Friday, November 30, 2018

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig - ADVISABLE

The Girl Who Saved Christmas by Matt Haig, 311 pages. Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), 2016 $16.99

Language: G (silly elf swearing) Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (ala "Home Alone" people slipping on butter, getting hit with frying pans, Troll danger) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Amelia Wishart was so full of hope that first year Father Christmas delivered presents she was really all the magic he needed. But now, two years later, her mother has died and she is in a workhouse laboring for the cruel Mr. Creepers. Back at the North pole:Father Christmas missed Christmas altogether last year because of a vicious Troll attack, and this year there is barely enough hope to lift the sleigh off the ground - he's got a letter in his pocket from Amelia and needs to find her - maybe her hope can work it's magic again! 

Haig has written a much more serious Christmas Story in the Girl who Stole Christmas. Still silly with Blitzen up to his old toilet humor, but a story about a world that needs to find hope must be fraught with sadness and doubt and tears. I enjoyed it, very Dickensian. 

Lisa Librarian

The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar - ADVISABLE

The Bigfoot Files by Lindsay Eagar, 371 pages. Candlewick, 2018. $17

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Miranda is the middle school student body president and is looking forward to the summer leadership camp she has worked so hard for. There is just one thing standing in her way - her mom. Her mom keeps pulling her out of school to go on cryptozoologist expeditions and if Miranda misses any more school she will have to do summer school and miss her camp. Miranda hatches a plan to get her mom to stop looking for big foot and be more responsible. This plan involves going on one last expedition. 

I enjoyed this book, especially the relationship between a type-A daughter and free-spirited mom. I didn’t enjoy the writing though. It was lovely, but much to descriptive for a book that hung mostly on the plot. You get a good feel for the inner-landscape of Miranda, but it really slows down the book. Miranda copes with her stress by pulling out her hair, which may open dialogue for some students who have self-harm habits, but it is never resolved in the book.  


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

The Story Collector by Kristi O'Donnell Tubb - ADVISABLE

The Story Collector by Kristin O'Donnell Tubb, 233 pages. Henry Holt (MacMillan), 2018 $16.99. Language: G (0 swears, 0'f') Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL,  MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

11-year-old Viviana Fedeler lives in the New York Public Library! It's 1928 and her father is the library Superintendent, so Viviana and her family live in an apartment in the beautiful building. She is a story teller, and at recess entertains her friends in the school yard, but when a new girl moves in, she doesn't appreciate the stories and calls Viviana a liar! Viviana wanted to be friends! Oh dear, this is certainly a bad beginning. 

Tubb has crafted an exciting, mysterious, nostalgic story. Based on the true life experiences of the Fedeler children, the writing and illustrations are vivid, and the time period is well researched. I hope to see further stories featuring her brothers and their friends. Includes an afterward and a time line, plus links to visit the library online to see the rooms for yourself.

Lisa, Librarian

Thursday, November 29, 2018

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano - ADVISABLE

Guardians of the Gryphon’s Claw by Todd Calgi Gallicano, 373 pages.  Delacorte (Random), 2017.  $17.

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: G (some violence, without being graphic)

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Sam London has been dreaming about a gryphon – over and over.  When he pursues the dream to Death Valley, he finds not only a gryphon, but gets involved with a whole secret world of what he thought were mythical creatures.  With Dr. Vance Vantana, Sam sets off on adventure to save the Gryphon’s Claw – the object that stops most humans from seeing magical creatures – from the evil creatures who want to rule over humans.  

Sam’s first adventure is a whole lot of fun.  And danger. Kids who like Brandon Mull or Chris Colfer will also enjoy this.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington - OPTIONAL

The Red Ribbon by Lucy Adlington, 264 pages.  Candlewick, 2018.  $18. 

Language: PG (7 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mentions of deaths and cruelty, nothing graphic)

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

One moment Ella was walking home from school, the next she has been rounded up by the Nazis because of her yellow star and transported to the concentration camp  Birkenau, or Birchwood, as the author calls it. Luckily she is a superb seamstress and is able to get a job in the Upper Tailoring Studio where they makes clothing for the female officers and the wives of the camp overseers.  But life under Nazi rule is cheap – one little slip and anyone can be out on their ear in a heartbeat.  The girls of the Studio try to form a family, but the only person Ella really trusts is Rose – a former member of an upper class, who is now also only trying to survive.  

I rated this optional only because the audience for it will be small.  Excellent writing, an intriguing peek into a little seen part of the Holocaust – even a look at the Department Store, where Nazis of all kinds “shopped” through the belongings of the victims.  For that alone, I know adults will love this.  There are some very subtle lesbian overtones – so slight, most teens will miss them.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

One Day a Dot: The Story of You, the Universe, and Everything by Ian Lendler - ESSENTIAL

One Day a Dot: The Story of You, the Universe, and Everything by Ian Lendler, illustrated by Shelli Paroline and Braden Lamb. PICTURE BOOK. First Second (Roaring Book Press), 2018. $18. 9781626722446.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Starting with the appearance of a simple dot, that then got so excited it burst into lots of other dots, that then joined together and made light, and eventually...the world as we know it came to be and we all exist. This is a simplified--and fantastic!--explanation of evolution, taking the readers from the very beginnings all the way to their own life on earth today. The author leaves us with the one thing no one can agree on or explain today--where that first dot actually came from.

I liked this the first time I read it, and loved it the next time I gave it a go. The illustrations are colorful, artsy, and perfect for the material. The way a somewhat complex topic like evolution is simplified down here is great and I can see many a science teacher using this book. This should be in every school library and science teacher's bookshelf.

Reviewer: TC

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan - ESSENTIAL

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X. R. Pan, 472 pages. Little Brown and Company, 2018. $19 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Leigh is a sophomore in high school when her mother commits suicide on an afternoon she is away with her best friend Axel. Leigh soon starts seeing a large red bird and is convinced it is her mom trying to get a message to her. The bird leads her to make a trip to Taiwan to visit her estranged grandparents. There, through mystical experiences, she learns about her mother’s past and her experiences with depression. Leigh emerges from these experiences with a better handle on her grief, her sense of guilt, and her relationship with her dad and her friends. 

This is a brilliantly crafted book. Leigh describes the world around her and inside of her through colors; this adds a beautiful layer to the text. While the nature of suicide makes the content of this book mature, the author has handled it very gently and compassionately. The romantically shifting relationship between Leigh and Axel will be familiar to many maturing readers and I would confidently put this in the hands of most high school students.     

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made The Modern World by Steven Johnson - ESSENTIAL

How We Got To Now: Six Innovations That Made The Modern World by Steven Johnson, 152 pages. NON-FICTION. Viking (Penguin), 2018. $20

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS, HS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This book is a young reader adaptation from a New York Times bestseller and covers the discoveries and innovations surrounding glass, cold, sound, cleanliness, time, and light. Each chapter covers one of these topics and includes a comprehensive history with the logistical details embedded in the timeline. The chapters also contain a number of photographs and illustrations. There are a lot of attention grabbing anecdotes in each section.  

My entire family loved this book. We jumped around the book, each taking a turn picking a topic, and learned a lot in the process. One of the anecdotes that we have retold to other people we read in the chapter on light and it tell the story of how whale oil was used to make cheaper candles. To get the oil, or spermaceti, they had to send a small person, often a child, inside the body of the whale to scoop out gallon after gallon of the substance. Gross. This would be a fun informational text to read aloud in a science, history, or English classroom.        


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Wednesday, November 28, 2018

Mist, Metal, and Ash by Gwendolyn Clare - ADVISABLE

Mist, Metal, and Ash (Ink, Iron, and Glass #2) by Gwendolyn Clare, 336 pages.  Imprint (Macmillan), Feb 2019.  $19

Language: PG-13 (33 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (some blood and bodies)

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Elsa and the others were left behind and betrayed when Leo went off with his brother Aris and the edit book.  While Elsa’s heart hurts, she is determined to regain control of the editbook; if Aris learns how to use it, he and Garibaldi could destroy all the worlds. As she leaves on the hunt, she doesn’t realize that she is leaving the children in danger – something is wrong with Casa, too.

Things get a bit more complicated in the second book of the series.  Not unexpected, of course.  Elsa spends her whole time trying to thwart Aris and Garibaldi and she unearths more complications.  I am wondering about the purpose of Casa going off the rails – hopefully that will weave in during the 3rdbook.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

She Dared: Malala Yousafzai by Jenni L. Walsh - ADVISABLE


She Dared: Malala Yousafzai by Jenni L. Walsh, 128 pages.  Scholastic, 2019.  $7.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Malala lived in Pakistan with her parents and two brothers.  She dreamed of becoming a doctor and loved everything to do with school.  When the Taliban leaders start to infringe on the rights of the people in her community, Malala starts to speak out against the oppression.  She is targeted by the Taliban and shot while taking the bus home from school.  She received medical care in England and has used her experience to try and bring attention to the needs of girls around the world.  

This is a great succinct biography about Malala’s life.  I especially enjoyed the ending that includes all the ways that she has reached out and helped since this experience.  Her story is inspiring and courageous and this version of the story is well done without being scary.  

C. Peterson

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Manuela Santoni - ADVISABLE

Jane Austen: Her Heart Did Whisper by Manuela Santoni, 95 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Graphic Universe (Lerner), 2016. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This is the story of Jane Austen’s family dynamics, the discovery of her writing talents, and her romantic experiences. This graphic novel hinges on the axis of her relationship with Mr. Lefroy, who enters Jane’s life as an arrogant character. Jane falls in love with him, and he her. When he leaves town, they continue corresponding and get engaged, but when Jane visits him after their time apart she realizes she does not love him anymore. This relationship is suggested to inform much of her writing. 

I want to love anything that even mentions Jane Austen, but this was only okay for me. I thought the lack of color, all the illustrations are black and white, was a little monotonous and boring given the high emotions of the story. It is interesting to learn about Jane’s romantic adventures, but I think the only audience that will enjoy that are those who have read Jane Austen previously. So, while the writing is appropriate for elementary aged readers, not many of them have read Austen’s work and will likely have no interest in this story.  


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

Coco Chanel by Susan Goldman Rubin - ESSENTIAL

Coco Chanel : Pearls, Perfume and the Little Black Dress by Susan Goldman Rubin, 133 pages. NON FICTION Abrams Books for Young Readers, 2018 $18.99. 

Content: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Susan Goldman Rubin gives us a well researched biography of the famous designer. Beginning with her childhood, mostly spent in poverty, living with relatives or in an orphanage, through her schooling and eventual rise to fame as the designer for the rich and famous in Paris. 

 Rubin does a great job of separating fact from fiction; telling both Chanel's story and the researched history. Well illustrated with captioned historical photographs, includes a list of museums with artifacts, fashion firsts introduced by Chanel and an extensive bibliography. 

 Lisa Librarian 

Her Right Foot by David Eggers - ESSENTIAL

Her Right Foot By Dave Eggers, Art by Shawn Harris, 104 pages. PICTURE BOOK, NON FICTION Chronicle Books 2017 $19.99 1452162816 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

The Statue of Liberty has been welcoming people in the harbor for over 125 years. But there's more to her than we think. Eggers describes the construction in Paris, the transportation and reassembly in New York, even why she is green. but then, he goes on to tell about the symbolism of her right foot - have you noticed, she's in stride! Where is she going? 

Eggers writing style makes the reader feel smart! Full of "you probably know" and "you may have noticed" the text practically begs the reader to share the information they just learned (or already know but had forgotten). Harris's illustrations are the perfect companion to this amazing quick read about acceptance. I'll never see the statue of liberty the same way again. Includes a bibliography for further reading, and a list of sources. 

Lisa Librarian

Deceiver’s Heart by Jennifer Nielsen - ADVISABLE

Deceiver’s Heart by Jennifer Nielsen, 384 pages.  Scholastic, Feb 2019.  $18

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

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Kestra accepted her role as the Infidante and tried to use the Olden Blade to kill Lord Endrick. When her plan fails, Endrick takes her memories to warp her into his puppet.  When she is again kidnapped by the Coracks, she has no idea who she was, nor who Simon is to her.  In order to restore her memories, she must dare to claim her magic.  But if she does, then she will lose Simon forever.

Things get quite complicated in this second book.  I must admit I felt betrayed when Endrick took Kestra’s memories.  I know Kestra couldn’t just kill Endrick in the first chapter, but it felt like a trick.  I think I just have to accept that the magic and the danger takes a back seat to the romance - very convoluted romance.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Monday, November 26, 2018

Tangled in Time: The Portal by Kathryn Lasky - OPTIONAL

Tangled in Time: The Portal by Kathryn Lasky, 384 pages.  Harper Collins, March 2019.  $17

Language: PG (7 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content:G ; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Rose’s life has been turned upside down by her mother’s death.  Now she is surviving the mean girls in her new sixth grade class who are jealous of her online fame as a fashion vlogger.  Her new guardian, her grandmother, is forgetful, except when the two of them are working in the greenhouse.  Something is strange, though, and one day Rose finds herself going back in time to the court of King Henry VIII, in the household of the princess Elizabeth.  Rose has no control over when she moves between one realm or the other, but she does have a goal – to find the father she has never met.

Lasky knows everything about historical princesses and courts – its when Rose is in the past that the book really shines.  Magic, however, is not her strong suit.  Magic needs even a few simple rules and there are none here to regulate Rose’s movements. If they are coming in a sequel, that’s just a cheap trick on the reader.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall by Drew Weing - ADVISABLE


The Creepy Case Files of Margo Maloo: The Monster Mall (Margo Maloo, #2) by Drew Weing, 120 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL  First Second (Macmillan), 2018.  $16.  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Charles is fairly new to Echo City, but what he has learned of the place is that there are monsters hiding throughout the city and not many people know they are there.  Charles had to get help from Margo Maloo for a problem he was having in his own home and ever since he has decided that he wants to alert all the kids in Echo City of the monsters in their midst.  Margo agrees to let him shadow her as she mediates between the humans and the monsters, so that Charles can get information to share with others so that everyone can get along.  Charles and Margo concentrate on the abandoned mall that has a lair of vampires.  

What a fun read! Margo is a capable character who is cloaked in mystery and Charles is a cute nerd who is being introduced to this new way of looking at the world.  The illustrations are fantastic and this is a read that will be enjoyed by graphic novel lovers.  

C. Peterson   

Sunday, November 25, 2018

The Story of My Face by Leanne Baugh - OPTIONAL

The Story of My Face by Leanne Baugh, 228 pages. Second Story Press, 2018. $13.95

Language: R (115 swears, 17 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Abby had an accident last year that has left her scarred—inside and out. As she tries to go back to school for her senior year and figure out how to put back the pieces of her life, insurmountable obstacles seem to come around every corner. How can Abby move forward when she doesn’t even know which path is safe to walk?

Aside from the crudeness that came up frequently through this book, I enjoyed reading the journey Abby takes and helps readers to take with her. Her story is about the struggle of knowing who you are amid the pressures of who you should be and who you want to be. Abby shows those readers who may also struggle with self-esteem and self-confidence—which is most of us—that there is help and support from different avenues waiting to cheer you on if you will look for them and allow them to help. You have what you need to move forward so just take a courageous step.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton - OPTIONAL

Stronger, Faster, and More Beautiful by Arwen Elys Dayton, 368 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s Books), 2018. $18.99

Language: R (42 swears, 9 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Dayton put together a book made up of six stories of our possible future. With scientific advances and discoveries, some of Dayton’s ideas seem not to be very far off. However, extremist behavior may become our downfall.

Some of the stories have a lot of sexual content, and some of the stories are really creepy, but all of them are intriguing. While most of these sci-fi stories are outlandish, I like the questions that Dayton poses through them—how far will we go to improve the human race? And what defines “human”? We get to choose what we do with our bodies and our lives.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

LGBTQ+

In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natahsa Deen - ADVISABLE

In the Key of Nira Ghani by Natahsa Deen, 304 pages.  Running Press Teens, April 2019.  $18.

Language: PG-13 (22 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Nira is barely making it through high school, with only Emily as her friend and Georgia, her pocket trumpet, as solace.  But things are changing – Noah, the local BMOC, and McKenzie, Nira’s chief tormentor, are horning in on the duo for some reason.  Even Farrah, her rich, stuck-up cousin, seems to be hanging around more. Between rocky friendships and the weight of her family’s expectations, Nira turns more to her music, but there is a chance for disaster.

I like Nira quite a lot. Nira’s story is similar to many other previous stories about kids whose parents don’t want to leave any room for them to grow up and away and friendships that can – sometimes in good ways and sometimes away from each other. Who I don’t like is the jazz band teacher at her school – he is callous man who probably drove more kids away from performing than her did encouraging them to perform.  An easy read to enjoy.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins - PUBLIC ONLY

People Kill People by Ellen Hopkins, 431 pages, Margaret K McElderry Books, 2018. $19.99.

 Language: R (100+ swears) 32 'f's); Mature Content: R (sexually explicit, teen drug and alcohol use); Violence: R.

PUBLIC ONLY

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When an old man accidentally kills his wife, he sells the gun through a newspaper ad to a teenager. It could have been any of the 6 teens in this story, they all want a gun and feel they have a good reason to own one. We follow their stories for one very tense week, hoping it's not each them, learning their stories and dreading what we know will happen. 

Hopkins presents a very difficult read which is compelling, edgy and graphic.  Written in verse (for the most part) the story is told from so many perspectives, I found myself taking notes to remember how the characters were related. Full of sex and violence, sexual abuse, physical abuse, politics, hatred, racial stereotyping, mental illness, and teen drama and much, much more, it is way too mature for a school library. 

Lisa Librarian

Saturday, November 24, 2018

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill - OPTIONAL

The Three Rules of Everyday Magic by Amanda Rawson Hill, 190 pages. Boyds Mills Press (Highlights), 2018. $17.95

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

For Kate, nothing has been right since Christmas—before her father left, before her Grammy stopped remembering things, and before friendships became complicated. With everything falling apart, Kate feels helpless. But then Grammy starts teaching her about everyday magic. Maybe, just maybe, everything will be okay.

I love how Hill is able to capture the difficulty of life and the challenge of trying to figure out how to deal with everything that happens. Every challenge we face adds up, and sometimes it takes a while to know how to move forward. As Kate learns and teaches us, though, it is okay to hope and it is okay to change.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Ship of Smoke and Steel by Djano Wexler - HIGH

Ship of Smoke and Steel by Djano Wexler, 368 pages.  Tor Teen, January 2019.  $18.

Language: PG-13 (43 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (implied sex); Violence: R (much blood and fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Isoka only exists to protect her younger sister Tori – even if it means using her magic to beat and kill. Then she is captured by the Empire’s Immortals and thrown onto the Soliton – a ghost ship that requires magic wielders as tribute.  She has a year to take control of the ship of the Empire , then her sister will be ruined. But life on the ship is a dog eat dog existence – death is common, life is cheap.  Isoka’s clade is at the bottom of the pile and the Captain is unavailable. Isoka will do whatever it takes to claw her way to the top and save Tori.

If your students love Lex Thomas’s Quarantine series, they will also love this.  The plot is a frame for bloody battles as Isoka claws her way to her answers.  Its billed as a YA fantasy novel, but it really is more for adults. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS
LGBTQIA+

People Like Us by Dana Mele - OPTIONAL


People Like Us by Dana Mele, 375 pages. G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (101 swears; 12 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

One night Kay and her friends go to the pond by their school to skinny dip, but when they get to the pond, they see a dead schoolmate floating in the water.  As the investigation starts to unfold, Kay feels like she is a suspect for the murder.  And life gets even more complicated for Kay when she receives an e-mail from the dead girl.  The e-mail forces Kay to play a cruel game in which Kay has to reveal the secrets of all of her friends, otherwise Kay’s biggest secret will be reveled, a secret that would make her look guilty in the murder of the classmate.  

This book sounds so good, but it is poorly executed.  Kay and her friends are bullies, making it impossible to like any of them or care what happens to them.  There are parts of the book that are bogged down with too much detail, dragging the story line and other parts that are repetitive.  In the end it was a disappointing read.  

C. Peterson       

Friday, November 23, 2018

The Perfect Secret by Rob Buyea - ADVISABLE

The Perfect Secret by Rob Buyea, 364 pages. Delacourt Press, 2018. $16.99. 

Language: PG (1 swear, 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG. 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

The kids from The Perfect Score are back for their 7th grade year. This year is all about secrets; everyone has secrets: Gavin is finally playing football, but the coach has something against him and won’t let him play - Gavin tells everyone football is great, but Scott knows otherwise - Scott’s football experience is also not as expected, he is terribly bullied by other team members. Randi has been invited to an elite gymnastics camp where she meets an unexpected relative. Natalie wants to get Mrs. Woods and Mrs. Magenta back together - but she’s been told their problems are a secret so this is harder than she anticipated. And Trevor . . . Brian has moved out, but Trevor is afraid Brian is headed for big trouble. 

Buyea has written another engaging story, well told through the perspectives of each of the characters. Pulling their stories together is easy - they are all friends from last year (read book 1 for the back story) however, The Perfect Secret isn't as seamless as I would have liked as the stories resolved too easily and neatly, probably to keep the book from exceeding 300+ pages. An advisable buy, especially if you have book one. 

 Lisa Librarian 

Nevertheless, We Persisted by Amy Klobuchar - HIGH

Nevertheless, We Persisted: 48 Voices of Defiance, Strength, and Courage by Amy Klobuchar, 275 pages. Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books), 2018. $18.99

Language: R (12 swears, 4 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The 48 contributors who have shared their stories have done so to help readers know that they are not alone, that they can overcome the obstacles in their paths, and that they can accomplish anything they want. These men and women have faced biases and bigotry, war and injury, divorce and disability, discouragement and more—and they have chosen to come out of all those hardships on top. They rally around their readers to help each of us know of our worth and fight to become the best we can be, in whatever form that looks like.

In reading all the hardships that others have fought through and how a lot of these persisters have only arrived at where they are because of the hardships they faced, I feel like I can accomplish all of my dreams. I also found that my own fears and insecurities were articulated in a way that helped me understand myself better when I couldn’t put my feelings into words. While I may not know any of these inspiring people personally, I feel their support in my life.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice by Ilene Cooper - ADVISABLE

Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice by Ilene Cooper, 184 pages. NON-FICTION. Abrams, 2018. $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This book covers the span of Eleanor Roosevelt’s life, with a focus in the second half of the book on her activities toward equality. As a youth, Eleanor experienced the deaths of many close to her, including both her parents and a sibling, as well as a transient lifestyle, moving from house to house. In her later years she battled against the prejudice of her youth by educating herself about the state of disadvantaged populations - women, children, immigrates, and people of color. 

I appreciated the balance in this book, in that the author was honest about the racist things Eleanor had done, but explained how she moved past old beliefs and educated herself on compassion and representation. The book does go in to limited details on Eleanor’s husband’s affair, which may be a bit mature for some readers. The book contains a good sampling of photographs mixed in with each chapter. 


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Thursday, November 22, 2018

The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History by Robert M. Edsel - ADVISABLE

The Greatest Treasure Hunt in History: The Story of the Monuments Men by Robert M. Edsel, 368 pages. NON-FICTION. Scholastic Focus, January 2019.  $19.

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some deaths, not descriptive)

BUYING ADVISORY:  HS – OPTIONAL, ADULTS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HS – LOW; ADULTS – HIGH

Near the end of World War II a special, though very small group of people worked frantically to find and save priceless art throughout Europe.  They not only needed to try to save it from damage, but also find the secret stashes that Nazi looters left all over.

As an adult, I found this fascinating reading – I wish I had read it before my first trip to Europe so that I could even more appreciate the works of art I saw.  The writing is not great; Edsel tries so hard to keep things chronological that he jumps from person to person all over Europe – making things a bit confusing.  Only die hard WWII junkies will want to read this, though it has plenty of information to act as a excellent research resource for a paper or project – if you can get one of them to check it out.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo : The Middle-Route Run by Ben Costa and James Parks - ADVISABLE

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo : The Middle-Route Run by Ben Costa and James Parks 208 pages GRAPHIC NOVEL Alfred A. Knopf 2018 $20.99.

Language: PG (2 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (sword play, battles) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Rickety Stitch is captured by a witch who uses his skeleton arm to reanimate what turns out to be the minion of the Gloom King - bad idea. The witch restores Rickety's arm with a different one - so he's got that skeleton's memories and an arm that digs and digs and digs. Now, this arm has a mind of its own and has dug it's way into another adventure, as Rickety and Goo search for more clues about what happened to them and why he is a walking, talking skeleton. 

Another grand adventure! No mature content in this one, just great battles, surprise villains and heroes and another fine mess for Rickety and Goo. Includes an appendix with a link to listen to the songs online and a description of the creatures. Such a fun series, I hope they keep coming!  

Lisa Librarian

The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa and James Parks - ADVISABLE

Rickety Stitch and the Gelatinous Goo : The Road to Epoli by Ben Costa and James Parks, 208 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Alfred A. Knopf 2017 $14.99.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Rickety Stitch is a minstrel. He is also a "living skeleton" with a mind of his own - very unlike the other skeletons who work in the mines. When he and his friend the Gelatinous Goo are fired from their job in the torture chamber, Rickety goes on a quest, to find out who he really is (or was for that matter). 

A little mature for elementary (some of the humor is a bit crude, but not too much for middle school) this delightful story is sure to be picked up in your library. Rickety dreams about a song which the reader can download online to hear the tune and enhance the reading experience. An appendix of sorts gives more detail about the characters and possible storylines for future installments. I'm excited to recommend this! A fun beginning to a new series! 

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Hull Metal Girls by Emily Skrutskie - OPTIONAL

Hull Metal Girls by Emily Skrutskie, 311 pages.  Delacorte (Random), 2018.  $18. 9781524770198

Language: R (44 swears, 24 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (implied sex); Violence: PG (some fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY:  MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Aisha is desperate to help her little brother – so desperate that she allows the government to transform her into a Scela – a humanoid mechanical charged with upholding order with the vast space-faring fleet that is all that’s left of the human race. Key on the other hand doesn’t remember her life before being transformed, which can be a huge problem when forming a bonding with a group.  Each group member, but especially Key and Aisha have secrets they are eager to keep from the others.  Then they stumble on a secret that the highest level of the Fleet will do anything to stop from being revealed.

If you have a science fiction reading clientele, then you definitely need this.  I’d give this to anyone who has finished Ender’s Game or military fiction.  The action is both mental and physical – very compelling.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Odd One Out: Fiendishly Tricky Spot-the-difference Puzzles to Boggle your Brain - ADVISABLE

Odd One Out: Fiendishly Tricky Spot-the-difference Puzzles to Boggle your Brain. PICTURE BOOK. Penguin Workshop, 2018. $10. 97815247900882

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

This book includes a variety of different visual searches - sometimes you are looking for matching illustrations, something you are looking for the smallest illustration, sometimes you are looking for the odd-ones-out, and so forth. Each search also contains a fun fact about the item you are searching for and through. 

This book is deceptively hard. My kids kept picking it up with confidence because the illustrations are so cutesy, but were repeatedly surprised how hard they had to look at and study the pictures. This is the perfect book in small doses. I loved the simple addition of the facts included with each puzzle. Did you know that “when it drizzles on a sunny day in Hawaii, locals call it ‘pineapple juice?’”  


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Neverworld Wake by Marissa Pessl - ADVISABLE

Neverworld Wake by Marissa Pessl, 336 pages. Delacorte Press, 2018.  $14.

Language: PG (2 swears); Mature Content: PG-13;  Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE. 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

A year after her boyfriend's untimely death, in an attempt to understand what happened, Beatrice reconnects with her former best friends. After a raucous night out, and a harrowing car crash they are trapped in a never-ending loop of the same 24 hours. The only way out is for the five of them to agree on one person who will live to see the next day.

Magical realism at its finest. This book is trippy in the truest sense of the word. I really enjoyed the pacing as well as the way the characters developed, it had all the existential crises of a New Adult book without the superfluous cursing or sex. Really interesting ideas about existence and growth as well as the secrets we keep from those we are closest to.

Catherine, Library Teacher

Cook’s Cook by Gavin Bishop - ADVISABLE

Cook’s Cook: The Cook who Cooked for Captain Cook by Gavin Bishop.  PICTURE BOOK.  Gecko Press, 2018.  $18. 9781776572045

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In 1768 James Cook one ship and 94 men to search for a giant continent south of New Zealand.  When they returned home in 1771, 56 men were still alive. Cook’s cook, John Thompson, had to be thrifty, ingenious, and pragmatic to cook for so many men for such a long period of time. Unfortunately Thompson didn’t not live to see England again.

A great way to show students how long travel used to take place and what life might be like on a sailing vessel.  Be warned -- they do talk a couple of times about eating dog and also kangaroo.  Unfortunately there is no back matter to help you with further research, nor to know how perfectly true the narrative is. A bad oversight indeed.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian