Friday, February 22, 2019

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield - ADVISABLE

A Few Red Drops: The Chicago Race Riot of 1919 by Claire Hartfield, 197 pages. NON FICTION Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018 $19.00 Language: PG (brief use of the 'n' word) Mature Content: G; Violence: PG

MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

In July of 1919, 2 black teenage boys went out for a swim on a hot summer's day, one was hit and killed by a rock thrown by a white man. This started a race riot on the South Side of Chicago that left nearly 40 people dead and many more wounded. But tensions between the Irish and the blacks had been building for nearly half a century, as the civil war ended and southern blacks began to come north looking for work and a better life. Now, Polish and Lithuanian immigrants had joined the workforce, and the racial bias of the meat industry owners, police, politicians and the wealthy Chicago elite made matters worse. 

Hartfield's well-researched and timely recounting of the 1919 riot as well the best parts were the discussions of the living conditions and the troubles building up to the riot is an important book. I had several "no wonder" moments as I read about the economic injustices, the housing situations, the unfair hiring practices, and the ways the owners would break strikes and undermine the unions. No wonder there was a riot! Includes photographs, newspaper cartoons, author notes, and an extensive bibliography and index.


Lisa Librarian

Class Action by Steven D. Frank - ADVISABLE

Class Action by Steven D. Frank, 253 pages. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE   

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE        

Sam realizes with his large homework load he has very little time for anything else in his life.  He dearly loves to play the piano, but no time. He tries unsuccessfully to stage a protest in his middle school classroom but gets expelled instead. While serving his time out of school he befriends his neighbor a retired lawyer. The lawyer, Sam’s sister, Sam and several friends take on the school establishment to have homework declared unconstitutional.  It is an interesting romp through the legal system.   

It feels a bit stereotypical, all teachers are demanding and unfair, administrators are sneaky and corrupt. While reading this I was trying to get several classes through research papers, I hate to judge, at a different time or maybe a different reader the dialogue would come across as clever and bright and the story educational and informative. For me it felt unconstitutional to have to deal with whining all day at work and then come home and read it.        

Lisa Moeller, Teacher Librarian       

Thursday, February 21, 2019

Quantum Mechanics by Jeff Weigel -ESSENTIAL


Quantum Mechanics by Jeff Weigel, 223 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Delacorte (Penguin Random), 2018 $13
Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS -ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Rox and Zam love to work on their own project in the space junkyard. There is never the parts they need but they learn to get creative. When a real space ship, The Quasar Torrent comes to ask for help, their dad refuses. But Rox and Zam want a challenge and offer to help. They do such a great job that the captain keeps them. Quickly they find out they on a ship with space pirates who are fighting against a corrupt corporation. They are surprised to find that they like their jobs but there are many dangers and they must be creative to survive.

This was a fantastic graphic novel that fully fleshes out a whole world with many believable characters, motives, and subplots. I can’t believe that much is packed into 223 pages, I left feeling like I knew all of the characters and was rooting for them. Honestly it was like reading a great movie. I think student readers will love this book, it’s fast paced and has a ton of heart. I like that girls are mechanics. Upper elementary and middle school will enjoy this read. The illustrations are fantastic.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Tarot by Marissa Kennerson - ADVISABLE


Tarot by Marissa Kennerson, 275 pages. Razorbill (Penguin Random House). 2019 $18

Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG13 (Teen kissing, messing around); Violence: PG13 (mild torture).

BUYING ADVISORY: HS -OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Anna lives in the land of pentacles, trapped in a tower by her father, the King. Her only friends are the Fool, The Magician and the Hermit. She spends all her time spinning worlds into tapestries. When her friends help her to escape, she travels to a new land, Cups. It seems like paradise, everyone is her age, happy, and carefree. But things start to go wrong, storms and earthquakes and Anna is blamed. Will Anna find out her true parentage and being able to hone her latent power before its too late?

I was definitely drawn to this book by its cover and topic (coincidentally I was featured in a tarot deck by the amazing cover artist), I think students will be as well. The story itself was kind of odd and didn’t really mesh well with the tarot concept –in fact, the whole story could have been sans any tarot references and played out exactly the same. While the different cards are mentioned as people and places, it seemed more like an after thought than central to the tenants and outcome of the story. I felt zero connection to Anna -she was kind of dull character. I didn’t gel with her love triangle. Overall, I could pass on this story, but it couldn’t hurt to have it at your library.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo - ADVISABLE


The Way You Make Me Feel by Maurene Goo, 319 pages.  Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (7 swears; 2 abbreviated “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Clara is notorious for her pranks, but when she takes a prank at Prom too far the consequences affect her whole summer.  Clara’s punishment includes helping her father run his Korean/Brazilian food truck called the Ko-bra with her nemesis, the seemingly perfect, Rose Carter.  At first, Rose and Clara are at each other’s throats, but as they spend more time together, they see the good in each other and develop a friendship.  Clara also falls for a cute boy from a coffee stand making her summer interesting.  But the most surprising part of Clara’s summer is that she realizes being a prankster was a mask to hide her true self.  

The first 50-100 pages of this book I could not stand Clara because she is selfish and over-the-top.  But as the story developed and Clara started to change for the better, I loved reading the story.  Friendship and family are a main theme throughout as well as letting life change you for the better. The content is pretty clean, but the mature content is vague references to possibly sleeping together.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson  

Wednesday, February 20, 2019

The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard - OPTIONAL


The Stars at Oktober Bend by Glenda Millard, 266 pages.  Candlewick Press, 2016 (U.S. edition 2018).  $17.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (22 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Alice, has been the victim of a sexual assault and a brutal attack which leaves her without the words she wants to speak.  Through her writing and poetry, she can properly express her feelings and unknowingly connects with Manny, a young man who escaped Sierra Lione as a child soldier and is trying to move on in his own life.  Together they understand each other’s losses and find understanding. 

This touching novel is written in a stream of conscious way with poetry mixed in.  I loved the loyalty of Alice’s family and the honesty of her character.  The writing was unique and beautiful and has a message of hope, but it would take a good reader to have the patience with the writing style.  The chapters are sometimes written from Manny’s perspective as well.  The content includes crude comments, off-page sex, reference to rape and sexual assault and reference to a tongue being removed.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Tuesday, February 19, 2019

Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LaFleur - OPTIONAL


Counting to Perfect by Suzanne LaFleur, 194 pages.  Wendy Lamb Books (Random House), 2018.  $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Eleven-year-old Cassie feels overlooked at her house since her seventeen year old sister, Julia, has had her baby, Addie.  Cassie loves Addie, but she wishes that her family had not changed so much, especially Julia because they use to be good friends.  One night when Julia can’t take all the hovering by her parents, she decides to run away with Addie, and Cassie goes with her.  While on their trip, Cassie remembers back to the events leading up to Addie’s birth and Julia and Cassie work on their relationship.  

This book reminded me of Sunny Side Up by Jennifer Holm because it tells the story of how the actions of an older sibling effect the younger sibling.  I’m not sure the age of the audience for this book because there’s a lot of talk of breast feeding and the time and affect a baby has on a teen’s life which seems to be aimed at teens, but the main character is young.  The story is honest, but also not overly interesting.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson       

Monday, February 18, 2019

Want by Cindy Pon - OPTIONAL

Want by Cindy Pon, 323 pages. Simon Pulse (Simon & Schuster), 2017. $18.99 

Language: R (67 swears, 3 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In Taiwan, the mei class is suffering. The you class continues to live extravagantly in a dying world, disregarding the pain of the mei who struggle to afford food, clothing, and even clean air. Zhou and his mei friends are done being walked over. They are going to make a difference for the Taiwanese people—or die trying.

The story was fun to read, and it felt somewhat like Robin Hood meets Romeo and Juliet. I think the message of compassion for our fellow men and for our Earth comes across really well, especially as the characters wonder over views of mountains and oceans that I can take for granted every day. While, overall, Pon has written an entertaining story, I would have liked the ending better had the twist not felt so forced.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, February 17, 2019

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems by David Bowles - ESSENTIAL

They Call Me Güero: A Border Kid's Poems by David Bowles 111 pages. POETRY Cinco Puntos Press, 2018 $13 Content: G 

MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12-year-old Güero is a light skinned Mexican American who lives on the border, literally and figuratively. He is as comfortable speaking Spanish as he is speaking English, and he has family on both sides of the river. This year he is starting 7th grade with some great friends, a wonderful teacher who gets his poetry, and maybe a girlfriend. 

I expected this to be about the problems of living on the border, and, while there were poems which addressed crossing between the United States and Mexico, and dealing with generational racism, for the most part it is about a middle school boy enjoying his family traditions, getting in trouble with his friends and negotiating adolescence. Although not technically a novel in verse, the poems are organized beautifully, so we feel we've spent some quality time with this boy and his friends and family. I loved this #ownvoice collection and can't wait to recommend it in my library. There is a lot of Spanish incorporated into the English poetry, so the author has included a five page glossary and pronunciation guide.

Lisa Librarian

Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild - ESSENTIAL

Camp Panda: Helping Cubs Return to the Wild by Catherine Thimmesh 60 pages. NON FICTION Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018 $18.00

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ADVISABLE, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

The Giant Panda of China is in danger of becoming extinct. Mostly because its habitat has been altered, and it only eats bamboo. So, a concerted effort has been made to reintroduce cubs in to the wild. 

Thimmesh has given us a well documented informational text, full of full color photos (the humans who help dress up in panda suits) of pandas as well as other threatened and endangered animals. Includes a glossary, source notes, biographies of the experts as well as a link to the Pandas International website, and ways you can help. Kids will pick this up for the cover picture, and the easily accessible text will be a draw for the middle school kids.

Lisa Librarian

Saturday, February 16, 2019

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman - ESSENTIAL

The Unteachables by Gordon Korman, 288 pages.  Balzer + Bray (Harper), 2019.  $17.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: G (some mild anger management problems)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Kiana, Parker, Elaine, Aldo, Rahim, and Barnstorm – they are the 8thgrade Unteachables. And their teacher, Mr. Kermit? If he can make it until June, he will be able to retire from a school and town that gave up on him long ago, through no mistake of his, so he also checked out too. But the superintendent has it out for him.  Is there something about these kids that can remind him what he loved about teaching? Is there something about him that can reach these kids?

Korman’s book is pure joy! I can’t think of a single kid, or adult who works with kids for that matter, who wouldn’t love reading this. What an awesome read aloud for any class.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani - ADVISABLE

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani, 272 pages. Dial (Penguin), 2018. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL , MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Nisha and her twin brother Amil are caught in the middle. Their mother was Muslim, the father Hindu - but they can't be both. When Britain ceased to control India, three religious groups, the Hindus, the Muslim, and the Sikhs began to fight for control. The children are living in a part of India that is not welcome to Hindus, so, as their mother is dead, their father must move the family to Pakistan, primarily by foot. But the trek across the desert isn't the only danger. 


Nisha tells the story in a series of diary entries addressed to her mother, who died when Nisha and her brother were born. This is a good format as it breaks up both the monotony of everyday life as well as tells the dangerous or scary parts in chunks, making it easier to follow. Hiranandani does a good job of explaining the politics and time period, so not a lot of background knowledge is required. This would work well in a classroom studying refugees.

Lisa Librarian

PODCAST: Episode 3: A. G. Howard, Weaver of Fantasy

Anita Howard stopped by to talk about her latest book - Stain

Listen to the episode on Spreaker

Go here for the show notes

Friday, February 15, 2019

Podcast: Episode 2: December 2018

Episode 2 is now available here, or you can follow us on Spreaker.  Hopefully we will be up on iTunes and other podcasting systems soon!  This month I talk December books with Jen, one of my reviewers.  Find out what we thought were the best books reviewed on KTB last month.

You will find the show notes by clicking on Kiss the Book: the Podcast under our Links to Love

Listen to "Ep 2: December 2018 in Review" on Spreaker.

West by Edith Pattou - ADVISABLE


West (East, #2) by Edith Pattou, 514 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  $18.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

After escaping the troll queen, Rose and Charles have a little boy named Win whom they both adore and they are happy in marriage.  But Charles goes on a trip for work and the ship he was on is destroyed with all passengers reported dead.  Rose leaves Win with family and goes to investigate Charles’ death.  What Rose finds is that the troll queen didn’t die like she had thought and now the queen is out for revenge against Rose and her little family.  

I love the way Pattou weaves Rose’s journey with adventure and strong characters.  The magic blends effortlessly into the story, making it believable.  Revisiting the world presented in East was a fun treat.  The only reason I wouldn’t put this book in an elementary school is that at one point Rose amputates her own finger to make a key and it was shocking.  You can read East without feeling like you have to read West, but I don't recommend reading West without having read East.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson     

Thursday, February 14, 2019

East by Edith Pattou - ESSENTIAL


East by Edith Pattou, 507 pages.  Magic Carpet Books (Harcourt), 2005.  $9.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Rose was born facing north and with that comes the desire to travel and wonder, and although her mother tries to deny Rose’s birth direction, eventually Rose is called north.  One night as Rose’s sister is sick, a white bear comes to the door of her poor family and promises health to the sick sister and wealth for the family, if they will let Rose go with the white bear.  Against her family’s wishes, Rose goes with the white bear and uncovers a world of magic and a deep friendship that she will sacrifice herself to save.  

This book hooked me from the beginning.  The writing made me feel like I was sitting around a fire and listening to a storyteller weave a story of magic, adventure and loyalty.  The story line reminded me of the Snow Queen and Beauty and the Beast, but it is original enough that I completely enjoyed it.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

The Queen’s Secret by Jessica Day George - ESSENTIAL

The Queen’s Secret (Rose Legacy #2) by Jessica Day George, 256 pages. Bloomsbury, MAY 2019.  $17 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some danger, a bit of blood)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Just when it looks like there is hope for horses and their riders to be accepted in Coronam, a deadly plague hits the villages in which the horses are stationed.  Now Anthea and the others are desperate to not only find a cure, but also a cause, because they know it wasn’t horses!  And what do you do if someone who is supposed to love you turns out to be damaged and evil instead?

Nice!  I love that the author turns away from the expected and forges a new story path.  It takes a bit long to get there, but there is plenty to think about and chew over as we all waited with bated breath for the third book.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry - OPTIONAL

Between Before & After by Maureen Doyle McQuerry, 290 pages.  Blink, 2019.  $18.  

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Molly may only be 14, but she usually feels the weight of the world on her shoulders.  Her dad has left and Molly has to care for her little brother as her mother retreats into her research and writing.  When her Uncle Stephen comes to town talking about a miracle that he was a part of and an investigation, 

Even though the main character is young, this is definitely book meant for an older, read adult, audience. I understand why the author set the “present-day” in the 1950’s, but it is such a little known time period, especially for today’s teens, that they will have a hard time relating to the events around Molly’s story.  The historic parts showing life in 1910’s NYC are definitely the highlights.  Suggest this to an adult book group instead a school library.  Content includes the mention of incest, off page sex, unwed pregnancy.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Tuesday, February 12, 2019

Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd - ADVISABLE

Over the Moon by Natalie Lloyd, 304 pages.  Scholastic Press, MARCH 2019.  $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mallie lives a dreary, desperate life in tiny town on Coal Top Mountain.  An insidious dust has covered the skies for almost a generation, blocking out the sky, the sun, and stars.  Mallie slaves each day in the valley below for a meager salary, but one day she finds an ad looking for brave boys willing to risk their lives for an adventure.  This may be just what Mallie needs to quickly earn the money she needs to save her little brother from the mine.  What she finds when she disguises herself and applies is beyond her wildest dreams. And it may just be the answer to returning sunshine and magic to her town.

Lloyd is so good at inserting magical yearnings into her writing!  You can see from the cover what I mean, but it’s even better than you think. Fans of A Snicker of Magic will dive on in.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Monday, February 11, 2019

The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio - ADVISABLE

The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio, 231 pages.  Wendy Lamb (Random House), 2018.  $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Lou’s dad dies before she was born and she and her mother live with her Filipino grandparents in a very loving, if crowded home.  Lou, about to be 13,  has always loved working with wood and building and dreams of building a tiny home, just for her and her mother, or the property that her dad left as her legacy. But just as she gets started on her plans, she learns that not only is her mom taking a job that would move her out of state, but they also own back taxes on the land and may lose it forever. Lou has some very fast thinking to do, even if some of her schemes land her in trouble with her mom and her cousins.

I love the authentic, natural looks into Lou’s extended Filipino family interactions.  Lou has spunk and does admit her mistakes.  I will admit - I did wish that Lou would actually move away just so she could understand that the world would not actually end even if her cheese got moved.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Sunday, February 10, 2019

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson - ESSENTIAL

The Light Jar by Lisa Thompson, 240 pages. Scholastic, 2019. $18. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

When Nate’s mum wakes him up in the middle of the night to go on holiday, it doesn’t take him long to figure out something isn’t right. He’s happy to be away from his mother’s controlling boyfriend, but the dilapidated cottage they arrive at is anything but cozy. Then his mum runs to town to get food and doesn’t return. Nate is sure she’ll walk in the door any minute. The next day he wakes to find his imaginary friend has returned, and a mysterious girl wants his help finding a treasure, but his mother is nowhere to be found.

This one's a page turner. You won’t be able to stop reading until you are sure Nate is going to be ok. He's an endearing character. He’s surrounded by dysfunctional adults, his mom, his dad, and his mom’s boyfriend, yet he manages to stay strong and survive on his own for days with the help of his imaginary friend and mystery girl. The setting is perfect. Nate is all alone, in the dead of winter, in a run down cottage. There’s a lot to think about in this book and would be my pick for a middle grade book club.

Valerie McEnroe, Media Specialist

Saturday, February 9, 2019

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina - ADVISABLE

Merci Suárez Changes Gears by Meg Medina 355 pages- Candlewick Press, 2018 $17

Language: PG (2 swears 0 'f') Mature Content: PG. Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Merci Suárez was so excited for 6th grade, although still in the same private school, middle school means all different teachers and getting to do more things on her own. However, Merci lives close to her grandparents and aunt (3 houses together in fact). Her Tia is a single mom, so Merci is expected to tend her twin cousins afterschool, especially now that her Grandfather Lolo is being very forgetful and a little clumsy, so her plans to try out for the soccer team are nixed. And then, there's Michael, Merci is his Sunshine Buddy - because he is new to the school - but Merci is the only one matched with a boy!

Oh! There is so much going on in this book! I had a hard time deciding what the overall theme was - growing up I guess. I did find the relationship between Merci and Lolo especially sweet as I had a similar situation with my mother and her grandchildren. Lots of Spanish words and phrases - in context so no translation necessary. Overall, it was a nice read, although a bit long.

Lisa Librarian

Friday, February 8, 2019

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary by Nonieqa Ramos - OPTIONAL

The Disturbed Girl's Dictionary by Nonieqa Ramos , 334 pages.  Carolrhoda Lab TM (February 1, 2018) $17.99

Content: Language: R (39+ swears, 7+ “F”) Mature Content: R; Violence: R.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Macy Cashmere, 15, struggles to understand the world around her. She has an IEP that labels her “emotionally disturbed” and she takes that title to show that she isn’t, and doesn’t want to be, like everyone else. Her English teacher, Miss Black, helps gives her an assignment to write her own dictionary to explain the words and everyday occurrences in her life and that is how we get the piece meal story of Macy. She begins with her first word “Always-Never” and leads the reader through a tragic time coming of age “Zombie.” Through it all, the reader learns to see the places that Macy may be emotionally disturbed, but also the reasons and the situations that led her to, among other things, carrying a 12-inch machete down the street.

All in all, this book is well written.  I really got a feel for Macy and her unique voice while knowing how a 15-year old can be prone to hyperbole and misconception. The realities of her hard life may be eye opening for many teens, but also may be very triggering and unwelcome for others.  The short chapters divided by her new word entries made it easy for me to read in short bursts. Macy often leaves a story unfinished or only part of her life hinted at leaving the reader wanting to know more about where she came from and what happens next. Ramos creates a well-developed, empathetic character and world I wanted to both avoid and help.
Mature Content: Violence, implied sex and rape, drug use.

Reviewer, D. Wecker

Thursday, February 7, 2019

Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre - ESSENTIAL

Hope in the Holler by Lisa Lewis Tyre, 212 pages. Nancy Paulsen Books (Penguin), 2018. $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

When Wavie’s mom died she left Wavie with a list of instructions and lots of good advice. Wavie’s mom hardly ever talked about her family and where she came from. Things have not gone as planned and after her mother’s funeral, Wavie is sent home with an aunt she had never heard of in the Holler. The relatives are awful and her aunt takes all of Wavie’s money and she is not nice to her. But there are many interesting characters living in the Holler and Wavie makes some friends..

Wavie’s story is wonderful and a good read. Wavie has spunk and she stands up for what she knows to be right. I found myself rooting for Wavie through the whole book. Wavie is a believable and delightful heroine. She spreads kindness and love all the while cleaning up her surroundings, weeding, planting flowers and taking care of the old cemetery in Conley Holler. I couldn’t but help love Wavie and her brave soul, in the face of tragedy and hardship.

Ellen-Anita   

Wednesday, February 6, 2019

The Lighthouse Between the Worlds by Melanie Crowder - ESSETNIAL


Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Since Griffin’s mom died, it’s just him and his dad in their lighthouse home. Besides his homeschooling, Griffin is also learning to be a glassmaker. One stormy night a horrible alarm goes off and a helicopter full of people he has never met arrive.  When his dad is pulled through one lens and disappears, all kinds of chaos erupts Griffin is on his own to rescue his father. Griffin embarks on a fascinating journey to a different dimension, different place. He has to figure out how to survive and whom he can trust, 

This is a well written book, and very original. I loved the story and I am hoping for a sequel. The ending left me believing there might be on. I will book talk this and recommend it to students, faculty and even my grandchildren. I could not put the book down.

Ellen-Anita  

Tuesday, February 5, 2019

Brightwood by Tania Unsworth - ESSENTIAL

Brightwood by Tania Unsworth, 260 pages. 2016. Algonquin Young Readers. $11.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Daisy and her mom live a life of seclusion at Brightwood Hall, an old, crumbling mansion. As things are right now, Daisy and her mom can live for years at Brightwood without leaving the property. Still, her mom insists on buying more supplies. Every day her mom make a Day Box and inside she puts a few items to remember the day by. They now have stacks and stacks of Day Boxes and have made narrow isles through them all to go from one place to another. One day, her mom does not return from her weekly shopping. Daisy is not worried at first, but as the days go by she does worry. A stranger come to visit, claiming to be a relative. Strange things are happening.

Daisy is a great heroine, and a well written character. The book has good supporting characters and this is a well written story. I loved it, and highly recommend it.

Ellen-Anita   

Monday, February 4, 2019

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor - ESSENTIAL

The Truth as Told by Mason Buttle by Leslie Connor 326 pages Kathrine Tegen Books (Harper Collins), 2018 $17.00 Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Peril, bullying)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL -ADVISABLE,  MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Mason Buttle is the biggest kid in his grade, but some of the other boys bully him relentlessly - especially Matty Drinker who lives on the other side of Mason's family's orchard. Now, a new boy has moved into town, and although he's the smallest in their grade, Mason and Calvin become fast friends, avoiding the bullies together. Almost 2 years ago, Mason's best friend Benny was killed, and the town policeman suspects Mason knows more than he's telling. 

Mason Buttle is a remarkable boy caught in a terrible situation. The characters are well developed, and the plot is suspenseful and tragic. I was hooked in the first chapter and could hardly put it down. The bullying is quite vicious, and the story is very, very sad, but if Leslie Connor continues to write these wonderful books, I'll continue to praise them.

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Ordinary Hazards : A Memoir by Nikki Grimes - HIGH

Ordinary Hazards : A Memoir by Nikki Grimes 336 pages. Boyds Mills Press 2019 $20

Language: PG13 (20 swears, 0 'f' 1 'n'); Mature Content: PG (maturation); Violence: R (assaults)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Author Nikki Grimes recounts her experience growing up with a schizophrenic mother, an absent father, an abusive step father, and time spent in foster care. She and her sister were separated and placed in foster care for many years, although Nikki eventually moved back home with her mother, her life was fraught with uncertainty, abuse, and people who didn't believe in her.

Moving and poignant, this carefully constructed memoir in verse is achingly sad and beautifully hopeful.
(This title will be released October 2019)

Lisa Librarian

Saturday, February 2, 2019

The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom - OPTIONAL


The Beloved Wild by Melissa Ostrom, 312 pages.  Feiwel and Friends, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (16 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Harriet is a sixteen year old with a longing for the type of freedom that her brothers enjoy.  It’s obvious to everyone that the handsome and hard-working neighbor, Daniel Long, is interested in marrying Harriet, but she thinks marriage a miserable idea.   As her favorite brother prepares to go into the frontier and homestead, Harriet makes plans to leave her family and join him.  Harriet is surprised by her longing for Daniel and the hardships that she finds on the frontier. 

I got caught up in the book and totally enjoyed it.  Harriet is spunky and although she sometimes makes immature decisions, it’s fun to watch her grow-up and learn from the world around her.  The book would have to be talked-up because teens wouldn’t pick it up based on the cover, which is sad because story wise this book is advisable and the cover makes it optional.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

Friday, February 1, 2019

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova - ESSENTIAL

Crush by Svetlana Chmakova, 240 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Yen Press. 2018 $11.00 Language: G (0 swears, 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Jorge is the biggest kid in his grade, and he uses size to break up fights and keep the peace, some of the kids call him Sheriff. But Jorge is shy and doesn't talk to other kids much, especially Jazmine, who he thinks he might have a crush on. Middle school is full of drama and with a big dance coming up, Jorge would really like to take Jazmine, and when she breaks up with her boyfriend, Jorge sees his chance! But first, he needs to talk to her . . . 

Relationships, friendships, sports, social media, teachers and parties, Chamakova knows middle school. I love how her books are so much more than the cover tells you - yes, it's about having a crush, but the lessons about being a good friend, standing up for yourself, and finding the courage to talk about something makes this a perfect recommendation for young teens. 

Lisa Librarian 

Thursday, January 31, 2019

My Heart by Corinna Luyken - ADVISABLE


My Heart by Corinna Luyken.  PICTUR BOOK Dial Books for Young Readers (Penguin), 2019.  $18.  9780735227934  

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL – ESSENTIAL; MS, HS - ADVISABLE    

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

This poetic look at what the heart is has simple lines with amazing yellow and black illustrations.  “My heart can be closed or opened up wide” is one of the many simple yet profound lines found in the book.  The illustrations show little kids among illustrations that create a feeling.  

As I read this to my son, I found us reading slower and softer because the book pulls feelings about dreaming, heart break, joy or fear.  This review doesn’t do the book justice.  I also think this book would be fun to use as a prompt in a middle school or high school English class.  

C. Peterson

Sheets by Brenna Thummler- ADVISABLE


Sheets by Brenna Thummler, 238 pages.  GRAPHIC NOVEL Cub House (Lion Forge), 2018.  $13.  

Content: G  BUYING ADVISORY: EL , MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Thirteen year old Marjorie is trying to keep her family’s laundromat in business, but ever since her mother passed away her father has been depressed and hardly comes out of his room.  There is a business man in town who bullies Marjorie because he wants to open a Yoga studio in the location of her laundromat.  Wendell is the ghost of an eleven-year-old boy and he tries to help Marjorie against the bully, but at first, he causes more trouble than good.  When Wendell and Marjorie team up they help each other, and Marjorie begins to feel like she can move on.  

The cover of this graphic novel looks like it’s going to be cute and fun, but it takes on serious topics of loss, fears, depression and fitting in.  Marjorie’s character is often depicted frowning and hunched over and there is a melancholy feel to the whole book.  That said, I did enjoy the creative story and I loved the ending.  

C. Peterson

Wednesday, January 30, 2019

What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson - ADVISABLE

What Momma Left Me by Renee Watson, 240 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2019.  $18. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Serenity’s mom is dead, her dad is nowhere to be found, and now she and her younger brother Danny are living with their mom’s parents – not their dad’s momma.  Starting at a new school isn’t easy, but Serenity makes a friend and is kind of interested in a boy.  But does she want to go down the same path that her Momma took?  Can she stop an angry Danny from trying out the same shortcuts as Daddy?  Scan she be a good friend when Maria needs her?

Watson leaves the reader with plenty of space to speculate as she ushers Serenity hopefully towards a better future.  Nothing is wrapped up in a tidy bow, but there is optimism.  Watson tackles many difficult issues, but infers the harsher behaviors, leaving it up to the reader to decide how graphic to paint the pictures. This means that the book is open to a younger audience as well as story that can be appreciated by older students. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Blended by Sharon M. Draper - ESSENTIAL

Blended by Sharon M. Draper, 308 pages.  Atheneum (Simon), 2018.  $17.  

Content: PG (does mention a noose, a shooting).

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Isabella, 11, is never quite sure where she fits in.  She goes to the same school every day, but one week she lives at Dad’s and the next week she is at Mom’s – neither place feels like home.  Also, she is one of those “mixed” kids – a blend that feels neither black nor white.  Drama at school and anger between her parents make it hard for her to find her footing.

Draper saves the most dramatic, heart-wrenching, and unfortunately too common, scene for the very end.  Isabella’s story can easily read up, at least to middle school.  Students all over will connect with Draper’s look at divorce, blended families, blended kids, and life while not white, and will not forget it any time soon.  Easily a classroom novel and /or read aloud for lots of great discussion.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The City of Brass by S.A. Chakraborty - OPTIONAL


The City of Brass (Daevebad Trilogy, #1) by S.A. Chakraborty, 532 pages.  Harper Collins, 2017.  $26  

Content: Language: R (39 swears; 7 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: R.  

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Nahri is a twenty-year old thief who uses her ability to detect people’s illnesses and emotions to give her opportunities to fatten her purse.  While trying to help cure a young girl, Nahri sings a song that calls a djinn warrior named Dara, and Nahri finds herself at the center of a world that is caught up in old wars and political games.  Every other chapter is told from the perspective of Alizayd, who is the youngest son of the powerful king of Daevebad.  Alizayd wishes for more peace and equality among all the different races and uses his position to try and protect the less fortunate.  When Nahri shows up, Ali and Nahri become friends and they find themselves trapped in their roles by the world around them.  

This is a world full of magic and layered history with a lot of Middle Eastern names and places.  I liked the story line and loved the characters of Nahri, Dara and Ali and the political intrigue made for good twists.  The whole time I wished that I had a character list (some of the characters have more than one name) and a glossary because of the amount of unknown words.  Also, after reading 500 plus pages, it has an open ending which was disappointing.  The content includes gruesome deaths and torture.  This is a complex story and is well written, but I think the audience is adults, I’m not sure of many students who would stay with this series.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson