Tuesday, August 31, 2010

No Such Thing as Dragons by Philip Reeve - ADVISABLE

Reeve, Philip. No Such Thing as Dragons, 192 pgs. Scholastic, 2010. $16.99.

Mature Content-PG; Language-G; Violence-G.

Ansel is the perfect servant for someone who has a secret. Ansel is mute. He hasn’t spoken since his mother’s death. His father sold him to Brock the dragon slayer. Brock and Ansel travel north to go dragon hunting. Brock confides to Ansel that there are no such things as dragons. Townspeople that are afraid of a dragon pay Brock handsomely to get rid of it. Brock carries with him a crocodile skull which he uses to convince the townspeople that the dragon is dead. Their travels lead them to Drachenberg, where they discover that there are dragons. Can the pretender and his servant escape?

A well plotted and serviceable adventure, but lacks the excitement and world-creating imagination of author Philip Reeve’s Larklight series. 

EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Flight by Jason Lethcoe

Lethcoe, Jason. Flight, 216 pgs. Grosset & Dunlap, 2009. $6.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G/PG. In the second book of The Mysterious Mr. Spines series, Edward Macleod an awkward 14-year-old with a stutter learns his destiny as the bridge builder between worlds. Whiplash Scruggs and a troop of groundlings try to kidnap Edward and instead capture Mr. Spines. Edward must learn how to use his new wings and the different powers of a guardian to find a person called Cornelius on his journey to meet his destiny. To assist him is Tabitha, a young haughty guardian, and Bridgette, a girl who isn’t really alive or dead. He must face his worse fears and overcome them. Expect sequels. The book is fast-paced and should appeal to reluctant readers. Purchase if the first book is popular at your library. ADVISABLE – EL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Gulliver in Lilliput by Lisa Findlay - OPTIONAL

Findlay, Lisa Gulliver in Lilliput (Step into Reading) 48 pgs. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2010. EARLY READER

Content - G

This is a short adaptation of Gulliver's Travels. Gulliver's ship was destroyed at sea and he washed up on the island of Lilliput. He woke to many small people and ropes all over his body. Once he won over the citizens, they took off his chains but he had to remain in Lilliput to help out. He stopped wars, and even put out a fire by peeing on it.

I liked the book until it talked about peeing on a castle to put out the fire. The picture showed him peeing, although not in the graphic sense, and it seemed to take away from the story.

OPTIONAL - EL. Anna M, teacher.

Wednesday, August 25, 2010

Dark Fire by Chris D'Lacey - ADVISABLE

D’Lacey, Chris. Dark Fire, 512 pgs. Orchard Books, 2010. $17.99. 

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

Book 5 in the Last Dragon Chronicles, begins with a bang…a dragon appears to an Inuk native. Lucy Pennykettle’s journal summarizes her past and premise of the series—that Guinevere’s descendants have a link with dragons and the ability to bring them back. David, who everyone thought was dead for five years, is back and searching for the dark fire. If the Ix (dark shadows) locate it first they could use it to create a darkling. All around the world there are dragon sightings always accompanied by red-haired girls. Lucy goes with family friend Tam to Glissington to the site where Gawaine, the queen of dragons is said to be buried. Can she awaken the dragon in time to save her friends and family from the Ix?

A strong addition to the series that will keep fans eagerly awaiting the next addition. Read this series in order, because of the complicated plot with numerous characters.

MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Tug-of-War by Katy Grant

Grant, Katy. Tug-of-War, 238 pgs. Simon and Schuster, 2010. $6.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. Chris’s fourth year of summer camp is going to be different, her best friend Devon is coming. In previous years (and books: Pranked, Acting Out, and Friends Forever), Chris’s best friend at summer camp is Maggie. Chris is worried that combining the friends will not end without friction—and she’s right. Devon mocks Maggie’s looks and outdoorsy nature. Maggie calls Devon “Ghosty Girl” and is equally disdainful of her lack of interest in camp activities. Can Chris remain friends with both of them at the same time in the same camp? Her resolve is tested when Maggie’s irresponsible behavior causes her to get hurt and when she blames Devon for the theft prank of her stuffed animal. The characters feel more like clich├ęs than people, none are overly likeable. This Summer Camp Secret series installment is one you can easily skip. EL – OPTIONAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Framed by Gordon Korman

Korman, Gordon. Framed, 240 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2010. $16.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. Griffin “the man with the plan” Bing is back (Swindle, 2008 and Zoobreak, 2009) and his bad reputation has landed him into trouble. Cedarville Middle School’s most precious possession in a Super Bowl ring that has been stolen and in its place is a retainer—Griffin’s retainer. Griffin goes to court where he is punished by transferring schools. He has to go to JFK Alternative Education Center, more commonly known as “jail for kids.” Griffin and his buddies need to find the real thieves, the ring, before he becomes a permanent student at JFK. I would recommend reading the books in order so that the characters and plot aren’t confusing. The newest addition in Griffin’s life isn’t as gripping or entertaining as early adventures; however, no doubt fans of the first two books will want to read this third one. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian

March Mischief by Ron Roy

Roy, Ron. March Mischief, illustrated by John Steven Gurney. 67 pgs. Random House, 2010. $4.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. The Calendar Mysteries series continues with a little St. Patrick’s Day sleuthing. Bradley, Brian, Nate, and Lucy decide to decorate their leprechaun statue like their dog for the town’s yearly leprechaun contest. The next day its missing and they get a creepy phone call saying that Lucky O’Leary took their leprechaun and several others. Lucky is a good guy, so who is trying to pin the theft on him and can they find their leprechaun before the contest? Formulaic and predictable, it is a gentle mystery that will no doubt appeal to its target audience of beginning chapter book readers. ADVISABLE – EL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

Bunce, Elizabeth C. Star Crossed, 368 pgs. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010. $17.99. Sexual Content-PG; Language-PG (11 swears); Violence-PG. Digger is a thief who barely escapes with her life and some letters. Picked up by chance by a noble party, Digger pretends to be Celyn Contrare, a lady fallen on hard times. She becomes lady-in-waiting to Lady Merista and goes with her to a remote castle in the mountains with a party of important guests. But Lord Daul has discovered Digger’s secret. She must spy for him or be revealed as a thief and imposter. Digger comes across information that could lead to civil war and a prisoner who could be a prince. She also has her own secrets, about her past and about her ability to see magic. Expect sequels. MS/HS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Thursday, August 19, 2010

The Boy Who Wouldn't Swim by Deb Lucke

Lucke, Deb The Boy Who Wouldn’t Swim, illustrated by Deb Lucke. Clarion Books, 2008. $16.00 PICTURE BOOK This amusing tale brings to life the heat and stickiness of summer. As summer begins the whole town heads to the swimming pool, enjoying the break from the heat, everyone except Eric, that is. He just can’t seem to put aside his fear of the water and jump in the pool. And when he eventually does get in the water, it becomes impossible to get him out! EL – Advisable. Laura Berube ~ Youth Services Librarian, Draper Library

Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix by Graham Salisbury

Salisbury, Graham, Calvin Coconut: The Zippy Fix. Wendy Lamb Books, 2009. Pgs. 168.

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

Calvin is a fourth grader growing up in Hawaii. His babysitter is mean and teases him mercilessly. Determined to make her be nice, he tries various methods to win her over. So far his attempts have failed. Will Calvin manage to get Stella, his babysitter, to like him or be nice to him?

The characters are one-sided, the plot would probably not appeal to a wide audience. The book, however, would entertain young readers who are just getting into chapter books.


Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

Imaginalis by J.M. DeMatters - ADVISABLE

DeMatters, J.M. Imaginalis. Katherine Tegen Books, 2010. Pgs. 248.

Content: G

Mehera Crosby is a big fan of the Imaginalis series. To her, the characters in the books are dear friends. When the author announces that the Imaginalis series will never be finished, Mehera is crushed. When strange events begin to unfold and Mehera finds herself in the kingdom of Imaginalis, she realizes that there is more afoot than her series ending. Imaginalis is fading away and the books’ villain is up to something. When Mehera accidentally brings the villain back to Earth along with her friends, she throws off the balance of both world. Can she save both world and still maintain the balance?

An excellent adventure filled with fantasy, friendship, and self-discovery. The characters are well-developed, the story is endearing, and the plot in unique. Fans of fantasy and adventure will enjoy reading this book.

EL - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! by Steve Martin

Martin, Steve The Alphabet from A to Y with Bonus Letter Z! illustrated by Roz Chast 64 pgs. Flying Dolphin Press, 2007. PICTURE BOOK. $17.95. Different than any other alphabet book I have read recently, this one definitely goes beyond what is typical into zany and creative! Each letter has a poem full of alliteration specific to it coupled with illustrations that reinforce each letter. Kids will love meeting Henrietta the hare, Josie from Jupiter, and Old Ollie the Owl and the other quarky alphabet characters. The rhyming doesn't always work and some of the vocabulary is above and beyond what kids would know and even some adults. Nonetheless, this is a creative book that could be read over and over. EL-ESSENTIAL. Whitney, Library-Teacher. 

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Unfamiliar Magic by R.C. Alexander - ADVISABLE

Alexander, R.C. Unfamiliar Magic. Random House, 2010. Pgs. 353.

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


Desi, her mother, and her faux father figure(the magic golem) have moved again. Every time Desi gets settled, something happens that causes her mother to up and move them. This makes it difficult for Desi to learn the family trade: magic. When Desi’s mother is suddenly gone and leaves Kate, the family’s familiar, in human form to look after her. Without her mother, Desi finds herself torn between creating relationships with the Mundanes (non-magic people) and being an independent young woman who needs to find her mother and being an obedient daughter. Where is Desi’s mom? Who is her father? Why does Desi’s mother keep up and moving them around?

An action-filled fantasy filled with mystery and adventure. The characters are well-developed, the plot is unique, and the story keeps the reader interested. Readers who like magical realism, fantasy, adventure, and mystery will enjoy reading this book.

Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

The Everlasting Now by Sara Harrell Banks

Banks, Sara Harrell, The Everlasting Now, The Everlasting Now. Peachtree Publishers, 2010. Pgs. 157. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: G.
James “Brother” Longstreet Sayre has a pretty good life despite the Great Depression. Still missing his father two years after his father was killed in a union struggle, James longs for a fatherly or friendly male figure in his life that he can look up to. His mother’s run-down boardinghouse has many travelers and a group of railroad workers that are like substitute fathers for him. When Champion Always Luckey, a boy his own age, shows up in town to live with his aunt, who works for Brother’s family, the two strike up a friendship. The bullying Sheriff in town causes them lots of problems, however, and chooses to harass Always Luckey and make his friendship with James hard to maintain. This causes James to discover too young what race and power can mean in a small town. Will James remain friends with Always Luckey and still keep the sheriff at bay or will prejudice win?
A story with lots of action, but the plot’s credibility wanes towards the end. The story, however, seems well-researched and the characters seem believable. Readers who like historical fiction will enjoy reading this book. EL(4-6). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient by JoAnn Arnold

Arnold,  JoAnn, Prince Etcheon and the Secret of the Ancient. Horizon Publishers, 2008. Pgs. 307. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual C ontent: G
When his beloved grandmother dies, Etcheon discovers he’s a prince, his life is in danger, and his parents’ death is inevitable. In order to claim his birthright and stop the evil threatening his world, Etcheon will enlist the help of a mysterious girl, a tree with magical powers, and other amazing animals to help him on his journey of self-discovery and mastery. Will Etcheon conquer his powers and save his family and world?
A fast-paced book filled with adventure, magic, friendship, and self-discovery. The characters are well-developed, the plot is entertaining. Readers who like fantasy and adventure will enjoy reading this book. EL(4-6)/MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Harmonic Feedback by Tara Kelly

Kelly, Tara, Harmonic Feedback. Henry Holt and Company, 2010. Pgs. 280. Language: PG-13(5 f-bombs), Violence: PG-13, Sexual Content: PG-13
Drea is sixteen and is excited to get a new start in a new place without anyone knowing she has Asperger’s Syndrome and ADHD. Incredibly good at composing music, her talents bring her to making friends with Naomi and Justin. They soon start a band and she finds herself have true friends for the first time, even if they don’t quite fit in. When Drea gets into a hug fight with Naomi, her newfound friendships will be put to the test. Will Drea find a place she fits in? Can she keep her health problems a secret?
The plot is interesting and the characters grow over the course of the book. The story is endearing and the idea of friendship becomes a great part of the story. There is, however, drugs, violence, and a few f-bombs. The subject matter is also hard to deal with for teens younger than high school.  Readers who like realistic fiction, have a hard time fitting in, or who just like a heart-wrenching book, however, will enjoy reading this book.  HS. Optional. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High School.

The Hard Kind of Promise by Gina Willner-Pardo

Willner-Pardo, Gina, The Hard Kind of Promise. Clarion Books, 2010. Pgs. 200. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG
Sara and Marjorie have been friends for 8 years and have loved to do the same things for long time.  When 7th grade starts, however, Sara begins to change and starts making friends with the popular crowd. She reaches an impasse, however when neither Marjorie or the popular kids want to share her with each other.  Marjorie is making a movie and wants Sara to star as alien in it. Sara, however is afraid of losing her new found popularity and the cute boys. What will Sara choose?
A cute, easy-to-read story about coming-of-age and being true to yourself. Readers who like realistic fiction and friendship novels will enjoy reading this book. MS. OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: Jessica M, Olympus Jr. High, Library Media Specialist.

How to Survive Middle School by Donna Gephart

Gephart, Donna, How to Survive Middle School. Delacorte Press, 2010. Pgs 248. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: G.
David’s lifelong wish is to become a tv superstar. He spends his time making Youtube videos which include his sister and her acne-filled face and his hamster, Hammy. When David and his best friend, who’s been helping him get in a big fight, David makes a new friend named Sophie who thinks he’s hilarious. She thinks he’s so hilarious, that she tells everyone about his videos. When 1000s of people start watching his videos and he ends up on tv, it seems like all of his dreams have come true, but then forgets the most important thing, being true to himself. Will he make amends with his old best friend and still keep the new? Will David figure out who he is again?
A unique, fun realistic fiction story that does a great job of reminding teens to be themselves. The characters are lovable, the plot line is well-done and has a good message. Readers will enjoy the humor, fall in love with the characters, and wish they could read more. MS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High School.

Wager by Donna Jo Napoli

Napoli, Donna Jo, The Wager. Henry Holt and Company, 2010. Pgs. 262. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G
Based off a Sicilian fairy tale. During the 12th century, there was a man named Don Giovanni who was wealthy and very handsome. He was however, a spoiled brat. When a Tidal Wave causes Don Giovanni to become homeless and poor and no one will help him. Desperate, he makes a deal with devil. The deal is that he has to give up bathing and washing for 3 year 3 month 3 days in exchange for a bag of endless money. He soon learns that money isn’t everything and bathing is.
This story is a fun, unique tale with lots of twists and turns. Readers will enjoy the fractured nature of the tale, the characters, and the plot. Readers who like fantasy and fairy tales will enjoy this book. MS/HS . ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High

Crowfield Curse by Pat Walsh

Walsh, Pat, The Crowfield Curse. Chicken House Books, 2010. Pgs. 336. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG.
While in the forest gathering wood for the medieval abbey where he is apprenticed to, Will hears a cry for help.  He follow s the cry and discovers a trapped and wounded hobgoblin. When he rescues the hobgoblin and brings him back to the abbey, the creature talks of how normally humans can’t see him and that he is surprised Will was able to rescue him. Will soon discovers that he can see fairykind. When  strangers come to stay at the abbey, trouble begins to arise. Will learns of an ancient creature who has been buried under the graveyard and is doomed by a curse and that the monks had something to do with it. Who are the strangers staying at the abbey? What did the abbey monks have to do with the creature’s curse?  Who or what is the creature?
The plot is simplistic and not well-developed. The characters are one-sided and the book is longer than necessary. Readers who are in-between more complicated chapter books and early chapter books, however , may like this book if they like fantasy, adventure, and mystery. EL(4-6). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High

Stuck on Earth by David Klass

Klass, David. Stuck on Earth.  FSG Books, 2010. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G
When Ketchvar III is sent to earth to inhabit a normal teenage boy to decide whether or not humans should be allowed to live or not. Things don’t go so well for the humans, though. His family he is a part of on Earth are mean and he is constantly ridiculed by bullies. Things don’t seem like they could get any better, until he meets the girl next door, Michelle. When he starts to develop freelings for her, he begins to doubt what is real or not and whether or not he is really an alien. Will Ketchvar find the saving grace of humanity? Will he fall in love? Is Ketchvar really an alien?
The story is unique and clever. The main character is fascinating and relatable to. The story, however, tends to drag and would probably lose the reader’s interest in parts. Readers who like aliens, science fiction, and romance, however, will probably like this book.  MS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High

Frozen in Time by Ali Sparkes

Sparkes, Ali, Frozen in Time. Egmont Books, 2010. Pgs. 320. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G
Ben and Rachel are spending the summer with their uncle. When they discover an underground chamber filled with cryogenic capsule. After pushing a bunch of buttons, they accidentally release Freddy, Polly, and their dog. They soon discover that the trio are from decades ago.  When someone starts coming after the newfound friends and Freddy and Polly’s dad go missing, Ben and Rachel will have to race against time and decades of cultural differences to help Freddy and Polly adjust to the present and save their dad. Will they succeed? What happened to Freddy and Polly’s dad? Who is after them?
This action-filled science-fiction adventure will entertain and please reluctant and avid readers alike. It’s filled with mystery, suspense, and the plot is fast-paced.  The characters are well-developed and the so is the plot. Readers who like science fiction, adventure,  and mystery will enjoy reading this book. MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High

The Memory Bank by Coman and Shepperson - OPTIONAL

Coman, Carolyn and Shepperson, Ron. The Memory Bank. Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010. Pgs. 288.

Content: G

Hope and Honey are best friends and sisters. Hope is always telling her sister if she’s ever in trouble to blow on her whistle. One day while driving in the car with their parents, Honey can’t stop laughing. Their parents kick her out of the car and won’t go back despite Hope’s pleading.  When she gets home, all Hope can do is sleep, because she misses her sister too much. When Hope gets a summons from WWMB (World Wide Memory Bank), because she isn’t depositing enough memories, she’s taken to the headquarters. Can Hope find her sister and appease the World Wide Memory Bank?

The characters in this book are a little far-fetched, but the story is endearing and the illustrations are well-done. Readers who like fantasy and adventure will like reading this book.

EL (4-6)/ MS.  OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We The Children

Clements, Andrew. Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School: We The Children. Atheneum Books, 2010. Pgs. 143. Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: G
When Ben is late to class, he discovers the janitor dying in the hallway. Before the custodian dies, he gives him a coin that says,  “First and Always, My School Belongs to the Children: DEFEND IT, Duncan Oak, 1783” and insists that Ben protect the school. When a plot to sell the school for 30 million dollars to an amusement park, Ben can’t help but have mixed feelings. The whole deal sounds fishy and the new assistant janitor that comes in seems even fishier. When Ben and his friends start digging, mysterious things and people keep coming up that make them believe that someone doesn’t want the school’s past dug back up. What part of the school’s past could overthrow the real-estate deal? Who is so intent on keeping in buried?

An intriguing, fast-moving mystery and adventure that is quick to read. The characters are realistic, the plot is enthralling, and the illustrations do a great job of complementing the story. Reluctant and avid readers who like fantasy, adventure, and mystery will enjoy reading this book.

EL - ADVISABLE. Reviewer:  Jessica Moody, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Kid vs. Squid by Gred Van Eekhout - ESSENTIAL

Van Eekhout, Greg, Kid vs. Squid.  Bloomsbury Press, 2010. Pgs. 196.

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

Thatcher is spending the year with his eccentric uncle Griswald on the boardwalk this summer at his museum of curiosities.  Amongst the museum is a box that his uncle refers to as the What-Is-It. When a mysterious girl steal the What-Is-It, Thatcher catches up with her and confronts her about her theft. When she tells him that she is the princess of Atlantis and is cursed to stay in the water all winter and run the stands along the boardwalk during the summer, Thatcher decides to help her, but ends up wrapped up in the curse himself! Can Thatcher and the princess save themselves and Atlantis before it’s too late?    What really is the What-Is-It?

A fast-paced, humorous adventure. The characters are well-developed, the story is unique and entertaining. Reluctant and avid readers who enjoy adventure, fantasy, and fast-moving stories will  enjoy reading this book.

EL, MS - ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Freezer Burned by Jake Bell

Bell, Jake, Freezer Burned. Scholastic Press, 2010. Pgs. 161.

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

Kanigher Falls is a little town in the middle of the desert, but its been really cold and they’ve even had black ice. Nate Banks is a resident and realizes that the snow smells really bad, like cabbage. When it’s discovered that Coldsnap has escaped from his prison, Nate puts two and two together and comes up with a plan to defeat him. Why does the snow smell like cabbage? Will his plan succeed?

An adventure filled with classic superheros and villains. Readers who are trying to transition to chapter books will enjoy the comic-style writing in the middle of the book, the entertaining characters, and the action throughout the books. Readers who like superheroes, adventure, and good versus evil.

EL(4-6)/MS, ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel - ADVISABLE

TenNapel, Doug  Ghostopolis.  Graphics, 2010. Pgs. 262.

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

When Frank Gallows accidentally sends Garth Hale, a living boy, to Ghostopolis, Garth discovers that he has special powers. When he discovers how evil the ruler of Ghostopolis, he enlists the help of Frank’s ex-girlfriend and his dead grandpa, Cecil to stop the ruler. Will Garth find a way to get back to the human world? Will he save Ghostopolis.

The plot and characters are well-done and entertaining. The artist’s illustrations are funny and wonderfully illustrated. Readers who like ghost stories, graphic novels, fantasies, and adventure will enjoy this graphic novel.

MS - ADVISABLE. Reviewer:

Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Evolution: How We and All Living Things Came to Be by Daniel Loxton

Loxton, Daniel,  Evolution: how We and All Living Things Came to Be. Kids Can Press, 2010. INFORMATION BOOK.
Learn about the history of Evolution, its process, how the theory was developed, and how life on Earth is affected by Evolution.
The in-depth information is well-researched, the facts are accurate.  Using a Q & A format that is easy to follow, he does a good job of representing both sides of the controversial theory. Readers who need to write a research report or are interested in evolution will find this text a good supplemental book to other books on evolution. EL(4-6)/MS.  OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library. 

Wild Card by Ronde and Tiki Barber

Barber, Tiki and Ronde, Wild Card. Simon and Schuster Books, 2009. Pgs. 148. Violence: G, Sexual Content: G, Language: G.
The eighth grade football season couldn’t be going any better. The team and the coach are doing well together and are expecting to have a winning season. When a report card spells trouble, however, for the team’s  ace kicker, Adam Costa, the team’s winning streak takes a turn. Will the team figure out a way to win without their teammate or will they have to give up their hopes of being in the playoffs?
A fun sports read for reluctant readers. The characters are realistic, the story is inspirational. Readers who like sports fiction, realistic fiction, and books about teamwork will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) by Lisa Yee

Yee, Lisa, Bobby the Brave (Sometimes), Arthur A. Levine Books, 2010. Pgs 160.

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

Bobby’s just your ordinary boy, if you don’t count getting stuck to a tree by your underwear, getting chased by a cat with 27 toes, a horrible gym teacher who picks on the weak, and switching his t-shirt inside out and backwards for school pictures. With school causing problems and a cat chasing him, there’s only one thing to do: be brave. Can Bobby manage to find his courage before he lets his problems get the best of him?

A funny story filled with unexpected twists. The characters are memorable, the story is unique. Readers who like humor, realistic fiction, books about skateboarders, and school stories will like reading this book.


Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

My Name is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom

Cooper, Afua, My Name is Phillis Wheatley: A Story of Slavery and Freedom. Kids Can Press, 2009. Pgs. 152. Language: G, Sexual Content: G, Violence: PG
From her early life in West Africa to the day she was freed when her master, John Wheatley died, this book creates a fictionalized account of Phillis Wheatley’s life. As a child, her tribe trained her to be a griot, a storyteller. When slave traders kidnapped her and dragged her halfway across the world to America, the Wheatley family buys her and nurses her back to health. When they discover her amazing ability to learn, they teach her to read and write.  Her education from her owners and her exposure to the American Revolution help her to become one of the best poets in history.
An accurate account of Phillis’ life, although fictionalized. The background information is well-researched, the characters are true to their natures, and the story is heartwarming. Readers who like historical fiction and biographies will enjoy this book. EL (4-6). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, HUN Public Library.

It's a Secret by John Burningham

Burningham, John It's a Secret 56 pgs. Candlewick 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Do you ever wonder where cats go at night? Marie often wondered why her cat Malcom, always slept during the day and left every night. She wanted to know where he went. One night, Marie convinced Malcom to let her come along. After dressing up, and shrinking herself to cat size, they took off into the night. Malcom led her past dogs and up to the rooftops where all of the cats were having a party. Once the Queen of Cats was there they were able to eat and have fun. They had to make sure that they got back before it was morning. When Marie and Malcom arrived home they both curled up on the sofa and took a nap. This is a fun idea of what cats do at night, something I had never thought of before. EL - ADVISABLE. Anna M, teacher.

Dancing Feet by Lindsey Craig

Craig, Lindsey Dancing Feet illustrated by Marc Brown 40 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2010. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. This book has the reader guess what kind of animal makes different sounds with their feet as they walk. Some animals like elephants make the stompity stompity noise, while smaller bugs such as ladybugs dance lightly on their feet making tippity tippity noises. This is a fun book for younger readers. It is written in a guess and tell format. The pictures are great, they look like they have been made with scissors. EL(K-3) - ADVISABLE. Anna M, teacher.

Pepi Sings a New Song by Laura Ljungkvist

Ljungkvist, Laura Pepi Sings a New Song 40 pgs. Beach Lane Books 2010. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Pepi is a parrot that lives with Peter. He loves to sing, but only knows a space song sung to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Pepi decided that he needed some inspiration for a new song, so he set off to learn new words. His stops included the bakery, music studio, art studio, market, and a dog park. Once he comes back to Peter, he sings his new song to the tune of Twinkle Twinkle, but he manages to incorporate many new words he has learned along the way. EL(K-3)- OPTIONAL. Anna M, teacher.

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Fisher, Catherine. Incarceron, 442 pgs. Dial Books (Penguin Group), 2007.

Finn is fearless and ruthless, yet surprisingly likable. He is convinced that he doesn't belong in the world he finds himself -- an country-sized, all-seeing, sentient prison where gangs fight each other for limited supplies and more favorable territory -- but he doesn't remember anything from his earlier years. He only knows his current reality. Beside, everyone keeps telling him that no one ever leaves Incarceron alive, and no one ever arrives. Claudia, daughter of the warden of Incarceron, feels just as trapped with her approaching wedding and enforced adherence to a seventeenth-century life style despite the availability of advanced technologies. When both Finn and Claudia find matching crystal keys, they discover they can communication with each other, and this forbidden dialogue leads to uncovering secrets about both worlds. This is a fabulous read about a totally engrossing world and engaging characters. I look forward to a sequel.

MS, HS - ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by PKFoster, MS teacher-librarian

Elmo's World Be a Soccer Player! by Naomi Kleinberg

Kleinberg, Naomi Elmo's World Be A Soccer Player! 12 pgs. Random House Books for Young Readers 2010. $4.99. BOARD BOOK. Elmo teaches you the basics of soccer. Through repetition, you learn what dribbling is and what a goalie does. You learn that soccer takes team work and that most importantly, you should enjoy it. You get to meet Elmo's dad and a fish named Dorothy. Although this is a board book, it is very informative and the pictures are labeled to show the soccer gear. PRE K - ESSENTIAL. Anna M, teacher.

A Conspiracy of Kings by Megan Whalen Turner

Turner, Megan Whalen. A Conspiracy of Kings (Thief of Eddis series, book 4), 312 pgs. Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins), 2010.

Taking up the story of a character introduced earlier, Turner returns to the classical-esque world of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia with the story of Sophos, a reluctant heir to the throne of Sounis, who was the magus' apprentice in the first book of this series, The Thief. When his villa is attacked, Sophos enacts a plan that was devised as an academic exercise under his previous tutor and old war veteran Terve. It appears to be succeeding, but in the end, he has been severely disfigured and disguised as a slave and is being sneaked out of port right under the noses of the nobility who should recognize him. The rest of the book tells how Sophos reluctantly gives up this newly found and surprisingly appealing anonymity to rescue his kingdom from the traitors and the Medes who seem to be pursuing their own secret agenda. The delightfully clever yet sullen Eugenides has only a small role in this book, and his strength of character is missed. I would recommend this book to schools who already own the previous three books in this series, or wish to buy the entire series. It will not stand alone very well, but will satisfactorily transport fans of the series further into this intriguing political saga touched by the gods.

MS : ADVISABLE. Reviewed by PKFoster, MS teacher-librarian

The Scarecrow's Dance by Jane Yolen

Yolen, Jane The Scarecrow's Dance, illustrated by Bagram Ibatoulline. 32 pgs. Simon and Schuster Children's Publishing 2009. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK. Do you ever wonder what scarecrows do at night? This particular scarecrow loves to dance. With a giant leap, the scarecrow soars off his post and begins to dance around the barnyard. He visits all of the farm animals and makes his way to the farmhouse where they are just getting ready for bed. After listening in on the little boy's prayers for the scarecrow to protect the corn for the harvest, the scarecrow dances back to his post and immediately begins guarding the corn. His reasoning, "For anyone can dance, thought he, but only I can keep the fields free." Short and simple, this book has rhyming and the pictures are beautiful. It makes you think that maybe this could really happen. EL - ESSENTIAL. Anna M, teacher.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Master of Shadows by Nykko - OPTIONAL

The Master of Shadows (Elsewhere Chronicles #3) by Nykko, 48 pgs. Graphic Universe, 2009. $27.00. GRAPHIC NOVEL.

Language - PG (1 swear); Mature Content - G; Violence - G.

The four kids, Rebecca, Max, Theo, and Noah are trying to find the fifth passageway to get back to Earth. They sail across a sea filled with huge sea monsters, and meet peaceful villagers that provide them with food. Little do they know that they are being followed by the Master of Shadows. They battle more shadow spies and and even meet the Master himself. They are saved by Doleann, but Ilvanna ends up dying because she is tricked by a shadow spy. The kids make it back safely, but Max wants to go back. Will the Shadow King be able to follow them through the portal to find them?

EL, MS- OPTIONAL. Anna M, teacher.

The Shadow Spies by Nykko - OPTIONAL

The Shadow Spies (The ElseWhere Chronicles #2) by Nykko, :  48 pgs. Graphic Universe, 2009. $27 GRAPHIC NOVEL.

Content - G

Picking right up from Book 1, where Rebecca and Max are trapped in another world, Theo and Noah have figured out how to go through the same portal to save them. The only problem is that they also become trapped in this new world. Meanwhile Rebecca and Max with the help of Norgavol and Illvanna, follow a map that Rebecca's grandfather had created to lead them to a portal to return back to Earth. Along the way, they must battle the shadow spies, who are enslaved to the Master of Shadows.

The shadow spies remind me of the demontors from Harry Potter. Eventually Rebecca and Max meet up with Theo and Noah, but are still not any closer to getting home. I found Book 2 easier to read and follow than Book 1. Although the ending is supposed to be a cliff hanger, I was not that motivated to read the third book.

EL, MS - OPTIONAL. Anna M, teacher.

Claire de Lune by Christine Johnson

Johnson, Christine. Claire de Lune, 352 pgs. Simon Pulse, 2010. $16.99. Sexual Content-PG; Language-PG (26 swears); Violence-PG. Claire’s pool party for her sixteenth birthday ends early because of a werewolf spotting in the near woods. Due to recent werewolf attacks and deaths, many teens are no longer allowed to go out after dark. Claire’s mom tells her that she’s a werewolf and Claire is too. She explains that all werewolves are female and that their pack only hunts animals. The werewolf who is killing humans is a rogue werewolf that their pack is hunting. Humans are also hunting werewolves and the man leading the hunt is the father of Claire’s romantic interest Matthew. Claire is torn by her attraction to Matthew, her transforming body, and her loyalty to her new pack. The story is standard paranormal fare that will appeal to werewolf fans. MS/HS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Beryl: A Pig's Tale by Jane Simmons

Simmons, Jane. Beryl: A Pig’s Tale, 216 pgs. Little, Brown and Co., 2010. $14.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. Beryl is a pig. She lives in a windowless sty with her mean aunt Misery and cousins. Her mother is dead and her father was taken away. One day she is taken by the farmer’s by mistake and put on a truck. The truck’s driver slams on his breaks and the pigs fall out the back, Beryl sees this as her chance to escape. She wants to see the world. She meets a wild pig named Amber who takes her home to her colony. The pig council won’t take outsiders, so Amber’s aunt, uncle, and many other members of the colony leave to find a new home in the wild. Beryl’s journey to find a home and family has just begun. Fans of E. B. White’s Charlotte’s Web will enjoy this swine tale. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Monday, August 9, 2010

God is in the Pancakes by Robin Epstein

Epstein, Robin, God is in the Pancakes. Dial Books, 2010. Pgs. 272 Language: G, Sexual Content: PG, Violence: G

15-year old Grace is having a hard time pulling her life together. Her sister’s boyfriend is two-timing her and she wants to have sex with him, Grace’s parents’ divorce is taking a toll on the family, her father is trying to get in contact with her, and Grace’s guy friend is shortly becoming a boyfriend. It’s no wonder that her job as a Candy Striper at Hanover House is a place she enjoys so much. While there she meets an older gentleman named Mr. Sands with Lou Gehrig’s Disease. He teaches her to play poker and becomes like a surrogate father to her. When her friend’s health goes drastically downhill, Grace finds herself spending more and more time with Mr. Sands as well as wife. When asked a difficult request to help him die, Grace is aghast and uncertain of what to do. Will Grace get her life straightened out?Will she tell her sister that her boyfriend’s cheating on her? What will Grace decide to do about Mr. Sands?

A touching story about a caring, young woman who has some difficult situations to deal with in life. The characters are well-developed and likable. The plot is slower-paced, but keeps you interested. Readers who like realistic fiction and touching stories will enjoy reading reading this book. HS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Spork by Kyo Maclear

Maclear, Kyo Spork, illustrated by Isabelle Arsenault.  Kids Can Press, 2010.  $16.95.  PICTURE BOOK.  Spoons are spoons and forks are forks – unless you are the child of both.  Poor spork doesn’t know where he actually belongs – or what he might be useful for.  Then one day a messy creature arrives and maybe, just maybe, spork might have a very important job to do.  Little ones – especially little ones with littler siblings  - will thoroughly enjoy this cute story explaining a perplexing piece of cutlery.  Funky illustrations pair perfectly with a retro backdrop for a great read.  Pre-K – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Boy Saves Earth From Giant Octopus by Frank Asch

Asch, Frank Boy Saves Earth From Giant Octopus, illustrated by Devin Asch.  KidsCan Press, 2010.  $16.95.  PICTURE BOOK.  Hayward Palmer considers himself a scientist, so he has no use for his father’s job – reporting nonsense for the Daily Comet, a newspaper based on sensationalism.  When he follows his dad on the job for the day, however, he discovers something much different.  From a photographer that looks suspiciously like Elvis to a huge metallic octopus bent of wreaking havoc, the Asch’s book is a treat for the eye and ear.  Adults will enjoy reading it as much as kids enjoy hearing it.  EL (1-3) – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher.

The Everafter by Amy Huntley - ADVISABLE

Huntley, Amy The Everafter, 256 p. Balzer + Bray (Harper), 2009.  $16.99.  

Language: PG-13 (23 swears, 1 “f”)

Madison Stanton knows that she is dead.  But why are all of things from her former life floating all around her.  When she touches one, it draws her back to the time in her life when she lost that object and Madison loses herself in exploring and re-exploring each object and moment, searching for a way to reconnect with her life and her boyfriend – and searching for how she ended up dead.  But there is much more for Maddy to learn from these objects and times and Maddy needs to put her brain to use and find the meaning.  

Another book that I absolutely adored – but be aware of the language.  Older middle schools can probably handled it; definitely offer it to your high school students.  

MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher.