Thursday, November 30, 2017

Phasma by Delilah S. Dawson-ESSENTIAL

Dawson, Delilah S. Phasma. 11 CDs. 12.5 hrs. Penguin Random House Audio, 2017. $45. Language: G, Mature Content: PG-13, Violence: PG-13

When Vi Moradi, a rebel, is captured by the Cardinal, she is surprised to discover that he only wants to know about Captain Phasma, a dangerous captain working for the First Order. Having to been to Parnassos on multiple occasions, Vi appears to know the story of Phasma’s past. How, however, does she know so much? Will she find a way to escape the First Order?

The plot is well-written and engaging. The characters are entertaining and true to the Star Wars universe. The audio is superb. Filled with sound effects, the reader feels like they’re listening to a movie. Narrator, January LaVoy brings to life each character with different voices. Easily drawn into the story, fans of Star Wars will love listening to this audiobook. This is a must-have for any audiobook fan.

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

Ghost Girl by Delia Ray - ESSENTIAL

Ray, Delia Ghost Girl, 253 pages. Clarion Books, 2003. $6.99. Language:G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; violence: G; the year is 1929 in Madison County, Virginia.  

11-year-old Alice is thrilled to hear that the president and his wife are opening a school nearby! This may be her first, and only, chance to learn to read and write, ever! But her family is in poverty, her mom can barely function with the accidental death of her little brother Riley, and her dad is always away at any job he can get his hands on, trying to survive. If Alice can go to school and get help from Miss Vest, the school teacher, maybe thing will get better. 

In this book you learn what life was like in the mountains during  the 1920’s, how an illiterate town can learn to read, and the best part is, you can actually go and visit the school up in Virginia where Miss Vest taught!

EL,MS - ESSENTIAL 8th Grade Student Reviewer TW

Lilliput by Sam Gayton - ADVISABLE

Gayton, Sam Lilliput, 251. Peachtree Publishers, 2015. $16.95. 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

When Lilly is taken from her homeland, Lilliput, and brought to London by a “giant” named Gulliver, she must find a way home. To do so, she must escape from Gulliver and the evil Mr. Plinker, and find a way through London and across the sea. This is especially hard because she is only three inches tall. To escape, she needs help. 

I really like this book. It is an amazing sequel to the book Gulliver’s Travels by Jonathan Swift. It is filled with action and gives accurate background knowledge of what London was like two-hundred to three-hundred years ago. 

MS-ADVISABLE. Student Reviewer: DJ.

Journey Across The Hidden Islands by Sarah Beth Durst-ESSENTIAL

Durst, Sarah Beth, Journey Across the Hidden Islands. Pgs. 352. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $16.99. 

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

Ji-Lin and Seika are twin sisters. Seika is being trained to become ruler of the Hidden Islands. Her sister, Ji-Lin is being trained to be a warrior Ji-Lin’s warrior training, however, is not going very well. Her partner, a talking winged lion named Alejan, and her work well together, but not as well as they’re expected to. When the two fail an important exam, they somehow graduate early. Things are not going so well for Seika either. The Hidden Islands are have a lot of earthquakes caused by monsters. In order to save her islands, her and Ji-Lin will have to use tradition and rituals to renegotiate a deal with an ancient dragon. Will they succeed?

The characters in this book are well developed, realistic, and engaging. The adventure is action-packed, fast moving, and entertaining. Fans of Unwanteds, Harry Potter, and other magical fantasy adventures will enjoy reading this book. This is a must have for any library collection.

EL. MS. ESSENTIAL. Reviewer: Jessica M, Library Media Specialist, Olympus Jr. High.

The Shadow Cipher by Laura Ruby - ESSENTIAL

Ruby, Laura York: The Shadow Cipher, 476 pages. Walden Pond Press (Harper Collins Publishers), 2017. $18. Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.

The first book in a series, York is set in an almost recognizable, slightly futuristic version of modern day New York City. Twins, Tess and Theo Biedermann, set out to solve a mystery, the Old York Cipher, left behind more than one hundred and sixty years earlier by another set of twins, Theresa and Theodore Morningstarr. Tess and Theo must solve the Cipher if they are going to save their apartment building from being demolished by a real estate developer. Studying the Cipher is nothing new to their family. Their grandfather is the past president of the Old York Cipher Society and has been trying to solve the mystery his entire life. Along with another eighth grader, Jaime Cruz, who also lives in their building, they embark on a quest with cryptic clues, almost unbreakable codes, and, of course, danger. 

This entertaining book has well developed characters and keeps a good pace from beginning to end. It mixes humor (feeling sorry for bugs while eating a bugburger), history (with references to the Founding Fathers), and the inevitable emotional experience of the tween age years in a way that keeps the reader looking forward to the next chapter. Mostly a G-rated book, I gave it a PG rating for the intensity and realism of some of the action sequences. Students who read it will be lining up to read book two when it comes out. Well worth adding to a middle school library.     

MS – ESSENTIAL. LMA, Future elementary school teacher

The Trouble with Twins by Kathryn Siebel - OPTIONAL

Siebel, Kathryn The Trouble with Twins, 235 pages. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. $16.99.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G;  Violence: PG 

Henrietta and Arabella are twins but their lives couldn't be more different. Everyone loves Arabella and wants to be around her , but it's not the same for Henrietta.  After an incident at home, Henrietta is sent to live with Aunt Priscilla.  Things don't start out great for Henrietta, but slowly seem to be taking a turn for the better.  Meanwhile, Arabella thinks all will be better without Henrietta, but finds she misses her sister and decides to head out on her own to visit.  

Initially I was a little concerned and didn't like where this was headed but it turned out to be quite a cute story with some interesting characters, unusual circumstances and a good ending.  Even the narrator didn't detract from the story and added a little humor.  While both girls had adventures apart and perspectives changed,  they knew they wanted to be together and found their own place in the family.  

EL -- OPTIONAL. Reviewer: RB

Thank You, Bees by Toni Yuly -- ADVISABLE

Yuly, Toni Thank You, Bees. PICTURE BOOK. Candlewick Press, 2017. $15.99.

This simply-written book expresses gratitude to the sun for giving light, to bees for giving honey, to sheep for giving wool, and to many other things for the ways they help humans.

With its large font, short sentences, repetitive phrasing, and abundant picture clues, this one would work well for very new readers. The colorful illustrations are eye-catching and complement the text nicely. A good, if very basic, reminder to be grateful for the simple things.

Pre-K, EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE. Reviewed by Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Way of the Warrior Kid by Jocko Willink - ADVISABLE

Willink, Jocko Way of the Warrior Kid: From Wimpy to Warrior the Navy Seal Way, illustrated by Jon Bozak. 182 pgs. Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2017. $13.99. Language: G; Violence: G; Mature Content: G.

Marc had an awful time in 5th grade--he was bullied because he couldn't swim or do a pull-up, and he felt dumb because he didn't even know his times tables! When Marc's Uncle Jake--a Navy SEAL--comes to visit for the summer, he decides to help Marc become a warrior and change his situation. Through strict discipline in his workouts, study, and eating habits, Marc enters 6th grade much different and ready to be a leader.

I found a lot to like in this elementary-age chapter book. I liked the lessons about self-discipline and working hard, and the illustrations throughout the book make it really appealing to a younger audience. The writing style is certainly not sophisticated in nature, but it gets the job done. My main sticking point with the book was the actual story of an 11-year old boy training daily like a Navy seal during summer break. It never totally worked for me, but I can imagine that young boys might embrace it.