Friday, August 17, 2018

Abraham Lincoln's Dueling Words by Donna Janell Bowman - OPTIONAL


Abraham Lincoln’s Dueling Words by Donna Janell Bowman, illustrated by S.D. Schindler.  PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION  Peachtree, 2018.  $18  9781561458523  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

Abraham Lincoln was called to a duel against the Illinois State Auditor, James Shields.  When Illinois was going through a financial crisis, it was Shields opinion that everyone should have to pay taxes with silver and gold, but the poor were already struggling and that law was too much for the poor.  Lincoln was upset with this political move and anonymously wrote to the paper against Shields, eventually Shields found out it was Lincoln and had taken the letter personally, calling Lincoln to a duel.  The duel was called off and handled well by the seconds and Lincoln was embarrassed that it ever came to a duel in the first place.  

This picture book tells a little unknown story about Abraham Lincoln and at the back it explains that Lincoln never really wanted this story known.  The illustrations are well done and the story is interesting, but there is a large amount of text and I’m not sure how interested young readers would be in this book.  I don’t think kids will pick this up to read (unless they love Lincoln) and it’s such a specific story I’m not sure when a classroom would have use for this book.  

C. Peterson.           

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol - ADVISABLE


Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol, 245 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second, 2018. $23  Language: G; Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Vera has always dreamed of going away to a camp during the summer, so when she finds out there is a Russian summer camp sponsored through her church she is hopeful that she will have a good time because the people at camp will be like her.  What Vera finds is that girls can be mean even if you have a similar culture and camping in the mountains can be hard.  As struggles often do, Vera learns about herself and finds a little friend that she can start to enjoy camp with.  

I have split feelings about this graphic novel.  First, what I liked about the book.  I loved Vera-she’s adorable and easy to empathize with.  The author’s uncomfortable depiction of camping in the wilderness is hilarious.  And the illustrations are fantastic.  Now for the parts I didn’t like.  There are some icky moments in the book that ruin it for elementary age kids-a boy walks in on Vera in the bathroom, girls comment on Vera’s lack of a bra (and it’s illustrated) and one girl at camp has her underwear drawn up the flag pole and they are dirty from her period (which I found especially gross-especially because again it was illustrated).  I also have a hard time placing the book because Vera is nine years old, but some of the above mentioned content makes it older-I feel like it’s safest to place in a middle school. 

C. Peterson      

Skyfishing by Gideon Sterer -- NOT RECOMMENDED

Skyfishing by Gideon Sterer, illustrated by Poly Bernatene. PICTURE BOOK. Abrams, 2017. $18. 9781419719110

CONTENT: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) -- NOT RECOMMENDED

AUDIENCE APPEAL -- AVERAGE

When a little girl's grandfather moves into her apartment in the middle of the city, she feels sorry for him. After all, his biggest hobby is fishing -- something he can't exactly do from their balcony. Except...maybe he can. What sorts of things could the two of them catch in the city?

I wanted to like this book. Many of the illustrations are very pretty, and it is a fun premise. Unfortunately, the line between reality and imagination is definitely blurry in this one, so it seems as if the girl and her grandfather really are fishing off the balcony of their apartment, using hooks to reel in jewelry, hats, and pets from the pedestrians passing below. In addition, the depiction of "Mexican Capfish" with a sombrero-wearing Hispanic man taking a siesta in the middle of all the productive people around him is an offensive cliche that needs to die out immediately. And what kind of city is this where the only Asians shown are described as "new and exotic?" (They are, of course, tourists, toting around cameras and stopping to take pictures of everything -- yet another racist cliche.) I prefer to populate my library with books that don't encourage dangerous hobbies, thievery, and racist stereotypes, thank you very much.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Thursday, August 16, 2018

The Widow's Broom by Chris Van Allsburg - ESSENTIAL


The Widow’s Broom (25th Anniversary Edition) by Chris Van Allsburg.  PICTURE BOOK Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 1992.  $19.  9781328470195  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

One night a witch’s broom loses it’s full powers, and the witch falls out of the sky and lands in Widow Shaw’s garden.  Widow Shaw gives the witch a place to stay for the night, and in the morning the witch leaves on the back of another witch’s broom, leaving her broom behind.  Soon the broom is working around Widow Shaw’s home and doing basic chores or anything else Widow Shaw teaches it how to do (including chopping wood and playing the piano).  The magical broom soon draws the attention of the neighbors who want to burn it, so Widow Shaw tricks the neighbors and protects her new broom friend.  

Chris Van Allsburg has fantastic black and white illustrations.  I love that this book has a Neil Gaiman feel for young readers, making magic seem like it could crop up in reality at any time.  I think this book is creative and fun and can be read anytime but would be a fun Halloween read.  

C. Peterson.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy - OPTIONAL

Just Fly Away by Andrew McCarthy, 258 pages.  Atheneum (Simon), 2018.  $18.  

Language: R (18 swears, 3 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (described sexual situation, pot); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Lucy, 15, has just found out that she has an 8-year-old half brother from an affair of her father. Her mother and older sister seem unconcerned with the news, but Lucy is knocked for a loop.  As she tries to come to turns with her new family dynamic, she fails miserably, acting out in ways small and large.  

McCarthy writes a completely charming and authentic look at a girl whose world has fallen apart.  I almost feel like he has spent years as a psychiatrist working with troubled teens, instead of being in front of a movie camera, because the voices and emotions are spot on.  KTB readers know that I am wary of neurotic main characters, but Lucy is not neurotic – she is rightfully troubled and she needs a shoulder to cry on, a listening ear, and an empathic soul.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian. MLS

Lyric McKerrigan: Secret Librarian by Jacob Sager Weinstein - ADVISABLE

Lyric McKerrigan: Secret Librarian by Jacob Sager Weinstein, illustrated by Vera Brosgol. PICTURE BOOK. Clarion Books (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt), 2018. $18. 9780544801226

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

An experienced criminal has demanded money and threatens an army of moths that will destroy all books if he doesn’t get it. Luckily there is a girl who loves books so much she is on the job. She captures the criminal by putting just the right book in the hands of each person who stands in her way. 

It is hard not be biased toward any book about books, but this one truly is delightful. The story is told through comic strips and the illustrations are bright and energetic. There is also some humor that comes through in the titles of the books she gives to people. The limitation of this book may be that it will mostly appeal to students who already love to read. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Miguel's Brave Knight by Margarita Engle - ADVISABLE


Miguel’s Brave Knight: Young Cervantes and His Dream of DonQuixote by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Raul Colon.  PICTURE BOOK  Peachtree, 2017.  $18. 9781561458561  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3); MS - ADVISABLE; HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Miguel de Cervantes grew up in a home with an alcoholic father, which caused difficulties for his poor family.  To cope with these conditions, Miguel would imagine a brave knight who did daring deeds.  The brave knight had a frumpy friend who would ride by his side and Miguel would smile as he thought of his two imaginary characters.  When Miguel grew up he was encouraged by a teacher to write, and he eventually put his characters to paper using the language of common people and Don Quixote soon became a folk hero.  

This is a very basic look at Miguel de Cervantes the author of Don Quixote.  The text is written in poetic form and the illustrations are fantastic.  At the end of the book there is more information about Cervantes.  I loved this book, but I have a solid understanding of Don Quixote.  Young readers who pick up this book probably won’t have the prior knowledge to connect Quixote to this story, but on its own the story is about a boy who uses his imagination to cope with disappointment and that’s a valuable lesson.  This would be fun to use in a classroom alongside the telling of Don Quixote.  

C. Peterson

Spell & Spindle by Michelle Schusterman - ADVISABLE

Spell & Spindle by Michelle Schusterman, 255 pages.  Random House, 2018.  $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Chance and his family are moving from the heart of their city to a new, sterile housing development in the suburbs.  Chance wants nothing to do with it, especially since it means leaving The Museum of Peculiar Arts, directly below their apartment.  AS a final gesture the museum’s curator gives him Penny, a life-sized marionette that has been in the museum for decades.  When Chance touches her strings for the first time, he can her Penny’s thoughts  How is this possible?!  This contact launches them and a few others on a adventure unlike any other – especially when Chance finds himself trapped within Penny’s wooden body and Penny becomes Chance – who will believe him?

While the underlying structure of the ultimate riddle is a bit confusing, I pushed through my confusion and jumped into the adventure.  The tension ramps up nicely to a breathtaking and magical finish.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian. MLS

Mermaid School by Joanne Stewart Wetzel - ADVISABLE

Mermaid School by Joanne Stewart Wetzel, illustrated by Julianna Swaney. PICTURE BOOK. Alfred A. Knopf, 2018. $18. 9780399557163

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

It is the first day of school for a group of mermaids and they are bit nervous. Told in rhyming text, this book walks through the activities of the first day of school underwater, but they are very similar to the activities in an out of water classroom. 

This book is sweet. I love the very first interaction of the book between two mermaids who don’t know the others, but make an effort to meet them. This would be a fun first day of school book, probably for a pre-school classroom. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli - OPTIONAL


Hunger by Donna Jo Napoli, 259 pages.  Simon and Schuster, 2018.  $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

Lorraine is a twelve year old living in Ireland during the potato famine.  It is 1846 and regardless of the precautions taken by the farmers, the potatoes are rotting, and people are starving.  Lorraine watches as her village grows smaller because people are starving to death, dying of illness or moving away in hopes of better opportunities.  Lorraine finds a wealthy British girl on the nearby estate, and although Lorraine sometimes finds food for herself, she feels guilty that she can’t share with her family, so she comes up with a plan.  

This book is slow and the amount of detail put into their starvation is exhausting.  The first half of the book doesn’t really have a story line because it is mostly descriptions of the foods the kids are dreaming of eating.  Lorraine is a likable character and the helplessness of those who lived during this famine is conveyed.  The back of the book has an extensive timeline of Ireland through the end of the famine, but I don’t think it’s something kids would spend the time to read.  The violence is rated PG because Lorraine sees someone shot during an uprising. 

C. Peterson

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

The Game Masters of Garden Place by Denis Markell - ESSENTIAL

The Game Masters of Garden Place by Denis Markell, 275 pages.  Delacorte (Random), 2018.  $17.  

Content: G (some fantasy fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Ralph, Jojo, Noel, Persephone, and Cammi used to be inseparable in their love of  Dungeons and Dragons, but as they enter sixth grade, different interests start sending them in different directions.  Ralph convinces them to sit down for one final game – the final chapter in their current adventure.  When they solve the final puzzle, a portal opens and their avatars step through as real beings! Why are they here?  Each player will have to use all of their skills in order to save the worlds. How do you disguise an elf, a dwarf, a barbarian, a wizard, and a thief?  
Take them to the gaming convention, of course!
The beginning bogs down a little as we get to know the characters and their personalities.  The set up is totally worth it as we get into the present action and meet the portalled characters.  Markell makes some astute observations about our addiction to smartphones and other technology!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Step by Step by Loreen Leedy - ESSENTIAL

Step by Step by Loreen Leedy. PICTURE BOOK. Holiday House, 2018. $18. 9780823439393

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This book uses the tracks of animals to create a guessing game of a text. One page asks which animal makes the tracks illustrated and the next page answers. There is a guide at the end of the book that explains more about each animals’ tracks. 

I don’t find the illustrations of this text particularly crafty, but there is a lot of educational value in this fun book. This could be used in a nature unit or even as a craft project involving recreating track patterns.   

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar - NO

A Stitch in Time by Daphne Kalmar, 167 pages.  Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2018.  $17.

Content:  G 

BUYING ADVISORY:  NOT RECOMMENDED

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

When Donut’s dad dies, she is devastated and then crushed as she realizes that her aunt is taking her away from her beloved Vermont woods to Boston.  In desperation, Donut runs away to the woods, where she can hopefully hide forever.

While I feel bad for Donut as she deals with her grief, her antics and their consequences do not ring true and do not endear her to me.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Hide by Steve Henry - ESSENTIAL

Hide by Steve Henry. PICTURE BOOK/EARLY READER. Holiday House, 2018. $15. 9780823437733

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Pat, a fish, and Mike, an elephant, are on a boat when Pat jumps in and swims after other fish. Pat is taken by a shark and Mike rescues him. Only now, Mike can’t get to the top of the water so the fish help him. 

This is a great book full of kindergarten sight words. The story is easy to follow which is important when a reader is hyper-focused on sounding out words. The illustrations do not distract from the words, but are good aids for understanding. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed - ESSENTIAL


Amal Unbound by Aisha Saeed, 226 pages. Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2018. $18.  Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Amal has always dreamed of becoming a teacher and studies hard at school, so when Amal’s mother has difficulty after the birth of Amal’s little sister, Amal is devastated that she has to stay home from school to care for her siblings.  Amal tries to stay up on her studies, but soon her devotion to school is inconsequential when Amal insults a powerful man at her local Pakistani market.  Amal’s whole world is turned upside down, and at the age of twelve, she finds herself as a servant in the powerful man’s home.  

I couldn’t put this book down!  I read it in one afternoon, anxious to find out what would happen.  It was interesting to get a glimpse into indentured servitude and Amal’s strong character was fantastic.  I enjoyed the compelling development of Amal’s story and world.  The violence is Amal is slapped and there is a murder but it’s not described.  

C. Peterson         

An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth by Karlin Gray - OPTIONAL


An Extraordinary Ordinary Moth by Karlin Gray, illustrated by Steliyana Doneva.  PICTURE BOOK  Sleeping Bear Press, 2018.  $17.  9781585363728  

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3) – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

A plain brown moth is lamenting how he is not as extraordinary as other moths and even butterflies.  But when a little boy picks him up and points out all the moth’s characteristics to his little sister, the plain moth starts to see how extraordinary he is.  The little boy explains how the brown moth has scales (not dirt), amazing antenna and great camouflage.  Eventually the little boy has convinced his sister and the moth how extraordinary an ordinary moth can be.  

This is a simple introductory look at moths.  The illustrations are appealing, but the text is written in a curvy font that younger readers might struggle with.  I enjoyed the cool facts about moths, especially at the end, but I don’t think this book has much appeal .  

C. Peterson

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik - ADVISABLE

Spinning Silver by Naomi Novik, 480 pages.  Del Rey (Random), 2018.  $28.  

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Three clever women have important parts to play in the battle between a demon and the Staryk (faerie) king.  Miryen is the daughter of a failed moneylender.  When she takes over and succeeds, she attracts unwanted attention from the Staryk King.  Wanda, the daughter of an indigent farmer, has to work off his debt to Miryen.  All of her efforts are guided towards getting her and her brothers free of their unloving father.  Because she works for Miryem, she becomes entwined with the magic. Irina is the daughter of the local Duke. When her father buys the ensorcelled jewelry created with Miryem’s fairy silver, she attracts the attention of the Prince who, unbeknownst to anyone, is possessed by a demon hell bent on killing off the Staryk.

Your high level fantasy readers will love this!  Not for the faint at heart, because Novik writes assuming the reader will pay attention to what is going on.  Readers who do, and know even a bit about the Rumpelstiltskin story will truly have a magical experience.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Love is Kind by Laura Sassi - ADVISABLE

Love is Kind by Laura Sassi, illustrated by Lison Chaperon.  PICTURE BOOK.  Zonderkidz, 2018.  $17. 9780310754893

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3) - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Little Owl is on his way to Grammy’s with his three silver coins to buy her a box of chocolates for her birthday.  Time after time, however, he finds obstacles that ruin his plan.  When he finally makes it to her house, she helps him see that being kind and holding his temper and wonderful gifts not just for Grammy, but for the whole world.

So sweet!  I would happily recommend this as a way to show children better ways to react to adversity.  While I’m not 100% fond of every interaction, there is plenty here to spur a long class-wide conversation.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Dark Tracks by Philippa Gregory - OPTIONAL


Dark Tracks (Order of Darkness, #4) by Philippa Gregory, 307 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2018.  $20.  Language: G; Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Luca and his friends go about Europe trying to explain odd happenings that the Order of Darkness believes signal the end of days.  There is an odd dancing disease that is taking over small villages, but when Luca tries to solve the problem he loses one of his friends to the sickness.  Luca tries to convince the local landowner to help him, but the landowner is prone to violence and has little patience for those lost to the dancing.  When a community of Jews finally allows Luca’s friends a sanctuary he doesn’t realize the hardship that he has brought down on their village.  

I usually really enjoy the Order of Darkness books, but this one was slow to start and never really had a satisfying reason for why the people were dancing.  The history of how Jewish communities were treated throughout medieval times was interesting and heartbreaking but was the only interesting element in this story.  The characters’ actions were also inconsistent from the other books in the series, which made them less likable.  The violence is brutality and threat of rape and the mature content is descriptive off-page sex.  

C. Peterson    

I Got a Chicken for my Birthday by Laura Gehl - ADVISABLE


I Got a Chicken for my Birthday by Laura Gehl, illustrated by Sarah Horne.  PICTURE BOOK Carolrhoda Books (Lerner), 2018.  $18  9781512431308  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3) – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Ana tells Abuela Lola that she wants tickets to an amusement park for her birthday, so Ana is surprised when she opens her present and has been given a chicken.  Ana starts to realize that this isn’t an ordinary chicken when the chicken won’t eat chicken feed or lay eggs.  The chicken gives Ana a list of supplies that it wants and recruits Ana’s other animals to help it with a plan.  Ana is confused by the chicken, until she realizes that it is a genius because the chicken has built her an amusement park.  

This kooky story is actually quite funny and it is a great story to get kids to predict what the chicken might be up to.  The illustrations are bright and appealing and there is a lot going on in each picture.  My eight-year old son thought this book was weird (he’s very literal) but I loved the creative story.  

C. Peterson

Monday, August 13, 2018

Realm of Ruins by Hannah West - ESSENTIAL

Realm of Ruins (Nissera Chronicles #2) by Hannah West, 464 pages.  Holiday House, December 2018.  $19.

Language: PG (5 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

In the ages since Bristal was thrown into the pond and discovered her elicrin powers, elicrin powers have been harnessed, tamed, and doled out to those “in favor”. Valory only meant to support her best friend as she underwent her trial, but Valory touches the Waters and destroys them, along with killing her friend.  Drawn into plots deeper than she can ever imagine, powerful people from the present and the past weave plots within plots.  Only three people in all the realms trust Valory’s twisted, different powers.  Everyone else is out to capture or kill her.

Huzzah!  West is a master weaver of stories!  I can’t imagine that there are only two books in this series, but where she will go from here I have absolutely no idea! There is a great scene when Valory encounters Callista, Bristol’s mother, whose elicrin power is to create time portals.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins - OPTIONAL

Stumpkin by Lucy Ruth Cummins. PICTURE BOOK. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $18. 9781534413627

BUYING ADVISORY; Pre-K, EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

At the local grocery store there is a stand of pumpkins and they are each excited that it is Halloween and time be chosen and made into a jack o’lantern. Each pumpkin gets picked except for one who realizes that instead of a stem he has stump. He never is chosen but the owner himself turns him into a jack o’lantern and he remains at the store happily. 

There is not much to recommend this book. The story is overly simple as are the illustrations and characters.  Nothing gets developed, from the characters to the message. The best part of the book is the thick textured cover that feels deluxe.

Reviewer: Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner - OPTIONAL

Dear Rachel Maddow by Adrienne Kisner, 263 pages.  Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2018.  $18

Language: R (100+ swears, 25 ‘f’ – I quit counting after this); Mature Content: PG-13 (sexual situation mentioned); Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Since her brother overdosed, Brynn, a junior, has not put in the effort needed to excel at school despite her dyslexia and fins herself in the “color classrooms”, or special education classes, down in the basement of her high school.  When her former girlfriend supports the smarmiest boy at their school for an important position, though, Brynn has had enough. Her protest results in her having to run for the position, because no one else will.  Worse – it leads to her sticking her neck out to run for student body president.  With home life and school life in chaos, Brynn has to find who her people really are or she will implode under the pressure.

The Rachel Maddow connection is a bit tenuous, I seriously wish Maddow had written back something we could have read – especially after the disaster near the end of the book.  As much as I like Brynn, this is super heavy on swearing, and not compelling enough despite that.

Cindy, Library Teacher

Best Friends in the Universe by Hector and Louis Also by Stephanie Watson - ESSENTIAL

Best Friends in the Universe by Hector and Louis Also by Stephanie Watson with drawings by LeUyen Pham. PICTURE BOOK.  Scholastic Press, October 2018.  $18. 9780545659888

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Hector and Louie are celebrating their awesome friendship by writing a book together.  But when one of them slips and tells a the other’s secret embarrassment, things get heated.

Watson writes a great little book showing that friends can make mistakes and get mad and apologize and be friends still.  I love the several “cover” changes for their book during the story.  I also like the different illustration style from Pham – a nice change that works great for the context.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian

How We Roll by Natasha Friend - ESSENTIAL

How We Roll by Natasha Friend, 260 pages.  Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 
2018.  $18.

Language: PG (11 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (groping, boy body part mentioned); Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Quinn, 9thgrade, and her family have moved across the country to find a new school to help her autistic younger brother.  For Quinn this could be a new start, as at the beginning of 8thgrade she had a flare of alopecia areta and lost all of her hair; her best friends and all of the rest of kids at school were neither sympathetic nor kind to her ever so obvious problem.  Now, Quinn starts the first day of school with a beautiful wig so that no one will see her bad head and some pretty, popular girls latch on to her almost immediately.  But the person that really attracts Quinn’s attention is Nick, the local who is now a paraplegic after a ATV accident that summer.  She empathizes with Nick’s grief, even if she is afraid to reveal to him her own problems.

If you haven’t read any of Friend’s books yet, you are in for treat!  She deserves so much more popularity and attention than she receives – step up librarians!  She is a master of the honest problem novel.  You cannot go wrong with this.

Cindy, Library Teacher

Try a Little Kindness by Henry Cole - OPTIONAL

Try a Little Kindness by Henry Cole.  PICTURE BOOK. Scholastic Press.  October 2018.  $18.  9781338256413

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL (K-3) - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Our friends from the animal world show us a variety of ways that we can choose to be kind.  
Such a good heart in this book, but kind of odd in execution.  A couple of the suggestions have several illustrations demonstrating the idea, but most of them have only one illustration.  I found that a rhythm killer, being unable to predict how much information I was going to receive, or that those concepts were less important. Also, maybe it was a way to entertain himself and the adults reading the book to children, but many of the illustrations are sarcastic – like a chicken playing Red Rover with a group of foxes, a fly admiring a spider’s web, a pig asking a wolf what’s for dessert.  These character pairings are so improbable and even small children will notice the unusual pairings and probably comment on them without understanding the sarcasm of them.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian  

Sunday, August 12, 2018

Door by JiHyeon Lee -- OPTIONAL

Door by JiHyeon Lee. PICTURE BOOK. Chronicle, 2018. $18. 9781452171425

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL -- OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In this wordless picture book, a boy discovers a new world filled with color, adventure, and joy. It's a stark contrast to the boring, monochromatic world he came from. He explores the world, having a lovely time.

As pretty as this book is, it has very little tension, which makes it feel overly long. While it's nice to see the author/illustration's imagination spread across the page, the illustrations aren't amazing -- definitely not enough to make up for the fact that this really is just the story of a boy who wanders around and has a nice day.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

A Campfire Tail by Sarah Glenn Marsh -- ADVISABLE

A Campfire Tail by Sarah Glenn Marsh, illustrated by Ana Gómez. PICTURE BOOK. Sterling Children's Books, 2018. $17. 9781454919933

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: Pre-K, EL -- ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

A little girl remembers what it's like to be the new kid at camp, so she volunteers as Dragon's buddy. But showing a giant, accident-prone dragon the ins and outs of camp leads to a lot of trouble, and both the girl and her dragon buddy are ostracized. Will the little girl ultimately choose friendship with the lonely dragon...or fitting in with everyone else?

Both the little girl and Dragon are relatable, and the colorful illustrations go well with the adorable story. Although this is a summer camp tale, I think it would be a great one for the first days of school, or for when a classroom gains a new kid. It would also work well for a discussion about kindness and inclusion.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Some Assembly Required by Brian Lynch -- ESSENTIAL

Some Assembly Required (Toy Academy #1) by Brian Lynch, illustrated by Edwardian Taylor. 188 pgs. Scholastic, 2018. $13.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL -- ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Grumbolt isn't exactly sure what kind of stuffed animal he's supposed to be. A cat? A koala? A bear? When he gets a chance to go to Toy Academy, he realizes this is his opportunity to discover who he is, develop his purpose in life, and find a kid of his own. But Toy Academy is full of other toys, too -- toys who have secrets of their own.

Some Assembly Required is a hilarious read that would work well for a read-aloud or for reading by individual kids. The pictures are amusing, and Grumbolt is a sympathetic character who is easy to cheer for.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Saturday, August 11, 2018

A Royal Rescue by Helen Perelman -- OPTIONAL

A Royal Rescue (Royal Sweets #1) by Helen Perelman, illustrated by Olivia Chin Mueller. 65 pgs. CHAPTER BOOK. Aladdin Quix (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $17.

Content: G

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

It's Princess Mini's first day at the Royal Fairy Academy, and she's nervous about fitting in, following the rules, and excelling at her school work. But before she even gets to school, she discovers a troll in need of assistance. Maybe she can have a good day of learning and make a new friend in the process!

This is an extremely quick read. The font is huge, with lots of space between the lines, and there are cute illustrations on many of the pages (though not all, as with some very early chapter books). While the story is lovely and sugary-sweet, not much happens in it, and there are a lot of characters introduced, especially in the beginning, which could be confusing for young readers. This is ultimately a nice but rather forgettable story.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Friday, August 10, 2018

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth -NOT RECOMMENED

Nothing Happened by Molly Booth, 325 pages. Hyperion (Disney), 2018 $18

Language: R (25+ swears, mostly ‘F’s); Mature Content: R (sex talk); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS –NOT RECOMMENDED

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Welcome to the tumultuous love lives of the teen counselors at summer Camp Dogberry. Hana has her first crush on a girl. Rumors fly that Bee and Ben hooked up last summer (a HUGE theme in this book) but they won’t admit to and seem to not care for each other. Donald is cute but will hook up with anyone. Someone has a crush on Claudia and is going to try to ruin her chances with Hana. On top of all of this drama, they must be camp counselors to a slew of younger children. Based on Shakes hears Much Ado About Nothing.

I went to camp as a pre-teen so I thought this would be a fun summer read, additionally it has cover appeal. But this was an incredibly boring and incredibly overly long read. I actually started this book months ago and have just dreaded every second of reading it. The swearing was really oddly written, almost like it was an afterthought to spice things up. The big question the book is based on –what did happened between Bee and Ben last summer- well the answer is truly a letdown. Maybe fans of Shakespeare will revel in this summer camp version, but I wouldn’t want to visit this camp.

Reviewer: Stephanie Elementary School Librarian & Author.

What is the Constitution? by Patricia Brennan - ADVISABLE


What is the Constitution? by Patricia Brennan Demuth, 107 pages. NON-FICTION Penguin Workshop, 2018. $9.  Content: Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G.  

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

This is the history of how the United States got it’s Constitution.  Starting with the Revolutionary War, going through the Constitutional Convention and then ending with an explanation of the Bill of Rights.  There are specific examples of when the Constitution has come into play historically, as well as short side stories of historical figures who were involved in writing the Constitution or changing the laws that added amendments.  

I love this series and enjoyed this succinct summary about the Constitution.  The cover is awful and my boys weren’t interested in reading the book based on the cover, which is the only reason I made it advisable.  This is a great way to introduce the history of the constitution and give a simple explanation of the three branches of government.  

C. Peterson

The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School - NO


The Pout-Pout Fish Goes to School by Deborah Diesen, illustrated by Dan Hanna.  BOARD BOOK Farrar Straus Grioux, 2014.  $8.  9780374308520  

BUYING ADVISORY: PRE-K - NO  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

Mr. Fish is headed off to his first day of school and is excited, but when he gets there he is lost.  As Mr. Fish tries to find the correct classroom, he gets more and more discouraged.  Just as he is about to quit school, his teacher finds him and shows him that he is going to fit right in.  

Pout-Pout Fish books are adorable, but this one is not.  I had so much anxiety for Mr. Fish as he was lost at school on his first day, trying classroom after classroom, but he was always in the wrong place.  If you want to give your child anxiety about all the ways the first day of school can go wrong, read this to them.  Also, this doesn’t work as a board book because it has a lot of text and Mr. Fish’s school setting seems more like a middle school not a preschool.  

C. Peterson