Thursday, March 31, 2011

Balloon Toons: Adopt A Glurb by Elise Gravel - ADVISABLE

Gravel, Elise. Balloon Toons: Adopt A Glurb, 40 pgs. Blue Apple Books, 2010. 10.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. “Balloon Toons- Simple stories illustrated with zany cartoon art guaranteed to engage and encourage new readers.” Immediately upon reading this book, my son wanted to adopt a “Glurb”! What a fun and simple book. We loved reading it together and laughed throughout the book. The illustrations are adorable! EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviwer: SL and JL- age 8.

The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets by Roald Dahl - ADVISABLE

Dahl, Roald. Blake, Quentin (Illustrator). The Missing Golden Ticket and Other Splendiferous Secrets, 128 pgs. Puffin, 2010. $4.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. “ Between these covers is a long-lost chapter- and the original ending- from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. Then slip into some tasty tales from Roald Dahl’s life to discover more about the world’s No. 1 storyteller.” We enjoyed this book! Having read and loved Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, we loved learning new tidbits and new endings! It doesn’t read like a chapter book, more of an informational book. But very enjoyable and interesting to read! EL- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL and JL- age 8.

Jewish Comedy Stars by Norman H. Finkelstein - OPTIONAL

Finkelstein, Norman H. Jewish Comedy Stars: Classic to Cutting Edge, 96 pgs. Kar-Ben Publishing, 2010. $9.95. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. NON-FICTION.  “Just what is Jewish humor? It is the nice-but-clueless-guy-making-his-way-in-the-world humor of Woody Allen or Jerry Seinfeld? Laugh with Norman H. Finkelstein as he looks at the impact of Jewish comedians on the American comedy scene.” This book was funny! I liked learning about the different comedians I have scene in movies or on TV. I also liked sharing my favorite jokes with my family. Middle School, High School. OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: ML- age 12.

How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food by Chris Butterworth - ADVISABLE

Butterworth, Chris. Gaggiotti, Lucia. How Did That Get In My Lunchbox?: The Story of Food, 32 pgs. Candlewick, 2011. $12.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. “Who made the bread for your sandwich? What about the cheese inside? Who picked your fruit? And where did the chocolate in your cookie come from? Just how DID all that delicious food get into your lunchbox? Take a tasty trip to farms, dairies, and factories to find out!” This was a great informational book with fun facts and cute illustrations. It would be perfect for units on nutrition, farming, gardens, etc. There are also healthy tips at the end of the book about getting enough sleep and making sure kids eat breakfast! EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

The Queen of France by Tim Wadham. Illustrated by Kady MacDonald Denton.

Wadham, Tim. Denton, Kady MacDonald (Illustrator). The Queen of France, Junior Library Guild Selection, 32 pgs. Candlewick , 2011. $16.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Inside cover: “When Rose woke up that morning, she felt royal. So she dons her necklaces, bracelets, and crown and off she goes- The Queen of France- to find Rose’s mother. Here is a sweet homage to the easy affection between parent and an imaginative child.” We loved this book! The illustrations were wonderful! The story is sentimental and humorous. We loved the ending! One of our favorites. EL (K-3). ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL

Master of Mirrors by Amanda Marrone -OPTIONAL

Marrone, Amanda Master of Mirrors (Magic Repair Shop Book 3) , 192 pgs. Aladdin, 2011. $5.99.

Content: G


In Maggie’s latest adventure, an old family enemy teams up with her greatest enemy Milo. Together they trap three of Maggie’s friends in a magic mirror and create a set of impossible tasks that must be completed in order to save them. Forced to work with Darcy, an annoying fellow student and magic user, Maggie sets off to save her friends. Together start their journey, armed with their magic, wits, and luck.

This is the second book I have read in the series, (3rd book in the chronology) and some things starting to grate on my nerves. Although both books are fast paced they are not page turners. First off, the magic users are basically all powerful, making up spells and wishes on a whim, so the danger element is totally lost. Second, because there is so much action there is very little meaningful story building. Third, and worst of all, is the author likes to make us cringe. Maggie’s school and a variety of characters are built to be annoying. I dreaded reading that Maggie was about to head off to school, maybe more than she did. Additionally there were many references to the very first book in the series. I would say not to venture into this one without that prior read. (Do I even have to mention how icky it was to read the word ‘Bromance’ in context. Ugh).

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

The Shape-Shifters Curse by Amanda Marrone -OPTIONAL

Marrone, Amanda The Shape-Shifters Curse (Magic Repair Shop Book 2), 240 pgs. Aladdin, 2010. $5.99.

 Content: PG


Maggie can’t help but sneak away to the forbidden magic repair shop. Not only does real magic take place there, but being there allows Maggie to practice and learn more about her newly discovered magical powers. Due to some unforeseen events and necessary uses of her magic in a past book, Maggie’s powers are under review. As part of that, she goes to Scotland for an evaluation of her power level, and accidentally brings her two best friends along for the ride. When they find about a terrible curse and Maggie’s speaking rabbit Hasenpfeffer is injured, they must find a way to break the curse and help out the family that lives there.

An easy to read magic fantasy featuring an incredibly face paced plot that is lighthearted and sometimes silly. (As opposed to the darker feel that many magic power books feature). There are many characters to get to know, some of whom are only mentioned in passing. My biggest complaint is the multitude of references to the first book, which I have not read. A student who had not read the first book would have trouble engaging with this second book in the series. The first book is a mandatory purchase if you intend to purchase this one.
Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What Kind of Fairy Is Merry Berry? (Lulabellez) by Lindsey Renee - ADVISABLE

Renee, Lindsey. What Kind of Fairy Is Merry Berry? (Lulabellez), 36 pgs. Chronicle Books, 2010. $12.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Cover: “All young Lulabellez dream of growing up to be fairies, but they first have to earn their fairy wings! Join Merry Berry as she discovers exactly what it takes to become a fairy… and fill her world with sparkles and rainbows!” Fun, bright, glittery book! Every little girl will love it! The message is sweet: “Find your special gift to share, and you will not only bring happiness to others, you will find happiness yourself.” In this self-absorbed world today, the message of serving others is just what we need! EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

Art & Max by David Wiesner

Wiesner, David Art & Max, 40pgs. Clarion Books, 2011. $17.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Inside cover: “Arthur knows how to paint. He’s ready to share his wisdom with Max, who has a lot to learn but can’t wait to dive right in. Their story begins here. Is it about creating a work of art? Or about an uproarious, eye-opening adventure? Or both? Art and Max will find out very soon. And so will you.” Incredible book! Not only could you use this book in a unit on art, but also on creativity, friendship, and problem solving! My kids loved to bright colors, the use of imagination, and the perfect ending. This is a must for every library! EL (K-3). EL. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL

Starfish by James Crowley -ESSENTIAL

Crowley, James Starfish, 336 pgs. Hyperion Book CH, 2010. $12.74. 

 Violence: PG

Like many Native American youth of their time period, Lionel and Beatrice are taken from their homes and placed in a boarding school. While they are still technically on the Blackfoot reservation in Montana, the children are taken far away from their heritage. Their studies are all in English and their long hair is cut short in an effort to assimilate them to American ways. After a scary incident Lionel and Beatrice steal a horse and run away to find their grandfather. Knowing that the soldiers who run the boarding school will be searching for them, their grandfather takes them into the woods and teaches them traditional survival skills. Told from the perspective of Lionel, who sees his sister as a hero, and is young enough to find joy in the adventure - it’s a survival story mixed with a learning experience. 
I highly recommend this interesting historical fiction novel. There is unusual flow to the story, which moves along like a slow river, just so you can enjoy the view. The author seamlessly blends elements of Blackfoot culture and history without being too obtrusive. If fact, students may learn just enough to spur an interest, and you may find them back in the library wanting to learn more. While the main character, Lionel, seems to be about 8-10 years old, his point of view is not prominently child-like, so I think that middle school students would still find this book interesting.

EL MS –Essential. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bitter Melon by Cara Chow - ADVISABLE

Chow, Cara
Bitter Melon, 309 pgs. Egmont USA, 2011. $16.99. Language – G, Sexual Content – PG; Violence - G. Frances Ching has her life mapped out: ace her senior year, attend Berkeley, earn a degree in medicine, and spend the rest of her life supporting her Chinese immigrant mother. She has never examined this plan, which was formed for her when she was very young. But when Frances is accidentally placed in a speech class instead of the calculus she needs to help her get into Berkeley, she discovers her own voice and begins to question everything her mother has ever told her about a child’s responsibility to his or her parents. Frances’s mother goes beyond tiger mother to outright cruelty, which keeps the pages turning. The lies Frances must tell in order to compete for her speech team against her mother's wishes ratchet up the suspense as the reader wonders if she’ll get caught this time and what the consequences will be. Despite Frances's situation, some readers may be turned off by her. She makes many selfish decisions and is often a very unsympathetic heroine, which makes it hard to always root for her. HS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Firebird by Saviour Pirotta - ESSENTIAL

Pirotta, Saviour  Firebird.  Paintings by Catherine Hyde.  $18.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  Content, PG.  Based on the Russian ballet, Firebird.  A firebird is caught eating King Vaslav’s precious apples, so his youngest son sets out on a journey to bring back the firebird.  King Vaslav promised his son that he can own half of his kingdom if he returns with the bird.  After sacrificing his horse to a wolf, the youngest son, Prince Ivan is taken by the wolf to the firebird.  Because Prince Ivan doesn’t take just the firebird, but greedily tries to take the all-gold cage the bird is in, King Dormant who owns the firebird catches Ivan. King Dormant sends Ivan on a journey to bring him a horse with a golden mane from the next kingdom over, but Ivan is caught by King Afron.  King Afron promises to let Ivan go if he will go to the next kingdom and bring back a beautiful woman there.  When Ivan gets the woman from that kingdom he falls in love with her and has to use trickery to get out of his other obligations.  Fascinating story.  Excellent paintings that don’t just illustrate the story, but actually make you feel the story.  Amazing experience to read.  EL, MS & HS-ESSENTIAL.   Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Fiona Finkelstein: Big-Time Ballerina! by Shawn K. Stout - ADVISABLE

Stout, Shawn K. Fiona Finkelstein: Big-Time Ballerina! Pgs. 166 Aladdin, 2009 $4.99 Content, PG.  Fiona loves to dance and is very talented, but she has a severe case of stage-fright.  Her dance studio has been offered an opportunity to dance with the Nutcracker, but Fiona hesitates because of her fears.  She does everything she can to overcome her fear, such as imagining the audience in their underpants.  When she finally feels as though she has overcome her fears she decides that she brings destruction wherever she goes.  In order to get over her next mental block she ends up helping her dad at his job as a weather forecaster.  Cute characters and great life lessons learned.  The main character deals with her parents living in separate cities because of their jobs and has an embarrassing little brother.  She also deals with a fight with her best friend.  EL-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.  

Monday, March 28, 2011

This year's TOP 50

Kiss the Book's TOP 50 (ish) for Middle and High School 2011 edition is now live.  You can access it as a document by clicking the link above.
You can also access this list on Follett by logging into Titlewave and clicking on the STATE RESOURCES at the top of the page.  If you are not from Utah, you will have to change the state you are viewing.  Then scroll down to the middle of the page and find  STATE  BIBLIOGRAPHIES.  The Kiss the Book list will be right there for you to click.

I have also posted my Science Fiction and Fantasy lists for middle schools and high schools and the best new books in a series.  You can see those lists using the same link above!

I would love to know if you agree or disagree with me on my picks!


Sunday, March 27, 2011

Nightshade by Andrea Cremer - ESSENTIAL

Cremer, Andrea.  Nightshade.  Philomel Books, 2010. $17.99  pgs. 454  Language-PG-13 (18 swears, no “F”)  Sexual Content-PG-13   Violence-PG-13.  Calla was born to be the alpha female of her wolf pack, destined to marry Ren the alpha male from another pack on the mountain, but when she saves Shay, a human, from a bear attack, her heart leads her down a different path than expected.  Calla and her pack, called the Guardians are werewolves, who are controlled by the magical keepers.  Their relationship is one of servitude with perks, until Calla falls for Shay and doesn’t want to follow the rules.  Shay finds that he too has an important role in this mystical world.  The teens’ relationship is tested and strengthened through the unveiling of the mountains history.  Excellent characters, creative storyline and a romance that keeps the reader hooked.  There is going to be a sequel and I can’t wait. HS-ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson

See the official book trailer
And this other very cool trailer!

One More Acorn by Don and Roy Freeman

Freeman, Don and Roy Freeman.  One More Acorn.  Viking, 2010. $16.99 PICTURE BOOK.  Content, G.  Earl the squirrel is looking for Acorns around the Washington Monument and comes across a little boy who is on a fieldtrip with his class.  The little boy gives Earl an acorn and then Earl has to cross a busy street that is having a parade to return to his little family.  The story is mediocre, but the pictures are great.  EL (K-3)-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Secret River by Marjorie Rawlings - ADVISABLE

Rawlings, Marjorie Kinnan.  The Secret River. Illustrated by Leo and Diane Dillon. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon), 2011. $19.99 PICTURE BOOK.  Content, G.  Calpurnia’s father catches fish for a living, but the river seems to have run out.  Out of concern, Calpurnia goes to a woman who reads palms named Mother Albirtha who tells Caluprnia of a secret river that holds many fish.  Caluprnia “follows her nose” which leads her to the secret river where she catches so many fish she can hardly bring them home.  When she gets home and her father uses the fish to sell and feed their community it helps the people of the area moving forward again.  Calpurnia tries to find the river again, but learns that it was a blessing in a special time of need.  The illustrations are amazing and it has a good moral.  EL-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Teachers:  Check out this ready made booktalk by the Booktalk Three

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus - ESSENTIAL

Marcus, Kimberly Exposed, pgs 260. Random House New York, 2011. $16.99. Language- PG-13 (9 swear words), no "f", Mature Content- PG-13 (sexual ecounters/ not described but hinted throughout book); Violence-PG.  Liz and Kate have always been "forever bests." Liz has always enjoyed taking photos and Kate has always loved being the center of the photos.  Suddenly a fight at a slumber party turns bad and their friendship is jeopardized when Kate accuses Liz's brother of serious crimes.  Can Liz remain friends with someone she may not believe to be true or support her family.  I really liked this book.  I liked how it was written in poem form but was still incredibly written.  This story did evolve around the accusation of rape so I wouldn't recommend this for anyone under middle school. HS- ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer: BJS

Read this great interview on the "Poetry for Children" blog

Everything I Was by Corinne Demas - ADVISABLE

Demas, Corinne Everything I Was, 209 p. Carolrhoda Lab Publishing. $17.95. Language- PG-13 (2 swears; 2 "F"), Mature Content- G; Violence- G.  Irene has always lived the high life and so have her parents.  After a sudden change to Irene's father's job, they family is forced to cut down on what matters most - their home and lifestyle.  The family moves in with Irene's grandfather for the summer.  Irene begins to realize this is where home is at, at the farm.  Irene is desperate to prove to her mother that maybe money isn't everything, but it's going to take a lot of work.  This was a really cute book.  It taught us that even bad times can turn out to be something good and to make the best of every situation.  I do recommend this book for anyone from 5th grade to above. MS- ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: BJS

Visit Corinne's Website to learn more about her!

Monster Comics by Mike Herrod - GIFT

Herrod, Mike Monster Comics, pgs 64. Blue Apple Books, 2010. $14.99. Language- G, Mature Content- G; Violence-G.  ACTIVITY BOOK.  For those kids who want to learn to draw simple comics this book is for you.  It's filled with fun step-by-steps, and a really cool "magic pen" which only you can see with the special light attached.  I would recommend this book to kids from Kindergarten to Third grade and it's a perfect boredom buster. It's really cute and you can really follow the steps they give you to building comics.  GIFT (Not for a library; more for personal use). Student Reviewer: BJS

Lynn Visible by Julia DeVillers - ADVISABLE

DeVillers, Julia Lynn Visible, pgs 280. Dutton Children's Books, 2010. $16.99. Language- PG, Mature Content- G; Violence- PG.  Lynn is definitly different then the average high shcool girl.  She creates her own wardrobe and isn't scared to flaunt her funky style.  Her fellow classmates may not know it now but they will soon learn to appreciate Lynn's style.  When her dream of being an IT girl is over, she finally gets the attention she's wanted.  But is that good or bad?  I really loved reading this book.  It was funny and easy to follow and I recommend it to all middle school girls. MS- ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: BJS 

Friday, March 25, 2011

Recovery Road by Blake Nelson - ADVISABLE

Nelson, Blake Recovery Road, pgs. 320. Scholastic Press, 2011. $17.99 Language- PG-13 (41 swears, 4 'f' words) Mature Content- PG-13; 

Madeline is sent away to Spring Meadows because of her drinking and anger problems. On a weekly movie night she meets Stewart, who is dealing with problems of his own. It is hard times and they make it through them together. When Maddie gets out of rehab, she tries to get back on her feet. And she was waiting for Stewart to join her, but when he does, it is not as perfect as they imagined. Both of them have problems they have to overcome. And love isn't answering any of their questions, but generating more to deal with.              

I really enjoyed this book. It pulled me in and made me feel like I was Maddie. It was very well written and I think I could read it again some day. I would definitely suggest it to my peers. I'm excited to be adding this to my collection of books. I rated it PG-13 because of strong language, drug use, teen alcohol use, and sexual content. HS - ADVISABLE Student Reviewer:CG

Visit Blake Nelson's blog and read about his promotional tour.

I Lost My Mobile at the Mall by Wendy Harmer - OPTIONAL

Harmer, Wendy I Lost My Mobile at the Mall, pgs. 265. Kane Miller, 2011. $16.99 Language- PG Mature Content- PG; 

'Teenager on the edge of a technological breakdown' Elly Pickering has lost her mobile at the mall and now her whole world is going into a downward spiral. First of all it's not the first mobile she has lost. Secondly, Bianca (her best friend) will kill her because she has a photo of Bianca with Hugh Jackman, and numerous texts from Jai, Bianca's boyfriend. Third, she lost the gorgeous ring her boyfriend gave her. And lastly, all her numbers, pictures and texts were in there from the last year. Then she loses her computer when her house is robbed and she has to learn to live without technology and get through being a teenager.           

This book was a real laugh. It made me think about how my life would be without technology. I don't think I would read it again though, and it wouldn't be the first book I would recommend. It was humorous, but not the most entertaining. MS - OPTIONAL Student Reviewer: CG

See Wendy Harmer talk about her inspiration for the novel on her youtube video.

See on Amazon:

Special Delivery! by Sue Stauffacher - ADVISABLE

Stauffacher, Sue  Animal Rescue Team: Special Delivery!, 164 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. $12.99. Language-G, Sexual Content-G; Violence-G; Carter's Urban Rescue is back, and now they have to solve two mysteries. First, there seems to be a skunk which has burrowed into a shed at the community garden. Second, Mr. Sanders, the mail man, can't deliver mail to one particular house, because crows try and attack him every time he goes near it. Can this animal rescue team solve this double-whammy? I really enjoyed this book. I always love reading about animal-related things, and the author just wrote this book in such a way, that I just had to keep reading the book, and figure out the mystery. I really enjoyed the story. EL - ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: HW

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown

Griffin, Adele and Brown, Lisa, Picture the Dead, 262 pgs. Sourcebooks Fire, 2010. $13.49. Violence: PG

Jennie is a teen girl living in a precarious situation. She was taken in by her Aunt & Uncle after her parents died, but they don’t seem to want to keep her around much longer. Its 1864, in the midst of the American Civil war, and there just aren’t that many options for an uneducated woman with no skills. Her twin brother perished early in the war, and now it appears the war has taken her cousin/fiancĂ© Will. When only his brother Quinn returns home, Jennie is devastated, and in their grief they they turn to each other. Despite her new attachment, Jennie can’t help but the presence of her lost love. In fact there are some pretty strong signs that his spirit has lingered, and has something important to say. Jennie must interpret these ghostly clues before its too late.
This book is those wonderful reads that can actually steal you away from reality and plunk you directly in the passenger seat next to the main character. It was sedate, dark, and creepy and I couldn’t get enough. The historical setting and the inclusion of scrapbook style illustrations add to a sense of foreboding drama. The ghost element was subtle yet well played. I couldn’t put this book down and I am sure that a student wouldn’t be able to either. (Historically accurate information is a bonus).
MS HS –ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Stephanie MLIS graduate.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Lucky Breaks by Susan Patron - ADVISABLE

Patron, Susan Lucky Breaks, 176 pgs. Simon & Schuster, 2009.  $6.99. Language-G, Sexual Content-G, Violence-G; Lucky goes on yet another adventure in this adventure. She and her friends are trying to find part of a brooch in an abandoned well, and believe it or not, this will put all of Lucky's friendships to the ultimate test. I really enjoyed this book. It was very well written, intriguing, and I just couldn't put it down. I would definitely recommend this book. EL, MS- ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: HW 

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Warped by Maurissa Guibord

Guibord, Maurissa Warped, 352 pgs. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2011. $11.55. Sexual Content-PG.

Tessa takes a shine to an old tapestry her father purchased from an auction. There is something intriguing about the unicorn featured on it. She starts dreaming about a girl who lived 500 years ago. These dreams reveal a girl who innocently helps to trap a unicorn, which is really a handsome young man enchanted by an evil crone. When the original owner wants the tapestry back Tessa pulls a single thread as a keepsake and discovers unraveling this thread has unravel a spell. Suddenly Tessa finds herself juggling her feelings for a freshly un-enchanted man, facing with an evil crone out for revenge, and even worse coping with three ancient powers, upset that the weave of the tapestry of life has been altered.
Warped is long wholesome romance story with a fast paced plot that has all of the elements of a classic fantasy with a few twists. However, because the plot was fairly linear and predictable and the character building was a bit too sparse, I found myself apathetic towards the outcome. Readable but unsatisfying.
MS HS –OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Stephanie MLIS graduate.

FABULOUS Author Events in Utah

Alert! Alert!

The King's English Bookstore is bringing us many great author events in the coming weeks.  Who is coming you ask?  Get a load of this list.  If the venue is not specified, then it will take place at The King's English Bookstore at the corner of 15th S and 15th E.  I hope I see some of you there!

Tuesday, March 29, 7 p.m.
Carrie Ryan and The Dark and Hollow Places
Salt Lake City Main Library
210 East 400 South

Thursday, March 31, 7 p.m.
Joy Preble and Haunted

Saturday, April 9, 2 p.m.
Bethlene Williams and The Togi Tree

Thursday, April 14, 7 p.m.
Brandon Mull and The Beyonders: A World Without Heroes

Monday, April 18, 5 p.m.
Marc Brown and Arthur Turns Green
Anderson-Foothill Library
1135 South 2100 East, Salt Lake City

Saturday, April 23, 2 p.m.
Carol Lynch Williams and Miles from Ordinary

Thursday, April 28, 7 p.m.
Emily Wing Smith and Back When You Were Easier to Love

Tuesday, May 3, 7 p.m.
D.J. MacHale and Morpheus Road: The Black

Friday, May 13, 7 p.m.
Sarah Dessen and What Happened to Goodbye

Saturday, May 14, 2 p.m.
Gail Carson Levine and Tale of Two Castles

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Too Busy Marco by Roz Chast - ADVISABLE

Chast, Roz. Too Busy Marco, 32 pgs. Atheneum, 2010. $16.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. This book was about a bird who didn’t want to go to bed. He wanted to spend more time with his imagination. “He’s got a masterpiece to paint, underwater inventions to create, half-pipes to skate- or better yet, inventions to create.” I liked this book! It was really funny and I liked the illustrations. EL (K-3). ADVIABLE. Student Reviewer: JL- age 8.

Mr. Elephanter by Lark Pien

Pien, Lark. Mr. Elephanter, 32 pgs. Candlewick, 2010. $14.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Inside cover: “Every morning, Mr. Elephanter arrives at the Elephantry to take care of the little elephanties who live there. He makes them breakfast, and sometimes, when it’s nice out, he takes them to the park. No matter what they do, Mr. Elephanter and the elephanties always have fun playing together and imagining what tomorrow may bring.” Lark Pien is an award winning artist. He does an amazing job illustrating this touching book detailing the job of caregivers everywhere. We loved the humor and the practicality of the little elephanties actions! Great book! El (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL

Magic Tree House Research Guide: Snakes and Other Reptiles by Mary Pope Osbourne and Natalie Pope Boyce. Illustrated by Sal Murdocca

Osbourne, Mary Pope. Boyce, Natalie Pope. Murdocca, Sal. Magic Tree House Research Guide #23: Snakes and Other Reptiles: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #45: A Crazy Day with Cobras (A Stepping Stone Book(TM)), 128 pages. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011. $4.99.Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. This book tells you really cool facts about snakes and other reptiles like how old they can grow to be, how long they can be, and how venomous they can be. It is also very interesting for people who have less knowledge about these reptiles. I really liked this book. It was easy to read and it wasn’t scary. EL- ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer: ML- age 11.

Frankly Frannie by AJ Stern

Stern, AJ and Illustrated by Marts, Doreen Mulryan Frankly Frannie , 128 pgs. Grosset & Dunlap, 2010. $4.99. Early Reader.

Frannie (aka Frankly) is a little girl with a whole lot of personality. She is opinionated and smart but no matter her good intentions seems drawn to accidentally making trouble. More than anything Frannie wants to be more adult like and really would like a job. When her class goes on a field trip to a radio studio, Frannie finds herself on air. Her advice to a caller sets off a chain of events that lead to a quite a few learning experiences.
I adore this book. Through creative writing, cute illustrations, and font changes, the character of Frannie comes to life as quirky, fun, and incredibly interesting. Her adventure is purely from a youngster’s point of view, in contrast to many books where I can feel the presence of an adult writer trying too hard to be childlike. While life lessons were learned, they felt like a natural part of the story, rather than the whole point of the story. Only the first book in the series, I look forward to reading them all.
EL–Advisable. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter by Andy Runton - ADVISABLE

Runton, Andy. Owly & Wormy, Friends All Aflutter! 40 pgs. Atheneum, 2011) $15.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Inside cover: “Olwy and Wormy want butterflies! But when they come home from Mrs. Raccoon’s Nursery with a milkweed plant that is supposed to attract some fluttering friends, what they get instead are chubby, green bugs!” This is a great wordless book. The illustrations are fun and interesting. Non readers can easily understand the storyline and share this sweet wordless story about the lifecycle of butterflies. This book could definitely be used in the classroom when studying butterflies, insects, etc. EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL

Mudkin by Stephen Gammell - ESSENTIAL

Gammell, Stephen. Mudkin, 32 pgs. Carolrhoda Books, 2011 $16.95. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Inside cover: “Well, she’s not really a queen-just an ordinary girl who has an extraordinary day. She meets Mudkin, a friendly creature who whips up a robe and crown for her. Away they got o meet Her Majesty’s subjects. Even if the kingdom lasts only until the next rain shower, the crown Mudkin gives her is forever.” Incredible book! We loved it! Few words, but fantastic story told through Caldecott- winning artist Stephen Gammell. The pictures are amazing, the story unforgettable. EL (K-3). EL. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: SL

Amelia Lost by Candace Fleming - ESSENTIAL

Fleming, Candace Amelia Lost, 110 pgs. Schwartz & Wade Books, 2011.  $18.99. Language-G, Sexual Content-G, Violence-G; On July 24, 1897, a women's hero was born. Her name was Amelia Earhart. Little did her parents know she would be one of the most important aviators in our history. This is the story of how she did all she did, and what her quirks and abnormalities were. I really enjoyed this book. I am doing a report about Amelia Earhart, and this is my best source yet. It tells all kinds of facts that you wouldn't know from your common knowledge. This book would be a really good source for anybody who wants to learn a lot more about Amelia Earhart. EL, MS- ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer: HW

Animal Rescue Team: Hide and Seek by Sue Stauffacher - ADVISABLE

Stauffacher, Sue Animal Rescue Team: Hide and Seek, 143 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf, 2010. $12.99. Language- G, Sexual Content- G; Violence- G; The Carter family runs a animal rescue service, and their most recent call is about a deer who has a pumpkin stuck on his head. Meanwhile, they are taking care of a coyote-dog mix who howls all night long. Will the Carter's be able to rescue the deer, and maybe keep the dog as a pet? This book was really cute. I enjoyed it quite a bit. Sometimes, though, the author kind of strays off in her writing, or she throws out new information, and doesn't explain it. But, I really liked reading this book. EL- ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: HW

Monday, March 21, 2011

Behind the Gates by Eva Gray

Gray, Eva Tomorrow Girls #1: Behind the Gates, pgs. 224 Scholastic, 2011. $ 6.99. Language-PG; Sexual Content-G; Violence-PG-13; When the U.S.A. is at war with the Alliance, Maddi and Louisa are sent to a school to protect them. Louisa meets Evelyn who thinks this is all a trap. Is it? When things turn bad, can the girls help each other without getting kidnapped by the Alliance (again)? I think that the author should have gave more information in the beginning on what the Alliance is and what the war is all about. It needs more information in the beginning. Also, is this what the author thinks might really happen? I think it could have been better, but overall liked it. EL-MS-HS-ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: K.B.

Swoon at your own risk by Sydney Salter

Salter, Sydney Swoon at your own risk, pgs. 356 Graphia, 2010. $8.99. Language-PG-13; Sexual Content-PG-13; Violence-PG-13; Polly has always had a hard time with relationships. She joins clubs that a guy she thinks is cute will join, but he guy ends up breaking it off because he does not think she takes the club seriously. When summer hits and Polly ends up having to work with her ex, she meets an ex-dork named Xander. Will he be able to change Polly's ways? I thought that this book talked a little too much about failing relationships. There were no good relationships until the end. But the book was kind of depressing. MS-HS-OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: K.B.

Flirt Club by Cathleen Daly

Daly, Cathleen Flirt Club, pgs. 281 Roaring Book Press, 2011. $16.99 Language-PG-13; Sexual Content-PG-13; Violence-PG; Izzy and Anne don't understand how to flirt with guys. When they start a club for learning how to flirt, will it help them with guys? During the school musical, Izzy has a love triangle, while Anne is in love with a guys ear. Can they figure out boys, and themselves? I really enjoyed this book, but wasn't really a fan of the books format, it was through passed notes. It was still descriptive, not short and choppy, but was just weird to be reading a journal. I liked the story line but it was weird that the author used little kid 'potty' words. And one of the characters is very pre-occupied with her “girls”, as she calls them.  MS- OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: K.B.

The Wonderful Future that Never Was by Gregory Benford

Benford, Gregory and The Editors of Popular Mechanics The Wonderful Future that Never Was, 208 pgs. Hearst, 2010. $14.86. CURRICULUM CONNECTION.

This book is a collection of excerpts from Popular Mechanics magazine from 1903-1969. It features those illustrations and articles that endeavor to predict the future. The book is divided is first divided into topics such as ‘The City of the Future’ and 'Home, Sweet Home of Tomorrow'. Contained within are the predictions that relate, which are thoughtfully labeled by year and accompanied by many vivid color illustrations.
The potential for this to be an absolutely fascinating book is undermined by the lack of prediction outcome. I wanted to know if each and every prediction had come true, even in some way, but only a handful list the outcome. (Its used as more of a special feature). While this does leave open the possibility that students could pick a prediction and research it, I found it frustrating. I would have loved to see a prediction with its illustration and even a photo/ blurb of the current outcome. Art students may appreciate this book for the illustrations, of which there are many, which lend themselves perfectly with the popular Steampunk trend.
MS/HS –Optional. Reviewer:Stephanie MLS graduate.

The Search by Eric Heuvel, Ruud van der Rol, and Lies Schippers

Heuvel, Eric and van der Rol, Rudd, and Schippers, Lies The Search, 64 pgs. Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2009. $14.81. GRAPHIC NOVEL. CURRICULUM CONNECTION.

In this story, a woman named Esther tells her grandson about her experiences during the Holocaust. At the start of the story Esther is just a young girl, through her eyes we see the gradual political climate change in Germany and how that leads to her own journey into hiding. When her grandson finds a missing link to discovering what happened to her parents, the story is continued from the perspective of Esther’s neighbor, Bob, who lived through the concentration camps. Included are interjections from the young grandson’s and a plethora of facts and information.
There is no disputing the merits of the content of this book. The story is surprising complex, especially when taking into account the presentation, as well as engaging and interesting. The educational component is top of the line. The authors create a great dynamic when they include the grandchildren of the survivors as an integral part of the story. Artistically I think the intent was to appeal to the popularity of graphic novels, which is an innovative way to connect to today’s youth. However they kind of missed the ball, by choosing a comic book/archie style, which has a dated feel artistically and is not the current trend. I still think this will still be a fought over choice as student choose books to read on this topic.
Elementary –Essential. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Med Head by James Patterson and Hal Friedman

Patterson, James and Hal Friedman Med Head: My Knock-down, Drag-out, Drugged-up Battle with My Brain, 302 p. Little Brown, 2008.  $8.99.  Language: G (2 swears, 2 ‘f’); Violence: G.  Mature Content: PG (very brief, only once). Cory not only has to deal with Tourette’s Syndrome, but he also has severe OCD.  Patterson and Friedman help Cory tell his story from the age of 5 until he enters college. Without become inflammatory or titillating, his life’s highs and lows are laid bare as he looses faith in the medical system and attempts to self-medicate – almost to death.  This memoir is much more accessible and “A Child Called It” and unfortunately touches upon many more students’ lives.  HS – ESSENTIAL; MS – ADVISABLE.  Cynthia M., Library Teacher

Escape Velocity by Mark Walden

Walden, Mark Escape Velocity, 354 p. Simon (APRIL 2011), $16.  Content: G (like The Incredibles)

Something is very wrong at H.I.V.E. (Higher Institute of Villainous Education).  The headmaster, Nero, has been captured and Raven, his chief assassin and protector, is missing.  Even worse, G.L.O.V.E. and Number One have appointed the Contessa to be the new headmistress.  Wait – didn’t she try to control and kill everybody less than a year ago?  Otto and his group are not willing to take this lying down.  With a little help from the sympathetic teachers and a nudge from the H.I.V.E.mind, the school’s self-aware computer, they will do everything that they have to in order to regain control of their school, rescue Nero and take down H.I.V.E.’s enemies.  While it is kind of ironic for villains to act as heroes and still see themselves as villains, the energy and action are just too good to resist in this series.  And it irks me that more books in the series that have been released in the UK, but not in America!  MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Nancy and Plum by Betty MacDonald

MacDonald, Betty. Nancy and Plum. 222 pgs. Alfred A. Knopf. 2010, 1952. $15.99. Content G.   
Nancy and Plum are orphaned sisters living with the mean Mrs. Monday at her boarding home.  After several years of mistreatment and disgusting food, Nancy and Plum have had it. They find many ways to upset and annoy Mrs. Monday in order to get treated fairly. 

I loved the sisterly bond between Nancy and Plum as well as their positive attitude. They used imagination as an escape and did so year after year in order to endure the way they were treated. MacDonald weaves the imagination of and 8 and 10 year-old girl into the readers imagination beautifully. ESSENTIAL upper ES, MS. Shauna, reading teacher.

FYI - This is a reprint of the classic story by MacDonald, who is probably better known for her Mrs. PiggleWiggle books.  This story doesn't loose any of its charm, even after almost 50 years!

Sunday, March 20, 2011

The Nutcracker by Allison Jay

Jay, Allison. The Nutcracker.  Dial Books for Young Readers, 2010 $16.99.  Content G-PICTURE BOOK.  The classic story of young Clara’s Christmas gift of a Nutcracker is brought to life on the pages of this beautiful book. As Clara dreams we learn of a Mouse King keeping a prince captive inside the nutcracker. With Clara’s bravery the prince is set free of the spell. In return the prince takes Clara to his kingdom for a night of feasting and entertaining. The artwork was done in crackle paint style and the pictures are detailed, but not too overwhelming; just right for a small child to read. ES, Family Library ADVISABLE. Shauna, Reading teacher.

So Shelly by Ty Roth

Roth, Ty So Shelly, pgs. 325 Delacorte Press, 2011. $17.99. Language-R; Violence-PG-13; Sexual Content-R; John and Gordon have never been friends, but will stealing their best friend Shelly's body help bring them together? Over the journey, they both discover themselves, and go over their pasts. Making Shelly's last wishes come true will be harder than they thought. I really thought that this book was a terrible read. The sexual content and “spicy” language really ruined the book for me. It could have been a great book that would interest more people if it were more appropriate. I think that the author should rewrite the book. NO. Student Reviewer: K.B.

The Can Man by Laura E. Williams

Williams, Laura E. The Can Man. Illustrated by Craig Orback.  PICTURE BOOK. Lee & Low Books, Inc. 2010 $18.95.

Content G.

When Tim decides he wants to earn a little extra money to buy himself a birthday present, he gets his inspiration from Mr. Peters, a.k.a. The Can Man. Tim is on track to purchase himself a new skateboard when a couple conversations with Mr. Peters changes his mind about what do with his can money.

This book does a great job of teaching its readers to be selfless and look beyond themselves to make a difference in the world one person at a time. The artwork is paint on canvas and Orback’s work is fitting and beautiful.

EL, MS (character education) - ADVISABLE. Shauna, Reading teacher.