Friday, March 31, 2017

This Is Our Story by Ashley Elston - OPTIONAL

Elston, Ashley This Is Our Story, 312 pages.  Hyperion,2016. $18.99.  Language: R (23 swears, 5 ‘’ F’’); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG-13.

Katie is an 18 year-old high school student who works for the DA. she gets caught up in a mess she never thought would happen. A murder! The River Point Boys are some of the richest people in town. One of their friends is murdered, they get kicked out of school, and come to Katie’s school. Katie and her boss get to the case. They are super excited but whenever they think they get a lead it’s a dead end. Until the very day of court. Who murdered Grant?

I think this book is a very good book. I was always caught up in the action and I could barely take my eye off the book. There was a lot of swearing but I think it was ok because it helped me visualize how the character it feeling. I gave the mature content rating an R because it talks about naked woman all through the book. I gave the violence a PG-13 because it talks about a person being shot by a rifle. Everyone should read this book, it is awesome!


Talking Leaves by Joseph Bruchac - OPTIONAL

Bruchac, Joseph Talking Leaves, 235 pages. Dial Books (Penguin Young Readers), 2016. $16.99. Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

Uwohali's father, Sequoya, has become the target of gossip and fear in his Tsalagi (Cherokee) village since his return from the west. People believe that the symbols and characters Sequoya is creating are a form of witchcraft that will bring nothing good to the people. Uwohali is at first fearful, but when he takes the time to listen to his father's explanation of how a written language of their own could benefit the Cherokee, Uwohali is convinced. The challenge then remains for the family to convince the rest of their tribe before the threats of violence or banishment can be carried out.

I was excited to see an historical fiction novel about Sequoya as it seems a piece of American history that could really use a retelling that kids would be interested in reading. Unfortunately, I do not know that many readers will really enjoy this book as I found the characters fairly flat, the story's "voice" dull, and the book overall pretty boring. The book tells the story but also includes a lot of traditional Cherokee stories and traditions; these were interesting, but also got a little tiresome as the story was so often veering off into storytelling mode. I think this book should be in libraries so students have the option to learn about Sequoya or teachers could use it with a Native American history unit, but on its own merits as a novel it does not have a lot to recommend it.

EL, MS, HS--OPTIONAL. Reviewer: TC

The Princess and the Frogs by Veronica Bartles - ESSENTIAL

Bartles, Veronica The Princess and the Frogs. PICTURE BOOK. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2016 $17.99. 

Princess Cassandra was lonely and wanted a best friend.  A friend who matched her favorite green dress and would jump and swim and play with her.  She discovers the perfect friend in a lovely green frog.  All is well until she kisses the frog and he turns into a prince.  Cassandra doesn't want a prince, she wants a frog, so the prince is sent to work in the palace and a new frog is chosen to be her friend.  Alas, another kiss and another frog is transformed into a prince. Cassandra's problems with kissing frogs only escalates until her palace is filled with princes and she is still without a froggy friend.  Finally, she finds the perfect friend in one of the princes who wants nothing more than to be returned to a frog.  Another kiss, and the princess and the frog live happily ever after.  

This hilarious re-telling of the frog prince will be a favorite of fairytale lovers. 

EL (K-3), EL --ESSENTIAL Gina, Media Specialist

Iron Cast by Destiny Soria - ADVISABLE

Soria, Destiny Iron Cast, 376 pages. Amulet Books, 2016. $17.95. Language: PG-13 (19 swears, 0 'F'); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.

Ada Navarra and Corinne Wells may come from very different backgrounds and look nothing alike, but they are an inseparable duo at the Cast Iron nightclub in 1919 Boston. The two girls are hemopaths--their blood is different than regular humans in that it is iron-free and even the very presence of iron in their surroundings causes them physical pain. It also means they have the power to control people's minds through illusions and feelings. But hemopathy is now illegal in Boston, and the city's hemopaths are under siege--disappearing off the street or being "legally" hauled off to the infamous Haversham Asylum. Prohibition is also on the horizon, putting the very future of the Cast Iron in jeopardy. When their own Johnny Dervish--the proprietor of the Cast Iron--is murdered, Corinne and Ada must work together to figure out who is behind all the madness and try to avoid the same terrible fate, themselves.

This book is incredibly complex and hard to explain succinctly, but at the same time its very well crafted and fun to read. It is historical fiction in that the time period and place plays a large role in the story, but the author isn't writing to teach us anything about history; it is fantasy in that hemopaths who can control people's minds are not really a thing. I liked the characters (Mobsters! Magic teenagers!), the story line, and the every-changing twists and turns. The book is long, but I never felt like the author was adding anything wholly unnecessary. The PG-13 ratings are due to some scenes and discussion of torture, explicit violence, allusions to homosexual romance, as well as themes about prejudice.


At Night by Helga Bansch - ADVISABLE

Bansch, Helga At Night. PICTURE BOOK. Eerdmans Books for Young Readers (Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing), 2016 $14.00. 

At Night all the animals prepare for sleep and snuggle into their homes for peaceful dreams.  Even little Manu sleeps under his cozy covers.  As the moon begins to wax and the new moon is born, the animals get a little mixed up. 

This beautifully illustrated book allows children to interact with it in a unique way.  As the moon goes through it's phases and finally becomes a new moon, the book is flipped over and the animals get all jumbled up in where they sleep.  Rabbit dangles from a bats cave and polar bear is asleep in the doghouse.  Children will love the way the story changes and requires them to turn the book upside down to discover where all the animals now lay their heads.

Pre-K, EL--ADVISABLE Gina, Media Specialist