Saturday, September 22, 2018

Nothing stopped Sophie by Cheryl Bardoe - ADVISABLE

Nothing Stopped Sophie : The Story of unshakable mathematician Sophie Germain by Cheryl Bardoe illustrated by Barbara McClintock PICTURE BOOK, NON FICTION Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, Hatchette, 2018 $18.  316278203



Sophie Germain understood math so well she thought about it all the time, her parents had to take away her candles and warm pajamas to keep her in bed at night. Her favorite thing to do was study math, but she lived during the French Revolution and women mathematicians were not taken seriously at all. Sophie studied math by correspondence (under an assumed male name) and when the Academy of Sciences offered a medal with a cash prize to anyone who could figure out a very difficult mathematical task - how to predict patterns of vibration - Sophie, then age 32, took on the challenge. 

A remarkable story about a courageous and intelligent woman; Sophie Germain is an inspiration. The true story, fully illustrated in pen and ink and watercolor, is well told, beautifully written and will make great read aloud. Can't wait to read this to the "Girls who Code" class and to hand it to my math teachers. So happy to see another picture book biography. 

Lisa Librarian 

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage - ESSENTIAL

The Law of Finders Keepers by Sheila Turnage, 356 pages. Kathy Dawson Books (Penguin Random House), 2018. $17.

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



In the concluding installment of the Tupelo Landing Series, Mo is given a clue to her upstream mother's identity - the sweater she was found wrapped in, and a necklace with a J. Speaking of clues - there's a stranger in town who thinks he has a clue to a buried treasure right there in Tupelo Landing! It seems one of Blackbeard's ex-wives lived there and may have stashed something very valuable. The Desperado Detective agency is trying to find it before Gabriel Archer does. 

I am so sorry to see this series end, but now it's great that we can read the books one after another. The mysteries are fun to help solve - lots of clues as well as red herrings. Mo and Dale and Harm are wonderful kids, good detectives and have lots of caring adults around them. You need this whole series, and please read them in order - it's best that way. 

 Lisa Librarian 

Mars One by Jonathan Maberry - ADVISABLE

Mars One by Jonathan Maberry, 429 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2017. $18.

Language: PG-13 (66 swears, 0 ‘f’); Content: PG; Violence: PG



Tristan has been famous most of his life.  He was ten when his family was chosen to go to Mars and they have been preparing ever since.  Finally the time has come and they are ready to leave. It is an exciting, scary time, but also a little sad.  He will be leaving behind everything and everyone he has ever known including his best friend, Herc, and girlfriend, Izzy.  It doesn’t matter how many goodbyes they have or knowing they will still be able to communicate, it’s hard knowing he will never see them again.    

Science fiction generally catches my eye and this was no exception.  I enjoyed the story, liked the characters, and appreciated the ending. The story didn’t quite go in the direction I thought it would, but it still worked.  For those that may not be drawn to science fiction, there is also mystery, intrigue, some romance, and a little reality tv thrown in to appeal to everyone.  The story is a solid PG so please note the language count(more than half are of Deity).

Reviewer: RB

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers - ESSENTIAL

Mary Poppins by P.L. Travers, illustrated by Julia Sarda, 235 pages.  Houghton Mifflin, 2018.  $25. 9781328498847



If you need or a want a new illustrated version of Mary Poppins, this is the one to get!  Sarda’s illustrations add a wry note to the clever classic.  This would be a great bedtime read for any family and a fantastic way to introduce the source material to new readers – not just the movie version.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Friday, September 21, 2018

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier - OPTIONAL

Sweep: The Story of a Girl and Her Monster by Jonathan Auxier, 344 pages.  Amulet (Abrams), 2018.  $19.  

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



Nan Sparrow was raised by a kind, if extremely poor chimney sweep  and they roamed together all over England, until the night the Sweep disappeared. For the last five years Nan has been indentured to Crudd, a cruel London chimney sweep.  Then during a terrible accident one day, Nan escapes by faking her own death – and she also finds herself a friend – Charlie.  Whatever Charlie is, perhaps a golem, Nan knows he grew from the bit of charcoal that the Sweep left her.  Together the pair carve out a good, but hard, life until the day Crudd finds out for sure that Nan is alive.  He will do anything to reclaim her.

A historical fantasy book – Nan’s tale is mixed in with the real events and lives of chmney sweeps in 1800’s London.  As an adult, I loved The cover will draw a few students in, but I don’t think they will recommend it to hordes of their friends after.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Selkie of San Francisco by Todd Calgi Gallicano - OPTIONAL

Delacorte (Random), 2018). $17.

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



Sam London may only be in middle school, but he is an important member of the Department of Mythical Wildlife team.  When a selkie appears off the shore of the San Francisco Bay, Sam is hot on his trail along with his mentor, Dr. Vantana, and his guardian Tashi.  Some how Pearl Eklund, fashion’s hottest new model, and her stepfather, are involved too.  And if Sam doesn’t solve this mystery, there maybe more than one kind of trouble under the ocean surface.  

Sam London has the feel of a Brandon Mull book – but not quite as sure to grab a student’s attention. If your middle school goes through huge amounts of fantasy, then you might want to add this series.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Walt's Imagination: The Life of Walt Disney by Doreen Rappaport - OPTIONAL

Rappaport, Doreen Walt's Imagination: The Life of Walt Disney, illustrated by John Pomeroy. NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. Disney Hyperion, 2018. $19. 9781423184706.



Walt Disney's life story is told in this picture book featuring long textual passages (which include actual quotes from Mr. Disney) and beautiful illustrations. The story begins with Disney's childhood in Marceline, Missouri and continues to his creation of Disneyland. The story mysteriously ends before Disneyland opens, Walt Disney World is even mentioned, or Walt Disney passes away. There are author's and illustrators notes in the back, as well as suggestions for further reading in case you, too, realize the book didn't give you the whole story.

My initial excitement for this book was quickly dampened as I started reading it out loud to my kids. Not only is the text fairly long, its also pretty dry and for all that--incomplete. The story ends so abruptly I can't help but suspect they've forgotten the last two or three pages. I feel like appeal for this topic will be high no matter what--people of all ages continue to be interested in and fans of Walt Disney--and the illustrations are beautiful here, thus the OPTIONAL rating instead of a NO.

Reviewer: TC

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Venturess (Mechanica #2) by Betsy Cornwell - ADVISABLE


Venturess (Mechanica #2) by Betsy Cornwell, 311 pages.  Houghton Mifflin, 2018.  $10.

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



Read the original review here.

Now available in paperback, Venturess is a good buy for a high school library. I’m interested to see if Cornwell will further explore Nic, Fin, and Caro’s lives.  She just gets better with each book.  If you haven’t read her Forest Queen yet, please do!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Good Neighbor: The Life and Work of Fred Rogers by Maxwell King - ESSENTIAL

Content: G



Fred Rogers was a iconic part of the childhood of entire generations of children.  In this book about his life, King gives depth to the life and life’s work of this man who was the epitome of kindness.  Roger’s love for and consideration of children shines through.  His forward-thinking, his ability to approach each person on their own merits, are held up as sincere examples of a great life.  Too long and complex for most students.  Perhaps a handful of 12thgraders might like to explore this, but most likely only a teacher or two would be its audience.  Gift this to a best friend.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Sasquatch, Love, and Other Imaginary Things by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie Dubois-Shaw - OPTIONAL

Sasquatch, Love and Other Imaginary Things by Betsy Aldredge and Carrie DuBois-Shaw, 270 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2017.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (106 swears; 6 “f” substitutes); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G. 



Samantha’s parents have been searching for Sasquatches throughout her life, so when they are invited to a reality TV series to track down Sasquatches the whole Berger family goes.  Samantha loves her family but is embarrassed about this obsession, and what is worse is that the reality series has pitted the Berger family against some rich prep kids who have all the scientific equipment with the winner taking home 200K.  Samantha is determined to help her family win, but she can’t help but notice the hot prep boy she is competing against.  Samantha’s two sisters also have love interests that might mess with their chances at winning the competition.  

I was pleasantly surprised by this fun, kooky romance.  Sasquatches fascinate me and it was a fun setting for a Pride and Prejudice spin off romance.  I would have this book be advisable except for the high swear count.  The mature content is make-out sessions.  

C. Peterson 

Pointe, Claw by Amber J. Keyser - NO

Pointe, Claw by Amber J. Keyser, 275 pages. Carolrhoda Lab (Carolrhoda Books), 2017. $18.99

Language: R (82 swears, 25 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG



Jessie is trapped by the knowledge that she has to be the best dancer to get one of the two available company spots or else her parents won’t let her continue dancing. Dawn is trapped by mental illness with her mother in denial and doctors unable to diagnose what is wrong with Dawn. Pulled apart at a young age, both girls yearn for the feeling of belonging that now only occupies childhood memories.

This book was really confusing, and I everything that I understood of the book is what I wrote the summary above. Every time that I thought things were starting to make sense, one character or another would go off the deep end again and I couldn’t follow what happened. Furthermore, I was made very uncomfortable by the constant crude sexual content and felt more and more gross the longer I read.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

The Dam Keeper by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi - ADVISABLE

The Dam Keeper: World Without Darkness by Robert Kondo and Dice Tsutsumi, 151 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Roaring Brook Press), 2018. $22.

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



Pig, Fox, and Hippo are on a journey that was set in motion in the first book. Their journey in this book takes them to two different communities, each surrounded by their own dams and experiencing their own problems. The existence of the different dams is surprising to Pig, who was the keeper of the dam back home. The group moves through these communities, avoiding a dark mist, trying to get back to their own community before the next black wave hits, a wave which can only be held off by the dam and the dam keeper. 

This book is beautiful, from the paintings of the three characters’ journey, to the matte heavyweight paper. It is also highly symbolic with a lot of visual metaphor that had me a bit lost as to the direction the book was taking. Under the author bios on the back flap, there is a reference to a 2015 Oscar-nominated short The Dam Keeper which sent me in search of it. After watching that, the book took on more meaning and the characters more depth, but still it is hard to argue with the fact that not a lot happens in this book and not a lot is said by the characters or the narrator, making it a disappointingly short, and arguably undeveloped, read.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim - ESSENTIAL

Reflection: A Twisted Tale by Elizabeth Lim, 408 pages.  Disney Press, 2018.  $18.  

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



This twist on Mulan starts on the snowy pass when the Hun soldiers are fighting against Shang, Mulan and their friends as the Huns are headed to attack the Imperial City.  Mulan, still known as Ping, is attacked but instead of getting hurt, Shang takes the blow.  Mulan still causes the avalanche and saves the city, but Shang is dying from his injury.  In the night, as Shang is passing away, Mulan sees Shang’s father and learns that she can go into the underworld and try to convince King Yama, the ruler of the underworld, to maybe let Shang stay and defend China.  Mulan starts a journey into the underworld where she has to convince Shang to fight to live and she has to face her own self-doubt.  

I LOVE Mulan.  She is my favorite Disney character and I was concerned that this story wouldn’t stay true to Mulan’s awesomeness, but it did.  It was fun to imagine more to the story of Mulan and Shang.  Fun, fast read that I couldn’t put down.  

C. Peterson.    

Red by Liesl Shurtliff -- ADVISABLE

Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff. Alfred A. Knopf, 2016. $16.99

Language: G (No swears); Mature Content: PG (discussions of death and of the meaning of life); Violence: PG (some description of fighting villains)



Red is terrified of her own magic. It has messed up too many times, and once nearly killed her dear grandmother. So when said grandmother falls ill several years later, Red isn't about to do magic of her own to fix her. No. She needs to find someone else's. But the journey isn't easy, even as she picks up new friends along the way.

This was an enjoyable retelling of the Red Riding Hood story. I loved how Shurtliff twisted not only this traditional story, but several others as well. In addition, I also found the themes of wrestling with the purpose of life and death fascinating.

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

Monday, September 17, 2018

No Filter by Orlagh Collins - OPTIONAL

No Filter by Orlagh Collins, 355 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2017.  $18.  

Language: R (72+ swears; 13 “f”);  Mature Content: R (on page sex) Violence: PG  



Emerald appears to have the perfect life: amazing friends, fun adventures and a great family. But the truth is that it is all one big lie. Her mother is an alcoholic and her father is always working. She is sent to live with her grandmother in Ireland for a summer while her mother is in rehab and her father is traveling around for business. At first, Emerald doubts going to stay in Ireland but soon she meets a cute local named Liam whose dream is to become a songwriter. 

I enjoyed this book, but I really wish that there had not been so much language, sex, alcohol and drugs. The setting of Ireland and the ocean were my favorite part.  I liked how the story all knit together in the end,  I think that the main characters were well developed, but the content made it hard to like them.    

Isabelle, student reviewer.

When Angels Sing by Michael Mahin - ADVISABLE

When Angels Sing : The Story of Rock Legend Carlos Santana by Michael Mahin, art by Jose Ramirez PICTURE BOOK Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2018. $18.


The life of musician Carlos Santana is recounted in this beautiful picture book. Always drawn to music, young Carlos searched and searched to find the sound his "angel" wanted to hear.  Told as a continual story, rather than telling Carlos age, the years are discretely seen in the background of the pages.

This picture book is appropriate for an older audience.  It's a great example of growth mindset and a wonderful biography. Infused throughout with words and phrases in Spanish, the message of finding yourself and always trying to improve is timely and important.

Lisa Librarian

The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece : A Handbook for Time Travelers by Jonathan W. Wtokes - ESSENTIAL

The Thrifty Guide to Ancient Greece : A Handbook for Time Travelers by Jonathan W. Stokes, illustrated by Xavier Bonet, 114 pages. NON FICTION Viking (Penguin), 2018. $14.
Language: PG (3 swears, 0 'F'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG



In the year 2164 time travel is possible and the technology is owned by Finn Greenquill, a money hungry entrepreneur.  This is the travel guide provided by Time Corp for ancient Greece.  Travelers are introduced to the major cities of Athens, and Sparta; they participate in the historic battles of Thermopulae and Salamis; they learn about the Greek gods, the philosophers, playwrights, mathematicians, and, if they survive, they will see the fall of the Greek Empire to the Romans Includes information on the Oracle of Delphi, the 7 wonders of the world, hairstyles, fashion, and food.  You learn about Zeus and Athena, the Olympics (how to win a marathon) who and what to avoid when in battle and so much more.

This humorous, illustrated travel guide is so fun to read! This is the third, after the American Revolution and Ancient Rome.  I love recommending this series - it makes history so much fun.  Includes a bibliography for the serious scholar.

Lisa Librarian

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies by Joyce Sidman - ESSENTIAL

The Girl Who Drew Butterflies: How Maria Merian’s Art Changed Science by Joyce Sidman. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018. $18. 9780544717138



An historical masterpiece recording the life and works of Maria Merian.  Maria grew up learning art in the home and studying the life of butterflies.  Not only did she paint exact renditions of the butterflies, she helps discover the various stages of metamorphosis.  Her renditions were so exact that scientists used her paintings in research.

This beautifully illustrated book should be in every library.  Not only is it a story about butterflies, but a wonderful story about a strong, talented woman who was admired in an era only for men.


Sunday, September 16, 2018

God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin - ADVISABLE

God Bless America: The Story of an Immigrant Named Irving Berlin by Adah Nuchi, illustrated by Rob Polivka.  PICTURE BOOK/NON-FICTION. Hyperion (Disney), 2018. $199781368015769 



In a bustling immigrant neighborhood of New York City in the 1890s, young Irving, born Israel “Izzy” Baline, hustled the evening news with a song. He always had a song, whether the “zim-a-lay-quiver, weep, call, waver prayers” of his Jewish forefathers in Russian or the “thump-two-three, ting-a-ling, whee song” of the crowded American streets around him. He wrote and presented a musical for the soldiers of World War I, and when a second world war looked likely, Irving polished off a song he had written 20 years earlier, which became an inspiring classic around the country. He donated all the royalties from God Bless America to the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America. Before his death at age 101, Irving had written over 1500 songs. 

The color pencil drawings illustrating this biography give the book an old-fashioned look that may be off-putting to an elementary school audience. I even found a couple of the illustrations at the beginning somewhat confusing. Additionally, most elementary kids will not know the music of Irving Berlin, but students in middle and high schools may, especially if their school has a musical drama program. Annie Get Your Gun is a staple for high school musicals. Use this book to introduce students of all ages to this talented composer, an immigrant, who helped shape our country's identity through the two world wars with his talent and service. The story is fleshed out more with an Author’s Note at the end. You will also find a timeline, a list of Berlin’s most famous songs, and selected sources. 
P. K. Fosterteacher-librarian 

Like Vanessa by Tami Charles - ADVISABLE

Like Vanessa by Tami Charles, 274 pages.  Charlesbridge, 2018.  $17.

Language: PG (10 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (girls as skanks); Violence: G



Vanessa, 13, dreams of being in the Miss America pageant some day, especially after watching her namesake Vanessa Williams win the crown that year.  But her very dark skin, her nappy hair, and her pudgy body aren’t really making things easy for her.  The people who have confidence in her, her Pop Pop, her cousin TJ, and surprisingly, her school choir teacher Mrs. Walton, support her and guide her when her middle school announces they are having their first ever beauty pageant.  Arrayed against her, however, are her father, her longing for her years absent mother, the school queen bee, and Vanessa’s own lack of confidence.

Its been 20 years since The Skin I’m In by Sharon Flake was published and I felt, in a great way, that I was reading its companion.  Even though this book has a historic setting (1983), the time period means very little; the book feels fresh and now.  I even liked how Charles showed that a few small changes in daily habits can make big changes in a growing girl’s body. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Friday, September 14, 2018

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich - OPTIONAL

Dear Evan Hansen by Val Emmich and others, 368 pages  Little Brown, 2018.  $19.

Language: R (45 swears, 25 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (sexual content); Violence: G



Evan Hansen has no friends, so her drags himself to school every day so that he can at least look at object of his unrequited crush.  Then comes the misunderstanding the thrusts Evan into the spotlight and connects with his crush in ways that Evan loves (because he’s near the girl) and hates (because the whole thing is based on a lie).  Because he has what he thinks he wants, Evan rolls with the lie, weaving a story that way too many people believe.  How can Evan finally come clean and tell the truth?  What will happen to his life if he does?

When this landed in my TBR pile, I was surprised to see that this is a musical.  Then I found a friend had been to New York and watched the musical and loved it!  I can only imagine that the music is incredible, because I have a hard time imagining this being a hit musical.  Interesting, but not anywhere near as compelling as Neanderthal Opens the Door to the Universe by Preston Norton.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Corthron - NO

The Truth of Right Now by Kara Lee Corthron, 276 pages. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2017. $17.99

Language: NC17 (209 swears, 29 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG13



Lily is not proud of what she’s done, but no one at school will let her forget what happened while they still treat her as untouchable. Dari feels helpless as his family members desert him and leave Dari alone with his demanding father. These two abandoned and forgotten teenagers come together, trying to find reasons to live again, but no hurt can be healed overnight—even with new, empathetic friends.

Confusion blurred my view of this book as I tried to understand what Corthron was trying to say with this novel. Even now, having finished the book, I have no idea what the point was of Lily’s and Dari’s stories, and I am taken aback by the bad examples these characters set for their readers. Both Lily and Dari were able to find solace in each other, but they could have made a thousand different choices that would have given them better outcomes despite their difficult circumstances. Lily, Dari, and Corthron could have all made better choices with this book.
I rated the language at NC17 for two uses of the c-word on top of the already heinous swear count. The violence is PG13 for details surrounding abuse and suicide attempts, and the mature content is rated R for sexual content and adult activity.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen