Wednesday, July 31, 2019

Liberty Arrives! by Robert Byrd - ADVISABLE

Liberty Arrives! How America’s Grandest Statue Found Her Home by Robert Byrd.  NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK.  Dial (Penguin), 2019.  $18. 9780735230828

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – ADVISABLE, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Bartholdi’s dream of an epic, grand statue for his friends the Americans took the work of two countries to make it happen.  Even after France did its part, however, it took America longer to get its act together.

Byrd has written a highly detailed about the history of the Statue of Liberty.  The detailed info makes it best for upper elementary or even middle school.  It isn’t quite as dynamic as Her Right Foot by Dave Eggers nor as accessible for younger students like Doreen Rappaport’s Lady Liberty, but if you need a new Statue of Liberty book or supplemental materials, this contains everything that anyone needs to know about the statue.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Tuesday, July 30, 2019

SHELF QUEENS GIVEAWAY

A couple of months ago I had the awesome opportunity to interview four authors about their newly minted books.  If you haven’t listened to the SHELF QUEENS podcast yet, you can can find it on Spreker
or ITunes.

So that you don’t have to take notes as you listen, the shownotes are available here.

In honor of these four amazing authors being on the show, I am giving away a signed set of each of their new books!  
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THE PRIZE:
GIRL WITH SHARP STICKS (signed) by Suzanne Young
SLAYER (signed) by Kiersten White
CROWN OF FEATHERS (signed) by Nicki Pau Preto
SKY WITHOUT STARS (signed) by Jessica Brody with co-author Joanne Rendell
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HOW TO ENTER:
1. Listen to the podcast and leave a helpful review on iTunes (2 entries)
2. Leave an encouraging (5 words or more) comment on this blogpost (1 entry)
3. Leave an encouraging (5 words or more) comment on the Instagram post about the #GIVEAWAY (1 entry)
4. Follow Kiss the Book on 
AND/OR the RSS feed for the blog.  (You can do any or all of these) (1 entry@)
5. Retweet the TWEET about the GIVEAWAY (1 entry)
6. Leave an encouraging (5 words or more) comment on that Twitter post (1 entry)
7. BONUS:  Listen to the podcast and answer this question only on this blog post:
            Who was most on point when talking about who they would like to direct or to star as them in their future BIO PIC? AND who would you want to direct, write or play you in your future BIO PIC? (3 entries)
In all you can earn up to 14 entries in the #GIVEAWAY
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RULES and INFO:
- This giveaway ends MONDAY, July 29, 2019 at 9 am MST. The grand prize winner will be contacted after that.
- U.S. entries only.
-Giveaway not affiliated in any way with Instagram, Twitter, or Pinterest.
-Must be 18 or older or have parent/guardian permission to enter.
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GOOD LUCK everyone!!

This Cruel Design by Emily Suvada - OPTIONAL


This Cruel Design (Mortal Coil, #2) by Emily Suvada, 392 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2018.  $20.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Cat is still trying to come to terms with who she really is and with the understanding of her own past comes memories and knowledge that might help her save humanity.  As the virus continues to threaten all of humanity, different organizations have varying solutions, but Cat believes that humanity can still be saved.  Working with Cole and new people that she meets in a place called Entropia, Cat tries to fight against past enemies and hopelessness.  

I think this world is creative and interesting.  I really like Cat’s character and can’t wait to see how this story ends.  That said, this book is slower than the first with a lot of explanations and not as much action.  The content includes heavy make-out, a hand being severed which was upsetting and a high death count. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson.   

This Mortal Coil by Emily Suvada - HIGH


This Mortal Coil (Mortal Coil, #1) by Emily Suvada, 419 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2017.  $19.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Cat lives in a remote hidden location, far from big populations where she might contract the plague.  Cat is a hacker and works at decoding and manipulating DNA.  She has lived by herself for two years, ever since her father was taken by Cartaxus.  Cat has been taught that Cartaxus is evil and to avoid them at all costs, but when a Cartaxus soldier named Cole shows up to tell Cat her father is dead, her world starts to shift. 

I couldn’t put this book down.  I got caught up in the dystopian world that had the same feel as The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancy.  I enjoyed all the plot twists, the chemistry between the characters and the quick moving storyline.  There is a lot of gory and gruesome violent content and a heavy make-out session.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

New Kid by Jerry Craft - ESSENTIAL

New Kid by Jerry Craft 249 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Harper Collins, 2019. $13. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY:, EL -, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Jordan Banks is starting 7th grade at a fancy private school. He'd rather go to art school, but his mom feels like this is an opportunity that can't be missed. His family isn't rich like many of the other families at the school and it isn't very diverse. Jordan has a long bus ride to school, and even though he makes some friends right away, Jordan feels like he doesn't really fit in.

Jerry Craft is both author and illustrator - the story is well balanced letting both the dialogue and pictures tell the story. Perfect for middle school students, the kids who like Raina Telgemeier and Svetlana Chmakova will delight in finding this one. It's great to see a male protagonist, and it doesn't hurt that he is culturally different from his peers - lots of kids will be able to relate!

Lisa Librarian

Monday, July 29, 2019

Wild Blues by Beth Kephart - OPTIONAL


Wild Blues by Beth Kephart, 317 pages.  Atheneum Books, 2018.  $18.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

Thirteen-year old Lizzie loves visiting her Uncle Davy, so when Lizzie’s mom gets cancer and has to take a radioactive treatment, Lizzie chooses Uncle Davy’s place to get away from the treatment.  Lizzie and her best friend, Matias, love discovering all the beauty of the woods around Uncle Davy’s, but one day when Matias isn’t at their meeting place, Lizzie starts to realize that something is very wrong.  

This book has a compelling storyline and I don’t mind the stream of conscience writing style, but I’m not sure young readers will be patient with that style.  There were also a couple of turns in the plot that were unrealistic and frustrating and I was disappointed in the weird ending.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle - ESSENTIAL

The Storm Keeper’s Island by Catherine Doyle, 308 pages, Bloomsbury Children’s Books, 2018, $17.

Language: PG (5 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Fionn Boyle, an eleven year old boy, is experiencing the strangest summer of his life.  He and his sister, Tara, have been sent by their mother to stay with their grandfather on Arranmore Island.  The island is mysterious and seems to have a life of its own; one that seems more and more intertwined with Fionn’s.  Fionn’s eccentric grandfather is the Storm Keeper of Arranmore and once in a generation, the island chooses a new one. While the shift in power over a Storm Keeper is awakens an old rivalry, an ancient and deadly evil is awakening. 

Doyle crafts stunning prose that lifts the story line.  I found myself marking pages to quote later.  Catherine Doyle’s love of Irish myths and legends shines through her story. The characters are quirky and witty, and the story is not only about Fionn and Arranmore Island, but family and love and sacrifice and bravery.  The story wraps up enough to let you put the book down with a sigh, but there is definitely more to come and I will be waiting with anticipation.  

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Sunday, July 28, 2019

Courageous: A Novel of Dunkirk by Yona Zeldis McDonough - ADVISABLE


Courageous: A Novel of Dunkirk by Yona Zeldis McDonough, 177 pages.  Scholastic, 2018.  $17.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Aiden and his best friend Sally live in England during World War II.  Aiden has lost one brother to the war and his other brother, George, sends home letters as frequently as he can.  Sally and Aiden like to listen to the radio, so when in May 1940 they hear a cry for citizens to help pick up troops from across the water at Dunkirk, Aiden wants to take his father’s fishing boat convinced that he will be helping his brother George.  Aiden’s father refuses to get involved, so Aiden and Sally sneak the boat out and follow the other people across the water to help in Dunkirk.  

At first I was bothered that Aiden was only twelve-years old, but I actually think younger readers would relate to Aiden and Sally and their need to contribute to the war effort.  I enjoyed the adventurous story, especially because it’s historical fiction and I felt like it was realistic.  At times it was neatly wrapped up, but there is still un-graphic deaths from wounds, shootings and bombings.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

The Lonely Dead by April Henry - ADVISABLE


The Lonely Dead by April Henry, 228 pages.  Christy Ottavaino (Henry Holt), 2019.  $18. 

Content: Language: PG (3 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13.

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

  Adele can see the dead, a talent/curse that she has inherited from her mother.  Adele’s grandfather sees her ability as a mental illness and insists that she take pills, but when Adele doesn’t take her pills she feels more like herself.  While walking to school, after a rough weekend at a party, Adele sees the ghost of her ex-best-friend, Tori.  Adele is quickly drawn into the mystery of what happened to Adele, as well as becomes a suspect.  

I couldn’t put this book down.  It has a fast plot line, with great suspects and a strong main character.  There isn’t any gruesome content, but there is a dead body and a fight.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Skyjacked by Paul Griffin - ESSENTIAL

Skyjacked by Paul Griffin, 240 pages.  Scholastic Press, 2019.  $18. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

On their way home from a luxury camping trip, five classmate’s lives are in danger when someone takes control of their private plane. The main suspect is the replacement co-pilot, but the teens are not sure if any of the adults on board are trust-worthy. Why these kids? Why this plane? When things go even further south, can the teens manage to save themselves?

Even though the teens are a bit over-privileged, the drama of the sky-jacking is taut and terrifying and will hold students’ attention. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Saturday, July 27, 2019

There's Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon - HIGH


There’s Something About Sweetie by Sandhya Menon, 376 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2019.  $19.  

Content: Language: R (63 swears; 1 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH  

Sweetie is an amazing track athlete, but for some reason nobody can get past her bigger size.  Sweetie’s mother tries to protect Sweetie and tells her to lose weight, but it just makes Sweetie angry.  When a cute boy, named Ashish, and his parents try to set up a date with Sweetie, Sweetie’s mother turns it down because she thinks Sweetie’s size is a factor.  Sweetie goes behind her mother and dates Ashish and they develop strong feelings for each other.  

What a great book about self-image, family, culture and romance.  I loved Sweetie’s spunk and belief in herself.  I liked the portrayal of Ashish and his kind heart.  I think this is more than a sweet romance but a book about believing in yourself that would be great in any library.  I read From Twinkle, With Love by the same author and am surprised by the amount of swearing in this book in comparison.  Also, there are sexual references that make this PG-13.  At times the romance can be cheesy and melodramatic, but overall it’s a fun read.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Locked in Ice: Nansen's Daring Quest for the North Pole by Peter Lourie - ADVISABLE


Locked in Ice: Nansen’s Daring Quest for the North Pole by Peter Lourie, 314 pages.  NON-FICTION  Christy Ottaviano Books (Henry Holt), 2019.  $20.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Fridtjof Nansen successfully crossed Greenland and then set his eyes on being the first to reach the North Pole.  Nansen gathered a crew of able-bodied and experienced men and specifically designed his boat to have the best chance possible to purposely get stuck in the ice.  After Nansen and his men let their boat freeze in the ice, they drifted with the current until Nansen got as close as he could to the North Pole.  Then Nansen and one of his crew members loaded up dog sleds and headed out across the ice.  This is the story of their survival and exploration.  

This book is perfect for those who love reading about explorers, such as Ernest Shakleton’s Endurance.  My respect for Nansen only increased as the story went on (especially the Afterward) and I loved the accompanying pictures.  The only violence is that the dogs don’t all make it and they do hunt Polar Bears.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Allies by Alan Gratz - ESSENTIAL

Allies by Alan Gratz, 336 pages.  Scholastic Press, OCTOBER 2019.  $18.

Language: PG(14 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG-13 (war deaths)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Alan Gratz takes us to the beaches of Normandy France on D-Day.  Showing us the action through the eyes so many different characters should be confusing, but this master of the craft gives each scene and each character the right amount of time on the page to set that scene and to place within the context of the bigger picture.  Each character could have a book of their own, but Gratz still gives us a fully satisfying, if rightfully horrifying, look at this awful day.  

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, July 26, 2019

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden - ESSENTIAL

Small Spaces by Katherine Arden, 218 pages. G.P. Putnam's Sons (Penguin Young Readers Group), 2018. $17                

Language: G. Mature Content: PG (scary images, not for age 7 and under); Violence: PG (people are zombified and their faces are sewn into scarecrows)   

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL   

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH    

Ollie's loss and sadness turn to curiosity when she meets a weeping woman at the creek.  The woman says she was sent to throw a mysterious book into the water.  Without thinking, Ollie snatches the book away from the stranger and runs.  Over the next few days, she reads the book and becomes tangled in a strange curse where the only way to avoid becoming a scarecrow is to hide in "Small Spaces".  When two classmates follow her as she tries to break the curse, Ollie has to figure out how to save them and the entire class. Can they save their entire class?  Lost in the cursed cornfields of a local farm with creepy hauntings, strange creatures, and a chase for their lives, you will keep reading until the last page without being able to put it down!   

The setting was eerie and kept me turning the pages to find out what happened next.  I loved the main character and her grit and bravery.  She lead friends Brian and Coco to stand up for themselves.  It is really hard to put this book down once you start so give yourself some reading time. If you liked The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier or The Bad Ones by Mary Downing Hahn you will love this book.    

Michele Edgley, Library Technology Teacher, Salt Lake City School District 

Thursday, July 25, 2019

Skating Over Thin Ice by Jean Mills - OPTIONAL


Skating Over Thin Ice by Jean Mills, 421 pages.  Red Deer Press, 2018.  $15.  

Content: Language: R (21 swears; 2 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

At seventeen, Genny is a piano phenom and is part of a trio with her grandfather and father.  Genny goes to a boarding school with kids whose parents are diplomats or celebrities and although she has a few friends, she feels her first real connection with an up-and-coming hockey star named Nathan.  Nathan has his own problems, including the fact that he got in a brutal fight on the ice and is currently suspended without knowing if he will be allowed to continue to play hockey.  Genny and Nathan are put on a project together with Genny’s best friend and they display their love of their instrument and sport while growing closer together.  

I enjoyed the character development of Genny.  Although she has a lot of insecurities and anxieties, it was fun to watch her grow and become more comfortable in her own skin.  This isn’t a fast-paced novel, and it also isn’t just about the chemistry between the two characters.  It’s more of a look into the life of someone who specializes early and what that might feel like.  I enjoyed it and would put it at advisable if not for the two “f” words.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Genuine Sweet by Faith Harkey -- ADVISABLE

Genuine Sweet by Faith Harkey, 277 pgs. Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2015. $7.

Language: G; Mature Content: PG (two chaste kisses & an alcoholic father); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Twelve-year-old Genuine Sweet of tiny Sass, Georgia is a fourth-generation wish-fetcher -- able to call down the magic of the stars to grant others' wishes. Unfortunately, she can't grant her own wishes, which means she's stuck living with her alcoholic father in a tired, run-down house filled with overdue notices and not enough food. When she hits upon a scheme to use the wish-fetcher magic to better her own life as well as others', she knows she's courting disaster; but is it really fair for everyone to be happy and have their wishes granted...everyone except Genuine Sweet herself?

I love this book. Genuine is a relatable character who makes understandable mistakes. Her Southern voice is delightful, and the town of Sass comes alive in her descriptions. The magical realism also adds an element of intrigue to the story, as do her frequent hints that her choices will eventually lead to big problems. The cover is a bit unfortunate because, pretty though it is, it makes the book look as if it were for a younger audience than it truly is; this might discourage some from picking it up. Those who enjoyed A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd will likely enjoy this one as well.

Sydney G., K-6 Library Media Specialist

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Grandpa Cacao by Elizabeth Zunon - ESSENTIAL

Grandpa Cacao: A Tale of Chocolate from Farm to Family by Elizabeth Zunon. PICTURE BOOK. Bloomsbury, 2019.  $18. 9781681196404

BUYING ADVISORY: EL (K-3), EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

A girl and her father are baking a chocolate cake for her birthday celebration.  While they are getting ready, they talk about what she wants for her big day and her father reminds her of her own Grandfather who makes a living growing cacao in the Ivory Coast.  When mom returns, she has a very special surprise for her.

Another perfect lesson opener.  For elementary it can be a starter for a cooking lesson, a chocolate lesson (plus tasting!), or a discussion about the connectivity of the world’s economy. Same for middle school. I love it!

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

The Friendship War by Andrew Clements - ADVISABLE

The Friendship War by Andrew Clements, 168 pages, Random House, 2019, $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Sixth grader, Grace has just happened upon a windfall of buttons.  Really cool buttons.  When she inadvertently starts a fad at her school with buttons, she could be the queen bee.  Unfortunately, it would mean dethroning her best friend Ellie in the process, but maybe Ellie deserve to be dethroned.   After all, Grace has always been Ellie’s sidekick.

Clements delivers on another great story.  Through the button fad and Grace’s scientific mind, we get to observe as she does, what makes something a fad, perhaps how to stop it, and what it means to be a friend.  The book also briefly addresses loss of a loved one and hope, intertwining them into a great read.  Anyone who has ever been caught up in a fad (Pokemon cards anyone?) or has had friendship troubles can relate.  Nice book on taking the higher ground to cope. 

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Tuesday, July 23, 2019

Moth: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas and Daniel Egneus - ESSENTIAL

Moth: An Evolution Story by Isabel Thomas, illustrated by Daniel Egneus. NONFICTION PICTURE BOOK. Bloomsbury, 2019.  $19. 9781547600205

BUYING ADVISORY: EL – ESSENTIAL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

A certain species of moth used to be a combination of black and white, mostly, but when the Industrial Revolution hit and the trees and buildings became covered with soot and ash, the darker version became more prevalent.

That’s a pretty utilitarian summary, but Thomas’s book is very lyrical and Egneus’s beautiful illustrations make for a wonderful read. A great opener for a lesson on adaptation. I’m hoping my Biology teachers will embrace this.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Here Comes Trouble by Kate Hattemer - OPTIONAL

Here Comes Trouble by Kate Hattemer, 309 pages, Alfred A. Knopf (Random House), 2018, $17. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Soren Skaar’s life has changed.  His best friend and pranking partner, a girl named Alex, has moved before he begins 6th grade.  If that weren’t bad enough, his cousin, Flynn comes to spend the school year with him. Flynn is nothing like Alex.  Flynn is hip and serious about school, whereas Soren is only concerned with pranking. As Soren tries to find ways to prank without Alex, he makes some interesting allies but puts other relationships at risk.

At over 300 pages, this book felt long.  I also struggled with the pranking.  No one seemed to have a real problem with it.  As a middle school teacher I would have to find a job elsewhere than Soren’s school.   I would have liked to see Flynn’s character explored more in depth.   He seemed to have some serious issues that were glossed over.   This book was a fun premise that left me wanting more character growth.  

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher

Monday, July 22, 2019

Apocalypse Taco By Nathan Hale - ESSENTIAL

Apocalypse Taco By Nathan Hale 122 pages GRAPHIC NOVEL Abrams/Amulet, 2019 $15

Language: G (0 swears 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Creature violence, peril)

BUYING ADVISORY EL -, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

The Stage Crew at the High School is pulling an all-nighter to make sure everything is ready for dress rehearsal tomorrow. But when the wrestling team eats all the pizza, the drama teacher sends 3 students on a late night burger run. Unfortunately, all is not well at the Taco Bear. Their combo packs turn into these weird squid things and a battle to save the world from a crazy college student ensues. 

Nathan Hale’s science fiction terror is so fun! Kids are going to love this! Fast action, funny situations and gross mutants. What more could you want in a graphic novel?

Lisa Librarian

Take the Mic edited by Bethany C. Morrow - HIGH

Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance, edited by Bethany C. Morrow, 272 pages. Arthur Levine (Scholastic), OCTOBER 2019.  $18

Language: R (25 swears, 5 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Take the Mic needs to be read by everyone age 10 or above, as far as I’m concerned.  Each story contains a vital truth about empowerment, about race relations, that can be read and discussed in any Language Arts classroom.  Morrow’s own As You Were was like a punch to my gut. Ahmed’s poem, Are You The Good Kind of Muslim? is also a touchstone. Even long-time members of the LGBT community can learn from Stoeve’s Parker Outside the Box.  Really – each offering should be read again and again.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Lair of the Beast (Snared #2) by Adam Jay Epstein - ADVISABLE

Lair of the Beast (Snared #2) by Adam Jay Epstein, 24 4 pages.  Imprint (Macmillan), 2019.  $17

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

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL – ESSENTIAL; MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Wily is not settling easily into his new role as the King-to be.  Any time he tries to rule, the people around him want more than he can give. Then they get mad and say he’s just like his father, the evil king. Stalag the mage, Wily’s former captor also has evil plans and Wily needs to collect a new set of adventurers if he is going to have any chance to thwart Stalag’s plans.  
I do have to hope that this doesn’t turn into a long multi volume arch of just Wily vs Stalag.  I want it to be more like Mark Forman’s Adventurers Wanted series or Zack Clark’s Adventurer’s Guild.  Epstein has the writing chops for it for sure.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Sunday, July 21, 2019

The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School by Kristin Mahoney - ADVISABLE

The 47 People You'll Meet in Middle School by Kristin Mahoney, 304 pages. Alfred A. Knopf, (Penguin, Random House), 2019. $20.

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

BUYING ADVISORY:, EL -, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Augusta has had a rough year, her parents got a divorce and she has started 6th grade in middle school. Both cause lots of life changes. She has to split her time between her mother's and father's homes, and money is tight, so the promised contact lenses are out of the question. Her sister Louise is in 4th grade and is always asking Gus what middle school is like, and this novel is a letter from Gus to her sister describing her first few months. One of Augusta's teachers challenges the kids to "find their tribe". Her best friend Layla is going to a different middle school and has already made new friends. Other kids changed over the summer and have different friend groups, so Gus is on her own to make new friends or find old friends she had taken for granted.

Does Kristin Mahoney teach middle school? She's got this, the representations of all the different kids, the kind teachers and the strict ones, what happens in the halls, problems with lockers and lunch - a well rounded representation of middle school with a great story line. I liked that each chapter introduced another character, some stayed with the story and others didn't, but that wasn't a problem.  I think this will be liked more by upper elementary, but I'm certainly buying a copy for my 7-9 middle school.

Lisa Librarian

Save the Date by Morgan Matson - OPTIONAL


Save the Date by Morgan Matson, 417 pages.  Simon and Schuster, 2018.  $18.  

Content: Language: R (24 swears; 2 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Charlie is the youngest sister of five siblings, and she is ecstatic that her sibling are coming home for her sister, Linnie’s wedding.  Charlie is getting ready to graduate from high school and is trying to decide where she wants to go to college, but she starts to realize that she doesn’t like change, even if it is inevitable.  As the wedding party begins, many different mishaps, starting with the wedding planner quitting, cause Charlie to run all over trying to make Linnie’s day perfect.  Charlie is a great sister, and her family is endearing, but not everything is perfect.  

Reading this book felt like watching a sitcom.  I liked all the characters and even though parts of it were predictable, falling into the comfort of the Grant family was enjoyable.  There were parts that were a bit detailed and slow, but Charlie’s growth throughout the book was fun to watch.  The two random 'f' words were annoying and there is a heavy makeout scene.

Reviewer, C. Peterson. 

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman - ADVISABLE

Girl of the Southern Sea by Michelle Kadarusman, 218 pages. Pajama Press, 2019.  $18.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mob threatens to burn her)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

At 14 Nia has had to leave school because her single father can’t afford to pay for both her school fees for high school.  He usually drinks away their money anyways.  Her father disappears for longer and longer, leaving Nia to run his banana fritter cart in the market of Jakarta, Indonesia. When a rumor starts that Nia is lucky, things start to look up, but rumor can change on a whim.  If Nia is to have a future, she is going to have to carve it out for herself.

I love having a larger selection of books to show our students the lives of children in disparate parts of the world. It makes me sad that most of them about children who are barely surviving, but that’s a much more accurate look at other children’s lives and can help them build a larger world view.

If you want to see more books with similar themes and international world views, check out m Pinterest board PACK YOUR BAGS. Or you can click on the Pack Your Bags labels on the right hand column of this blog and on Kiss the Book Junior.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Saturday, July 20, 2019

The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody - ADVISABLE


The Geography of Lost Things by Jessica Brody, 458 pages.  Simon Pulse, 2018.  $19.  

Content: Language: PG-13 (29 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G.  

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ADVISABLE  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Ali is graduating from high school and is heartbroken that her and her mother have to move, since their house is foreclosing.  When an old friend of Ali’s dad shows up and gives Ali her father’s favorite possession-an old Firebird-Ali begins to hope that she can sell the car and keep her house.  Ali finds a buyer who is a few hours away, but because she can’t drive a stick shift, she enlists the help of her ex-boyfriend, Nico.  Nico and Ali have some of their own past hurts to clear up and Nico tries to help Ali come to terms with who her father was, all while on a road trip.  

My favorite part of Jessica Brody’s books is her ability to create empathetic characters.  Ali and Nico were fun to travel with and I enjoyed how they helped each other and came across fun, quirky characters along the way.  This is a good fun read. 

Reviewer, C. Peterson.      

Wreck by Kirstin Cronin-Mills - HIGH

Wreck by Kirstin Cronin-Mills, 280 pages.  Sky Pony Press, 2019.  $17.

Language: R (100+swears, 20+ “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (dick pics mentioned, assisted suicide); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

It’s been Tobin and her dad since she was 5 and her mother walked out on them.  Both of their worlds are ripped apart when Dad is diagnosed with ALS.  First they think he could have years as the disease takes hold, like some do, but his symptoms quickly take a quick downhill turn.  Dad is determined to take control of his own end and Tobin struggles to be supportive while dealing with her own heartache over her dad, her best friend’s, death.

Two hours is all it took to read this, because I couldn’t put it down once I started. Tobin’s anguish, her dad’s tragedy, is gripping. Cronin-Mills lays their hearts bare for us and fills her tale with tears, laughter, love. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, July 19, 2019

Voices from the Second World War - ESSENTIAL


Voices from the Second World War: Stories of War as Told to Children of Today by multiple authors.  NON-FICTION Candlewick Press, 2016.  $25.  

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – ESSENTIAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE  

Different children throughout Europe and the United States interviewed survivors from World War II.  This book is a compilation of all the interviews and stories that were shared.  A wide range of topics are covered including, but not limited to, the British Home Front, Women at War, Bombing of Germany, the Holocaust and VE Day.  Each interview includes a picture and runs from 1-4 pages in length.  

What a fantastic resource for those studying World War II.  This would work great in a classroom, where the different perspectives could be compared and each student could take a different interview to study.  I enjoyed all the stories shared and I appreciated how many experiences were represented.  The content includes war deaths, digging own graves, bombings, beatings and shootings.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson.

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor - ESSENTIAL

Akata Witch by Nnedi Okorafor, 384 pages.  Speak, 2017. $11.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Sunny was born in NYC, but has lived in her parents’ homeland, Nigeria, for a few years now. Because of her albinism, people treat her differently and her family is afraid for her.  When she discovers she has magic, she makes three friends and has a very steep learning curve to harness her powers.  She’d better learn fast, because her first life-or-death moment is about to arrive.

Step on up Okorafor! The excellent magical action is hard to put down!  I’m going to need more than one copy to keep up with demand. Any fantasy lover will want to read this.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Thursday, July 18, 2019

Survival Handbook: An Essential Companion to the Great Outdoors by Marc Sumerak

Survival Handbook: An Essential Companion to the Great Outdoors by Marc Sumerak. NON-FICTION. Beck & Mayer! Kids (Quarto), 2019. $17. 9780760364352

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

This book is a very visual experience. There are lots of photographs and illustrations, even some reflective pages to use as a signal and a page that turns into a cup. It is divided up into different sections for different survival experiences, such as shelters, fire, plant life, weather and so forth. 

This book has the feel of a retro boy scout book manual but with increased readability. The information is so well-parceled in this book that I can picture a wide range of reading abilities enjoying and engaging with this text.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

We Are Party People by Leslie Margolis - ADVISABLE

We Are Party People by Leslie Margolis, 278 pages. Farrar Strauss Giroux (Macmillan), 2017. $17.

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Pixie’s parents own a successful party planning business and they love it.  They are both outgoing, adventurous and love to be in the spotlight. All the things that Pixie, a middle schooler, is not.  Pixie is shy and avoids bringing attention to herself. When her grandma gets sick and her mom has to go take care of her, Pixie finds herself doing more at the parties to help her dad out, but she misses her mom and is worried about the mermaid party they have coming up.  Pixie’s mom usually plays the part of the mermaid but with her gone, they think Pixie should play the part. However, Pixie knows she isn’t ready for that. If only her mom would come home.  

Pixie spends a lot of time flying under the radar, worrying about having all eyes on her, and I remember some of those feelings.  There are bound to be students that can relate. I wondered if Pixie would find her courage to do hard things which she did and realized, much to her surprise, that her parents know her so well.   Such a cute story.         

Reviewer: RB

Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower by Christian McKay Heidicker - ADVISABLE

Attack of the 50 Foot Wallflower by Christian McKay Heidicker, 299 pages, Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2018, $19.

Language: PG-13 (21 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Phoebe Lane is always in the shadow of her beautiful and famous mother, who was taken by King Kong to the top of the Empire State Building.   That is, she was in her mother’s shadow until her ma goes missing in the small town of Pennybrooke.  Phoebe has another problem: her dad.  Phoebe and her mother seem to be the only ones who can see him in the clouds, and when he turns his gaze to them, bad things happen-like flesh eating plants and monster attacks.  Think anything from old B movie monster movies, and it’s there.   As Phoebe tries to find her mother, she begins to transform.  Really transform.  Like 50 feet of transforming.

If you like old monster movies, then this book is for you.  Phoebe is a great character who grows on you.  Literally.  I like that Phoebe struggles with her looks (which she gets from her dad) her growing pains, and self-discovery.  This is a fun, well-written read.  The ending, while satisfactory, leave a loose story line, so perhaps we haven’t seen the last of Phoebe, and that’s okay. 

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher 

Tuesday, July 16, 2019

The Giver adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell - ESSENTIAL

The Giver: The graphic novel adaptation of the Newbery Medal Winner by Lois Lowry, adapted and illustrated by P. Craig Russell, 176 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2019. $23. 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f') Mature Content: PG (reference to "stirrings") Violence: PG 

BUYING ADVISORY:, EL -, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

12 year old Jonas has been assigned to be the Receiver of Memory in his small, controlled community. Now, everyday after school he must meet with the Giver and get from him Memories - both good and bad, that the rest of the community needs but can't carry themselves. It is the Giver's responsibility to help the elders make decisions based on his stored memories, but the Giver is getting old, and soon it will be Jonas' job. 

P. Craig Russell has perfectly adapted Lois Lowry's classic story into a graphic novel. The illustrations are amazing - oh! the eyes of Jonas and the baby are haunting, and the gradual use of color is just right.  The story retains its emotions and message. I am so glad that this story will now be accessible to a new audience, and the original text may also be revisited.


Lisa Librarian

Bigger, Badder, Nerdier by Obert Skye - ADVISABLE

Bigger, Badder, Nerdier (Geeked Out #2) by Obert Skye, 228 pages, Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2019, $14.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

In book two of the Geeked Out series, Tip and his friends are back at their post apocalyptic world, brought on by a horrible film sequel.  At Otto Waddle Jr. High Government Outpost something seems to be going even more terribly awry than usual.  Another group of students is weirdly impersonating LAME, the group’s name and mediocre super powers, and they must fight to save their school, even though it is a decided dive.  

While the first book was wildly funny, this book spends too much time reviewing the plot set-up of book one, and the humor and plot line didn’t seem as fresh.  It’s still a fun toss up of line drawings and story, but the plot wasn’t as engaging or fleshed out.  

Michelle in the Middle, Teacher