Thursday, February 29, 2024

Come Home Safe by Brian Buckmire - ESSENTIAL

Come Home Safe by Brian Buckmire, 190 pages. Blink, 2023. $18

Language: G (no swears); Mature Content: PG (marijuana mentioned); Violence: PG (manhandling by the police, yelling)

BUYING ADVISORY: MS, HS - ESSENTIAL                     


14yo African American Eddie is on his way with his 12yo sister in the NYC subway when he is confronted by a police officer about jumping the turnstile and smoking pot. Being an Honors student and as polite as you can be, he doesn’t understand why he is the target. As much as he tries to remember his father’s advice about confrontations with the police, the situation swings out of control and Eddie is hurt and manhandled before his is finally released - not because of the great kid he is, but because the real perpetrators were caught. Olive wants Eddie and her father to fight back and sue the police. But when she becomes victim of a white “Karen” who insists that Olive stole her phone, Olive begins to realize some of what Eddie has been through and dangerous life can be when living Black.

I was thoroughly engaged by Eddie and Olive , especially the stream-of-consciousness narrative as Eddie tries to remember and apply what his Dad taught him. Buckmire did an excellent job of weaving Eddie’s thoughts into the narrative. I first listened to this as a free download from, but went back and reread the print copy too. I would love to see this discussed in classrooms - a brilliant way to talk to students about life as Black or biracial.

Cindy, Library Teacher

Great or Nothing by Joy McCullough and others - OPTIONAL

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

Language: R (40 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



After Beth’s death and a huge fight, Meg is left alone at home with Marmee to tend to victory gardens and her teaching job. Jo went to work in a factory, and Amy found a way to become a Red Cross volunteer in England. Each sister struggles to fill the holes their sisters once occupied while helping serve their country during WWII—but can rifts be mended while there is so much distance between them?

The authors have reimagined Little Women in the 1940s, and they do a fair job of introducing new ideas while following a lot of the same plot points in the second half of the March sisters’ stories. All of the sisters’ points of view are given, and I loved the poems between chapters. For new and old fans, this is a good read.

The majority of characters are White (American and English), though there are a couple of Black and Asian characters mentioned. The mature content rating is for alcohol use, mentions of tobacco, kissing, and mild innuendo. The violence rating is for death, assault, and mentions of guns, bombs, and war.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

I Have Something to Tell You--For Young Adults by Chasten Buttigieg - ADVISABLE

I Have Something to Tell You--For Young Adults by Chasten Buttigieg
, 193 pages NON FICTION Atheneum, 2023. $19.

Language: G (1 swear 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (Brief mentions of kissing and bullying); Violence: G 



This memoir from Chasten Buttigeig describes growing up in Traverse City, Michigan, feeling different than everyone else but doing his best to blend in. Once he realized he was gay he kept the fact secret from everyone he knew. Eventually, through his many experiences, such as being a foreign exchange student, acting, and finally finding the right educational path, he learned to be true to himself. Chasten then had the courage to come out to his friends and family. The difficult and sometimes painful lessons he learned growing up, helped him later in life as he supported his husband, Pete Buttigieg, on the presidential campaign trail. 

This is an approachable, readable memoir that addresses Chasten Buttigieg's journey to find acceptance and self-love. His kind and understanding approach will resonate with others on the same journey. Chasten Buttigieg is a white man. 

A. Snow 

Wednesday, February 28, 2024

The Book of Turtles by Sy Montgomery & Matt Patterson - ESSENTIAL

The Book of Turtles
by Sy Montgomery & Matt Patterson.
NON-FICTION, PICTURE BOOK HarperCollins, 2023. $20. 9780358458074 



Turtles have been around as long as the dinosaurs, but they somehow survived. We learn about their shells (which makes them turtles after all) and interesting things about the different species. 

Matt Patterson's paintings are so accurate! Well detailed and gorgeous. I loved Montgomery's text, well written and engaging. I had no idea there were so many things I didn't know about turtles. My favorite part was the spotlights on specific turtles, especially the one about the break up of a couple who had been together over 100 years. A must read. Also includes ways we can help them including sites with resources. 

Lisa Librarian

These Deadly Prophecies by Andrea Tang - HIGH

These Deadly Prophecies
by Andrea Tang
, 256 pages. G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers, 2024. $18.

Language: R (50 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG (kissing); Violence: PG (deaths) 



17 or 18yo Tabatha apprentices for the famous and magical Solomon. He states, through several prophecies, that he will die. It’s a shock to everyone when he actually dies and it’s a brutal death. Tabatha is told by Solomon, before his death, to only trust his son Callum and no one else. Callum and Tabatha try to solve the murder mystery but get swept up in the unknown along the way. 

This book is such a fun read! I loved the spooky atmosphere and the mystery. Tabatha is a strong, persistent, interesting character. The Solomon family members are white and Tabatha is Chinese American. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Tuesday, February 27, 2024

Lia Park and the Missing Jewel by Jenna Yoon - HIGH

Lia Park and the Missing Jewel by Jenna Yoon, 352 pages. Simon and Schuster, 2023. $11      

Language: G (3 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G (death in fire mentioned); Violence: PG (death in fire mentioned)



12yo Lia Park goes to a magic school ,but hasn't found her power yet. She goes on a journey to find her power and save her parents. She has a friend, Joon, along the way that helps her face the challenges. As she goes on her journey, she is tormented by an evil diviner spirit that wants to take a jewel to have ultimate power. Lia goes to the land of the immortals to get help from the dragon king to stop the evil spirit. 

I liked that Lia had a friend along the way. I also liked how it wasn't only one of them figuring things out, but both of them were figuring things out. I didn't really not like anything, because I thought the book was pretty good all around. 

Lia is Korean and so is her friend Joon.      

STUDENT REVIEWER: B. Goring, 7th grade


The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman by Mari Lowe - ADVISABLE

The Dubious Pranks of Shaindy Goodman
by Mari Lowe
, 162 pages. Levine Querido, 2023. $19. 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (mean pranks, dangerous situations). 



11yo Shaindy Goodman has never been the popular one in her class. In fact, most of the girls in her class barely notice her. So when the most popular girl, Gayil, invites Shaindy to help her play some fun pranks on their class, Shaindy can hardly believe it! But when the pranks aren't actually funny, and some of the girls involved get hurt or embarrassed, Shaindy realizes she's in over her head, and maybe Gayil isn't the nice girl everyone thinks she is. 

Shaindy is in 6th grade at a Jewish school, so religious instruction is part of everything they do. While I'm familiar with much of the Jewish religion, I wondered if it would be too much; it wasn't as Lowe expertly keeps the reader in the loop. I'm certain a Jewish reader will relate better than I to Shaindy's story, but I loved the classroom drama and Shaindy's situation. The fact that the girls are all about rollerblades and heelies makes me think it takes place in the 90s. 

Lisa Librarian 

Monday, February 26, 2024

The Wicked Ones by Robin Benway - OPTIONAL

The Wicked Ones by Robin Benway, 315 pages. Disney Enterprisers, 2023. $19

Language: PG (4 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G (kissing); Violence: PG (slapping, locked away w/o food, water; verbal threats and shouting)



17yo Drizella and 16 yo Anastasia have always dreamed of having a loving mother, but Lady Tremaine doesn't work that way. Ever since their father left them, their mother has become harsher and harsher. Drizella and Anastasia are losing hope, until one day, on the way to lessons, Drizella meets the female scientist named Madame Lambert, and sparks an interest for science. Plus, Madame Lambert is like a real mother to her. Anastasia sparks a secret love with a horse-tender boy from the palace, named Dominic. These people are keeping them going while they prepare for the tedious ball, and suffer because of Lady Tremaine's harshness.      

Because there was just a lot of abuse and it made me feel super sad, and the writing style was kind of weird, and a little bit hard to understand. All of the characters are white.

STUDENT REVIEWER: E. Anderson 9th grade

Ben Yokoyama and the Cookies of Chaos by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr - ADVISABLE

Ben Yokoyama and the Cookies of Chaos (Cookie Chronicles #5)
by Matthew Swanson and Robbi Behr
, 348 pages. CHAPTER BOOK Knopf (Random House), 2023. $14 

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



Ben finds a lost wallet with 50 dollars in it and no real identification besides just some random business cards. Ben would love to keep the money, but also wants to do the right thing. Janet, Ben's good friend, is convinced Ben needs a personal philosophy to guide him. Ben goes through five different fortune cookies to find his personal philosophy as chaos ensues through the form of a vengeful librarian, and a terrifying toilet. 

Ben and Janet are great characters and the idea of gaining a personal philosophy is an important talking point. The humor is spot on and the adventures are fun. Ben always learns something but it's never heavy handed and it's a joy ride of self discovery. The art work helps with the story and the tone as well. No culture or race is specified. 

Michelle in the Middle 

Sunday, February 25, 2024

Tangled Up In Nonsense by Merrill Wyatt - ADVISABLE

Tangled Up In Nonsense (Tangled Mysteries #2) by Merrill Wyatt, 259 pages. Margaret K. McElderry Books (Simon), 2022. $18

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



13yo Sloane and Amelia are "famous" Youtube stars, who specialize in solving mysteries - specifically, old ones that haven't been solved. So, when they get to go to the peony enthusiast's annual competition, they get ready to upload more videos. Not because they like peonies, but because the place it's being held at is Tangle Glen, where bootlegger Ma Yaklin lost her two million dollars. While both Sloane and Amelia battle family issues, they get chased through attics, off roofs, and through forests on this exciting adventure.          

I liked the mystery (I wasn't expecting the ending), but it was kind of hard to get into at first. I haven't read many non-murder mysteries, so that's probably why - it's just I'm not used to it. Other than that it's a great book!

Sloane and Amelia are both white.

STUDENT REVIEWER E. Anderson 9th grade

Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson - ADVISABLE

Eagle Drums by Nasugraq Rainey Hopson.
242 pages. Roaring Brook Press (Macmillan), 2023 $19.00 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (peril, threats, hunting descriptions - not graphic). 



Since the disappearances of each of his elder brothers, it is now young Pina's responsibility to fill the winter stores of food for the family. But when he is captured by an eagle god, which turns into a man, and he is told to follow or die like his brothers, the boy journeys to the home of these gods, where he is taught lessons about the natural world, important skills and the value of community. 

Eagle Drums is the origin story of the Iñupiaq Messenger’s Feast, still celebrated within the communities who live within the Arctic Circle. Hopson's colored illustrations help build context as they add to the story. I was thoroughly engaged, and was so happy to find it based on actual Iñupiaq mythology. Very cultural, with lots of Iñupiaq specific words, however, Hopson's writing gives plenty of context so no glossary is needed. It may be a difficult read aloud, however, as even the main character's name is authentic Iñupiaq (and I don't have the character needed to spell it correctly.). The characters are Iñupiaq (Northern Alaska/Arctic Circle first people) 

Lisa Librarian 

Saturday, February 24, 2024

Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston - OPTIONAL

Diary of a Confused Feminist by Kate Weston, 384 pages. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2024. $21

Language: R (110 swears, 14 ‘f’); Mature Content: R (graphic body parts described, self-pleasuring mentioned); Violence: PG (bullying)



15yo Kat wants to become a feminist, but constantly struggles with the frustrations of teenage life. She deals with these struggles with the help of her three best friends and her loving and understanding parents. Kat wants to embrace maturity and she does her best despite bullies and boy problems. Humor helps her with her frustrations. Her parents help her with the anxiety she tries to hide.           

Weston’s book is humorous. Encompasses dramatic nature of teenage hood and the stress of life that feels overwhelming at that age. Contains good messages and awareness of mental health.          

The ethnicity is Black and white.    

LynnDell Watson, Delta High School Library

Timid by Jonathan Todd - OPTIONAL

by Jonathan Todd
, 272 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphix (Scholastic), 2024. $13 

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



Cecil is a sixth grader who has just moved from Florida to Massachusetts. He discovers that fitting in is a little harder and his sister urges him not to be an Oreo: black on the outside and white on the inside. He wonders if he needs to sit with the white kids at lunch or the other black ones. Cecil loves to draw, but when a piece of his art is misused, he needs to overcome his timidity to stand up for himself. Cecil's dad thinks Cecil needs to be physical to stand up for himself, but Cecil finds a nonviolent way, which is nice. 

Religion comes into play and is handled respectfully and casually as a key part of Cecil's life. Universal themes of fitting in, friendship, and following one's muse. 

Michelle in the Middle

Friday, February 23, 2024

Invocations by Krystal Sutherland - HIGH

The Invocations
by Krystal Sutherland
, 400 pages. Nancy Paulsen Books, 2024. $16.

Language: R (162 swears 27 'f's); Mature Content: PG-13 (mention of drug use); Violence: R (repeated bloodshed and deaths)



17yo Emer is a curse writer who gives spells to women who are afraid and want protection. 17yo Jude has a demon following her and she’s suffering physically from the toll it’s taking on her. 17yo Zara wants to reanimate the sister she lost a year ago when she was murdered. The three young women end up working together to solve the murder mystery of a serial killer the police are calling the London Ripper. They get themselves in deeper than they bargained for and hopefully they won’t be the next victims. 

I thoroughly enjoyed the mystery and the twists. I was spooked a few times by the creepy descriptions. I like the strength and perseverance of the three main characters, Emer, Jude and Zara. Jude adds humor to the story.  The ethnicity is mostly white with some Black, brown and olive skin tones included. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Four Eyes by Rex Ogle and Dave Valeza - HIGH

Four Eyes
by Rex Ogle, illustrated by Dave Valeza
, 224 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL Graphix (Scholastic), 2023. $13 

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



Sixth grader, Rex, is having a rough time at school. He's being bullied and his best friend no longer has anything to do with him. To top it off, he needs glasses, which his family will have a difficult time paying for. 

 Rex's coming of age story has a lot of depth to it. He has a step-father who stutters, a hard working waitress for a mother, and an estranged father who doesn't want to pay for extras. Rex's story of trying to fit in and adjust to glasses while dealing with bullies, friends, and family should resonate with middle school readers. Rex's mother and grandmother are Hispanic. 

 Michelle in the Middle 

Thursday, February 22, 2024

Lei And The Fire Goddess by Malia Maunakea - ESSENTIAL

Lei And The Fire Goddess by Malia Maunakea, 298 pages. Penguin Workshop, 2023. $18      

Language: G (0 swears, 0 ‘f’); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (some fighting, not described in detail).



12yo Anna goes from Colorado to Hawaii to visit her Tutu every summer for three weeks. During that stay, her Tutu tries to teach, and tell her the stories about her Hawaiian heritage. But Anna doesn't believe in that stuff anymore. Then she picks Pele's (the fire goddess) special 'ohi'a lehua flower and Pele's hawk comes and takes Kaipo, her best friend in Hawaii, away. Anna has to embark on a journey that takes her to the cave of a mo'o, and up the side of a volcano with a demigod to save her Tutu's house from the lava, and her best friend. With the wind at her side, and a talking bat, she learns to believe the stories her Tutu told her.

I liked how easy it was to get into the book. And it was a new experience for me, reading about Hawaiian Lore, it was cool. And it was a good amount of adventure and action. The characters were likable as well.    Anna is half Hawaiian.         

STUDENT REVIEWER E. Anderson 9th grade


Ruby Lost and Found by Christina Li - ADVISABLE

Ruby Lost and Found
by Christina Li,
304 pages. Quill Tree (HarperCollins), 2023. $20.

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



13yo Ruby seems to be in constant trouble with her parents. Nearly getting suspended on practically the last day of school was the final straw. This summer, because her parents are starting a new business and her older sister is preparing for college, Ruby must stay during the week with her Nai-Nai. Nai-Nai spends a lot of time at the Senior Center, and for awhile, Ruby was the the only kid there. But as the summer progresses, Ruby becomes friends with the other old ladies, and Liam - another grandkid. Her grandfather Ye-Ye passed away several months ago, and both Ruby and Nai-Nai miss him terribly, but is her grandmother's memory loss and some of her other odd behavior grief, or a sign of something more serious? 

I loved Ruby! I loved how Li depicted Ruby's frustration at being the younger sister and always feeling like she is in trouble (well, she sort of was - her parents were kind of the worst). I liked the friend drama, and especially Ruby's and Liam's relationship - I appreciated that she could have a friend who was a boy with no need to turn him into a boyfriend. I also liked the concern that Grandma was showing signs of dementia, and grandma's reaction as well. Ruby Lost and Found has a lot going on, but 13yo girls often have a lot going on too. Most of the characters are Chinese or Chinese American. 

Lisa Librarian

Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Hope Ablaze by Sarah Mughal Rana - ADVISABLE

Hope Ablaze by Sarah Mughal Rana, 384 pages. Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), 2024. $20.

Language: PG13 (28 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



The summer before senior year, Nida was illegally frisked when she tried to pray in a park. To cope with her feelings about the experience, Nida turned to words. She wrote a letter poem to the parties involved and tried to move on. Until the letter got out, backlash came at her from every side, and Nida had to decide whether to do something or nothing.

Through Nida, Rana brings to life the injustices faced by those in our country every day. Nida’s experience of feeling violated brings out the indignation of readers on her behalf. Her words are twisted, she is manipulated, and even those who should be her support seem to be against her. Reading about Nida dredged up those feelings of times I have felt marginalized and misunderstood, and multiplied those feelings by ten. The injustices physically hurt as I read.

Nida and her family are Pakistani, Jawad is Somali, and Alexis is White. A significant portion of the characters are Muslim, from Nida’s community. The mature content rating is for tobacco use, a terrorist joke, illegal activity, and themes dealing with racism and Islamophobia. The violence rating is for mentions of guns and shootings.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Saturday, February 17, 2024

Love is in the Air by Dee Romito and Vivian Mineker - OPTIONAL

Love is in the Air : the Story of Aviation Pioneer Nancy Harkness Love by Dee Romito, illlustrated by Vivian Mineker.
PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY Aladdin (Simon & Schuster), 2023. $19. 9781534484191



Nancy Harkness Love fell in love with flight. At 16 years old, she decided she would learn to fly, and in high school, she got her pilot's license. Despite criticism and discrimination, Nancy was determined to fly. During World War II, she became the leader of the women pilots squadron. Nancy paved the way for more women to become pilots. The end pages include photos and a note about Nancy and other female pilots of the time. 

I enjoyed learning about Nancy, her determination, and courage. At 40 pages, I thought it was a bit lengthy. This would probably be better suited for middle grade audiences and older; young children may lose interest  Some aircraft names and other specific vocabulary are explained in the text, and some are left to context clues. While this didn't detract from the story and may not bother readers, it bothered me (for example, a barnstormer pilot and Milton Academy are mentioned without definitions). Nancy is white. 

Rachel, Elementary School Librarian 

Friday, February 16, 2024

Powerless by Lauren Roberts - OPTIONAL

by Lauren Roberts
, 528 pages. Simon & Schuster BFYR, 2023. $15 

Language: R (154 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G (kissing); Language: PG-13 (bloody fighting)



The sixth Purging Trials are set to take place. 18yo Paedyn is placed in the competition unknowingly and feels out of her depth against the others since she has no powers and is secretly an Ordinary. 19yo Prince Kai is the king’s Enforcer and the trials have been planned for Kai to win. Paedyn and Kai decide to work together to win the trials. What they discover along the way will either make or break them.

The story has many similarities with The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Some parts feel rushed or forced, such as the relationship between Kai and Paedyn. I like the concept and it’s an enjoyable read. The ethnicity is predominantly white with olive, brown and black skin mentioned. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Thursday, February 15, 2024

Ruthless Vows by Rebecca Ross - HIGH

Ruthless Vows
by Rebecca Ross
420 pages. Wednesday Books, 2023. $12 

Language: PG (7 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: PG-13 (implied sex, nondescript) Violence: PG-13 bloody fighting, bloody wounds 



Two weeks after 18yo Iris was forced to watch her husband struggle against a gas bomb in the attack on Avalon Bluff, she’s back in Oath living with her brother Forest. 19yo Roman is trapped in Avalon Bluff under Dacre’s watchful care with no memory of who he is or his past. Iris manages to get her hands on the Alouette typewriter in the museum and uses it to search for Roman or anyone who may be using one of the other two Alouettes. Roman unknowingly writes back and forth with Iris as he gets his memory back a little at a time. He also sends a warning that Dacre will be invading the area that Iris is staying at while writing war correspondence. Roman is terrified that Dacre will learn of his secret messages and Iris is terrified of an invasion.

Beautiful story telling. I love the brave and loyal characters. A riveting story and I didn’t want to put the book down. The ethnicity falls to white. 

LynnDell Watson, DHS Librarian

Wednesday, February 14, 2024

Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez - ADVISABLE

Concealed by Christina Diaz Gonzalez, 320 pages. Scholastic Press (Scholastic Inc.), 2021. $19.

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



Three years ago, 12yo Katrina was in an accident that caused amnesia—which means she can’t remember what her life was like before she and her parents started living on the run. But she’s getting tired of all the secrets. With one wrong move, the secrets start crashing down around Katrina, and it’s too late to turn back.

Fast-paced and action-packed, the search for identity takes Katrina and readers to unexpected places. I loved Gonzalez’s solutions, even if there was some trust whiplash as Katrina struggled with the overwhelming number of secrets revealed. Part of me is still braced for another stab in Katrina’s back despite the non-cliffhanger ending.

Katrina’s mother is Cuban, and Parker is half Dominican. The mature content rating is for illegal activity and mentions of drugs and alcohol. The violence rating is for gun use and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, February 13, 2024

The Tainted Cup by Robert Jackson Bennett - OPTIONAL

The Tainted Cup (Shadow of the Leviathan #1) by Robert Jackson Bennett, 413 pages. Del Rey (Penguin Random House), 2024. $29.

Language: R (256 swears, 67 “f”); Mature Content: R; Violence: R



As investigator’s assistant, Dinios (20yo) is sent to the scene of a murder—his first. He faithfully engraves the information needed for the investigator, Ana, and reports back, but the case is far from over. Murders in the same strange manner pop up, prompting officials to bring Din and Ana in on those cases, but time is of the essence: the wet season is coming, bringing destruction with it.

I absolutely love the eccentric Ana, who is a type of Sherlock Holmes, and her assistant, Din, who is her perfect Watson. The mystery tangles and unfolds masterfully, though I got worried as I started to run out of pages. While the conclusion is satisfactory plot-wise, I can hardly sit still due to the anticipation of seeing these characters solve another mystery. Besides the characters, I also love the world Bennett has built. Furthermore, I am impressed with Bennett’s ability to make the complex world and magic feel so easily understood; from the first chapter, I found myself immersed in a world that made sense despite its newness.

Dinios is described as having darker skin than another character, and races are mentioned but they are not the same as the races in our world. The mature content rating is for mentions of drugs, prostitutes, sexual harassment, and sex; alcohol use; innuendo; brief discussion of animals mating; and nudity. The violence rating is for blood and gore, assault, murder, assassins, and fantasy violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, February 12, 2024

This Day Changes Everything by Edward Underhill - OPTIONAL

This Day Changes Everything by Edward Underhill, 288 pages. Wednesday Books (St. Martin’s Press), 2024. $20.

Language: R (83 swears, 31 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: G



Both on their way to New York City to play in their respective marching bands for the Thanksgiving Macy’s parade, Abby (16yo) and Leo (16yo) have vastly different feelings. Abby is sure the Universe is on her side, giving her the perfect opportunity to confess to her crush. However, Leo is sure the Universe is conspiring against him and that this trip is the beginning of the end.

Their story is packaged as a cute romance, which it is, but the romance falls to the side of what Abby and Leo both really want. At the heart of it, this book is about discovery and acceptance. They want to know who they are, they want to love who they are, and they want others to accept who they are.

Abby is White, Leo is White, Kat is Asian, and Gina is not White but is not otherwise defined. The mature content rating is for mentions of alcohol.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Sunday, February 11, 2024

Elf Dog & Owl Head by M.T. Anderson and Junyi Wu - ADVISABLE

Elf Dog & Owl Head
by M.T. Anderson, illustrated by Junyi Wu
232 pages. Candlewick, 2023. $19. 

Language: G (0 swears 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: PG (home invasion not brutal but damage, peril, dog attack). 



Pre-teen Clay finds a magical dog in the woods near his home. Because of the pandemic, everyone is in lockdown, so he doesn't get to play with his friends - he's stuck with his sisters. So, a dog is a great thing! But this dog was left behind when the People Under the Mountain ventured to the surface on a hunt. Now, as Clay wanders the woods with "Elphinore" he is led to hidden places that exist alongside Clay's community, but which humans can't see. There he meets a boy with an Owl's Head, and the two become fast friends. But Amos (the Owl Head boy) knows that if they are discovered, Clay's family will be cursed and Amos will be punished. 

M.T. Anderson weaves a pandemic story that was not as weird as I expected. His world-building - within the human world - made sense. I loved the side characters, the sleeping giant was my favorite, and the story was a lot of fun. Who hasn't dreamed of stepping off a path in the woods and entering a whole other world? Junyi Wu's illustrations were plentiful and expressive. A great read for either upper elementary or middle school. Clay and his family are white. 

Lisa Librarian 

Saturday, February 10, 2024

The Eyes & The Impossible by Dave Eggers - ADVISABLE

The Eyes & The Impossible by Dave Eggers, 250 pages. Random House, 2023 $19.00 Language: PG (9 swears (all deity) 0 'f'); Mature Content: G; Violence: G. 



Johannes is a wild dog who lives in a park. The bison, who seem to be in charge of all the wildlife in the area, have given him the responsibility of being The Eyes. He runs through the park and reports back what he sees - with the help of his friends a seagull, a squirrel, a pelican and a raccoon they know about everything - the people, the park workers, the construction projects. The bison are wise and know just what to do. But Johannes has a problem, he's not fast if he gets distracted. 

The Eyes & The Impossible isn't just another dog book. Oh, I loved it so much. Eggers' story telling is engaging and exciting. The characters, although animals, are realistic and believable. The gorgeous landscapes (actual Fine Art with the dog added) made the book fancy and beautifully illustrated. A sure purchase for my library. 

Lisa Librarian

Friday, February 9, 2024

Frankenstein (Manga Classics) art by Linus Liu - ADVISABLE

Frankenstein (Manga Classics) art by Linus Liu, 324 pages. GRAPHIC NOVEL. Udon Entertainment, 2020. $20.

Language: PG (9 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG13



Natural philosophy is Victor’s subject matter of choice, and, when he goes to university, he learns to apply other sciences, like chemistry, to the philosophy he loves. Determined to bring theory to life, Victor literally animates a being—a monster. Years of study culminates in a decision that haunts Victor the rest of his life.

Shelley’s Frankenstein is as much about Victor’s and his monster’s thoughts as it is about their actions, and Shelley tells several stories inside of each other. The illustrations by Liu show readers the turmoil inside and outside of these characters and help readers clearly keep track of who is telling which stories. I like this manga version as much as I enjoy the original text.

Victor and his family are Swiss, Agatha and her family are French, Safie is Turkish, and Robert is implied English. The mature content rating is for partial nudity and disturbing images. The violence rating is for corpses, gun use, and murder.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Thursday, February 8, 2024

The Last Fallen Realm by Graci Kim - ADVISABLE

The Last Fallen Realm (Gifted Clans #3) by Graci Kim, 300 pages. Rick Riordan Presents (Disney-Hyperion), 2021. $17.

Language: PG (6 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG; Violence: PG



Witches all over the world have lost access to their gifts, so Riley (13yo), her parents, her Horangi guardians, and her friends are traveling across the country to help witches everywhere get their powers back. Unfortunately, while the group is in Las Vegas, the space between the three realms tears, beginning the war. Riley and her friends need to figure out their attack plan now before the angry goddesses destroy their world.

Readers watch Riley struggle through good character growth in this trilogy, reminding us how difficult things continue to impact our lives and that we can choose to let the impact be positive. Amongst other good life lessons and humor and contemporary references for levity. While the story takes some random twists and turns, Riley does her best to be a hero—and she wants you to be one too.

The majority of characters are Korean. The mature content rating is for kissing. The violence rating is for assault, blood, and fantasy violence.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Wednesday, February 7, 2024

Dungeons and Drama by Kristy Boyce - ADVISABLE

Dungeons and Drama by Kristy Boyce, 304 pages. Delacorte Press (Random House), 2024. $12.

Language: PG (13 swears, 0 “f”); Mature Content: PG13; Violence: PG



After getting caught driving home from seeing Waitress with her best friend—without a license—Riley’s punishment is to work at her father’s game store for several weeks. Now on top of homework and her unwanted job, the new choir teacher announces that the school musical has been canceled. And Riley can’t let that happen.

Riley is the definition of “if there’s a will, there’s a way,” which gets her into a myriad of scrapes. I loved that Boyce doesn’t focus on any one aspect of Riley’s life, but, instead, shows how this trial in her life affects her hobbies and her friends and her family—because that’s how this messy life works. Throughout the book, Riley learns how to reconcile herself to the changes in each of these areas of her life, and her story feels both relatable and adorable.

Riley and Nathan are depicted as White on the cover, Hoshiko is Japanese, Anthony is Latino, Jordan is Black, and Sanhi is Asian. A couple of guys in the DND friend-group are LGBT. The mature content rating is for mentions of alcohol (including underage drinking), illegal activity, kissing, and innuendo. The violence rating is for a joke about running into oncoming traffic.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Relit by Sandra Proudman - HIGH

Relit by Sandra Proudman, 352 pages. SHORT STORIES. Inkyard Press, 2024. $21.

Language: R (63 swears, 2 “f”); Mature Content: PG-13; Violence: PG-13



These sixteen authors retell stories we know from Disney movies and high school English class. From Greek mythology to folktales, Jane Austen to Edgar Allan Poe, stories familiar to us are made new and exciting again.

The intent of this collection was to rewrite familiar stories with Latinx characters, which breathes new life into the retellings. The cultures of the new main characters and their settings lend elements to the stories that did not exist in the originals. It’s as if the authors are inviting readers to ask how the story would change if they—if we—were the main character. Let your imagination go wild.

Most of the characters are implied, if not explicitly, Latinx. The mature content rating is for underage drinking, drug use, kissing, innuendo, partial nudity, and mentions of sex and sexual harassment. The violence rating is for fantasy violence; mentions of guns, torture, homicide, and genocide; and suicide.

Reviewer: Carolina Herdegen

Monday, February 5, 2024

The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day and Brett Helquist - ADVISABLE

The Mona Lisa Vanishes by Nicholas Day, with art by Brett Helquist
. 276 pages. NON-FICTION Random House, 2023. $20.

Content: G 



In 1911, the Mona Lisa was stolen from the Louvre Museum in Paris. This theft made the Mona Lisa the most famous painting of them all. Author Nicholas Day switches back and forth between 1911 Paris and the 1400s as he tells about Leonardo da Vinci, Lisa Gherardini, the Medici family, and the lives of women in Renaissance Italy, as well as 20th century newspapers, early 1900's forensic investigations, what would seem like a bumbling cop, and the race to find this painting. 

A lot is going on in The Mona Lisa Vanishes, but Day has skillfully weaved his narrative nonfiction to keep the reader sitting on the edge of their seat. I love Brett Helquist's illustrations placed at the perfect times to give a sense of the clothing, the culture, and the story. A delightful read, the kids who like true crime will eat this up and learn a lot about Art and the Renaissance too. 

Lisa Librarian

Sunday, February 4, 2024

Houses with a Story by Seiji Yoshida - ADVISABLE

Houses with a Story: A Dragon's Den, a Ghostly Mansion, a Library of Lost Books and 30 More Amazing Places to Explore
by Seiji Yoshida (translated from Japanese by Jan Mitsuko Cash,)
124 pages. Abrams/Amulet, 2023 (originally published in 2000 in Japan) $25.

Content: G 



Senji Yoshida is an illustrator. He has always imagined the houses in the stories he's read and wanted to create illustrated houses that could be in these stories. 30 different houses are represented, with a short single-paragraph story starter a character who lives there, and something about what makes the house special. Then, the illustration itself is a cutaway (ala David Macaulay) with labels for the things we might miss or which need to be explained and a blueprint-type drawing of the layout. 

I really loved Houses with a Story! The stories themselves were intriguing, I wanted to imagine a story that would happen in the house. Except for the House of the Seven Dwarves, none of them seemed to be connected to actual stories. Includes dragons, ogres, a clocksmith, orphans, ghosts and so much more. Special pages teach about different roofs, toilets, and a glimpse into the artist's studio. A fun book that can be opened to any page and feed the reader's imagination. Most of the characters are Japanese 

Lisa Librarian 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth by Michelle Duster and Laura Freeman - ADVISABLE

Ida B. Wells, Voice of Truth by Michelle Duster, illustrated by Laura Freeman. PICTURE BOOK BIOGRAPHY. Godwin Books (Macmillan), 2022. $19. 9781250239464



Born into slavery, Ida B. Wells, a Black woman, decided early to speak up against injustice of all kinds, at all times, n matter the personal consequences. She raised her voice as a writer, co-owning her own newspaper, and persisted even when her printing press was destroyed by an angry white mob. As one of the founders of the NAACP, Well’s voice is heard on to today.

Well’s granddaughter, Duster writes a clear, powerful look at a brave woman. Good for any Black history, Civil Rights, American History class.  Or use it in an ELA class as a concise biography example.

Cindy Mitchell, Library Teacher, MLS

Friday, February 2, 2024

Imagine a Garden : Stories of Courage Changing the World by Rina Singh and Hoda Hadadi - ADVISABLE

Imagine a Garden : Stories of Courage Changing the World
by Rina Singh, illustrated by Hoda Hadadi.
PICTURE BOOK NON-FICTION Greystone Kids, 2023. $19. 9781771647137 

Content: PG. One story features tear gas grenades. It doesn't focus on the effects of the tear gas. In another story, a woman receives threats for helping refugees. The threats are not described. 



Written in free verse, Singh tells seven stories from around the world of people who took difficult circumstances, and, with courage and resilience, did small things to change the world. A woman in Palestine turns empty tear gas canisters into planters for a flower garden. An artist in Mexico uses the pieces of dismantled illegal weapons to create musical instruments. A soccer lover moves to South Africa and, despite his own troubles, becomes a friend and soccer coach to local boys, helping to keep them in school. Singh includes an ""about the stories"" section at the end.  

I LOVED this book! The cut-paper art was mesmerizing. You don't have to have money or do something big and grandiose to change the world. I found myself wanting to learn more about the people and places in this book. The people in this book are from Palestine, Brazil, India, South Africa, Canada (native), Mexico, and Greece. 

Rachel, Elementary Library Specialist

Thursday, February 1, 2024

Window Fishing by DK Dyson and Rudy Gutierrez - OPTIONAL

Window Fishing by DK Dyson, illustrated by Rudy Gutierrez
PICTURE BOOK Alfred A. Knopf, 2023. $19. 9780593429013



Rudeday is an artist who doesn't enjoy his job of making art anymore. One day, he hears a tapping on his 4th-floor apartment window and sees a paperclip on a string. Excited, Rudeday draws a fish and attaches it to the string. The fish is pulled up out of sight. Each day, Rudeday draws more fish, and each day they are lifted up on the string. Until one day, it stops. 

I enjoyed the unique mixed media illustrations. I liked the message that we can take breaks and enjoy ourselves, and when we do, we might even find that we help others. I think that the story would be more relatable for kids if it had focused on the little boy on the other end of the string more than the grumpy adult artist. Rudeday is Latino, and the little boy has dark skin and curly hair. 

Rachel, Library Media Specialist