Monday, September 16, 2019

Lollipop Kids Vol. 1 by Adam Glass - ADVISABLE

Lollipop Kids Vol. 1 by Adam Glass, 114 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Aftershock Comics, 2019. $15.

Language: PG13 (22 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

When his sister doesn’t come home on the eve of her birthday, Nick sets out to find her. They haven’t been tight since they were little, but he never imagined that Mia would be hiding so much from him about her life and their shared heritage with the Lollipop Kids. As monsters emerge from Central Park, Nick has to make a choice: is he taking up the responsibility of a Lollipop Kid or not?

The story is exciting and fast paced, and I love the beautiful illustrations that accompany the words. Honestly, I was hooked and ready to love this story from the introduction -- before anything even got started. Knowing how this story came to be made the story and the little details better for me than if I had jumped into joining Nick on his journey. I think that Mia’s perspective on Nick’s difficulties is an attitude that we all need to adopt and cultivate.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Bizarre World by E. Reid Ross - OPTIONAL

Bizarre World by E. Reid Ross, 259 pages.  NON-FICTION. Adams Media (Simon), 2019. $16. 9781507210789

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: R (body parts mentioned); Violence: PG (some rites of passage are graphic)

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULTS - GIFT, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

60 world rituals under 8 broad categories are explained in Adams Media fascinating book. There is an emphasis on the creepy and weird, as mentioned in the subtitle.  I might put this in a high school, as many of the rituals are very “earthy”. Any Geography teacher would love this to use as a supplement to any textbook.  Would also make a great bathroom book!

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Sunday, September 15, 2019

Planet of the Nerds by Paul Constant - AVERAGE

Planet of the Nerds by Paul Constant, 152 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Ahoy Comics, OCTOBER 2019. $18.

Language: R (81 swears, 51 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Chad is out to get the nerd Alvin, though Drew and Steve don’t know why Chad can’t just leave Alvin alone. When they stumble upon the nerd’s project, no one expects that they would wake up thirty years later unscathed. Unsure how to navigate the world’s changes, Chad, Drew, and Steve have to rely on someone familiar: the nerd-turned-CEO Alvin.

While seeing the changes made over the last thirty years in a fresh light was fun, that was the only thing I liked about this book. Chad was extremely frustrating, and I didn’t like the language and mature content that was not at all necessary. The mature content rating is for masturbation and mentions of oral sex.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen - AVERAGE

The Merciful Crow by Margaret Owen, 369 pages.  Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2019.  $19

Language: R (60+ swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: R (on page sex); Violence: PG-13 (blood and plague)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Fie and her ragtag family are Crows – the lowest of all the clans in Sabor.  While their job of dispensing the bodies of plague victims is crucial – some are spreading wild rumors that the Crows also spread the plague. When they are summoned to the royal palace of all places, something seems off – the crown prince and his bodyguard are both victims.  When Fie demands their tithe and the group departs, she finds that the deaths were a ruse and that her father ahs involved them in something must more dastardly. Now Fie, the prince, and his bodyguard are on the run and there seems to be no one they can trust.

If you have many fantasy readers in your building, especially those that love Leigh Bardugo, then you will want this one for sure.  Owen has finely honed her novel to keep you reading.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Saturday, September 14, 2019

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks - NO

Twenty-one Truths About Love by Matthew Dicks, 352 pages. St. Martin’s Press, 2019. $27.

Language: R (149 swears, 135 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Making lists is how Dan copes with and processes the world around him. He makes at least one new list every day, recording everything from silly ideas to finances to his insecurities. When Dan’s wife gets pregnant, these lists reflect his thoughts -- and the desperate measures he will take to provide for his growing family.

The unique idea of telling a story completely through lists is what made me want to read this book. At first, the novelty of it was enough to keep me reading, but, at some point, I stopped caring. I didn’t want to read useless lists and I wondered where the story was. As I continued reading for the sake of finishing for this review, there was a shift that happened somewhere about three-fourths of the way through the book, and I started enjoying the story again. Maybe it was that I had finally gotten used to how the story was being told and could read between the lines better, maybe Dan had grown on me, or maybe the plot actually picked up -- or a combination of all three. In the end, I liked the book, but I feel like I had to slog through a lot to get to that point of enjoying it. This book is marked “not to buy” and “low appeal” because I don’t think teenagers are the most interested audience for this book. The mature content rating is for mentions of vaginal sex, oral sex, orgasms, and masturbation as well as talking about sexual organs; the violence rating is for discussion of gun violence and bomb threats.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Akata Warrior by Nnedi Okorafor - HIGH

Akata Warrior (Akata Witch #2) by Nnedi Okorafor, 477 pages. Viking (Penguin), 2017.  $19

Language: R (56 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (drinking, smoking, native wise woman with no top); Violence: PG-13 (gang jump in described)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Sunny, 13, is beginning to grasp her Leopard powers, but an unfortunate encounter separates her from her spirit self.  She should be dead, but both parts of her have string wills.  This is not the only ploy that the evil Ekwensu has to destroy the only Leopard who has the power to defeat her plans for world destruction. But if Sunny and her friends can overcome the challenges within their group, they may also be able to defeat this ancient evil.

While only 13, Sunny and her friends take on adult roles with adult behaviors – quite beyond what kids read in the Harry Potter books.  But the look at magic from an African perspective is compelling and interesting.  I love that about this series. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, September 13, 2019

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo - ADVISABLE

How to Raise a Reader by Pamela Paul and Maria Russo, 216 pages. NON-FICTION. Workman Publishing, 2019. $20.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: ADULTS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Paul and Russo go through the stages of human development -- book style. These women, with lots of personal and professional experience, give tips, tricks, and book suggestions to be used with the beloved children around you of any age.

While this book’s primary purpose is being informative, it’s easy to read with its conversational tone, and it’s full of great ideas to implement -- and even tweak to make your own! The suggestions made can be used as a guide and a springboard to meet the needs of individual children and unique families. I only mark this book as “optional” and “low appeal” because I don’t think teenagers are the most interested audience for this book.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Let Me Fix That For You by Janice Earlbaum - OPTIONAL

Let Me Fix That For You by Janice Earlbaum, 285 pages. Farrar, Straus, Giroux (Macmillan), 2019. $17

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Gladys aka “Glad” thought she could make friends by advertising her skills as a fixer. Instead she has lots of clients and is exiled to the loner table in the cafeteria, where she is frequently warned to quit her antics by the school’s principal.  But the “pops” all need her help with their latest drama.  And Glad keeps hoping that this time she might salvage a friendship out of helping someone.  And since her mother went away for a short retreat years ago and has never come back, maybe her own family needs some of her fixing too.

For me it was mostly sad to see Glad hard at work concocting lies for everyone around her and lying to herself to boot. There is lots of mutual “using” going on here.  The resolution to each of Glad’s drama points left me a little cold, too – 


(SPOILER ALERT) 




especially when the client who was using Glad the hardest winds up becoming her friend.  As a paperback it may hold value if someone can read this and see their own off-kilter behavior within. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Thursday, September 12, 2019

Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi - AVERAGE

Permanent Record by Mary H. K. Choi, 432 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2019. $19.

Language: R (250 swears, 62 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Working the graveyard shift at a neighborhood health food store is not ideal, but Pablo needs to pay rent and the other unopened bills piling up in his room. When the monotony of his shift is disrupted by a familiar face walking checking out, Pablo almost convinces himself she was a dream. But then she comes back. Pablo’s world is turned upside down and responsibility is falling by the wayside -- but, when something feels so right, it’s hard to care.

As I read Permanent Record, I was reminded of The Catcher in the Rye. This book is like an evolved coming of age story that is about how 20-year-old Pablo decides to take responsibility for his past actions to change how he wants to be in the future -- even if it all seems hopeless and difficult in the present. Not all the connections I made to this classic were positive, though. I like Pablo as much as I like Holden -- which is not at all -- and the swearing is just as bad. I started to like Permanent Record more after finishing it and making myself think about the story in order to write this review. I like the message and the hope it offers, and I like the unique interests that Pablo finally starts to pursue, but I am not a big fan of all the thoughts Pablo shared throughout the story -- I started skimming a lot through his random stream of conscious thoughts about a quarter of the way into the book. The mature content rating is for mentions of pubic areas, sex toys, nudity, and sex.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell - ADVISABLE

The Cardboard Kingdom by Chad Sell, 288 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Knopf (Random), 2018. $13.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (A boy cross dresses as a girl, threat of violence, girl who acts like a man); Violence: PG (Bully threatens other kids in the neighborhood)

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE   

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH                

The Cardboard Kingdom is a collection of adventures of different kids in a neighborhood.  Each imagines their life as an adventure! They create superhero suits out of cardboard and battle evil on their street.  Heroes address some challenging topics that may confuse young children, one boy becomes "The Sorceress" as his alternate persona. Another girl dresses as a man and dons a mustache.  But when a bully terrorizes the group, they have to decide if many different people can come together for a common goal.

This book has some very cool qualities.  First, though Sell is listed as the author, there are a lot of authors who each wrote their own story and Sell weaves them together.  It works perfectly since the kids in the neighborhood are all very different and represent lots of cultures and backgrounds. The kids are also a diverse group. The book addresses gender roles and exploration in a safe way for children who may be exploring those ideas as well.  The stories are engaging and illustrations are fun.  If you ever imagined yourself as a superhero you will love the book. Fans of D.C. Comics or Marvel's Universe will connect with this neighborhood of new superheroes.   It has engaging appeal like Dog Man and Best Friends and kids will snap it off the shelf.     

Michele Edgley, Library Technology Teacher

Wednesday, September 11, 2019

Honeybees and Frenemies by Kristi Wientge - ADVISABLE

Honeybees and Frenemies by Kristi Wientge, 246 pages. Simon and Schuster. 2019. $17                  

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE   

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE                                

Flor is facing the summer, at home and working at her dad's mattress store. Her best friend is away at camp. Flor is forced into talking part in the Honeybee Pageant with her former best friend Candice. They work on their talents, a duet where Flor plays the recorder and Candice plays the piano. As part of the pageant service project the two girls are helping Mr. Henry, a recluse, clean up his yard. He ends up teaching them a lot about bees and bee keeping.  At home the situation is tense, mom and dad always arguing. Mom wants to move from Ohio to New Jersey and Dad wants to stay. He feels obligated to run the store his dad started. Can Flor help her parents? Will her mom make them move? and will Dad come with them? "         

Flor is a great protagonist. We see things through her eyes and I felt for her as she worked to help her parents, Mr. Henry, her dad and just trying to do things that they all wanted her to do. Flor has a lot of guts and gumption and she is not afraid to stand up for what she believes is right. She gains respect for her Candice as they again become friends. I really liked this book and I loved learning little known facts about bees in the process. I will book talk and recommend this book to the students at my school.  

Ellen-Anita, Librarian

Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan – OPTIONAL


Chilling Adventures of Sabrina: Season of the Witch by Sarah Rees Brennan, 288 pages. Scholastic, 2019 $10  Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: PG13 (Adult relationship talk); Violence: PG13(magical killer).

BUYING ADVISORY: HS  - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This is a prequel to the TV show, taking place just a few months before the events of season one. Sabrina is doubting Harvey’s affections and together with her cousin Ambrose concoct a spell to find out. Additionally Sabrina has met a spirit in the woods that makes some pretty intriguing visions for her. This book also offers different character perspectives as Sabrina moves closer to her dark baptism, such as Harvey, Tommy, Ambrose, Hilda, and more.

Let's establish that I am a fan of the show (including the 90s version) and have seen all of the episodes to date. Most of this book was a re-cap of things that a fan would already know. The small insights and tiny plot were not really enough to make this a worthwhile read. That being said, the writing was incredibly true to the spirit of the show, and very well written.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Monday, September 9, 2019

Apollo 8: the Mission that Changed Everything by Martin Sandler –OPTIONAL


Apollo 8: the Mission that Changed Everything by Martin Sandler, 158 pages. Candlewick, 2018, $25 Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: G.

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

This is the story of the Apollo 8 mission. It includes a events that led up to it, details of every aspect of the preparation, setbacks, training, and more. There are several asides with information about those things and people that contributed to the various aspects of making space travel possible such as Robert Goddard and his rockets and the controversial Wernher Von Braun. The bulk of the book really focuses on the astronauts themselves, bringing them to life with detailed information, quotes, and the story of their flight. Includes tons of photographs and lots of interesting facts and side stories.

I very much wanted to read this book, as one of my families prized possessions is an autographed photo of astronaut Jim Lovell and my grandmother. In school we always learned about Apollo 11 and this was my chance to learn more about Apollo 8. I found myself quickly bored, there is just so much setting the stage and filling out the world type of information that I felt like things were just moving too slowly. While the book does a very thorough job and is well written, I feel that only the most determined teenager (even one doing research) would wade through this book. As a book for adults, its probably closer to a win.

Reviewer: Stephanie MLS & Author.

Sunday, September 8, 2019

Escape from Syria by Samya Kullab, Jackie Roche and Mike Freiheit - ADVISABLE

Escape from Syria by Samya Kullab, Jackie Roche and Mike Freiheit. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Firefly Books, 2017. $20.  9781770859821

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (mention of child brides); Violence: PG (peril, threats).

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 


Amina is a great student. She lives with her family in Aleppo when suddenly her home is bombed by a government air strike, and her father is forced to take his family to Lebanon for their safety. But Lebanon is unwelcoming to the Syrian refugees and that is making things difficult for the family. With a sick brother and a father out of work, and owing money to a dangerous loan shark, Amina must shoulder some of the adult responsibilities.

Samya Kullab was a reporter for a newspaper in Lebanon; he has based this graphic novel on the combined stories of several refugee families. Such an important story, this graphic novel - beautifully illustrated by Jackie Roche, will certainly give the reader insight into the conflict in Syria and the plight of the refugees. A wonder book to build empathy.

Lisa Librarian

Thursday, September 5, 2019

Around the World in 80 Maps by Clare Hibbert - ADVISABLE

Around the World in 80 Maps by Clare Hibbert, 96 pages. NON FICTION. Firefly Books, 2017. $20. 9780228100102

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

The British Library has a lot of maps, many of them centuries old. This delightful journey through maps of the world (as represented mostly by European mapmakers) dates each map, tells where or by whom it was made, and what it is a map of. Lots of text boxes or other small bites of information. Includes a map of Dresden Germany (used by Allied bomber pilot during WWII) a map of Scandinavia from 1570, Mount Everest from 1930, a 16th century map of Japan and Korea, even a map of New York City from the 1770's.

 What an interesting way to look at 80+ different examples of maps (some examples contain an additional map or two)! Besides the standard information, there are also things to find, current information about the place (Area, population etc), interesting things to know - either about the place, the map or something else. This is the kind of book you can open anywhere and have an interesting few minutes with whatever pages you see, or can devour it one map at a time, searching for the suggested finds - and more! This book would make a great gift - along with a magnifying glass, and I'm showing it to my 9th grade geography teacher!

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, September 4, 2019

Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John - ESSENTIAL

Kat Wolfe Investigates by Lauren St John, 292 pages. Farrar Straus Giroux (Macmillan), 2018. $17
Language: G (0 swears); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG.

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

With her veterinarian mom, Kat Wolfe moves to an idyllic coastal town in England. As her mom gets the clinic off the ground, Kat volunteers to take care of some pets. She walks an elderly neighbor’s dog and pet sits a parrot. During her jobs she gathers clues that lead to one big mystery she solves with her friend, Harper Lamb. 

The characters in this book are perfection. They are charming and varied and pretty well developed. The mystery itself was pretty confusing and I had a hard time holding on to all the pieces and how they fit together. But beyond the confusing mystery solution, the plot was well paced and enjoyable.  

Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Tuesday, September 3, 2019

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell - ESSENTIAL

The Polar Bear Explorers’ Club by Alex Bell, illustrated by Tomislav Tomic, 300 pages. Simon & Schuster, 2017. $18

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Stella’s uncle is an official explorer, but he can’t take Stella on any expeditions because girls are not allowed. Stella’s uncle finally gives in and brings her on a journey to explore the coldest spot on the earth. On the journey, she is separated from the group with three other young explorers. Together they survive the cold and have a series of wild adventures together. 

This is my favorite book of the year so far. Stella is smart and spunky and brave. But beyond that, she is kind. She helps draw together others who struggle to make friends, whether that be due to shyness or rudeness. The book includes humor and fantasy, as well as traditional adventure elements.


Jen Wecker, HS English Teacher

Monday, September 2, 2019

Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham - ESSENTIAL

Best Friends by Shannon Hale and LeUyen Pham, 256 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. First Second Books, 2019. $13.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Shannon has started 6th grade and the most popular girl in school is Shannon's best friend Jen. That means Shannon is popular by association, which is wonderful. But navigating friendships in 6th grade is like playing a game where the rules are always changing. Is it OK to like-like boys, and which boys? What TV shows and bands are ok, and which do only nerds like? Her friends are growing up, and things are changing. Shannon hasn't changed, but she may need to to keep her friends. 

Picking up right after "Real Friends" Hale looks at peer pressure, mean girls, fitting in, friendship, inclusion, parents and much more. I loved the fantasy story Shannon is writing, which has been incorporated beautifully into the story. LeUyen Pham is a gifted graphic novel illustrator. I loved the local Utah places. What a delight to read. I'm buying several copies for my library.

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling - ADVISABLE

Momentous Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling, 320 pages. Sterling Children's Books, 2019. $17.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Aven ended 8th grade with friends and feeling confident - it's hard for an armless girl to fit in at a new school! But summer is over and Aven is now in High School. Conner has moved away, so it's just Aven and Zion - and Joshua - - who seems to be paying attention to Aven, but he's cute and popular! What could Joshua see in Aven? Plus, he's always been a terrible bully to Zion. Aven is always willing to give people second chances, but has Joshua changed that much? A meeting at the mall ruins everything, now Aven is suspicious of everyone who tries to be nice. Her world is crashing, hard. 

Dusti Bowling has continued Aven's story with a great book about the beauty of people (inside and outside) and what it means to be a family. Contains Comic Con, Football and Cafeteria scenes, making it a fun back to school read. An essential addition to your library if you have "Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus."

Lisa Librarian