Tuesday, April 23, 2019

President of Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks - ADVISABLE

President of Poplar Lane by Margaret Mincks, 279 pages. Viking, (Penguin Random House) 2019 $16.99 Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (periods mentioned); Violence: G.



The kids from Poplar Lane are back! It's the start of 7th grade and both Clover and Mike are running for class president. Mike is being managed by Peter - who is also helping him improve his magician image, and Clover's campaign manager is her best friend Rachel. But Rachel has a new friend, Abigail, the new girl at school, and when Clover doesn't ask for her help with the election, Abigail decides to work for Mike. Wait . . . Clover likes Mike! 

Oh, so funny! I love this neighborhood of kids and I'm so glad to see this sequel! Great messages - taking charge of your own decisions, girl power (but what about the boys) making friends, being your best self . . . Would certainly work on its own, but get Payback on Poplar Lane, too. 

Lisa Librarian

When Plants Attack by Rebecca E. Hirsch - ESSENTIAL

When Plants Attack : Strange and Terrifying Plants by Rebecca E. Hirsch NON FICTION Millbrook Press ( Lerner Imprints,, ) 2019 $31.99. 9781541526709 Violence: PG (Descriptions of the demise of bugs and animals)



Plants have way of surviving. Whether they live in inhospitable soil and have to catch their own food, like the venus fly trap, or they need to protect themselves from being eaten like the stinging tree, these plants have developed traits 

Kinda gross, and very interesting, the full color captioned photographs show the plants up close and personal. We see the scientific process in action as specialists test why the plants do what they do. The text is accessible and short - about 3 pages per plant including side bars identifying the scientific name, alias what they do and where they can be found. Includes author's note, sources, a glossary, bibliography and "more to explore". 

Lisa Librarian

We were Beautiful by Heather Hepler - ADVISABLE

We Were Beautiful by Heather Hepler, 283 pages. Blink, 2019. $12.99

Language: PG (1 swear, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13 (alcohol consumption); Violence: PG13 (child abuse)



Mia’s family has fallen apart, and she doesn’t know what can be done to fix it. Living with a grandmother she has never met for a few weeks isn’t ideal, but Mia’s father insists that it’s for the best. With the irreversible past following her, can Mia find a future?

Tragedy is part of life, though it may come in many different forms for each of us, and, as readers work through Mia’s pain with her, we see that we all have scars. How we got those scars may always affect our lives, but we get to choose how those scars—if those scars—change our future. I loved reading about the healing and forgiveness that does come with time.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, April 22, 2019

Reach Higher by Amanda Lucidon - ESSENTIAL

Reach Higher : An inspiring Photo Celebration of First Lady Michelle Obama by Amanda Lucidon, PICTURE BOOK Crown Books for Young Readers ( Random House), 2018. $19.99. 9780525644002 Content: G.



Former official White House Photographer Amanda Lucidon has compiled an amazing collections of photographs documenting the First Lady's time in the White House and beyond. We see official pictures of Michelle Obama as she welcomes people into her home, plays with dignitaries (and her dogs), hosts Girl Scouts on the lawn, grows a garden and acts as an important role model for girls and women all over the world. 

Lucidon is a talented photographer. She has captured the First Lady's spirit and initiatives perfectly. An uplifting and inspirational collection, I found myself crying - often. She has provided an amazing legacy.

Lisa Librarian

The Whispers by Greg Howard - OPTIONAL

The Whispers by Greg Howard, 229 pages. Putnam (Penguin), 2019. $17.

Content: G



Riley loved the stories his mother told him of The Whispers; mythical creatures who lived in the forest, came out at sunset and granted wishes. More than anything Riley wants to find his mother and to stop wetting the bed. He also wants his dad to love him again. We go with Riley on his quest to find the Whispers and to have his wishes granted. He brings tributes to The Whispers when he goes on his quest to find his mother. Riley is keeping a secret and he thinks his mother knows and that is why she is gone.          

We go with Riley on his quest and get a glimpse into how tormented he feels. Riley has some good friends and his best friend and his dog goes with him into forest at night to find the Whispers, and hopefully his mom. 
This is a good story about self discovery and doing hard things even if you are scared and frightened.  

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Sunday, April 21, 2019

Gloria Takes a Stand by Jessica M. Rinker - ADVISABLE

Gloria Takes a Stand: How Gloria Steinem Listened, Wrote, and Changed the World by Jessica M. Rinker, illustrated by Daria Peoples-Riley PICTURE BOOK, BIOGRAPHY Bloomsbury 2019 $17.99. 9781681196763



Even as a little girl, Gloria Steinem knew what she wanted and wasn't going to do things any other way. From attending college when most women weren't allowed, to being a driving force in the women's libration movement, Steinem stood up for what she believed, and spoke out. She believed women and people of color should be "linked not ranked," she started Ms. Magazine and spoke all over about making life more fair for everyone. She listened, she acted, things changed. 

Steinem is an icon, and this picture book biography succinctly covers her life and influence. Her example teaches that it's OK to stand up for yourself and others, and when you see an injustice, do something about it. Includes an author's and illustrator's notes, photographs of Steinem, a timeline of important events in US Women's History and a bibliography.

Lisa Librarian

Song For a Whale by Lynne Kelly - ESSENTIAL

Song For a Whale by Lynne Kelly, 292 pages. Random House, 2019. $8.

Content: G



Iris, 12, lives in Houston with her mom, dad and brother. Being deaf has never stopped her from doing what she wants. Iris is great at fixing electronics and she loves old radios. One day in class her science teacher shows a video of a whale called Blue 55. He is lonely because he could not communicate with other whales. Iris makes it her mission to learn all she can about Blue 55 and to find a way to communicate with him. She feels a special connection to this whale since they both have a hard time being understood by the ones around them. The story takes Iris, and her deaf grandmother, on a cross-country expedition to find Blue 55 so Iris can play her song for the whale.       

This is a heartwarming story of Iris, her grandmother and the whale. It gave me a glimpse into Iris' life and an understanding for what it would be like to be deaf. Iris never used her deafness stop her from doing what she believed in. She is talented, bright and inquisitive. She fixes radios even though she cannot hear them. She feels vibrations through her hands! She can tell if the sounds are clear or scurry and she makes adjustments until the sound is clear. I loved this book. The characters are believable and the story captivated me. I could not put the book down.            

Ellen-Anita, Librarian                       

Saturday, April 20, 2019

Queen of Air and Darkness by Cassandra Clare - OPTIONAL

Queen of Air and Darkness (Shadowhounters, #3) by Cassandra Clare, 880 pages.  Margaret K. Elderry (Simon and Schuster), 2018.  $25.  

Content: Language: R (31 swears; 1 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.  



Emma and Julian are trying to keep it together after the death of Livy Blackthorn.  Julian has decided that he can’t deal with his emotions and has a spell placed on himself in which he doesn’t have to feel anything, but it makes Julian’s siblings and Emma feel lost.  Also, the Clave is divided by the new leader and the Shadowhunters who believe in his prejudice ways.  In typical fashion, the Blackthorns and their friends band together to bring the world of magic together and fight for what is right.  

This is a colossal size book, so obviously more than what I have described is in the story, including another dimension and the re-incarnated Annabelle.  The main theme running throughout is the love and respect that the characters have for each other and what constitutes family.  I thought this was the last book, but at the end there is an Epilogue that sets up more for either a spin-off or a sequel.  There are times when the story needed a good edit as it felt long and drawn out.  The content includes heavy make-out sessions, bloody war violence and one of the relationships develops into a threesome.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan - ESSENTIAL

Watch Us Rise by Renée Watson and Ellen Hagan, 368 pages. Bloomsbury, 2019. $19. 

Language: PG-13 (11 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG ; Violence: G;



Jasmine and Chelsea are best friends attending a New York City high school dedicated to the arts and social justice. In fact, each student is required to be in an after school social justice club. Jasmine has been in the August Wilson Acting Ensemble for the past two years, but when the teacher won’t let her escape the stereotypical roles for a black overweight female, she convinces Chelsea to quit the poetry club (which isn’t hard since for the past 2 years they never got to poetry written past the 70s) and form a women’s rights club, as “art-ivists”. Together with their friends Nadine and Isaac, they fight against sexism using their artistic talents, learning both productive and counterproductive ways to do so. 

I started out this book, not really sure if there are girls that are this into activism. It felt overly feministic. But about 50 pages in I was hooked. Jasmine and Chelsea alternate chapters as the narrators and you really get to know them, their friends, love interests, talents, and family troubles. This book brings something that is missing a lot in education, combining arts with social justice issues, and allowing students to think for themselves. Not only was this a great guide to being an activist, but it references real people, both common names like Maya Angelou, and less well-known people like Natalie Diaz. 

Reviewer: J. Rosskopf

Friday, April 19, 2019

Lord of Shadows by Cassandra Clare - ADVISABLE

Lord of Shadows (Shadowhunters, #2) by Cassandra Clare, 699 pages.  Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuster), 2017.  $25.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (17 swears); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13.   



Emma and Julian are reeling from the betrayal of Malcolm and the consequences of their feelings for each other.  Since Emma and Julian have a forbidden love, Emma is pretending to date Julian’s brother, Mark, so that Julian will hopefully move on.  Also Julian is trying to protect his siblings from the evil that Malcolm unleashed when he brought Annabelle back from the dead, while at the same time trying to get the Black Volume of the Dead from Annabelle.  On top of all of their problems, there is racial tension among the larger community of Shadowhunters, nephalim and the seelie court.  Tensions rise in this second book of the series.  

I enjoy reading about the lives of the characters in this series and care that they succeed and are happy.  I like the arching story line between books, but feel as though this book had repetitive parts and could have been about half the length, without all the relationship drama.  That said, I will continue to read to find out what happens to everyone and hope that it has a satisfying ending in the third book.  The content includes gruesome violence and heavy make-out sessions.  The only complaint I have about this series is that it’s confusing unless you have read the whole Mortal Instruments series, but if you have, this is essential.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson - OPTIONAL

Let’s Go Swimming on Doomsday by Natalie C. Anderson, 447 pages. G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 2019. $19. 

Language: R (90 swears, 8 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13;



Abdi is a sixteen-year-old Somali boy whose home city, Mogadishu, has been torn apart by violence involving the militant group Al Shabaab. Abdi keeps his head down after his brother is kidnapped by the Al Shabaab until a few years later when Abdi’s entire family is abducted by the CIA and Abdi is manipulated into working as a spy in Al Shabaab in order to free his family. All Abdi wants is to save his family and to do the right thing, but he is subject to intense indoctrination and is used as a pawn in the plans of powerful men. Abdi ends up in Kenya alone, psychologically traumatized, and with two missing fingers. It takes a UN social worker and refugee girls like himself to help Abdi reveal the whole story of his time with the Al Shabaab and to help him begin to face his trauma and guilt.

Once I started this book, I couldn’t put it down. The story switches between two main time periods: “then” when Abdi is still in Somalia and “now” when Abdi is in Kenya. This switch was never confusing and only added to the mystery of his story. While it was obvious that Abdi somehow gets away from the Al Shabaab alive, the details were intriguing and kept me reading to find out exactly what happened and how he got out. Abdi’s character also felt like an accurate portrayal of someone who has been traumatized. While Abdi’s motives were good, he was a realistically fallible character. A highlight of the book was reading from Abdi’s perspective since his inner world felt authentic. My only complaint about the book was that the twist at the end before everything was resolved was too unbelievable. Everything else in the book felt realistic and intriguing and so the ending was a bit of a let down after an overall great read. The PG13 ratings were primarily due to the violent subject matter: the book is about terrorist violence, but it is not described in vivid detail. 

Reviewer: Marinda

Thursday, April 18, 2019

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston - ESSENTIAL

The Valiant by Lesley Livingston, 372 pages. Penguin Random House, 2017 $17.99

Language: PG (14 swears 0 'f') Mature Content: PG13 (Passionate kissing, mention of brothels) Violence: PG13 (Gladiator violence - graphic killing) 



Fallon is the daughter of a king - a king who was captured, then released by Julius Caesar. Fallon's sister was lost in the battle and now Fallon wants to be a warrior herself, to follow in her sister's footsteps and possibly avenge her. But when Fallon is kidnapped and sold into Rome as a slave, her priorities shift from Warrior to Gladiator, and she begins to fight for her very life. 

What an exciting story! The level of violence was just right, graphic enough to get a feel for the Arena and the bloodlust, but not so much that it becomes inappropriate for a younger reader. Fallon is brave and gutsy, a great example of a strong woman. The romance is nice, too. I hope this is not a stand alone, because I'd love to return to ancient Rome with Fallon.

Lisa Librarian

The Me I Meant to Be by Sophie Jordan - OPTIONAL

The Me I Meant to Be by Sophie Jordan, 288 pages.  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019.  $18.    

Content: Language: R (70 swears; 6 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  



Willa and Flor are best friends and Willa and Zach are best friends, so when Flor and Zach break up, Willa is caught in the middle.  To make matters more complicated, Willa has had feelings for Zach for a long time and come to find out Zach has had the same romantic feelings for Willa.  Flor has her own hardships at home when her dad starts dating a younger woman and lets her move in with them.  Flor finds herself confiding in her nerdy, but hot tutor, Grayson.  

Secrets, romance and friendship make this a fast fun read.  I enjoyed all the characters, but I think the friendship between Willa and Flor isn’t very developed.  Also the cover isn't appealing in the least.  The content includes a descriptive heavy make-out with partial nudity, underage drinking, crass expressions and underground fighting. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World by Katherine Halligan - ADVISABLE

Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World by Katherine Halligan, illustrated by Sarah Walsh.  112 pages.  NON-FICTION  Simon and Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2018.  $20. 

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



Fifty women from around the world and throughout history are represented in this anthology.  The women are organized into five different categories, including leaders, artists, healers, scientists and those who inspire us by overcoming hardship.  I enjoyed each page spread as it explains their contribution as well as the major events in their life.  The illustrations are the best part and are mixed with photographs when available.  

As far as anthologies go, this is well done.  It is attractive and encompasses a lot of women that are sometimes overlooked.  That said, it’s large and bulky and I’m unsure if kids will pick it up to read it for fun, but it would be great to use in the classroom.  The content is in no way gratuitously graphic, but does include the mention of child brides, a baby being murdered and a young girl being sexually assaulted.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

To Night Owl from Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer - ESSENTIAL

To Night Owl From Dogfish by Holly Goldberg Sloan and Meg Wolitzer, 293 pages.  Dial Books (Random House), 2019.  $18.  

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



Avery Bloom and Bett Devlin are used to being the most important person in their dad’s lives, so when their dads fall in love and want Avery and Bett to go to summer camp together, neither girl thinks it a good idea.  As Avery and Bett exchange e-mails it becomes very clear that they don’t have a lot in common.  Avery is shy, scared and allergic to most of the world and Bett is brave, daring and always looking to push the limits. What neither girl expects is the friendship that they form and the crazy summer that they will share.  

I loved this read.  The girls are endearing, and the e-mail format actually works to develop the story.  I loved all the minor characters and the story goes past summer camp and into their friendship for a year or more, so I got all the answers I wanted.  Fun read.  The only content is the girls do talk about getting their period.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Monday, April 15, 2019

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus - HIGH

Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus, 327 pages.  Delacorte Press, 2019.  $20. 

Content: Language: R (87 swears; 15 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  



Ellery and her twin brother, Ezra, are moving to Echo Ridge to live with their grandmother.  Echo Ridge has had two notorious murders in their history around the same time that Ellery’s mother lived there, one of which was Ellery’s aunt.  Ellery loves a good mystery and finds herself trying to piece together the historical murder case, when another girl goes missing.  All of the old suspects still live in Echo Ridge, including a boy, named Malcolm, whose brother was the prime suspect and is a social pariah.  Ellery tries to connect what she knows about the old cases and link it to the new case, with the help of Ezra and Malcolm.  

This book has a lot of good twists and turns and is unpredictable until the end.  I liked Ellery, but the character development in general isn’t very deep.  The content includes a dead body a couple of crass comments.  If you have readers who loved One of Us is Lying, they will be drawn to this read as well.   

Reviewer, C. Peterson    

Sunday, April 14, 2019

The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy Dekeyser - OPTIONAL

The Rhino in Right Field by Stacy Dekeyser, 257 pages.  Margaret K. McElderry (Simon and Schuster), 2018.  $18.  

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



Nick lives with his Greek immigrant parents and helps at the family shoe store.  Nick and his best friend, Ace, are excited about a bat boy contest that the city’s baseball team is hosting, but Nick’s father wants Nick to work at the shoe store on the day of the contest.  Nick and Ace come up with a lie for Nick’s parents and get him out of work, but as with most lies, it complicates things for Nick.  Nick deals with family dynamics, a rhino from the local zoo, a bully, a new girl who has baseball skills and his own sub-par baseball skills.  

This book is really cute and I enjoyed Nick and his struggles.  There is just enough going on in the story to make it interesting and I wanted to keep reading.  My only issue with this book is that I tried to read it with my elementary age son and there are too many colloquialisms and expressions that confused him.  Also, the parents speak halted English which is fine for a fluent reader but not all elementary age readers would be able to understand.  Although the cover looks like it’s for younger readers, a middle grade reader would enjoy it more.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

Saturday, April 13, 2019

Podcast: Episode 4 - February in Review

Sorry I'm late to the table, but February in Review is now open for listening. We talk about our favorite books from board books to YA novels that we reviewed in February on both blogs.

This month we talk about Josh Funk, Sy Montgomery, Yuyi Morales, Svetlanan Chmakova, Gordon Korman, Margaret Haddix, Nikki Grimes, and James Riley, among others!

You can find the show notes on Kissthebook.org/podcasts.


Secrets of a Fangirl by Erin Dionne - ADVISABLE

Secrets of a Fangirl by Erin Dionne, 272 pages.  Arthur A Levine (Scholastic), June 2019.  $17.

Content: G



Since they entered middle school, Sarah Anne, 7thgrade, has always followed the lead of her best friend, Roxy, when it comes to clothes, music, activities, because Roxy knows what will make them popular.  But Sarah Anne has hidden the fact that she still loves the MK Nightshade fantasy series.  Now Sam (as she’s known on the fan boards) has the chance to win tickets to the world premiere of the latest movie.  Can she win the contest and keep her identity secret?  Sarah Anne may not be up to the stress of juggling lacrosse, school, a boy, and a contest.

I talked to the counselors at my middle class, white, suburban middle school and they said that friendship drama is the biggest driver of girls into their offices. I hope that Sarah Anne’s story can be a little window into a way for a few of these girls to see that friendships can change or end, but in they end you can’t hide yourself or change yourself just to stay in a group.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Falcon’s Feather by Trudi Trueit - OPTIONAL

The Falcon’s Feather (Explorer Academy #2) by Trudi Trueit, 208 pages.  National Geographic, 2019.  $17.

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



Cruz and his friends are traveling the world aboard the Explorer Academy ship, honing their skills and, in Cruz’s cases, chasing the pieces of the artifact that his mother left for him.  With the help of his friends, Cruz might survive long enough to find her legacy.

Cruz’s story has enough danger and intrigue to keep a kid’s attention, but I hope it doesn’t take another book for each piece of the artifact.  The whole Explorer Academy set-up doesn’t make any sense to me still. It’s a lot of money to spend for a school for a small group of kids who train more like spies than scientists.  

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Thursday, April 11, 2019

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly - ADVISABLE

Stepsister by Jennifer Donnelly, 352 pages.  Scholastic, JUNE 2019.  $18.

Language: PG (15 swears, 0 “f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG



When Ella finds her prince and heads off to the palace to be Queen, her ugly stepsisters are left behind with the feet they deformed and a hostile village of people who knew how poorly they treated Ella.  Then Chance makes a bet with Fate that Isabelle has the will power to change her fate – she just needs a push in the right direction.  Fate, as the crone, is sure that nothing Isabelle does will change her future – especially since the entire village, if not the kingdom, is in the crosshairs of a blood-thirsty megalomaniac.

Donnelly writes a fine re-twisted fairy tale of a girl changing her “preordained” destiny by being courageous enough to realize she needed to change herself.  There are some other little touches that added to my delight.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Wednesday, April 10, 2019

The Red Scrolls of Magic by Cassandra Clare and Wesley Chu - ESSENTIAL

Language: G (2 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (steamy, implied sex); Violence: PG (some fighting)



Magnus Bane wants to take Alec Lightwood on the perfect romantic vacation. First stop – Paris.  But when Tessa tells Magnus he is under suspicion for starting a demonic cult, Magnus doesn’t have the memories to know that’s a lie.  Now instead of moonlight walks and romantic dinners, the couple is pursuing leads to the cult throughout Europe, hoping to restore Magnus’s memories and take down the cult before all the Shadowhunter forces come after him – for the kill.

Glimpses of old Shadowhunter friends are fun to read, plus references to Magnus’s short stories and his extensive life are great easter eggs within the big story. Until Alec fell in love with Magnus, he was a peripheral character – now he shines as we watch the relationship grow.  Clare fans will have a great time with her latest series.

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Tuesday, April 9, 2019

Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfield - ADVISABLE

Skating Shoes by Noel Streatfeild, 281 pages. Random House, 2018 (Reprint). $17. 9780525578642.

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



Harriet's doctor recommends she take up skating as a way to rebuild her strength after a long illness. She meets Lalla, a young skating ingenue, her first day at the rink and they become fast friends; Lalla's well-off family ends up including Harriet as a partner to Lalla's schooling, skating, and many other adventures. But when Harriet's skating begins to take off at the same time Lalla's faces some real struggles, the two friends will have to find a way to overcome the obstacle and see if their friendship can survive.

This is a classic children's novel first published in 1951 and I think the story really does still hold up. Its 100% clean reading and the kind of story I personally loved as a young girl. The writing does strike me as being more of an upper elementary fit, but middle school readers could appreciate it, too. This particular version has a really lovely cover that would also make it a great gift.

Reviewer: TC

Apprentice Needed by Obert Skye - ESSENTIAL

Apprentice Needed (Wizard for Hire #2) by Obert Skye, 416 pages.  Shadow Mountain, 2019.  $18

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some danger, threats with a gun)



Rin has disappeared into Quarfelt, leaving Ozzy and Sigi with many questions.  When a ticket to New York City and an invitation to meeting arrive for Ozzy, he is sure that its from Rin, so Sigi decides to join him on the trip.  Her mom is out of town and they’ll be back the next day.  She’ll never know.  They discover, to their dismay, that their mysterious benefactor is instead a power-hungry fiend who wants to get his hands on Ozzy’s parents’ control formula no matter the cost.

Woo-hoo!  Welcome back to the world of wizard Rin – is he really a wizard?  Clark the bird is back too and Rin’s motives and action are just the right amount of enigmatic.  Ozzy and Sigi are a great foil for the other two.  And there are sure hints that a third book is in the works.  So much fun!

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS

Monday, April 8, 2019

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus By Dusty Bowling - ESSENTIAL

Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus By Dusty Bowling, 262 pages. Sterling Children’s Books, 2017. $14.95. 

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



13-year-old Aven was born without arms. One month into her 8th grade year, her family moves from Kansas to Arizona where her dad is now the manager of a western themed amusement park. Aven is not ready for the stares and questions, so, one day, while hiding out during lunch in the library, Aven meets Connor a classmate with his own troubles - Connor has Tourette's Syndrome. 

Aven is so positive and wonderful! Although the kids in this book have problems, the story is upbeat and happy - It's more about Aven helping her friends than it is the plight of an armless girl. A great read for building empathy.

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, April 7, 2019

Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer - OPTIONAL

Higher, Further, Faster by Liza Palmer, 249 pages.  Marvel Press (Disney), 2019.  $18.  

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



Carol Danvers is excited to start at the United States Air Force Academy.  She has always dreamed of flying and is determined to prove herself in a predominately male environment.  Carol rooms with another woman, Maria, and they become best friends as their goals are similar.  When they are discouraged from joining the elite Flying Falcons, Carol and Maria work together and learn to trust themselves, each other and the good friends around them.  

The story line is pretty basic, without much action, but Carol is likable and so are her friends. As Carol learns to trust herself and disregard the limitations others try to put on her, her growth is fun to watch.  This book is more about the inner thoughts and rants of Danvers and girl power, and less action and adventure than you would expect from a Marvel’s book.  There is no reference to Carol Danvers being Captain Marvel.

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Saturday, April 6, 2019

Come Find Me by Megan Miranda - ADVISABLE

Come Find Me by Megan Miranda, 326 pages. Crown (Random House), 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (20 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  



Kennedy Jones misses her mom and brother, and she finds comfort in listening to the sound waves from her brother’s satellite.  When she picks up an unusual sound reading, she reaches out to an online board to ask questions and meets a boy named Nolan.  Nolan is dealing with his own loss and is trying to find something that will link him to his brother, Liam, who has been missing for a couple of years.  When they are together, Kennedy and Liam feel as though someone finally understands their heartache and also their curiosity about what the universe is trying to tell them.  

The beginning of this book was slow, but there are some twists and mysteries that crop up that made it impossible to put down.  I like that Miranda can tell a suspenseful story without loads of inappropriate content.  The characters were easy to empathize with and this was a fun and creative story.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Friday, April 5, 2019



Here are the 50 books the best dressed secondary schools should have -- some for middle school and some for high schools.

Tell me what you think!  How many of these do you already have in your library?  I'd love to know how your teachers may be using them in their classrooms.

Soldier Sister, Fly Home by Nancy Bo Flood - NO

Soldier Sister, Fly Home by Nancy Bo Flood, illustrated byShonto Begay, 160 pages.  Charlesbridge, 2016.  $17.  

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



A young native American girl tries to find her place in the Native American community and the white, American community. Amid trying to find her place, Tess’s sister Gaby goes across seas to serve her county leaving Tess feeling alone and lost. Gaby asks Tess to take care of her bold horse named Blue. Tess tries to feel close to her sister through Blue, while trying to balance life on the reservation and life at school.

I did not like this book. The main character wallowed in self-pity the entire time constantly complaining about everything. This book seemed like it would be an original idea, but it was really a crash and burn. The story was flat, and I felt like it had no beginning or end. The content includes underage smoking, graphic killing of sheep and animals mating.  I would not recommend this book.  

Student Reviewer, Isabelle, 9th grade.  

Thursday, April 4, 2019

Racing Manhattan by Terence Blacker - ADVISABLE

Racing Manhattan by Terence Blacker, 343 pages.  Candlewick Press, 2016.  $18.  

Content: Language: PG (3 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG.  



Jay Barton feels the most at home among horses.  Jay lives with her uncle and cousin, but doesn’t feel accepted as family.  When Jay overhears her cousin gossiping about her, Jay runs away and gets a job at a racing stable.  Jay falls in love with a misbehaving horse named Manhattan and tries to work hard and be accepted by the trainer at the stable, but she has to deal with her manipulative uncle and mean co-workers.  

This is a good read for horse lovers.  Although the content is PG, Jay works in a sexist environment and there is a bully.  I liked how Jay worked hard and was courageous.  She is an easy character to get behind.  Quick interesting read.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery - OPTIONAL

How to Be a Good Creature by Sy Montgomery, illustrated by Rebecca Green, 200 pages.  NON-FICTION  Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2018.  $20 

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



Sy Montgomery has always had a deep love and connection to animals.  When she was little she bonded with her family pet dog and wished that she could have the freedom and experiences that the dog had.  As Sy grew up, she became a naturalist and an author about animals, so she has come across many different types of animals in the wild who have taught her about being human.  Sy also discusses some of her closest relationships with her own pets and what that has taught her about living and dying.  

This memoir is unique and I think people who love animals will relate to Sy and be in awe of her many different experiences.  I loved the book Soul of an Octopus by this author, but found this book to be more dramatic and harder to relate to, but this is a memoir so it doesn’t make her experiences any less important.  I think adults will be more interested in Sy’s stories and young adults won’t relate as well.  The content includes talk of suicide and her mother over reacts when she is dating a boy and threatens to take her to the doctor to check her virginity.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson 

Wednesday, April 3, 2019

Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris - AVERAGE

Eyes on Me by Rachel Harris, 371 pages.  Entangled Teen, 2019.  $10.  

Language: R(100+ swears, 4 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (teen drinking, smoking); Violence: G



Lily’s mind is set on the valedictorian spot at graduation and Harvard where her mom and dad fell in love. Ever since her mom died, her dad has been distant – until stress sends her to the hospital.  Now Dad insists she take – salsa lessons?  And her teacher is Chase – the hot Latinx football player from her school?  Lily’s Dad has paid Chase to be Lily’s exclusive teacher, but as her moves get better, so does their chemistry.  Could these two actually be a thing?  But they’d have to survive Chase’s jealous ex – who is also Lily’s main valedictorian rival and the revelation of Dad’s trick.

The makings of a super cute romance novel.  I am mystified why the swear count is so high? Is this a thing now – it can’t be YA unless the characters swear like sailors?

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS