Thursday, June 30, 2016

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch - ADVISABLE

Welch, Jenna Evans  Love and Gelato, 386 pgs.  Simon Pulse, 2016.  $17.99  Content: Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: PG-13 (underage drinking); Violence: G.  

Lina’s mother has recently passed away and her dying request was for Lina to visit Tuscany and stay with a man named Howard.  When sixteen year old Lina arrives at Tuscany she is unsure what her mother wanted her to find there, but Lina is given one of her mother’s journals.  As Lina tries to put together her mother’s story before Lina was born, she also finds friendship and hope in Tuscany.   

This is a fun summer read with likable characters and an enchanting setting.  There is the mystery throughout of Lina’s mother’s love story and Lina’s current journey through love and everything comes together in the end.  This is a very clean novel and is easy to recommend.   

MS, HS – ADVISABLE. Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Mary Jemison: Native American Captive (Based on a True Stories Series) by E.F. Abbott (AKA Jane Kelley) -ADVISABLE

Abbott, EF (Jane Kelley) Mary Jemison: Native American Captive (Based on a True Stories Series), 180 pages.  Macmillion , 2016.  $15.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears) Mature Content: PG Violence: PG
Mary Jemison is living on the frontier with her family in the mid 1700s, when her life is turned upside down. Local Native Americans are not happy with the encroachment of their lands by the settlers and are taking revenge. They capture Mary’s family and she is eventually taken away to live with a tribe. She is forced to live with the tribe, a replacement for one of their own that was killed by the settlers. Gradually Mary learns the language and customs, but will she able to get back home? That make’s her question where her true home is.
This is my favorite in the series so far! This book doesn’t hold back with the violence, reality and some mature content (marriage and children). It’s a fascinating historical fiction and includes photographs and illustrations to help illuminate parts of the story.
EL, MS– ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Nettie and Nellie Crook: Orphan Train Sisters (Based on a True Stories Series) by E.F. Abbott (AKA Susan Hill) -ADVISABLE

Abbott, EF (Susan Hill) Nettie and Nellie Crook: Orphan Train Sisters (Based on a True Stories Series), 161 pages.  Macmillion , 2016.  $15.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears) Mature Content: G Violence: PG(child abuse)
It’s the early 1900s and Nettie and Nellie Crook are twins who taken from their parents, who are not providing enough food or care for them. The twins are sent to a horrible orphanage, then taken to a train where they are sent west, to hopefully be adopted by a willing family. But things don’t work out that great and the twins worry they may never find a home that treats them right.
This was a great historical fiction with plenty of reality and heart. I think students will enjoy reading about the girls, hoping they get to stay together, and cheering at the very real and great ending. Includes photographs and historical notes.
EL – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy (Based on a True Stories Series) by E.F. Abbott (AKA Kristin Tubb) -ADVISABLE

Abbott, EF (Kristen Tubb) John Lincoln Clem: Civil War Drummer Boy (Based on a True Stories Series), 178 pages.  Macmillion , 2016.  $15.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears) Mature Content: G Violence: PG
John is a nine year old who is very interested in joining the union side of the civil war army. Of course he isn’t allowed, but that doesn’t stop him from running away. He is accepted and trained as a drummer boy, but soon finds out that the realities of war are harsh. Will he survive to get back to his family?
This was a fantastic read that didn’t hold back from the horrors of war. Although John does contribute to the war effort in many ways, running away and be celebrated for it, might not be a celebration for parents of today’s readers. I realize these were different times but John runs away from a great home. Despite this the characters were well written, believable and interesting.
EL, MS – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider (Based on a True Stories Series) by E.F. Abbott (AKA Karen Young) -no

Abbott, EF (Karen Young) Sybil Ludington: Revolutionary War Rider (Based on a True Stories Series), 180 pages.  Macmillion , 2016.  $15.99.  Content: Language: G (0 swears) Mature Content: PG Violence: G
Sixteen year old Sybil Luddington and her family are colonists in the American colonies. Many of the colonists want to rebel against  British control, and Sybils family is a part of that, putting them in danger. When the alarm is called, Sybil has to step up to help her family and her country.
Unlike the rest of the series, this book sort of just jumped right into some heavy politics and plot with little explanation.  I was confused for the first quarter of the book and I think it would off putting enough for elementary readers to set this book aside, but middle schoolers might persist. There was a possible attack from a man at night, which sort of borders the line of inappropriate for elementary. My least favorite in the series. This series is actually written each by different authors, after reading I noticed this was an author whose style I have disliked in the past, which makes sense. The rest of the series is great!
EL, MS – NO  Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

Dan Versus Nature by Don Calame - NO

Calame, Don  Dan Versus Nature, 375 pages.  Candlewick Press, 2016. $17.99.  Mature Content:  R; Language: R (93 swears, 12 “f”); Violence: R.

Dan’s mother is in love again, but this time, her suitor, Hank, has proposed marriage.  As a surprise for his 16th birthday, Dan’s mother has “gifted” him a weeklong, guided outdoor survival experience with Hank so that the two can get to know each other.  Apparently she never noticed her son is an artsy, nerdy, avid indoors-man, and Hank doesn’t seem too thrilled about it either.   Dan is alarmed at the prospect of their marriage, which would result in his having to move to a new high school for junior year, so he and his friend Charlie (who inexplicably joins them on the trip) cook up a plan to thoroughly disgust and repel Hank from wanting to be his new dad. 

The first 300 pages of this book contain endless, senseless gross-out gags, with very little character development or situational depth.  Hank does his best to take all the abuse in stride, but Dan and his friend are truly unlikable for a tremendous part of the book, and only start to change at the tail end of their trip.   It’s a very juvenile premise, densely packed with middle-school bodily function humor that’s interspersed with sexual longing, so I’m not sure what audience the author is going for.  He may have been trying to appeal to older readers by adding Charlie’s scientific and erudite banter with Penelope, a fellow survivalist on the trip, but if readers are amused by the foul (though, blessedly, unrealistic and forgettable) situations in the book, I doubt they are going to be inspired by the advanced vocabulary. 

NOT RECOMMENDED.  Reviewed by JA, High School Librarian

Food Trucks! by Jeffrey Burton - ADVISABLE

Burton, Jeffrey Food Trucks! Illustrated by Jay Cooper.  BOARD BOOK.  Little Simon, Simon & Schuster, 2016.  $7.99.  Content:  G.

This informational lift-the-flap board book is about mobile food trucks.  It gives children an inside view of the trucks and uses facing-page rhymes to talk about the different types of cuisine (and several examples of each) that are commonly found on food trucks.  Each page also features a greeting word in the major language of each cuisine’s culture.

Given the popularity of food trucks in our community, I think it would be a good addition to a pre-school or early elementary library.  The board format of the book may inhibit damage to the pages from children opening the flaps. 

PRE-K  – ADVISABLE.  Reviewer:  JA, High School Librarian

Finding the Worm by Mark Goldblatt - ESSENTIAL

Goldblatt, Mark Finding the Worm, 344 pgs. Random House Children’s Books, 2015.  $16.99.  

Language: G (1 swear, hell); Mature Content: PG; Violence PG.

Julian Twerski is a 7th grader in the fast track at McMaster’s Junior High during the 1969-1970 school year.  Twerski has a lot going on as he tries to prepare for his bar mitzvah, deals with a school bully, takes on a school assigned essay for a crime he didn’t commit, and deals with the illness of his friend.  Julian Twerski has some great friends in the Thirty-Fourth Avenue gang, a group of kids hailing from the same zip code, except that one of their number, Quentin, is dealing with a brain tumor.  

Goldblatt takes some difficult topics and makes them engaging and accessible.  This book was delightfully written.  Finding the Worm is totally readable without having read Twerp, which comes first.  

MS-ESSENTIAL.  Michelle in the Middle