Sunday, June 30, 2019

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg - ESSENTIAL

The Kingdom by Jess Rothenberg, 430 pages. Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2019.  $19.

Language: PG (8 swears swears,  0“f”); Mature Content: PG (implied rape); Violence: PG (some blood)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – ADVISABLE; HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ana and the other Fantasists were engineered to perform for the regulars who visit The KingdomTM.  They are beautiful biohybrids who are there to help every visitor.  Lately, however, Ana has felt that something is off.  Eve, the oldest of them all is acting odd, and then Nia, her closest friend, does something so disastrous that she disappears – probably to be recycled. Ana has also noticed a boy, Owen, around the park. He says he’s a maintenance worker, but she sees him just about everywhere she goes.  When Owen goes missing, presumed dead, Ana is the key suspect – but is she human enough to decide to kill or is she just a robot that follows her programming?

Disneyland meets a bit of Westworld.  The back and forth between time of the narrative makes for a bit of confusion, but every time shift is neatly labeled.  The look at what might happen with a Disney-like kingdom creates sentient automatons that want to break their confines.  More psychological than blood and gore her, though.  Great to pair with Girls With Sharp Sticks.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Batting Order by Mike Lupica - ESSENTIAL

Batting Order by Mike Lupica, 293 pages.  Simon and Schuster, 2019.  $18.

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Matt loves baseball, even though he is the smallest boy on his team.  Plus, when he is hitting balls and running bases, no one cares about his stuttering.  The biggest kid on his team, Ben, may have a home run swing, but it rarely connects.  Matt knows that Ben needs help, but as he reaches out, Matt finds out there is much more to Ben’s story than he ever knew. Just like maneuvering life around his stutter is sometimes like a minefield, Ben’s life is a bit of a minefield too – but both roadblocks are worth overcoming.

Lupica very neatly wraps in Matt’s story about his stuttering, including his work with his therapist, into his baseball story in a very believable and engaging way.  Ben’s story on and off the field contains great baseball and life lessons. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

A Cage Without Bars by Anne Dublin - OPTIONAL

A Cage Without Bars by Anne Dublin, 129 pages.  Second Story Press, 2018.  $11

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

In 1492, Joseph, 12, and his family, and the rest of the Jewish population of Spain, are given just three months to exit the country.  They flee to Portugal and live there safely for 8 months, until one day they are all again forced to flee.  But this time the children are separated from their parents, even children as young as 2, and forced onto a boat.  Where are they going – to Sao Tome to work as slave labor on a fledgling sugar plantation.  Of the 200 children on board, only 600 make it to the island. And more misery and death await them.

If you are a Jewish interest school then you will probably want this more than most schools.  It’s short and interesting, but it will have to be hand sold to readers.  The subject is so obscure, but still worth being recognized.  It is a quick look at the brutality of the world and would easily connect to the problems we still have with “immigration” or unskilled labor today.  

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Above and Beyond: Nasa’s Journey to Tomorrow by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich –OPTIONAL


Above and Beyond: Nasa’s Journey to Tomorrow by Olugbemisola Rhuday-Perkovich, 153 pages. Feiwel and Friends, 2018 $20 Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS -OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

This book is a fairly comprehensive history of space travel, starting with air travel and rockets, then moving into the Apollo missions, and ending with discussion of journeys to mars. It features interesting fact boxes, mini biographies, how children can help with global warming. There are lots of photographs and interesting layouts.

Although rated for 4-6 grades, I felt this was more challenging and would be better for middle school. There was much effort put into engaging with young readers with many pop culture references. I liked that the author addressed women and minorities roles (and lack of recognition) as well as global warming. Every name relevant to space travel seems to be here, which shows how comprehensive this book is. I think the biggest flaw is that the cover is dark and unappealing. Additionally, because its spans the history of space travel, student researchers will only be able to find small bits of information for reports. This would make a great gift for a student who is interesting in space travel.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Breach by W.L. Goodwater - OPTIONAL

Breach by W.L. Goodwater, 368 pages.  Ace, 2018. $16.

Language: R (60 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULTS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

After World War II, a magical barrier came up dividing Berlin into East and West.  The barrier was supposed to last forever, but after just ten years there is a breach.  Once again, the Europeans have called in the Americans to help with their problem. Karen has no idea what she’s in for – not the amount of sexism she will encounter, nor the hatred of magicians by non-magicians, nor the true levels of espionage involved.  It is almost like throwing a lamb to the wolves, but Karen has resources and smarts of her own – much more than men would credit her with.

Some knowledge of the Cold War will help with understanding or finding interest in this magical number. The beginning is a bit dull, but the ending has all of the fireworks you could hope for.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Shadow State by Elyse Brayden - OPTIONAL

Shadow State by Elyse Brayden, 277 pages. Imprint (Macmillan Publishing Group), 2018. $17.99

Language: R (37 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

After falling into and working to get out of her depression in the past year, Brynn is disappointed that she still isn’t back to her normal self. Anxiety and unfamiliar memories make Brynn worry that her depression is coming back—but the real reason behind her odd experiences is so much worse and has consequences so much bigger than Brynn.

Brayden hooked me within the first ten pages, which helped me slog through what felt like a lot of background information before returning to Brynn’s intriguing situation. Throughout the book, I was as disoriented and anxious as Brynn, a full participant in her reality. The book was written well enough to help me, as the reader, become suspicious of the right person eventually, but I’m disappointed that Brayden did not give me enough information to figure out the mystery by myself. I’m also not a fan of the ambiguous ending, but the story was entertaining to read overall.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Hide With Me by Sorboni Banerjee - HIGH


Hide With Me by Sorboni Banerjee, 358 pages.  Razorbill (Penguin), 2018.  $18.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Seventeen-year-old Cade finds a girl bleeding in his family’s corn field.  As he tries to help her, she begs him not to take her to the hospital because she is hiding from someone.  Cade has his share of secrets with his abusive father, so he feels a need to protect this girl's secrets.  Cade hides the girl he calls Jane in an outbuilding on the farm.  As Cade and Jane start to develop a friendship, Cade realizes that Jane’s problems stem from the drug cartel that their town on the border has trouble with.  Cade and Jane try to help each other find a way for Jane to get away.  

I couldn’t put this book down.  It was super intense from page one.  I liked the characters and action-packed story line.  I do wish the ending was better explained, as the last chapter seems to be a stream of conscious that is supposed to imply what happens to the characters in the future.  The violence is mature as it describes multiple deaths that are doled out by the cartel and the actions of an abusive parent.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.        

Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg - HIGH

Past Perfect Life by Elizabeth Eulberg, 336 pages.  Bloomsbury, 2019.  $19

Language: R (52 swears, 3 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Allison, high school senior, loves her life.  She and her family live a quiet life in a small Wisconsin town surrounded by a town that embraced them when they arrived, especially the Gleasons, the founding fathers and largest clan in the whole town.  Ally is trying to apply for colleges, and goes to her counselor for help. What happens instead, she could have never predicted – turns out that when she was 3 her father stole her from her mother and took her away.  Her mother is not dead like he told her, but very much alive.  And she wants her daughter, Amanda, back in her life.  But if she isn’t Ally, who is she?  Because she is still a minor, her mom has every right to insist she move immediately to Florida.  

If you have read The Girl on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney, this will feel very familiar – even the arc of the story.  But, very few of our students know that story, so give them this instead.  They will love it.  

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, June 28, 2019

Order of the Majestic by Matt Myklusch - ADVISABLE

Order of the Majestic by Matt Myklusch, 421 pages.  Aladdin (Simon), 2019.  $19

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Joey, 13, just aced the state standardized test and he’s been called to take a special test for a special school.  Instead, he is given a box of magic tricks and told to master as many as he can in one hour.  When he masters them all, he finds a key which transports him to a derelict theater where he finds Redondo the Magnificent, a magician who has been missing for 20 years. Joey is in contention with two other kids to see who will inherit Houdini’s Wand and be the next keeper of the magic for the almost defunct Order of the Majestic, a group that was devoted to letting everyone in the world experience magic. But the Invisible Hand, magicians who want to keep all magic to themselves, send someone to sway Joey to their side.

While Joey’s waffling plays into the finale of the story, it can get very annoying as a reader. I wanted Joey to embrace magic as real, not just tricks.  I guess that means I became emotionally invested!

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Mirage by Jenn Reese - ADVISABLE

Mirage (Above World #2) by Jenn Reese, 356 pages. Candlewick Press, 2013. $7.99

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

During their encounter with Fathom, Aluna and her friends learned that his sibling Scorch is planning to claim the Equians, as Fathom tried to do to the Kampii. Rushing to the desert to warn Dash’s people, Aluna and her friends find that they are too late—Scorch is close to achieving her goal. Dash broke his exile for nothing, and now they may all pay the price.

This book cannot be read without its prequel, Above World, and Mirage is just as good, if not better. The extension of their story is engaging as Aluna’s quest continues far from home, and the character development helps prevent the obstacles to success from becoming repetitive. Adventure awaits those who stick with Aluna, and the final installment is begging for me to stay immersed in this world.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

War of the Bastards by Andrew Shvarts - OPTIONAL

War of the Bastards (Royal Bastards #3) by Andrew Shvarts, 389 pages.  Hyperion (Disney), 2019.  $19

Language: R (75 swears, 5 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: R (bloody deaths)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Since Miles became her father’s Inquisitor, Noveris has descended into a bloody, iron-fisted dictatorship.  Tilla, Zel, and Galen are leading the Unbroken, the resistance fighters.  They have been receiving intelligence from the Raven, so when they hear that their contact has been captured they personally lead the rescue.  What they find, who they find, changes everything.  Now they are more galvanized then ever to break the tyrant’s hold and the true Queen, Lyriana, her throne.

If your students made it through book #2, they will go ape over how great #3 is! I tis as good as any revolutionary-trying-regain-the-throne book out there.  

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller - OPTIONAL

Girls on the Verge by Sharon Biggs Waller, 228 pages. Henry Holt (MacMillan), 2019. $18.

Language: R (50 swears, 17 'f'); Mature Content: R (descriptive sexual encounter); Violence: PG. 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

17-year-old Camille is the most promising actress at the "Globe" - a local Texas theater program, and is on her way to an elite summer acting camp. It's going to be a memorable summer, but her plans come crashing down when she discovers that she is pregnant. She can't bring herself to tell her parents, and her best friend's reaction isn't supportive, so she feels like she is completely alone. But when she runs into Annabelle, a girl she knows from Theater school, Annabelle agrees to drive Camille on a road trip to get an abortion. 

Set in 2013 when Texas had some very restrictive reproductive laws, Sharon Biggs Waller has found a beautiful voice in Camille. I thought this book would be more political than it was, while the author makes clear the political and religious resistance to legal abortion, the story isn't heavy handed or in your face.  Navigating the legal system at 17 is daunting, and Camille experiences both caring people and mean ones. While everyone's experiences are different, Camille, Annabelle and Bea give the readers characters they can relate to, regardless of their opinion of abortion and women's reproductive rights. Although some of the girl's discussions about sex and condoms are frank, Girls on the Verge could still be considered for a High School library. 

 Lisa Librarian

Thursday, June 27, 2019

Tight by Torrey Maldonado - ADVISABLE

Tight by Torrey Maldonado, 177 pages.  Nancy Paulsen (Penguin), 2019.  $17

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Bryan keeps his head pretty low in school, but in her job as a social worker his mom introduces him to Mike, a 7thgrader.  As Bryan and Mike build their relationship, Mike encourages Bryan to break rules and do dangerous things.  When Bryan finally digs in his heels, Mike turns on him.  

Maldonado allows kids to see from the outside how a bully can easily manipulate others to do their bidding.  The author also lets us into the life of a family on the edge – when emulating a parent may not be the best choice. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese - ESSENTIAL

A Drop of Hope by Keith Calabrese, 305 pages. Scholastic Press (Scholastic Inc), 2019. $16.99

Language: PG (1 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The people of Cliffs Donnelly have fallen upon hard times—illness, friendships, job security, stress, family issues, you name it and someone is struggling with it. As everyone struggles with their own problems and insecurities, three sixth graders end up in the middle of it all. When these kids find a secret spot near the town’s magic wishing well, amazing things start happening and maybe everything will turn out alright.

This book is the definition of heart-warming. Readers are reminded that we all have issues, and the hope is found in reaching out; if everyone simply reaches out with the intention to help some else, then, collectively, we are able to do more than we can alone. Burdens are lighter when they are shared between family members, friends, student and teacher, neighbors, even someone sitting by themselves at lunch. While this book is geared toward a younger audience, I recommend this book to everyone.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan - OPTIONAL

Hot Dog Girl by Jennifer Dugan, 309 pages.  Putnam (Penguin), 2019.  $18

Language: R (72 swears, 8 “f”); Mature Content: PG (teen drinking); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Eloise is excited for her summer job at the local Magical Castle Playland, but not so thrilled when she finds out that her job – again – is to be wear the Hot Dog costume and hang out near the refreshments stand. She is still pining over diving pirate Nick, with his perfect princess girlfriend Jessa.  And her best friend, Seeley is miffed with Eloise for setting Seeley on a bad date with Angie. To make it worse, Mr. P. has announced that this is the last season for the park – he is shutting it down and selling the land. Now Eloise is desperate to raise $2 million to keep the park over AND find a way to catch Nick.  So what if her Nick idea is to pretend to date Seeley in order to make him jealous?

I love that even though the central romance is with an unexpected couple, it really at heart is just a cute mistaken motives, light romance.  Normal!  But silly, because Eloise is slightly neurotic, but with a good heart.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier - ADVISABLE

Share Your Smile: Raina’s Guide to Telling Your Own Story by Raina Telgemeier, 144 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL/ INTERACTIVE WORKBOOK. Graphix/Scholastic (Scholastic Press), 2019. $13.

Content: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Using her other published graphic novels, Raina Telgemeier walks readers through the process of writing their own stories. Through Smile she talks about how to draw - faces, and expressions; how to reminisce about your hometown and decide what elements make it special. Sisters helps the reader look at family, and gives ideas about writing your own story from a special family trip or event. Drama brings the reader ideas about writing fiction based on experiences in their own life. She asks questions about school and talks about research; and with Ghosts she talks about writing from another perspective and how important atmosphere is. Telgemeier has provided a very useful workbook.

Great questions to get you thinking about your own stories, tips on drawing and the process of making a graphic panel story. It’s not necessary to have read all of Telgemeier’s books, but her ideas are drawn from them, so it wouldn’t hurt to know them.  This would be a great guide for an individual - especially one who loves Raina Telgemeier, or as a classroom text for a unit on writing your own stories,

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, June 26, 2019

The Brain is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk- ESSENTIAL

The Brain is Kind of a Big Deal by Nick Seluk.  NON-FICTION/PICTURE BOOK.  Orchard Books (Scholastic), OCTOBER 2019.  $18. 9781338167009

BUYING ADVISORY: EL - ESSENTIAL; MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

After his tour de force with the Sun, Seluk moves on with his trademark mix of humor and facts to teach us about the brain.  A bit harder to understand than the Sun book, but still filled with lots of humor. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Silverlegs: Seed of Rage by Camilla Monk - NO

Silverlegs: Seed of Rage by Camilla Monk, 400 pages. Camilla Monk, 2019. $4.99

Language: R (171 swears, 51 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: R

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Before she was Silverlegs, she was a girl living on a farm. When events forced her to run away or else be punished severely for her actions, she was mistaken for a boy and taken by mercenaries to fight for them. Slowly, she becomes Silverlegs, but being the best at what she does doesn’t make her life as simple as she imagined.

I was constantly appalled by the swearing—I never got used to it. With so much disturbance by the language, I found myself distracted from the story and just hoping it would finally end. The premise was exciting, and I did like the story of a girl who works hard to beat a man’s world, I just feel that the story wasn’t put together in a way that helped me enjoy read it. The mature content rating is for rape, prostitution, and mentions of sex (without going into graphic details); the violence rating is for torture and battle gore that permeates most chapters.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Galloglass by Scarlett Thomas - ADVISABLE

Galloglass (Worldquake #3) by Scarlett Thomas, 418 pages.  Simon and Schuster, 2019.  $18

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Just as she is strengthening her connection with the Library, Effie has been kicked out of Otherwold for supposedly being a galloglass – the most selfish of the magical shades.  As she goes back to her world to figure out what’s going on and now to get back to Otherworld,  she also has to deal with the Diberi – the evil group that are plotting to get control over both worlds.  Her friends seem to be scattered with their own problems and shady characters are gathering for their town’s Midwinter festivities.  Can the children bring it all back together and protect everyone and everything they hold dear?

Just like book #2, Thomas takes us in five different directions in order to give each of the five friends their time on the page, which makes this confusing.  One of the children encounters what can only be described as a child predator – ultra-creepy to watch him grooming her.  My favorite part is when Wolf takes an ethics test in the middle of the book (page 200-ish); you’ll have to read that part for yourself.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

You Don't Know everything, Jilly P. by Alex Gino - OPTIONAL

You Don't Know everything, Jilly P. by Alex Gino, 240 pages. Scholastic, 2018.$12.     

Language: G (2 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG (racial issues, police shootings)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Jillian, Jilly, is in 7th grade when her sister Emma is born. Emma is born deaf.  Jilly loves to read and her favorite genre is fantasy. She has joined an on-line chat room where she discusses the contents of her favorite books with other fans. One of the kids in chat group is a deaf boy, named Derek. Jilly kind of has a crush on him, even before they meet. When her sister is born, Jilly asks Derek and lot of questions and he helps her and her parents find help.         

The story of Jilly and her family and their struggles were real. I think the author tried to put as many issues as possible into the story, and I think that detracted from, rather than added to the story. The story is told from Jilly's point of view.

Ellen-Anita, Library   

Escape From the Isle of the Lost by Melissa De La Cruz - ADVISABLE


Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Mal and the other Descendants are about to graduate from Auradon Prep, but they want to take a trip to the Isle in order to encourage others to apply for the school and get off the Isle. But Uma has more evil plans in store for them.  It may only be with the help of Celia, Dr. Facilier’s daughter, that they can thwart Uma’s plans.

I need to watch these movies.  I see the merch in the Disney stores, and I’ve read De La Cruz’s books, but never seen a movie.  I know Melissa didn’t write the movies, but she does a solid job of making the transition to  a book.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? by Peter Wohlleben - OPTIONAL

Can You Hear the Trees Talking? Discovering the Hidden Life of the Forest by Peter Wohlleben, 73 pages. NON-FICTION. Greystone Books, OCTOBER 2019.  $18. 9781771644341

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

A young reader’s edition of The Hidden Life of Trees.  Each two page spread asks a question like Why do fungi grow on trees? And then give s akid-friendly, but still detailed answer to the question, plus some kind of a look, a try, or a quiz activity. This could embraced by a science teacher for use in the class, but there are only a few students who might be drawn to the subject enough to actually read this all the way through.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

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.

Language: R (100+ swears 100+ 'f's); Mature Content: R (sexual situations); 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