Saturday, September 29, 2018

Pillars of Hercules (Delilah Dirk #3) by Tony Cliff -ADVISABLE

Pillars of Hercules (Delilah Dirk #3) by Tony Cliff, 247 pages. First Second (Roaring Brook (Holtzbrinck)), 2018 $18

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



In this third graphic novel, Delilah and Selim are on a new adventure. It the 1800’s and many new archaeological discoveries are being made. Delilah is usually all about the plunder, but thanks to a new companion, Van Hassel, she gets a touch of fame, and sort of likes it. Together the trio go on a long journey searching for an ancient city. Delilah has a few enemies who would like to stop her. Luckily she has Selim, who always has her back and is a bit more thoughtful.

This book could function as a stand alone. Its fairly tame in the language, mature content and violence department –but the plot and vocabulary are fairly complex, making this book a better choice for high school readers.  This book felt like reading an Indiana Jones movie, lots of exotic locations, fun sub characters, and lots of intrigue. This is my favorite book in the series so far! The artwork is just stunning and I especially love the Delilah isn’t gorgeous and that there isn’t romance –just pure adventure.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

The Broken Vow (Spill Zone #2) by Scott Westerfeld -ADVISABLE

The Broken Vow (Spill Zone #2) byScott Westerfeld, 222 pages. First Second (Roaring Brook (Holtzbrinck)), 2018 $23
Language: PG13 (4 swears; 2 S, 2F); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG



In this second graphic novel of the series, Addison has had enough of the creepy zone –a place that killed her parents (See book 1). Now she just wants to take the money she earned and move her and her sister away. But her sister refuses to go because her possessed doll needs the energy of the zone to recharge. In the meantime a north Korean teen named Jae is looking for Addison, he believes they have the ability to negate the zone, shut it down. But others are looking for both of them and things come together in a dramatic way.

First off, the artwork is really unique, creepy, and cool. Fans of the first book will love this second book, it was impossible to put down. I thought the plot was a new and interesting twist and yet kept that stranger things feel. The swear count is much lower than the first book, so that’s a bonus for many school libraries.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

The Legend of Grimm’s Woods by Manuro Gorobei - ADVISABLE

The Legend of Grimm’s Woods (Hocus Pocus) by Manuro Gorobei, 295 pages. INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL. Quirk Books, 2018. $10. 9781683690573

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



Hocus and Pocus are going to a school where they learn how to care for the earth and train magical creatures. As part of a challenge to get their creatures permanently and graduate, they must find two lost kids. At this point in the story, the reader picks a character to follow and jumps around the story based on decisions they make. Hocus and Pocus ultimately find the kids in the house of a witch, but the journey to get there will differ for each reader.

The plot of this book is simple and clear, but the way of reading it makes it difficult. When you make a choice in the book, you go to a different number panel and sometimes you jump to a new panel after reading just one. Sometimes you read for a longer time before you jump, and those are the most enjoyable parts. I think many young readers will be slow at finding the correct panel number and this could be frustrating for them.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

The Secret of the Wind (Cottons) by Pascoe and Arnhold - OPTIONAL

The Secret of the Wind (Cottons) by Jim Pascoe and Heidi Arnhold, 242 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second, 2018. $20.

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.



In a world of rabbits and foxes, there are a lot of forces at play beyond the natural rivalry between the two. In The World of Lavender, the rabbits are trying to balance industry and art and each rabbit must play their role to produce enough carrots. Bridgebelle is walking this line, working by day in the factory, and spending her free time practicing art mixed with magic. 

I think this graphic novel will appeal to those readers interested in dystopian societies, but I don’t predict the appeal will go much wider than that. The book is reminiscent of Watership Down. I found the story hard to follow and the characters hard to keep straight, but the theme of art versus industry is compelling. There is an attempted suicide in this book that is a bit graphic and drawn out and could be a trigger for some readers.

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Friday, September 28, 2018

Mayfly by Jeff Sweat - OPTIONAL

Mayfly by Jeff Sweat, 355 pages.  Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan), 2018.  $18.

Language: R (53 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (mild sex talk); Violence: PG-13 (fighting, cannibalism mentioned)



Jemma and others in the Holy Wood just barely manage to keep a living going.  But in a world where you are going to die when you turn 17, and sometimes earlier, all life is desperate.  AT 15 Jenna is supposed to become a Mama - doing her part to produce a new generation.  But if Jemma doesn’t escape, then Apple, the best friend, the boy she is just beginning to realize that she likes in a different way than just “rolling” will die.Together Jemma, Apple, Lady, Pico, the refugee from the Malibus, and even the strange Palo they find themselves saddled with, must journey across hostile territories.  Jemma knows there are answers out there -- somewhere.  Maybe maybe a cure to The End. 

Jemma and her life are compelling to read.  Having grown up in LA, I loved reading Sweat’s changes to familiar place names and it was heart-wrenching to see the lives of the children as they tried to hold life together even in the face of inevitable death.  Students who like the Gone series by Michael Grant will like this.

I’d replay some of the brilliant dialogue for you, but I don’t want to give a single thing away.  I have just one gripe -- if I love your book enough, I am going to want and welcome a sequel when it appears.  There is no reason to hit me on the head with end action that says “Hey -- there’s gonna be a sequel here!”  Let me enjoy this book, first, in all its glory.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Bands of Bravery by Shuky, Waltch, and Novy - OPTIONAL

The Bands of Bravery (Knights Club) by Shuky, Waltch, and Novy. INTERACTIVE GRAPHIC NOVEL. 
Quirk Books, 2018. $10. 9781683690559

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



Three young farmers are determined to leave their laborious lifestyle for the life of a knight. To do so they must go through knight training and each brother has different strengths to bring to the journey - agility, strength, or intelligence. The reader picks which boy to follow through his journey and jumps to different frames based on the decisions the reader makes. Along the way the reader keeps track of the things they collect and the time it takes. 

There is a lot of flipping back and forth throughout this book. The tracker is at the front of the book and as you pick your journey in this book, you have to hunt for the correct numbered panel. I think this could be a turn off for a young reader, but I like that you could get through the adventure in one sitting and come back another time and have a new experience. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Thursday, September 27, 2018

My Baby Crocodile by Gaetan Doremus - OPTIONAL

My Baby Crocodile by Gaetan Doremus. PICTURE BOOK. Enchanted Lion Books, 2016. $19. 9781592701926



A crocodile finds a knight alone in the swamp and mistakes him for a baby crocodile, given that the shape of his helmet looks like a crocodile. Crocodile takes care of him and falls in love with him as his baby. Then, on a swimming expedition, the crocodile realizes that his baby is really a human and the point of view of the book switches to the knight. The knight realizes that the crocodile isn’t going to eat him, but begins to think about killing the crocodile and being a hero back home. The point of view then shifts back and forth as each of them considers killing the other and then dismissing that thought. In the end, they part in peace. 

This book is quirky. I think there are a lot of layers that could be peeled back in this interesting tale. I see its potential mostly in a high school unit on war and diplomatic differences. This book does seem to require discussion around reading it, talking about what could be gleaned from a story such as this. The illustrations are pen sketches in different colors and the text is hand written. 

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Hardscrabble by Sandra Dallas - ADVISABLE

Hardscrabble by Sandra Dallas, 240 pages.  Sleeping Bear Press, 2018.  $16.  

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



Belle arrives in Mingo, Colorado with her ailing mother and brood of siblings to meet up with their father who has been starting their homestead while they moved from Iowa.  Even though Belle is only twelve, Belle and her older sister quickly fall into the mother roll and help around the farm.  They befriend a woman homesteader, Lizzie, who is a bright spot in their bleak environment and helps them figure out life on the prairie.  When Belle’s mother’s health doesn’t improve, Belle, her father and her sister feel hopeless and have to depend on each other and their kind neighbors to survive.  

Sandra Dallas does this setting (Midwest) and time period (1910) so well, whether she is writing adult or middle reader.  I loved the Martin family and wanted them to succeed and was totally caught up in their struggle.  Two little things bugged me: first, there were times in the story that felt rushed (including the ending) and the second, the back cover of the book refers to a hardship that the family faces in the last forty pages of the book which is anti-climactic.  That said, I really loved this historical fiction for middle readers.  

C. Peterson

Responsive Literacy: A Comprehensive Framework - ESSENTIAL

Responsive Literacy: A Comprehensive Framework by Patricia L. Scharer, Editor. 379 pages. Scholastic, 2018.  $53.  9781338245622



Responsive Learning is an almost monolithic resource for an elementary teacher working on creating a nurturing atmosphere for reading comprehension and writing.  I can see this being used in university level courses as a text or as a long-term professional development text for working professionals.  The information is both critical and also compelling for any elementary teacher who wants to develop lifelong readers.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Wednesday, September 26, 2018

Gamer Army by Trent Reedy - ESSENTIAL

Gamer Army by Trent Reedy, 336 pages.  Arthur A. Levine (Scholastic), DEC 2018.  $17.

Language:  G; Mature Content:  G; Violence: PG (lots of video game violence, not bloody)



Rogan and four other 12yo have been recruited by the world’s most brilliant tech guru to participate in an elimination tournament in the Laser Viper game platform.  The kids are isolated from their families and the world during the tournament and they never know when a challenge is coming. But they have access to the world’s coolest tech, which just keeps improving.  What could go wrong?  Well, maybe not al is as it seems with their idol. Or with the “missions” the kids are challenged to complete.

Ride the wave of Ready Player One with this gaming tech-filled, action-packed treat.  You might be able to pull hard-core gamers away from their computer screens long enough to read this! Any action fan will love it.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett - OPTIONAL

Starry Eyes by Jenn Bennett, 417 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (88 swears; 5 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: G.  



Zorie and Lennon used to be friends, but when they tried to move from friends to dating, Lennon let Zorie down.  Now they’ve been trying to avoid each other for the past year, but when Zorie is invited on a glamping trip with friends, Lennon gets invited also and they find themselves falling back into their easy friendship and maybe something more.  

I enjoyed the romance in this book and the characters had good chemistry.  I loved the setting on a camping trip and the realization that being away from their phones and the pressure of social media is refreshing.  However, Lennon’s moms own a sex shop and there is a lot of references to sex toys and such, making it so the mature content is over the top and not something I really think should be read about in a young adult novel.  The swear count is high and there is heavy make-out sessions and pretty close to on page sex.  

C. Peterson   

Paddling the John Wesley Powell Route by Mike Bezemek - ADVISABLE

Content: G



Bezemek follows the course of John Wesley Powell’s expedition along the Green River and into the Colorado River through Wyoming, Utah, and Arizona.  This is a practical guide to re-creating the same trip, in its whole, in multi-day stretches, or smaller day trips. An in-depth look at each stretch of the rivers, the logistics of paddling them, and then a bit of history from Powell’s journey.  

If you know someone who is an avid paddler, this is a must have guide book.  I can see these spawning many dreamtrips and perhaps just as many actual journeys.  I know I am not a river rat, but even I was spurred to look up guides who take tours through different stretches of the route!  I showed the historic bits to our Utah History teachers, but they said they are actually took specific and detailed to be useful in the 7th grade classroom.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald - ESSENTIAL

Game Changer by Tommy Greenwald, 286 pages.  Amulet, 2018. $17.

Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mentions violence)



No one except those who were there knows for sure what happened during the Rookie Rumble, but one of the freshmen, Teddy, is in a coma and another, Ethan, won’t see or talk to anyone.  

Written through transcripts of texts and message boards, plus free verse formatted conversations. The on-point look at the pervasive nature of hazing, the good-old-boys-network of silence, the football-is-king mentality is pertinent and compelling.What a change from Greenwald’s previous topics and breezy, humorous style.  I have to wonder if he has been personally affected by such an incident.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Lafayette (Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale - ESSENTIAL

Lafayette (Hazardous Tales) by Nathan Hale, 127 pages.  GRAPHIC NON-FICTION.  Amulet, 2018. $14. 

Language:  G; Mature Content:  G; Violence: PG (war scenes, some dead)



Meet the Marquis de LaFayette – friend to the American colonists as they fought against England during the Revolutionary War.  

Hale uses his familiar graphic novel style, with plenty of pizzazz, some blood, and a healthy dash of excitement to tell the tale.  This one is a bit more confusing – mostly because LaFayette is less familiar to American children.  I really wish these books were a larger format – better to see and enjoy the illustrations.  But every single one of them is highly popular.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Monday, September 24, 2018

Memphis, Martin, and the Mountaintop by Alice Faye Duncan - ADVISABLE



After two black men died because of poorly maintained garbage trucks, the rest of the black workers defied their white bosses and went on strike.  There was nothing safe or simple about the strike, which dragged on for months.  And it was while Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. was in Memphis supporting the strikers that he was assassinated.

I would love to know if elementary teachers are using this in their schools; with the long narrative, I have a hard time seeing it being used much there.  On the other hand, it is very hard to get middle school or high school teachers to use picture books in their classroom - which is unfortunate, because this look at the civil rights movement is a great opener or discussion piece in a any related unit.  My ignorance shows, because I was surprised by MLK’s death near the end.  Any decent civil rights collection needs this.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram - ESSENTIAL

Darius The Great Is Not Okay by Adib Khorram, 314 pages. Dial Books (Penguin), 2018. $18. 

Language: PG-13 (4 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence (G)



Darius is a junior in high school when his family decides to take a trip to Iran to visit his grandparents. Darius is half Persian, and while he loves traditional teas and the foods from Iran, he does not speak Farsi or understand many of the customs. Darius struggles with depression, insecurity, and a complicated relationship with his dad, but the trip to Iran offers surprising tools and breakthroughs for Darius, primarily in the form of a new friend. 

I loved this book from page one. Darius is so likable and his struggles so real and genuinely portrayed. The author did a great job of taking the complicated nature of depression and, without belittling it’s impact on a person, shows how it does not have to define a life. Khorram also draws the reader into a different culture in a way that invites curiosity and respect. I put the book down and immediately looked up Persian restaurants I could visit.

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

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 chimney sweeps in 1800’s London.  As an adult, I loved it. 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