Saturday, June 30, 2018

Game of Secrets by Kim Foster - ADVISABLE

Game of Secrets by Kim Foster, 368 pages.  Sky Pony Press, 2018.  $18.

Language: PG (9 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (bloody deaths)



Since her parents died, Felicity has barely managed to keep herself and her little brother Nate alive on the streets of Victoria’s London.  Felicity knows that Nate is one of the Tainted and she will do what she must in order to protect him.  When a dandy comes into the market accompanied by Hunstmen whose primary target are the Tainted, not only does Felicity’s best friend die, but Felicity is exposed as Tainted and hauled off to prison to await her death. Instead, she is rescued by other Tainted, who call themselves the Morgana, and she is recruited into their fight to protect all of England and fight against the Huntsmen. But for a girl from the meanest streets, the enemy are not the only danger.

Fans of Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series or Ying Lee’s Agency series will embrace another dimension of fantasy or mystery based in Victorian England.  Great action, if a bit bloody, and the Tainted/Morgana add a nice dimension.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

This Story Is For You by Greg Pizzoli - ADVISABLE

This Story Is For You by Greg Pizzoli. PICTURE BOOK. Disney-Hyperion, 2018. $14. 9781484750308



With spare, lyrical text and simple illustrations, award-winning author-illustrator Greg Pizzoli depicts the joys and beauty of a friendship between two people. Shared experiences like writing letters to the moon and singing silly songs keep a friendship strong, even when the friends are separated and later reunited.

This picture book is such a sweet, loving way to demonstrate how friends care for each other, and it could be used in multiple settings. It would make a wonderful bedtime story. As a read-aloud in a school setting, it could spark dialog about the way we treat each other (I love the line “I’ll save you the last candy that you really like.”) or about individual uniqueness and worth. It would also make a great gift for a friend.

Chris, K-8 Librarian

Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau - ADVISABLE

Eden Conquered by Joelle Charbonneau, 320 pages.  HarperTeen, 2018. $18.

Language: PG-13 (12 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (fighting, blood)



As Andreau takes the throne of the Kingdom of Eden, he believes his sister died during their last Trial.  But Carys was saved by Lord Garrett, and now she, Garrett, Errik and her best friend Larkin are on the run.  Andreus is still blinded by the lies of the seer Imogen and can’t see the traitor among his own Elders.  Unless Carys can embrace her powers, return to Eden, and help Andreaus see the truth, the Garden City will fall to the double threat of enemies both human and Xhelozi.

A fitting sequel to Dividing Eden.  Some magic, some evil, and lots of chances to act heroically.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

The Healer by Donna Freitas - OPTIONAL

The Healer by Donna Freitas, 400 pages.  HarperTeen, October 2018.  $18.

Language: PG (11 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (on page sex); Violence: G.



For all of her 17 years, Marlena has been the healer girl – the untouchable Savior who dispenses healing every Saturday – for a price, but Marlena doesn’t know that, because her mother has always been in charge of everything.  But something someone yelled at her and a boy she once saw won’t leave her mind.  Is there more to the world to healing?  Can Marlena have a normal life with friends and love and still be a healer?

For all that Marlena’s healing power came supposedly from God, she has no personal relationship with him and seems to discard him quickly when a pretty boy comes into her life. While the issues seem to be deep, they remain on the surface as angst, not a crisis of faith.  Had Frietas established a deeper connection between Marlena and God, her choices would have been more monumental.  Frietas does cover some deep issues of identity, personal choice, love and loss among others – but personal faith is not one of those issues.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Elle of the Ball by Elena Delle Donne - OPTIONAL

Elle of the Ball by Elena Delle Donne, 148 pages. Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers. 2018. $14. 

Content: G.


Elle is your average seventh-grader, except for one thing—she is six feet tall! She grew so much over the summer that her new coach makes her the starting center of their basketball team. But Elle, like every seventh-grader, is struggling to feel comfortable in her own body. Her new height has her tripping over her feet and feeling unusually clumsy on the court. What’s worse, the all-school cotillion is coming up, and formal dancing is required. That means wearing a dress and itchy tights, performing in front of the whole school, and dancing with a boy who was bound to be shorter than her—all things that give her nightmares.

This book has an engaging, conversational voice that makes it easy to read. Elle’s middle school struggles are fairly universal and easy to relate to, even if you aren’t overly tall. However, the book lags a bit with the detailed play-by-play action in the basketball practices and games. There is also a strong pro-feminist mindset throughout the book, which isn’t a bad thing, but it didn’t integrate well into the book overall. It felt too obvious and moralistic. This book seems to be directed at a niche audience—girls who love sports—and probably wouldn’t have a broad appeal.

Chris, K-8 Librarian

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard - NO

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard, 385 pgs. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $19.

Language: R (130 swears, 14 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG



Steffi has anxiety to the degree that sometimes she can’t speak. And nobody understands because everyone wants to point to a logical explanation and fix her when selective mutism will never work that way. Along comes Rhys, a deaf boy who doesn’t look at Steffi as if she has a problem and needs a cure. Together they fight to prove to themselves and those around them that a person’s worth is not dependent on abilities.

The premise was awesome and the messages about communication came across loud and clear: there is more to communication than words. I also like how Barnard addresses mental illness, specifically anxiety. However, I understood that message halfway through, and the rest of the story seemed repetitive after that as Steffi and Rhys struggled to learn what I had been taught by reading about them. The mature content was explicit sexual situations, and, after the first scene like that, my enthusiasm to keep reading waned because I didn’t want to come across another explicit scene (I did, by the way. I skipped three scenes.).

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands with Rafael Lopez - ADVISABLE

We’ve Got the Whole World in Our Hands, illustrated by Rafael Lopez. PICTURE BOOK. Orchard Books (Scholastic), 2018. $18. 9781338177367


This book uses the classic song and pairs it with beautiful multimedia illustrations.  It is more poetry than plot and the illustrations include children with many different skin tones and abilities playing and adventuring together.

The book is a little slow and may be difficult for kids to access on their own.  It could be used effectively in a poetry unit for young children. 

Jen Wecker 

That Bear Can’t Babysit by Ruth Quayle - OPTIONAL

That Bear Can’t Babysit by Ruth Quayle, illustrated by Alison Friend. PICTURE BOOKS. Nosy Crow (Candlewick Press), 2017. $17. 9780763699529


Mr. and Mrs. Burrow have a handful of children and are invited to a party for which they need a babysitter. Bear is the only one to offer to babysit and despite the parents’ doubts and the kids’ scheming, Bear does an excellent job. 

This is a sweet text about how we can underestimate other people.   The illustrations are cute and young readers will enjoy the trouble the young bunnies create. I don’t love that the young bunnies are sassy enough to also claim that ‘that bear can’t babysit.’ 

Jen Wecker

Pip & Pup by Eugene Yelchin - ADVISABLE

Pip & Pup by Eugene Yelchin, PICTURE BOOK Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2018. $17.



Pip is a newborn baby chick. While looking around the barnyard, it meets Pup and the two make friends. 

 This wordless picture book is well told through the colored pencil and oil pastels illustrations. The emotion on their faces is great - and the story isn't completely straight forward, letting the reader decide what's happening.

Lisa Librarian

The Two Mutch Sisters by Carol Brendler - ADVISABLE

The Two Mutch Sisters by Carol Brendler art by Lisa Brown, PICTURE BOOK  Clarion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2018. $18.



The Mutch sisters - Ruby and Violet are collectors. It all started with a teapot - one for each of them, now as adults they live together in a house crammed full of all their stuff. When Ruby can't take it anymore, she packs up half the stuff and moves to the other side of town. But Violet is upset. 

This was a cute story. The illustrations were as cluttery as their lives - it was fun to play a matching game while reading the story - not everything is an exact match, but there are 2 of everything. A fun book to share (or to gift to your aunts) ;)

Lisa Librarian

Friday, June 29, 2018

The Hugely-Wugely Spider by Ethan T. Berlin - ESSENTIAL

The Hugely-Wugely Spider by Ethan T. Berlin illustrated by Karl Newsom Edwards, PICTURE BOOK Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2018. $18.



In this silly parody of the itsy-bitsy spider story, this Spider is huge! He is too big to physically crawl up the water spout, and feels excluded, so, when it does start to rain, he decides to save the day (and change the outcome of the song)

This was so funny - I'm afraid the humor might be lost on young readers, but I really enjoyed it. The humerous illustrations are fun. This is a great read aloud!

Lisa Librarian

The Little Ice Cream Truck by Margery Cuyler illustrated by Bob Kolar - ADVISABLE

The Little Ice Cream Truck by Margery Cuyler illustrated by Bob Kolar, PICTURE BOOK Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2018. $15.



The Ice Cream truck describes all the things they (the truck and Lou the driver) do all day. They go to the zoo, and the park, list lots of the ice cream treats you could choose from, and even get rented out for parties. It's a busy day.

This is a durable picture book. The pages are heavier than a regular picture book, but not like a board book. Big colorful pictures, and lots of things to point at. Every page starts with "I'm a little ice Cream truck" and the rhymes are short and obvious. This is a fun book to share.

Lisa Librarian

The Little School Bus by Margery Cuyler- ADVISABLE

The Little School Bus by Margery Cuyler illustrated by Bob Kolar, BOARD BOOK Henry Holt (MacMillan). 2014 (Board Book edition 2018). $8.



Read about Driver Bob and his School bus doing their job. Picking up kids, keeping them safe, driving through town, they are even ADA compliant!  This is a happy little school bus! 

Large, bold illustrations with other things happening on the pages too, so there are fun things to point at. Rhyming text helps the early reader, or the non reader to learn the story.

Lisa Librarian

Colors on the Farm Billy Steers - ADVISABLE

Colors on the Farm Billy Steers, BOARD BOOK Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2018. $6.



Tractor Mac's farm is very colorful. Mac is the same color as a the red rooster and the barn, while Pete the pig is the same color as a pink rose or a radish. Each page shows 2 things that are the same color as a friend on the farm. 

This is a great color matching book. There are a lot of color board books out there, if the child is a fan of Tractor Mac, this one is a great addition to the series.

Lisa Librarian

Tractor Mac : Tune-up by Billy Steers - ADVISABLE

Tractor Mac : Tune-up by Billy Steers, PICTURE BOOK Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2018. $6.



When Tractor Mac isn't working right, Farmer Bill calls in Dr. Lou the tractor repair guy. Now Mac is worried about going to the Hospital! What if he can't be fixed and they sell him for parts? 

The illustrations in this are great! Mac is adorable and all the animals and machines on the farm care for each other. Mac gets a lot of work done at the shop, and the reader gets to watch it all. There's a diagram of a tractor engine inside the front cover, and a labeled diagram of a tractor inside the back cover. If you have a child who loves big trucks and farming machines, this is a good choice!

Lisa Librarian

Tractor Mac : Farmers' Market by Billy Steers - OPTIONAL

Tractor Mac : Farmers' Market by Billy Steers, PICTURE BOOK  Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2009 (1st Paperback edition 2018). $6.



When the farm animals find that their food is missing, they discover that Pete and Paul (the pigs) got into the pantry. The next day the farmer takes them to the farmers market (thankfully not to sell them) and they learn about all the healthy fresh foods. 

Pigs eat anything - so do goats, so learning about healthy foods? The animals eat what you feed them. The illustrations are fun, and I like the message to eat healthy foods. Inside the front cover is a picture of Farmer Bill and what foods are good for what parts of him. There's a bunch of stickers in the front and back, but nothing to stick them to in the book. Also includes recipes for Sautéed Kale and Basil Pesto (hmm, is this book for kids or adults?)

Lisa Librarian

The Misfits Club by Kiernan Crowley - ADVISABLE

The Misfits Club by Kiernan Crowley, 310 pages.  Fiewel and Friends Book (Macmillan Publishing Group), 2018. $17. 

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG  (10 and up)


The Misfits Club is a group of friends that have set about to solve crimes. This is their last hurrah before two of the founding members move away to Galway. Surprisingly to even the Misfits they actually solve a crime and save a rare Honey Badger.  

This is a fun book set in modern day Ireland, an interesting look at how similar and yet different the lives of preteens are. The story is carefully put together, lots of different story telling voices, a fun read for adventure seekers.

Lisa Moeller, Library Teacher

Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey - ADVISABLE

Pig the Fibber by Aaron Blabey. PICTURE BOOK. Scholastic Press (Scholastic), AUGUST 2018. $15. 9781338291766


Pig the Pug is so grumpy that it is impossible not to love him.  In this book, Pig lies and blames his friend Trevor on the mistakes Pig himself makes. In an effort to take the extra treats for himself, he lies to get Trevor out of the house, and when he goes after the treats, a bowling ball falls on his head. 

I love the cadence and rhyming of the text, which make it a very fun read aloud. Kids will connect with Pig’s naughty behavior and the humorous outcome of that behavior. 

Jen Wecker 

Big Water by Andrea Curtis - ADVISABLE

Big Water by Andrea Curtis, 183 pages. Orca Book Publishers. $15 

Language:  G (very little inappropriate language) Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG (The shipwreck itself is frightening and violent, throughout the book several deaths that are not violent are described)


A fictional recreation of one of the worst shipwrecks on the Great Lakes. Two characters are followed that are similar to the only two survivors of the wreck. The characters Christina and Daniel have interesting backstories and the tale of survival itself is intriguing. 

This is well written historical fiction with well crafted notes of explanation.  We overlook the Great Lakes and their history and this is an interesting reminder of their importance to our country. 

Reviewer: Lisa Moeller; Language Arts Teacher/Librarian

Grow Up, David! by David Shannon - OPTIONAL

Grow Up, David! by David Shannon. PICTURE BOOK. The Blue Sky Press (Scholastic), AUGUST 2018. $18. 9781338250978


With only one phrase per spread, this book follows the format of other David books, only this time it represents the relationship between big brother and younger brother. The older brother is hard on David until he finally invites David to play football with him and we see the joy of this relationship. 

This was not my favorite of all the David books, but it was fun.  It will appeal to kids that have older brothers. The illustrations are quirky, but appealing to kids. Even though it ends on a positive note, I do worry that it reinforces negative big brother behavior if it is an older brother reading the book.

Jen Wecker

Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks - ESSENTIAL

Payback on Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks, 315 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2018. $17.

Language: G ( 0 swears 0'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence:G.



Peter Gronkowski is a middle school businessman, always looking for the next entreprenurial idea, but when he decides to take on an intern, and his next door neighbor Rachel is the best candidate, Peter needs to learn that the cut throat attitudes of a rising businessman might not be the best way to keep friends. Rachel is tired of being shy and invisible, so when Peter offers her the job of intern, she is excited to finally be picked for something, but when she resents doing almost all the work for no pay, and Peter fires her, she doesn't get mad, she gets even! 

This was a great stand alone novel! Told in alternating perspectives (Peter's and Rachel's) the rivalry that gets out of hand was both sad and hilarious. Peter's desperation is perfectly countered with Rachel's surprise at suddenly being popular. I think upper elementary students would relate and would really love this book. Middle school students would enjoy the story, but the characters are a bit young.

 Lisa Librarian

Don't Judge a Shark by its Fin! by Liza Charlesworth - ADVISABLE

Splash and Bubbles : Shark Surprise - Don't Judge a Fish by its fin! Adapted from the TV series by Liza Charlesworth, PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. $5.



When Dunk finds a tooth, the friends try to find out who it belongs to. But when Denny the shrimp identifies it as a shark's tooth, everyone is a little on edge. A Shark living in Reeftown? But sharks are dangerous. Then they meet a new friend, Zee, who can help them find where the shark lives. 

For kids who love this PBS kids series, this is a lot of fun. Illustrated with characters just like the ones on TV, and the stories are adapted from the show. Also includes some great information about sharks (and an adorable small one). Best of all, the book comes with reusable stickers and a fold out play scene.

Lisa Librarian

Ophelia by Charlotte Gingras - OPTIONAL

Ophelia by Charlotte Gingras, 261 pgs. Groundwood Books, 2018. $16.95 

Language – PG13 (11 swears, 1 “f”), Mature Content – R (explicit sex); Violence – PG



Ophelia isn’t her real name, but she adopts the name to express herself and where she is in life. In a series of letters and doodles, Ophelia starts to figure out who she is—and who she can be. Though she promises not to send the letters that she is writing, they make a difference in her life, thus also impacting those around her.

At first, I didn’t understand Ophelia and her story, so the story felt slow to me. However, as Ophelia continued to write about her life, her thoughts, and her feelings, I started to see myself in her. We all experience loneliness and the feeling that we don’t fit in. While I think that the sexual content in the last 50 pages of the book were too explicit, those scenes help to illustrate how much Ophelia grows in the space of her story. Ophelia’s story is one of acceptance and respect for others, and the beauty comes in how her love for others comes naturally once she learns to accept and respect herself. 

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Ripple Kingdom by Gigi D.G. - OPTIONAL

The Ripple Kingdom (Cucumber Quest) by Gigi D.G., 233 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Roaring Brook Press), 2018. $22. 

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


A group of heroes, in the form of rabbits from different lands, collaborate to defeat the Splashmaster who has kidnapped their friends and family.  His defeat is the first in a series they need to complete in order the save the kingdoms. 

My favorite part of this book is the back matter that includes interviews with the characters and concept art.  The book alone is a bit hard to follow with jumps in character and setting with no indication that a jump is happening. I also think most young readers would miss much of the sarcastic quips that carry the book. That said, the characters are brightly illustrated and have a sense of adventure kids would love. 

Jen Wecker. 

Thursday, June 28, 2018

Rhythm of the Reef by Liza Charlesworth - ADVISABLE

Splash and Bubbles : Rhythm of the Reef - Dance to Your Own Beat, Adapted from the TV series by Liza Charlesworth PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018' $5



Splash is going to a Rhythm Festival and wants Wave the Octopus to come along. But Wave is afraid he'll make a fool of himself because he can't dance. 

A sweet story about having confidence and being brave - also includes interesting facts about Octopuses. Children will enjoy having a book featuring their favorite characters (Splash and Bubbles) from PBS kids. This book also includes reusable stickers and a fold out play scene.

Lisa Librarian

Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle - ADVISABLE

Wishing Day by Lauren Myracle, 313 pages.  Katherine Tegan Books (Harper Collins) 2016. $6. 

Language: PG-13 (4 swears, 0 "f"); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  


Natasha has grown up knowing that her thirteenth birthday would come with a big choice.  Believe in the magic of the willow tree and make three wishes or turn her back on the magic that has encompassed her family and town her entire life. After choosing to make her three wishes, one impossible wish, one wish she can make come true herself, and one wish that is the deepest secret of her heart, Natasha struggles to know what is real and what might be magic.  Dealing with an absent father, hurt from her mothers disappearance, and the struggles of just being a teen, Natasha discovers that hope and belief might be the magic her family needs to heal.  Natasha comes from an unconventional family that is dealing with some difficult issues. 

The author portrays Natasha's struggles authentically, but I had a difficult time connecting with this book. I often love open endings that allow you to interpret the end of the story, but this one  left more questions than answers leaving the story feeling incomplete.  

Gina, Media Specialist

The Greatest Adventure by Tony Piedra - OPTIONAL

The Greatest Adventure by Tony Piedra. PICTURE BOOK. Arthur A. Levine Books (Scholastic), SEPT 2018. $18. 9781338134193


Eliot is a young boy who tries to find adventure around the big city where he lives. When Eliot’s grandpa comes to town and talks about his adventures on his boat, Eliot starts to crave a real adventure himself.  Grandpa’s boat is broken, but Eliot solves that problem by fixing up the boat and finds real adventure. 

The pictures in this book are so bright and cute, but I was disappointed that the message of the book was that adventure is only “real” if it is big. The book started with Eliot making adventures out of simple things, but ended with him only being satisfied on the boat. The grandpa and grandson relationship was a little vague, but any artistic pairing of grandpa and grandson is darling.  Some hits and some misses with this book. 

Jen Wecker 

Incognegro by Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece - OPTIONAL

Incognegro : A Graphic Mystery By Mat Johnson and Warren Pleece, 143 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Berger Books (Dark Horse Comics), 2018. $20.

 Language: R (60 swears,  2 'f'); Mature Content: R (female nudity, reference to rape) Violence: R (Lynching, murders)



Carl is black but passes for white. He is a reporter for a newspaper in New York, and visits the south as “incognegro” to report on violence against African Americans. When his brother is picked up in Mississippi for murdering a white woman, Carl goes back under cover to solve the crime himself.

This was a gripping and tragic mystery. While the violence and story line were disturbing, the realistic situations displayed this terrible time in American History in an authentic manner. Based on real life experiences, this is an important piece of your civil rights collection, but be aware there are lots of n-words besides the swears. Recommended for students who appreciated the March series by John Lewis.

Lisa Librarian

Next Best Junior Chef : The Winner is . . . by Charise Mericle Harper - ADVISABLE

Next Best Junior Chef : The Winner Is . . . by Charise Mericle Harper, 185 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. $13.

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.



**Spoiler Alert**

It's the final week of the Next Best Junior Chef competition, and it's down to just Caroline and Rae. By Thursday it will be all over, and the stakes have changed - no more gadget wall, now it's whisk pins and wait . . . Oliver and Tate have returned, competing for a spot back on the show!

I really liked this series. It reads like a backstage version of the kids cooking shows. Book three ends the competition and includes tips and techniques from the Culinary Institute of America in the appendix.

Lisa Librarian

The Riot Brothers: Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers Are On a Roll by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long - ADVISABLE

Amato, Mary The Riot Brothers: Take the Mummy and Run: The Riot Brothers Are On a Roll, illustrated by Ethan Long, 226 pages.  Holiday House, (2009), 2017.  $13.  Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.



Another three off the wall stories: Book One: The Riot Brothers Solve a Mystery, Book Two: The Riot Brothers Find a Lost Mummy (they really do!), and Book Three: The Riot Brothers Have Fun at the Water Park. Orville and Wilbur Riot aren’t excited when their mom says that their second cousin who is a GIRL is going to be staying for a few days. That is until Cousin Amelia shows up complete with her old aviator hat and a pet rubber snake. Together they solve a mystery of who keeps leaving the shed door open.

Author Mary Amato continues to charm with this fourth installment of the series. Her clever word plays and outrageous antics make the Riot brothers an irresistible pair of mischief makers. This book also includes more fun and original games; “Croak and Soak” and more. More Riot Brothers rules and more funny songs. Pretty much this book just gives you more of everything a young reader would want.

Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.

Firefighters and what they do by Liesbet Slegers - ADVISABLE

Firefighters and what they do by Liesbet Slegers, PICTURE BOOK Clavis, 2018. $8.



The fire department receives a call for help! We see the firefighters' uniform, the equipment they need, and what they do to get to and put out the fire. They also help someone on their way back. 

The illustrations are simple and adorable, I think kid interest would score much higher if the book had photographs instead. The size is great for a purse or a diaper bag and the hard cover is a plus.

Lisa Librarian

Mary Poppins ABC by P.L. Travers - ESSENTIAL

Mary Poppins ABC By P.L. Travers, BOARD BOOK Houghton Mifflin Harcourt,  1962, 1990, 2006, 2018. $9.



This alphabet book incorporates alliterative sentences inspired by the Mary Poppins books. My favorite: J is for Jane and John, picking Juniper and Jasmine. Mary Poppins tells the Jeering Park Keeper to Jog along. 

Mary Shepard’s illustrations make this so nostalgic! The grandparents will LOVE this book, I hope the children will too.

Lisa Librarian

Beastly Brains : Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel by Nancy D. Castaldo - ADVISABLE

Beastly Brains : Exploring How Animals Think, Talk, and Feel by Nancy D. Castaldo, 152 pages. NON FICTION . Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2017. $17.



Many animals are intelligent, some more than you think. Researchers are finding that dolphins, primates, elephants, birds, even dogs and cats exhibit intelligence in decision making, having emotions, showing empathy, communicating, problem solving or other areas. Have we underestimated the abilities and feeling of animals? 

Castaldo follows the current research, as well as reflecting on the past. Using photographs of researchers and subjects, she describes the experiments and what the results may mean. This is a fascinating read for animal lovers and conservationists. Includes an index, bibliography, glossary, and ways to get involved.

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, June 27, 2018

The Riot Brothers: Stinky and Successful: The Riot Brothers Never Stop by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long - ADVISABLE

Stinky and Successful: The Riot Brothers Never Stop by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long, 154 pages.  Holiday House, (2007), 2017.  $13.  Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.



How do you become a knight? You have to rescue a damsel in distress. Wilbur and Orville Riot don’t want any of that lovey-dovey, icky-sticky stuff in their story. So, their hilarious attempts to help young ladies and even women in distress all turn out disastrously in book one. Book Two: The Riot Brothers Fool Their Mom. Book Three: The Riot Brothers Become Mad Scientists. The happy ending being they put flashlights down their underpants and run from their mom.

More off-the-wall stories and seriously clever wordplays make this book another great choice for reluctant readers and young boys. The book also includes instructions on how to play all the games mentioned in the stories, including “Eyeballs Are Falling” and “Insult Me Game.” And both the Riot brothers rules and sayings (including how to talk like a knight). The book is hilarious and unexpected, and sure to find readers.

Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.

Aleca Zamm is a Wonder by Ginger Rue -- OPTIONAL

Aleca Zamm Is a Wonder by Ginger Rue.  Simon & Schuster, 2017. $7. Content: G


Aleca's tenth birthday is not going well. And then she discovers she has the ability to stop time. Surprise! Since she feels like she deserves after her bad day, she uses her abilities to cheat on a math test and take petty revenge on people who have annoyed her. (e.g. she pantses her school principal, glues two mean girls' hair together, and sticks a bug in a boy's mouth.) The chaos draws her mysterious great-aunt, who explains Aleca's new powers to her.

This is an enjoyable, quick read, and for the most part Aleca is a great character. Unfortunately, while she did regret cheating on her math test, there were no consequences -- emotional or otherwise -- for taking advantage of her ability in order to do mean things to others. Being able to stop time and harm others while they are frozen and vulnerable is quite a power, and it would be nice to know that Aleca would ultimately use that power for good. Also, the ending came rather abruptly; I actually got to the last page, saw the acknowledgements on the next page, and said out loud, "That's it?!?" (Yes, book frustrations can occasionally make me talk to myself. Or to the books, really.)

Since I did enjoy the writing, however, I'm hopeful that the author's next book will give me a satisfying ending and a character to root for.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Monday, June 25, 2018

The Riot Brothers: Drooling and Dangerous by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long - ADVISABLE

The Riot Brothers: Drooling and Dangerous by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long, 187 pages.  Holiday House, (2006), reprint 2017.  $13.  Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.



Wilbur and Orville Riot are back and still causing quite a bit of mayhem. In this editions they: The Riot Brothers Become Spies, The Riot Brothers Star in a Movie, and The Riot Brothers Have a Dwitch Say. Wilbur is full of fun sayings and funnier situations. His top three sayings for this book are: 1. Riots are the best medicine, 2. A riot a day keeps boredom away, 3. Don’t have a cow—have a riot! (page 4). Their first adventure includes the Bye-Bye Buggie game (you try to catapult bugs into other people’s food at the dinner table). And ends with Dwitch day where words are switched.

Underwear, flying bugs, boys pretending to be pregnant, boys pretending to be a baby and more. This book is full of antics that will make both boys and girls laugh out loud. The illustrations are a perfect compliment to the outrageous stories and will also bring a smile to the reader’s face.

Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.

Bear’s Scare by Jacob Grant - ESSENTIAL

Bear’s Scare by Jacob Grant. PICTURE BOOK. Bloomsbury, 2018. $17. 9781681197203


Bear is very tidy and organized until he discovers spider webs around the house.  At first upset, the spider wins him over by helping fix Bear’s favorite stuffed animal. 

Mid-century modern bear house, a spider that reads, and an unlikely friendship all make this an excellent read.   

Jen Wecker 

Sunday, June 24, 2018

The Riot Brothers: Snarf Attack, Underfoodle, and the Secret Life by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long - ESSENTIAL

The Riot Brothers: Snarf Attack, Underfoodle, and the Secret Life by Mary Amato, illustrated by Ethan Long, 153 pages.  Holiday House, (2004), reprint 2017.  $13.  Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.



Wilbur Riot is very good and inventing games. Orville Riot is really good at being annoying. Together they decide to make some money by teaching other kids how to be annoying. They make great money, but their mom makes them give it back. This book includes three separate stories: Book one “The Riot Brothers Capture a Crook”. Book Two: The Riot Brothers Find a Hidden Treasure. Book Three: The Riot Brothers Overthrow a King.

Author Mary Amato clearly knows her audience and cleverly creates songs and outrageous games for her readers to laugh at and possible try at home. Like the game, Underfoodle: who can get the most underwear on their head in 30 seconds. She also teaches important life skills like flaring your nostrils for pictures and raising only one eyebrow.  A funny read that is sure to attract reluctant readers and annoying boys.  

Samantha Hastings, MA, MLS.

Brick: Who Found Herself in Architecture by Joshua David Stein - ADVISABLE


The illustrations in this book about a brick trying to figure out what she wants to be are done entirely in a red, white, and black pallet.  As brick explores her options, the reader learns about famous buildings and structures that were built with brick. 

This book is a fun way to learn about some famous architecture if you are willing to stick with it and read the backmatter.  I don’t think this book has mass appeal, but there will be some students who will truly love it. 

Jen Wecker 

Saturday, June 23, 2018

Roses and Radicals by Susan Zimet - ADVISABLE

Roses and Radicals: The Epic Story of How Amercican Women Won the Right to Vote by Susan Zimet. 149 pages. NON-FICTION. Viking (Penguin), 2018. $20.

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  
In 1840, a World Anti-Slavery Convention was held in London which was attended by Elizabeth Cady Stanton. That convention had rules that women had to sit in a separate gallery than the men and that didn’t sit right with Elizabeth Stanton, so she slowly became involved in fighting for women’s rights.  Over time, as the anti-slavery movement grew, it became obvious that there were many rights women didn’t have as well.  Women were not protected by any laws and their property was considered their husband’s property.  Women were also denied entrance to most schools and jobs.  This book follows the strong women who pushed the Women’s Rights Movement until women were eventually given the right to vote.  
I found this historical account fascinating.  The history starts with Elizabeth Cady Stanton in 1840 and ends with the women’s right to vote in 1920, but throughout there are little biographies of the many women who helped gain rights for women.  The text is dense, but well done and I couldn’t put it down.  This could be used in a classroom to supplement lessons and history lovers will enjoy it, but I’m not sure the average student will pick it up and dive in.  
C. Peterson

Journey Beyond the Trees by Alexa Pearl -- OPTIONAL

Journey Beyond the Trees (Tales of Sasha #2) by Alexa Pearl, illustrated by Paco Sordo. CHAPTER BOOK. Little Bee Books (Bonnier), 2017. $6. 9781499803914


The morning after finding out that she can fly, Sasha tells her sisters. They ask her many questions about her abilities, but she can't answer any of them. To learn more, it seems Sasha will need to journey into the forest and beyond. The only problem? No horse from their valley has ever ventured into the trees before.

This is another cute installment to the series. The glittery, colorful color is likely to appeal to sparkle-lovers, and the short chapters and many illustrations make it approachable for newer readers. As for the story itself, well, it's fun but it feels like a larger book chopped down to make a shorter one, especially with the rather abrupt ending.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

The Hollow Under the Tree by Cary Fagan - OPTIONAL

The Hollow Under the Tree by Cary Fagan, 105 pages. CHAPTER BOOK. Groundwood Books (House of Anansi Press). 2018. $13. 
Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.


There’s a monster in High Park!
Well, that’s what 1925 Toronto newspapers report, as an assortment of squirrels, dogs, and even a peacock go missing. But Sadie Menken, daughter of a local pie-maker, knows differently. The “monster” is really a young, timid, and hungry lion that has escaped from a circus train. Sadie, with the help of a rich but lonely boy named Theodore, bring food to the lion and try to keep him a secret. But soon the authorities are on the hunt, and Sadie knows she needs help. Can she find a happy ending for the wild animal she has come to love?

I found this book to be an enchanting little story—once you get past the first chapter, which is a ponderous and rather old-fashioned beginning. The writing is succinct and understated. The characters in the book are nicely defined and very likeable, and the fact that these are real people (this story is based on a true event which happened to the author’s grandmother) makes them all the more enjoyable. Overall, this book would make a lovely read-aloud to elementary students. There will be some children who will plod through the first chapter on their own to discover the sweet story that follows, but the slow opening will be a deterrent to many readers.

Chris, K-8 Librarian