Thursday, November 29, 2012

Rise of the Guardians: Movie Novelization adapted by Stacia Deutsch –ADVISABLE

Deustch, Stacia Rise of the Guardians: Movie Novelization 144 pgs. Simon Spotlight, 2012. $6.99. (Rating:G)
There’s a new guardian –Jack Frost. The other guardians –North, Bunny, and Tooth are confused –all Jack does is cause mischief! When Pitch the boogeyman starts turning dreams to nightmares –a crisis of the worst kind happens –the children stop believing in the guardians. Turns out Jack Frost might be just the thing the guardians need to help save them all. Jack helps Jamie, the last child who believes in them. They will all need to work together if they are to have any hope of defeating Pitch.
I will admit it –I absolutely hate the series this book/movie is based on (by William Joyce). But thanks to Dreamworks and its talented screenwriters/ adaption writer –this was actually a really fantastic chapter book! They were somehow able to convert a cheesy concept and poorly executed stories into a  interesting, funny, and entertaining book with engaging characters. If the movie is anything like the book –I will go see it! This is going to be a popular read. It includes images from the animate movie.
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Boys who Rocked the World by Michelle Roehm McCann –ADVISABLE

McCann, Michelle Roehm Boys who Rocked the World 256 pgs. Aladdin/Beyond Words, 2012. $9.99.  (Rating: G)
This book is the same in format as its Girls counterpart. It features over 45 stories of men throughout history that took a chance, made the best of their talents and in many cases put the effort to accomplish their goals.  A little creative license starts each story –allowing the reader a peak into the head of the man portrayed. My favorites were Ferragamo, Bruce Lee, and Stan Lee. Examples from the book are. Also featured are real life teens responding to how they will “rock the world”.
Would have been top notch if it had included pictures, sigh. Some of these were a total rehash of much told stories but a few were surprising –like Stan Lee. They really did a good job of adding some fresh faces to the mix but the old standbys were kind of boring. I think students will enjoy this snapshot biography format –interesting and short!
ELEMENTARY –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan -- PUBLIC

Green, John and David Levithan Will Grayson, Will Grayson. 336 pgs. Speak, 2011. $9.99. Language: R, Sexual Content: R, Violence: PG-13.

Told in alternating viewpoints by two boys, both named Will Grayson. One is quiet, easily-embarrassed and wry. He struggles to keep to himself despite the efforts of his best friend Tiny, a giant, flamboyantly homosexual boy who loves to live life in the spotlight. A second Will Grayson owns the alternate scenes. He is depressed, cynical, and very firmly in the closet. When a series of events lead to Will Grayson meeting, well, the other Will Grayson, their lives -- as well as the lives of those around them -- are irrevocably changed.

Will Grayson, Will Grayson is by turns hilarious, poignant, romantic, and whiny, but it is ultimately uplifting and it kept me intrigued throughout. I recommend the audio version, as the story contains a number of original songs from the musical Tiny writes, all of which are performed by the narrators themselves. While I highly recommend the book, the frequent (and very detailed) sexual references, as well as the copious swear words (several worse than 'f') make this one more suitable for older teens in a public library setting.

HS -- PUBLIC ONLY. Reviewed by: Caryn.

Toads and Tessellations: A Math Adventure by Sharon Morrisette - OPTIONAL

Morrisette, Sharon and Philomena O'Neill Toads and Tessellations: A Math Adventure. 32 pgs. Enzo longs to be a magician like his father, but every spell he casts goes awry. When his father goes away for a week, however, little Enzo is left to deal with customers who need magical help, including the shoemaker and his sister, who are trying to find a way to cut twelve pairs of shoes from one piece of leather. Through trial and error, the three of them figure out how to use up every scrap of leather using what they dub "tessellations." In the end, Enzo learns his true magic: math.

While the idea of presenting math in a fictional format is a good one, the lesson itself is lost in the many text-heavy pages filled with backstory and description. By the time the characters actually begin to work with tessellations, their significance is overshadowed and the lesson is unclear. Because of time constraints, the length makes it difficult to use this book in a math lesson, and the obvious curricular focus makes it an unlikely choice for students to pick up on their own. On the other hand, the illustrations throughout show numerous examples of tessellations, including floor tiles, dresses, and window panes. Finding them could be a fun game that could reinforce learning. EL, MS - OPTIONAL. Reviewed by: Caryn

Saturday, November 24, 2012

The Liar Society by Lisa and Laura Roecker-OPTIONAL

Roecker, Lisa & Laura, The Liar Society. Sourcebooks, 2011. Pgs. 361. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG

Kate Lowry’s best friend, Grace, died a year ago. So when Kate gets an email from her asking for Kate’s help, she’s a little confused. Kate begins to suspect that Grace’s death wasn’t an accident and that the answers reside within the walls of the prestigious Pemberly Brown Acadamy that Kate attends. With the help of two boys at her school, Liam and Seth, she continues to investigate and clues continue to come through emails, as well as an apparition of Grace. As the clues unfold so do secrets so big that certaub people will do anything to protect. Can Grace and her two friends solve Grace’s murder before they too are dead?

Although the parents seem a little too clueless, the main characters are likable and endearing. The plot is fast-paced, chilling and suspenseful. Readers who like mysteries, ghost stories, and horror will enjoy reading this book MS, HS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Girls who Rocked the World by Michelle Roehm McCann and Amelie Welden –ESSENTIAL

McCann, Michelle Roehm and Welden, Amelie Girls who Rocked the World 256 pgs. Aladdin/Beyond Words, 2012. $11.55.  (Rating: G)
Over 40 stories of women throughout history that overcome roadblocks, developed their talents, and mostly just worked hard to make a difference. A little creative license starts each story –allowing the reader a peak into the head of the woman portrayed. Examples from the book are Sacajawea  Mary Anning, and Ann Pavlova. Also featured are real life teens responding to how they will “rock the world”.
To be honest, I was ready to be bored. I have read about some of these women numerous times, and a lot of these types of collections can be a pretty dry recitation of facts. But this book was more than a pleasant surprise -it was GREAT!! The fictionalized start to each person really drew me in, the facts were fresh and new to me, and I learned a TON! But when will these publishers learn that readers like pictures!? For example –Elisabeth Vigee-Le Brun, a painter featured, was a very prolific artist –and I want to see her art as I am learning about her -but this book is void of imagery!!  Still a wonderful teaching tool.
ELEMENTARY -ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Rise of the Guardians: Jamie to the Rescue (Ready to Read Level 2) adapted by Gallo, Tina –ADVISABLE

Gallo, Tina Rise of the Guardians: Jamie to the Rescue (Ready to Read Level 2) 32 pgs. Simon Spotlight, 2012. $3.99.  (Rating: G)
Jamie has an extra good time playing in the snow with his friends, including a wild sled ride. What he doesn't know is that he was getting a little help from the mischievous Jack Frost. Later, during the night, he gets a visit from all of the Guardians –North, Bunny, and Tooth. He wonders if it’s all a dream until they need his help to defeat Pitch.
Usually the big stories made reduced into these early readers are pretty confusing and crowded, but this one was great! Younger students will be thrilled to be able to read this story themselves.
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Jepo, Who Defied the Stars by Katherine Marsh-ADVISABLE

Marsh, Katherine, Jepp, Who Defied the Stars. Hyperion, 2012. Pgs. 385. Language: G, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G

 When 15-year-old Jepp, a dwarf in the late 16th century, wakes up to find himself beaten badly and in a cage, he finds himself caught between the pull of the past, the promise of the future, and the forces of fate and free will. As time passes, Jepp begins to recall the events that led him to where he is, from his humble upbringing in an inn to becoming a court dwarf (a position of humiliation, danger, and opportunity entwined). As a court dwarf, he had experience great injustices in Coudenberg Palace along with his friend, Lia. He managed to escape with his friend only to be imprisoned again and spirited across the sea to a place in Europe only to become nothing more than a pet dog to an astronomer by the name of Tycho Brahe. Will Jepp overcome his fate and become a person he can respect?

 Although the third section pales in comparison a bit to the first two, readers will easily sympathize and like Jepp and his humorous, self-deprecating personality. In addition to to a well-crafted main character, Katherine recreates a fantastic world that draws the reader in. The plot is gripping, balanced, unique, and well-developed. Readers who like historical fiction, adventure, and good characters will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Friday, November 23, 2012

The Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid by Robin Mellom-ADVISABLE

Mellom, Robin, ill. by Stephen GilpinThe Epic Documentary of a Not-Yet-Epic Kid. Disney Hyperion, 2012. Pgs. 282. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: G

Starting seventh grade can be hard. Especially if you’re Trevor Jones. Trevor is a worrier and he overthinks everything. When he’s waiting for the bus, his long-time friend shakes his “cool” by telling him that he has to ask a girl to the dance coming up before the end of the day. To add to things on his plate, a documentary film crew has come to Westside Middle School in order to capture the life of a middle schooler, which could provide Trevor with the ideal outlet for becoming “cool.” Trying to become popular and cool, however, is easier said than done. Can Trevor find a date for the dance, keep his best friend, Libby, and gain popular status?

Readers will enjoy the quirky, fun characters and. the entertaining, unique notes, id cards, and cartoons throughout the book. The plot is humorous and well-written. Readers who like the Diary of a Wimpy Kid books, realistic fiction, and humor will enjoy reading this book. EL (4-6), MS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Hollow Earth by John Barrowman and Carole E Barrowman –ADVISABLE

Barrowman, John and Carole E. Hollow Earth 400 pgs. Aladdin, 2012. $10.98  (Rating: G)
Matt and Emily are twins who are learning that they have some strange gifts –like bringing their artwork to life. They start to learn about them when the whole family moves in with their grandfather in Scotland. Different factions want to control the power the twins possess and they are thrown into the midst of some chaotic drama. When their grandfather is injured and their mom is missing, the twins and their new friend Zach, must use their powers to figure out what’s going on.
This was a fun read, despite my growing distain for extra special extra magical kids. (I prefer luck and ingenuity!!) This was actually a sort of complex story with plenty of interesting facets –maybe too political for younger students. I liked the idea that the twins could draw things to life, and were quite ingenious in coming up with ways to accomplish this in dire situations. I was close to putting this as optional but the author did such a good job with the characters that I really do want to read the next book, should there be a second.
ELEMENTARY, MS–ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie School Librarian & Author.

Professor Gargoyle (Tales from Lovecraft Middle School #1) by Charles Gilman –ADVISABLE

Robert is reluctantly starting at a new school, Lovecraft Middle School. It’s a brand new campus with the latest in all technology. But things go quickly amiss when students find rats in their lockers, and Robert even meets up with a two-headed rat. Even stranger is the mystery room he finds in the library and the creepy science teacher. Something sinister is afoot at the school and when students disappear –Robert starts to worry.

This is a fantastic new series. What I love the absolute best, is that Robert doesn't have any special powers, it’s absolutely refreshing. Elementary students will LOVE this book, from the 3-D monster cover to the awesome plot lines  It’s just perfectly paced and there is enough of a continuing plot to leave the reader wanting more.


Reviewer: Stephanie School Librarian, Author.

Iron Hearted Violet by Kelly Barnhill –NOT RECOMMENDED

Barnhill, Kelly Iron Hearted Violet 432 pgs. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012. $11.55  (Rating: G)
An unexpected princess, Violet, is quite a surprise to the kingdom. She is nothing like a “real” princess, instead she is ugly and unruly. Together with her kind best friend Demetruis, they discover a creepy room in the castle. After some tragedy, Violet takes a deeper interest in the darkness found there –the Nybbas. As the kingdom falls about around her, she must face her true self and make friends with an ailing dragon.
What a chore to read.  At first I was kind of intrigued by the ugly princess thing –but quickly found I disliked Violet, and really could care less as to the outcome of her depressions. This book could have been reduced by 75% and I might have enjoyed the combination of this pathetic character and the semi-redeeming ending. I will wade through about anything, but students won’t. The cover is intriguing, but the book is a drawn-out and hard to relate to.
ELEMENTARY–NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie School Librarian & Author.

Joshua Dread (Book #1) by Lee Bacon –ADVISABLE

Bacon, Lee Joshua Dread (Book#1) 272 pgs. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012. $12.13  (Rating: G)
Joshua Dread has a terrible secret; his parents are Supervillians. They are constantly trying to cause mayhem and are constantly thwarted by their nemesis, the showy Captain Justice. We meet Joshua just as his life turns upside down –he is developing powers of his own, he meets a new friend who is going through the same thing, and all the supervillians are in super danger. Worst of all Joshua will have to decide –is he a supervillian or a superhero?
I rolled my eyes on the first few pages, but was so so glad I kept reading. This was an extremely fun read, featuring genuine characters, and a carefully crafted and well-paced book. This quickly became a one-sitting read, as I couldn't stop reading. I think students will LOVE this new series!
ELEMENTARY–ADVISABLE Reviewer:  Stephanie School Librarian & Author.

Thursday, November 22, 2012

The Secret Cellar (The Red Blazer Girls) by Michael D. Beil –ADVISABLE

Beil, Michael D. The Secret Cellar (The Red Blazer Girls) 288 pgs. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2012. $12.23  (Rating: PG)
Sophie is determined to find the right Christmas gift for her father. When she bids on a pen at an auction, it comes with more than just ink. This starts the Red Blazer Girls on a new mystery. What secrets does the former owner have to hide? The girls must contend with a formidable foe, a cranky bookstore owner. The girls must also deal with the closure of their favorite coffee shop, the place where their band plays each week.   
This series is close to Essential in the content department, but the covers are so heinous and unappealing –that I worry they won’t be checked out at all. It would take some serious showcasing to get my students to show interest in these. That being said, the stories are fantastic. They are multifaceted, intelligent, genuine, fun, and interesting. Students will love this mystery series, if you can get them past the covers.
ELEMENTARY–ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie MLS graduate & Author.

It’s all downhill from here (Creepover Series) by PJ Night –ADVISABLE

Night, PJ It’s all downhill from here (Creepover Series) 160 pgs. Simon Spotlight, 2012. $5.99.  (Rating: PG)
Maggie and her family, along with her best friend Sophie, are spending a long weekend at the Wharton Mansion. They might buy it and fix it up as a ski resort. Maggie has a bad attitude about it from the beginning, so no one believes her when she starts to notice strange things.
This was a fun and easy read. It rates itself a 4 out of 5 on a scary chart. I thought it wasn't quite as scary as that. Especially since there was a ton of dream sequences, which are always a let-down. There was an interesting story line and I think students will enjoy this.
ELEMENTARY–ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie School Librarian & Author.

Death of a Kleptomaniac by Kriste Tracy-ADVISABLE

Tracy, Kristen, Death of a Kleptomaniac. Hyperion, 2012. Pgs. 264. Language: G, Violence: G, Sexual Content: PG

Molly is finally starting to live life to the fullest. At 16 years of age, she finally has the right friends, has the cutest boy for a boyfriend, and is finally considered popular. She still isn’t happy in life, however. She starts taking advantage of the “five-fingered discount” stealing option in order to keep her anxieties at bay. Life for her is cut short when she dies from a rattlesnake bite on her butt. In order to pass on into the afterlife, she must fix the residual issues that she had in her life and, let’s face, she had a lot. Can Molly settle her issues and cut ties to her past life in order to move on or will she jeopardize her soul in order to stay with the people she’s close to?

 Despite the main topic of death, this books is light-hearted and fluffy. A story of redemption, and love’s power to rise above death, readers will not only relate to the main character, but have a hard time putting the book down. Girls who like chick-lit, humor, paranormal, and realistic fiction will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Jessica Moody, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High

Stealing Popular by Trudi Trueit-OPTIONAL

Trueit, Trudi, Stealing Popular. Simon and Schuster, 2012. Pgs. 230. Language: PG (1 swear, no “f”s), Violence: G, Sexual Content: G

 Coco Sherwood goes to Briar Green Middle School. When some of the mean, popular girls start picking on Coco’s friends, Coco takes matters into her own hands in a creative way. Now girls who never dreamed of being a cheerleaders are making cheer squad and becoming beauty queens. Will Coco’s dreams of equality come true or will they turn into a nightmare?

Although the plot is overdone, Trudi handles it in a well-written, creative way. The characters are humorous and easy to relate to. Readers who like chick-lit, humor, and realistic fiction will enjoy reading this book. MS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

After by Ellen Datlo and Terri Windling-OPTIONAL

Datlow, Ellen and Windling, Terri, After. Hyperion, 2012. Pgs. 370. Language: PG-13, Violence: PG-13, Sexual Content; PG-13

If World War III, ice age, world meltdown, plague, or some other event with devastating consequences occurred, what would tomorrow, next year, or even the next decade be like? These 19 stories told by various famous authors imagine these scenarios and many more to not only tell the reader, but show them what the world would be like.

 Each story is well-written and imaginative. Readers who like science fiction and dystopian society stories will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Jessica Moody, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High

Anything But Ordinary by Lara Avery-OPTIONAL

Avery, Lara, Anything but Ordinary. Hyperion, 2012. Pgs. 336. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG

17yo Bryce Graham is an excellent diver and so is her boyfriend, Greg and best friend, Gabby.  A dive gone wrong during Olympic Trials makes Bryce hit her head on the side of the pool instead of landing in the water. When she wakes up, she finds out the yesterday she remembers was 5 years ago and she’s been in a coma ever since that day. The 12yo sister she remembers is now an out-of-control 17yo. Her boyfriend is engaged to her best friend, and a medical student named Carter has fallen in love with her. To make matters worse, now Bryce is finding herself experiences brief, painful experience of future, tragic events. Unfortunately, such experiences seem to be linked to her brain slowly dying from lack of oxygen  Can Bryce’s courage, tenacity, and stubbornness help her to cope and adjust to her new life? Will Bryce learn to use her new powers for good before it’s too late?

Avery portrays this premise in a believable way that readers will like. Although the paranormal is more in the background than paranormal fans will like, the characters are genuine and likable. Their growth is significant and their emotions are real. The plot is complex and a little confusing in parts, but the ending is satisfying. Readers who like stories about growth, self-discovery, and friendship will enjoy reading this book. MS, HS. OPTIONAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.


Under Wildwood by Colin Meloy-ADVISABLE

Meloy, Colin, Under Wildwood. HarperCollins, 2012. Pgs. 559.

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

Life outside of the Wildwood, a magical land near Portlan, has had no appeal for Prue since she rescued her brother from the evil Dowager Governess. When she is attacked by a trio of shapeshifters, she finds herself saved not only by some herons, but also drawn back into the world of Wildwood. There, she is reunited with her friends, Curtis, a bandit-in-training, and Septimus, the rat. Above ground in the Industrial Wastes of Wildwood, Curtis’ grieving parents put their two daughters in an orphanage in order to go search for Curtis. A Dickensian institution where the orphans are forced to build machine parts for a machine that will make the impassable wilderness passable. Discovery of this finding drives the trio into the deep undergrounds of Wildwood where a dastardly plot, regarding the machine the orphans are working on, not only endangers the trio, but also all of Wildwood. Can Curtis, Septimus, and Prue save themselves and Wildwood?

With well-blended literary references, well-developed, likable characters, and an intense plot, readers will have a hard time putting this book and will enjoy the ride of reading it. 

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

Dark Star by Bethany Frenette-ESSENTIAL

Frenette, Bethany, Dark Star. Hyperion, 2012. Pgs. 356. Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG

Audrey Whittcomb is the daughter of one of the most famous superheroes, her mom, Morning Star. Audrey, however, has never thought of saving the world, because her super power is Knowing: seeing into the future. When girls from her school start disappearing and her mom starts getting overprotective, Audrey starts investigating what’s going on. She soon figures out that her mom doesn’t fight the traditional criminal, she fights Harrowers-an ancient evil that was buried beneath the Earth eons ago. Now some have escaped and they want Audrey dead. Can Audrey master her powers in time to save herself and other Kin (people with superpowers)?

The characters are likable and easy to empathize with. The plot is intense and has lots of twists. Definitely set up for sequel,  paranormal fans will devour this book and wish there was a sequel already. MS, HS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Kira M, Youth Services Librarian, WHI Public Library.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Do you Know Dewey? by Brian P. Cleary –ADVISABLE

Cleary, Brian P. and Illustrated by Lew-Vriethoff, Joanne Do you Know Dewey? Exploring the Dewey Decimal System 32 pgs. 21st Century, 2012. $20.34 (Library Binding Price).  (Rating: G)
A beautifully illustrated book with a fun rhyming style. It goes through each section of the Dewey and features bright colorful illustrations that are fun and cute.
I think this was a darling book, and would be helpful in explaining Dewey to a second or first grader. The author did a good job of making an exceptionally boring topic actually interesting and even look like fun!
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

The Birds of Bethlehem by Tomie dePaola – NOT RECOMMENDED

dePaola, Tomie The Birds of Bethlehem 40 pgs. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2012. $11.55. (Rating: G)
During the Nativity, many animals were probably present –this is the story of the Birds point of view. They spent time chatting and when something interesting starts to happen, the birds are very interested. Turns out birds were able to witness the spectacular events.
I know this author/illustrator is wildly popular, but I thought this book was unnecessary. The bird’s point of view in this book failed to provide a new perspective to this much-told story. This book basically just rehashed the typical version. As a librarian possibly wanting to introduce a new reader to the nativity story, you could do much better than this book.
EL –NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Peace and Quiet (Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox Book #4) by Brigitte Luciani and Eve Tharlet –ADVISABLE

Luciani, Brigitte, and Tharlet, Eve Peace and Quiet (Mr. Badger and Mrs. Fox Book #4) 32 pgs. Graphic Universe, 2012. $6.95.  (Rating: G)
Its going to be winter so the fox’s and the badgers are all stuck together in their underground den. Their bodies are preparing for winter in their own ways –fatter badgers and furrier foxes. Ginger, the little fox, is so upset when the badgers start to sleep day and night, but some fun with her mom outside of the den helps keep her spirits up.
I am new to this series and was so confused for most of the story. Apparently this is a merged family –the fox lady married the badger guy. I had trouble telling the badger kids apart and when dialogue got chaotic (cabin fever), I just wanted to stop reading. I am a big fan of graphic novel style books for younger students, and despite my comments, I think students will enjoy this book since the illustrations are so darling!
EL -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Dangerous Waters: An Adventure of the Titanic by Gregory Mone –OPTIONAL

Mone, Gregory Dangerous Waters: An Adventure of the Titanic 240 pgs. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. $12.74.  (Rating: PG)
Patrick just wants to be a working man like his older brother, so when he gets a chance to join him in the boiler room on the maiden voyage of the Titanic –he jumps. But Patrick just isn't cut out for heavy labor and ends up as a steward for a rich book collector –Harry. Harry’s latest addition to his collection –a rare and old book called Essaies is much desired by more than one person on board, all of whom are willing to do anything to get it.
I was excited to read this book because I love Titanic stories, and the extra attention by providing a character that really existed, Harry, was intriguing. But overall it was a bit dry for me.  It felt like a really simple plot with simple characters –but drawn out into a book that was way too long to carry it off. When a reader already knows the ending (the sinking of the Titanic), the story better be pretty exciting, and this just wasn't. 
MS–OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf by Curtis Jobling - ESSENTIAL

Jobling, Curtis Wereworld: Rise of the Wolf, 412 pgs. Viking, Penguin Group, 2011.   $16.99.  Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence : PG13 . 

Drew wants to be a farmer, but when the sheep are suddenly afraid of him, and an evil beast murders his mother and leaves him for dead, Drew realizes that his life is destined to be different.  Drew is a shapeshifter, he can change into a werewolf at will.  When his father chases him away, Drew must make his own way in the wild forest called the Dyrewood.  He must learn to control the beast within, and embarks on an epic battle between good and evil, finding friends and making enemies along the way.  

I am excited to start this new series.  It is gripping and fast moving with enough violence to keep the teenage boys interested, but it’s mild enough for the weak to not gross out.  Can’t wait to read the next one! 

MS HS - ESSENTIAL  Lisa Media Specialist

A Stranger Came Ashore by Mollie Hunter - ADVISABLE

Hunter, Mollie A Stranger Came Ashore, 134 pgs. Kelpie Classics, 1975, 1994.  New edition, 2012. $9.95. Language: G ( 0 swears, 0 “f” ); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

Robbie Henderson, a teen Shetlander, lived when the only transportation was horse and buggy.  He lived with his family near the sea.  His grandfather told him many tales of the Selkie Folk: seals that take on human form and lure unsuspecting islanders to their deaths.  A stranger, named Finn Learson, comes ashore after a shipwreck and falls in love with Robbie’s sister, Elspeth.  Robbie finds reasons to believe that Finn is the “Great Selkie” of lore.  He believes his sister is in danger and takes every opportunity he can to save her. 

Hunter creates a gripping folk tale from the British Isles.  The use of “common” speech by the characters contributes to the overall flavor of the story.  The book is hard to put down since Hunter creates such suspense throughout the novel.  This is a fun, cultural read. 


Dracula AND A Christmas Carol by Jennifer Adams - OPTIONAL

Adams, Jennifer Dracula: A Counting Primer and A Christmas Carol: A Colors Primer.  Illustrated by Alicon Oliver.  BOARD BOOKS.  Adams has taken on two more classic pieces of literature a created board books for the literary minded new parent.  Number five and six in the series don’t add anything new, except for the material.  You will love the illustrations and the glimpse into the novels.  However, I really wish Ms. Oliver would branch out from counting and colors.  There are other options – opposites, shapes, sounds, feelings, perhaps?  As charming as I find them, they are pretty limited in scope.   Pre-K – OPTIONAL. 

Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Bell Bandit by Jacqueline Davies (The Lemonade Wars Book #3) –ESSENTIAL

Davies, Jacqueline The Bell Bandit (The Lemonade Wars Book #3) 192 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Books for Children, 2012. $10.87.  (Rating: PG)
Evan and Jessie are going to spend some time at Grandma’s House. But things are different. A few weeks earlier there had been a fire at her house, and now Grandma was in the hospital. Worst of all Grandma isn't herself anymore and the bell that is really important to the family, is missing. Jessie makes friends with a neighbor boy who is unlike anyone she has ever met, and together they try to find the bell. The kids must learn to adjust and come together when Grandma goes missing.
I am new to this series, and even missing those first two in the series, I found this book fantastic and it could easily function as a standalone. It had all the life lessons that teachers, parents, and well-meaning grownups love but it was also, and more importantly, so-well written that I couldn't stop reading and really loved getting to know these characters. Students will easily relate to these characters and love the mystery of the missing bell!
ELEMENTARY–ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Behind the Bookcase by Mark Steensland –NOT RECOMMENDED

Steensland, Mark and Illustrated by Murphy, Kelly Behind the Bookcase 288 pgs. Delacorte Books for Young Readers, 2012. $12.21.  (Rating: PG)
Sarah’s family is trying to fix up their grandmothers house so they can sell it. Its more than spooky and after finding an interest note, Sarah pulls out a bookcase from the wall and falls into a world called Scotopia. It’s a creepy place, a land where shadows are born, and its ruled by the King of Cats. Sarah starts to think that something is wrong when she meets a boy with only half a face. Then she starts to meet more children that have met with misfortune in Scotopia. Can she save them and herself?
I was eager to read this book since it was featured at my pre-Halloween book fair and it was a big seller. Unfortunately it reminded me strongly of the most disturbing movie I have ever seen, Pans Labyrinth. I think that most children want to find a secret door to Narnia, not a door to a waking nightmare. Besides my fundamental distaste for this book, there were other issues. Poor character development; Sarah was incredibly bossy (the other characters couldn't even spit without consulting her), a questionable illustration, and the ending was a bit confusing. I wouldn't let this near my library collection.
ELEMENTARY–NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary Librarian & Author.

Hop, Skip and Jump, Maisy! by Lucy Cousins -- ADVISABLE

Cousins, Lucy Hop, Skip and Jump, Maisy! A Maisy First Science Book. 16 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2012. $12.99. PICTURE BOOK.

Maisy has a very active life, wiggling and stretching when she gets up in the morning; running and kicking a ball during the day; and snuggling with her panda while falling asleep at night. In-between she manages many other activities -- making sure to stop for nutritious meals to keep herself going, of course.

Energetic toddlers and pre-schoolers will recognize Maisy's antics in their own play, and will enjoy pulling the tabs throughout this interactive picture book. Among other things, they can make Maisy touch her toes, jump rope, and snore. Maisy's busy schedule encourages children to stay active, while sidebars listing other animals who do similar tasks can help spur discussion. Although the paper is fairly sturdy, the many moving parts inside the book make it somewhat fragile; this one is more suitable for supervised play and may not last long in a library or classroom setting.

PRE-K -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe by Shelley Coriell - ADVISABLE

Coriell, Shelley Welcome, Caller, This Is Chloe. 320 pgs. Amulet Books, 2012. $16.95. Language: PG-13 Sexual Content: PG-13 Violence: PG-13.

Chloe Camden is on top of the world -- popular, bubbly, and known for being genuinely nice (if occasionally self-centered), she is one of the reigning queens of her high school. But when her best friend begins a smear campaign, Chloe quickly finds herself dethroned. To top it off, her independent study project is axed, so she has to join the school's troubled radio station in the hopes of rescuing her chance to graduate. As she learns how to connect with the lovable band of misfits on the station and develops her own call-in radio show, she discovers who she is and how to be a better friend.

This is a cute, uplifting book with a nice romance, good character growth, and enough serious moments to keep it from being too frothy.

HS - ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn.

Unbroken by Paula Morris - ADVISABLE

Morris, Paula Unbroken (a Ruined novel), 304 p. Point (Scholastic), FEBRUARY 2013.  $18.  

It’s been a year since Rebecca survived the incident in the New Orleans cemetery.  Now a new ghost has contacted Rebecca and he needs her help – back in New Orleans.  Luckily Dad is taking Rebecca and her best friend, Ling, to New Orleans for spring break.  Rebecca is happy to go, but a little worried, because things haven’t been great between her and Anton.  But someone wants revenge for last year’s death and a vengeful ghost will do anything to stop Rebecca from helping the blue-eyed boy.  And Anton wants nothing to do with another ghost.  This may tear Rebecca and Anton apart for good – if she can survive that long.  While Dark Souls (the 2nd Ruined novel) was good, this one brings as back to New Orleans and Rebecca – so much more satisfying.  The ghostly bits are really well written and the tension is palpable.  Yum!  

MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Rise of the Guardians: The Story of Jack Frost - OPTIONAL

McDoogle, Farrah  Rise of the Guardians: The Story of Jack Frost  Illustrated by Larry Navarro  Simon Spotlight, 2012.  $3.99  PICTURE BOOK  Content: PG.   

Jack Frost is a young boy who didn’t remember his past, but knew how to use his magical staff to create snow and frost in the world.  At first he used his magic to cause mischief and fun, but when the Guardians enlisted his help he started working for the good of children.  The Guardians include Santa Claus, Tooth Fairy, Easter Bunny and the Sandman.  Jack Frost along with his new friends has to fight against Pitch (the boogeyman) because he stole all children’s memories.  The Guardians prevail against Pitch in a final battle.  

This book is a quick summary based on a movie and doesn’t have a lot of story development.  The illustrations of Pitch are dark and menacing, a little too scary for my 3 year old.  It’s an interesting enough story, but the overall quality of this particular book isn’t great.  

EL (K-3)-OPTIONAL.  Reviewer, C. Peterson

Sever by Lauren Destefano - OPTIONAL

Destefano, Lauren Sever, 384 p. Simon and Schuster, FEBRUARY 2013.  $18.  Violence: PG; Language: G (1 swear); Mature Content: G.  

In her latest attempt to escape Vaughn’s clutches, Rhine takes Cecily, Linden and Bowen to Reed – Vaughn’s estranged brother.  While they find a few moments of peace, Rhine hears word of her brother – and it is not good.  If she doesn’t find him and let him know that she is alive, he may be driven to further destruction.  But Vaughn will do whatever he has to keep Rhine under his thumb.  Vaughn is desperate to find a cure and he will use anyone in anyway to complete it. And he is sure that Rhine and Rowan are the key.  

While I was happy to read a ending to Rhine’s story, I wasn’t satisfied for how it all hangs together.  If I point out the logic problems, I will give away plot points, unfortunately.  And the end is so abrupt I just can’t fathom it.  I know that kids who have read the other two will want to read this one – I just wish it were as awesome as number 1.  Don’t buy too many copies.  

MS, HS – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Who Lives Here? and What Happens Next? - ADVISABLE

Davies, Nicola Who Lives Here? And What Happens Next? Illustrated by Marc Boutavant.  Candlewick, 2012.  $10.  FLIP FLAP BOOK. Fun, vivid illustrations compliment an engaging series of books that could easily be used in the classroom for a lesson on prediction (What Happens Next?) or as reinforcement for a lesson on animals and habitats (Who Lives Here?).  Or sit at home and play with your child, too.  Pre-K, EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Wish You Were Eyre by Heather Frederick - ESSENTIAL

Frederick, Heather Vogel Wish You Were Eyre, 442 p. Simon and Schuster, 2012.  $16.  

When the mayor of Concord is caught in a scandal, not only does Megan’s mom decide to run for mayor, but her family takes in a stranded exchange student, Gigi, who seems to want to take away Megan’s beloved grandmother and possibly Emma’s boyfriend Stewart.  All of the girls have important happenings this year – and things to learn about themselves, their boys, their families.  

Fans will enjoy this bittersweet ending to their beloved series.  I know that I will miss the Mother –Daughter Book Club.  I can only hope that maybe Frederick will miss them too and maybe sneak out another volume in a few years.  

MS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Oliver by Brigitta Sif - OPTIONAL

Sif, Brigitta Oliver.  Candlewick, 2012.  $17.  PICTURE BOOK.  

Oliver is more than happy to entertain himself with his puppets and books and his imagination.  But every once in a while, Oliver realizes that he needs a real playmate.  A lucky bounce of Oliver’s lonely tennis ball leads him to a likely new friend.  Sif’s illustrations have just the right touch of whimsy for this engaging little book.  I would love to see more of her illustrations and imagination.  

Pre-K, EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

The Essence by Kimberly Derting - ADVISABLE

Derting, Kimberly The Essence (Pledge #2), $17.  Simon and Schuster, JANUARY 2013. 

Content: G.  

Charlaina, Charlie, has taken the throne of Ludania, but no one around her knows that she carries a heavy burden.  The ancient, evil queen has managed to insert her memories and her will into Charlie – and sometimes Charlie can barely maintain control.  Some of the former nobles resent the removal of the language barriers and want to take down the new queen.  When Charlie is invited to a meeting of Queens, she realizes that someone close to her is a traitor – and only Queen Sabara, the voice within her, may be able to help her survive.  

I could have never predicted the direction Derting has taken this story.  Emotionally, I didn’t connect with the outside action as much as I did the first, but I did enjoy the interplay between Charlie and Sabara.  I am hoping that the next volume is a satisfying combination of the two parts.  

MS, HS - ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble by Tracey Corderoy

Corderoy, Tracey Hubble Bubble Granny Trouble, illustrated by Joe Berger.  Nosy Crow (Candlewick), 2012.  $15.  PICTURE BOOK.  

A little girl is embarrassed by her very different Granny, with her gloppy soups, her pointy hats, and her flying car.  But when her granny lets the little girl make her over, the girl realizes, that maybe Granny really is something special.  

This is a cute Halloween themed book, for girly girls, with nostalgic illustrations that will appeal to parents, also.  But the theme of appreciating someone for who they are is much stronger than any holiday connection.  

EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher