Thursday, March 31, 2022

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed - HIGH

Hollow Fires by Samira Ahmed
, 416 pages. Little Brown, 2022. $19 

Language: R (47 swears, 1 “f”); Mature Content: PG (mild innuendo); Violence: PG-13 (off-page murder, dead body, vandalism, hate speech racism) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

17yo Safiya Mirza is a desi Muslim with Indian immigrant parents. She is also the editor for her school paper at DuSable Prep, a “limousine liberal” private school that pretends to be “woke” because it makes them look good. Jawad Ali is a 14yo Muslim son of Iraqi immigrants in a Chicago public school. He is also an aspiring inventor who loves to build things. When he wore a “jet pack” he made for a Halloween costume to school, his English teacher called the police. Although he was not arrested, he was treated like a criminal and called “bomb boy,” after the incident. When he disappeared a month later, he continued to get bad press. The book starts when Safiya find’s Jawad’s dead body and pursues her own investigation into his murder. The story is told in alternating chapters from Jawad (as a ghost) and Safiya. There are also news articles and other sources mixed in. 

Ahmed's newest novel is a compelling story that reflects the racism, propaganda, and general division between sides in the United States today. The author clearly researched all aspects of the topic and I learned a great deal that I am still processing. This powerful story with its authentic characters and Chicago setting kept me engaged through all 300+ pages as Safiya investigated Jawad’s murder and other racist incidents happening at her school and mosque. It is a murder mystery, an eye-opening social justice exploration, and a heartbreaking, but hopeful story of two teenagers who long to be seen as much more than their race, religion, and skin color. Mature middle schoolers could handle this book, but it would be a great classroom novel at the high school level, if our political climate allows it to be. Most people will be fired-up in a good way after reading this novel. 

Reading Teacher, Stacee S. 

A Show for Two by Tashie Bhuiyan - HIGH

A Show for Two by Tashie Bhuiyan
, 406 pages. Inkyard Press, 2022. $19

Language: R (100+ swears, 37 “f”); Mature Content: PG - 13 (psychological abuse, severe depression); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Mina Rahman is a Bangladeshi-American high school senior who is obsessed with filmmaking. Films are her favorite escape from her emotionally abusive parents. Mina’s future depends on winning the Golden Ivy Student Film competition so she can leave her parents and her NYC home for good. She is focused on winning at the expense of everything else, like her friendship with her BFF, Rosie, and her younger sister, Anam. However, when Chinese-Spanish-British indie film star Emmitt Ramos secretly enrolls in her school as research for his next role, Mina is forced to reconsider if her filmmaking dreams are really the only things that still matter. 

The secret celebrity love story premise of this book is fun and would appeal immensely to teenage girls. The author got the idea for the novel when Tom Holland enrolled in her school. However, the tone of this book was odd. It was difficult to balance the fluffy nature of high-school romance with the main character’s mental health issues and abusive family relationships. I appreciated the diversity in the characters but I wished there was more resolution. I think teens will appreciate the frank discussion of difficult family relationships, the POC representation, and the celebrity love story. 

Reviewer: BookswithBeddes 

Forbidden City by James Ponti - ESSENTIAL

 Forbidden City (City Spies #3) by James Ponti, 442 pages. Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2022. $18

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

MI6 needs to thwart Umbra’s attempts to recruit a prominent North Korean nuclear physicist, and the youthful City Spies are up to the task. This mission takes place on two continents and involves serious undercover work and a code so baffling it is deemed unbreakable. Paris becomes the star of this mission when he goes undercover at a chess tournament where he can make contact with the nuclear physicist’s chess prodigy son. The rest of the team has challenging and dangerous roles as well: breaking codes and going undercover as a reporter.

This is the third installment of the City Spies series and it holds up well. The plot doesn’t disappoint and the action is steady and engaging. The characters are likeable and I found myself worried for their safety. There are some great chess analogies and the boy band was a nice touch. I found myself swept up in the story and the great locales. Fun read with action, family, friendship, and intrigue.

Michelle in the Middle 

Liars’ Room by Dan Poblocki - HIGH

 Liars’ Room by Dan Poblocki, 240 pages. Scholastic Press, 2021. $18

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Blended families are never easy, but when Stella and Alex move to a creepy old house with their new stepbrother, it seems his lies become increasingly unbelievable. Wildwyck isn’t just any old house either, it was a former schoolhouse for misbehaved boys and it has a dark past that seems to be resurfacing. As events in the home escalate and danger builds, it becomes harder to know who to trust and who is lying and where the real danger lies.

Standard Dan Poblocki. If you like ghost stories with an element of danger, this is your book. It’s a fast read and the combination of super creepy house, hidden rooms where children were put to punish them, a graveyard out back, death, and mysterious journal entries make this a great ghost story. Elements of blended families, and trust make it relevant, though the ending left me with more questions than answers.

Michelle in the Middle 

Realm of the Blue Mist by Amy Kim Kibuishi - ESSENTIAL

 Realm of the Blue Mist (The Rema Chronicles #1) by Amy Kim Kibuishi, 272 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Scholastic. 2022. $13

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Tabby Simon’s father was found dead after researching a mysterious tree that leaks mist. Tabby keeps returning to the tree to figure out what happened when one day she unexpectedly ends up in Rema, a distant world of magic and beauty that has extensive problems of its own. Tabby meets a handsome blue-haired boy named Phillip who helps her as she searches for the reasons behind her father’s death and a way back home. 

The world building is cool and the mysterious tree and ghost woman that visits it are intriguing. Fans of manga will relate to the art and the Tabby and Phillip are drawn to each other, making a nice little romance that adds to the story but doesn’t detract from the danger or the plotline. Sign me up for the next one.

Michelle in the Middle 

Shelter by Christie Matheson - ADVISABLE

 Shelter by Christie Matheson, 178 pages. Random House, 2021. $17 

Content: G

 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

 AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Maya, 11yo, lives in San Francisco with her mom, dad and baby sister. Her dad has been in a bad accident and is in the hospital. Maya, her mom and sister have to move out of their cute, little house and into the homeless shelter. Maya is embarrassed and feels really bad about the whole situation they are in. The story follows Maya through one whole day. She is hungry, she gets wet, she is worried, and she does not dare share her secret with anybody, not even her very best friend. She has a hard time concentrating, her backpack is stolen by a really mean girl. All the things Maya owns are in that backpack. Once in a while Maya thinks back to how things were before.

Matheson did a great job handling such a sensitive subject. She gives great understanding and insight through the way Maya struggles through the day. She is doing her best to be a great student, a great daughter and a good friend. She carries the big secret and it weighs so heavy on her. Maya is strong and tough, yet tender hearted and kind. I admire May and I could not put the book down.

 Ellen-Anita , LMS 

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern - ESSENTIAL

 Welcome Back, Maple Mehta-Cohen by Kate McGovern, 278 pages. Candlewick Press, 2021. $17 

Language: G (1 swear); Mature Content: G; Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL-ESSENTIAL; MS-ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Intelligent, creative Maple Mehta-Cohen, has always faked her way through school, hiding the fact that when she looks at words, she can’t understand them. But her fifth grade teacher noticed and now she has to repeat fifth grade, while her best friends move on to sixth grade. Maple feels embarrassed, and as she starts fifth grade again, she secretly tells Jack Wells, who is new and also in the lowest reading group, that she is repeating fifth grade as a special teacher’s helper. Now she is in the middle of a story of mystery and intrigue, not unlike the stories that she loves to create.

This was a cute story about learning differences, discovering your talents, family and friendship. Maple is a storyteller, and the author does a great job of having one voice for the narrative, and another voice for Maple’s stories. I felt like some of the characters should have been more developed, but Maple is well developed and it’s her story, so that is good. This story would be an essential read aloud for any older child with a learning difference to help them discover that their disability is not the most important part of who they are. Maple is a Hin-Jew, as her parents call her - Dad is Indian; Mom is Jewish.

Reviewer: J. Rosskopf 

The Graveyard Riddle by Lisa Thompson - ADVISABLE

 The Graveyard Riddle by Lisa Thompson, 291 pages. Scholastic Press, 2021. $18

Content: G

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

13yo Melody is taking her dog for a walk around the neighborhood and wanders a bit further than usual and finds herself at the cemetery. She discovers on the outskirts of the cemetery an old abandoned building and decides to check it out. Much to her surprise, she finds someone staying there. A kid that looks to be a few years older than she is, maybe 15 or 16. He tells her his name is Hal and that he is a spy working for M18. His team is in the area watching for criminal activity, although, at the moment, he has lost communication with them. He asks Melody if she would help him watch for anything suspicious. Melody finds herself agreeing, but what exactly did she agree to? Who has ever heard of a teenage spy? 

 What I thought I was getting was just a mystery, but what I got was also a heartfelt story about friendship and growing up. I was completely engaged through the entire story and really enjoyed it. I liked the mystery, found Melody to be a great character, and loved how she knew the exact moment that Hal’s situation was a problem she couldn’t fix and went to her mom for help. 

Reviewer: Rebel 

The Curse of the Crystal Cavern by Francesco Sedita, Prescott Seraydaria and Steve Hamaker - ESSENTIAL

 The Curse of the Crystal Cavern (The Pathfinder’s Society #2) by Francesco Sedita and Prescott Seraydarian, illustrated by Steve Hamaker. 174 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Viking (Penguin Random House). 2021. $13

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The five Pathfinder friends are continuing their search for hidden clues leading to a priceless treasure in this second installment. Those clues, left by an eccentric explorer, are enigmatic and sometimes dangerous. They don’t seem to be the only ones looking either, and time is of the essence. 

This is a great series. The art is fun and the clues even more fun. This book will make you wish you could live in a weird town and stumble across clues that take you on a grand adventure. Whatever the Pathfinders end up finding will most likely have far-reaching effects. Totally engaging thrilling ride.

Michelle in the Middle 

Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon and Dean Hale and Asiah Fulmore - HIGH

 Amethyst: Princess of Gemworld by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale, illustrated by Asiah Fulmore160 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. DC Comics. 2021. $10

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Princess Amaya of Gemworld is always getting in trouble with her younger brother. When one prank goes too far, Amaya is grounded to earth for a week to teach her a lesson, since she has no powers there. Unfortunately, something goes wrong and with the loss of her power comes a loss of memory, and the week’s stay turns into three years. Now called Amy, she attends middle school until a prince of the realm manages to bring her home where her magical powers are restored, just in time to help Gemworld through a crisis. 

Even though the story seems a little cliché on paper, Amethyst turns out to be a fun story with likable characters. Amy has to decide what to do with her new powers and how to use them. She discovers friends and family and how to kick butt. Fun read that will lead into more adventures with a cool princess. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Whispering Alaska by Brendan Jones - ESSENTIAL

 Whispering Alaska by Brendan Jones, 274 pages. Delacorte Press (Random), 2021. $17 

Content: G

 BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

Nicky and Josie are twin sisters. Not just twins, but mirror twins. Their mother, an ER doctor, has just died from Covid-19. Their dad decides what they all need is a fresh start, closer to family – in Alaska. Nicky and Josie have drifted apart and are each dealing with the grief of losing their mother in different ways. In the part of Alaska they settle in, the main livelihood are logging and fishing. Nicky and Josie instantly get drawn into the high drama at the island - a huge debate of whether a large tract of huge, old trees should be cut down or preserved. However, they end up on different sides of the issue. Will this break the sisters apart, or will they be able to work out their differences?

I liked how the family pulled together for support and how the girls were included in what was going on. This is a very realistic, beautiful story. The forest and trees are so realistically described that I felt like I was there with the characters. Through what they learn about the forest, life on the island and the people there, the girls are able to work out their differences and help out the community at the same time. 

Ellen-Anita , LMS 

Bearnard Writes a Book by Deborah Underwood and Misa Saburi - ADVISABLE

Bearnard Writes a Book by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Misa Saburi. PICTURE BOOK. Henry Holt (Macmillan), 2022. $19. 9781250261458 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Now that Bearnard has his own book, he wants his BFF Gertie to have a book too. He needs some help though, so he follows the map of Storybook Land thru the library for research - Character City, Setting Village, Problem Plaza. With a stop at The Writer’s Room, Bearnard thinks he might be done, but realizes his story is short and boring. Luckily, he can REVISE! 

What a cute look at the story-writing process! I would even read this to any level that teaches Creative Writing. 

 Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen - HIGH

You Truly Assumed by Laila Sabreen
, 344 pages. Inkyard Press, 2022. $15 

Language: R (6 sears, 2 “F”); Mature Content: PG (reference to terrorist activity involving deaths); Violence: PG (reference but no depictions) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS – OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

The lives of three black Muslim young women are rocked by a terrorist attack in the D.C. metro. Of course, everyone assumes the assailant is a Muslim because his name is Hakeem Waters. So, Sabryia accidentally decides to create a blog called, “You Truly Assumed” as a voice for black Muslim young women. Zakat becomes interested in the site, and, because she is an artist, she volunteers to post comic strips and art for the site. Farah joins the fray as the web designer. As their last summer before their senior years unfolds, the girls take on racism and bigotry and learn who they are in the process. 

I enjoyed that Laila Sabreen, a black Muslim young woman, writes truth about the fear, sadness, and isolation in her world  - along with the truth that standing for who you are empowers the soul. This first book by a young writer is a keeper. 

MOMMAC 

Your Heart, My Sky by Margarita Engle - ADVISABLE

Your Heart, My Sky by Margarita Engle
, 208 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2021. $19 

Language: G ( 0 swears); Mature Content: PG (thoughts of intimacy) Violence: PG ( harassment by police) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS- ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Liana struggles each day to find food to eat in Cuba. She spends a good deal of time at the beach where she finds a stray dog she names Paz. Soon thereafter, a young man, by the name of Amado, meets Liana. They find they have much in common as they struggle for survival. Amado’s imprisoned brother and Liana’s escaping brothers become part of the stress these youth live with. Liana plants gardens wherever she can find a hidden location. As their friendship grows into love, they realize they must make the difficult decision of remaining in Cuba or attempting to float to Florida. 

My eyes were opened to the personal plight of the Cuban people during this period of famine. Margarita Engle has a knack for devising her poetry to ebb and flow. Her writing style piques my interest in her other books. 

MOMMAC 

The Deadliest Diseases Then and Now by Deborah Hopkinson - OPTIONAL

 The Deadliest Diseases Then and Now by Deborah Hopkinson, 224 pages. NON-FICTION. Scholastic, 2021. $8

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

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Readers may be surprised to learn that deadly pandemics have always been a part of history. Hopkinson covers how pandemics were treated, their effect, and what we have learned from history, especially in light of the Covid-19 pandemic. 

The book is well researched with pictures throughout. There is a glossary and some activities at the back. I wanted to like this book more than I did. It dragged for me and I wish there would have been more stories to increase the urgency and engagement. The facts seemed too sterile and clinical for me, though highly relevant. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough et al - NO

Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough, Caroline Tung Richmond, Tess Sharpe, and Jessica Spotswood, 390 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2022. $19 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: NOT RECOMMENDED 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

After Beth dies, the remaining three March sisters quarrel and then separate. Jo moves to a boarding house and takes a job in a wartime factory. Meg stays home caring for Marmie and hoping that john will come safely home from the war. Amy, meanwhile, is supposed to be safely in Canada, studying her art. Instead, she lies about her age and identity and ships overseas to serve as. Doughnut Dolly for the troops who are on leave from the front. None of the sisters are willing to take the first step to say “I’m sorry”. 

I didn’t realize it in my heart until I read this version that the charm of Little Women lies in the interactions and intertwined lived of the sisters. Take them away from each other, and though you have growth for each of them individually, the charm vanishes. Older readers who know the source material might be interested in seeing how the quartet of authors has each girl grow, but I am not interested in reading this again and I don’t think teenagers will be either – especially if they have no idea who the March sisters are. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott - HIGH

The Lucky List by Rachael Lippincott
, 304 pages. Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers, 2021. $18.99 

Language: R (23 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG (skinny-dipping, sexuality discussed); Violence: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS- OPTIONAL 

 AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

17yo Emily has not been the same since her mother died three years ago. She went from being lucky, social, and daring to feeling isolated, unlucky, and afraid. The story begins at the end of summer when Emily’s dad’s friend from high school and his teenage daughter, Blake, are moving to town from Hawaii. Emily’s dad has brought her back to Huckabee’s Bingo night (which was a special activity she participated in with her mother) to try to nudge her back to her normal life. Emily has been isolating herself since the end of the last school year when she had impulsively kissed another boy in front of her boyfriend and split up the friend group. Her dad has been packing up her mom’s stuff and preparing to sell their house. In reaction to all of these changes, Emily tries to find pieces of her mother to hold onto. She finds a bucket list that her mom fulfilled the summer before her senior year. Emily decides to complete the “lucky” list herself to feel closer to her mom. Blake helps her try items on the list and Emily embarks on her own journey of self-discovery. 

The Lucky List is a beautifully written book about grief, self-discovery, and acceptance. Emily works through her grief and eventually uncovers more about herself than she had bargained for. Her exploration of suppressed feelings and denial of her sexuality lends to a sweet friendship turned love story. At times, it was frustrating to read about Emily’s misguided actions and lack of empathy for other characters, but it was a realistic portrayal of a teen letting emotion guide her decisions. The “F” words were unnecessary and the skinny-dipping part was quite innocent. It seems to be a great coming-of-age read for teens who might have their own need to see characters struggling with the same questions and feelings that they do. The exploration of grief is genuine. The beautiful cover will draw teens to the book and the hearfelt story will keep them reading to the final page. Emily is white and Blake is half-Japanese, half-white. 

Reviewer: Stacee S, reading teacher 

Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai by Debbi Michiko Florence - OPTIONAL

Just Be Cool, Jenna Sakai by Debbi Michiko Florence
, 291 pages. Scholastic Press, 2021. $18. 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG (dealing with parents' divorce and aftermath); Violence: G; 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

As a budding investigative reporter, 13yo Jenna Sakai is sticking to the facts. Relationships always end in heartbreak, of which, her first relationship and her parents’ marriage are proof. She is fine, really, but her best friend Keiko is constantly asking Jenna to talk about her feelings and she would much rather be alone in a little Broadway-themed diner she found. Except her little haven is invaded by another cold, lonely soul, Rin Watanabe. They begin to bond, but Jenna might ruin everything with a new investigative article she is writing. Can Jenna sort out her feelings, figure out her family drama, and still get the story? 

Overall, it’s a cute story with nice Asian American representation. However, I had a hard time believing that Jenna was only thirteen. She definitely talked like a 13yo but everything she was concerned about - winning a scholarship competition, becoming an investigative journalist, going to a diner everyday for hours after school - seemed more suited for an older protagonist. Therefore, I couldn’t decide if I was annoyed at the writing or at the main character. It will appeal to some readers but doesn’t have the literary quality or emotional depth to make it a must-buy. 

Reviewer: BookswithBeddes 


Monday, March 28, 2022

The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart - HIGH

The Words We Keep by Erin Stewart, 400 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2022. $19. 

Language: R (42 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

The illusion of her put-together life started to slip when Lily’s sister Alice (18yo) attempted suicide. Since then, Lily (16yo) has found evidence that she might also be losing her mind and is determined not to let anyone else see those cracks. But the secret of Alice’s suicide attempt is getting harder to keep – and the secret of Lily’s questionable mental state isn’t far behind.

Stewart addresses difficult topics of mental health, suicide, and the stigmas surrounding the individuals and families who deal with these struggles through Lily’s experiences. The pressure of “normal” that weighs on us actually takes away from being our beautiful selves. Lily’s story is raw, and I loved watching her poetry express her highs and lows. While the ending wraps up too nicely and happily to reflect reality in dealing with mental health struggles, I love the hope it offers readers that things will not always be hard. There are struggles to find a way forward again and a reason to live after getting to the point of wanting to die, but it’s worth it. As Lily says, “the world could use more weirdos” – that includes you and me no matter what we are struggling with.

Lily and her family are implied white, and the main male character, Micah, is implied Hispanic. The mature content rating is for innuendo; self-medicating; partial nudity; and mentions of drugs, penises, orgasms, sexting, and sex. The violence rating is for blood, self-harm, attempted suicide, and discussions of suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, March 25, 2022

Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros - ADVISABLE

Falling Short by Ernesto Cisneros
, 304 pages. Quill Tree Books (Harper Collins), 2022. $17. 

Language: G; (0 swears 0 'f's) Mature Content: G; Violence: PG - bullying 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

11yo Isaac and Marco are best friends - have been since Kindergarten. They both have difficult relationships with their dads, live next door to each other and are starting middle school together - but not in the same classes. Isaac is tall and athletic - he a basketball star, but studying isn't his strength. Marco is probably the shortest kid in the 6th grade. He is in the gifted classes, so the only class they have together is PE. When Marco thinks he might get some attention from his father if he can make the basketball team, their friendship is tested, as Marco needs Isaac to teach him how to play, but Isaac has troubles of his own. 

I liked that each boy had a complicated life - like most middle schoolers I suppose. Falling Short looks at divorce, alcoholismism, abandonment, bullies, and anxiety. The mom's (and abuelita) were stable and supportive, and I liked that there were good friends who helped balance and control the bullies. Some pretty good basketball action, too. 

Lisa Librarian

Thursday, March 24, 2022

The Swallows' Flight (Skylark's War #2) Hilary McKay - OPTIONAL


The Swallows' Flight (Skylark's War #2) Hilary McKay
, 271 pages. McElderry Books (Simon and Schuste)r, 2021. $18.

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mild war violence, Holocaust descriptions) 

 BUYING ADVISORY: MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW 

Parallel stories of several families (continuing on the next generation of children from "The Skylark's War") A pair of best friends 13yo Erik and Hans dream about working at the Berlin zoo some day. They have all sorts of schemes to get them in free - including offering tours and volunteering to sweep. However, Germany's involvement in WWII sends them on a different path, and by their late teens both are part of the German Luftwaffe. In England, Kate is a child who gets sick easily and often, so her family is very protective of her. Ruby lives miles away and was born with a birthmark on her face. Her brother is mean to her. But the girls share a godmother, which helps connect them as friends. 

A story of children growing up (10 year timespan), the boys start at 12/13yo while the girls are 6yo. Because of the age difference, it isn't easily placed in Elementary or middle school. The girl's story is sweet, pen pals, family dynamics, while the boys are living in the aftermath of Kristallnacht, and the rise of the German Reich. The girls' story is solidly elementary relevant, while the older boys' story is middle level, bordering on high school relevance. This makes it hard for me to recommend for either level. There are also so.many.characters!  Even with the included family tree, I was often lost about who was who, and with no connection between the English and German families and a lot of characters, I found the story hard to follow. 

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

Confessions of a Class Clown by Arianne Costner - ESSENTIAL

Confessions of a Class Clown by Arianne Costner
, 271 pages. Random, 2022. $17. 

Content: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

13yo Jack makes it his life’s work to make everyone around him laugh – even when he would be better off at home, at school, and with his friends being a bit more restrained. His goal is to go viral and be a social media start like his idol, Paxton Poker. Jack has a great idea for the school talent show, but he needs an accomplice – and it seems like everyone he thought was his friend don’t actually want to be anywhere near him. He’s such a funny guy – what’s their problem? Maybe Jack doesn’t actually know what it takes to be a friend. 

Only one bone to pick with this – the setting is supposedly Utah, but there is nothing Utah about the book except a mention of Park City – poor use setting. But Costner nails the personality of a boy who still thinks the “class clown” label is an honor. Jack is white, but a couple of secondary characters Black and Hispanic. BTW – Chapter 3 has the most perfect teacher reaction to a class disturbance that I have ever seen. A master class for any teacher at any level. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver - AVERAGE

The Ghosts We Keep by Mason Deaver, 317 pages. PUSH (Scholastic Inc.), 2021. $19 

Language: R (100+ swears, 60+"f"); Mature Content: PG-13 (death, suicidal ideation, self-harm); Violence: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

17yo Liam, a nonbinary junior in high school, recently lost their older brother and only sibling in a hit-and-run pedestrian accident. As they face the future without Ethan, Liam finds that they are more alone than they thought, in more pain than they thought, and must work through more grief than they thought possible. 

 Page upon page, this book takes a genuine look at grief and loss. It is not an easy read, nor should it be. The heart-wrenching anger, confusion, and loneliness rip Liam apart and drive a wedge into the relationships with others who could and who want to help Liam. The main characters in this book identify as either nonbinary or gay, but this is not the crux of the story. Anger, pain, and loss is. While many readers may recognize their own pain and suffering from loss in these pages, there is very little that is helpful, comforting, or healing in the story, other than the fact that Liam makes it through, despite thoughts of suicide, self-harm, and loneliness. Liam's success may provide hope enough for some. 

 Mrs. V, third-grade teacher 

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber - HIGH

If You Change Your Mind by Robby Weber
, 391 pages. Inkyard Press, MAY 2022. $19

Language: R (43 swears, 1 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (repeated, excessive, teenage drinking); Violence: G

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Harry has a bit of a conundrum. He is dying to go to USC and become a screenwriter, however, because of his last heartbreak, his GPA isn't so hot and his SATs are just meh. There is a chance for him to stand out from the crowd of applicants if he wins a screenwriting competition. The problem is there are just so many cute boys to be distracted with during the summer! Harry has to decide between first-love Grant, new-boy-in-town Logan, or one-time fling Foster. Choices, choices, choices. 

There was a lot about this that I liked. Some of the writing was beautiful, the emotions were real, and the rom-com references were fun. However, it definitely felt like a first novel. The pacing was almost frenetic, as montage works best in movies. The snippets of his screenplay between chapters didn't mix well with the main story. Some of the character descriptions were more tell than show. The fact that Harry is gay is just background info, no drama or angst, which is really nice. Overall, this is a fun, fluffy, queer YA romance. 

Reviewer: BookswithBeddes 

Margot Mertz Takes It Down by Carrie McCrossen and Ian McWethy - HIGH

Margot Mertz Takes It Down by Carrie McCrossen and Ian McWethy
, 365 pages. Philomel Books (Penguin), 2021. $19 

Language: R (100+ swears, 56 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13 (revenge porn, sexual harassment, teens drinking); Violence: PG-13 (mention of sexual assault, vandalism, bullying) 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS-OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

11th grader Margot Mertz has a reputation for being able to clean your filth off the internet. She has been hired by students, teachers - even a local weatherman - to remove embarrassing pictures from the web. But when she’s hired by Shannon, a fellow student, to take down some leaked nudes, she comes across a revenge porn site of girls from her school. And this makes her angry! 

I very much enjoyed this story. I was trying to figure out who was behind the revenge porn site right along with Margot. I love that this book didn’t end in a nice, neat package, because this is a real issue and there are rarely sweet, happy endings when dealing with these types of issues. But there was resolution and hope for the victims at the end. As far as the language goes, it’s interesting to note that there were only 10 f-words in the first 200 pages, then 46 in the last 165. The f-words were indicative of how angry she felt when she found out who was behind the revenge porn site. Margot is a middle class white girl. Best friend, Sammi, is Dominican. Avery, another main character, is biracial. 

 Reviewer: J. Rosskopf 

Monday, March 21, 2022

Letter to a Stranger by Colleen Kinder - OPTIONAL

Letter to a Stranger: Essays to the Ones Who Haunt Us by Colleen Kinder, 336 pages. NONFICTION. Algonquin Books, 2022. $20.

Language: R (24 swears, 7 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: PG

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL, ADULT - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

This collection of 65 letters will make you laugh and then invite you to cry. Organized into several categories -- including gratitude, wonder, and remorse -- these writers take you to all seven continents, but the real journey is in the impact of strangers and how each writer has moved forward since then.

Reading these intimate thoughts has taken me on many adventures, though my favorite adventures have been the ones that they have helped me remember. I have written a couple of letters to my own strangers, intrigued by the impact the strangers I have met have had on me years later -- just like the authors of those whose letters I’ve been reading. As I pondered my interactions with strangers, I was surprised to find that some of the experiences I was reading felt as personal and life-changing to me, a reader, as the ones I’ve had with my strangers as a participant. The mature content rating is for drug and alcohol use, indecent exposure, mentions of rape, and oral and vaginal sex.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

The Genius Under the Table by Eugene Yelchin - ADVISABLE

The Genius Under the Table
by Eugene Yelchin
, 201 pages. Candlewick Press, 2021 $17. 

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY:  EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Eugene's older brother is a talented figure skater - capitalizing on your talent is the best way to be a successful adult in the Soviet Union during the 1960's and 70's. Eugene likes to draw (on the underside of the table where he sleeps), what he does is very different from what he learns in art class at school so doesn't consider himself an artist. His actual talent hasn't presented itself yet and his parents are worried! Desperate to please his mother, he tells her he wants to dance in the ballet, like Baryshnikov, but it's only a matter of time until he has to actually audition. He's not a talented dancer. 

I loved Yelchin's humorous memoir and the glimpses into his experience growing up behind the iron curtain. His brother finally sharing the piece of Juicy Fruit gum an American tourist gave him, the record made from an x-ray, the family of 5 all living in 1 small room. While generally funny, there is a serious tone - the anti-Semitism, and always being worried that there's a spy listening to what they say. Yelchin narrates the audiobook which added so much to the story, and I also read the hardcover so I could enjoy his great, illustrations. Eugene and his family are Jewish, and I'm not certain of his age, but this would be perfect in either Middle School or Upper Elementary.

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, March 20, 2022

The Many Meanings of Meilan by Andrea Wang - ADVISABLE

The Many Meanings of Meilan
by Andrea Wang
, 364 pages. Kokila Penguin Random House, 2021 $18. 

Language: G; Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (Bullying, injuries, peril) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

After the family bakery is sold, 12yo Meilan Hua, her parents and grandfather move from Boston's Chinatown to rural Ohio - where they rent a small house and Meilan's father gets a job as a pastry chef. Meilan feels the move is her fault, and is not excited to start a new life in this small town, especially when her mother registers her for seventh grade at the local middle school where she is the only student of color. The principal, Mr. Reynard is concerned that the students will be uncomfortable trying to say Meilan's name and convinces her mother to register her as Melanie. She has decided to just stay quiet at school - if no one notices her, she won't get bullied. But she can't avoid the Veteran's Day assignment - interview a Veteran and write about their war story. Her Grandfather Gōnggong is a veteran, but doesn't like to talk about it. It seems all the trouble with the extended family started when Meilan upset her Aunt, she doesn't want to upset Gōnggong too. 

I loved the power of storytelling - the stories from Meilan's culture and how they helped her, the stories that Gōnggong can't tell because they make him sad, and the stories she invents to entertain her cousin. Oh that principal was the worst! I hated reading about his racist decisions, it made me so mad! A powerful middle grade debut from the author of the 2022 Caldecott winner "Watercress."

Lisa Librarian

Map of Flames by Lisa McMann - ADVISABLE

 Map of Flames (The Forgotten Five) by Lisa McMann, 373 pages. Putnam (Penguin), 2022. $18 

Content: G (mild danger, deaths mentioned) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

For the last three years, Birdie and the other kids have been raised only by Louis, Birdie and Brix’s father. Now Louis is dead and they will have to figure how to survive in the jungles of Estero alone – five kids from 13 to 8. Then Birdie finds a hidden message and map from her father – and she needs to go across the bay and into the city, because her mother may still be alive. But Birdie and the others all have superpowers that they inherited from their supervillain parents, and Estero has no kindness for their kind. 

The set-up drags a bit, but with enough oddities and danger to keep interest. Once they reach the city, I did love watching the kids raised in a jungle try to cope with all the newness of a city. Perhaps we have a new group of superheroes. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS

Saturday, March 19, 2022

The Weeping Tide by Amanda Foody - AVISABLE

 The Weeping Tide by Amanda Foody, 331 pages. McElderry (Simon), 2021. $18. 

Content: G (fantasy danger) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Barclay’s new teacher, Runa Rasgar, has been called to investigate the deadly algae bloom that is threatening the Sea and the Elsewheres. Together with the other apprentices they are headed to Island of Mumsey to figure why the Lochmorda, which usually only appears twice a year, is attacking now. Unfortunately, Cyril, Runa’s rival, and his apprentices are also on the case. Can the groups stop fighting each other long enough to save everyone and everything? 

Great for large fantasy collections. Fun magical tech galore, and Barclay is a sympathetic main character as he struggles under the handicap of not being raised wielding magic. 

 Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Absolutely Nat (Nat Enough #3) by Maria Scrivan - ESSENTIAL

Absolutely Nat (Nat Enough #3) by Maria Scrivan,
236 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphix Scholastic Press, 2021. $18 

Content: G. 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Natalie is spending the summer at Camp Mosquito with her best friend Zoe, but they didn't get the same cabin - and Nat has to share with Lily - her ex-BFF. The camp has a zillion mosquitos, AND there's probably a lake monster, and Natalie has to stretch herself to try some new things. Hiking, climbing, crafts - even getting into the lake (despite the monster). Maybe this camp situation is just what Natalie needs. 

Oh this series is so much fun. I love the camp mishaps - so typical, the cabinmate that is too excited, the activities that aren't what you expected, counselors that are a little much, and making new friends. And the chapter openers, with what the cat and dog are doing at home were so funny! A great summer (or anytime) read. 

Lisa Librarian

Friday, March 18, 2022

Blackout by K. Monroe - OPTIONAL

Blackout by K. Monroe
, 352 pages. Wattpad, 2022. $12

Language: R (60 swears, 14 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG-13 (sex mentioned, teens drinking); Violence: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

Allie has no memory of her family and friends after her car accident left her with amnesia. As she gets to know the girl she was before the accident, she doesn’t really like that person. But flashes of memory or dreams warn her that her accident was maybe not an accident at all. So, who around her is lying? 

Monroe makes it very easy to be suspicious of almost everyone around Allie as she struggles to figure out not only who she is and who she wants to be, but also the truth behind her car accident. Already in paperback – an easy buy for students who like thrillers, without the mature content usually found in adult versions. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Untethered by Kaylyn Flanders - HIGH

Untethered (Shielded #2) by Kaylyn Flanders,
464 pages. Delacorte (Random), 2021. $18 

Language: G (0 swears, 0‘f’); Mature Content: G ; Violence: PG-13 (bloody fighting, deaths) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Graymare may be dead, but the other sorcerers are determined to find the Black Library and take its power for themselves. Jennesara and Enzo are planning their wedding, while Chiara. Enzo’s sister struggles with feeling invisible. Ren, meanwhile, is now King, but too many of his nobles wish to see him fail – or dead. When Enzo and Chiara’s father goes missing on his way to another royal wedding AND Chiara finds a reference to the location to the Black Library, she sets off to fulfil both goes, not realizing that she is setting in motion a deadly set of circumstances that will entangle every royal heir on the plateau. 

 While the first book was focused on Jenna’s POV, Untethered alternates between Ren and Chiara’s POV – a great way to show what is happening in different places, but a little confusing while trying to keep track of all of the players. But the story is exciting and dangerous, with a twisty way to the (hopefully) final resolution. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Wednesday, March 16, 2022

To the Front! Clara Barton Braces the Battle of Antietam by Claudia Friddell and Christopher Cyr - ESSENTIAL

 To the Front! Clara Barton Braces the Battle of Antietam by Claudia Friddell, illustrated by Christopher Cyr. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Calkins Creek (Boyds Mill/Astra), 2022. $19. 9781635923223

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

After the soldiers, Clara Barton and her men are the first people to reach Antietam before the battle started. As soon as the first shots were fired, she and her men descended on the field to help the men in any way necessary, from tending to feeding, watering, and bringing light. Her actions made the difference for thousands of lives that day, and never stopping.

The excellent backmatter gives even more details about Barton’s considerable charity work. Friddell blends her own words will Clara’s to give us a first-rate look at another facet of the Civil War. Cyr’s illustrations evoke the feeling of the time period that we are familiar with from the art of the day. Thoroughly enjoyable.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Revolutionary Prudence Wright by Beth Anderson and Susan Reagan - HIGH

 Revolutionary Prudence Wright: Leading the Minute Women in the fight for independence by Beth Anderson, illustrated by Susan Reagan. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Calkins Creek (Boyds Mill/Astra), 2022. $19. 9781644720578

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH

While the men of Pepperell, MA were off fighting for the colonies in Concord, Prudence Wright organized the women to dress in their husband’s clothes and guard the bridge into town from British spies carrying messages. One of Prudence’s own brothers, a Tory, was almost captured, but the message-carrying Brit was relieved of his papers and at least one spy did not get through.

I am always happy to see a picture book about the American Revolution – especially one that highlights the role of women. Everyone will enjoy a story about courage and victory. Excellent back matter, with more historical information, plus looks at doing research for both the writing and the art.

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Sweet Justice by Mara Rockliff and R. Gregory Christie - ADVISABLE

Sweet Justice: Georgia Gilmore and the Montgomery Bus Boycott by Mara Rockliff, illustrated by R. Gregory Christie
. NON-FICTION PICTURE BOOK. Random House, 2022. $19. 9781524720643 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When Rosa Parks was arrested for sitting in the “Whites Only” section of the public bus, Georgia joined all of the other Blacks of Montgomery in boycotting the buses. Using her mad cooking skills, she supported her friends and neighbors, including Martin Luther King Jr. as they worked a whole and walked a whole year before the Supreme Court ordered public buses be integrated. 

 I love the discovery of new heroes and more facets of important events! Georgia’s story is so indicative of the time – and she was right there along with MLK and Rosa Parks who are already so well known. I can’t wait to see these stories from the Black Lives Matter work too. 

Cindy, Library Teacher, MLS 

Monday, March 14, 2022

The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace - OPTIONAL

 The Supervillain’s Guide to Being a Fat Kid by Matt Wallace, 272 pages. Katherine Tegen Books, 2022. $14 

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (physical bullying, beating) 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - OPTIONAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: LOW

 In a world with superheroes, sixth grader Max gets bullied every day because he is fat. He starts middle school hopeful that things will be different, but on the first day of school, the class bully and his friends see Max eating a cookie. They begin tormenting Max every day until, in desperation, Max writes to his favorite supervillian Master Plan, who is also overweight. Master Plan agrees to help Max with his problems as long as Max agrees to follow his advice exactly. 

Wallace has a funny story with an unexpected ending. Master Plan helped Max stop body-shaming himself and to do things that gave him power over his own life rather than stay a victim. However, Master Plan’s advice sometimes felt like a lecture to the reader rather than help geared toward just Max. Also, there was so much advice at the beginning of the book that the action got off to a slow start. 

Rebecca Reber, Middle School Librarian 

Birdie's Bargain by Katherine Paterson - ESSENTIAL

 Birdie's Bargain by Katherine Paterson, 225 pages. Candlewick Press, 2021. $18 

CONTENT: G 

BUYING ADVISORY: EL, MS - ESSENTIAL 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

10yo Birdie is upset that her dad is being deployed to Iraq for the third time. She, her mom, and her baby brother, Billy have to move in with grandma to make ends meet while dad is deployed. Birdie gets the smallest bedroom - under the stairs. Birdie has been to Bible camp and believes in God. She makes a bargain with God that if He will make sure her dad is not killed in Iraq she will honor Him and pray to Him. Birdie tries so hard to do everything "right," to pray right, and to treat everybody, even people she does not really like, with kindness and patience. When her dad is seriously wounded in the war, can Birdie retain her faith in God?

I loved this book. Birdie is a very believable protagonist that struggles with real life issues. She is strong and believable and I admire her strength and understand her struggles. This is a must read book. A lot of children have parents in the military and go through similar things as Birdie. This book would be helpful for them. It would help them understand that they are not alone and that other children struggle with the same issues, fears, and worries. It was refreshing to read a book that honestly and openly talks of God and Christian faith. 

 Ellen-Anita, LMS 

Sunday, March 13, 2022

In the Same Boat by Holly Green - NO

In the Same Boat by Holly Green
, 355 pages. Scholastic Press, 2021. $15

Language: R (40 swears, 5 ‘f’); Mature Content: PG (“flipped off”); Violence: PG (little blood and description of injuries) 

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS NOT RECOMMENDED 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

All Sadie's life she has been training for the canoe race which involves vicious animals and harsh terrain. But she has to end the race sooner than later due to an injury which leaves her dad disappointed and frustrated. Throughout the next year she will train even harder for next year. She is ready for anything...but then her brother leaves her for a shiny better team. She has no choice but to team up with a neighbor boy who is more annoying than what's worth. On top of that, the boy is the son of her father's sworn enemy. 

This book can be summed up in one word, fluff. The plot was simple and rather boring and all the characters were flat. Nothing really special about this book, everything is extremely predictable. 

Kenzie Hoehne Reviewer 

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez - ADVISABLE

Chef’s Kiss by Jarrett Melendez
, 162 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Oni Press, 2022. $15

Language: PG - 13 (17 swears, 0 Fs); Mature Content: PG - 13 (adult drinking, drug paraphernalia, casual references to adult sexuality - nothing on page or graphic); Violence: PG (zombie bite, fantasy action). 

BUYING ADVISORY: NEW ADULT – ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: HIGH 

Recent college graduate with a useless English degree, Ben Cook, is desperately trying to find a job in his chosen field. He feels like he is falling behind his roommates who all have grown-up jobs and who are moving on with adulthood. As a last resort, he applies to be a cook in a quirky, vegan, contemporary French restaurant. Ben quickly adapts to his new life in the kitchen, partially thanks to the cute sous-chef, Liam. However, with mounting pressure from his parents to fulfill his original career plans, Ben has to make a serious decision whether or not to explore this new job or to fall back on the familiar. 

This was the cutest thing I’ve read in a while and I devoured it with a smile on my face the whole time. The dialogue was quick and snappy, the art was gorgeous, and the characters were refreshingly mature. However, the final confrontation with the parents was underwhelming. This would be a high-interest book for a high school library but this is a new adult book as almost all of the characters are in their mid-twenties. There is a character who openly carries a bong and a few other drug references. There are also some references to adult sexuality, but nothing graphic or on the page. Overall, a super cute queer new adult rom-com graphic novel. 

Reviewer: BookswithBeddes

Saturday, March 12, 2022

The Greatest Stories Ever Played by Dustin Hansen - ADVISABLE

The Greatest Stories Ever Played: Video Games and the Evolution of Storytelling by Dustin Hansen, 304 pages. NONFICTION. Feiwel & Friends (Macmillan), 2022. $20.

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG13

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ADVISABLE

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE

Hansen puts forth more than 20 games as the “greatest” and offers his reasons for the claim of each of them to be worthy of the superlative. While he includes several spoiler warnings, Hansen does not spoil every video game he talks about – some are simply recommendations of which he gives enough information to intrigue gaming readers. But whether or not you’re a gamer, each reader can appreciate the celebration of well-told stories.

Hansen says specifically that he’s writing to gamers, but I found it insightful for me as a non-gamer story-lover. I love the idea of seeing video games from a story standpoint when I have seldom imagined them that way. The descriptions and explanations of the games chosen by Hansen have me convinced that I need to give this medium of storytelling a try. The mature content and violence ratings are for brief descriptions of adult language, innuendo, gore, suicide, and murder within some of the video games mentioned. Note: this book is considered YA non-fiction, so I hope that means all the video games recommended are appropriate for that audience, but I don’t know that for sure (Hansen himself offers warnings for content of two of the included games).

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Friday, March 11, 2022

Sanctuary by Christine McDonnell and Victoria Tentler-Krylow - ADVISABLE

Sanctuary: Kipp Tiernan and Rosie's Place, the Nations First Shelter For Women
by Christine McDonnell and Victoria Tentler-Krylow
. PICTURE BOOK, BIOGRAPHY Candlewick Press, 2022. $19. 9781536211290 

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

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

During the Great Depression, Kip watched her grandmother feed and help the men who knocked on her kitchen door. Kip learned to love helping others. When Kip became an adult, she wanted to continue to make a difference, but working in a men's shelter, she noticed that no one was helping homeless women. When she asked about it, she was told that homelessness isn't a women's problem. But it is . . . she eventually got the city of Boston to help by agreeing to let her rent an empty supermarket and founded the first women's shelter in the nation. Sanctuary is an inspiring picture book about a truly remarkable woman. 

Tentler-Krylov's illustrations are inspired - a perfect accompaniment to the text. Includes more information about Kip, as well as sharing causes of homelessness, The Great Depression, and Hobo symbols (which were found outside of Kip's grandmother's kitchen door). I will be putting this in my middle school biography section, as I think the story is more relevant for an older child.

Lisa Librarian

Thursday, March 10, 2022

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry by Paula Yoo - OPTIONAL

From a Whisper to a Rallying Cry: The Killing of Vincent Chin and the Trial that Galvanized the Asian American Movement
by Paula Yoo
, 374 pages. NON-FICTION Norton Young Readers, 2021. $20 

Language: R (6 swears 29 'f'); Mature Content: PG (dance club/bar) Violence: R (brutal assault, graphic testimony). 

BUYING ADVISORY: HS - OPTIONAL,  ADULT - ADVISABLE 

AUDIENCE APPEAL: AVERAGE 

When 27yo Vincent Chin was brutally murdered outside a McDonalds in Detroit in 1982 by an angry auto worker and his stepson, the plea bargain and sentencing fast-tracked the men to a $3,000 fine and probation. This outraged and brought together the Asian American community in protests that led to a Federal civil rights trial. 

Contains lots of background information on Vincent's family, the time period - with a focus on what was happening in the auto industry, and is a great look at Asian stereotypes and how the myth of model minority affected both how Asians were treated and how they reacted to racism. Well researched, well written, and interesting, but I kept asking myself why it was marketed as YA. Includes a timeline and sources.

Lisa Librarian