Sunday, December 25, 2011

Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me by Jenny Slate- ADVISABLE

Slate, Jenny.  Fleischler-Camp, Dean.  Marcel the Shell with Shoes On: Things About Me, 40 pgs.  Razorbill, 2011.  $18.99.  Inside cover: “Meet Marcel, a Shell.  He has shoes and a face, and friends, and a whole life.  It’s not exactly like your life or mine, so that is what this book is about.” I liked this book because the main character was a shell.  It was really funny.  When he had popcorn with his grandma, I laughed hard.  This is a creative picture book.  Pre-K.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  JL- age 9. 

George Brown, Class Clown: Help! I'm Stuck in a Giant Nostril by Nancy Krulik- ADVISABLE

Krulik, Nancy.  Blecha, Aaron.  George Brown, Class Clown:  Help!  I’m Stuck in a Giant Nostril!, 128 pgs.  Grosset & Dunlap, 2011. $4.99.  This book is about a boy who goes on a field trip to a science museum called, “Beaver Brook Science Center.”   They go into the five senses room where there are stations where you can hear, smell, feel, see, and taste things.  At the smelling station is a giant nose slide.  Every now and then smells come in and out.  George gets stuck in the slide and his friends try to rescue him.  I liked this book because of the cartoon illustrations.  I also liked the detail.  It was a really funny book.  EL (K-3).  ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: JL- age 9. 

School Days according to Humphrey by Betty G. Birney- ESSENTIAL

Birney, Betty G. School Days according to Humphrey, 160 pgs.  Putnam Juvenile, 2011.  $14.99.  

This book is about a hamster who is excited to come back to school.  Over the summer he went to camp.  When he returned from camp, there were strange students filling up the room.  He didn’t know where his old friends were.  Will he ever find them?  

I liked this book because Humphrey nicknamed the characters like “Hurry Up Harry” and “Helpful Holly”.  I liked the fact that Humphrey was smarter than all the kids.  This book was really funny.  I read it fast because I liked the story.  

EL (K-3). ESSENTIAL.  Student Reviewer:  JL- age 9. 

Z. Raptor by Steve Cole- ADVISABLE

Cole, Steve. Z. Raptor, 240 pgs.  Penguin Young Readers, 2011.  $16.99.   Adam goes to spend Christmas with his father and finds that his father has created a video game that uses a person’s thoughts to control the characters thoughts and actions.  Unfortunately, scientists have stolen his father’s technology and created dinosaurs with human abilities.  Adam and his father are left to fight against the dinosaurs and for the rights of inmates on a deserted island.  I really liked how the Raptors were genetically changed to have the human’s ability to think.  It was interesting to see how the author came up with this plot.  It was an entertaining and exciting book.  EL, MS.  ADVISABLE.  Student Reviewer: ML- age 12.

Friday, December 23, 2011

What You Wish For: Your Favorite Authors Write to Honor Darfur - ADVISABLE

Books Wish Foundation, What You Wish For, 252 p. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2011.  $17.99.  Language:  PG (2 swears,0 “f”), Violence:  G, Mature Content: PG-13.  This book is a compilation of heartwarming and insightful poems and short stories of wishes made by story characters of elementary through high school age.  The variety of authors provides many settings and writing styles, and the issues looked at include bullying, compassion, trust, fairness, and coping with the loss of parental employment.  This delightful book is best appreciated by teachers to demonstrate effective writing styles.  EL, MS, HS (depending on the story ) – ADVISABLE.  Rebekka, Jr. High Resource Teacher

A Christmas Tree for Pyn by Olivier Dunrea - ADVISABLE

Dunrea, Olivier  A Christmas Tree for Pyn  PICTURE BOOK Philomel Books, 2011.  $16.99  Content: G.  Pyn lives in the mountains with her father, Oother.  Pyn is a small little girl and her father is a large mountain man.  Pyn takes care of her dad by feeding him and cleaning up the house, and her father goes out into the woods and works.  When it comes close to Christmas time, Pyn wants a Christmas tree and when her dad doesn’t respond, she takes matters into her own hands.  As she is walking into the woods a snowstorm almost buries little Pyn, but her father comes and gets her and together they find a tree.  The two bond over decorating their Christmas tree.  It’s a cute story about relationships and the illustrations are great.  EL-ADVISABLE.  Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Ring of Five by Eoin McNamee - ADVISABLE

McNamee, Eoin The Ring of Five, 345 pgs. Wendy Lamb Books, 2010. Language – PG (2 swears, 0 “f”), Sexual Content – G; Violence – PG; Danny hasn’t ever fit in at school or at home and when he gets to Wilsons he finds out why. Unfortunately, it doesn’t make him fit in any more than he used to. Danny is still teased and made the subject of rumors and at this school someone is trying to murder him too. A book of mystery and betrayal always makes for a pulse-quickening tale. I loved learning the art of spying with Danny and now wish that I went to a school as cool as Wilsons. I hope the sequel can live up to the expectations that have been made by this amazing story—or Danny might not be the only one in danger. MS—ADVISABLE. Reviewer: CCH

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever! by Stephen McCranie - ADVISABLE

McCranie, Stephen.  Mal and Chad: The Biggest, Bestest Time Ever!  Philomel Books (Penguin) 2011.  $9.99. GRAPHIC NOVEL.  Language: G; Sexual Content: G; Violence: G.  Mal has a problem.  He is a kid genius who has invented gadgets like jet packs and time machines, but he really wants to just be a normal kid.  He doesn't want to be a dork because Megan doesn't like dorks, and he wants Megan to like him.  But before he can do anything, Mal needs to figure out what he wants to be when he grows up so he can write his essay.  Chad, his talking dog tries to help him, and they both end up in places they never thought they would be.    I liked this book.  It's only the second graphic novel I ever read, and it is second one I've reviewed for this site.  While this one was not quite as good as that other one, I thoroughly enjoyed it.  And when it was over, my five year old son wanted to make sure that I'd give this a good review (he really liked it).  I think this book belongs on the shelf because it is quite enjoyable.  EL(K-3), EL - ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

What's in the Witch's Kitchen by Nick Sharratt - ESSENTIAL

Sharratt, Nick.  What's in the Witch's Kitchen?  Candlewick Press, 2009. $12.99.  LIFT THE FLAP PICTURE BOOK.  

This book takes something that is found in most kitchens (fridge, teapot, etc...) and the reader has to guess what is inside.  Then, by lifting the flap, the reader sees what is inside.  But what is great about this book is that if you lift the flap from the opposite direction, you see something else.  For example, inside the toaster there is "some hot, crunchy toast" and "a grumpy, burnt ghost".  

My children really enjoyed reading this book.  They were lifting the flaps over and over.  

Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Maisy's First Clock by Lucy Cousins - ADVISABLE

Cousins, Lucy.  Maisy's First Clock.  Candlewick Press, 2002. $14.99.  PICTURE BOARD BOOK.  At 8 o'clock Maisy wakes up and at 10 o'clock she goes shopping.  Later on she eats lunch, goes to the park, and then bakes some cookies.  I know I've given a lot away already, but at least I haven't spoiled the ending (I'll give a hint: it rhymes with "red").   This is a good book because it just begins to introduce how the hands of a clock work.  My wife and I were going to buy a learning clock so we could teach our children how to tell time, but then I stumbled upon this book and I was glad I hadn't already purchased one of the beginner clocks because the book comes with one.  It can be seen on every page.  I wouldn't say that this is a must-have book, but if you are looking to teach your kids to tell time this book is a good first step.  Pre-K - ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

Knick-Knack Paddy Whack! by Paul Zelinsky - ESSENTIAL

Zelinsky, Paul O. Knick-Knack Paddy Whack! (A moving Parts Book Adapted From the Counting Song). Dutton Children’s Books, 2002. $20.99. Content G. INTERACTIVE BOOK.

The childhood song has been adapted into a book.  The moving parts in this book are amazing. Zelinsky has carefully crafted this book to be entertaining and the publishers have spared no expense in the quality. I have read this book several times and played with the moving parts over and over and it shows no signs of wear or breaking.  This is sure to be a family favorite.

EL (K-3), GIFT - ESSENTIAL.  Shauna, Reading Teacher.

Rebel Fire by Andrew Lane - ESSENTIAL

Lane, Andrew. Rebel Fire (Young Sherlock Holmes), 343 pgs. Farrar Straus Giroux,2011. $16.99 Language: G ; Mature Content: G ; Violence: PG.  Young Sherlock Holmes finds himself involved in a mystery which hinges on Abraham Lincoln's assassin John Wilkes Booth. The story involves kidnapping, murder, and possibility of a second U.S. Civil War. How an American problem of such importance can reach across the Atlantic and involve young Holmes and his friends is another fascinating, and exciting adventure for the up-and-coming sleuth. Good: I enjoyed this book. Victorian England, along with post Civil War America, made two great settings for the story. The detail that the author gave to period clothing, machinery, food, transportation, and events really kept the in my mind" playing. Bad: I think that more time and background information could have been given in building up the bad guy/villain and then in bringing about his demise. There is quite a lot of time spent on developing other characters. MS - ESSENTIAL  Reviewer: Kevin R. Moray

Me and My Dragon by David Biedrzycki - ADVISABLE

Biedrzycki, David. Me and My Dragon.  Charlesbridge, 2011. $7.95. Content G. PICTURE BOOK. When a boy decides that a pet dragon will be the perfect pet for him, he fantasizes about all the fun and exciting adventures he will have. I liked the playful nature of the book and thought the illustrations were amazing. They were detailed and brightly colored and just fun. EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE. Shauna Reading Teacher.

The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle by Deva Fagan - ADVISABLE

Fagan, Deva The Magical Misadventures of Prunella Bogthistle, 263 pgs. Henry Holt and Company, 2010.

Language – G, Sexual Content – G; Violence – G;

Prunella isn’t a normal Bogthistle worthy of the name-especially when she helps an Uplander. Being banished just makes her more determined to prove herself to her grandmother. On the run with Uplander Barnaby not only helps her to prove herself, but to save everyone from the villain in disguise.

I was surprised by this spectacular story. Discovering yourself is hard, just like Prunella and Barnaby find out along their adventure. It was a magical tale that kept me until the very end. I hope there’s a sequel because I’m not ready to let go of these characters.


Karma for Beginners by Jessica Blank - NO

Blank, Jessica Karma for Beginners, 305 pgs. Disney Hyperion Books, 2009. Language – PG (20+ swears, 0 “f”), Sexual Content – PG-13; Violence – G; I closed the book for good at page 109. The story of Tessa was slow and without a point. I stopped because I didn’t like where the sexual content was going and nothing else was interesting enough to keep me reading. HS – NO. Reviewer: CCH

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Hansel and Gretel by Susan Jeffers - ADVISABLE

Jeffers, Susan. Hansel and Gretel. Dutton Children’s Books, 1980. $17.99. Content G-picture book. Hansel and Gretel are abandoned by their father and step-mother in the dense woods, when they fall trap to an evil witch that wants to harm children. This classic fairy tale has been retold with beautiful illustrations. These fine-line pen and ink drawings are finely detailed and bring new life to this old tale. This story is a classic and a great addition to any library. ADVISABLE, HOME, EL, Shauna Reading Teacher.

Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter by Axel Scheffler - OPTIONAL

Scheffler, Axel (illustrator).  Pip and Posy: The Super Scooter Nosy Crow (Candlewick Press), 2011. $12.99.  PICTURE BOOK.  Pip loved his scooter, and one day he was riding it when Posy saw him.  She wanted the scooter for herself; so she took it and rode off.  Will Pip catch her?  Will he forgive her?  Who cares?  There is not much to this book.  It has words written by the publisher (no author is credited with writing it), and there is not much more than a forced lesson to be learned about apologizing and forgiving.  I can't imagine that I would want to spend the money on this book, but I am giving an "optional" because the pictures were pretty good and I figure there might be some kid out there who needs all the help he/she can get to learn to respect other people's property and to say sorry.  Pre-K - OPTIONAL.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher

Saturday, December 17, 2011

A Million Suns by Beth Revis - ESSENTIAL

Revis, Beth A Million Suns (Across the Universe trilogy, book #2). 387 p. Razorbill, 2012. $18. Language – PG (a few minor swear words), Sexual Content - PG-13; Violence - PG-13 (several gory deaths described in moderate detail).

In this sequel to Across the Universe, chaos reigns aboard Godspeed as Elder struggles to control the people on his ship without Phydus - a difficult feat, as dissenters stir up discord and violence tears apart the once-peaceful community. Meanwhile, Orion has left clues for Amy to follow, all leading to a giant revelation and a decision only she and Elder can make. Throughout the story, only one thing is certain: they must get off the ship. Although the beginning moves slowly, once the story gets going A Million Suns is a suspenseful murder mystery, an exploratory sci-fi, a messy romance, and a political discourse all in one. Fans of the first in the series should find this one equally riveting.

HS - ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn

Friday, December 16, 2011

Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact by A.J. Hartley - ADVISABLE

Hartley, A.J.  Darwen Arkwright and the Peregrine Pact, 438 pgs. Razorbill (Penguin Group), 2011. $16.99. 

Language-G (no American swears; one "bloody"); Violence-PG; Sexual Content-G.  

Darwen Arkwright is from England, but he has to move to Atlanta, Georgia with his aunt when something happens to his parents.  He receives a mirror that is a portal to another world, and then the next day he goes to a private school with a bunch of snotty rich kids who love to bully him.  Therefore, Darwen must adjust to a new culture, spend his days dealing with mean classmates, and his evenings traveling into a new world.  But when that world turns out to be falling apart, he tries desperately to help.  

This was an enjoyable book.  I have to admit that I am a little tired of books that are too similar to Harry Potter, but this book at least made it easy to overlook the comparison (Darwen's parents died, he has special powers, and his best friends are a boy and a girl).  I found myself really wanting to find out what happened next.  I definitely believe that students will enjoy these books, and there were even a few twists that caught me off guard (I love it when that happens).  

EL, MS – ADVISABLE.  Brent Smith, Reading Teacher.

Nothing Like a Puffin by Sue Soltis - ESSENTIAL

Soltis, Sue and Bob Kolar Nothing Like a Puffin. Candlewick Press, 2011. $16.

In this delightful tale, a puffin discovers the ways in which he is unique - and what he has in common with such items as a newspaper, a pair of jeans, and a shovel. The simple, colorful illustrations will pull children into this tale, and as a bonus they will learn a few facts about puffins. Would be wonderful for a discussion on similarities and differences among items.

EL -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewed by: Caryn.

What Puppies Do Best by Laura Numeroff - ADVISABLE

Numeroff, Laura and Lynn Munsinger What Puppies Do Best. Chronicle Books, 2011. $15.

An exploration of all the things puppies can do, from chasing balls and giving kisses, to tracking mud into the house and making a mess. A sweet book with lovely illustrations. Would be fun for little dog lovers.

ADVISABLE - EL(K-3). Reviewed by: Caryn.

A Ball for Daisy by Chris Raschka - ADVISABLE

Raschka, Chris A Ball for Daisy. Random House Children's Books, 2011. $17. Content: G. PICTURE BOOK.

This wordless picture book tells the story of a dog who loves her ball, playing with it often and finding great joy in it. She takes it everywhere, until one day another dog comes along and accidentally pops it.

No words are necessary, because the illustrations convey Daisy's emotions - joy, sadness, excitement, disappointment, contentment - just fine on their own.

ADVISABLE - EL(K-3). Reviewed by: Caryn.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

The Celestial Globe by Marie Ruthkoski - ADVISABLE

Ruthkoski, Marie The Celestial Globe, 290 pgs. D&M Publishers, Inc., 2010.

Language – G, Sexual Content – PG, Violence – PG;

Petra is “safe” in London with the new task of uncovering a murder mystery to get home. Unfortunately, not everything goes according to plan. Friendship, frustration, and betrayal are only a few of the challenges that Petra finds in London, but can she handle all of them?

Wow; there isn’t much more to say. The Celestial Globe was more enrapturing than the first one and any other book I can think of. The suspense killed me and the sad truth of the Kronos’ made my heart swell with sorrow. If the third one doesn’t come soon, I don’t know what I’ll do.


The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories by Dr. Seuss - ESSENTIAL

Seuss, Dr. The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories. Random House, 2011. $15.00. Content G. PICTURE BOOK.

Calling all Dr. Seuss fans! The “lost and forgotten” stories have been compiled into a new book.  This book also contains a fascinating introduction that gives a lot of insight to Dr. Seuss’s motivation to create such endearing and unique characters and storylines.  If you are a fan of Dr. Seuss, you will definitely need this book to add to your collection.

ESSENTIAL - EL(K-3). Shauna, Reading Teacher.

Sometimes It Happens by Lauren Barnholdt - OPTIONAL

Barnholdt, Lauren Sometimes It Happens, 312 pgs. Simon Pulse, 2011. Language – R.  (141 swears, 9 “f”), Sexual Content – PG-13; Violence – PG; Hannah had a horrible start to summer, some amazing summer experiences, and an extremely bad first day back in high school. This summer was supposed to be her and Ava’s last hurrah, their last summer together, but plans don’t always work out. So instead, Ava is going to Maine for the whole summer, leaving Hannah to fend for herself. Not the best idea, but the first of many. Drama isn’t really my thing, so I was surprised by how hard it was to stop reading. At some parts, I was so mad with the characters that I had to leave to cool off—but I couldn’t stay away long. The thing I didn’t like was how the chapters flipped between past and present because it confused me. I also didn’t enjoy all the swearing that kept popping up for no good reason. HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Road Work Ahead by Anastasia Suen - ADVISABLE

Suen, Anastasia. Road Work Ahead. Viking, 2011. $15.99. Content G.  PICTURE BOOK.  Sometimes the journey is better than the destination. At trip to Grandma’s house yields lots of fun and exciting things like dump trucks, concrete trucks and tree trimmers. This book shows construction equipment and workers at their best. ADVISABLE - HOME, EL (K-3), Shauna Reading Teacher.

The Mistaken Masterpiece by Michael D Bell-ADVISABLE

The Mistaken Masterpiece (#3), Michael D. Bell, 320 pages. Knopf Books for Young Readers (Random), 2011. $12

Content: G


This story is told from the point of view of 12yo Sophie, a champion swimmer, great musician, and an excellent detective. Together with her best friends Margaret, Becca, and Leigh Ann –they solve mysteries and have fun –they are known as The Red Blazer girls. Sophie’s life could not be busier –she’s babysitting a celebrities dog, balancing all her hobbies, receiving mysterious packages, dealing with a swim rival, and now Father Julian newest piece of detective work that needs solving. The girls take a stab at authenticating his painting and its more complicated than they think.

There is SO much going on in this book that it can be a bit of a challenge to keep track of it all. But all the side stories are so interesting you hardly notice when you have completely lost sight of the main plotline –and they all come together marvelously. I wouldn’t advise this book as a stand alone –I have a feeling the main characters were better introduced in the first two books, and I had a bit of a hard time differentiating the plethora of characters. Also I bet those first two books were really good –buy the series. Smart, responsible, yet very real 12yo –these girls can serve as a good example without being the slightest bit goody-goody.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Mackall - ADVISABLE

Mackall, Dandi Daley The Silence of Murder, 336 pgs. Random House Children’s Books, 2011. $11.98 Language – P (0 swears); Mature Content – PG; Violence: PG;  Hope Long moved to Grain, Ohio three years ago with her mother Rita and her autistic brother, Jeremy.  Hope is 16 and Jeremy is 19.  Rita is not the best role model.  She is a heavy drinker and has too many boyfriends.  Jeremy is on trial for the death of the town’s baseball coach who befriended Jeremy.  Jeremy helped coach Johnson with the baseball team and cleaned up around his horse stable.  When Jeremy was about 9 he became selective mute where he refused to speak and only communicates with Hope in writing with a very eloquent hand.  Jeremy has a strange hobby of collecting empty glass jars.  He carries some empty jars in a backpack and the others, maybe a 100 or more, are kept on shelves in his bedroom.  Jeremy is seen running from the stable with his baseball bat that was found to be the murder weapon.  His court-appointed lawyer pleads not guilty and not guilty by reason of insanity.  Hope doesn’t believe Jeremy killed coach Johnson nor that he is insane.  The story is developed as Hope tries to prove Jeremy is innocent while getting the help from her best friend TJ and the Sherriff’s son, Chase.  A romance builds between Chase and Hope and the Sherriff is none to happy about it.
 I was eager to follow the story and uncover the clues along the way.  While some of the plot was predictable most left you guessing and racing to the end.  A very satisfying read!  HS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer: W. Child - Cyprus High Library Media Specialist

Under the Hood by Christophe Merlin - ESSENTIAL

Merlin, Christophe. Under the Hood. Candlewick Press, 2011. $14.99. Content G.  POP-UP BOOK.

Mr. Bear’s car is broken and he needs help to fix it. He gets his friends Crocodile and Mouse to help.  This book is full of fold out doors, windows, hoods, and lids. It has folds within folds that are super entertaining.

ESSENTIAL - HOME, EL (K-3), Shauna, Reading Teacher.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Possess by Gretchen McNeil - OPTIONAL

McNeil, Gretchen Possess, 379 pgs. Balzer + Bray, 2011. Language – R (126 swears, 2 “f”), Sexual Content – PG-13; Violence – PG-13; Bridget isn’t your normal high school girl. Bridget has only three friends, wears steel-toed boots with her uniform, and banishes demons plaguing her town. Unfortunately for her, this only causes stress and confusion. While her priest mentor tells her not to listen to the demons, they warn Bridget to not trust the priest. Who can she turn to for help? While being very intense and mysterious, I also found that it was confusing which made it hard to read. Thankfully, made sense in the end. Also the language and sexual content made me uncomfortable at times. HS – OPTIONAL. Reviewer: CCH

Ten Little Caterpillars by Bill Martin Jr. - ADVISABLE

Martin Jr., Bill. Ten Little Caterpillars Beach Lane Books, 2011. $17.99. Content G.  PICTURE BOOK. Each of the ten caterpillars are different and each meet a different fate. This book is educational as well as entertaining. The illustrations are reminiscent of Eric Carle’s, but unique all on their own and the rhyming lines are sure to engage the little ones. EL, HOME - ADVISABLE. Shauna Reading Teacher.

Here Lies Linc by Delia Ray - OPTIONAL

Ray, Delia Here Lies Linc, 294 pages. Alfred A. Knopf, 2011. $16.99. Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.  Lincoln Crenshaw has spent all of his life hanging around cemeteries. His mom’s work as a professor who specializes in burial customs has taken them to more graveyards than Linc can count. When an assignment in American Studies has Linc and his classmates “adopting graves”, Linc will find his choice of the Black Angel monument revealing more than he intended. Linc’s decision to investigate the infamous Black Angel Curse will lead to him uncovering mysteries long forgotten and changing the lives of those he cares for most.  The book is presented as a mystery, but spends little if any time exploring the secrets of the cemetery and its graves. Linc is a typical young boy with the typical anxieties of middle school regarding girls and fitting in. The book spends the majority of its pages setting up numerous plots that are resolved at lightning speed in a dissatisfying blur. The dialogue at times feels forced and the behavior of the character more the work of a middle-aged author trying to remember what it is to be a teenager rather than the true words and actions of a 12-year-old boy.  EL , MS—OPTIONAL. Reviewer: AB

Stars by Mary Lyn Ray - ESSENTIAL

Ray, Mary Lyn and Marla Frazee Stars. Beach Lane Books, 2011. $16.99. Content G.  PICTURE BOOK.

Stars are magical, wonderful things and this book has beautifully highlighted all the literal and pretend things you can do with them.  

I liked the simplicity of the book and was touched by the illustrations.

ESSENTIAL, HOME, EL (K-3), Shauna, Reading Teacher.