bright illustrations lend themselves to this vibrant book.  PreK – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher.

Alice in Wonderland by Mark Salisbury

Salisbury, Mark Alice in Wonderland: A Visual Companion, 248 p. Disney Editions, 2010. $50.00.  Content: G.  A feast for the eyes explodes off the pages of this behind the scenes look at the making of Tim Burton’s Alice.  Gorgeous photos, in-progress drawings, quotes from the cast and crew and LOTS of information abound.  If you know anyone who loved the movie, they will surely want this title.  On your library shelves it will get worn to death – be prepared!  MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher.

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Carter, Ally Heist Society, 287 p. Hyperion, 2010. $16.99.  Content: G (threats of violence, but nothing else overt).  Kat really wants to leave her family’s thieving business behind.  But when her father is implicated in the theft of five priceless works of art from a man with way too much money and a need for revenge, Kat must step in to save her father’s life.  Unfortunately, she must break into the most secure museum in the world.  With the help of her best friends, however, she just may be able to plan and execute the heist of the century.  At first I rolled my eyes at Kat, because I am not very interested in villain as hero tales.  But, Ally Carter paints a fine picture and I was tugged into the story and into Kat’s world and worry.  I think that fans  of Carter’s other titles will be delighted.  MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Higher! Higher! by Leslie Patricelli

Patricelli, Leslie Higher! Higher! Candlewick, 2010. $6.99. BOARD BOOK. A little girl wants to swing.  As her Daddy  pushes, her imagination launches her higher and higher into the air and right into space – where she meets someone very special.  What child doesn’t love the swing – and going higher and higher again!  A perfect way to send little over the edges of imagination.  PreK – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Back to Bed, Ed! by Sebastien Braun

Braun, Sebastien Back to Bed, Ed! 32 pgs. Peachtree Publishers, 2009. PICTURE BOOK. $15.95. Parents will recognize the all too familiar theme of this story....their kids won't stay in bed at night! Ed the mouse loves the routine of going to bed, but he hates to stay in bed! He finds excuses each night to get up and as his parents tiredly mumble "Go back to bed, Ed" he climbs right in with them, meaning that someone (not Ed!) gets a poor nights sleep. They finally decide it has to stop and come up with a plan to get him to stay in bed. Although their plan doesn't work as hoped, Ed comes up with his own method that works! If only it could be that easy right?! Cute story, wasn't crazy about the illustrations. PRE-K-OPTIONAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher. 

Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String by Bob Boyle

Boyle, Bob Hugo and the Really, Really, Really Long String 32 pgs. Random House, 2010. PICTURE BOOK. $15.99. Hugo the happy hippo wakes up one morning to find a very mysterious string outside his window. He sets out to find out what it is, determined that he will find something wonderful at the end! As he follows the string all throughout the town, Hugo meets some special friends. Hugo's newfound friends join him on his journey and together discover the surprise at the end. I laughed out loud when I found out what the red string led to at the end! Kids will think it is so fun and will giggle away! This is also a sweet story about making friends. The bright and geometric illustrations really add character to this story. EL-ADVISABLE. Whitney, Library-Teacher. 

Friday, April 23, 2010

Baby, I Love You by Karma Wilson

Wilson, Karma Baby, I Love You illustrated by Sam Williams 30 pgs. Little Simon, 2009. BOARD BOOK. $7.99. Sweet baby book for parents of little ones. The words are endearing and sweet as they highlight all of the cute little things we so love about babies....the little hands, the teensy toes, the chubby cheeks. I wasn't a huge fan of the baby-like puppy on each page though. It would have been cuter with just the baby sans puppy. Just a so-so book. PRE-K-OPTIONAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher. 

Chester's Masterpiece by Melanie Watt (Not!)

Watt, Melanie Chester's Masterpiece 32 pgs. Kids Can Press, 2010. PICTURE BOOK. $18.95. This is the most clever and darling book I have read in a long time! Chester the cat is starring in his third book, but this time he is writing the book all by himself....with ABSOLUTELY NO help from Melanie Watt! He has hidden her art supplies and computer mouse and is off creating his own story in his own way, even if he has to use ideas from other books, even if he doesn't include other characters, and even if his pen runs out of ink! The pages will make you laugh out loud as you read (via post-it notes) the interactions between Melanie and Chester. Kids will absolutely adore this book and will want to read it again and again because there is so much to it! Chester's silliness even extends to the copyright page as well as the biography page. Teachers and parents will also love this book for its ingenuity and creativity. It could be a great start to a writing lesson for a teacher. This book is a must for schools and homes alike! EL-ESSENTIAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher. 

The Banshee by Eve Bunting

Bunting, Eve The Banshee illustrated by Emily Arnold McCully 32 pgs. Clarion Books, 2009. PICTURE BOOK. $16.00. This would make a great Halloween read-a-loud! My heart was pounding the whole time. Terry, who lives in Ireland, is asleep when he is awoken by a "Scree....Scree....." sound. He thinks its the Banshee, a ghost figure of a woman who wails when there may be death near. Terrified, he deals with it the only way he knows courageously going outside to confront the Banshee. 
This is a pretty scary book and the fact that it is written in first person makes it seem even more real. The dark pictures add to the spookiness of the story. One thing I didn't like was that the Irish voice wasn't consistent throughout the story. Sometimes it sounded Irish and other times it didn't. I would definitely put this book out during Halloween, but I probably wouldn't read it aloud to 2nd grade or younger. EL-ADVISABLE. Whitney, Library-Teacher. 

The Boys by Jeff Newman

Newman, Jeff. The Boys. Simon and Schuster, 2010. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK. This story has no formal narrative, just the days of the week. The gouache and ink illustrations portray a shy boy who wants to play baseball but doesn’t join in. Instead he sits with the old men in the park. He even dresses like them before he finds the courage to play ball. The individual illustrations are quirky and fun, however, I looked through the pictures a couple of times to figure out what I thought the story was about. On the whole, the book was confusing and the pictures weren’t clear enough to tell a story on their own. EL – OPTIONAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

The Thingamabob by Il Sung Na

Na, Il Sung. The Thingamabob. Alfred A. Knopf, 2008. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK.
An elephant discovers a thingamabob (umbrella) but he doesn’t know what to do with it. He asked his friends and they didn’t know what it was either. He tried flying with it and sailing with it, but that didn’t work. The elephant was about to give up when it started to rain and he realized that he could use the thingamabob to stay dry. The unique and charming illustrations are a combination of handmade painterly textures with digitally generated layers. A great book to read aloud.
EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes by Kate DiCamillo

DiCamillo, Kate. Mercy Watson: Something Wonky This Way Comes, illustrated by Chris Van Dusen. 86 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2009. $12.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. Mercy Watson is a butter-lovin’ pig, so when the Watson’s go to the drive in she is in hog heaven with all the buttery popcorn. Mercy helps herself to some stranger’s popcorn and starts a riot. Meanwhile the Watson’s notice that she’s missing and the chase begins. The 1950’s style illustrations are sure to enchant, while the story isn’t very interesting, Mercy’s fans will enjoy another adventure with her. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Lost by Sarah Prineas

Prineas, Sarah. Lost, illustrated by Antonio Javier Caparo. 416 pgs. Harper Collins, 2009. $16.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-PG. In the first book, The Magic Thief (2008), Conn saved the city’s magic but destroyed his locus magicalicus. Each wizard has a locus stone to perform magic, without one Conn can no longer be an apprentice or attend school. He still lives with the Wizard Nevery and has found that he can hear the magic if explodes things. Meanwhile all is not well in Wellmet, shadowmen are turning people to stone. Conn makes a big explosion that destroys Nevery’s house and get’s Conn banished. Conn heard the magic say “Desh.” So he stows away with a royal envoy that is on its way to Desh to learn about the shadowmen and why the magic wants him to go there. The book is told from multiple viewpoints, which keeps the plot moving quickly. Fans of Angie Sage’s Septimus Heap series and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series will enjoy this magical adventure. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

The Midnight Curse by L. M. Falcone

Falcone, L. M. The Midnight Curse, 208 pgs. KCP Fiction, 2010. $16.95 Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. The Darcy twins are nothing alike, Lacey is a foot taller and her brother Charlie is a foot wider. Their father is dead and they live with their mother who is poor. One day they receive a letter that a distant relative is dead and that they have inherited. They hop on a plan to England to go the creepy Blaxston Manor. A ghost gives them a bottle and Charlie opens it to learn that he his great-uncle’s curse has been passed on to him. Each night he has to sleep in water or he will shrivel up and die until he has the courage to face the ghost in the attic. The twins must learn about the curse and how to get rid of it. Children looking for a comical or light horror tale will happily get lost in the pages. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

Nelson, Jandy The Sky is Everywhere, 272 pgs Dial; Language~PG-13, Sexual Content~PG-13; Violence~G

Lennie’s world has collapsed in on itself. Was it just four weeks ago that her beloved sister and confidant Bailey suddenly died? Bailey’s death has created a gaping hole in the lives of Lennie, Gram, Uncle Big, and Bailey’s boyfriend Toby. When she returns to school, she finds Joe Fountaine, a new student fresh from Paris, sitting in her chair in band. His smile lights up the universe, it is so bright. How can anything ever be bright and cheerful in her life ever again? Caught up in their own grief, Toby and Lennie seek out each other for comfort. They seem to be drawn towards each other. Lennie wonders how she can want to be held by and kissed by Bailey’s boyfriend not weeks after her sister’s death? Then as summer begins, Joe keeps unexpectedly showing up. Their friendship quickly develops into something much more. She wants to be with Joe, but Toby understands her grief.

In a beautiful debut novel, Nelson has written a story dealing with grief but overflowing with love. Her prose and poetry is so effective in drawing the reader in. While the swearing is not frequent and mostly consists of “g’s” there are 5 “f’s.” There is one heavy make-out scene that while not graphic, does consist of clothes beginning to be removed. The characters discuss sex, but not in detail and there is no on or off page sex. There is recreational drug use by a side character and under-age drinking but this also is more of a side note. I would highly recommend this novel to most if not all high schools.

HS—ESSENTIAL Allison Madsen~Teen Librarian-SJO Public Librarian

Thursday, April 22, 2010

The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak by Tomek Bogacki

Bogacki, Tomek The Champion of Children: The Story of Janusz Korczak 40 p. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. $17.99. PICTURE BOOK Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence -G. Henryk Goldszmit, more commonly known as Janusz Korczak, was born in Warsaw in 1878. Since his childhood, he always wanted to be able to help children who were hungry and did not have anyone to take care of them. As he grew older he became the director of the Orphans Aid Society and was able to build an orphanage. It was so successful he was asked to open another orphanage for Polish workers' children. Due to World War II, the orphanages were closed down, and because he was Jewish, him and all of the children were sent first to the ghetto. "Korczak died with his children in the Treblinka extermination camp, but his spirit survives in all he achieved during a lifetime devoted to defending children." Although more of a biography, this could be used to introduce World War II into the curriculum. EL- ADVISABLE. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Sit-In How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down by Andrea Davis Pinkney

Pinkney, Andrea Davis Sit-In How Four Friends Stood up by Sitting Down. 40 p. Little, Brown and Company 2010. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. David, Joseph, Franklin and Ezell just want a doughnut, coffee and cream on the side. They sit at the counter, without being seen or heard all day. Everyone around them is served. They are not served because they are black, and there is a WHITE ONLY sign in the window. They become famous and inspire many other black college students to start lunch counter protests. This is a story of how black college students protested with peace, despite the hatred that was all around them. Eventually the Civil Rights Act of 1964 was passed by President Lyndon B. Johnson. This is a good way to introduce segregation and teach history. EL-ESSENTIAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Super-Hungry Mice Eat Onions by Brian P. Clearly

Cleary, Brian P. Super -Hungry Mice Eat Onions 48p. Millbrook Press 2010. $23.93. PICTURE BOOK. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. This book teaches strategies on how to memorize geography terms and locations. You get to learn about the 5 regions of the United States, the most populated cities, and the 5 Great Lakes. You learn funny mnemonics such as " Super hungry mice eat onions." This helps you learn the 5 Great lakes in order from largest to smallest, Superior, Huron, Michigan, Erie, and Ontario. There are a lot of fun songs using tunes like "If You're Happy and You Know It," "Oh My Darling Clementine," and "You are my Sunshine."This is great resource for teachers to use, and a fun book to have in the classroom. EL-ESSENTIAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Princess Blankets by Carol An Duffy

Duffy, Carol Ann. Princess’s Blankets. Templar Books. 2009. PICTURE BOOK
In a kingdom far away, a princess can’t get warm. She’s always in her room and/or buried under a lot of blankets. One day a stranger comes to the castle and says he can cure the princess, but seems to have ulterior motives. When the stranger has the princess describe how cold she is, the princess uses metaphors related to the Earth. When the parts of the Earth she describes, however, start disappearing from the world, it will take someone brave and smart to outwit the stranger, warm up the princess, and save the world.
The story is a bit repetitive, but the illustrations are beautiful and the ending touching. Readers who like traditional fairy and folktales will enjoy this book. EL. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

Awakening on Orbis 4 by P.J. Haarsma

Haarsma, P.J. Awakening on Orbis 4, 352 p. Cadlewick, 2010. $16.99. Content: G.  Johnny Turnbull is unhappy with the idea that his little sister is destined to be the savior of the universe, but he is even more unsettled by the idea that his destiny is to be her protector.  He’d rather deny his abilities as a Space Jumper and spend his time making out with his girlfriend instead.  Bua the universe has other ideas for JT – and if he doesn’t get on board her sister may leave him behind – or she may die.  Why did I think there would only be four books in this series?  One for each ring of Orbis, perhaps?  Nope – moving on to book #5!  As good and sciency as these are, they are still best for the very hardcore science readers. MS, HS – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Who’s That Snoring? by Jason CHapman

Chapman, Jason Who’s That Snoring? Little Simon, 2010. $9.99.  BOARD BOOK/LIFT THE FLAP.  All over the barnyard, the animals are settling down, ready for sleep. UNTIL an awful noise frightens everyone awake.  What could it be?  I have read this book to so many little friends that I almost forgot to sit down and write the review!  Thoroughly enjoy flipping the six tabs and giggle away!  PreK – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher.

The Web of Titan by Dom Testa

Testa, Dom The Web of Titan, 247 p. TOR, JULY 2010.  $16.99.  The teens aboard Galahad survived their first danger in their journey through space – now they are headed directly into trouble again, even if they don’t know it.  They have been told to pick up a special package orbiting the moon Titan.  What do they find – a cat.  And then the problems begin.  Some of the crew are very ill; the engines are pushing into the red line.  What or who could be doing this to them?  And besides the threat of imminent death, there is  emotional turmoil all over the ship – how could there not be with a ship of teens?  While we meet a few more crew members on the Galahad this time, the focus is still mostly on the Council, and especially Triana.  I actually wish that these books were longer so that we could meet more crew members – get more details of the ship and the personalities.  I am looking forward to book #3 now – I hope the wait isn’t too long. MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Kai-lan's Great Trip to China

Matheis, Mickie Kai-Lan's Great Trip to China. 24 p. Simon Spotlight/Nickelodeon, 2010. $6.99. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. This was adapted from the screenplay Kai-Lan's Great Trip to China. It is fun way to teach and become familiar with common Chinese words. Kai-Lan is going to China for the first time and she makes many new friends along the way. She gets to try many new things and meet a baby panda. This book stresses how important it is to try new things and to not be afraid. The Chinese words with the pronunciation are at the back of book. This book's plot was weak, and it seemed very choppy. EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

Our Farm by the animals of Farm Sanctuary

Gottfried, Maya Our Farm By the Animals of Farm Sanctuary, 40 p. Knoph Books for Young Readers, 2010. $17.99. Language - G; Sexual Content - G; Violence - G. This is a collection of poems told from farm animals' points of view. You meet Diego the duck, Whitaker the calf, Mayfly the rooster, and J.D. the piglet to name a few. This book was written to raise awareness and promote the Farm Sanctuary, which takes in abused and neglected farm animals. The poems are upbeat and funny. There are many different kinds including haikus. The animals' personalities really come out in these poems. EL (K-3) - Advisable. Anna Mattheus, Elementary Teacher.

The Indigo Notebook by Laura Resau

Resau, Laura. The Indigo Notebook, 324 pgs. Delacorte Press (Random House Children's Books), 2009.  Language and Sexual content : G ; Violence : PG

Zeeta dreams of a normal family with a normal father and mother living in a normal home. This is so different from the life she's known, moving to a different country every year with her mom, who has a different boyfriend practically every month. Since eight, she has started a new notebook every time they've moved, and now she's starting an indigo one. When Layla starts flirting with Jeff Ryan on the plane to Ecuador, Zeeta asks him questions for her notebook, so she can remember him. It's the only way she will remember him, because she knows a relationship with Handsome Magazine Dad won't stick. After almost drowning in the early morning under a mystical Incan waterfall, Layla runs into Jeff again, and decides it's time to try a more responsible type of relationship. Zeeta was warned to be careful what she wishes for, and now she begins to understand why.

I enjoyed this book. I liked getting to know Zeeta and seeing how her relationship with Wendell and her mom changed over the course of their experiences. It's also an interesting glimpse into a life that is a polar opposite to being raised in a suburb in the States.

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

Suck It Up by Brian Meehl

Meehl, Brian. Suck It Up, 318 pgs. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2008.
Rating : PG (5 swears, no f- words, sexual innuendos, some supernatural violence)
In an age when new vampires are always beautiful twenty-somethings, Morning McCobb is different. He's scawny, only sixteen, and has never tasted blood. He has spent the last year, since changing, at the International Vampire League, where vampires learn to control their thirst for human blood, develop their CD (cell-differentiation) skills, and prepare to lead a life of obscurity among humans. On graduation day, the league's president Luther Birnam, invites Morning to be the first vampire to show himself to humans. Morning realizes that this may be a way to pursue his childhood dream of being a superhero or a firefighter, instead of just fading away. The road to full media exposure, however, is full of pot holes. Not only is his publicist's daughter bringing out the previously latent bloodlust in him, he is being pursued by Ikor DeThanatos, the only vampire who did not sign the treaty at the end of World War V between leaguers and the world's other vampires known as loners. Morning is not so sure about his suitability for this role, but Luther Birnam unwaveringly pursues his dream of a Worldwide Out Day regardless of what may need to be swept under the rug.

This is a funny story, with tongue-in-cheek parodies about teenage angst, physical attraction, and the vampire genre. I enjoyed it quite a bit.
MS - ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by P.K. Foster, MS teacher-librarian.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Gone From These Woods by Donny Bailey Seagraves - OPTIONAL

Seagraves, Donny Bailey Gone From These Woods, 167 p. Delacorte (Random), 2009.  $15.99.  

Violence – PG (gun violence, implied abuse).  

Instead of his angry, drunk father, it’s Daniel’s Uncle Clay who has taught him all the things a boy should know in the woods.  Now in a gun accident, by Daniel’s own hand, Clay is gone and Daniel, 11, is left to pick up the pieces, his grief, his guilt, and get on with his life.  

Ms. Seagraves has woven together a story of grief and pain – about the dangers of guns, but about so much more.  This is really written at a level for the younger readers – I can’t see my middle school students enjoying it quite as much.  

EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Missing in Action by Dean Hughes

Hughes, Dean Missing in Action, 228 p. Atheneum (Simon), 2010.  $16.99.  Language – PG (racial slurs).  Now that his father is missing in action, Jay, 12, and his mother have moved back to her small hometown, Delta, Utah – right next to Topaz, a Japanese relocation center in the Utah desert.  Jay is anxious to fit with the other town boys, but his ¼ Navajo heritage is written on his face, so he is constantly up for some mild ribbing.  Then his grandfather asks Jay to help out on the family farm – along with a 17 year old detainee from Topaz.  Ken seems as American as Jay, even with his funny features, but he wouldn’t be locked up if he hadn’t done something wrong – right?  Jay - and his whole town- has a lost to learn about judging your neighbor.  And Jay must come face to face with the fact that his dad may be better off dead.  While I cringed to read the very authentic 1940’s anti-Japanese sentiments, I was also thinking what a great book this would be for a Utah history class to read – and to enable everyone to talk about historic and modern racism. It may be a bit too Utah flavored for a national audience, but it is hard for me to judge.  EL, MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher

A Faraway Island by Annika Thor

Thor, Annika A Faraway Island, 247 p. Delacorte (Random), 2010.  $16.99.  Content: G.  Stephie, 12, and her sister Nellie, &, have been sent from Austria by their Jewish parents to live in Sweden until the family can get visas for America and leave Hitler and the Nazis far behind.  Instead of being together, Nellie is in a loving, boisterous village family, while Stephie is mostly alone with her “Aunt” on their distant farm.  As if learning Swedish weren’t enough, Stephie also has a harder time making any friends at the village school.  And her constant worries for the safety of her parents – while Nellie seems to be forgetting them all together – only add to her problems.  While not as brilliant a piece of Holocaust fiction a say Number the Stars, this would still fit in well with a larger collection – especially as it adds one more dimension to that body of literature.  It looks to be the first in a planned four novels about the sister, making this a future possibility with even more depth.  EL, MS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library-Teacher

Linger by Maggie Stiefvater

Stiefvater, Maggie Linger, 368 p. Scholastic, July 2010.  $17.99.  Language: PG (27 swears, no “f”); Violence: PG (death); Sexual Content: PG-13 (off-page, implied sex, references to nudity).  Sam is no longer changing into a wolf, but that doesn’t seem to end his problems.  Grace is becoming sicker; the new werewolves recruited by Beck are starting to change and they don’t really seem to be anyone whom Sam can trust.  What was Beck thinking.  Just as Sam is getting old enough to lead the werewolves, just as spring is arriving so that the wolves will return to human form – everything seems about to fall apart.  My favorite character is Isabel in this second part of the series – she is well drawn, feisty and her bite is razor sharp.  But, now that we know about the werewolfi-ness, Stiefvater ahs more time to draw more intricate characters and further entangle the plot.  You will thoroughly enjoy the read – you will hate having reached the end – and you will agonize over having to wait for the third installment!  Bon Apetit!  MS, HS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library-Teacher

Maggie Bean in Love by Tricia Rayburn

Rayburn, Tricia Maggie Bean in Love, 282 p. Aladdin Mix (Simon), 2010.  $5.99.  Content: G.  Maggie is ready to start 8th grade and to start her relationship with Arnie.  But 8th grade also starts lots of challenges.  The Patrol This group is three time as big as the original – how is Maggie going to entertain all of those little kids and get them acting and eating healthily?  The swim team may lose use of the pool to the Water Wings, because the school board is drastically cutting expenses.  And Arnie doesn’t seem to be as into their relationship as Maggie is – what can she do to spark his interest?  Maggie sure has a full plate!  Maggie is really adorable – and her talk about eating healthily is not intrusive at all, but instead is very realistic.   This is a great softcover series for the middle school.  MS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library-Teacher