Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Extra by Kathryn Lasky - ESSENTIAL

Lasky, Kathryn The Extra, 307 p. Candlewick, 2013.  Mature Content: PG (mentions of infidelity, forced hysterectomies); Language: PG (4 swears, o ‘f’); Violence: PG (Nazi’s).  

During World War II, Hitler had a favorite filmmaker and actress – Leni Riefenstahl – and she is making her masterpiece.  In order to complete it, however, she needs lots of extras, or movie slaves, as they think of themselves.  All of these slaves, though, are captured Gypsies, including Lilo and her mother and a boy, Django, who works hard to keep himself, the other Gypsies, and especially Lilo, alive under the harsh, cruel Nazi regime and the vagaries of film-making.  

This little known part of Hitler’s Germany is stark and interesting, but definitely more mature than most of Lasky’s novels.  I loved it and found the topic fascinating, but it is gritty and bald-faced, especially when it talks about the hysterectomies that Hitler’s doctors forced on the women as a part of his solution.  It is fascinating history.  

MS – OPTIONAL.  HS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Sidney, Stella, and the Moon by Emma Yarlett - OPTIONAL

Yarlett, Emma Sidney, Stella, and the Moon.  PICTURE BOOK.  Templar (Candlewick), 2013.  $17.  Content: G.  Sidney and Stella are bad at haring and one their fighting breaks the moon.  They know they need to fix the problem before they get in trouble, but fixing it means that they have to share.  Is that even possible?  While I am not really thrilled with the twins’ resolution to the problem, the illustrations are cute enough, that this might be an optional purchase.  If you do read this aloud during story time, it could be useful to talk about impossible things.  EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

North to Nowhere by Liz Kessler - OPTIONAL

Kessler, Liz North to Nowhere, 264 p. Candlewick, 2013.  $16.  

Content: G.  

Instead of a fun spring break, Mia is resigned to hanging out with her grandmother in tiny Porthaven as she anxiously awaits word of her missing grandfather.  But Mia’s vacation is not destined to be unmemorable.  Instead, she has an important part to play in a mystery that is 50 years in the making.  

Sometimes I have to ask myself if I am reading a book as a child would, but time travel adventures are tricky things and I just don’t think Kessler pulls this one off.  I won’t exposit too much, but I think you should wait until this is in paperback to buy it.  

EL – OPTIONAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Olive and the Bad Mood by Tor Freeman - NO

Freeman, Tor Olive and the Bad Mood.  PICTURE BOOK.  Templar (Candlewick), 2013.  $16.  Content: G.  

Olive is in a bad mood and nothing her friends can do will break her out of it.  In fact, Olive’s mood seems to be spreading.  With a bite of sweet candy, her mood is lifted and she goes on to spread the candy and cheer her friends.  

Wow – so weird.  Such cute graphics and the potential of a good story and BAM – crappy message.  Seriously?  Candy will make everything better?  I am speechless.  There is no way to spin this one into anything useful.  

NO.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Uncrashable Dakota by Andy Marino - ESSENTIAL

Marino, Andy Uncrashable Dakota, 309 p. Hemry Holt, 2013. $18.  

Violence: PG (murder, not graphic); Language: PG (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G.  

Hollis Dakota is on the maiden voyage of his father’s life long dream – the largest, the supposedly uncrashable airship.  With his mother, stepfather and stepbrother and a ship full of rich passengers, the ship falls to a long plotted mutiny, a mix of mercernaries, beetle cults, treachery and betrayal.  Only the children of the ship have the knowledge, the skills and the bravery to foil the plot.  But it will come with a cost – is it one they are willing to pay?  

Marino’s entry into the steampunk genre is rollickiny fun, with plenty of danger and excitement.  It feels like Alex Rider of another era.  

EL, MS – ESSENTIAL.  Cindy, Library Teacher