Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The Great New York Subway Map by Emiliano Ponzi- OPTIONAL


Ponzi, Emiliano The Great New York Subway Map, NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. The Museum of Modern Art, 2017. $20. 9781633450257

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS- OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Massimo Vignelli was a graphic designer. He was a minimalist who thought that the items he designed didn’t need decoration and should be simple. He used this minimalism theory to update and recreate the subway map for New York City. It was a long process that required a lot of research to create the most simplistic, easy to read version of the map.

The styling of this picture book is really great. It’s an eye-catching look at a topic that would otherwise likely be uninteresting. The research process is highlighted and those who have ridden a mass-transit train or who have been to New York will really understand how Vignelli contributed to the system. There is an author’s note in the back.

Shay, High School Librarian, MLS

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin - ESSENTIAL

To Be Honest by Maggie Ann Martin, 289 pages. Swoon Reads (Macmillan), 2018. $17.

Language: R (37 swears, 1 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Savannah is a smart, snarky, school newspaper reporter who just happens to be plus sized. Her sister Ashley has left for college and now she is alone with her weight-obsessed mother. After her parent’s divorced, her mother was on an extreme weight loss TV show and they want to film a follow up at their house. Savvy reluctantly agrees to be filmed with her mother, but the edited and aired TV clip isn’t flattering to Savvy. Meanwhile, a cute, younger guy named George needs help with math and Savvy becomes his tutor. Sparks fly, but will Savvy’s own insecurities keep her from the perfect guy? Or will her mom’s unhealthy obsession with weight continue to spiral out of control?

Savannah doesn’t allow herself to be defined by her size. She is both confident AND insecure, which I thought perfectly portrayed teen girls. The author goes beyond stereotypes to show the main character’s complicated relationship with her parent’s post-divorce. Strong female relationships abound in the book, from supportive friends to a caring sister. The romantic interest, George, illustrates that teen boys have insecurities too. To be honest, I loved this book and think teens of all sizes will too.

Samantha, MA, MLS

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

How to Breathe Underwater by Vicky Skinner - ADVISABLE


How to Breathe Underwater by Vicky Skinner, 322 pages. Swoon Reads (Macmillan), 2018. $17.

Language: R (48 swears, 7 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (steamy kisses, walks in on her sister and her fiancé having sex); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Kate is a likable character who is dealing with her parent’s messy divorce, moving, a new love, and swimming. Kate is angry at her father (who is also her former swim coach) for pressuring her to swim so hard in hopes of gaining his elusive approval. Kate has to decide for herself if she wants to compete in swimming or just enjoy the water. Meanwhile, her best friend isn’t answering her calls, her sister got cold feet on her wedding-day, her mom is sad, and the boy that Kate likes (Michael) already has a girlfriend. Michael’s mom is also really sick and has had to be hospitalized.

The author gives a realistic and important look at the pressure parents can put on their teens when they compete in sports. The story is packed with lots of drama and plenty of excellent character development. Kate’s ultimate resolution rings true. The book also explores the themes of grief, mourning, and forgiveness in a thought-provoking, but not preachy way. Many teens will be able to relate to Kate and her struggles both in and out of the water.

Samantha, MA, MLS

Monday, October 15, 2018

MEET KISS THE BOOK JR!

Kiss the Book has become big enough, that I decided a change needed to happen.  So meet Kiss the Book Jr.!  The format has not changed, the reviewers are still the same lovely librarians, teachers, and dedicated book lovers -- we have just separated the board books, picture books, early readers, chapter books, and other elementary level only books to their own blog.

I hope that you will love seeing elementary level materials on Kiss the Book Jr., while the middle school and high materials remain here, on the original Kiss the Book.  Of course, if a book crosses over, it will be posted on both blogs - so you won't miss a thing!

Let me know what you think!

--Cindy

FYI:  I will pretty up Kiss the Book Jr. in the near future - no worries!

Dr. E's Super Stellar Solar System by Bethany Ehlmann -- ESSENTIAL

Dr. E's Super Stellar Solar System: Massive Mountains! Supersize Storms! Alien Atmospheres! by Bethany Ehlmann and Jennifer Swanson128 pgs. NONFICTION. National Geographic Kids, 2018. $13.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS -- ESSENTIAL.

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

This guide to the solar system is full of information on planets, stars, comets, and many other celestial phenomena.

The writing style works well, packing in a lot of fascinating info in a fun, approachable, concise style. Photos, graphics, sidebars, and even comic strips make the text even more approachable and interactive. I only wish it were available in a library binding, or even hardcover, since paperbacks do not last as long on our shelves.

Reviewed by Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha - OPTIONAL

Hocus Pocus & The All-New Sequel by A. W. Jantha,  521 pages. Disney, 2018. $13.

Content: Language: PG (46 swears 0 'f'); Mature: PG; Violence: PG; 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Max and his sister Dani have recently moved to Salem from California. While trying to show off for Allison, Max lights the Black Flame Candle in the old Sanderson Sisters house bringing the evil trio back to life after being hanged over 300 years before. Now the 3 kids must undo the spell before the witches destroy all the children of the town. In The All-New Sequel, it's 25 years later, and Max and Allison's daughter Poppy has hated Halloween all her life, but this Halloween her parents have planned a special party for her and her friends - to keep them away from the dangers of 25 years ago - a blood moon on Halloween. But when Poppy, Travis and Isabella use a Ouija board to cast a spell in the Sanderson Sisters house, Poppy's parents and aunt disappear into hell and the Witches return - this time with a plan to take over the world. 

Hocus Pocus is much better as a movie - it's more of an adaptation than a retelling. Credit is given on the title page to the screenplay writers, and it reads like a narration of the movie. There are a few added elements (to set up the sequel) but otherwise I didn't feel the novelization either did the movie justice or added much to the story.  The Sequel has a great premise, but it just didn't play out well. Most of the sequel follows Poppy and her friends - Binx and Emily make an appearance but it seems like a connection to the original, rather than needed for the plot. I was most disappointed to see how little involved we are with the Witches! There are some funny moments where they try to navigate modern technology, must mostly it's a story about the kids who have no idea what to do. No spoiler, but the resolution was disappointing. There are song lyrics in both books along with narrated choreography which seemed strange, and unnecessary. Overall, an exciting idea as the movie is a cult classic. The cover is great and I hope it will get picked up by fans of the movie, but this reader was disappointed and probably wouldn't recommend.

Lisa Librarian

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Living Through The Revolutionary War by Clara MacCarald - OPTIONAL

Living Through The Revolutionary War by Clara MacCarald. NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. Rourke Educational Media, 2019. $25. 9781641564144. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL(K-3), EL - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The history of the American Revolution is lightly covered in this elementary-level informational text. The author covers the bare basics of what led to the Revolution through the post-war establishment of government. Each page has got some text along with a lot of pictures, side bars and more. There is a glossary and a reading guide included.

I realize this book is written for an elementary audience--I'd guess its aiming for 3rd/4th grade?--but sometimes the information included versus the information excluded surprised me. The pictures will appeal to kids, but it makes for a rather busy page that is sometimes hard to read in a straightforward and understandable way. I enjoy all the pictures (many of them primary sources), but the book could be stronger without such a busy feel and the inclusion of more primary source material in the text and information. To really get a good amount out of this book I think students will need scaffolding and direction from an adult.

Reviewer: TC




Friday, October 12, 2018

Trees: Kings of the Forest by Andy Hirsch - ADVISABLE


Science Comics: Trees: Kings of the Forest by Andy Hirsch, 121 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL/NON-FICTION  First Second (Macmillan), 2018.  $13.  Content: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

An acorn gets bored sitting around and is looking for excitement, so forest animals show him how a tree is a living organism with lots of exciting things going on inside.  The acorn learns lots of different things about the tree, including how roots grow, how water is transferred throughout the tree, why certain branches grown and not others as well as many different other inside workings of trees.  How trees help with pollination and how the leaves get maximum help from the sun, as well as defense mechanisms and insects that help or hurt trees is explained.  In the end, the acorn decides to hold still, so that he can become a tree and have an exciting life.  

This book is fascinating and answers all the basic questions you could have about how trees work, but it uses scientific terms and complex descriptions.  The illustrations are bright and attractive and help show how the trees work.  These would best be used in middle school or high school science classrooms, because I think the terms and ideas would be too complicated for elementary readers.  

C. Peterson 

Thursday, October 11, 2018

History's Worst: Bonnie and Clyde by James Buckley Jr. - OPTIONAL


History’s Worst: Bonnie and Clyde by James Buckley Jr., 147 pages.  NON-FICTION Aladdin, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG (3 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

This is a biography of notorious criminals Bonnie and Clyde from the 1930’s.  The book gives a glimpse into Bonnie as a child and younger teen as someone who always liked an adventure and had a thing for bad boys.  Clyde liked having money and wasn’t afraid to break the law to get it.  When the two met they fell in love and were inseparable until the day they were gunned down by the law.  There illegal behavior and disregard for others is outlined through run-ins with the law.  As their notoriety increased, the ability to allude the cops was hindered and the FBI got involved, which led to their deaths.  

I enjoyed this short, non-bias look at these two outlaws.  It gives the facts without trying to play on emotions and paints a realistic picture of the crimes they committed.  My two issues with this book are that first, the cover and reading level is for younger readers, but the amount of torture, death and murders committed is a bit much for a younger crowd as well as the mention of Clyde being sexually assaulted in prison.  Second, the author emphasizes how much the pictures of Bonnie and Clyde were a big part of them becoming well known and led to their capture, referring to specific pictures throughout, but not one picture is included in the book which was frustrating.  If you can get your middle and high school readers to pick it up, they would enjoy it.  

C. Peterson

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss - ESSENTIAL

The Adventures of a Girl Called Bicycle by Christina Uss, 307 pages. FICTION. Margaret Ferguson Books (Holiday House), 2018. $17

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL, MS — ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

A young girl shows up on the doorstep of “The Mostly Silent Monastery” with a shirt that reads “bicycle”. Bicycle quickly becomes a part of the monastery and is raised primarily by Sister Wanda who is very concerned about Bicycle making friends. Sister Wanda plans to send Bicycle to a camp for making friends, but Bicycle has other ideas. Bicycle leaves camp to go ride her bike across the country to meet her favorite famous cyclist in person in California. Along the way she crosses paths with all sort of quirky and charming characters, including a Civil War ghost and a Kentucky Derby horse, and most of these characters become her friend and cheerleader.

This might be my favorite book of the year. A true adventure story that left me antsy to see who the next character full of oddness and wisdom we would meet would be. The writing is excellent and the humor is on point. I think this would be a great first literary read for a student who is transitioning out of chapter books. It would also make an excellent classroom read aloud novel, ideal for grades anywhere from third to eight.     

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

So You Wanna Be in a Band by Michelle Garcia Andersen - OPTIONAL


So You Wanna Be in a Band by Michelle Garcia Andersen, 30 pages.  NON-FICTION Rourke Educational Media, 2019.  $26.  9781641564717  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

This book explains all of the things to consider when trying to start your own band.  Assuming you are good enough to perform, this book takes you through the steps of finding other band members, recording, how to find venues and increasing your fan base.  It has you consider some of the problems that might come up.  There is also a section that explains different career choices that include being in a band.  Each page spread has a couple of paragraphs, pictures and side bars to explain interesting facts.  

I guess my issue with this book is that I’m unsure who the audience is because the book looks likes it’s for kids, but the ideas are for independent people who can perform in restaurants and put themselves out there on social media which wouldn’t be young kids.  The ideas are well developed and good advice for someone who wants to start a band, but I’m not sure older kids, who would benefit the most from this book, would pick it up.  

C. Peterson      

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios - OPTIONAL


Bad Romance by Heather Demetrios, 356 pages.  Henry Holt and Company, 2017.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (100+ swears; 172 “f” words); Mature Content: R (on page sex); Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Grace lives in a house with a very controlling stepfather and a mentally ill mother.  Grace has been crushing on Gavin for a while, so after he breaks up with his girlfriend and attempts suicide, she writes him a letter to tell him she cares for him.  When he returns to school, he starts to show interest in Grace and they start a relationship.  Quickly, Grace realizes that in her attempt to escape the abuse at home she has fallen into another abusive relationship.  Gavin tries to blame his unraveling on Grace and Grace must depend on her friends and her own strength to get herself out of another bad situation.  

It’s hard to read about abusive relationships because the whole time I just want to scream at the characters to get out, but that’s the point of this book: when you are the one in an abusive relationship you make excuses and listen to the lies of the abuser.  I think this book has an important message, but the amount of swearing which does nothing for the story line was distracting and over the top.  I also have issue with the fact that when Gavin tried to commit suicide, Grace thought it was “courageous and fierce” which is a horrible description for suicide. That said, I read the book quickly because I wanted to see what happened to everyone and I loved Grace’s friends who stuck by her and helped her even when she wasn’t easy to understand.  

C. Peterson

Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor - ADVISABLE

Wonderland by Barbara O’Connor, 280 pages. Farrar Straus, Giroux (Macmillan), 2018. $16.99. 
Language: G, Mature Content: G, Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS – ADVISABLE.

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mavis is moving again. This time her mom has taken a job as housekeeper for a wealthy family in Alabama. Rose isn’t high and mighty like her mother, so she and Mavis hit it off well. Rose admires Mavis’ perky personality and together they pal around the neighborhood. When they hear there’s an old greyhound on the loose in the woods, they decide to capture him for the neighborhood gatekeeper who hasn’t been happy since his dog died. The plan backfires, and the dog they name Henry, is sent back to the Wonderland racetrack.

The chapter narration alternates between Mavis, Rose and Henry. Yes, Henry, the dog, narrates part of the book. This adds an element of fantasy which didn’t work for me. There is a bit of tug of war over whether this book wants to be more about friendship or dogs. Mavis’ character is executed beautifully, but the remaining cast needed more development. It doesn’t have the punch of either Wish or How to Steal a Dog, but it still has enough appeal to make the dog loving crowd happy.

Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

Al Capone Throws Me a Curve by Gennifer Choldenko - ADVISABLE


Al Capone Throws Me a Curve (A Tale from Alcatraz, #4) by Gennifer Choldenko, 225 pages.  Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2018.  $18  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL; MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Moose lives on Alcatraz with his family because his dad is the assistant warden.  Moose wants to make the high school baseball team, but the high school players tell him he can’t be on the team unless he brings a picture of himself with Al Capone.  Moose can’t interact with the prisoners, so that bribe isn’t realistic and it discourages Moose.  On top of that worry, Moose must take care of his autistic sister, Natalie.  Natalie is getting older and Moose loves her, but she doesn’t always act in a socially appropriate way and living on the island often leads Natalie to trouble.  With all his concerns, Moose is a good kid that his family relies on and he has to make his way through his teenage problems.  

I love Moose-he is a great character and his love and care for his sister is heartwarming.  The Alcatraz setting is a fun backdrop for all the problems Moose faces.  I love this whole series and the fun Alcatraz facts at the back.  

C. Peterson

Backyard Bears by Amy Cherrix - ESSENTIAL

Backyard Bears by Amy Cherrix (Scientists in the Field), 63 pages.  Houghton Mifflin, 2018.  $19.

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERGE

Cherrix takes a look at an animal-human interaction going on in her own backyard – Asheville, North Carolina.  It’s illegal to hunt black bears within the city limits and the bear population has grown from 1500 in 1970 to 19,000 in 2014.  This has led to some interesting interactions between the humans and animals of Ashville.  The Black Bear Study has been working hard to educate the human part of the education and most residents have jumped into the project enthusiastically.

Another nice addition to the Scientists in the Field series.  The book also looks at other urban spaces where a wild animal has a prominent place.  I like the twist that this is going on in Cherrix’ own city.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Mother Knows Best by Serena Valentino - OPTIONAL


Mother Knows Best (Villains, #5) by Serena Valentino, 390 pages.  Disney Press, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE   

Gothel and her two sisters are witches and when Gothel’s mother tells her that they have to accept drinking her blood to gain power, Gothel wants to do it.  Gothel’s sisters aren’t as excited about the idea of being tied together forever, and know that Gothel is the darkest of them, but they love her and decide to do as she wants.  When Gothel’s mother is trying to get them to drink the blood, she goes to far and almost kills Gothel’s beloved sister.  In return, Gothel curses her mother and kills her.  Soon it becomes evident that the blood is making her sisters ill, so Gothel tries to use the Rapunzel flower her mother left behind to heal her sisters, but she is soon tricked by three sister witches.  

This series is frustrating because the covers are fantastic and make you think you are going to get a sympathetic look at the villains, but the main characters in most of these books are three witch sisters who are annoying.  That said, this book had an interesting spin on why Rapunzel was locked in the tower and I enjoyed that part.  Some parts of the story are slow and the characters aren't very likable.  Overall, it just doesn’t have a consistent entertaining story line that has a whole lot to do with the Disney movie.  The violence involves gruesome blood rituals.  

C. Peterson

Legacy by Jessica Blank - NO

Legacy by Jessica Blank, 228 pages. G. P. Putnam (Penguin), 2018. $17.99. 

Language: R (118 swears; 82 uses of the “f” word ; at least thirty scenes of drug usage, sex, police brutality, drug usage, brutality in general, self harm.); Mature Content: R; Violence: R.

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS – NOT RECOMMENDED

AUDIENCE APPEAL:  LOW

In Tacoma Washington, right after teaching Alison how to drink with style, Andy drives off with his friends for a night of fun. The kind of fun he never returns from. Alison, her mom and dad deal with it by falling apart. Alison compensates by having sex with all of her older, now deceased, brother’s friends and then wonders why everyone at her school thinks she is a slut. Along the way she finds a boyfriend. He has dropped out of college and his great inspiration is a guy named Dirtrat. After getting kicked out of their respective homes Dirtrat advises them to join a sit in to protest the cutting of old growth trees.  

This is historical fiction about an interesting time in our past. This a pivotal moment about how people can make a difference. But it is told through the eyes of confused and fairly repulsive characters, their language is offensive, their actions are chaotic and without logic, taking what could have been a really fascinating book down the trail of trash.

Lisa, Library Teacher

100 Days by Nicole McInnes - OPTIONAL


100 Days by Nicole McInnes, 387 pages.  Farrar Straus Giroux, 2016.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (65 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Agnes, Moira and Boone all used to be friends until something happened in elementary school. They all have their troubles. Agnes has Progeria, a disease that causes her body to age 7 times faster than a normal person’s body would. Moira has always been Agnes’s sidekick and loyal protector. Moira is goth and is insecure about her plus size body. Boone lost his father and his mother starts to emotionally slip from his grasp as well. The three embark on a journey through life, sorrow, love, friendship, and hope. They have 100 days to cherish one another until tragedy strikes.

I was not a fan of this book. I felt as though it was hard to like any of the main characters. This book started way slow and took quite a while to get into. I did however like the secondary characters. I did enjoy the life lessons that were tucked away in this book and I enjoyed the setting.

Student Reviewer, I. Peterson, 9th grade.

Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger - OPTIONAL

Fuzzy by Tom Angleberger, 263 pages. Amulet Books, 2016. $14.95. 

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

BUYING RECOMMENDATION: EL, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Barbara is the computerized assistant principal at Max’s school. She’s programmed for perfection and wants nothing less than exemplary test scores and behavior. Fuzzy is an experimental robot that’s been sent to the school to improve its artificial intelligence by hanging out with kids. Soon Fuzzy figures out that Barbara is intentionally lowering Max’s test scores so he will be sent to the remedial school. In her artiticially intelligent opinion, Max and his friends are bringing down the school’s rating.

I love Tom Angleberger, but this book doesn’t tickle the funny bone as much as either the Origami Yoda or Qwikpick Papers series. Both of those series were solidly realistic. The plot in this book gets a little too far out there to be as enjoyable. On top of that, it gets muddled with a couple of idiotic criminals who want to kidnap Fuzzy. The side plot is under developed and detracts from the main plot. It’s a fun read, but not a home run.

Reviewer: Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

Mission Alert series - OPTIONAL

Grayfields (54 pages) and Viper Attack (57 pages) by Benjamin Hulme-Cross.  HI/LO.  Darby Creek (Lerner), 2018.  $8 (paperback).

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Tom and Zilla are twins who also happened to work for the Secret Service.  They get sent in when an adult might be too suspicious.  In each book they receive a mission that they have to successfully complete.  Grayfields is about sabotage at a nuclear power plant; in Viper Attack they have to protect the son of a visiting scientist.

Two books of the Mission Alert series.  The book are super low – tailor-made for your middle school students who are ready two or three levels below grade level.  The action is exciting enough to catch their attention.  Each book includes questions at the back to see whether  the reader was paying attention.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

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Monday, October 8, 2018

Babymouse Tales from the Locker: Miss Communication by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm - ADVISABLE


Babymouse Tales from the Locker: Miss Communication by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm, 191 pages.  Random House, 2018.  $14.  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.    

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

A new phone has come out and Baby Mouse feels left out because all her friends have one. Baby Mouse pleas with her parents for the new Whiz Bang and they finally agree to let her get one. Baby Mouse is ecstatic and can’t wait to use it. But, knowing Baby Mouse, will the Whiz Bag survive it’s new owner? This is Baby Mouse’s journey with social media and adolescents.

I enjoyed this book because Baby Mouse is an enjoyable character and is full of laughs. I think that the author did a good job of connecting the story to modern day dilemmas. The pictures were cute, and the story was fun.  This book has more text than previous Babymouse graphic novels, but is still full of expressive illustrations.

Student Reviewer, I. Peterson, 9th grade.

Weird, True Facts: The Wild West by Brittany Canasi - OPTIONAL


Weird, True Facts: The Wild West by Brittany Canasi, 30 pages.  NON-FICTION Rourke Educational Media, 2019. $33  9781641564922  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL, MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE   

This book gives an overview of what the term “Wild West” refers to including cowboys, outlaws, Native Americans, Western movies and life in remote areas.  Each page spread has pictures, multiple paragraphs and side bars with interesting facts.  Because so much information is presented it is more of a teaser of information that might peak a reader’s interest to find out more.  The pictures were the best part and are very appealing and at the end there are a few pages about myths and weird but true facts.   

I guess my issue with this particular book is the cover has a UFO above two cowboys but the last page has a short paragraph explaining the UFO and that’s it.  Also, I didn’t think there were that many weird facts presented, but just a basic explanation of western life.  The cover was more interesting than the inside information.  

C. Peterson 

Weird, True Facts: Monsters by K.A. Robertson - ADVISABLE


Weird, True Facts: Monsters by K.A. Robertson, 30 pages. NON-FICTION Rourke Educational Media, 2019. $33.  Content: PG.  9781641564915  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

This is a short description of different monsters and their legends from around the world.  About ten different monsters including vampires, zombies, chupacabras and bigfoot are described with illustrations.  Then the book tries to explain how the legends get started and myths surrounding the monsters.  There is also maps showing where different monsters are believed to originate from as well as a map of where all the water monsters in the United States are from and their names.  At the end of the book, there are also some additional weird stories surrounding monsters.  

I think this book is a fun summary of different creepy creatures.  The illustrations make it spooky and fun to look at, but also maybe a little scary for younger elementary kids.  I enjoyed how the author explained where the myths and legends came from and how they have grown over the years.  Fun and interesting.  

C. Peterson     

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta - OPTIONAL

Shimmer and Burn by Mary Taranta, 328 pages.  Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon & Schuster), 2017. $17.99

Language: PG13 (27 swears, “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Nobody leaves Brindaigel. This is a lesson Faris knows well, since escape plans have had grave consequences on everyone she has loved. However, Faris has no choice but to follow in the footsteps of those who have tried to escape and succeed where they did not. For if Faris doesn’t help the princess, Faris will die and will never get to save her sister from enslavement.

The story line was a good read, and I liked how the plot twists fell into place. However, after having read the entire story, I still feel as if I don’t understand the rules of the world Taranta tried to bring to life. There are complex rules and regulations surrounding magic that I might understand if I read the book again, but it was hard to pick up the first time through.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Mason Falls Mysteries series - ADVISABLE

The House by Raelyn Drake (95 pages) and Behind the Screen by Israel Keats (97 pages).  HI/LO.  Darby Creek (Lerner), 2018.  $8 (paperback)

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Two titles in the Mason Falls Mysteries series.  In The House, three friends enter a house that is supposed to be haunted and are scared out of their wits; then they wonder if something is fishy.  In Behind a younger sister thinks her older sister is acting sneaky when she finds out her sister has a boyfriend, but they’ve never actually met face to face.

The House was the best of the two, but both were nicely written little books.  For students who need a HI/Lo book, this is a pretty good option.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Sunday, October 7, 2018

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood - ADVISABLE

Lifeboat 12 by Susan Hood, 275 pages.  Simon & Schuster, 2018.  $18.

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

13 year old Ken is being sent to Canada by his Dad and stepmom as the Nazis start bombing London during WWII.  While he is mad at being sent away, life aboard the cruises hip is luxury compared to life under rationing and the other kids are actually nice.  After the danger from German U-boats is supposedly over and the escort ships have peeled away, the ship is bombed and Ken ends up in a lifeboat with 45 other passengers and crewmen.  They’ll have to ration everything carefully and hope for rescue.

Based on a true story. Ken’s story of survival has so many aspects of danger and hope.  Why is this compelling story told in free verse?

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS