Tuesday, July 31, 2018

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus - OPTIONAL

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus, 358 pages. Delacorte Press (Penguin Random House), 2017. $17.99

Language: R (187 swears, 25 “f”); Mature Content: PG (homosexual and heterosexual content); Violence: PG13 (school shootings and other things that would spoil the book if I disclosed them)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Five students walk into detention. Only four students walk out. Thrown together by unexpected circumstances, these four students accused of murder work together to rebuild their lives when no one else will believe them.

Focused around a murder, I would put One of Us is Lying under a thriller or murder mystery category, but this book is so much more than that. McManus weaves together a message about how powerful media—social media, the news, etc.—can be for good as well as for bad amidst the uncovering of an antagonist you both hate and respect.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

What’s Your Favorite Color by Eric Carle and Friends - ESSENTIAL

What’s Your Favorite Color by Eric Carle and Friends. BOARD BOOK. Godwin Books (Henry Holt and Company), 2017. $9. 9781250184207

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

In this book, different picture book illustrators describe their favorite color and pair it will an illustration of their own creation. The illustration is dominated by the color they chose as their favorite.There are fifteen colors and illustrations. 

I love the concept behind this book of having different illustration styles and different claims on a favorite color. It was be fun to use in a lesson on the parts of book, specifically talking about the illustrator. It could also be used in a colors unit or a favorite things unit. It would be an easy writing prompt to have students follow the formate of the book by picking a favorite color, writing why it is their favorite color, and drawing a picture. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

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: 6 (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.

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

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

Stegothesaurus by Bridget Heos - ESSENTIAL

Stegothesaurus by Bridget Heos, illustrated by T. L. McBeth. PICTURE BOOK. Henry Holt and Company, 2018. $18. 9781250134882

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

This is the story about two stegosauruses and one stegothesaurus.  When the two say “Hi”, Stegothesaurus says, “Hello! Greetings! Salutations!”, and so the dialogue continues through the book until they meet an allothesaurus. Two run, but the stegothesaurus stays, too busy thinking of synonyms for how he is feeling. The allothesaurus also know a lot of words and they have fun together until Stegothesaurus realizes why Allothesaurus knows so many words. 

Funny, clever, engaging, educational - this book is the perfect classroom addition. This book would be brilliant in a writing unit when talking about using more descriptive language. The story itself can hold its own since it has plot and humor and a student would have fun reading this without the connection to writing.     

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Life Inside My Mind by Jessica Burkhart - ESSENTIAL

Life Inside My Mind: 31 Authors Share Their Personal Struggles, edited by Jessica Burkhart, 295 pages. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $17.99 

Language: R (47 swears, 4 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

These 31 authors get down into the details of their realities, whether they themselves or those they love deal with mental illnesses. The difficulty for each of these authors to gather courage to share their experiences can be felt in each page as they address topics like anxiety, ADHD, depression, therapy, OCD, self-injury, shame, PTSD, worthlessness, loneliness, and so much more. Each personal essay has been written for readers to know that they are not alone. You do not suffer alone, and there is hope and happiness in living your life.

I think that this book was very well put together because it is so real and it addresses topics that most people shy away from—a problem that is also talked about in these personal essays. These stories are important for teenagers and adults to read so that we can better understand how to help each other and ourselves. While the swearing did make this book an “R” rating, I am going to recommend this book because of the importance of the message that the authors opened their hearts to share. For me, the message is more important than the rating of this book. 

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Russell Wrestles the Relatives by Cindy Chambers Johnson - ADVISABLE

Russell Wrestles the Relatives by Cindy Chambers Johnson, illustrated by Daniel Duncan. PICTURE BOOK. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $18. 9781481491594

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE.

Russell feels small and weak compared to his physically strong relatives who tend to tickle, squeeze, and tease him.  During a family reunion he figures out his own unique moves and is able to free himself from his relatives’ wresting holds. In the end, it is his “smooch” that frees him the best. 

I loved the constant allusions to wrestling in the language the author used and the characters in this book are so much fun. Tattooed uncles with warm smiles and a grandma wearing a unitard with corn on the cob patterns are just some of the delightfully illustrated characters.  The only potential down side of this book is that it many contradict some of the modern personal safety language we give to kids that they don’t have to hug anyone they aren’t comfortable with. 

Jen Wecker 

We Are All That's Left by Carrie Arcos - ADVISABLE

We Are All That's Left by Carrie Arcos, 376 pages. Philomel Books, 2018. $18.

Language: R (4 swears, 9 "f"); Mature Content: PG-13 (attempted rape-not graphic; smoking); Violence: R (terrorist attack with description of aftermath and wounds, sniper shooting deaths, executions during genocide, bombings).

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Zara and her mother, Nadja, can't seem to agree on anything. Zara loves photography and her mother seems to hate it. She is frustrated that her mother seems cold and unwilling to talk about her past.  When Zara, her mother, and her younger brother are at a farmer's market near their home in Rhode Island, a terrorist attack leaves the kids wounded and scared and their distant mother in a coma. As Zara tries to learn about the mother she might lose by digging through  personal items from Nadja's past, she also is dealing with her own PTSD.  She struggles to find the strength to pick her camera up again and rejoin the world. Through this process, she makes new connections and learns how to heal, both inside and out.

This book was beautifully written and both heart-wrenching and hopeful in its message.  The story goes back and forth between 17-year old Zara's perspective in present-day Rhode Island and her mother, Nadja's experiences at the same age in war-torn Bosnia from 1992 through 1995. It was well-researched and the author even visited Sarajevo and the surrounding area to try to understand what happened there. Through Zara's journey to heal from the terrorist attack and desire to will Nadja awake from her coma, she interacts with memorable characters who help her gain insight and wisdom. Her photography helps her reflect on her experience and as her teacher, Mr. Singh says, "Sometimes our art is the only way out of the dark."  If not for the "f" words, this book would definitely be essential for high school readers. It gives insight into modern-day genocide, terrorism, and the resulting PTSD, and more importantly, the strength and love it takes to heal and move on from such tragedy. So memorable and powerful.

Reviewer: Stacee S., Reading Teacher

Frank the Seven-legged Spider by Michaele Razi - ADVISABLE

Frank the Seven-legged Spider by Michaele Razi. PICTURE BOOK. Little Bigfoot (Sasquatch Books), 2017. 9781632171283

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE.

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Frank is not sure his is a spider still when he wakes up with one leg missing.  He goes on a  hunt for his leg and then with the insight from some ants, realizes he can still do all the things he loves with just seven legs. 

This would be such a fun book to use when teaching little kids about insect types.  We define a spider by its having eight legs, so this book would make for a silly and fun way to introduce the unit.  There is also a fun thread of humor woven through the book, ending with a laugh out loud illustration.

Jen Wecker

Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller - ESSENTIAL


Be Kind by Pat Zietlow Miller, illustrated by Jen Hill.  PICTURE BOOK  Roaring Brook Press, 2018. $18  9781626723214 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) -ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

A little girl named Tanisha accidentally pours grape juice on herself at school and all the kids laugh, except for one kid who feels sad for Tanisha.  As the child tries to consider ways that they can help Tanisha after having a bad day, many forms of kindness are explored.  Eventually, the child decides to make Tanisha a picture and they form a friendship.  

This is a simple and creative story that shows the reader how to be kind to others.  Many situations that young children don’t know how to handle are shown with a kind solution.  The illustrations are in soft colors and are portray many different types of acts of kindness.  

C. Peterson  

Monday, July 30, 2018

Stealing the Sword by Wendy Mass -- ADVISABLE

Stealing the Sword (Time Jumpers #1) by Wendy Mass, illustrated by Oriol Vidal. CHAPTER BOOK. Branches (Scholastic), August 28, 2018. $11.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Brother and sister Chase and Ava find an old suitcase while at a flea market. To their surprise, it takes them back in time to an Arthurian sword fight. Only, someone messed with the timeline before they got there, and now King Arthur is in danger of losing the fight -- and possibly his life! Can Ava and Chase figure out how to save the king and still make it back to their own time?

Fans of the Magic Treehouse series will likely enjoy the Time Jumpers books, too, with the brother/sister duo, historical settings, and magical time-traveling device. The quick pace and frequent pictures will keep many children reading. Some of the writing is pretty clunky, with the kids just happening to overhear some pretty convenient conversations and characters who are either completely kind or totally mwah-ha-ha evil -- but, let's face it, those who enjoy the Magic Treehouse series are used to that sort of thing anyway.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Isle of Blood and Stone by Makiia Lucier - ADVISABLE


Isle of Blood and Stone (Blood and Stone, #1) by Makiia Lucier, 389 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  

Language: PG (6 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Three friends lost the people they loved when two princes were kidnapped and killed eighteen years ago.  Elias is a map maker and when a curious map that looks like his father’s work shows up in his kingdom, the young king, Ulises, and his cousin, Mercedes, want Elias to follow the clues on the map and see if they can get answers for what happened to the two kidnapped princes.  As Elias starts to follow the clues, unexpected answers to the clues lead to more questions.  There are also those who don’t want Elias to find the answers to what happened eighteen years ago.  

I enjoyed the mystery and twists throughout this book.  I loved Elias, Ulises and Mercedes and the setting of the novel.  There were times when the action would slow down with details, but I enjoyed the overall book so much I didn't care and I can’t wait to read more from this series.  

C. Peterson

Sunday, July 29, 2018

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes - ESSENTIAL

Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes, 224 pages. Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2018. $17.

Language: PG (2 swears, 0 'f'); 
Mature Content: G; 
Violence: PG-13. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE,  MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Playing with the toy gun has deadly consequences for Jerome. He is shot by a white policeman who thinks that Jerome is an adult, not a 12-year-old, and that the gun is real. Now, he is a ghost watching the aftermath. 

 This was a very powerful story with important messages about bullying, systemic racism, poverty, gun violence and more. Shifting perspectives between before and after the shooting, the reader learns the story from both sides. Appropriate for an upper elementary reader, I was pleased with the low swear count, as well as the sensitive handling of the violence. This story would pair nicely with "A Wreath for Emmett Till". The author invites schools to use this as a classroom text and it includes resources and study questions.

Lisa Librarian

Saturday, July 28, 2018

Front Desk by Kelly Yang - ADVISABLE

Front Desk by Kelly Yang, 304 pages.  Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), 2018.  $17. 

Language:  PG (12 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G (some bullying)

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mia and her family take a job as the managers of a motel, desperate to find some way to make ends meet in their new country.  Mia helps out at the front desk after fifth grade every day to relieve a little of the pressure on her parents.  The motel owner seems to have stacked the cards against them, though and every time they try to get ahead, they slip behind.  They may have to do something desperate in order to find the money to fulfill their dreams.

I know my summary sounds a little dramatic, and while there is some drama, this really is mostly a book with heart.  Mia and those around her give a glimpse into the life of thousands of immigrants to America. Yang paints a vivid picture of these lives that would make a great read aloud for an upper elementary classroom.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

What the Ladybug Heard Next by Julia Donaldson - ADVISABLE

What the Ladybug Heard Next by Julia Donaldson, illustrated by Lydia Monks.  PICTURE BOOK.  Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2018.  $18. 9781250156525

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Len and Hugh are out of jail and back at the farm.  This time they want to steal the red hen, but luckily the ladybug overhears their plot and the whole barnyard helps to foil their plot.

A suitable sequel to the first book.  The illustrations really brighten up the pages and the animals’ antics are funny.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Friday, July 27, 2018

No Water No Bread by Luis Amavisca Guridi - ESSENTIAL

No Water No Bread by Luis Amavisca Guridi.  PICTURE BOOK. NubeOcho, 2017.  $16.  9788494597138

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

A barbed wire fence divides the land of water from the land of bread.  The adults are not willing to share, so everyone suffers.  At night, the children gather and share, wondering why the adults are so stubborn.

Usable at every level to start a discussion about sharing resources, friendliness, immigration. You definitely need to share this with your adults and brainstorm the best place for it in your curriculum.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White - ESSENTIAL

The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White, 304 pages.  Random House, 2018.  $19.  

Language:  PG-13 (26 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (deaths, some blood)

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

At the age of five, Elizabeth Lavenza was bought from a orphanage as a companion for Victor Frankenstein, a troubled little boy just a year older than her.  Through the years Elizabeth has done what she needed to keep her position – even if it meant helping Victor cover up his darker impulses.  But Victor has been away at school for almost two years and Elizabeth needs to find out what is going on.  When she finally tracks him down, however, she still has to spend time covering up more dark acts.  How far will Elizabeth go for Victor?
“Lightning crawled across the sky, tracing veins through the clouds and marking the pulse of the universe itself.”

I rarely quote directly from a book, but Ms. White’s beautiful words open the book and they captivated me immediately.  I knew right away that this book would be as poetic and captivating as the original. I was not disappointed.  White has taken the original story created something new and equally beautiful.  Each step – all the way to the end – grabbed me and wouldn’t let me go.  This is a one day book – because you won’t be able to put it down.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Thursday, July 26, 2018

Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon - OPTIONAL


Bound to You by Alyssa Brandon, 291 pages.  Swoon Reads, 2018. $18.  

Language: R (26 swears; 6 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS-OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

As a werewolf, Megan has always imagined the relationship she would have when she found her mate.  But on her eighteenth birthday she imprints with a warrior werewolf named James and he’s not at all what she expected.  He is not friendly and because he is a warrior werewolf, his lifestyle is very different. When Megan goes with James to live with his pack, she has a lot to get used to and hopes that James can get used to her.  

I enjoyed this werewolf love story and the characters had good chemistry.  It was a fast read and was entertaining.  There are a few minor characters and story lines that don’t get any resolve so that was annoying.  There is on page sex which moves the mature content to an R rating.  

C. Peterson

A Witch Alone by James Nicol - ADVISABLE

A Witch Alone (The Apprentice Witch #2) by James Nicol, 320 pages.  Chicken House (Scholastic), October 2018.  $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Arianwyn has enjoyed her time in Kingsport city with her best friend and her Grandmother, but during the royal parade, boggins attack and Arianwyn steps in to help protect them – saving the life of the King himself.  Now Arianwyn is headed back to Lull – but with many complications.  Not only is Grimma also returning, but Miss Newman, her former evaluator from school, has been sent by the Magical Research and Science Department to help Wyn investigate the increased appearance of hex throughout the Great Woods, but more importantly they need to retrieve the Book of Quiet Glyphs from the feyling Estar.  The hex, however, is wreaking havoc with magic and Wyn spends most of her time putting out fires instead of getting ahead of the problem.  

I was super surprised at the direction of Arianwyn’s new adventures and the immediate jump into heightened danger.  There is a great twist near the end that helps this make more sense – I kind of wish it had come out earlier in the story to help things make sense.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Eat This! by Andrea Curtis - ESSENTIAL


BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Curtis packs this book chock-full of information and examples of how junk food has proliferated through the whole world and the terrible consequences.  The information is accurate and interesting and so worth taking the time to read.  Unfortunately, this book need to be twice its length to increase its readability.  I would love to see this used in nutrition classes – it is a ready-made textbook.  So show this to your teachers!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Wednesday, July 25, 2018

But the Bear Came Back by Tammi Sauer - ESSENTIAL


But the Bear Came Back by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Dan Taylor.  PICTURE BOOK Sterling Children’s Books, 2018. $17  9781454920984  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL- ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

One day a bear knocks on a little boys door, and the little boy politely informs the bear that he doesn’t belong in a house and to go away.  The bear keeps returning to the boy’s home, but the boy tells the bear to go away.  Eventually the bear does go away, and then the little boy realizes that he misses him.  The little boy looks for the bear everywhere and can’t find him, but eventually the bear comes back.  

The illustrations make this story so adorable.  The simple one sentence text combined with the expressive pictures make for a captivating story.  I read this book to a group of four-year-olds and they were all interested to see what happened to the bear and the boy.  I think this book makes the reader consider giving someone new a chance instead of automatically assuming they shouldn’t be your friend.  

C. Peterson     

Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian - OPTIONAL


Stay Sweet by Siobhan Vivian, 359 pages.  Simon and Schuster, 2018. $18.  

Language: R (20 swears; 1 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Amelia is super excited to be the head girl at the local ice cream store, Meade Creamery.  The ice cream store has always been run by a group of local girls who become close friends and sell yummy ice cream throughout the summer.  One morning when Amelia goes to open the store, she finds the elderly owner dead.  Amelia’s expectations for a summer with her friends are changed as the ownership of the Meade Creamery is taken over by a young city owner trying to prove his business skills to his father.  

I enjoyed this fun book with a creative story.  Amelia is a likable character and the problems that she overcomes were entertaining.  Amelia also connects to the original owner of Meade creamery through a journal, which made for a fun secondary story.  My two disappointments were the addition of the “f” word randomly and totally out of context at the end.  Also, Amelia’s relationship with the owner of the ice cream store felt unfinished in the end.  

C. Peterson.

Grenade by Alan Gratz - ESSENTIAL

Grenade by Alan Gratz, 288 pages.  Scholastic, October 2018.  $17.

Language: PG (8 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (many deaths)

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Hideki and his family live a poor but loving life on Okinawa in 1945.  The Japanese army has taken control, making life more difficult, but Hideki’s mother and little brother were evacuated.  Ray is a young American eager to help in the fight against Hitler, but instead finds himself on a small Japanese island.  Hideki and the other boys in his school class are handed two grenades; they are ordered to use one to kill and American and then the second to kill their self.  He is desperate to flee south to find his sister and along the way he keeps stumbling into soldiers – both American and Japanese. 

Gratz has the power to expose a narrative, extract the important and poignant parts of the story, and show the world a piece of history in a way that cuts into your heart. His historical fiction books are masterpieces of details and emotion.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

The Christmas Wind by Stephanie Simpson McLellan - OPTIONAL

The Christmas Wind by Stephanie Simpson McLellan, illustrated by Brooke Kerrigan.  Red Deer Press (Fitzhenry), 2018.  $20.  9780889955349

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

On Christmas Eve, Jo, her mother, and her little brother are on the way to anywhere else.  The bitter wind pushes them to a barn owned by a bitter, lonely farmer.  Maybe they can hide in there for the night.  But when Jo settles the baby and goes for her mother, the baby has disappeared!  IS there room for all of them in the farmhouse? Is there kindness in the farmer’s heart?

One of my favorite Christmas books is The Christmas Miracle of Jonathan Toomey.  It felt like this book wanted to be that book, but it just doesn’t make it.  There is room in a picture book for just bit more to cement the story – it just doesn’t quite get there.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Bright Burns the Night by Sara B. Larson - ADVISABLE


Bright Burns the Night (Dark Breaks the Dawn, #2) by Sara B. Larson, 304 pages.  Scholastic, 2018. $18.  Language: G (1 swear); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Evelayn has been trapped in her swan body for the last ten years, ever since King Lorcan cut out her conduit stone.  Every year, Lorcan has come to the lake and forced Evelayn to transition back to a human and asked her to marry, but every year Evelayn has refused him.  There is an ancient evil brewing and Lorcan needs help, and when he wakes Evelayn up he can’t transition her back to a swan.  Together Lorcan and Evelayn have to overcome their past betrayals and save the kingdom they both love.  

I liked this book better than the first.  Evelayn and Lorcan have good chemistry and I loved the twists on relationships from the first book.  The setting is well done.  My only complaint would be that at the end of the book when the action is at the climax, the author goes into a long explanation about where the ancient power comes from flattening the suspense.  Overall though this was a great read that I couldn’t put down.  

C. Peterson

Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos - ESSENTIAL


Mustache Baby by Bridget Heos, illustrated by Joy Ang.  BOARD BOOK Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013. $13  9781328910486  

BUYING ADVISORY: PRE-K -ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Baby Billy is born with a mustache.  A nurse tells Billy’s parents that they will have to wait to see if it’s a good guy mustache or a bad guy mustache, and at first it is obvious Billy is a good guy.  One day however, Billy’s mustache curls up on the ends and he starts to act bad.  When he is thrown into baby jail (in his crib), her starts to realize his wrongs and mend his ways.  His father acknowledges that everyone has bad mustache days and Billy is able to have a playdate with his neighbor (a little boy with a beard).  

This book is adorable.  The criminal acts that Billy commits are hilarious, and the illustrations are funny.  I love the message that sometimes we have a bad day, but everyone gets another chance.  This is a must read!  

C. Peterson

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras - OPTIONAL

The Mad Wolf’s Daughter by Diane Magras, 265 pages.  Kathy Dawson (Penguin), 2018.  $17.  

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY:  OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Drest lives with her father and brothers at a remote Scottish highland, the youngest of the fearsome war band.  But one day everything goes awry and Drest is left alone when the others are all captured by a group of knights and taken away to be hanged.  Drest was undertake a dangerous journey and figure out some way to save her family.  As she travels, however, she picks up a few companions and learns some things that challenge her love for her family.  

Drest is heroic and her story contains many levels of surprise and growth and danger.  I know that John Flanagan’s Ranger’s Apprentice books are very popular, but I have had a hard time selling other similar books to my students.  So it’s not for lack of quality – just lack of audience.  Hand sell this to the right students.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Pretty Kitty by Karen Beaumont - ESSENTIAL

Pretty Kitty by Karen Beaumont, illustrated by Stephanie Laberts.  PICTURE BOOK.  Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2018.  $ 18. 9780805092325

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

When a kitty cat appears on his door step, an old man resists letting it in – and every subsequent cat that appears.  

The predictive text, the call and repeat, and those dang adorable kittens all combine for a fun read aloud.  Cat books are much harder to find than dog books, so it is a wise choice to buy another!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Monday, July 23, 2018

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli -- OPTIONAL

The Upside of Unrequited by Becky Albertalli. Balzer + Bray (HarperCollins), 2017. $17.99.

CONTENT: Language: R (100+ swears; 20+ 'f'); Mature Content: R (Nothing beyond kissing happens in-scene on the page, but there are plenty of in-depth discussions about very mature subjects, and there is some in-scene, on-the-page drinking from various underage characters in several different chapters.); Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: HS -- OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Seventeen-year-old Molly has had over twenty crushes -- all unrequited. But when her twin sister falls for another girl and enters a relationship, Molly realizes she will be left behind if she doesn't start making romance happen for herself. Good thing this usually-monogamous crusher has two new guys in her sights, which gives her double the chances -- if only she can woman-up enough to go for them both.

I absolutely loved this book, which was written by the same author as Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (which became the movie Love, Simon). It was sweet and fun and peopled with a wide variety of characters. Best of all, the romantic arc was satisfying, leaving me with a smile on my face long after I closed the final page. Because of the mature content it's definitely for an older audience, but said audience is likely to absolutely adore it. Many underrepresented teens will find people like themselves on the pages, helping them to feel seen, and helping those more mainstream teens to develop empathy of kids who may otherwise be considered outcasts. All in all a wonderful read. I can't wait to read her next book now.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Sticks and Stones by Nicole C. Kear -- ADVISABLE

Sticks and Stones (The Fix-It Friends #2) by Nicole C. Kear, illustrated by Tracy Dockray. 120 pages. CHAPTER BOOK.
Imprint (Macmillan), 2017. $6.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) -- ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Veronica Conti and her gang of problem-fixing friends are back and ready to help another kid. This time it's Noah who needs help. A new bully keeps teasing him, and shy Noah doesn't know how to handle it. The Fix-Its have a few false starts, but they're certain that they can solve Noah's bully problem if only they keep trying.

An afterword helps children learn how to deal with bullying and contains a list of recommended reading for children and parents.

This is a great continuation of the series. Veronica is just as amusing and relatable as in the previous books, and even when she makes mistakes her heart is clearly in the right place. Many children will also empathize with Noah's bully problem. The illustrations capture the spirit of the book perfectly. Like with the previous book in the serious, my only hesitation is that the text is a bit small and difficult for a typical seven-year-old, and yet many older children would snub the book because of Veronica's age, which makes it difficult to have it reach its intended audience. As a read-aloud, however, it would work well.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

The Quest of the Cubs by Kathryn Lasky - ADVISABLE


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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In a Post-apocalyptic world, expressed by the bears as the Great Melting, the Bears’ culture has disintegrated.  The world is presented very creatively, evidently Lansky has written other books set in the world, the series Guardians of Ga’hoole.  The cubs are searching for their mother because unknown to them she has traded herself to save them  from being sacrificed. She leaves her beloved cubs with a cousin who turns on them the minute their mom leaves. So, the quest begins.  

The characters are well developed and there is plenty of action for those who crave it.  It left me wanting to read more about these feisty cubs and their intelligent mom. The notes mention 3rd to 7th grade but I would also recommend it for older students with low reading levels.

Reviewer: Lisa Moeller; Language Arts Teacher/Librarian

A Surprise for Mrs. Tortoise by Paula Merlon - ADVISABLE

A Surprise for Mrs. Tortoise by Paula Merlon, illustrated by Sonja Wimmer.  PICTURE BOOK.  NubeOcho, 2018.  $17. 9788494633348

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mrs. Tortoise looks at her reflection on the pond one day and realizes that she is getting old and wrinkly.  Her best friend, Birdy, comes up with all kinds of ideas to help pretty up the shell, but each idea leaves Mrs. Tortoise feeling low. What can Birdy do to help her?

You really need to get your hands on this and checkout Wimmer’s whimsical illustrations!  I had fun pouring over each to page to see what delightful surprises she included.  It almost outshines Merlon’s story about friendship and good intentions.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey - OPTIONAL

The Amber Amulet by Craig Silvey, 86 pages. Sky Pony Press.  $15. 

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

A young boy has proclaimed himself the Masked Avenger and sets out each night in a costume he has devised to protect his neighborhood.  In the course of one of his missions he encounters a newlywed female neighbor and through their discussion he discovers his true super power, listening. 

At first this book appeared gimmicky and cutesy but as I read on I saw its merits. A 

Reviewer: Lisa Moeller; Language Arts Teacher/Librarian

Bonkers About Beetroot by Cath Jones - ADVISABLE

Bonkers About Beetroot by Cath Jones, illustrated by Chris Jevons.  PICTURE BOOK.  Maverick Arts, 2018.  $18.

BUYING ADVISORY: PRe-K - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The little Sunset Safari Park is on the brink of closing – so few visitors come through the gates. All the animals meet and the zebra has a crazy idea – grow a giant beetroot!  Surely visitors will come to gawk at that.  For a while, the plan works, but the beetroot becomes so large that it takes over the park.  The zebra has another bright idea – one that will keep the park open forever.

Jevons’ zoo animals are super cute!  I liked reading the book just to look at the animals – especially Penguin’s peeved expressions.  The beetroot hook doesn’t quite do it for me, but the antics are worth reading.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette - ADVISABLE

The Train of Lost Things by Ammi-Joan Paquette, 208 pages. Philomel Books, 2018. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Marty's dad gave him a very special birthday present - a denim jacket with special buttons that represent all the great times they have had together. Marty's dad is dying, and Marty is horrified to discover that he has lost the jacket, but when his dad reminds him of a story he used to tell Marty, about the "Train of Lost Things" Marty decides to try to find the train for himself and recover the jacket. 

An interesting look at dealing with grief. We so desperately want to hang on to things so we don't lose the memories connected with them. In Marty's case, the loss was so consuming he forgot what was most important, his dad.

Lisa Librarian