Wednesday, August 31, 2011

An Edible Alphabet by Carol Watterson -OPTIONAL

Watterson, Carol and Illustrated by Sorrentino, Michela An Edible Alphabet: 26 reasons to love the farm>, 48 pgs. Tricycle Press, 2011. $13.25.
This large picture book covers quite a few ‘farm’ subjects from vegetables to cows to bugs. Although loosely based on the letters of the alphabet, it contains quite a bit of content beyond what each letter is named as. It features collage illustrations and poems as well.
I really enjoyed the artwork and the text layout; its bright, eye-catching, and full of fun. But the text content left me all muddled and confused. Too much was going on. Sometimes out of place sophisticated terms were used, and then next I would be reading a super childish poem. Complex topics like pollination are introduced, but not explained very clearly. At one point there is quite a lecture on fishing and the effects of over-harvesting, but little else is brought up in regards to environmental awareness for other subjects. Most of the letters combined topics –like ‘Ants on Asparagus’ –with lots of tidbits about both- they got all mixed up together. I just felt like the text was over the top. While there is a lot of learning to be had in this book, but I think a young elementary student would get lost in the mix and not learn all that much.
Pre-K, EL -OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

First Day on Earth by Cecil Castellucci -ADVISABLE

Castellucci, Cecil First Day on Earth, 160 pgs. Scholastic Press, 2011 (NOV). $12.23. Language-PG13 (8 Swear: all body parts), Violence-G; Sexual Content-PG.
Mal knows that he was abducted by aliens a few years ago, but he doesn’t know how to deal with it. He already feels like an outcast, not attached to his life, and sometimes wishes he could go live on another planet anyway. When he meets Hooper in a support group for abductees, Mal wants to believe that there is even more to the world than meets the eye. When Hooper decides to take a journey to the stars, will Mal be able to go along for the ride? Just when he thinks life here on earth isn’t for him, will find some true friends and miss a real opportunity?
I really liked the theme of this book, regarding alien life -including the mystery of what really happened and what is happening. But there were also a variety of real life lessons for the main character to experience. Mal could be any teen, with a life that is far from perfect, thinking his is the only one. There are quite a few body part swear words, so that may factor into your own libraries collection process.
MS –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

This Child, Every Child by David J. Smith-ESSENTIAL

Smith, David J.  Armstrong, Shelagh.  This Child, Every Child: A Book about the World’s Children (CitizenKid), 36 pages. Kids Can Press, 2011.  $18.95.  Inside cover:  “This Child, Every Child shows young readers that all children are fundamentally the same and have the same needs, no matter where they live.  It also highlights the drastically different realities of children’s lives.  With its activity and discussion suggestions, it empowers young readers and their families to help ensure that all of the world’s children have the same opportunities to thrive.”  What an incredibly moving (sometimes sad) and informative book!  We learned so much about other countries and customs!  We especially loved the section at the bottom of each page discussing children’s rights, written in child friendly language.  The back of the book is filled with discussion questions that could spark great conversation at home or in classrooms.  Children will not only find this book interesting, but it will help them realize how fortunate they are if they are living in happiness, safety and good fortune. Every class would benefit from having this great resource in their classroom.  The age level would definitely be upper elementary grades.  EL.  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL. 

Poindexter Makes a Friend by Mike Twohy-ESSENTIAL

Twohy, Mike. Poindexter Makes a Friend, 32 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2011.  $15.99. Inside cover:  “Meet Poindexter, a very shy pig.  He is most happy when reading to his stuffed animals or visiting Mrs. Polen, the librarian, who sometimes lets him help put books on the shelves and push her book cart between the stacks.  Then one afternoon Poindexter’s love of reading, a how-to-book, and a sweet turtle named Shelby hold a special surprise- the start of a wonderful friendship.”  This is a tender, heartfelt book that explores the emotions of being shy, and the need for everyone to have and be a friend.  It would make a great addition to any unit on friendship, feelings, or emotions.  We loved the illustrations as well as the story line.  Great book!  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer:  SL. 

Sleeping Bootsie by Maribeth Boelts-ADVISABLE

Boelts, Maribeth.  Cantor, Patricia.  Sleeping Bootsie, 48 pgs.  Random House Books for Young Readers, 2011.  $3.99.  Back cover:  "Oh no!  Silver Fairy has cast a cruel spell.  If Bootsie touches water, she'll fall into a deep sleep.  Will she stay dry?"  This book is about a kitty named Bootsie that didn't have a home.  He climbed into a laundry basket to get inside a castle.  The Queen said they could keep Bootsie. A fairy put a terrible spell on Bootsie.  This was an exciting book that kept my attention.   I liked this book because of the illustrations.  The story was really fun and exciting.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewer:  JL-age 8. 

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Rogue Crew by Brian Jacques–ADVISABLE

Jacques, Brian and Illustrated by Rubin, Sean The Rogue Crew (A tale of Redwall), 400 pgs. Philomel, 2011. $14.62.


This is the 22nd and last book in the Redwall series! It finds the abbey yet again the target of evil as Razzid the Wearat, Captain of the pirate ship Greenshroud, decides to take his ship on wheels to attack. Luckily the hares of Salamandastron’s Long Patrol are coming to the rescue, along with the brave sea otters of the Rogue Crew. Not to mention a pair of hedgehogs – Uggo and Posy. They meet up with bats, snakes, lizards, and giant birds –battles and setbacks –songs and good food.

Very typical for the Redwall series, if you need another to round out the collection. My only complaint with this book, is that it is extremely heavy on the accented speech. Almost all the characters have an accent, as dictated by the creative use of spelling and grammer. Usually there is a good mix between those with accent and normal English, but this one was more complex to read since that balance was not there. Students will love the songs, and the familiar battle between good and evil.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Queen of the Falls by Chris Van Allsburg -ADVISABLE

Van Allsburg, Chris Queen of the Falls, 40 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2011. $12.91.
This book is a fictionalized telling of the true story of Annie Edson Taylor, the first women to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel. She was quite old when she decided to pursue her dream, and she never gave up on it.
There are some profound lessons here for the taking, without being overtly pushed at you. Would make a great book for discussion and even curriculum connection. Students will love her bravery and the artwork is, of course, outstanding.
Elementary - ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Monday, August 29, 2011

Goyangi Means Cat by Christine McDonnell-ADVISABLE

McDonnell, Christine.  Johnson, Steve.  Fancher, Lou.  Goyangi Means Cat, 32 pgs.  Viking Juvenile, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover:  “When Soo Min comes from Korea to live with her adopted American family, everything is new and strange to her.  There are strange foods she’s never tasted, and strange words she doesn’t understand.  But she finds a friend who’s easy to talk to: Goyangi, the family cat.  Soo Min’s not afraid as long as Goyangi’s with her.  When Goyangi goes missing, it’s up to Soo Min to find him- and discover that home is truly where the heart is.”  We enjoyed this tender, heartwarming tale.  The story helped my son to realize how difficult it would be to find oneself in a new country with new foods and a new language. Even though Soo Min’s parents loved her, it wasn’t until she bonded with the family cat and was forced to try to communicate, that she truly felt “at home” in her new surroundings.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ADIVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL. 

Lost & Found by Shaun Tan- OPTIONAL

Tan, Shaun.  Lost and Found: Three, 128 pages.  Arthur A. Levine Books, 2011.  $21.99.   Language-G; Violence-G; Sexual Content-G.  This book contains three separate stories.  The first, The Red Tree, tells of a young girl and how she deals with her trials.  The second story, (our favorite) is about a boy who finds a Lost Things on a beach and tries to find its home.  The third story, The Rabbits, was a little confusing for my kids.  This was our least favorite of the three stories.  It is a story about rabbits who take over the world and ultimately destroy it.  This entire book is visually powerful. The illustrator is brilliant!  But I can’t say we loved the book itself- or the messages?  Maybe we simply aren’t used to this type of story.  I think adults would appreciate it  a lot more than any child would.  That doesn't mean some children wouldn’t enjoy it, but I think it was a little too depressing and a little weird for our tastes.  I like uplifting, sentimental or applicable stories for children instead.  EL.  OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: SL. 

Capital Mysteries #12: The Ghost at Camp David by Ron Roy- ADVISABLE

Roy, Ron.  Bush, Timothy. Capital Mysteries #12: The Ghost at Camp David (A Stepping Stone Book), 96 pgs.  Random House Books, 2010.  $4.99.  Cover:  “A legend says that on a dead president’s birthday, his ghost haunts the famous retreat, Camp David.  KC and Marshall are going there on October 14, President Eisenhower’s birthday.  They aren’t worried, until strange things start happening.  How did a bat get trapped in their cabin?  Why is there blood-red dirt in the trunk by the couch?  And that is making the weird thumping noise?  It’s not Eisenhower’s ghost….is it?”  This was a good book.  I was worried that it might be scary, but it ended up not being scary in the end.  This story was interesting!  EL.  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed:  JL- age 8. 

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Amaranth Enchantment by Julie Berry-ESSENTIAL

The Amaranth EnchantmentBerry, Julie, Amaranth Enchantment. Bloomsbury USA, 2009. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

Since her parents died in a carriage accident on their way to a castle ball, Lucinda Chapdelaine has lived with her uncle and his evil second wife. Helping around her uncle’s shop, Lucinda earns her keep by helping her uncle run a jewelry shop. One day, two mysterious visitors come to the shop: the kingdom’s crown prince and the lady known as the Amaranth Witch. A woman from another dimension, the Amaranth Witch carries a necklace that holds her soul and her powers. The prince, arranged to marry a princess from another kingdom, is looking for just such a necklace that says “forever”. When her uncle dies before he can fix the necklace, Lucinda gets kicked to the curb by her “aunt”. It is then and there that Lucinda swear to return to necklace to the witch. The necklace, however, was stolen the night before her uncle died by a boy thief who then sold it to the crown prince. To make matter worse, there’s a criminal from the witch’s dimension seeking the necklace and revenge on the witch and the kingdom. Will Lucinda be able to find the necklace and save herself, her kingdom, and the witch?

A fun adventure with lots of subplots. Although the plot is hard to follow at times, it is well-developed and holds the reader in suspense. The characters are likable and well-developed. The magic is well-crafted and blends well into the story. Readers who like fantasy, mystery, and adventure will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library. 

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Ultimate Magic by T. A. Barron - OPTIONAL

Barron, T. A. Ultimate Magic (Merlin's Dragon #3), 223 pgs. Philomel Books (Penguin), 2010. $19.99.

Content: G

Basilgarrad the great green dragon is fighting a losing battle for Avalon. When all seems lost, Merlin returns to save Basilgarrad, but they still haven’t defeated whatever is lurking and causing dissension from the Haunted Marsh. Meanwhile, Merlin’s estranged son Krystallus starts on his own adventure that will collide with his father and his friend Basilgarrad.

Fans of T. A. Barron’s many Avalon novels will be enjoy this rather predictable fantasy foray. Purchase if you own the rest of the series.

MS – OPTIONAL. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Folly by Marthe Jocelyn - OPTIONAL

Jocelyn, Marthe. Folly, 246 pgs. Tundra Books (Random House), 2010. $8.99. Sexual Content: PG-13 (a couple of sex scenes, not super graphic); Language: PG (11 swears); Violence: G. Mary Finn leaves her home in 1876 to become a servant. By chance she meets dashing military man Caden Tucker. They have a secret whirlwind romance and Mary is pregnant. Eliza, a spiteful fellow servant, is jealous of Mary and tells Caden that the baby is not his, but another man’s. Meanwhile the story jumps back and forth from the perspective of James Nelligan, a foundling, ten years later. James’ story is poignant one as he must leave his foster mother at the age of six and go back to the foundling hospital. The treatment is rough, but he meets a kind teacher named Oliver Chester. The two stories finally converge at the end of the novel. Author Marthe Jocelyn bases her story on her great-grandmother who brought a baby to the foundling hospital in the 1880s. She successfully illuminates what it would be like to live in a foundling hospital at that time. Jocelyn main characters are believable, however, some of the supporting cast seem a little too much “good guy” and “bad guy.” The story is narrated by Mary, Eliza, James, and Oliver. The plot bounces back and forth between narrators and time periods, which is confusing for the reader. OPTIONAL – MS/HS. Samantha, Public Librarian.

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Thelonious Mouse by Orel Protopopescu- ADVISABLE

Protopopescu, Orel.  Wilsdorf, Anne.  Thelonious Mouse, 32 pgs.  Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover: “Thelonious was some cool cat- for a mouse.  Scatting to the beat of his dancing feet, the snazziest, jazziest mouse alive sends Fat Cat into overdrive!  Mouse bounces, cat pounces- claws screaming, teeth gleaming!  Nothing’s ever going to be the same once this cat-and-mouse game plays in eight-footed time with slick rhythm and rhyme!  Will sly mouse live to sing alonious? That’s the twist in this tale of Thelonious!”  We enjoyed reading this book.  My son and I took turns reading the regular text and italicized text.  We even tried adding different voices and the excitement and rhythm the author was trying to portray. The illustrations are incredible and make the story believable.  This is a fast moving, fun, and thrilling book.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  SL. 

I Can Say Thank You by Tamsin Ainslie

Ainslie, Tamsin.  I Can Say Thank You, 26 pgs.  Kane Miller, EDC Publishing, 2011.  $9.99.   Back cover:  “Learning to say thank you has never been such a delight!”   This is another incredible book by Ainslie.  There are few words, but the pictures tell all. We spent a lot of time studying and enjoying every page- just as we have her other books.  The illustrations are incredible.  This book could be used in a unit on manners.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer:  SL. 

I Can Say Please by Tamsin Ainslie - ESSENTIAL

Ainslie, Tamsin.  I Can Say Please, 26 pgs.   Kane Miller, EDC Publishing, 2011.  $9.99.  Back cover:  “Learning to say please has never been so much fun!”  This is another incredible book by Ainslie.  There are few words, but the pictures tell all. We spent a lot of time studying and enjoying every page. The illustrations are incredible.  This book could be used in a unit on manners.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL- Reviewer:  SL. 

When I Love You at Christmas by David Bedford & Tamsin Ainslie-ADVISABLE

Bedford, David.  Ainslie, Tamsin.  When I love You at Christmas, 26 pgs.  Kane Miller, EDC Publishing, 2011.  $9.99.   Back Cover: “Christmas time is giving time, baking time and singing time.  But best of all, it is loving time.”  This incredible Christmas book celebrates all the wonders of Christmas.  From nativity scenes, to making cards, each facet of this special holiday is explored.  The illustrations are fabulous!  The colors are bright, bold and inviting.  This is a great book to help celebrate the season of Christmas.  We didn't love the title.  After reading the book, it makes more sense-but at first glance, it seems a little odd?  Pre-K.  EL (KI-3).  ADVISABLE- Reviewer:  SL. 

Are You Awake? by Sophie Blackall-ADVISABLE

Blackall, Sophie.  Are you Awake? 40 pgs.  Henry Hold and Co, 2011.  $12.99.  Inside cover:  “Edward just can’t fall asleep!  In this charming picture book about the all-familiar bedtime negotiations between parent and child, Edward and his mom stay awake almost long enough to see the sun.  This book is a heartwarming interaction between a mother and her small son in the middle of the night.  We were fascinated with the questions he had for his mother, as well as the patience she exhibited towards her son!  The illustrations are precious.  We enjoyed this book and recommend it to all families with little ones. We especially enjoyed the ending!  However, there aren’t a lot of applications to the classroom. Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  SL. 

Desperate Measures by Laura Summers - OPTIONAL

Summers, Laura Desperate Measures, 250 p. Putnam (Penugin), 2011.  #17.  Vicky and Rhianna are twins, but you’d never know it to look at them.  Rhianna has learning disabilities which make her a volatile companion on the best of days – and she only gets worse when there is more stress.  Their younger brother, Jamie, is more willing to pick a fight than listen to the voice of reason  When the three siblings feel rejected by their foster parents, they take off into the woods in search of a remembered safe place – their Great Aunt Irene’s.  Nothing will come easy for this trio in search of a home.  Summer’s story has a kind of happy ending, but it seems like something adults might want to read more than kids will enjoy.  EL – OPTIONAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

The Familiars by Adam Epstein - ADVISABLE

Epstein, Adam Jay and Andrew Jacobson The Familiars, 368 p. Harper, 2010.  $17.  

Aldwyn, an alley cat, counts himself lucky – he escaped the persistent hands of the town bounty hunter and seems to have landed a cushy spot as familiar to a young apprentice wizard.  He does feel like a bit of a fraud, as he doesn’t have any familiar training, but he loves his new master.  When Aldwyn’s human and the other apprentices are captured by the now evil Queen Loranella, the three – cat, bird and frog – must step into the gap and save their world.  

Epstein and Jacobsen have crafted an almost perfect elementary fantasy novel – intelligent animals, magic, danger and adventure!  

EL – ADVISABLE. Cindy, Library Teacher

Exile by Anne Osterlund - OPTIONAL

Osterlund, Anne Exile, 304 p. Speak (Penguin), 2011.  $9.  Violence: PG (fighting and murder, but nothing described).  Having survived the assassination attempt, Aurelia is determined to find about more about her father’s kingdom – and get herself away from her plotting stepsister and palace intrigue.  Tension between Aurelia and Robert is palpable, as neither knows how to talk to the other.  More than a simple tour of a nation, Aurelia is on the journey of a life time.  Aurelia finally has a chance to shine in this second novel – and it is much better than the first.  Girls who love tough heroines and exotic locales will enjoy this.  MS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Hidden Coronet by Catherine Fisher - ESSENTIAL

Fisher, Catherine The Hidden Coronet (Relic Master #3), 421 p. $17.  Violence: PG.  Raffi, Galen, Carys and the Sekoi are on the move again – this time hunting for the Coronet.  This powerful relic is rumored to have the power to bring all of the Makers’ devices back online.  This time they are joined by two newcomers:  Solon, a keeper, and Marco, a relic peddler whom Solon rescued.  When it looks as though a traitor is trying to sabotage the group’s mission, suspicion abounds and if the group doesn’t root out the saboteur, then all that they hold dear may go directly into the Margrave’s hands.  Fisher is doing an excellent job maintaining the tension, mystery and excitement along her quartet.  There’s only one month and one installment left to go!  EL, MS – ESSENTIAL. Cindy, Library Teacher

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Dogs, Dogs! by Michelle Nelson-Schmidt

Nelson-Schmidt, Michelle Dogs, Dogs! 32 pgs. Kane/Miller Book Publishers, 2011. $5.99. This is a short picture book about all of the different kind of dogs. It doesn't actually talk about dog breeds. It rhymes and has cute pictures. You read about fast dogs, lazy dogs, shaggy dogs and more. At the back of the book, there is a mirror and you can see what type of dog you look like. EL(K-3). OPTIONAL. Reviewer: AM.

Dino Pets go to School by Lynn Plourde

Plourde, Lynn Dino Pets go to School 32 pgs. Dutton Juvenile, 2011. $16.99. It is Pet Day at school, and most kids bring dogs, cats, bunnies etc except for one boy who wants to bring his dinosaurs instead. His teacher isn't too thrilled since the dinosaurs are too big for the desks and can't fit on the school bus. He compromises by bringing a dinosaur egg, but then it hatches and he has even more dinosaurs. This is a fun, rhyming book for young kids. EL(K-3). ADVISABLE. Reviewer: AM.

The Jaguars Stones, Book 1: Middleworld by J & P Voelkel-ADVISABLE

Middleworld (The Jaguar Stones, Book One)Voelkel, J & P The Jaguar Stones, Book 1: Middleworld, 415 pgs. Egmont USA, 2010. $8.99 (paperback). Language-G, Violence-PG; Sexual Content-G.  Max is a fourteen-year boy, whose best talent is playing video games.  His parents are archaeologists who research the Maya culture and artifacts.  When they go off to do a dig in San Xavier but Max doesn't hear from them for over a week, Max's housekeeper sends him to San Xavier and says that his parents need him to save them.  But he will need the help of a local Maya girl, named Lola, if he is to succeed.  When I first started reading this book, I could not help but compare it to Riordan's books because the similarities are unmistakeable (ancient gods from different cultures).  At first I did not think I was going to like Middleworld because I felt the characters were too extreme and the plot not as good as in Riordan's books.   But after several pages, I found that I would rather read than go to bed.  Maybe it is because my expectations lowered as I went along, but I think it is because the book got better.  Unfortunately, I was disappointed with the end because the supposedly surprising plot twist was too obvious for my liking.  Still, I plan on reading the other books to find out what happens.  I think kids will like the story and, just like with Riordan's books, they can also learn a lot about the gods and experiences of another culture.  EL, Middle School – ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Lot of Beans by Barry Varela-ADVISABLE

Varela, Barry.  Serra, Sebastia.  A Lot of Beans, 32 pgs.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2010.  $16.99.  Inside Cover:  “Every night, Juan has a tradidion:  If it’s been a good day, he drops a white bean into a jar; if it’s been a bad day, he puts a black bean in.  But what happens when a whole month of black beans days go by?” I really liked this book!  It taught me a lesson that not all days can be good days and that happiness comes with good friends and family.   I also learned that you can make stew with beans!  The book was entertaining and had great art work.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed:  JL- age 8. 

Otto The Boy Who Loved Cars by Kara LaReau- ESSENTIAL

LaReau, Kara.  Magoon, Scott.  Otto The Boy Who Loved Cars, 32 pgs.  Roaring Brook Press, 2011.  $15.99.  Inside cover:  “Otto loves cars more than anything in the world.  He plays with cars,… he even eats cars (his favorite cereal is Wheelies).  But that all changes when he awakes one morning to find that he has somehow turned into a car.  Otto soon realizes that there is a downside to actually becoming his favorite thing.  While the rest of his friends get to play and draw and read, Otto can only honk and sputter.  Will Otto ever be able to switch gears and go back to being a boy?” We enjoyed this book.  It was well written, creative, and imaginative.  We especially loved the illustrations!  My 8 year old said he liked the message that it’s ok to change the things you love/ like. Pre-K.   EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.

My Farm Friends by Wendell Minor- ADVISABLE

Minor, Wendell. My Farm Friends, 32 pgs.  Putnam Juvenile, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover:  “Farm animals are fantastic!  Is there anything cuter than a little lamb or playful piglets?  Farm animals are fascinating, and they are full of surprises, too.  Naturally, cows make milk- but did you know they need to drink a bathtub of water every day?  And of course the turkeys gobble- but sometimes they purr like cats.”  This book combines known facts with unknown facts about lovable farm animals.  Children will love the bright, bold illustrations.  We actually enjoyed the back page entitled, “My Farm Friends Fun Facts” more than the rhyming text in the regular story.  I would have rather had these facts in the regular story, instead of at the end of the book-they were fascinating and informative! Pre-K.  EL (K-3). ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL. 

The Hunt of the Unicorn by C. C. Humphreys- ADVISABLE

Humphreys, C.C. The Hunt of the Unicorn, 341 pgs. Knopf, 2011. $16.99.  Language-PG-13 (21 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence- PG; Sexual Content- G.  The night before her father goes into the hospital to finish his chemo treatments, he tells Alice-Elayne a story. Her ancestor grew in a land of mystical creatures, and was sent through a tapestry to Earth by a unicorn in order to protect her from the evil King Leo that reigned in her world, Goloth. Her dad swears the story is true, but Alice-Elayne doesn’t believe a word. But on a trip to the Cloisters museum in New York, Alice-Elayne gets pulled through a tapestry into the land of mystical beasts, and she’s the only hope to save the unicorn from King Leo. I liked this book, all of the mystical creatures like the unicorn and the manicores were explained in a lot of detail, so it was easy to picture them in your mind’s eye. Very well written. Middle School, High School-Advisable. Student Reviewer: AL

Liars and Fools by Robin Stevenson- ADVISABLE

Stevenson, Robin. Liars and Fools, 246 pgs. Orca Book Publishers, 2010. $9.95.  Language- PG (5 swears, 0 ‘f’) Violence- G, Sexual Content- G.  After her mom dies in a sailing accident in the South Pacific, Fiona has done everything in her power to resist moving on with her life. She thinks that her dad was too hard on her mom about her sailing, and that’s part of why she never came home. So when her dad starts dating a psychic who claims to have connections with her mother, Fiona lashes out. I liked this book.  It showed Fiona’s frustration in dealing with her mother’s death, and how she finally comes to terms with her life.  Middle School, High School- Advisable. Student Reviewer: AL

The Bent Sword by Stephen Gashler –NOT RECOMMENDED

Gashler, Stephen The Bent Sword, 240 pgs. Cedar Fort, Inc, 2010. $14.99. Language-G, Violence-G; Sexual Content-G.
Steffin is a young man who wants his life to be full of adventure. When a traveling storyteller, Jimbob, some to his village –Steffin manages to catch his eye. Rumor is that Jimbob is actually a magician. Finally it seems his dreams are coming true when Jimbob sends Steffin on a mission, a guiding book in hand, to fight against his nemesis, The Lord of Boredom. He gains some valuable friends in his quest, makes mistakes, and finds out that the true magic is within.
The juxtaposition between Steffin’s adventures and those within the book, and how those two stories come together, is vaguely reminiscent of The Neverending Story. I thought the plot itself was uninteresting and was random to the point of being goofy, so I could not buy in. You never knew what could possible happen next, so there were no real consequences. I don’t think that today's student will click with the character or ‘adventures’ of Steffin. He is older than them, and boring to boot. There was a lesson here, about imagination being the true magic or something to that effect, but I ended up being highly irritated at the constant little hints about it. I have got to be honest, this book was a chore to read, so not recommended.
ELEMENTARY –NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

A Nation's HOPE- The Story of Joe Louis by Matt De La Pena- ESSENTIAL

Nelson, Kadir.  De La Pena, Matt.  A Nation's Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis, 40 pages.  Penguin Young Readers, 2011.  $17.99.  Inside cover:  “Once a boyhood dream, now a people’s hope.  The weight of the world hangs on Joe’s shoulders.  On the eve of World War II, African American boxer Joe Louis fought German Max Schmeling in a bout that had more at stake than just the world heavyweight title; for much of America their fight came to represent the country’s war with Germany.”  This is a powerful picture book biography!  I actually cried when I read the story and struggled with my emotions at the end.  “The entire stadium in pandemonium, white men hugging black men and black men hugging back.”  This would be a great addition to any classroom or library and could be used in many cross curriculum areas!  The illustrations are incredible! A must for all teachers!  EL (K-3).  EL. ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.  

Young Cam Jansen and the Circus Mystery by David A. Adler- ADVISABLE

Adler, David A. Natti, Susanna. Young Cam Jansen and the Circus, Easy to Read Level 2, 32 pgs. Viking Juvenile, 2011.  Inside cover: “Cam and Eric are having a great time at the circus with Cam’s silly aunt Molly.  They watch elephants dance, clowns juggle, and a tightrope artist walk high wire.  But when their big box of caramel popcorn goes missing, it’s up to Cam to figure out who stole their snack before the show is over!” This book is perfect for new readers. It's easy to follow text is coupled with colorful illustrations. My son really enjoyed the story. EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  SL.   

Monster Hunt -Exploring Mysterious Creatures by Jim Arnosky- ADVISABLE

Arnosky, Jim. Monster Hunt: Exploring Mysterious Creatures, 32 pages. Hyperion Book CH, 2011. $16.99.  Inside cover: “Legendary creatures such as Bigfoot and the Loch Ness Monster hold endless fascination for people around the world.  Do these creatures really exist?  Countless eyewitnesses say yes, and scientists are discovering new animal species every year, so perhaps it isn’t impossible. But how would such large animals survive?  Where would they live, and what would they eat?  In Monster Hunt, beloved naturalist Jim Arnosky presents mythical creatures of the past and gigantic prehistoric animals that have survived to the present.  He examines accounts of kraken, Bigfoot, and Nessie, and then invites readers to join him in exploring what might be living in the deep waters of Lake Champlain.”  I really liked this book.  I am always interested in exploring creatures and learning about them. The author did a great job of keeping my interest and teaching me a lot!  I also liked the drawings.  EL (K-3).  EL.  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewed:  ML- age 12. 

Princess Palooza by Joy Allen-ADVISABLE

Allen, Joy.  Princess Palooza, 32 pgs.  Putnam Juvenile, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside Cover: “Princesses are girls with great imaginations!  Sporting tutus, butterfly wings, cowboy boots or soccer jerseys, each of these twelve little girls is a princess and is ready to have a day of play together- a Princess Palooza!  And what could be better than a day at Princess Park- a wonderful playground with a castle, moat and carriage- the perfect place for the girls to let their imaginations run wild as they run, jump and dance.”  This book will be adored by little princesses everywhere!  The illustrations are bright and inviting.  I didn’t love the rhyming.  I thought the timing and meter were “off” in places.  I would have rather had simple text.  Pre-K. EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  SL.

Should I Share My Ice Cream? by Mo Williems-ADVISABLE

Williems, Mo.  Should I Share My Ice Cream? An Elephant & Piggie Book.  64 pgs.  Hyperion Book CH, 2011.  $8.99.   Back cover:  “Gerald is careful.  Piggie is not.  Piggie cannot help smiling.  Gerald can.  Gerald worries so that Piggie does not have to.  Gerald and Piggie are best friends.  In Should I Share My Ice Cream? Gerald has a big decision to make.  But will he make it in time?”  This is a great “easy reader”!  The story was simple, yet entertaining.  The illustrations alone could tell the story.  The ending is perfect. It could be used in a unit on sharing, friendship, or decision making.  Pre-K.  EL- (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  SL.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

My Cold Went on Vacation by Molly Rausch-ADVISABLE

Rausch, Molly.  Krug, Nora. My Cold Went on Vacation, 32 pgs.  Putnam Juvenile, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover:  “Cold germs really like to travel!  Colds don’t stick around long.  After his cold goes away, one little boy wonders where it went.  Is it visiting his aunt in Iowa or his grandmother in Las Vegas?  Maybe it is sailing across the ocean, flying over the dessert, or climbing the Alps.  Perhaps it will visit each continent before it reaches its final destination… which isn’t so far, after all.”  We enjoyed the simplicity of the main characters imagination, and the shocking conclusion of this story.  A cold is something that everyone experiences, so everyone can relate to the illustrations, and the time frame and emotions that are explained in this book.  It would be a great addition to a unit on manners, health, etc.  We weren’t huge fans of the illustrations, but liked the story! Pre-K. El (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL.

This Plus That: Life's Little Equations by Amy Krouse Rosenthal- ESSENTIAL

Rosenthal, Amy Krouse, Corace, Jen. This Plus That: Life’s Little Equations, 40 pgs.  HarperCollins, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover:  “What comes after 1+1? Just about anything!  In this fanciful collection, Amy Krouse Rosenthal puts together unexpected combinations that always add up to something special.  Whether it’s “wishes + frosting = birthday” or “birds+ buds= spring,” each equation is a small delight.  This Plus That shows again and again that life’s total experience is always greater than the sum of its parts.”  This is a delightful book!  It is beautiful and imaginative. We actually took turns reading pages to see if the other person could guess the answer!  Most of the time we got it right, but sometime we were stumped! We especially loved the things that didn’t add up!  This would be a great book/activity for classrooms.  Students could then brainstorm their own equations and make a class book.  We thoroughly enjoyed it!  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.

Clink by Kelly Dipucchio-ADVISABLE

Dipucchio, Kelly.  Myers, Matthew. Clink, 32 pgs.  Harper Collins Publishers, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover: “Clink was a state-of-the-art robot with the dazzling ability to make toast and play music at the same time.  But that was many years ago.  Now kids want snazzier robots who do things like play baseball and bake cookies.  So day after day, Clink sits on a shelf and sadly watches as his friends leave with their new owners.  He almost gives up on every finding a home-until the day Clink spies a boy who just might be the right one for him…”  The story line of Clink is very much like that of Don Freeman’s much loved story, Corduroy.  Children will experience many different emotions as Clink is overlooked, almost gives up, and then finally receives the love and admiration he deserves.  We really liked reading and discussing this story together.  It could be used in a unit on emotions, perseverance, etc.  Although we think Clink himself is an adorable character, we weren’t big fans of many of the other illustrations, but that is simply a matter of personal bright and bold- which is what we favor in picture books.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL

Tyrannosaurus Dad by Liz Rosenberg-OPTIONAL

Rosenberg, Liz. Myers, Matthew. Tyrannosaurus Dad, 32 pgs.  Roaring Brook Press, 2011.  $16.99.  Inside cover:  “What’s forth feet long, fifteen feet high, and wears a necktie?  Tobias’s dad!  He is, after all, a Tyrannosaurus.  Despite his huge size and teeth that are sharp as knives, he’s a lot like other dads- he likes corny jokes and magic tricks, and he works very, VERY hard at the office.  He works so hard, in fact, he can’t make it to Tobias’s big Field Day baseball game.  To make matters worse, the tough Chickenbone Gang shows up and tries to take over the game.  Will Tyrannosaurus Dad show up and save the day?”  This is a good book about father’s and sons, but not as engaging as we had hoped.  The story line is good for families, but might not too applicable to classrooms. We simply weren’t “awed” by the story or illustrations.  We did like the ending when the Tyrannosaurus Dad finally realizes what it most important in life.  EL (K-3).  OPTIONAL.  Reviewer:  SL.

Monday, August 15, 2011

Farmyard Beat by Linsey Craig-OPTIONAL

Craig, Linsey.  Brown, Marc.  Farmyard Beat, 32 pgs.  Knopf Books for Young Readers.  $15.99.  Inside cover:  “The sun goes down- and the animals wake up!  Chick wakes up Sheep, Sheep wakes up Cat… and soon it’s a farmyard dance party, filled with funny animal sounds.  But what happens when all that racket wakes up Farmer Sue?”  The illustrations alone are worth purchasing this book.  Marc Brown does an incredible job telling this story with his vibrant collage art.  The story line is nothing new.  There isn’t anything fresh and exciting about this familiar farmyard plot- but children will enjoy the story from beginning to end. Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  OPTIONAL.  Reviewer: SL.

Bee & Bird by Craig Frazier- ESSENTIAL

Frazier, Craig.  Bee & Bird, 40 pgs.  Roaring Brook Press, 2011. $16.99.  Inside cover: “Things are not always what they appear to be in this mesmerizing tale of a bee and a bird’s epic journey.  Brilliantly hued illustrations that look good enough to eat and a simple but surprising story will entrance young readers… and everyone else.  Bee & Bird combines bold and colorful graphic design with a thoroughly enjoyable game of shifting perspective.”  We thoroughly loved every character and page in this book! Page after page, we laughed, we were shocked, we were in awe. Children will never tire of guessing objects on the next page.  The colors are bright, bold, and intense!  This book could definitely be used in an art unit.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.

All of Baby Nose to Toes by Victoria Adler- ADVISABLE

Adler, Victoria.  Nakata, Hiroe.  All of Baby- Nose to Toes, 30 pgs.  Penguin, 2011.  $6.99. Board Book.   Back cover: “From eyes to ears, tummy to toes, there’s a lot for baby to discover, and even more for a family to love.  This is the perfect first book for every baby- and for every parent who loves that baby to bits.”  Cute, cuddly book.-but it probably has no application to a classroom or school library.  The illustrations are really sweet!  We enjoyed the book. It would be perfect for any family with a new baby.  Pre-K - ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: SL.

Razzle-Dazzle Ruby by Masha Dyans- ESSENTIAL

Dyans, Masha.  Razzle-Dazzle Ruby, 20 pgs.  Scholastic Press, 2011.  $17.99.  Back cover:  “Ruby can make the ordinary- extraordinary.  Come frolic in the snow with her as she transforms a typical winter day into a magical fairy tale.”  We loved this book!  The illustrations are fabulous.  The book contains “ten shimmering, whirly-twirling interactive spreads!”  Anytime we can purchase a “pull the tab” book, it’s in our home library!  EL (K-3).  ESSENTIAL.  Reviewer: SL.