Friday, July 31, 2015

Flunked by Jen Calonita - ADVISABLE

Calonita, Jen Flunked (Fairy Tale Reform School), 242 pages.  Sourcebooks, 2015.  $16.  Violence: PG.  Language: G; Mature Content: G. 

As the oldest daughter in the Little Old Shoe, GIlly has been trying to keep her family fed by doing some thieving on the side.  When she gets caught for the third time, she is sent off the Reform School, run by Flora, Cinderella’s Evil Step Mother, who has herself been reformed.  Gilly is not really interested in reforming; she just wants to escape in order to keep helping her family.  Her new roommate, Kayla, is a fairy with a huge grudge.  Her friend Jax is much more than he seems to be – a thief like Gilly.  And Jocelyn, who is the younger sister of the former Evil Queen, seems to get away with breaking every rule.  Gilly is stuck in the middle of a plot to return an ancient evil to Enchantsia.  Without her help, evil will win this time. 

Add this to your retold fairy tale collection.  Light, fun, and filled with action.  For those who enjoy this style of fantasy, they will eat it up. 

EL, MS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher

Evermore Dragon by Barbara Joosse - ADVISABLE

Joosse, Barbara Evermore Dragon, illustrated by Randy Cecil.  PICTURE BOOK.  Candlewick, 2015.  $16. 

A girl and her dragon play hide and seek in the forest.  When the girl becomes lost, instead, the dragon does all that he can to find her.

You will wish that this book came with a cd or a songbook, because you and your listeners will want to hear the song-songy rhyme of the story.  Dragons, rhythm, and friendship – a great choice for story time.

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

Fort by Cynthia DeFelice - ADVISABLE

DeFelice, Cynthia Fort, 199 pages.  Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2015.  $17.  

Mature Content: G; Language: G; Violence: PG (shooting and cutting up squirrel for food, bullying). 

Wyatt and Augie have built themselves a sweet fort in the woods,  Until the day that their school tormentors also find it and trash it.  The bullies’ partner in crime seems to be another young man, Gerard,  who is less-able to defend himself.  The boys are determine to get the bullies out off their backs and have a plan that will have unexpected results. 

DeFelice writes a charming story with likable main characters who are able to stand up for themselves without resulting to crassness or becoming bullies themselves.  DeFelice  does a great job of combing character building with action  in order to captivate young readers.


Cindy, Library Teacher

The Seeds of Friendship by Michael Foreman - OPTIONAL

Foreman, Michael The Seeds of Friendship.  PICTURE BOOK.  Candlewick, 2015.  $17.  

Adam came from a world full of jungle and animals, but now he lives in a gray, cold city.  First in winter, he makes friends through creative snow building.  Then, at school, a little plot of garden becomes, little by little, an ever-increasing world of color.

Foreman’s book is a little slice of hopeful and a look at a small way to change a concrete jungle into a prettier world.  While I think Foreman takes the dream to the farthest extreme, it is a sweet dream that is realized every day in a community garden or a rooftop plot of land.

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

Thursday, July 30, 2015

All Paws on Deck by Jessica Young -- ADVISABLE

Young, Jessica All Paws on Deck (Haggis and Tank Unleashed #1), illustrated by James Burks. Scholastic Inc., January 26, 2016. $4.99. Contents: G.

Haggis and Tank are two dogs with very active imaginations -- and they love to use those imaginations in order to go on pretend adventures. In this, the first of the series, they spend an afternoon as pirates searching for buried treasure. But the pirate life is hard when a lack of wind means their sailboat won't move, a sea creature lurks in the water, and the treasure's location is a secret.

This early chapter book is a good mix of colorful illustrations and active text, and the layout has an eye-catching graphic novel feel to it. Children who are fond of pretend play will likely see themselves in Haggis and Tank, and astute readers will notice plenty of amusing details. Because of the frequent use of homophones, figures of speech, and other colorful language, this could work well in a language arts lesson. There are also some interesting uses of measuring that could be fun to experiment with in a math class.

EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Eat, Leo! Eat! by Caroline Adderson - OPTIONAL

Adderson, Caroline Eat, Leo! Eat! Illustrated by Josee Bisaillon. PICTURE BOOK. Kids Can Press, 2015. $16.95. Content: G

Every Sunday Leo and his family go to his nonna's house for lunch. She makes delicious pasta that everyone is eager to eat except for Leo. He says he's not hungry, but nonna has more than just food to share. In order to excite Leo's appetite, she serves up stories with her delicious meals that continue each week. As Leo's interest in the stories grow, so does his appetite for pasta.

Overall an average story will average illustrations. The only thing that would set this book apart and cause an interest in some readers is the insertion of Italian words throughout the book that are translated with a helpful glossary.


Edgar Wants to Be Alone by Jean-Francois Dumont - ESSENTIAL

Dumont, Jean-Francois Edgar Wants to Be Alone. PICTURE BOOK. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers, 2015. $16. Content: G

Edgar the rat is alone and that is the way he likes it. Every animal on the farm knows it's best just to leave him be. Then one day an earthworm starts following him around. Edgar is angry! He wants to be alone! He tries to outrun the worm, out swim it, even asks the other animals to help him, but that worm just won't leave. Edgar needs to solve this problem and takes matters into his own hands with an unexpected result.

This is a clever book with outstanding illustrations that will cause readers of all ages to laugh. From the grouchy main character to the silly surprise ending, this is a book everyone will enjoy.


Soon by Timothy Knappman - ESSENTIAL

Knappman, Timothy Soon illustrated by Patrick Benson. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Press, 2015. $16.99. Content: G.

One morning Raju the elephant and his mother begin a journey. They travel for a long time and encounter many wild creatures including a snake, a  crocodile, and a snarling tiger. Raju's mother protects him from all the scary animals all the while telling him that soon they will return home.

This is a sweet story about a mother's love, a child's trust, and the forever bond that exists between them. The story is complimented by beautiful illustrations.


The Super-Smelly Moldy Blob by Amy Marie Stadelmann -- ADVISABLE

Stadelmann, Amy Marie The Super-Smelly Moldy Blob (Olive & Beatrix #2), 80 pgs. Scholastic, Inc., March 29, 2016. $4.99. Content: G.

Olive loves science, but she always loses the science fair prize to her twin sister, Beatrix. After all, Beatrix is a witch. She can turn anything into a winning project. Not this year, though! Olive is determined to win. But when the two girls collide during a fight for the best display table, their projects get smashed together. The results are a smelly, growing blob with a mind of its own. Olive, Beatrix, and their friends must race to stop the blob before it takes over the entire school and ruins the science fair for good.

With its colorful illustrations and concise text, this 80-page story perfectly bridges the reading gap between picture books and chapter books. Although the giant blob adds some tension, the tale is still more cozy than scary -- another plus when working with younger readers. Because of the simplified graphic-novel-like format, this one would work better for individual or one-on-one reading as opposed to a whole-class read-aloud.

EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewer: Caryn

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Walk on Earth a Stranger by Rae Carson - ADVISABLE

Carson, Rae Walk on Earth a Stranger, 448 pages.  Greenwillow (Harper), 2015.  $18.  Mature Content: G (starts her period); Language: G (3 swears, 0 ‘f’); Violence: PG (2 murders, various travel deaths and dangers). 

Leah Westfall is on the run.  Her quiet world with her parents has been shattered by their murder and her evil uncle, who knows about her affinity to gold, is ready to strangle her with society’s strictures as he prepares to use her powers for his personal benefit.  She quickly disguises herself as Lee Westfall and flees to the westward trail, in search of her nest friend, Jefferson, who left only a few days before her.  If she can find him, they can travel with a wagon train to the gold fields of Oregon.  There is an entire continent of dangers, human, animal, and natural, waiting for them and their companions before they might reach relative safety.

The magical part of this book is slight and in the end not really very important in this well-written historical fiction novel.  I will be adding this to my collection as an excellent option for an 8th grade American History project at my school. 

MS, HS – ADVISABLE.  Cindy, Library Teacher