Tuesday, June 25, 2019

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner - AVERAGE

Starworld by Audrey Coulthurst and Paula Garner, 335 pages.  Candlewick, 2019.  $18.

Language: R (59 swears, 20+ “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Pretty, popular Zoe’s perfect life has never intersected with weird, inept Samantha’s at their high school until the day Zoe sees Sam’s painting and wants to borrow it for a high school production.  Their casual text conversations turn into the creation of their own magical universe which they eventually call Starworld.  Both girls need the escape of Starworld.  Zoe’s supposedly perfect life is complicated by her repressed feelings over having been placed for adoption as an infant and that her severely autistic brother is large enough that they are looking for a supervised home for him. Sam’s father has been absent for years now, leaving Sam behind when he moved to England and her mother’s OCD behaviors have become out of control and oppressive.  As the girls becomes friends and spend more time in Starworld, Sam falls in love with Zoe. Thinking Zoe might feel the same way, Sam makes a move – now both girls have to figure out how to proceed when their friendship comes to a crashing halt.

Rather than giving us a fairy tale ending, Coutlhurst and Garner give us reality in a form that is compelling and believable.  While the description makes it sound issue heavy, the authors really weave everything together skillfully.  The mature content is a flashback to Zoe’s brother stripping naked and playing with himself in front of one of her friends.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau - ADVISABLE

Tree of Dreams by Laura Resau, 316 pages. Scholastic, 2019. $13.        

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Coco and her mom live in Heartbeat Springs, Colorado. They run a chocolate shop. Coco is involved with the whole process of making the chocolate, and she loves to come up with new recipes to entice the customers. Coco loves chocolate and she thinks a little (or a lot) of chocolate can make everything better. Coco is worried, because her mom says they will have to sell the shop. They are no longer selling enough chocolate to pay their bills. Coco keeps having dreams about an old ceiba tree. She believes the answers to all their problems is hidden in the roots of on particular ceiba tree. Coco enters a chocolate making contest and hopes to win. The grand prize is a trip to the Amazon, where the ceiba trees grow.   

I loved the story of Coco and the chocolate. Coco is a believable and thoughtful character. I learned a lot about the process of making chocolate from growing cacao beans to ending up with the finished product. I learned about the Amazon, ceiba trees, and indigenous people. I will use this book in my library and in my book talks.  In the story Coco comes face to face with the destruction of the rainforest, the people who live there and their way of life. I could not put the book down. I had to keep reading to see what would happen to Coco and her friends. The books teaches several good lessons for life, including the fact that we will all meet with struggles and hardships, but with the love and support from loved ones and people close to us we can overcome the difficulties.

Ellen-Anita, Librarian                                                                       

The Fang of Bonfire Crossing by McLelland and Sylvester - OPTIONAL


Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (magical realism with zombies); Violence: PG (lots of fighting zombies)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

The Lost Causes are still on the run and the road for justice for their families.  Even though they defeated Bad Whiskey Nelson, their ultimate foe, Reverend Rose, has plenty of other minions to thwart their mission to find Bonfire Crossing, the Char Stone, and the Fang. They meet Edgar Doyle, who is helpful, but seems to have ulterior motives.

Westerns are not a big seller at my school.  There used to be an audience for Louis L-Amour, but even that has dried up.  You might find a few kids who will like the dangers and the zombies, but you will have to hand sell this patron by patron.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm - ESSENTIAL

Sunny Rolls the Dice by Jennifer L. Holm and Matthew Holm 224 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphix Scholastic, 2019. $13.

 Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY:, EL,  MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Sunny is back! The family drama is on hold for a while - her brother has joined the Navy, but now, it's friend drama! Sunny has started middle school, and her best friend is full of "we're too old for that now." But Sunny has started playing Dungeons and Dragons with a group of boys and really enjoys it. She's torn between being groovy and doing the things she likes. 

I really enjoyed this Sunny story. A great look at navigating middle school friends, and growing up. Full color illustrations and a fun look back at the 70s - so nostalgic, I'm pretty sure Sunny and I are the exact same age.

Lisa Librarian

Monday, June 24, 2019

Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm - ADVISABLE

Love a la Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm, 323 pages.  Hyperion (Disney), 2018.  $18

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Rosie may be from a small town, but she definitely has passion for baking.  She’s even won a prestigious scholarship to an exclusive cooking school in France, owned by the reknowned chef Denis Laurent.  On the plane she meets Henry Yi, who is also headed to chef Laurent’s school.  The two have a connection and they try to see if there is something more, but the competition and the stress of school, including pressure from Henry’s mom and mixed romantic signals from another contestant.

All-in-all a very sweet book. Great descriptions of French cuisine and other beautiful food.  If you liked the 100 Foot Journey, then you will love this. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Guts by Raina Telgemeier - ESSENTIAL

Guts by Raina Telgemeier 224 pages GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphix (Scholastic) 2019. $13.

 Language: G (0 swears 0 'f') Mature Content: PG (references to periods) Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY:, EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Raina is in 5th grade. After her first bout with stomach flu, Raina begins to worry about throwing up, just thinking about it makes her feel sick - but her doctor says she's healthy. Soon she starts worrying about other things - will certain foods make her sick, did her friend wash her hands, will she need to throw up at school? When her anxiety starts to affect her eating habits and friend relationships, Raina's mom finds her a therapist.

Raina Telgemeier tackles a more serious topic in Guts. Anxiety. Age appropriate for upper elementary and middle school, the illustrations are great, the topic is important and the format is perfect. If your readers have loved Smile and Sisters, Guts is the next must read.

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, June 23, 2019

Girls Can’t Hit by T.S. Easton - ADVISABLE

Girls Can’t Hit by T.S. Easton, 259 pages, Feiwel and Friends Book (Macmillan), 2018, $17. 

Language: PG (23 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Fleur Waters is 16 and dating a safe guy named George, listens as her parents argue about how best to load the dishwasher, and participates in Battle, a reenactment of the Battle of Hastings fought in Battle.  Her life seems pretty ordinary until she shows up at a boxing class with her feminist friend to prove a point, but ends up the only girl in the program. Fleur realizes she is out of shape, has an overprotective mother who hates the idea, and friends who don’t get her new obsession.  As she works to get fit, she discovers a lot about herself.  

Fleur is a fun character and I love her wry observations.  The book explores themes of body image and feminism, but it doesn’t get too heavy. It was fun to see Fleur evolve throughout the book.  I liked the message it gives teens about going after a goal even when it’s hard or people don’t get it or don’t understand it. I gained a whole new appreciation for boxing.

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams - AVERAGE

Trusting You and Other Lies by Nicole Williams, 290 pages. Crown Books (Random House Children’s Books), 2017. $17.99

Language: R (85 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13 (partial nudity, conversation about sex); 
Violence: PG (side comment about hanging oneself)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Summer break is freedom—except when your dysfunctional family is signed up to go a family camp for the entire summer. Phoenix is sure this is going to be the worst summer ever for her, so she’s focused on helping her little brother (the only one excited for camp) have the best time possible. When they arrive at Camp Kismet and start participating, though, Phoenix finds that maybe a summer together in a cabin can help her family.

Williams blessed her main characters with great sense of humor that had me laughing aloud every other chapter. The overarching theme of the book is about trusting yourself and others, and I like how Williams did that with Phoenix’s family relationships more than the romantic relationships. Trust issues with her significant other felt more ridiculous and repetitive, but the trust issues with Phoenix’s family felt more relevant in attitude and resolution.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, June 22, 2019

The Mortification of Fovea Munson by Mary Winn Heider - ADVISABLE


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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Fovea Hippocrates Munson is an only child named after eyeballs and the father of modern medicine. Her parents own a cadaver lab and her schoolmates call her Igor.  She has just finished seventh grade and her parents, who have a warped sense of dead body humor, have enlisted her to help out at the lab for the summer.  Fovea is not a happy camper.  Especially since she had to give up camp to work.  Things go from bad to worse when three disembodied heads in the lab start to thaw and begin talking to her because they need a favor. Cue wild adventure.

Okay, this is such a different premise, where to start?  Fovea is one funny character.  Her crazy adventures with the dead heads is delightful.  It’s completely implausible but such fun you’ll have to finish. Heider brings in other great characters and there are great themes of friendship and family and redemption all wrapped up in bad body part jokes.  Totally loved this one!  It makes it even more fun that Heider actually worked in a cadaver lab.  Give Fovea a hand!  Or better, yet, three! 

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Bloom by Kevin Panetta and Savanna Ganucheau - AVERAGE

Bloom by Kevin Panetta, illustrated by Savanna Ganucheau. 353 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL, First Second (Macmillan), 2019. $17.99

Language: PG13 (25 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ari doesn’t know what he wants to do, but he knows that he absolutely does not want to work for the family bakery. Before Ari moves away, though, he has to find someone to replace him. Hector apples for the position, and things change for Ari—and deciding what he wants his future to look like becomes even harder.

Ari’s story is about choosing the friends that don’t tear you down, apologizing when you are wrong, and finding happiness in the life you have now. The writing was good, and I enjoyed reading the book and seeing Ari grow, but the best parts of Bloom are the pictures. Savanna Ganucheau did an amazing job with the illustrations.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, June 21, 2019

Quarantine by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc - OPTIONAL

Quarantine by Katie Cicatelli-Kuc, 324 pages. Scholastic Press (Scholastic Inc), 2019. $17.99

Language: PG (10 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Oliver and Flora didn’t know each other a couple hours ago, but now they and the rest of their flight are being monitored to see if they show symptoms for a disease. Oliver just wants to get home, but Flora is hoping to prolong the journey to avoid what’s waiting for her—even if it means faking a fever.

The story was fine, but I didn’t feel very invested. Oliver and Flora were actually kind of annoying, and I didn’t like the continual repetition of issues because it felt like the story wasn’t going anywhere. The ending wrapped everything up nicely, so at least it has that going for it, but the whole story was cheesey at best and insubstantial at worst.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Lady is a Spy by Don Mitchell - ADVISABLE

The Lady is a Spy by Don Mitchell, 223 pages. NON-FICTION. Scholastic Focus (Scholastic Inc.), 2019. $17.99

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 "f"); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Virginia Hall was named at birth but lived under many aliases in her career as a spy—first for England and then for America. Though she had a prosthetic leg, Hall was athletic enough, intelligent enough, and crazy enough to take the risks needed to aid the French resistance during WWII without being captured.

This secret side of history is not one that schools often teach, and I loved being able to come to know some unknown heroes. Mitchell’s book focuses on Virginia Hall, though he goes into detail about several of her colleagues as well to show how important Hall’s work was. Besides learning amazing history, I think this book will do well for students to read because it shows that we don’t really know what we will do and where we are going to end up.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrif - PUBLIC

Death Prefers Blondes by Caleb Roehrig, 442 pages. Feiwel and Friends ( Macmillan) 2019 $18.00 Language: R (100+ swears 100+ 'f's); Mature Content: R (sexual situations, teen and LGBTQ); Violence: PG13. 

BUYING ADVISORY:, NEW ADULT - PUBLIC ONLY 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

17-year-old Margo is a rich socialite, the media calls her mad-Margo and reports on her crazy rich girl antics. Her friends are a group of boys - high school students by day, drag queens by night, and high-tech burglars after hours, all with personal reasons they need the money from their heists. Knocking off art galleries, the Chinese Embassy, even a castle in the hills of Los Angeles, was fun for Margo, she's a natural leader and this well organized group never lets her down, but when her ailing father suddenly dies, Margo suspects murder, and now, it's personal. (Plus, the Russian mafia is probably out to get her). 

High crime with James Bond level technology - the action is exciting and dangerous, the story is gripping with lots of twists and turns. Margo's friends are sweet, and flamboyant, but I wanted the drag queen story to go somewhere. It was a great disguise element, made for an interesting subplot, but felt like a stereotype. Roehrig stops the intimacy just short of on page, but with so much talk about it I hesitate to recommend this for a school library. Check it out at the public library if you are looking for a high school Oceans 8.

Lisa Librarian

In Her Skin by Kim Savage - OPTIONAL

In Her Skin by Kim Savage, 289 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux Books (Macmillan Publishing Group), 2018. $17.99

Language: PG-13 (19 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

From a rough, poor life on the streets to a relaxed, rich life with a new family—that’s the payoff for Jo’s next con. She’s pleased when everything seems to be going perfectly, but soon Jo has to wonder if she is the one behind the con or the one being conned.

At first, the story was intriguing and exciting, but I lost enthusiasm as I kept reading. I didn’t enjoy or understand the direction that the story was going in, and, by the end, I had a lot of questions that were never answered. The mature content rating is for drug use, criminal actions, and implied sex, sexual abuse, and prostitution, and the violence rating is for murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

I Spy the Illuminati Eye by Sheila Keenan - OPTIONAL

I Spy the Illuminati Eye by Sheila Keenan, 111 pages. NON-FICTION. Penguin Workshop, 2018. $8.99

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Keenan explains the history and contemporary knowledge (and theories) about the secret Order of the Illuminati. Being a secret and exclusive Order, Keenan openly acknowledges that some information may be faulty—but that doesn’t make the secrets any less fun to speculate about.

The information was interesting to read and to get my thoughts rolling, even if I don’t believe most of the contemporary theories proposed. My favorite part is that Keenan makes the secret order information applicable by giving readers ideas about forming their own secret groups!

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, June 19, 2019

Science Comics: Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice by Jason Viola - ADVISABLE


Science Comics: Polar Bears: Survival on the Ice by Jason Viola, illustrated by Zack Giallongo.  120 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL/ NON-FICTION  First Second (Roaring Brook Press), 2019.  $20.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

A mother polar bear is teaching her two bear cubs about how to survive.  As she teaches them to hunt and build dens, she also explains different parts of the eco-system that affect their survival, such as the ice.  Mama polar bear explains interactions polar bears have had with humans and how the climate change is affecting their lives.  

I enjoyed this non-fiction glimpse into the lives of polar bears and their interesting habits.  Some of the Science Comic graphic novels have concepts that are too hard for elementary readers to understand, but this one is perfect for upper elementary or middle school.  I think this is an effective way to show how climate change is impacting the animals of our world and why the ice maters to our planet.  I put the violence as PG because when the bears are eating a whale it is bloody.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy - OPTIONAL

Watch You Burn by Amanda Searcy, 340 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House Children’s Books), 2018. $17.99

Language: R (35 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Exile for Jenny looks like a motel under construction with her dad and his girlfriend. Jenny’s stepdad didn’t want her in Ohio anymore, which she understands. But she’s going to do better now. She’s not going to let the burn take over her anymore. Not here.

I did not enjoy reading this book. Jenny’s story wasn’t just slow, I didn’t understand what the point was for the first 100 pages. By that point, I saw that Jenny was trying to put together a puzzle, but I didn’t care about what the end picture was supposed to look like. Furthermore, the ending felt like the beginning, as if none of the story ever happened. The mature content rating is for underage drinking and implied sex, and the violence rating is for arson and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Dragon Ridge Tombs by Tianxia Bachang - OPTIONAL

The Dragon Ridge Tombs (City of Sand #2) by Tianxia Bachang, 279 pages, Delacorte Press (Random House), 2018. $18.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Tianyi is back on the tomb treasure hunt with his buddy Kai and a dodgy antiques dealer named Gold Tooth.  They travel to a remote location to find treasure and discover that the Dragon Ridge Tombs are a labyrinth death trap.  The three have to use everything at their disposal to navigate the perils of this tomb. They also discover that events from the first book tie into this one and may have put them in even greater danger. 

If you haven’t read book one, this could be confusing.  This is definitely a middle book.  It draws upon the adventures in the first book and will leave you wanting to know how this story ends.  It has been translated into English and is rife with Chinese myths and folklore, which is interesting.  This book seemed more readable than the first one, or maybe I just figured out Bachang’s writing style.  There is a huge section of backstory with this one, so be prepared. Even though the backstory slowed the pacing, there was still enough action and mystery keep it engaging    

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Tuesday, June 18, 2019

Freya and the Magic Jewel by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams -- OPTIONAL

Freya and the Magic Jewel (Thunder Girls #1) by Joan Holub & Suzanne Williams, 257 pages. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2018. $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS -- OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Freya, the young Norse goddess of beauty and fashion, is off to a boarding academy in Asgard. And she's not happy about it, since she's leaving behind her popularity in order to attend school with her sworn enemies. Freya vows not to be away for long, though. She just has to rescue her grandmother, who has disappeared, and then she's out of there. Well, that's the plan, at least. If only it were as easy as that...

I was excited to read this one, since I've heard a lot about the Goddess Girls series, and Norse myths have long been of interest to me, but there was SO MUCH telling instead of showing in this book that it was hard to feel truly invested. In addition, Freya's goals kept shifting; it felt as if the authors hadn't really nailed down her character and what she truly wanted. Although there was plenty of action (highlighted with over-generous use of exclamation marks), by the end of the book, it felt as if very little of value had happened.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

We Say #NeverAgain by Falkowski and Garner - ADVISABLE

We Say #NeverAgain by Melissa Falkowski and Eric Garner, 246 pages. NON-FICTION. Crown Books (Random House Children’s Books), 2018. $17.99

Language: PG (5 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

The teachers and students of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School went through a life-altering experience on Valentine’s Day 2018: a school shooting in which nearly 50 people were injured or killed. In the articles written by the Parkland student journalists, they offer their perspectives on reporting what happened, the surprising backlash they received, and how things must change for the future.

In fifty articles, these students talk about the tragedy, the blessings, and the confusion that overlays everything since the day of the shooting. When I was reading the first article, which is a first-hand account of the day’s events, I cried. In my mind, I know that these events are real, but this is the first time a shooting has felt real to me. The most powerful articles to read were when the journalist students reported what they and their classmates did during the school shooting.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Science Comics: Wild Weather by M. K. Reed - OPTIONAL

Science Comics: Wild Weather by M. K. Reed, 119 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second (Macmillan), 2019. $19.99

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

An educational graphic novel featuring Stormin’ Norman Weatherby, a news channel meteorologist. When Stormin’ Norman becomes frustrated with the ignorance of his coworkers regarding weather, he sets them straight—on the air!

I thought the degrading humor was a bit juvenile and overdone, but I think this graphic novel style teaches science effectively because it has to be simple enough to come through in short, connected pieces and is based on pictures. Some of the topics covered are still hard to understand in their simplified form, but I feel like I understand climate change and other weather topics better now than I did before.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, June 17, 2019

The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson - NO


The Breakaways by Cathy G. Johnson, 210 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL First Second (Roaring Brook Press), 2019.  $20.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – NO  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

Fifth grade Faith is excited to be invited on the soccer team by popular girl Amanda, but when Faith gets to the field she realizes that she is going to be on the C team which is not the popular kids.  The C team doesn’t have any skills and all of the players and the coach are distracted.  Middle school life is overwhelming for most of the girls and they all seem to be having their own kind of friend troubles.  Eventually while in the middle of a soccer game, they all decide to quit and go and watch television and eat pizza together at one of the girl’s houses.  

This book is all over the place.  Faith is the main story, but she often daydreams about this fantasy world where a knight builds a castle.  I felt like that was a bit random and didn't help the rest of the story.  Then there were random page spreads where it gave a glimpse into some of the girl’s lives from the team-one of which shows a girl picking her nose (gross) while reading a magazine.   I also had issue with the mature content where two girls are sharing a bed during a sleep over and one of the girl’s tells her friend that she is actually a boy and then they start kissing (these characters range in age from 5th-7th grade). There is a character whose page spread is all in Spanish with no translation.  Overall there are too many characters with too much going on and the lesson at the end was horrible-to quit soccer in the middle of a game, leaving the other team standing on the field, and go watch television as long as they were all friends?  That seems like an irresponsible way to handle the problem.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Untold History of the United States: Young Readers Edition, 1945-1962 by Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick –NOT RECOMMENDED


Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG13.

BUYING ADVISORY: HS -NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

This book features a collection of true stories from history spanning 1945-1962. Some of the features stories are Hiroshima, Bikini Atoll, Cold War Stores, Korean War, Iran, the Banana Industry and more. While it does go through a historical timeline of sorts, its main focus are the untold and unknown stories. Like a group of women who survive Hiroshima with grievous injuries, and how they are flown to the US for plastic surgery. Another example is how Milton Hershey moved into Cuba to farm sugarcane and the treatment of the Cubans there. Features a smattering of photographs.

This book is rated for 5-6 grade and there is no way. This book is better understood by a reader who had some knowledge of the historical events of that time period. That being said, we never studied this time period in high school or college, as we always ‘ran out of time’. I found the stories shared in this book to be downright depressing and just difficult to read. While its important these stories are remembered and shared, a whole collection of them was just too much for me.  I much prefer the Guts and Glory Series by Ben Thompson, which shares interesting stories that are just right for young readers while using language they relate to. A teacher could use selections from this book for some eye-opening history as an attention grabber. 

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel - ADVISABLE

Inkling by Kenneth Oppel, 256 pages. Alfred A. Knopf (Random House Children’s Books), 2018. $17.99

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Ethan’s dad is a famous artist, which is pretty cool. Everyone expects Ethan to have the same talent, but he doesn’t, which isn’t cool at all. With the expectations of his friends to draw a graphic novel for their class project, Ethan is desperate to do something that looks good—but maybe he doesn’t have to do it alone.

While Ethan’s story has a message of honesty and respect, I was most touched by the idea that sometimes bad things happen when we’re trying to do our best. Ethan struggles to fulfill all the responsibility he feels, and his triumph is taught in an imaginative story for readers. Both the written story and the illustrations were fun to read through.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, June 16, 2019

The Waning Age by S.E. Grove - OPTIONAL

The Waning Age by S.E. Grove, 333 pages.  Viking (Penguin), 2019.  $19

Language: R (12 swears, 1 “f”); Mature Content: PG (sexual harassment); Violence: PG-13 (described suicide, bloody fighting)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Natalia lives with her little brother, Cal, in a world where most everyone loses their emotions as they mature.  Except that Cal is still the same exuberant young man he has always been.  One day Cal is called in for extra testing at school and then he is whisked away – adopted even – by a corporation which wants to understand what makes him tick. With the help of a few concerned friends and a new (love?) interest Natalia is still not sure that she will succeed.

Grove mimics the feel of the world in her writing – conveying the dull feel of an emotionless world at the beginning and then ramping up the emotion as Cal becomes imperiled and Natalia rises to the occasion.  Most readers will have a hard time with the duller start., though, and I am not sure that they will persist with reading. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Satchel Paige: Striking Out Jim Crow - OPTIONAL


Satchel Paige: Striking out Jim Crow by James Sturm, illustrated by Rich Tommaso, 90 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL / NON-FICTION Jump at the Sun (Disney), 2007.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG (‘n’ word); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW  

Through the eyes of another black baseball player who is retired, Satchel Paige’s popularity is portrayed.  While telling a couple of stories about baseball games in which Paige made a big impression, the prejudice of the deep south is also shown through the actions of two white landowners against a sharecropper.  Paige was a fast and impressive pitcher who liked to take his time on the mound and made a lot of money playing the game.  At a time (the 1920’s) when there was a Negro league, Paige drew a lot of attention and played for many different teams.  

I wanted to love this book and my son who loves baseball was interested by the front cover, but the story line is hard to follow, and the illustrations have no color which makes the story even more confusing.  There are a couple of pages at the back that give more historical background of the time period and the racial situation during Paige’s lifetime, but as far as biography on Satchel Paige, this isn’t very informative.  There is a picture of a lynching and the use of the ‘n’ word. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

The Crooked Castle by Sarah Jean Horwitz - ESSENTIAL

The Crooked Castle (Carmer and Grit #2) by Sarah Jean Horwitz, 356 pgs, Algonquin Young Readers, $17.95 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: ADVISABLE

After Carmer, a talented young mechanic, and Grit, a faerie princess, defeated the Wingsnatcher, they hopped on the Moto-Manse and left Skemantis to see the rest of the world. When a ballooner crashes outside their home, the pair is led to Rinka Tinka’s Roving Wonder Show where nothing is exactly what it seems. When a string of local airships crash, Carmer and Grit step up to find the dark secrets behind the high flying acts. 

I enjoyed this book. It was a really fun one to read and held the same magic as the first one. Violence is PG because there is some fighting and magic use, but nothing too bad. 

Student Reviewer: Julia M.(10th grade)

Saturday, June 15, 2019

You'd Be Mine by Erin Hahn - HIGH


You’d Be Mine by Erin Hahn, 272 pages.  Wednesday Books (Macmillan), 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: R (100+ swears; 36 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Clay is a bad boy country Rockstar who at eighteen is notoriously a ladies’ man and likes to find trouble.  In order for his label to keep him on, he needs to secure an up and coming singer named Annie, who is notoriously a good girl.  Annie has her own issues though, including living in the shadow of her famous musician parents, who died from a drug overdose and suicide.  Broken Annie and breaking Clay must learn to get along in order to keep their dreams of being musicians, but they when they begin to have feelings for each other, the both have to face the past.  

I enjoyed the romance between Clay and Annie, even if the beginning seemed a bit insta-love.  There were times where the story seemed less developed than it could have been, but overall, I think readers looking for a Rockstar romance will enjoy this.  The content includes sexual references, underage drinking and drug use as well as a descriptive suicide and drug overdose.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes - ESSENTIAL


The Lovely and the Lost by Jennifer Lynn Barnes, 325 pages.  Freeform Books (Disney), 2019.  $18.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Kira has spent the bulk of her teen years helping her foster mother, Cady, raise search and rescue dogs.  Kira and her dog Saskia are a good team together, but both of them are a bit broken from their own traumatic childhoods.  When a six-year old girl goes missing in the Sierra Glade Mountains, Kira goes with her mother Cady to help look for the girl.  What Kira finds is Cady’s family secrets, a cute boy with his own broken past and Kira learns her own strengths.  

I totally enjoyed this book.  I liked the different layers of the story with intense moments of action.  I liked the characters and the setting.  There are times where I laughed out loud because some of the dialogue is hilarious.  I also liked that it has clean content.  There is a burial site that is found but it is isn’t graphic.  The characters are almost graduating from high school, so it fits better in middle and high school.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

The Devil’s Thief by Lisa Maxwell - ESSENTIAL


Language: PG(9 swears, 0 “F”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG; 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

When Esta traveled back in time to stop Harte from stealing the Book of Mysteries, she was met with unexpected surprises. Now that she has escaped New York through the barrier with Harte, the pair is on their way to finding the four elemental stones. Their first stop brings them to St. Louis where they are met by and old enemy while a new enemy arises. Past and Present collide as a time travelling thief and a magician race to save the Mageus. 

I really enjoyed this book. It was just as good as the first one and the characters are wonderful. Mature Content is PG because there is a romance between Harte and Esta and there is the idea of genocide of the Mageus. Violence is PG because there is fighting between characters. 

Student Reviewer: Julia M.(10th grade)

Friday, June 14, 2019

Strange Star by Emma Carroll - OPTIONAL


Strange Star by Emma Carroll, 230 pages.  Delacorte Press, 2016.  $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Felix is the doorman at an estate in which Lord Byron and Mary Shelley are visiting.  One night in a storm, a young girl, named Lizzie, comes to the door looking for help finding her little sister Peg.  Lizzie recounts a story to Felix and Mary Shelley of weird happenings before her sister was taken from her.  Lizzie explains that a doctor came to their small town and needed help preparing his estate, but at night a strange monster was let loose and people’s animals were being killed.  Soon Peg and Lizzie were caught up in the doctor’s experiments and they were seperated, so Lizzie followed the trail to Lord Byron's estate.  

Lizzie’s story was interesting, and I cared to find out what was happening.  Because Lizzie’s story is a retelling to Mary Shelly, the connections with Frankenstein were obvious.  The violence includes torture and experimentation. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson

The True Queen by Sarah Fine - OPTIONAL


The True Queen (Imposter Queen, #3) by Sarah Fine, 374 pages.  Margaret K. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2018.  $20. 

Content: Language: PG (1 swear); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Ansa has the magical power of the true queen, but she doesn’t have control of the land of Kupari.  Elli has control of the land of Kupari but doesn’t have the magical powers.  Elli is hoping that Ansa will rise up and be the true queen, but the warring factions of each of their people and the disruption of the land is causing trouble with the transition between the two leaders.  Elli and Ansa will have to gain control of the magic they do have, maintain their leadership and try to find a way to unite their divided people.  

This is the final book in the Imposter Queen series and it does have a satisfying conclusion.  I liked the story line and I thought it was a creative idea, but there are some deaths in this book that made me super frustrated.  Also at the end of the second book, Ansa lets a bad guy go for no explained reason and he is the main force to fight against in this book which seemed contrived.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.   

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan - ESSENTIAL

Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan, 366 pgs, Jimmy Patterson Books, $19 

Language: PG (7 swears, 0 “F”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG; 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

When rumors of Lei’s golden eyes reaches the king, she is taken from her home to the palace to be subject to the king’s every desire, no matter what it may be. During her stay, however, Lei breaks the rules and falls in love. When this romance combines with a plot that threatens the king, Lei must choose how far she is willing to go to be free. 

I liked this book. It was interesting to read and showed a lot about human desire. Mature Content is PG-13 because the girls are there to be concubines to the king and Lei is lesbian. Violence is PG because there is a battle as well as a treasonous plot. 

Student Reviewer: Julia M.(10th grade)

Thursday, June 13, 2019

Killer Style by McMahon and David - ESSENTIAL


BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS , HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

When someone tells you you have “killer style” or moan that you are a “fashion victim”, stop for a sec and remember, people throughout history have literally dies for fashion. Starting at the top of your head and proceeding down to the shoes on your feet, McMahon and David write a short, pithy look at the ways that fashion came claim its victims.  Great to pair with How They Croaked and They Lost Their Heads.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Cursed Queen by Sarah Fine - OPTIONAL

The Cursed Queen (Imposter Queen, #2) by Sarah Fine, 417 pages.  Margaret K. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2017.  $13.  

Content: Language: PG (1 swear); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Ansa is a warrior and has worked hard to feel as though she belongs to the warrior people called Krigere.  She is in love with the chieftain’s daughter, Thyra, and although Ansa was taken from her people as a baby, she loves the Krigere.  When a battle between the Krigere and the Kupari goes very wrong, Ansa finds herself with powers of ice and fire, but nobody to help her learn how to wield them.  Ansa must figure out who she can trust, and who side she wants to fight for.  

This is the second book in the series, and the beginning was action-packed and interesting, but the middle slowed down and was boring.  I have high hopes for the third book because the two different worlds of the first and the second book should collide.  The content includes people who die because they are instantly frozen to death as well as burned to death.  The mature content is make-out sessions between the two girls.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson