Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Little Critter: Bedtime Stories (Boxed Set) by Mercer Mayer -- ESSENTIAL

Mayer, Mercer Little Critter: Bedtime Stories 144 pgs. HarperFestival, Jan. 2013. $11.99. PICTURE BOOK.

Reissues of six different Little Critter books, kept together in a convenient Velcro-sealed box with a handle. Contains paperback editions of The Best Teacher Ever; The Best Show & Share; Bye-Bye, Mom and Dad; The Lost Dinosaur Bone; Just a Little Too Little; and Just a Little Music. Also comes with a small poster and a sticker sheet.

Each of the six books is filled with the antics of Little Critter, a young creature whose impish ways get him in trouble but ultimately help him save the day. $2 per book is hard to beat, especially for adorable books that are sure to draw a lot of students. These editions are not particularly sturdy and will not hold up to hard wear, but they would would make a great addition to a classroom collection or leveled library. Library binding is also available for some of these titles when bought on an individual basis.

PreK, EL (K-3) -- ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Caryn

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Out of Reach by Carrie Arcos -- NOT RECOMMENDED

Arcos, Carrie Out of Reach 250 pgs. Simon Pulse, 2012. $16.99. Content rating: R (Numerous swears, including multiple f-bombs, and graphic depictions of drug use.) Rachel is used to being the good girl in the family, especially when compared with her meth-addicted older brother Micah. When Micah disappears, she chalks it up to his drug habit and carries on with her life. But an anonymous email telling her that he's in trouble sparks a trip with one of Micah's friends. Together they plan to search for him and bring him home. But the trip isn't as easy as what they've planned, and Micah may prove to be harder to reach than Rachel feared.

I wanted to like this book. Not only does it not glorify the use of drugs, but it includes a lot of scary facts about them, and depicts addiction in many unattractive ways. Unfortunately, these details sometimes came across as lectures. That, paired with teen characters who talked and though like very wise adults, could turn off many teen readers. In addition, I had trouble connecting with the main character, who lied to her parents about where she was, who she was with, what she was doing, and even the fact that her car was stolen on the trip. The very graphic portrayals of drug use may be quite disturbing for many, while drinking and smoking were considered acceptable, making this one risky for a school session. Maybe in a public library, or for older students who are looking to understand a loved-one's drug addiction. HS -- Not recommended. Reviewer: Caryn

No Bears by Meg McKinlay -- ADVISABLE

McKinlay, Meg and Leila Rudge No Bears 32 pgs. Candlewick Press, 2012. $15.99. PICTURE BOOK.

Ella likes a lot of things about the book she's writing. It contains princesses and fairies and castles and a lot of other elements she considers essential to a story. Best of all, it has NO BEARS. But what Ella doesn't notice is that behind each new page she draws, there's a motherly bear gently helping Ella's nice characters succeed and working to vanquish the evil ones.

The fun premise and beautiful, action-packed illustrations make for an enjoyable read, and new details pop out every time I revisit the story. Many kids will have fun pointing out the bear sneaking onto each page, even as Ella declares, once again, that her book doesn't have any bears at all. The bear is never directly acknowledged, which adds to the fun, but younger elementary students may not notice her, and even if they do they may have difficulty understanding the wink-wink-nod-nod joke at the heart of the story. Some explanation from an adult will go a long way to help them understand the humor, however, and the illustrations and protagonist are still enjoyable even if the subtext is lost.

EL-ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

Sunday, January 27, 2013

Magicalamity by Kate Saunders –NOT RECOMMENDED

Saunders, Kate Magicalamity 320 pgs. Delacorte Books for Young Readers , 2012. $11.42.  

 Violence: PG13, Language: G, Mature Content: PG13)


Tom, an 11yo, finds out that his parents are in danger –all because of a family secret he didn't know about. His dad is a fairy and is on the run; Tom’s mother missing. Relying on the lackadaisical help of his aging Fairy godmother, Tom learns about his own magical heritage and the world he never knew about.

Keep it at the above description and you have a really good read. But add a unhealthy excessive dose of sexual innuendo and an 11yo sleeping with a loaded gun under his pillow and you have a book that I can’t recommend under any circumstance. Freud would have a field day with this author. Enough said.

Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Cordially Uninvited by Jennifer Roy -- ADVISABLE

Roy, Jennifer Cordially Uninvited 250 pgs. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. $15.99.

Content: PG

Eleven-year-old Claire travels to England for what is supposed to be her favorite cousin's fairy tale wedding to a prince, but Claire has more in mind than her role as a junior bridesmaid in the biggest wedding of the century. She's never met the prince, and is concerned that he may not be good enough for her cousin. Worse, someone is trying to sabotage the wedding. Is it Pandora, the junior bridesmaid with the bad attitude...or someone else? Add in a cute boy and plenty of mishaps as Claire negotiates the customs of a new country, and Cordially Uninvited is a royally fun read.

A cute story with plenty of fancy details thrown in, this book should appeal to fans of weddings, England, and all things royal. Claire is a character to root for, as she genuinely wants what's best for her cousin -- even if it means interrupting the wedding of the century. The romantic elements add a little fun without being over-the-top for the age group.

EL, MG -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

First Mothers by Beverly Gherman –ADVISABLE

Gherman, Beverly and Illustrated by Downing, Julie First Mothers 64 pgs. Clarion Books, 2012. $11.55.  (Rating: PG –mention of marital affairs)
Every president of the United States had to have a mother, but we never hear much about them. Well this is every one of them, with quirky titles, interesting portraits that are fully of personality, fun facts, tidbits, and more. For example Rose Kennedy is listed as the “savvy mother”, and her pages feature even a little comic strip.
This was a fun book to read! The pages and illustrations are laid out with such variety and creativity, that it doesn't fail to keep the reader’s attention. The biographical text is short and sweet and balances factual stuff with fun stuff for a perfect combination. This is a great way for students to get to know more about the president’s childhood's and the lives of some historical and important women.  
Elementary –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Little Cub by Olivier Dunrea –ADVISABLE

Dunrea, Olivier Little Cub 32 pgs. Philomel, 2012. $11.55.  (Rating: G)
A Little Cub is lonely and hungry, lost and alone. A Old Bear was also lonely and alone, but he wasn't lost and had too much to eat. When Old Bear finds Little Cub, the two of them are a perfect pair.
This book features adorable Fall themed artwork and is great for a lesson on opposites, and finding your own family.  
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Who Needs Love? by Elise Primavera –NOT RECOMMENDED

Primavera, Elise and Illustrated by Park, Lauren Who Needs Love? 48 pgs. Robin Corey Books, 2012. $12.74.  (Rating: G)
This is the story of two alligator best friends, Scarlett and Simon. They run into an evil witch, who turn one into a donkey and the other into a singer who can’t find anything. There is the added complication of a tree who wants a silver dollar. Will the two friends ever see each other again.
This was one of the oddest pictures books I have ever read. It was flat of bizarre. This story didn't flow, was kind of cold and off-putting. It really just didn't make sense –not even in a quirky kind of way. The artwork was unappealing as well, watercolor that was washed out and boring.
EL –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Rain & Fire by Chris & Jay D’Lacey –OPTIONAL

D’Lacey, Chris & Jay Rain & Fire (Companion to the Last Dragon Chronicles) 304 pgs. Graphia, 2012. $16.99.  (Rating: G)
Everything a fan of the Last Dragon Chronicles would love to know, from detailed biographical information about the author, the ideas and inception of the series, character lists, book synopsis, and more.
This sounds great, for a fan, but it’s actually pretty dry. There are only a couple black and white pictures. Fans would really love to see more, like images of the author just having fun, more of the inspiration dragon pottery art, more concept art. Only purchase this book if your students are huge fans.
Elementary, MS –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Janitors 2: Secrets of New Forrest Academy by Tyler Whitesides

Whitesides, Tyler Secrets of New Forrest (Janitors 2) Academy. Shadow Mountain, 2012. pgs. 368

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

In a world where invisible monster crawl amongst schools feeding off kids brain waves and making them stupid, nothing is as it seems. Normal kids can't see them, but Spencer and Daisy can. Dez, he mostly came along for the ride. With the BEM hot on their tail and are after a package Spencer's dad supposedly left him, but he never received. In terrible danger, him and his friends, Daisy and Dez get sent by the rebel janitors to New Forrest Academy, a place believed to be controlled by a fellow rebel. When the trio get there, however, they couldn't be more wrong. Slick, one of the Bureau of Educational Maintenance's minions, has taken over and his only goal is to capture Spencer. In order to achieve his means, he's found a way to make these monster as big as Godzilla and he's been creating lots of them. To make matters worse, shortly after arriving, Spencer finds himself cut off from the rebel janitors. He also discovers a dumpster that has been sealed by Glop, a magical substance used usually to defeat the invisible monsters, and only the sealer can open it. Unable to contact their rebel janitor friends, the trio are on their own. Can they save the dumpster prisoner and stop the BEM?

A fun, action-filled book for avid and reluctant readers. The characters are funny and likable. The plot is well-developed and fast-paced. The level of imagination that went into creating this book's alternate world is amazing and is easy for readers to follow. Readers who like fantasy, adventure, action, and the idea of saving a school will enjoy reading this book. It is recommended, however, that you read the first one.

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

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe by Pat Mora -ADVISABLE

Mora, Pat and Illustrated by Johnson, Steve and Fancher, Lou The Beautiful Lady: Our Lady of Guadalupe 48 pgs. Clarion Books, 2012. $12.74.  (Spanish edition provided, purported to be a great translation per a teaching-aide)
Rose loves to hear her Grandmother tell the story of Our Lady of Guadalupe, as they make paper flowers each December in her honor. This book tells the story of a Juan Diego as he tries to fulfill the request of the Lady. She would like a church built in her honor and keeps sending him to the Bishop to request it. Finally she provides him with a sign. Rose’s in winter, and her image on a cloak.
I have reviewed a couple of books about Saints, and these religious icons are very interesting since they are a huge part of the cultures they belong to. This one is based in Mexico, so this book can help to broaden your collection on the heritage of that country. The Illustrations are large and have a dreamy quality to them.
EL, Elementary –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey by Gary Golio -ESSENTIAL

Golio, Gary, and Illustrated by Gutierrez, Rudy Spirit Seeker: John Coltrane’s Musical Journey 48 pgs. Clarion Books, 2012. $16.19.  (Rating: PG –drug & alcohol abuse)
This is the story of John Coltrane’s life. From his childhood full on inspiration and heartache to his own personal journey for spirituality and knowledge to his battle with addiction, everything is here -simply and beautifully told. Featuring big bright illustrations that set the tone for each page of the story.
I cannot stress enough how amazing this book is. The illustrations are so stunning that I am blown away. They are like John’s music captured in artwork. This book could easily be used for a biography, but even better, combine it with a lesson on how artwork portrays mood, emotion, movement, and music. I also really liked John’s spiritual journey and how it affected his life and music. Top Notch!
EL, Elementary –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Tea Cakes for Tosh by Kelly Starling Lyons -ESSENTIAL

Lyons, Kelly Starling Tea Cakes for Tosh PICTURE BOOK. Putnam Juvenile, 2012. $12.72.  (Rating: G)

Even more than Tosh loves his Grandma’s tea cakes, he loves her stories. She tells him about the history of the tea cakes, all the way back to her ancestor who made them; a slave, who would bravely make extra’s for the slave children. When Grandma starts to lose her memory, it’s going to be up to Tosh to remember, and make tea cakes for her.  

I love that even though this story appears short and simple, it’s actually very multi-faceted, and incredibly well written. It’s a wonderfully poignant story that spans generations and is a must have for a school library.

EL (K-3), EL  –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Everything Goes: In The Air by Brian Biggs -ESSENTIAL

Biggs, Brian Everything Goes: In The Air PICTURE BOOK. Balzer + Bray, 2012. $10.94.  (Rating: G)

A giant book stuffed to the gills with illustrations about almost everything that goes in the air from planes to hot air balloons. Also shows lots of airport fun. Features extra large pages with big bright illustrations, tons of little notes and tidbits. 

Although this wouldn't be a book for a storytime, its a fantastic one to have to have on hand for those students interested in planes. There is so much to see and learn in this book that a student who loves planes could be entertained (and learning) for hours. 

EL (K-3)  –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

How to drive your sister crazy by Diane Shore -NOT RECOMMENDED

Shore, Diane and Illustrated by Rankin, Laura How to drive your sister crazy 48 pgs. Harper Collins, 2012. $3.99.  (Rating: G) 
Bradley plays a series of well-planned out pranks on his older sister Abby. Including going into bathroom while she is showering, scalding her in the shower, and stealing her towel so she has to run through the house naked. It gets worse from there.
 I love nothing more than a good prank, but I felt seriously bad for this older sister. She was being tortured. Not cool and not really that funny. The artwork has a dated feel as well. Students may snicker, but parents won’t be thanking you should these ideas be put into action.
EL –NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Justin and the Bully by Tony Lauren Dungy -ADVISABLE

Dungy, Tony and Lauren Justin and the Bully 32 pgs. Harper Collins, 2012. $15.99.  (Rating: G)
Justin is so excited to play soccer, but when a bigger girl on his team puts him down, he is upset and wants to quit. Luckily he also knows it’s time to talk to his parents and the coach. After a lecture on bullying, Justin learns how to deal with bullies, scores a goal, and finds acceptance. 
This book has some great lessons on bullying. Justin goes to adults he trusts as well as speaking up to the bully when the taunting starts again. Soccer books are a big drawn, so this book is a great way to get an important lesson to younger students.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Fancy Nancy: Too Many Tutu’s by Jane O’Connor -ADVISABLE

O’Connor, Jane Fancy Nancy: Too many Tutu’s 32 pgs. Harper Collins, 2012. $16.99.  (Rating: G)
Fancy Nancy is having a tutu overload, her closet won't even close, and her mom has had enough. So Nancy chooses some to exchange at her school clothing swap, where she learns to let others have a chance.
I really liked this story. The way that introduces “big” words is really adorable. I am charmed by Fancy Nancy’s unique style and personality. Students can’t get enough of her, so this one is a good one to add to your collection.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Mia and the Tiny Toe Shoes by Robin Farley -ADVISABLE

Farley, Robin Mia and the Tiny Toe Shoes 32 pgs. Harper Collins, 2012. $16.99.  (Rating: G)
Mia is in charge of the new ballerina’s, students even younger than herself. They aren't learning the moves very well. But Mia turns things around when she helps them turn their weaknesses into their strengths.
This is actually a pretty cute little early reader book, I like that even though Mia is a really young character, she is teaching and the simple lesson found here. Students will love the dancing component and so will I, since ballet books are a huge request!
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

The Final Battle..for Now (The Sisters 8 –Book #9) by Lauren Baratz-Logsted –ADVISABLE

Baratz-Logsted, Lauren The Final Battle..for Now (The Sisters 8 –Book #9) 160 pgs. Sandpiper, 2012. $5.99.  (Rating: G)
The sisters face something totally unexpected in their rescue attempt of their Daddy from a snowglobe- their own well-matched male counterparts. 8 boy siblings, who match them each- in personalities and powers. Each sister challenges the boy who is most like her to contents that test their skills and abilities. Will they be able to outwit them, and their “evil” Mummy?
This last book was my first introduction to this series. I already know that is wildly popular with my 3rd graders so I tried to reconcile that fact with my growing dislike of the book as I read it. I think the whole thing is stupid (who references the Waltons!?), nonsensical, awash with too many characters, and exactly how being in the head of a person with multiple personality disorder would feel. But I don’t count much in this equation, but for the life of me, I couldn't figure out the appeal. Go Figure! Regardless, the students LOVE this series, so buy this book and make them all happy. I did.
EL, ELEMENTARY –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Batman: Fowl Play by John Sazaklis -ADVISABLE

Sazaklis, John Batman: Fowl Play 24 pgs. HarperFestival, 2012. $3.99.  (Rating: G)
Gotham has two unusual things going on: birds haven’t migrated back to the city and there is a robbery crime spree. Batman’s own house gets robbed! He must face a new nemesis in The Penguin!
If this book doesn't come out in hardback edition, it’s a no-go for your library. The K and 1st graders can’t get enough of these superhero books that they can read for themselves and this one is sure to be popular. So this poor paper copy would be trashed in a week!  
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

See a Heart Share a Heart by Eric Telchin –ADVISABLE

Telchin, Eric See a Heart Share a Heart 48 pgs. Dial, 2012. $10.39.  (Rating: G)
The author started taking photographs of hearts he saw in the world around him and posting them to his blog This book is a well-rounded collection of those, with matching words like “ Keep a heart” and “Catch a Heart”. Images of hearts as shadows, sidewalk cracks, or a snake curled up are eye catching and interesting.
This is the kind of book that can get students to think outside of the box. It’s so simple yet can inspire us to all see the world in a new way. This book could be used in a conjunction with a technology lesson using digital cameras and your own library blog. Students could search for a variety of intriguing hidden images in the library and surrounding school building –such as faces, animals, and more. 
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Mia the Sweetest Valentine by Robin Farley -ADVISABLE

Farley, Robin Mia the Sweetest Valentine 24 pgs. HarperFestival, 2012. $10.87.  (Rating: G)
When Mia and her friends have a Valentines day party, they eat a box of chocolates that were supposed to be a gift from Mia’s dad to her mom. They are out of time, and Mia must come up with something so her Mom has a Valentine’s Day gift.
Fans of Mia will love this Oh-So pink book, that is both sweet and wholesome. A good generic happy valentines book to fill in the edges of your collection at a low price.
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

I Haiku You by Betsy Snyder –ADVISABLE

Snyder, Betsy I Haiku You 32 pgs. Random House Books for Young Readers, 2012. $9.99.  (Rating: G)
A collection of Haiku poems about love. From the love of friends, parent and child, and the love dogs have for their people.
This was an ADORABLE gift worthy little book. The illustrations are unique and just downright cozy. The poetry is so sweet and perfect. I think students will find the Haiku in this book extremely easy to understand and relate to, they might not even realize they are reading poetry! 
EL –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

I Loathe You by David Slonim -ADVISABLE

Slonim, David I Loathe You 24 pgs. Candlewick, 2012. $10.87.  (Rating: G)

Big Monster explains how much it loathes Little Monster and vice versus. From "more than Bellyaches" to "more than slimy rats", a lyrical list that continues through large colorful illustrations. Little monster worries that if he cleans up and gets cute that all of Big Monster loathing will go away! But luckily Big Monster can reassure Little Monster with its unconditional loathing!

Students will love this laugh out loud silly book of loathing. Not only does it provide vocabulary opportunities, a lesson on opposites, but also a boy-friendly valentine’s day book. The illustrations quite large and sure to keep attention during a story time activity.

EL (K-3) -ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

See you at Harry’s by Jo Knowles –OPTIONAL

Knowles, Jo See you at Harry’s 310 pgs. Candlewick, 2012. $11.55.  (Rating: Violence: PG Bullying, Sexual: PG 13 Homosexuality. Language: PG  (Swears: 0)

Fern’s family is her world. She hates to see her older (and gay) brother, get bullied on the school bus. She loves her little brother Charlie even though he is annoying. Her much older sister Sarah, is a bit too busy to pay Fern too much attention. Just like both her parents. As if the whole family doesn’t have enough problems, an unexpected death sets them reeling.

The incredibly realistic drama made me feel tired and weighted down. Their grief process was detailed in a full and an all-encompassing way. This book screams dreaded English assignment; students won’t stick with this book unless they are assigned to. Issues like grief, loss, and homosexuality need to be addressed. But I think there are better options, that don’t involve 150 page of the grieving process. (Not to mention the first 150 page of bullying and the tiring grind of day to day life).  

MS, HS –OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Hallowed Ones by Laura Bickle –PUBLIC ONLY

 Bickle, Laura The Hallowed Ones 320 pgs. Graphia, 2012. $11.42.  (Rating: Violence PG13, Language G, Sexual R)
Katie is a good Amish girl, but is pretty excited for her upcoming time away from the community, where she can live like real teenager. When something goes really wrong in the world outside their fences, with only their faith holding back dark forces, well its Katie’s time to rebel. She hides an outsider, copes with murder clean up duties, and worries mostly. Someone has betrayed their community, and everyone is in grave danger.
I was excited about this book, its dark, creepy, dystopic, and a real page turner. Even a loss of virginity scene was decently PG. But then I got to a wonderful little detail about Necrophilia. That closed things down pretty fast for school library inclusion. Sigh. If only those 2 sentence weren't there! (Yup, I am pretty grumpy about this).
HS –PUBLIC ONLY Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

The Ice Gate of Spyre (The Six Crowns Book #4) by Allan Jones –ADVISABLE

Jones, Allan and Illustrated by Chalk, Gary The Ice Gate of Spyre (The Six Crowns Book #4) 160 pgs. Greenwillow Books, 2012. $11.99.  (Rating: G)
Spyre is a vast land of floating islands, and Trundle the hedgehog and his unusual crew are using their floating ship to search for the six famed Badger crowns. At this point in the adventure they have 3, and are looking for the Crown of Ice. Their island search appears to be pretty straightforward, but they are waylaid and tricked, and must use all their wits to survive.
This was a cute and adventurous chapter book,  perfect for 2nd and 3rd graders. Reminded me a bit of the Redwall Series, but much shorter (hooray), but at times –less whitty and funny. I still think students will enjoy the strong personalities of the crew and want to join in the search for the crowns. Really need the previous books in the series to make this one a hit. Can be a read alone but shouldn’t be.   
Elementary –ADVISABLE Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Don’t Feed the Boy by Irene Latham –NOT RECOMMENDED

Latham, Irene and Illustrated by Graegin, Stephanie Don’t Feed the Boy 288 pgs. Roaring Brook Press, 2012. $11.42.  (Rating: Violence PG, Language G, Sexual G)
Whit lives at the Zoo with his parents, who run the place, and he hates it. He feels trapped, lonely, and wishes he could just go to public school like normal kids. He finally finds friendship one summer with an artistic girl named Stella who comes from a troubled home. When Stella is in trouble, Whit breaks all the rules to help her out.
Students who are drawn to this book because of the idea of living at a zoo will be sorely disappointed; Whit hates it, doesn't appreciate it, and doesn't really care all that much about the animals. Parents won’t much like Whit’s risk taking –which leads to another thing the animal-loving students won’t like –animal deaths. It really irks me to read book where kids blame their parents for everything, which in this case is Whit’s total lack of personality.
EL –NOT RECOMMENDED Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Tokyo Heist by Diana Renn –ESSENTIAL

Renn, Diana Tokyo Heist 384 pgs. Viking Juvenile, 2012. $13.61.  (Rating: Violence PG, Language PG (5 borderline swears –like damn), Sexual PG)
Violet is a normal looking spunky artistic 16 year old. Just when she is feeling sort of abandoned by her friends for the summer, she ends up smack in the middle of an art heist mystery. Into the mix goes a trip to Tokyo, her best friend, the famous gangster of Japan called the Yakuza, and of course some danger.
This was an excellent read. Violet is way into graphic novels and has a unique world perspective tied directly into her art. Very fresh and interesting. The story is creative, fast-paced, and multifaceted. Students will be intrigued by the danger and the art, but get an earful of cultural information and some fantastic lessons about friendship and relating to a parent. The cover will be a draw for students as well.
MS, HS –ESSENTIAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Island of Silence (The Unwanteds Book #2) by Lisa McMann –OPTIONAL

McMann, Lisa Island of Silence (The Unwanteds Book #2)  416 pgs. Alladin, 2012. $10.98.  (Rating: Violence PG, Language G (0 swears), Sexual G)
Apparently in Book #1 the split island countries of the dystopian Quill and the magical Artime are united –people are free to travel at will. But all is not well. Some of those in Quill are having a hard time adjusting and this includes young Aaron –who is determined to lead a rebellion. While his twin brother Alex, in Artime is thriving but doesn't think he is ready for the responsibility of leading –should his mentor, Mr. Today need his help. Civil war in inevitable.
Having not read the first book –I felt like I missed all the fun, since the characters constantly refer to the events of the first book. (Which sound more interesting than anything that happened in this book). Reading this book kind of a chore, from the horrible analogies –to the whiney characters. I know the first book is popular –maybe if you got hooked there–this one might be of interest. Long and boring isn’t a great combo for students though.
MS, HS -OPTIONAL Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

The Klipfish Code by Mary Casanova-OPTIONAL

The Klipfish Code. by Mary Casanova, 223 pages. Sandpiper, 2007

Language: PG, Violence: PG, Sexual Content: G


The year is 1942 and Nazis have taken over Norway. After her village in Lufwaffe, 12yoMarit’s parents have send her away to live with relatives. Trouble follows her, however, when the Nazis begin picking 1 out of every 10 teachers and sending the to concentration camps. As rebellion surfaces more and more in an attempt to preserve the country’s dignity and freedom, British arrive in attempt to help the Norwegians. Traitors and soldiers are everywhere. With no idea who to trust, can Marit find a way to reunite her family and maintain her individuality? Will she be able to keep out of the concentration camps?

A realistic portrayal of World War II and how war affected everyone. The story is a little slow, but the characters are likable. Readers who like World War II novels and historical fiction will enjoy reading this book.

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

Peanut by Ayun Halliday and Paul Hoppe –PUBLIC ONLY

Halliday, Ayun and Hoppe, Paul Peanut 216 pgs. Schwartz & Wade, 2012. $10.87.  (Rating: Violence G, Language PG13 (0 official swears), Sexual talk R)
Sadie is nervous about being a new girl at her high school. But after meeting a girl with a food allergy –Sadie comes up with a plan. She decides to fake a lethal peanut allergy to get attention, and it works. She has a new set of friends and a super sweet boyfriend. But she is finding it challenging to not only keep up the lies but also she doesn't like lying to her friends. When she takes a bite of a little muffin –things go downhill from there.
I really like this book! The idea is fun and carried off well. The characters are well developed and likeable. Minus a few things I would have even recommended it for middle school. But some questionable sexual talk about choking, and some other mildly offensive sex talk (Highly offensive to parents), would make me hesitate. I really wish that wasn't in the book –the characters themselves only have a couple of very G rated kisses.
PUBLIC ONLY Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

The Princess and the Pig by Jonathan Emmett ESSENTIAL

Emmett, Jonathan The Princess and the Pig.  Walker Childrens, 2012. PICTURE BOOK.

A story of mistaken identity. One day Princess Priscillia is switched with farmer's pig, Pigmella, by mistake of course. The farmer and his wife couldn't be happier. The king and queen...try their best to teach their "daughter" proper behavior and fix the curse that has obviously befallen her.

What a fun story! Drawing from well-known fairy tales, there is a lot of humor. And the illustrations are just wonderful.

EL (K-3), EL --ESSENTIAL reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems ESSENTIAL

Willems, Mo Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs 40 pgs. Brazer + Bray, 2012. Picture Book

from goodreads "Once upon a time, there were three hungry Dinosaurs: Papa Dinosaur, Mama Dinosaur . . . and a Dinosaur who happened to be visiting from Norway. One day--for no particular reason--they decided to tidy up their house, make the beds, and prepare pudding of varying temperatures. And then--for no particular reason--they decided to go...someplace else. They were definitely NOT setting a trap for some succulent, unsupervised little girl. Definitely not! This new take on a fairy-tale classic is so funny and so original--it could only come from the brilliant mind of Mo Willems."

Hilarious. It's a funny twist on a well known story with great additions. I think children would appreciate the humor and love to pick out the differences. And, of course, Willem's signature illustrations add a lot to the story. Highly recommend. 

EL (K-3), EL -- ESSENTIAL reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds ESSENTIAL

Reynolds, Aaron Creepy Carrots.  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2012. PICTURE BOOK

Jasper Rabbit loves to snack on carrots from Crackenhopper field. Every day he passes by and takes a few to much on. Until the day the carrots start to follow him around, which is really creepy!

Such a creative, rather spooky, and humorous book. The pictures make the story. Drawn with a gray scale, all but for the carrots and other orange objects, the reader is left to wonder if the carrots really are following Jasper or if he just has an active imagination. I loved this book. And it's not just for Halloween, though it would make a great Halloween story to share.

EL(K-3), EL -- ESSENTIAL, reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

Reel Life Starring Us by Lisa Greenwald -- ADVISABLE

Greenwald, Lisa Reel Life Starring Us 304 pgs. Amulet Books, 2011. $16.95. (Violence: PG, Sexual Content: PG, Language: PG)

Artsy Dina Gross used to be one of the most popular girls in her school, but that was before she moved to a new town, where quirkiness is not appreciated. Now she finds that she doesn't fit in at all. But when she is assigned to do a project with popular girl Chelsea Stern, Dina sees her chance to be back on top of the social heap. What she doesn't know is that Chelsea's once-perfect life is crumbling, and it's about to take Chelsea with it.

Told from alternating perspectives, this is a fun, quick story of two very different girls coming to terms with who they are and learning to become friends. While some of the lessons on popularity and self-acceptance are a bit heavy-handed, and the characters often sound much older than thirteen, Reel Life Starring Us should resonate with many middle school girls who are, themselves, learning who they are and where they fit in socially.

HS--ADVISABLE. Reviewed by: Caryn

Saturday, January 12, 2013

The Pregnancy Project by Gaby Rodriguez with Jenna Glatzer ADVISABLE

Rodriguez, Gaby The Pregnancy Project: a Memoir 218 pgs. Simon and Shuster Books, 2012.

Language PG-13 (1 swear, 2 f); Sexual Content PGish (Gaby is very open about discussing sex, but it is nothing graphic); Violence PG.

Gaby's mother was a teen mother and many of her siblings became parents when they were in high school as well. Everyone told Gaby that she would end up the same way. She believed differently. For her senior high school project, she decided to fake a pregnancy to see how her family, friends, and community would respond. In the process she challenged stereotypes and expectations, and garnered national attention.

This was a surprising and very interesting story. I think the most surprising aspect for me was how her boyfriend was treated in all of this. How stressful the experience was for both of them, and how everyone told them their lives were over. Gaby includes studies on teen pregnancy and tells her story clearly and in a straight forward way. I definitely recommend this to teens on the subject of teen pregnancy.

MS, HS ADVISABLE reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

Friends with Boys by Faith Erin Hicks ADVISABLE

Hicks, Faith Erin Friends with Boys 224 pgs. First Second publishers. Swears - 1

Maggie has been home schooled, until her sophomore year when she starts at the public high school. She struggles to find her place in the outside world, which is only made more difficult when she is haunted by a ghost.

This was a really fun graphic novel. Slice of life, covering the first few months of Maggie's public school experience. One of the plot lines resolves, but the others don't. There isn't a pat ending, which I rather liked. The illustrations are black and white and fun and expressive. I really enjoyed it.

MS, HS -- ADVISABLE reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness ESSENTIAL

Ness, Patrick A Monster Calls 215 pgs. Walker Books, 2011. Content -- PG.

from goodreads: "The monster showed up after midnight. As they do. But it isn't the monster Conor's been expecting. He's been expecting the one from his nightmare, the one he's had nearly every night since his mother started her treatments, the one with the darkness and the wind and the screaming...This monster is something different, though. Something ancient, something wild. And it wants the most dangerous thing of all from Conor. It wants the truth."

This is a beautiful book. Amazingly well written, with beautiful illustrations that match the tone and story of the book. I highly recommend. Though every library should own a copy, I don't think it's for everyone. There are themes of death and family and bullying and letting go and growing up and understanding that somethings life just isn't fair. It's just amazing.

EL, MS, HS -- ESSENTIAL reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

Unbreak My Heart by Melissa Walker ADVISABLE

Walker, Melissa Unbreak My Heart, 240 pgs. Bloomsbury USA, 2012. Content--PGish

Clementine fell for her best friend's boyfriend, and in the process lost them both. It's a relief to escape from the gossip for the summer on a sail boat with her parents and little sister. Though maybe the tight living space isn't the best place for her when she's drowning in regret and suffering from a broken heart. Until she meets James, who is also sailing for the summer with his father, and she finds that his smile is just what she needs.

This was a sweet book. I found the story compelling, the characters and their feelings believable. Especially Clem. I could understand why she did what she did and why she felt and behaved the way she did. Her growth as a character was believable as well. I recommend!

HS, MS -- ADVISABLE reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe by Shelley Coriell ADVISABLE

Coriell, Shelley Welcome, Caller, This is Chloe 299 pgs., Amulet, 2012. Content - PG

Chloe Camden is lead of the popular crowd until her best friend turns against her and ruins her reputation. Things only get worse when her school counselor vetoes her junior independent study project. Chloe is forced to join her school’s struggling radio station, where the other students don't much like her, either.

This is a sweet story with a great main character. What is so appealing about Chloe is she is not angsty or bitter with the difficult things that are happening to her with her friends and family. She makes fun, happy things and takes control in finding the good. She is also very forgiving of those who treat her poorly. Which is really nice and refreshing. 

Besides all the meanness from many of the other characters populating the book, I liked them. Especially Duncan, the love interest. He wasn't necessarily heartthrob material, but he was way sweet. 

Some of the story I found unrealistic--for example her call-in show becoming uber popular in a matter of three weeks. But who cares--it was fun. 

MS, HS -- ADVISABLE reviewer: Rebekah, public librarian

172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad OPTIONAL

Harstad, Johan 172 Hours on the Moon, 351 pgs. Little Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012. Language - 10; sexual content - PG; Violence - PG-13 (mostly off page).

NASA holds a lottery to pick three teens to travel to the moon on the first visit there in decades. But something is hiding on the moon, and there's no one to save them when things go wrong.

The first half I found a little boring because I thought it had too much information on the teens attending and their reasons for wanting, or not wanting, to go. Once they leave for the moon, the action picks up and it gets really creepy. I was disappointed because all the action on the moon takes about 20 hours, and I was promised 172, so it felt rushed. The ending was pretty cool. Though sort of confusing and unbelievable even in the context of the story. Overall an okay read.

MS, HS OPTIONAL Reviewer: Rebekah, Librarian

Friday, January 4, 2013

Wolverine; An Origin Story by Rich Thomas, Jr.-ADVISABLE

Thomas, Jr., Rich, Wolverine: An Origin Story. Marvel, 2012. PICTURE BOOK.

How did James Howlett become Wolverine? What caused his blades to come out of his hands? How did he become part of the X-Men? This origin story will tell you that and more.

A good picture book for  X-Men fans. The pictures are well-done. The text is simple, but covers the story of Wolverine well. Younger children who like superheroes and action will like reading this book or enjoy having it read to them.


Reviewer: Jessica Moody, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.