Sunday, December 9, 2018

The 91-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths - OPTIONAL

The 91-Story Treehouse by Andy Griffiths, illustrated by Terry Denton. 363 pages, Feiwel and Friends (Macmillan), 2017. $14.

Language: G (9 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.



Andy and Terry are back again, with an even bigger treehouse.  It comes fully loaded with its own desert island and a submarine sandwich shop that makes sandwiches the size of actual submarines.  There is also a mysterious big red button that could be disastrous, or not, because no one can remember what it does.  Andy and Terry are babysitting Mr. Big Nose’s three grandchildren for the day and of course things get pretty dicey, because how much trouble can three children be?

If you are fans of the Treehouse series, then this one won’t disappoint. The pictures and text are fun and go together well.  If this is your first Treehouse book, then think random storylines on acid strung together.  Young kids will probably love the random weirdness, though it may leave adults scratching their heads.

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Saturday, December 8, 2018

The Girl Who Married a Skull edited by Kel McDonald - OPTIONAL

The Girl Who Married a Skull and other African Stories edited by Kel McDonald, 205 pages, GRAPHIC NOVEL. Iron Circus Comics, 2018, $15.

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



This book is a collection of 15 short stories done in graphic novel format.  The art varies with the stories.  These are cautionary fables and fairytales to help the reader see why you should listen to your parents, not marry strangers, not steal wisdom, or marry a lion if you are human.  All good lessons.  

The stories are fun, most with a sense of humor.  If you like legends and myths from other cultures, this is a fast and fun read. Some of the stories are a but uneven, but an overall good read.  

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Friday, December 7, 2018

Penelope March is Melting by Jeffrey Michael Ruby - OPTIONAL

Penelope March is Melting by Jeffrey Michael Ruby, 310 pages.  Delacorte (Random House), 2017, $17.

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



Penelope March seems like an ordinary girl, living an ordinary life on an iceberg.  Yep, iceberg.  This iceberg has a town with roads, cars, and houses, (though I wondered where the cars came from).  Anyway, ordinary Penelope discovers through an eccentric ice-sculptor named Buzzardstock that her town of Glacier Cove is in grave danger from an ancient evil. Penelope also discovers she may have the unique skills to save her town so they don’t have a meltdown. Literally.   

Read this book with a cup of hot chocolate or a blanket, because Glacier Cove is cold.  Although the premise seems truly weird, Penelope is a likeable character and Glacier Cove is a unique setting that plays well into the storyline.  I liked the story more than I thought I would because it addresses some universal themes of fitting in, family issues, and relationships, though the storyline gets pretty bizarre as it wraps up.  

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Thursday, December 6, 2018

Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? by Ally Carter - ESSENTIAL

Dear Ally, How Do You Write a Book? by Ally Carter, 336 pages. NON FICTION. Scholastic Press, March 2019.  $19

Content: G



Every author is constantly asked about writing books and publishing books.  Ally Carter has decided to take this a step further and write a book about the craft and the logistics of writing and publishing.  She has enlisted about 30 of her author friends to help her along the way.           

Whether you are harboring the desire to write a book or are just an avid reader of books, you need to read Ally’s advice.  Even though it is aimed towards kids, who will definitely eat it up, it is also a primer for adults.  I am going to recommend that any creative writing classes start using this as their textbook.  My only regret is that this isn't coming out before Christmas 2018, so I can't gift it to everyone who I think needs a copy!            

Cindy, Middle School Librarian


Wednesday, December 5, 2018

The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari - ADVISABLE

The Sweetest Kind of Fate by Crystal Cestari, 310 pages. Hyperion (Disney) 2018. $18. 

Language: PG13 (10 mild swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.



Amber’s mother is a witch who runs a shop for the supernaturally inclined. Amber is a partial witch. Her only supernatural ability is that of matchmaker. She can see a person’s perfect match. This poses a problem when she sees her boyfriend matched to her friend. When they start hanging out, Amber’s jealousy gets the best of her. In other matchmaking ventures, Amber’s siren nemesis desperately seeks her help to save her sister from marrying her mermaid girlfriend.

This is a cute book with other supernatural beings. A vampire. A werewolf. A sea witch. Take away the minor brushes with mature content and it would have a Disney feel. It tackles teen dating in a way that is so much more fun than your typical realistic fiction novel. I love the lesson Amber learns about taking control of her “fate,” but not thrilled with the secondary plot about changing who you are to be with the person you love. Rarely good advice in the real world.

Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Spooked! : How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow - ADVISABLE

Spooked! : How a Radio Broadcast and The War of the Worlds Sparked the 1938 Invasion of America by Gail Jarrow 139 pages. NON FICTION Calkins Creek 2018 $18.95 Content: G.



On October 30, 1938 Orson Welles' Mercury Theater presented a radio adaptation of H.G. Wells novel the War of the Worlds. Setting it in the real town of Grovers Mill New Jersey, and presenting the action through realistic sounding news broadcasts caused people to believe the reports were real and danger was imminent. But the story of wide spread panic doesn't end there. The aftermath of the broadcast with a possible investigation by the FCC and threats of government controlled radio programming may ruin careers or make Welles and his associates celebrities. 

Jarrow tells the whole story of the broadcast, including the writer's challenges with shortening and updating a classic novel, the rehearsal process where the actors felt the show was going to be dumb and boring, and the production itself, choreographed by the masterful directing of young Orson Welles. Well documented with captioned photographs, side bar information and quotes, as well as an appendix including sites to listen to the broadcast itself, interviews and documentaries; sources to find out more about Mars, Hoaxes, and Old Time Radio; a bibliography and index. This is a great resource for a classroom learning about fake news, propaganda, or World War II. 

Lisa Librarian

Monday, December 3, 2018

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat - ESSENTIAL

Drawn Together by Minh Lê, illustrated by Dan Santat
PICTURE BOOK Disney Hyperion, 2018 $17.99. 1484767608 



When a young boy is dropped off at his grandfathers house, he quickly realizes that the language barrier is insurmountable, so he gets out his paper and markers and starts to draw - that's when grandfather gets out his brushes and ink, and the two spend the afternoon communicating through their artwork. 

Such beautiful illustrations, the mixed styles blend so well together and the art makes the story take on a life of its own. A great idea, well executed. A great art lesson as well.

 Lisa Librarian

Sunday, December 2, 2018

Dead Endia by Hamish Steele - ADVISABLE

Dead Endia : The Watcher's Test by Hamish Steele, 216 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL No Brow 2018 $14.95. 

Language: PG (14 swears 0 'f') Mature Content: PG (Dating, Partying) Violence: PG 



Dead End is a haunted house attraction at Pollywood Amusement Park. At night, however, it is a portal to Hell. When a demon king possesses Barney's dog Pugsley, Norma and Barney destroy the demon, but this is only the beginning . . . Pugsley now has the gift of speech and they seem to have started a war - between Angels and Demons. 

Hamish Steele is an animator, and Dead Endia reads like a cartoon movie. Just enough weird bad guys, young adult drama and gross action. His world builds fast, and is believable and exciting. Readers who loved his Dead End short will appreciate this graphic novel version. 

 Lisa Librarian 

Saturday, December 1, 2018

Friday Night Stage Lights by Rachele Alpine - - ADVISABLE

Friday Night Stage Lights by Rachele Alpine, 333 pages. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2018 $17.99. Content: G. 



Brooklyn loves Ballet, and she is very good. When her mother remarried, and they moved to Texas, they built a dance studio in the basement for her. She'll be going to high school next year and wants to get into the prestigious Texas School of the Arts, but when her partner in the pas de deux breaks his leg, she asks one of the middle school football players to learn the dance and be her partner. He agrees only if she will let him try to make her a football fan. Brooklyn HATES football! Her new stepbrother is the hero of the high school team and the whole town seems obsessed with football, but Brooklyn is desperate, so she agrees. Maybe ballet and football have more in common than she thinks. 

So many of these Aladdin mix books are girl centered, it's great to see one I can recommend to the boys as well. A great mix of football and ballet with lessons learned on both sides, especially, "When you give people a chance, they end up surprising you!" I think the same thing applies to books.  

Lisa Librarian