Friday, April 29, 2011

Dick and Jane and Vampires by Laura Marchesani. NOT RECOMMENDED

Marchesani, Laura Dick and Jane and Vampires, 144 pgs. Grosset & Dunlap, 2010. $4.00. Content: PG
All your favorite 1950’s characters are back in a large collection of extremely short stories: Dick, Jane, Sally, Mother, Father, and lets not forget Spot & Puff. Together they play hide and seek, say goodnight, watch the cat play, and spend time together. But this time something dark has corrupted their idyllic and wholesome world: a vampire. Is he hunting these happy people or just as fascinated as readers over the years have found them to be? No matter, the vampire hides in the bushes, hides in their closet, hides under the bed, follows them everywhere, and turns into a bat on occasion. Does the family eventually take a shine to this interloper?
Hands down this is my new favorite coffee table book. With malicious glee I eagerly devoured the entire book sincerely hoping the entire family would eventually be corrupted. You know what? I think they were!
Although the text is definitely for a new reader, the content might be a little scary, so I would not risk it for a school library. Younger students might be confused (or terrified), and not attracted to the vintage imagery. Older students wouldn’t like the simple text and would not understand what is so funny about this parody. Parents who know their child is familiar with vampires and over the whole ‘monster under the bed’ thing, could choose to buy this book. But I say buy this book as a gift for yourself and your favorite librarian!
EL–Not Recommended. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Slog's Dad by David Almond. NOT RECOMMENDED

Almond, David & Illustrated by McKean, Dave Slog’s Dad, 64 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2011. $11.99. Content: Mature Content-PG

Slog’s loves his dad, who is a smelly garbage man. When Slog’s dad loses his life, after a series of gradual amputations, Slog is convinced he will see him again. His dad promised him. One day, when he is hanging out with his friend Davie, Slog spies a man in the park. He is convinced that this man is his Dad, returned for a single visit, and he is determined to convince Davie as well.
I am all for art forms eliciting an emotional response. I think the sign of a great work is when that emotional response also prompts a call for action. For example: after reading The Giving Tree one might feel sad, but then want to appreciate nature more, or try save a local park, or develop a deeper concept of friendship. After reading this book, I felt grim, stark, depressed, and cold with no means provided for escape. Even the many illustrations, which without context are intriguing, in context only contribute to the horror I felt after reading this. Not recommended for anyone, let alone young students. In fact it creeps me out so much I don’t even want it in my house.
Elementary–Not Recommended. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

A Primer About the Flag by Marvin Bell- OPTIONAL

Bell, Marvin.  Raschka, Chris. A Primer About the Flag, 32 pages. Candlewick Press, 2011. $15.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G.  Inside cover:  “Flags are everywhere- at ballparks, schools, and shopping malls. Flags can be art; they can be propaganda.  They can spell out an entire maritime alphabet or indicate that it’s time for a parade!”  We liked the poem, but didn’t like it in this book format.  Having the sentences broken up, made the poem more difficult to read.  The illustrations were cute and simple.  EL (K-3). OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: SL

Sneezenesia by Deb Lucke- OPTIONAL

Lucke, Deb. Sneezenesia, 40 pages. Clarion Books, 2010. $16.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G.  Back cover:  “Warning:  Don’t spray when you sneeze.  Always cover your mouth with the crook of your elbow or a tissue.  And remember to dispose of your used tissues properly.  (You never know what might be lurking inside.)”  Maybe we just didn’t get the humor of this book to like it enough?  It was somewhat entertaining at times, but not enough to want it in our home library.  EL (K-3). OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: SL.

Monster Fliers: From the Time of the Dinosaurs by Elizabeth MacLeod- ADVISABLE

MacLeod, Elizabeth.  Bidon, John.  Monster Fliers: From the Time of the Dinosaurs , 32 pages.  Kids Can Press, Ltd., 2010. $16.95.  Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G.  Inside cover: “Young dinosaur lovers won’t want to miss this book about the monster fliers that shared the planet millions of years ago.  Monster Fliers brings together the latest research, engaging text and dramatic illustrations, making it a great addition to a young child’s dinosaur collection.”  This is an easy to read, beautifully illustrated book!  There is just enough information to teach a child, yet not too much to be overwhelming.  My “dinosaur loving son” was fascinated by this book and loved it!  EL (K-3).  EL. ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL.

The Collectors (Cork and Fuzz) by Dori Chaconas- ADVISABLE

Chaconas, Dori. McCue, Lisa. The Collectors (Cork and Fuzz), 32 pgs. Puffin, 2010. $3.99. Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G. Back Cover: “Cork is a short muskrat who likes to collect shiny stones. Fuzz is a tall possum who also likes to collect shiny stones. Fuzz tries to collect a “stone” from a duck’s nest and, in turn, the mama duck tries to collect him. Will Cork be able to save his friend?” This is a great level reader. The story is interesting and fun. We loved the ending with the creative solution to Fuzz and Cork’s dilemma. EL (K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: SL.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Caitlyn Kittredge - Guest Blogger

Hey everyone:

Caitlyn Kittredge is joining us today to tell us more about her Iron Codex world.  You may have already read my review of the first book Iron Thorn, but not, here's a link.

And here is Caitlyn:

Secrets of the Iron Codex

Hey there, everyone!  It's so great to be here guest-blogging at Kiss the Book.  I understand I'm the first guest blogger ever, so I'm going to try to set the bar high, and answer a few questions you all posed:

After a student reads your book – what are the five things they should probably look up on Wikipedia in order to understand your universe better – and WHY?

Great question!  Since The Iron Thorn is an alternate-history novel, here's a few things that might help students delve deeper into the world.

1.     H.P. Lovecraft and the Lovecraft Mythos
If you want a better understand of monsters like the shoggoth or places like Arkham that appear in The Iron Thorn, reading about H.P. Lovecraft and his Mythos (a shared world he created for some of his stories, most famously The Call of Cthulhu), this would be an excellent place to start!  I also recommend reading Lovecraft's work, starting with The Call of Cthulhu, A Shadow Over Innsmouth, Herbert West: Re-Animator, At the Mountains of Madness and Dagon.
2.     The Red Scare
McCarthyism, the hysteria-fueled hunt to root out Communism in America in the 1950s, plays a big part in why I decided to write the Iron Thorn.  Joseph McCarthy went far beyond his short-lived fame in The Iron Thorn, eventually getting elected President and instituting the Proctors and their oppressive laws.  The real story of the Red Scare has a different ending, but is no less chilling.
3.     Steampunk
A genre of entertainment and an asethetic movement, steampunk is a genre of alternate history that presupposes steam technology, rather than combustion or atomic, is the dominant form of progress.  Usually set in the Victorian era, but ranges from the Renaissance to the far future, in various novels.  Students can read up on classics of the genre and fun stuff like steampunk costuming, which is a great way to bring the world of steampunk books to life.  For other stellar steampunk novels, try Boneshaker by Cherie Priest, Leviathan by Scott Westerfeld or The Warlord of the Air by Michael Moorcock.
4.     Nikola Tesla
The father of modern technology, according to many, Tesla features prominently in The Iron Thorn, though I supposed that he invented a few secret, magically inclined items rather than his many true accomplishments, which include the alternating current—the means by which most modern homes and technology receive power.
5.     Dirigibles
Rather than airplanes, airships such as dirigibles and blimps are the primary form of travel in The Iron Thorn.  Reading about alternate forms of air travel often leads to learning about the inventors, the associated disasters, and how history may have turned out differently if one form of technology had been adopted above another.

Besides reading the blurb on the flyleaf or my review, what should a librarian know in order to sell this book to their students?

That it's a great adventure story, that it has some scary moments but also some romantic ones, and that if you love history, Gothic-style storytelling or just reading about worlds that aren't like our own, you'll probably love the book.  Aoife, the heroine, is also very into science and engineering, so geek girls and boys alike will really love her!

And lastly – is there something that you were DYING to talk about during the blog tour that just didn’t come up – a question you thought people would ask and they just didn’t, or some secret that you would be willing to spill if someone said just the right thing?

Really, if anyone has questions, I'm more than happy to answer them.  I'm so grateful I got a chance to share so much with my readers over the course of this tour, and I'm usually pretty easygoing as far as questions about myself, writing, publishing or my books. 

As for secrets—those have to stay secret for now, but suffice to say I am working on a new YA trilogy as well as more Iron Codex books.  Hopefully I'll have news for you soon!

(Cindy) Thanks Caitlyn!

If you want to read more of Caitlyn's blog tour, you can join her next at:
The Children's Book Review—Friday, April 29th
Library Lounge Wizard—Saturday, April 30th

Some of my personal favorite earlier stops on the tour were at:

SUVUDU—Tuesday, April 12th
Fantastic Book Review—Friday, April 15th  
Random Acts of Reading—Monday, April 18th

Now go buy the book - or see if the library has it to check out - because I had a great time reading it and I think you will too!

Trash by Andy Mulligan - ADVISABLE

TrashMulligan Andy, Trash, pgs. 232 Random House 2010, Sexual Content: G, Violence: PG, Language: PG (9 swears). Raphael, Gardo, and Jun-Jun are street boys who survive and provide for their families by picking through garbage for anything worth keeping.  One day, Raphael found something better than the usual trash, and when the police come looking for it, he knows he has something worth holding onto.  The only question is whether or not he and his friends will figure out how to use what has been found.  Mulligan tells the story through many different perspectives, which allows for insight and different parts of the story to be told--since the street boys offer only a limited perspective.  And while the book is told in such a way to make the reader want to find out what happens next, I found it is lacking heart.  Sure, it is intellectually gripping because it offers commentary on government and social classes and it has earned high praise from adolescent award groups, I found that when I was reading it I didn't care what happened to the characters.  As other books that I wanted to read were published, I set this one aside.  I am giving this book an "advisable" rating because it is an award winner and it will be made into a movie.  But I don't need social commentary when I read fiction; that's what I read nonfiction for.  But I'm sure many people will find this to be a good book--even if I think it lacks heart.  MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Dust City by Robert Weston - ESSENTIAL

Weston Robert, Dust City, 299 pages, published 2010, Sexual Content: G, Violence: PG, Language: G. Life’s not easy for Henry because his dad is the wolf who killed Little Red Riding Hood. As he gets older he realizes his dad has been framed and it’s his job to prove this. He needs to figure out the secrets of the ancient fairy dust. I really liked this book because it was very interesting to see Little Red Riding Hoods story from a wolf's point of view. I think everyone would enjoy reading this book, it’s that good! EL-MS – ESSENTIAL. Student Reviewer: SO

Second Fiddle by Rosanne Parry - OPTIONAL

Parry, Rosanne Second Fiddle, pgs. 233 Random House, 2011. $16.99. Language-G; Sexual Content-G; Violence-PG-13; Jody dad is in the army during the year 1990, so when the Berlin Wall falls, her family gets ready to move again. Jody will lose the two best friends she has ever had, but will they have one more adventure together? When the girls find a Soviet soldier, almost dead they decide to help him get back to his family. This book was good but seemed childish. The soldier's description after being beat was pretty gruesome. I think that the author should have included a pronunciation guide, not all of us speak French, German and Russian. EL-MS-OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: K.B. by Liane Shaw - ESSENTIAL

Shaw, Liane, 263 pgs. Second Story Press, 2009.

Language-PG, Sexual Content-G; Violence-PG13;

This book tells the story of Maddie, who is checked into a facility with people with eating disorders.  As an assignment she is supposed to explore her past, figuring out what got her here. As Maddie zooms through her past she realizes of the damage she done to her friends, family, and including herself.

In my opinion this book is really good and I would recommend to people who are interested in stories where people overcome their personal battles. This disorder is everywhere in the world today especially with teenage girls. I have to admit thought the book comes with much detailed dangerous ways of losing weight and most of the book is really in chat room form where Maddie goes into a pro anorexia sites which are websites that actually exist which are chat rooms were other girls with the same disorder encourage others to dangerously lose weight.


Student Reviewer: HF

Passing Strange by Daniel Waters - OPTIONAL

Waters, Daniel Passing Strange, pgs. 386 Hyperion, 2010. $16.99.

Language-PG; Sexual Content-PG; Violence-PG-13;

When Karen dies, but then comes back to life as a zombie, her family, friends, and other townspeople don't know what to think. They have 22 zombies living in their community who have to go into hiding. Karen risks the chance of getting shot and beat to try and pass as a normal human. Things turn for good for her when she "dates" Pete Martinsburg, but will it stay that way for long?

I really thought that at first this book was weird because it was about zombies, and the beginning was kind of slow. Also the author would talk about what happened leading to the gir’ls death, but was still very unclear. I thought that it was a little graphic in the details of the zombies bodies etc. Overall it was an okay book.

MS-HS-OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: K.B.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The Julian Game by Adele Griffin - OPTIONAL

Griffin, Adele The Julian Game, pgs. 200 Putnam, 2010 $16.99. Language-PG (10 swears); Sexual Content-PG; Violence-PG-13;  Julian Kilgarry is the dreamiest boy in school, and the boy that Raye absolutely loves! But talking to him is hard. When Raye makes up a fake profile, Elizabeth, on Facebook to communicate to him with, things change. But for the best? I really didn't like that this book had a sad ending.  . I was confused at first to find out that a high school taught Mandarin as a language, but found later that it was a private school. The author should have mentioned that the school isn't a normal high school. The violence was a little bad, just some fist fights with cops here and there. The book overall was okay. HS-OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: K.B.

Blood & Flowers by Penny Blubaugh - OPTIONAL

Blubaugh, Penny Blood & Flowers, 344 pgs. Harper Teen, 2011. $16.99. LANGUAGE R (36 swears, 3 "F"), SEXUAL CONTENT PG; VIOLENCE G; Blood and Flowers is an amazing story of the Outlaws theater troupe, puppets, magic, and Faerie. Persia ran away from home and was found by the Outlaws. Before she knew it, she was one of the Outlaw performers who use puppets and magic in all their shows. The only problem is, Major. He is out to get the Outlaws, because of their illegal magic use. Can Persia save this new family she has just found? I thought this was a fun book to read. I loved how the relationships grew between Persia and the other Outlaws. I had a great time going on this magical journey to Faerie to try and save the Outlaws. It was very magical. MS OPTIONAL (language), HS - ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: KU

Fallen Angel by Heather Terrell - OPTIONAL

Terrell, Heather Fallen Angel, pgs. 336 HarperCollins Teen, 2011. $8.99. Language-PG-13 swear count-10 words; Sexual Content-PG-13; Violence-PG-13; Ellie has always been told that she was normal, but when she starts to get "powers" and meets Michael, she starts to think differently. Together they find out about who they are, and running away from home. On the way though, they meet some enemies. Can they make it back home alive and with the truth? I liked this book, there was some violence, killing and language, but it was still pretty good. It wasn't a book that I would just have to have.  HS-OPTIONAL. Student Reviewer: K.B.
FYI - this is first edition in paperback.

Dragons & Monsters by Reinhart and Sabuda - ESSENTIAL

Reinhart, Matthew and Robert Sabuda Dragons & Monsters.  Candlewick, 2011.  $29.99.  Reinhart and Sabuda have created another masterpiece – this time touching upon the villains of different mythologies.  They have manage to pack 24 pop-ups onto the six pages – feats of engineering that are still a wonder to behold.  My personal favorite is the Chinese dragon.  How great is it to have a job where you get to play with paper and scissors all day!  This book is so beautiful, I wouldn’t begrudge the price – it is worth every penny.  I know it won’t last long in a library setting, but it is well worth gifting to a beloved.  GIFT – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher.

Smuggled by Christina Shea - NO

Shea, Christina Smuggled, 300 p. Grove/Atlantic, 2011.  Mature Content: R, Language: PG (5 swears, 1 ‘f’).  When she was just five years old, Eva Farkas, a Jewish girl, was smuggled from Hungary to Romania, disguised in a sack of flour.  Renamed Anca, she manages to survive in an unloving home and lives through the rise of communism, eventually making her way back to her homeland, in time to watch the fall of the Iron Curtain.  As an adult I was drawn to Shea's depiction of a life that I would never want to experience, about the choices that Anca/Eva was forced to make, the desperate need for safety that forces her to make choices that don’t involve love.  While your most mature students may be able to enjoy this, it is best in the hands of adults – a book group or such.  NO. Cindy, Library Teacher.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

The Iron Thorn by Caitlyn Kittredge - ESSENTIAL

Caitlyn Kittredge will be guest posting on Kiss the Book on Thursday, April 28th.  She is our first ever guest poster - and I would have said NO if I hadn't adored her novel.  Join us then to see what she has to say.

Here is my review of her newest novel - her first for the YA audience:

Kittredge, Caitlyn The Iron Thorn, 492 p. Delacorte (Random), 2011.  $17.99.  Language: PG-13 (30+ swears, 0 ‘f’), Mature Content: G, Violence: PG (standard creepy creature fare, nothing excessively gory).  Aoife Grayson, 15, lives in a the city of Lovecraft, ruled by the Proctors who enforce Rationality over its denizens, in order to protect them from the necrovirus, which causes madness.  Though her mother is confined in a mental institution, her brother disappeared after her tried to kill Aoife almost a year ago, and her father has never acknowledged her existence, Aoife is still determined to toe the line and make a place for herself as an Engineer to the great Engine which powers everything in Lovecraft, including keeping everyone safe from the necroviruses victims.  But Aoife receives a plea for help from her older brother and jeopardizes everything she has held dear in order to run to his rescue at their family’s ancestral home.  Life-threatening danger may be the least of the evils that await Aoife – disillusionment, betrayal, treachery, a reversal of everything upon which she has built her hopes and dreams and her world view awaits.  The Iron Thorn is a thrilling book which could easily be read as a contemporary fantasy adventure, with a healthy dose of steam-punk and be enjoyed.  But an astute reader will know that there is much more to be gleaned from the pages.  Hopefully they will set off for the internet and explore the place names and objects and various peoples and learn all about a whole world that they never knew existed.  I am very curious to see what Lexile this one comes out as – it really may be worth exploring as a classroom text for the new Common Core.  MS, HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Death Cloud by Andrew Lane -- ESSENTIAL

Lane, Andrew. Death Cloud, 306 pgs. Farrar Straus Giroux, 2011. $16.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence: PG-13. How did Sherlock Holmes become the most world renowned detective? Author Andrew Lane explores Sherlock’s teenage years and the people who influenced him. Fourteen-year-old Sherlock is disappointed that he doesn’t get to go home for the holidays, instead his brother Mycroft has arranged for him to stay with relatives and a tutor. Sherlock doesn’t look forward to continuing his studies until he meets the American tutor Amyus Crowe who not only knows the classics, but is an expert in tracking—people. Their first lesson they discover a dead body with a face covered in bloody boils and a suspicious yellow powder. Sherlock is determined to find out what happened and stumbles across a unique villain with a plot that could affect all of the British Empire. The pacing and characterization is excellent. The twists and turns of the plot keep the reader guessing, a great mystery for both boys and girls. MS/HS – ESSENTIAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Dark Moon: A WEREling Novel by Steve Feasy -- OPTIONAL

Feasy, Steve. Dark Moon: A WEREling Novel, 324 pgs. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2011. $9.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-PG. Trey Laporte is the only living hereditary werewolf (Wereling, 2010). Continuing where the first book ended, Trey’s mentor Lucien Charron is unconscious and dying because of an injury from Caliban, an evil vampire. Trey, Tom, and Alexa (Lucien’s daughter) have to find and steal Mynor’s Globe, an object with healing power for netherworld creatures. The current owner is Gwendolin, a powerful and wicked sorceress who happens to be Alexa’s mother and consort to Caliban. They also suspect that someone inside Lucien’s organization is leaking information to Caliban. The plot moves quickly to a page-turning climax. The novel ends setting up a sequel. Purchase if Wereling (the first book) is popular at your library. MS/HS – OPTIONAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Lucy and the Green Man by Linda Newbery -- OPTIONAL

Newbery, Linda. Lucy and the Green Man, illustrated by Pam Smy. 218 pgs. David Fickling Books (Random House), 2010. $16.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-G; Violence-G. Lucy loves visiting her grandparent’s cottage in the country. Her Grandpa Will tells her about his special friend, Lob. Lob is a green man – a magical creature who helps around the garden, but only shows himself to a few people. Lucy’s parents think Lob is pretend and Lucy’s friends at her school in London tease her about him. When Lucy’s grandpa dies, she badly wants Lob to come be her special friend. She writes several letters to Lob, and begins to think she’ll never see him again. Meanwhile, Lob is having adventures of his own. He is trapped and caged by a gardener and has to escape and eventually makes it to a garden spot in London. The book is broken up into sections and between each section is a paragraph or two of nature prose that feels like a blank verse poem. For example, “Indoor forest. Scents and fruits, glossy leaves, clambering stems. Flare of bold trumpet flowers. . .” The detailed ink illustrations are throughout the book and help tell the story. The novel has the same gentle, rural charm as Jeanne Birdsall’s The Penderwicks. EL – OPTIONAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Lost In the River of Grass by Ginny Rorby -- ADVISABLE

Rorby, Ginny. Lost In the River of Grass, 252 pgs. Carolrhoda Lab (Lerner), 2011. $17.95. Sexual Content-G; Language-PG (15 swears); Violence-G.

Thirteen-year-old Sarah doesn’t have any friends at Glade’s Academy. Her science teacher persuades her to go on a school trip to the Everglade’s in an attempt to make friends. Mosquito bites and mean girls make Sarah feel miserable. A young and handsome guy from the camp named Andy invites her to go on an airboat ride through the Everglades. Sarah pretends to have cramps to escape her school group and secretly goes out with Andy. Disaster strikes when they are miles away from the camp and the airboat sinks. Nobody knows where they are. Their only hope for survival is to walk through the water and mud, trying to avoid alligators and starvation.

An action packed, fast-paced survival story that will appeal to reluctant readers.

MS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

May by Kathryn Lasky -- ADVISABLE

Lasky, Kathryn. May, 336 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2011. $16.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-PG (3 swears); Violence-PG. When May is fifteen years old, she learns that she isn’t the daughter of the lighthouse keeper and his tyrannous “invalid” wife. She also discovers that she is a mermaid. May tries to solve the mystery of her past. She finds a chest in her father’s closet. The chest has three small mermaids inscribed on the outside and inside is a letter to her father about where the HMS Resolute sunk. May starts to study books about tides and currents to find more about the sunken ship. She meets a young Harvard student named Hugh and she is instantly attracted. Their relationship isn’t smooth sailing. Their lives are in danger by her increasingly deranged “mother” and a jealous fisherman who she has spurned. This is the second book in the Daughters of the Sea series, and although you do not necessarily need to read the first book before this one, the stories collide towards the end of the novel. This novel has romance, adventure, mystery and mermaids – sure to catch the interest of teenage girls. The ending is rather abrupt, most likely to prepare for the sequel. MS/HS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Anya's War by Andrea Alban -- ADVISABLE

Alban, Andrea. Anya’s War, 184 pgs. Feiwel and Friends [Macmillan], 2011. $16.99. Sexual Content-G; Language-PG (4 swears [I didn’t count the ones in Yiddish or Russian]); Violence-PG. Based on a true story, Author Andrea Alban creates a fascinating novel about a little known piece of World War II history. Anya Rosen and her Jewish family have left their home in Odessa (Russia) and sought refuge from Stalin in Shanghai with thousands of other Jews. One day Anya is riding her bike and she finds an abandoned newborn Chinese baby. She tries to find the mother, but fails. She takes the baby girl to the orphanage only to find out that baby girls are not wanted and if she leaves her, the baby will die. Anya takes the baby home and tries to hide her from her parents and grandparents. Her Chinese servant Li Mei agrees to help her find the mother or a home for the baby. Meanwhile, Japanese forces are preparing to invade China. Anya and her brother Georgi are at an amusement park when a bomb hits nearby. Author Andrea Alban packs a lot of character development, culture, and history in her novel about two days in Shanghai. Teens will find the story compelling and Anya’s character to be likeable and entirely relatable. Despite what is happening around her, Anya is still a teenage girl who is worried about her bra size, cute boys, and telling her parents about her dreams for the future. MS/HS – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night by Joyce Sidman -- ADVISABLE

Sidman, Joyce. Dark Emperor & Other Poems of the Night, illustrated by Rick Allen. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children [Harcourt], 2010. $16.99. PICTURE BOOK.
Poet Joyce Sidman uses several different styles of poems to highlight creatures of the night, including formal riming patterns and blank verse. Sidman introduces the reader to unique woodland creatures like efts; in her “Ballad To the Wandering Eft”: “You’ll rove till you’re weary, / then return to the pond, / where you’ll dream of your life / as an eft vagabond.” She also includes a paragraph of information about each nocturnal animal. A unique and engaging collection of poetry. The fascinating illustrations have the look and feel of an antique book. These one of a kind illustrations were created using relief prints (a sketch transferred to a block of wood) and hand-painted watercolors. EL – ADVISABLE. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Friday, April 22, 2011

School of Fear: Class is not Dismissed by Gitty Daneshvari-ADVISABLE

School of Fear: Class Is Not Dismissed!Daneshvari, Gitty, School of Fear: School is Not Dismissed. Little, Brown and Company, 2010. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: G

After discovering that her former students have secretly regressed when it comes to their fears, Mrs. Wellington, using the rules of her students’ contracts, makes Madeleine, Theo, Lulu, and Garrison come back to summer school to reconquer their fears. The usual fear-conquering curriculum, however, is put on hold when a series of burglaries occurs. When the students discover that a reporter is planning to do an expose on that will force the school to close, they will need everything they got to stop the gentleman. Will the friends make the decision to prevent the expose from coming out? If so, will their skills be enough to stop the reporter?

A humorous book for anyone who has fears. The characters are memorable and likable. The plot is well-developed and entertaining. Readers who like realistic fiction, fantasy, adventure, and friendship stories will enjoy reading this book. EL(4-6), MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library. 

The Phoenix and the Carpet by E Nesbit-ADVISABLE

The Phoenix and the Carpet (Looking Glass Library)Nesbit, E., The Phoenix and the Carpet. Random House Children’s Books, 2010.

Content: G

Five children find a magical egg. When they light it, a phoenix hatches from the egg. The phoenix can grant three wishes a day, but these wishes can be problematic. Some wishes may find you stranded in a far away land or with too many cats in your yard. Can the 5 children get the hang of their wishes?

Although the text has some stereotypes and descriptions that are not as politically correct as today’s texts, this classic sequel to 5 Children and It is endearing and a great addition to any library.

EL, MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.