Monday, May 17, 2021

Shipped by Meredith Tate - OPTIONAL


Shipped
by Meredith Tate
, 372 pages. G. P. Putnam’s Sons (Penguin Random House), 2021. $19. 

Language: R (150 swears, 5 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Stella and Wesley are competing head-to-head to be valedictorian this year, mostly for the scholarship, though the bragging rights over the loser is certainly appealing. Unbeknownst to them, they have become allies online after meeting on a website dedicated to their fandom, Warship Seven. How can these two rivals overcome preconceived notions and prejudices IRL?

Frankly, I’m not a big fan of the enemies-to-lovers trope. Stella and Wesley are downright mean to each other for no good reason, and I spent most of the book either embarrassed for them or dreading their imminent poor choices. While Tate tries to give the two enemies common ground and reasons to start liking the other, the ending still felt forced and awkward, like the changes happened too quickly for the characters to acclimate to their new friendship, not to mention a dating relationship. My favorite parts of the book are when Tate proffers the readers inventive anecdotes from the characters’ perspective. The mature content rating is for innuendo, partial nudity, and implied sex.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Last Goodbye by Fiona Louis - NO


The Last Goodbye
by Fiona Louis
, 432 pages. William Morrow Paperbacks, 2021. $17.

Language: R (31 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - NO

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

Anna lost her husband over two years ago but still lives like a zombie. At midnight on New Year’s Day, Anna calls her husband’s number to hear his voice from the recording that asks callers to leave a message. Instead, someone picks up.

Louis’s book is very good with its little mystery amidst a story of two people overcoming their grief in order to really live life again, and I love how Louis addresses both grief and mental illness. The emotions are so real that I could feel the characters’ burdens get heavier and lighter upon my own shoulders as they experienced ups and downs. However, I don’t recommend this book because I think few teenagers will be as engaged in a story about a couple of people in their thirties. The mature content rating is for alcohol use and innuendo.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, May 15, 2021

Red Tigress by Amelie Wen Zhao - OPTIONAL

 


Red Tigress (Blood Heir, #2) by Amelie Wen Zhao, 434 pages. Delacorte Press, 2021. $19. Content: Language: PG-13 (36 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: R

BUYING ADVISORY: HS – OPTIONAL  

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Ana has lost her crown, her kingdom and has been separated from her love-interest, Ramson.  Her kingdom has fallen to wicked Morganya, who is murdering innocent people and trying to raise an army of Affinites (magic-wielders).  After struggling against her enemy, Ana is reunited with Ramson, and they decide to try and gain their own army by going to Bregon (where Ramson is from) and working together with the young king of that kingdom.  Ana and Ransom arrive to find that Ramon’s Bregon has it’s own wicked rulers who are using the king as a puppet and finding an alliance will be harder than they imagined.  

I loved the first book in this series, Blood Heir, so I was excited to read more, but this story felt like a bridge, without any of its own excitement-it was long and slow.  I love Ana’s strength and Ransom Quicktongue is my favorite character, but neither of their characters grow much and the plot was drawn out.  Hopefully the third book can redeem this series. The violence is disregard for human life and gruesome bloody deaths.  

Reviewer, C. Peterson

Friday, May 14, 2021

Short Cuts (Sanity and Tallulah #3) by Molly Brooks - ESSENTIAL

Short Cuts (Sanity and Tallulah #3)
by Molly Brooks
, 246 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Little, Brown and Company, 2021 $13

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Tallulah has her learner's permit, and can go on short errands in the mail craft. So, tasked with delivering some equipment, and Sanity in the copilot seat, Tallulah demonstrates her great pilot abilities as she arrives safely at 2 different space stations. But, they just missed Tallulah's dad, who needs the important turbopumps, so the girls decide to take them to him anyway. But, passing through a dangerous debris field gets even more complicated when their destination explodes 
right in front of them. Now Tallulah and Sanity are caught up in a possible space war. 

This series gets better and better. I was on the edge of my seat. The tri-color illustrations are well detailed and contribute to the story. I love that Tallulah and Sanity act like kids, they do dumb things, get in trouble and have consequences. I loved all the questions about what it's like to live on land - the girls have been in space their whole lives. Although part of a series, Shortcuts can totally stand on its own.

Lisa Librarian

Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland - ESSENTIAL

Ophie's Ghosts by Justina Ireland
, 336 pages. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2021. $17 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

12yo Ophelia can see Ghosts, the first was her father, on the night he was killed, it's dangerous for a black man to vote in 1920s Georgia. She and her mother have moved to Pittsburgh and are working in a manor house. Ophie's responsibility is taking care of old Mrs. Caruthers, who is in poor health. But, the manor is full of ghosts - ghosts only Ophie can see, and her mother has forbidden Ophie from telling anyone she can see them. Her great-aunt Rose also has the ability, and has warned Ophie to leave the dead alone, they only cause trouble. One ghost, Clara, helps her navigate her first difficult day, and despite her aunt's warning, Ophie is determined to help Clara, a maid who seems to have been murdered at the manor. 

Ireland's debut Middle Grade novel is well written, nice and spooky. The descriptions of the ghosts are chilling without being gory, and the story is gripping and exciting. Ireland also weaves in historical context, showing the racism and injustice of the time period. A great horror, but also an important story about social justice and the divide between the black community and the wealthy white community of the 1920s.

Lisa Librarian

Thursday, May 13, 2021

The Great Pet Heist by Emily Ecton and Dave Mottram - ESSENTIAL

The Great Pet Heist
by Emily Ecton, art by Dave Mottram,
250 pages. Atheneum Books for Young Readers (Simon and Schuster), 2020. $18 

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

When their owner, the elderly Mrs. Food, slips and hits her head, her house full of pets, a dog, cat, bird and two rats, overhear that she may not return from the hospital. They need a plan for taking care of themselves, so they pool their resources - not much except a mysterious coin found in the lobby that could be very valuable. So, they hatch a plan to find the man who dropped it, and steal the rest from his apartment. 

I laughed out loud so many times! This is a delightful story, with such great characters, the pets are terrific, Butterbean the dog steadfastly keeping watch, Walt the Cat and Oscar the bird with their well thought out plans - which often have to change, and the rats Marco and Polo! I know this will be read and re-read. What a great introduction to the mystery novel.

Lisa Librarian

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas - HIGH

Concrete Rose by Angie Thomas
, 360 pages. Balzer + Bray (Harper Collins), 2021. $20. 

Language: R (100+ swears 16 'f'); Mature Content: R (sexual situations, teen pregnancy); Violence: R (gang violence, gun violence). 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

17yo Maverick got his best friend's girlfriend pregnant, when the paternity test showed Mav as the father, Iesha left the baby behind at the clinic - so now Mav is responsible for the baby full time. His cousin Dre encourages him to stop selling drugs and be a responsible father, so he gets a job working after school at the neighbors grocery store to help out with the bills, even though it means a lot less money, his priorities start to shift and he has to make some hard decisions. 

Angie Thomas - I love everything she writes. Concrete Rose, a prequel to The Hate You Give, is a gripping story that was hard to put down. Maverick had a lot on his plate - in a gang, father in prison, taking care of a baby, not doing well in school and not thinking much about the future. Honest and realistic characters - I loved his mom, making Maverick take responsibility for his actions, his friends and other adults both good and bad influences make his choices even more difficult. Can be read independent of The Hate You Give as it stands on its own, but the two together are great companions. 

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, May 12, 2021

The New Girl by Kid Toussaint - ADVISABLE


The New Girl (Elles #1)
by Kid Toussaint
, 90 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Le Lombard (Europe Comics), 2021. $9.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Being the new girl isn’t always easy, but Elle made friends and things have been going well -- until the stress starts to break her facade. With pressure from school, family, and a friend trying to break out of the friend zone, Elle stops being herself and her inner personalities start to front.

I like how Toussaint opens the conversation for mental illness, whether or not he means to focus on one that reminds me of DID. The emotion of Elle’s story, accompanied by Stokart’s bold illustrations, is potent -- both the emotion and the illustrations were easily my favorite parts of reading this book. With a cliffhanger ending, I’m ready to find out what happens to all the Elles.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim - ADVISABLE


The Last Fallen Star (Gifted Clans #1)
by Graci Kim
, 336 pages. Rick Riordan Presents (Disney-Hyperion), 2021. $17.

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Riley has always understood that she is a saram, or non-magical person, adopted into a family of witches. She tries to be supportive of her sister’s upcoming confirmation as a witch, a ceremony all witches have at age 13, but the ceremony is also a reminder that Riley won’t have one when she turns 13 in a few months. That is, unless they manage to pull off a magic-sharing spell during the ceremony where Riley can gain half of her sister’s magic, which can’t be that difficult.

Riley and both her biological and adoptive families are Korean-American, and their story relies heavily upon Korean mythology. Having little knowledge of Korean mythology, I appreciate the balance Kim establishes between explaining necessary background information and letting actions teach readers about the gods and creatures that are involved. I enjoyed the side tasks Riley had to face on her way to the goal and felt the discouragement of Riley and her friends as everything seemed to be getting worse for the majority of their quest. While the book leads into an obvious need for a sequel, the ending is not a cliffhanger, which was appreciated by this reader.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, May 11, 2021

Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas by Elizabeth Shreeve and Frann Preston-Gannon - ADVISABLE

Out of the Blue: How Animals Evolved from Prehistoric Seas
by Elizabeth Shreeve, illustrated by Frann Preston-Gannon
. PICTURE BOOK, NON-FICTION Candlewick Press, 2021. $18. 9781536214109 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

How are a dolphin, a shark and a hippo related? Well, first it started billions of years ago with single cell microbes living in the seas. They evolved into Jellyfish and sponges, which over millions of years evolved into mollusks, and annelid worms and echinoderms. Some were the predators, some were prey and each evolved over millions of years, eventually moving from the sea to the shore. More evolution brought scorpions on land and sea spiders and horseshoe crabs in the sea. Then, over millions of years bugs (both on land and in the sea) evolve and mollusks from the sea evolve into snails with lungs. Then fish, then amphibians and reptiles, an extinction, then dinosaurs, and another great extinction, then mammals, like the dolphin (water) and hippo (land). 

Beautiful illustrations complement the scientist reviewed and well sourced picture book. There is text all over the page - a section of the story, but then "more facts" and names. The period and how many million years ago is easy to spot on every 2 page spread. A great introduction to evolution, with so many ancient animals!

Lisa Librarian

The Band of Merry Kids by David Skuy - OPTIONAL

The Band of Merry Kids by David Skuy
, 174 pages. DCB (Cormorant Books), 2018. $14

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

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL 

Robin Hood is Pip’s hero and he wants to be like him in every way--by shooting his bow accurately every time and saving people. However, Pip’s life is opposite in every way. The village bullies make his life miserable. And his father, seller of wool blankets, seems to bow and scrape to every person in the village. Pip wants his father to be like Robin Hood. To stand up to the rich men of the world. His father is going to the fair to sell his blankets. He invites Pip and his friends to come and help. Little does Pip know the adventure that he is going to have along the way and the truths he learns about his father. 

There are many legends about Robin Hood and his band of men. Pip and his Band of Merry Kids is a fun and different spin of adventures. There are scenes of violence between the lower class of people and ruling people. 

Diann, Media Specialist 

The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard - ADVISABLE

The Great Gatsby: A Graphic Novel Adaptation by K. Woodman-Maynard
, 240 pages. Candlewick Press, 2021. $25. 978-1536213010 

Language: G; Mature Content: PG (drinking, infidelity, etc); Violence: PG-13 (vehicular homicide and two gun deaths)

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

The classic novel The Great Gatsby is given the graphic novel treatment with this new adaptation from K. Woodman-Maynard. The mysterious millionaire Jay Gatsby wants to be reunited with his first love Daisy Buchanan and he is willing to do anything to be with her again. The Great Gatsby explores class and power dynamics, wealth and privilege during the Roaring Twenties in New York City. 

 This gorgeous graphic novel would be a delightful way to introduce metaphors and symbolism in the text, something that the author discusses in her note at the back of the book. The original work is familiar in high school English classes across the nation. The beauty of the text is maintained, despite the pared down nature of the graphic novel. The art really draws you into the world of Great Gatsby and adds another layer of meaning and richness to Fitzgerald’s text. This would be a great companion text to the teaching of the novel for most high school teachers. 

 Reviewer: BookswithBeddes 

Monday, May 10, 2021

The Meet Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson - HIGH

The Meet Cute Project by Rhiannon Richardson
, 375 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2021. $20. 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

11th grader Mia--awkward rambler, true-crime aficionado, swimmer, mathlete--is tasked with finding a date to her bridezilla sister’s winter wonderland wedding. Only, she doesn’t know how to talk to boys, so her friends, Sloane, Grace, and Abby, each take a turn to help plan a series of “meet cutes” to find Mia the perfect date. Can Mia survive each dating disaster in time for the wedding? 

The Meet Cute Project is an adorable rom-com for high school students with a BIPOC cast of characters. Initially it reminded me a lot of The Rosie Project by Graeme Simsion but eventually it grew into its own story. I felt like the relationships between Mia and her sister and teenage friends were super real and authentic even though her older sister bugged me from time to time. I guess bridezillas are supposed to be unlikable characters. At the end of the day, the book had a realistic Black teen going through the ups and downs of dating in high school, and that is unique enough to warrant an addition to any library. 

Reviewer: BookswithBeddes 

Sunday, May 9, 2021

Wishes by Muon Thi Van and Victo Ngai - ESSENTIAL

Wishes by Muon Thi Van, illustrated by Victo Ngai. PICTURE BOOK. Orchard (Scholastic), May 2021. $19. 9781338305890 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

A little girl and her family are preparing for the very dangerous ocean trip away from their imperilled lives and hopefully to a place where they can build a future. 

78 words are supported by a beautiful muted palette. Each page is simple (The bag wished it was deeper), but filled with emotion, heart, and depth. Any level of school that talks about immigration and/or refugees in any capacity needs this to share far and wide. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS 

Escaping Ordinary by Scott Reintgen - ADVISABLE

 Escaping Ordinary (Talespinners #2) by Scott Reintgen, 315 pages. Crown (Random), 2021. $17 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Indira has just finished starring in her first book and is ready for a well-earned rest. The advisors think that she needs some work on her hero skills, especially in how to be a team player, so they are sending her on the Hero’s Journey tutorial with a group of supporting characters. Something goes wrong during transport, but the glitch doesn’t seem too bad. Then things around Ordinary are going very wrong - so wrong that the very existence of Fable is at stake. Indira and her new friends will have to step up and save the worlds - Fable and ours. 

Reintgen is such a flexible author - his middle grade fantasy is as well-constructed as his YA science fiction. I loved this entirely different direction for a book #2 - it really felt like a worthy sequel rather than a placeholder for something to come in a third book (will there be a third book?) 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS 

Saturday, May 8, 2021

Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber - ADVISABLE

 Taking Up Space by Alyson Gerber, 259 pages. Scholastic, May 2021. $18. 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

7th grader Sarah’s body is changing and that is causing havoc with her basketball game. Even though her coach has a prohibition against the players going on diets, Sarah thinks that may be what she needs to regain her equilibrium. Food has always been a minefield in Sarah’s house. Her mother has very odd, distinct ideas about what foods are good and which are bad - many of which contradict what she is learning in health class. Who should Sarah actually believe? 

Gerber tackles a little too much this time. She adds a cooking contest and a fight with Sarah’s best friend, which leaves little space for a realistic resolution to Sarah’s difficulty with food and with her mother’s food issues. While not the best of Gerber’s writing, it is still interesting and important in this world where food issues are very much a big deal, especially for this particular audience. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS 

The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon - ADVISABLE

The Anti-Book by Raphael Simon, narrated by Jorjeana Marie. 320 pages. Dial (Penguin), 2021. $18 

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

12yo Mickey’s life feels like it is in shambles - divorced parents both remarrying to women named Charlie; his 15yo sister dating a 17yo “carboy” who keeps calling Mickey “gay”. He thinks that writing everything he hates in the Anti-Book will solves his problems, but instead everything is actually gone! And erasing it brings things back, but in totally weird ways. Now Mickey, a teeny tiny house that flies, and his now tiny “big” sister are Following the Shadow, who looks awfully familiar, on a quest to find the Bubble Gum King, who may be able to set things right. 

Mickey’s anger may be very familiar to upper elementary/middle school kids who don’t even feel right in their own skin. Mickey’s personal identity is a small side note to the more prominent theme of self-discovery. 

Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS 

Friday, May 7, 2021

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman - OPTIONAL

War and Millie McGonigle by Karen Cushman, 224 pages. Knopf (random), 2021. $17 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Before her grandmother died, she gave Millie a blank book - a book to write down the things she wants to hold onto and remember. But Milliw maybe wasn’t listening closely and uses the book to draw and record things around her that are dead. Mostly it’s what washes up on the Southern CA beach by her home, but now that the United States has entered WWII, it is an occasional soldier from her hometown. As the war goes on, rationing takes its toll on Millie’s small family. 

Cushman’s latest is more a historical fiction book that happens to be set during WWII instead of a book about WWII. Reviewers will probably call it gentle and sweet, but there is nothing to really bite into here. It is another book about a neurotic 12yo who is afraid of things changing. Had Millie’s dad gone to war or an older brother, it would have a more immediate feel. As it is, however, Millie is only mildly touched by the different issues of the day, including polio and racism. Nothing is important here - just a slice of life. So if you need a gentle, sweet book that happens to be set in WWII California, then by all means, buy away. 

Cindy, Middle School librarian 

The Artifact Hunters by Janet Fox - ADVISABLE

 The Artifact Hunters by Janet Fox, 371pages, Viking (Penguin), 2020; $18.

Language: G (0 swears, 0 "f"); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (war, intense battle sequences) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

 In World War II Europe, young Isaac Wolf is sent on a time traveling, magical journey by his parents to save the human and magical worlds. The Wolf’s preset a magical watch to four different times in history and placed clues by an eternity knot symbol. Isaac finds help from other Charmed Children at Rootskill Castle in Scotland. Isaac learns how to use his own magical powers while being hunted by scary, evil villains from the magical world of the Fae, waiths, magical plants, and dragons. 

It was an enjoyable read, a classic hero’s journey. The suspense was delicious. The story was clean. The imagery was vivid. Harry Potter fans would like this book. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I had read The Charmed Children of Rootskill Castle, which contains the backstories of Isaac’s friends who become Artifact Hunters 

Reviewer: Julia Nichols 

Thursday, May 6, 2021

Kid Sterling by Christine Welldon - OPTIONAL

Kid Sterling by Christine Welldon
, 406 pages. Red Deer Press, 2020. $15

Language: PG (3 swears, 0 ”f”), Mature Content: PG (2 mentions of naked), Violence: PG (fights, kidnapping)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS – OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

10yo Sterling Crawford lives in New Orleans in 1906. He goes to school, but he also works shining shoes to help his family pay the bills. Music is his passion and Jazz has begun to emerge in his city. Sterling frequently shines his idol, Buddy Bolden’s shoes, but can never get Buddy to teach him a few “licks” on his own trumpet. Sterling’s loving family includes his mother and his older brother, Syl, who tries to be a good brother, but is involved in some questionable activities. Through no fault of his own, Sterling gets caught up in some trouble during that year which leads him into some dark times, but his love for music and some caring adults help him through. 

 This is a carefully researched novel about Jazz, New Orleans and the South, and racial tensions and inequalities in the early 1900s. Historical and fictional characters are interwoven in a story about a young African-American boy and his perspective on the world around him. Sterling is a likable young man who learns through his mistakes (and the mistakes of others) and comes through a difficult year more mature and ready to grasp a bright future. Sterling gets a first-hand look at the unequal judicial system of the day and is forced against his will into some criminal activities. There is mention of adult themes like lynching, prostitution, and drug use, but these activities are off the page and Sterling does not directly view them. While this is an excellent book, the mature content makes it difficult to recommend for elementary school. Even middle school students and high school students may not find the main character appealing because of his young age, unless they are drawn to books about jazz or New Orleans. 

 Reviewer: SR 

Thornwood by Leah Cypess - ADVISABLE

Thornwood (Sisters Ever After) by Leah Cypess, 260 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2021. $17 

Content: G (some danger) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

It’s Rosalin’s 16th birthday and the whole kingdom knows what is supposed to happen – today Rosalin is supposed to prick her finger on a spindle and die – or fall into a 100-year sleep. Her younger sister, Briony, has been living with this forever and knows that all spinning wheels have been banished from the castle. But after waking her sister to prepare for the party, Briony goes back to her room and doesn’t remember anything until she wakes up on the floor of the tower room - next to a spinning wheel! When she rushes to find Rosalin, a handsome prince is on the verge of kissing her sister awake, which should break the curse. Until it doesn’t. Not only is the castle still surrounded by the thorn hedge, but the thorns are getting more aggressive. And not only has 100 years gone by, but several centuries have passed. Briony knows there is a way out of all of this, but she can’t seem to get anyone to listen to her. 

A solid, lovable, Sleeping Beauty twist. It does remind me of E.D. Baker’s Wide-Awake Princess series, but my fairy tale readers are the most voracious. 

 Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Wednesday, May 5, 2021

The Accidental Apprentice by Amanda Foody - ADVISABLE

 The Accidental Apprentice (Wilderlore #1) by Amanda Foody, 283 pages. McElderry (Simon), 2021. $18 

Content: G (mild danger) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Barclay is content with his life as the mushroom farmer’s apprentice, mostly because it keeps him in Dullshire village where his parents both died. Then comes the day when he runs into the Woods to save the other apprentice and they encounter a dreaded Lore Keeper, who entangles Barclay with a Beast. In order to rid himself of the Beast, Barclay follows Viola, the Lore Keeper, to Sycomore, the Lore Keeper town deep in the Woods. There, Barclay will have to undergo challenges and danger in order to rid himself of his Beast and the Mark. Eye-catching cover, with a fun adventure inside. Seems to be the beginning of a series. It will be interesting to watch Barclay grow into his power. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS https://amzn.to/3e2EzdC

Golden Gate by James Ponti - ESSENTIAL

 Golden Gate (City Spies #2) by James Ponti, 425 pages. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2021. $18

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL - HIGH 

Sydney, age 14, and Brooklyn, age 12, are aboard the Sylvia Earle, a marine research boat. But they aren’t there for fun or research. They are undercover spies for MI6, guarding two high profile girls. A hijacking aboard the boat tests their friendship, which will need to be strong to face the ensuing fallout and the challenge of finding a possible mole. Their group of City Spies ends up in foggy San Francisco where the mission is hot but the danger is hotter. 

Another home run by James Ponti. Book two in the series manages to keep the energy and interest level high. Some chapters switch viewpoints, which adds insight and tension. Themes of friendship and family make the story relatable. All the elements work together to make the City Spies a likable group and a delightful read. 

 Michelle in the Middle https://amzn.to/3wCp44E

Tuesday, May 4, 2021

The Case of Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson - OPTIONAL

 The Case of Windy Lake by Michael Hutchinson, 146 pages. Second Story Press, 2019. $11

Language: PG (6 swears); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

 Chickadee, Atim, Samuel, and Otter, also known as the Mighty Muskrats, are ready to dive into their next case. Their Uncle Levi, a policeman has an unusual case. A bone-digger has gone missing! The archaeologist was hired to do a historical assessment of the area and has been missing for several days. The Mighty Muskrats decide to do a little investigating themselves. With the help of Grandfather and other family members, the Mighty Muskrats are ready to crack open the case. 

While I enjoyed the sleuthing and righting injustices of the youth involved, I did not feel that the swearing was necessary to the story line. The main characters do not swear; it’s the grownups that swear. 

Diann, Media Specialist 

#Metoo and You by Halley Bondy - ESSENTIAL

#Metoo and You: everything you need to know about consent, boundaries, and More by Halley Bondy
, 190 pages. 9781541581555 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG-13 (types of sexual violence mentioned several times) 

BUYING ADVISORY: PARENTS, TEACHERS, COUNSELORS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Bondy writes very clearly and honestly about consent - what it should like, doesn’t look like, and situations actual people have found themselves in. She gives examples of sexual harassment and sexual abuse and talks through ways anyone can/should proceed in these situations. 

 I wish this book had been around when my children were young, I would have bought this for them and read through it with them. It would have been supremely embarrassing for all concerned, but worth it. So if you have a tween or teenager, read this and share it with them. As for being in a school library, I wouldn’t want a student to pick this up randomly - it is a lot to take in. Do they need access to it - definitely. But your teachers and counselors definitely need this in their personal arsenal. 

 Cindy, Middle School Librarian, MLS https://amzn.to/3nnyP2w

Monday, May 3, 2021

The Visionary Voyage by Luther Tsai and Nury Vittachi - ADVISABLE


The Visionary Voyage (Magic Mirror #1)
by Luther Tsai and Nury Vittachi
, 101 pages. Reycraft Books (Newmark Learning), 2019. $7.

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Miranda (12yo) and her brother Marko (10yo) are on school holiday without any adult supervision. After watching TV, playing, and eating dessert for breakfast for a couple days, they start to get nervous and wonder where their grandfather, Ye Ye, is -- Ye Ye always watches them when their parents are away on business. A magic mirror is delivered to their home from Ye Ye, and the siblings start on an adventure to find him.

Miranda and Marko travel into the past, taking readers into the 1400s on a ship and into a battle against pirates. Fun facts galore on top of all the action keep readers engaged in both the facts and fiction of this story. The Visionary Voyage is Tsai and Vittachi’s first book in a series that brings little-known historical events to life for readers brave enough to journey with them.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen